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This Hour: Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment

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VETERANS HEALTH CARE-NEW MEXICO

VA to hold town halls to discuss health care

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Officials with the Veterans Affairs health care system in New Mexico are planning two town halls to discuss health care and disability claims with veterans and their families.

The back-to-back town halls will be Sept. 10 at the New Mexico Veterans' Memorial in Albuquerque.

Following whistleblower complaints, investigators earlier this year uncovered large-scale improprieties in the way VA hospitals and clinics around the country scheduled veterans for appointments. Thousands of patients were forced to wait months for appointments.

The most recent audit of Albuquerque's Veterans Affairs hospital shows there were 111 veterans on the electronic waiting list as of Aug. 14. That's down from 248 at the end of July and down from more than 1,040 in May. The list includes new patients for whom appointments cannot be scheduled within 90 days.

UNINSURED CARE-DEFICIT

San Juan County workforce shrinks

FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) - A measure passed by state lawmakers that calls for New Mexico counties to funnel more gross receipts taxes to a fund that helps hospitals pay for uninsured care is forcing San Juan County to consider cutting services and raising taxes.

The county has already frozen or abolished nearly 8 percent of its workforce in recent years, and County Executive Officer Kim Carpenter says the county is considering more reductions as a result of the legislation.

Carpenter tells The Daily Times that San Juan County is close to having 10 percent fewer workers than in 2009.

The county's payment to the statewide safety net fund is about $3 million. In addition to other obligations, the county's health care assistance program would experience about a $6 million deficit in fiscal year 2016.

ALBUQUERQUE-DEADLY STABBING

Albuquerque police investigate deadly stabbing

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Police are investigating a deadly stabbing outside an Albuquerque convenience store.

Investigators say 23-year-old Kenneth Boyd was at a party east of the city with his girlfriend and their small child when the suspect agreed to give them and two other people a ride.

Police spokesman Tanner Tixier says the child started crying so Boyd and his girlfriend got out of the car to grab a bottle. That's when the suspect, identified as 32-year-old Michael Fox, allegedly drove away with the child.

Boyd eventually made contact with Fox and agreed to meet at the convenience store. That's where Fox is accused of stabbing Boyd multiple times.

Police were questioning Fox on Monday.

Tixier didn't say what Fox would be charged with or why he allegedly kidnapped the child. He says the child is safe.

PNM-SOLAR CENTERS

NM utility works on 3 new solar power centers

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Dirt is being leveled in three New Mexico counties as the state's largest electric provider prepares to install thousands of solar panels.

PNM says its planned solar power centers in Valencia, Cibola and Sandoval counties will be capable of producing enough electricity to meet the needs of 8,900 average residential customers.

The solar centers will cost about $48 million to construct. The largest one, the Meadowlake energy center east of Los Lunas, will be made up of more than 122,000 solar panels.

PNM already has eight utility-scale solar centers in operation. Four more centers are planned for next year.

The utility says that by 2016, its solar centers will be capable of generating enough electricity for 40,000 average residential customers for a year.

CHILD LEFT BEHIND

Deputies: Family leaves child behind at NM store

FORT SUMNER, N.M. (AP) - De Baca County deputies are investigating after a 5-year-old girl was left behind when her family stopped at a convenience store during a camping trip.

KOB-TV