Local and State News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico student reading tests scores across the state rose slightly, but math scores remain stagnant, according to results released Monday The new numbers show around 29 percent of students tested this spring are proficient or better in reading, and about 20 percent are proficient or better in math. That was a slight jump in reading scores from 2016 while math results fell .2 percentage points.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Nearly one-third of medical patients in New Mexico say they have received large surprise bills over the past two years for services that were outside their insurance provider's network, an ongoing survey by state regulators has found. Preliminary results of the statewide survey were announced by the Office of the Superintendent of Insurance in advance of a meeting Thursday of patient advocates and health industry stakeholders in Albuquerque to discuss possible consumer protection reforms.

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation has created a committee to look into buying Colorado ranchland that's home to cattle, bison and two mountains the tribe considers sacred. The price tag for the property — roughly 26 square miles (67 square kilometers) on the Wolf Springs and Boyer ranches in south-central Colorado — is $23 million. The two sacred mountains are Big Mountain Sheep/Obsidian Mountain, or Mount Hesperus, and Sisnaajini, commonly known as White Shell Mountain or Blanca Peak.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is set to receive $18 million following a settlement connected to the Volkswagen smog device emissions scandal. The New Mexico Environment Department announced Monday that the agency will disburse $18 million in settlement funds, most likely for projects that will reduce nitrogen oxide levels. Volkswagen Group of America acknowledges rigging 11 million of its vehicles with software used to cheat on vehicle emissions tests.

HATCH, N.M. (AP) — Authorities say approximately 30 people in southern New Mexico were evacuated from their homes overnight due to flooding in the Hatch and Garfield areas of northern Dona Ana County. County officials say a temporary shelter has been set up at the Hatch Community Resource center and that drones are being used to help assess damage to roads and structures. Heavy equipment is being used to shore of the banks of several arroyos and additional sandbags have been ordered to augment supplies at fire stations in the ara.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Alaska Native poet Joan Naviyuk (nah-VEE'-YUK') Kane is coming to Santa Fe to give a public reading. Kane is scheduled to read from her work on Tuesday at the Institute of American Indian Arts as part of the school's "Summer Readers Gathering." The Inupiaq (inn-oo-PEE'-AHK') poet will be joined by poet Carolyn Forché and short story writer Toni Jensen. Kane grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, with family from King Island and Mary's Igloo, Alaska. She is the author of the poetry collections "Hyperboreal."

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Environmental activists are expressing anger at Kirtland Air Force Base for canceling a meeting on the cleanup of a jet fuel spill in Albuquerque. Advocates from Citizen Action New Mexico and the Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice say they don't see why the air force base and state environmental officials canceled the meeting scheduled for Thursday aimed at giving residents an update on cleanup efforts.

ARTESIA, N.M. (AP) — Residents in a southeastern New Mexico community are hoping that a week-long water boil advisory will be lifted soon. The Artesia Daily Press reports (https://goo.gl/Hma5kx) that test results of 10 water samples tested negative for any bacteria in Artesia this weekend. If state officials come up with the same results, the boil advisory could be lifted as early as Monday. The New Mexico Environment Department issued the boil advisory last weekend, which includes the city of Artesia as well as surrounding homes that rely on the Morningside Water Users Cooperative.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — In a federal class-action lawsuit, an Albuquerque law firm accuses a loan company with offices in New Mexico and Arizona of making predatory tax-refund-anticipation loans to people living in and around the Navajo Nation. The lawsuit says the plaintiffs — William Dejolie and Sammia Dejolie of Gallup — were charged a 385 percent annual interest rate on a $1,250 loan they obtained in November 2014.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Authorities say a man accused of killing five people in a shooting rampage in northern New Mexico last month has twice attempted to escape from the Rio Arriba County jail and also assaulted a guard. County Sheriff James Lujan told the Santa Fe New Mexican (http://bit.ly/2vNuTMx) authorities are hoping to get 21-year-old Damian Herrera transferred to a New Mexico Department of Corrections facility. Lujan calls Herrera a danger and a menace to the county jail. Herrera remains held without bond as he faces five open counts of murder.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Authorities say a man accused of killing five people in a shooting rampage in northern New Mexico last month has twice attempted to escape from the Rio Arriba County jail and also assaulted a guard. County Sheriff James Lujan told the Santa Fe New Mexican (http://bit.ly/2vNuTMx) authorities are hoping to get 21-year-old Damian Herrera transferred to a New Mexico Department of Corrections facility. Lujan calls Herrera a danger and a menace to the county jail. Herrera remains held without bond as he faces five open counts of murder.

FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) — The acting chief justice for the Navajo Nation is stepping down. The Daily Times of Farmington, New Mexico, reports the Navajo Nation Judicial Branch recently announced Allen Sloan is resigning at the end of July. Sloan told the Daily Times that health concerns prompted his retirement. Sloan, who is originally from Coalmine Canyon, Arizona, has worked with the branch for 28 years. He has been acting chief justice since July 2015.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A shady deal in Santa Fe is drawing scrutiny because it's not a complete cover up. The Santa Fe New Mexican reports a $320,000-state-funded project that installed 94 prefabricated shade structures around New Mexico's capital is being criticized for not covering playground equipment or picnic tables. And depending on the time of day, the shade cast is minimal. Resident Elisa Boyles says the tent-like, 12-foot by 12-foot tarps mounted on metal poles were useless. That's because she says the structures don't seem to provide much shade where the kids play as intended.

FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) — A fish that federal officials say was once widely known as the "salmon of the southwest" is showing signs of recovering its diminished population in the San Juan River basin. The Farmington Daily Times (http://bit.ly/2tzGbHu ) reported Monday scientists say they have found evidence the Colorado pikeminnow is reproducing in the San Juan River, and the offspring are surviving. This conclusion is based on data gathered last year following the spring peak release from Navajo Dam. A release by the U.S.

GALLUP, N.M. (AP) — The school district serving the Gallup area spent $90,000 successfully fending off a legal challenge to its decision to withhold documents associated with an investigation of a former superintendent. The Gallup Independent (https://goo.gl/RZlBna ) reports that Gallup-McKinley County Schools spent the money through May 31 on legal fees leading up to a judge's ruling that the documents sought by the newspaper were not public under the state Inspection of Public Records Act.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Albuquerque police are looking for a suspect in a shooting that left one person dead and two others hospitalized in critical condition. Police say a person was seen running away after multiple shots were fired in the parking lot of a pizza parlor in southeast Albuquerque, where police set up a perimeter after the Friday night incident. Additional information was not released.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico labor officials are touting the largest gain in private-sector job growth in over a decade. Figures released Friday by the Department of Workforce Solutions show a 3 percent increase in the private sector, representing 18,900 jobs. Much of the growth was fueled by a boost in private service-providing industries, particularly the leisure and hospitality sectors. State officials say the increase of 4,300 jobs in those sectors from May to June was unusual. Overall, 11 industries have added jobs since December 2014.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Teddy bears, blankets, crayons, games and a safe place to sleep. New Mexico's top officials wanted to pack as much as possible into a new center designed to ease the trauma often experienced by children when authorities are forced to remove them from their homes and place them in state custody. Gov. Susana Martinez and Children, Youth and Families Secretary Monique Jacobson on Friday toured the center in Albuquerque. They showed off a brightly-colored play area and separate rooms for sleeping, relaxing and playing.

TAOS, N.M. (AP) — D.H. Lawrence Ranch Initiatives is partnering with the University of New Mexico Continuing Education to host a series of online creative writing workshops. The University of New Mexico recently announced the workshops which are aimed at giving writers feedback and the opportunity to work with writing instructors. Classes cater to poets, novelists, short story writers and nonfiction writers. Courses run from October through November and are limited to 15 participants per class. The English-born Lawrence wrote a number of novels, including Lady Chatterley's Lover.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The State Land Office says this month's oil and gas lease sale marked an all-time high for the agency, with more than $30 million being earned through the leasing of dozens of tracts in southeastern New Mexico. Bidders competed for 82 tracts covering nearly 21,000 acres (8,498 hectares) in Chaves, Eddy, Lea and Roosevelt counties. Texas-based Ameredev II, LLC was the highest sealed bidder, paying more than $7.3 million for 320 acres (129 hectares) in Lea County. Online, Houston's OneEnergy Partners LLC paid more than $6 million for 320 acres in the same county.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The founders of a New Mexico guardianship firm have pleaded not guilty to federal charges that they embezzled millions of dollars from the trust accounts of their clients as part of a decade-long scheme. Susan Harris and Sharon Moore entered their pleas Thursday in federal court in Albuquerque. They posted the equity in their homes as bond and their conditions of release include supervision pending trial. A 28-count indictment against the women and their company — Ayudando Guardians, Inc.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An Albuquerque man accused in a 2015 crime spree that led to the death of a bartender will remain on supervised probation until he turns 21. The Albuquerque Journal (http://bit.ly/2gNXPRV) reported Thursday that a judge found 19-year-old Ryan Archibeque was amenable to treatment and should be sentenced as a juvenile. That means he can only remain under the court's jurisdiction until his 21st birthday.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's superintendent of insurance says health insurance providers are reducing requested rate hikes for next year on the state's subsidized exchange. Superintendent John Franchini said Thursday that health insurance rate increases are likely to range from between 6 percent and 20 percent. Initial proposals from four insurance companies would have raised premiums by up to 80 percent. About 55,000 New Mexico residents sign up each year for federally subsidized insurance through the state exchange, known as beWellnm.

CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) — One of southern New Mexico's most popular tourist destinations wants to raise the price of admission. Officials at Carlsbad Caverns National Park are proposing to raise general admission fees from $10 to $12 per person starting in October. Those 15 and younger will still be admitted for free. Park officials said Thursday that revenues from admission fees are used to pay for deferred maintenance projects not covered by the park's base budget.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's top insurance regulator says he will not put a freeze on insurance provider payments to investors and parent companies while auditors investigate how much the state is owed in unpaid premium taxes. New Mexico Insurance Superintendent John Franchini said Thursday that he has so far declined a request from the state auditor to suspend approval of certain dividend payments by insurance providers.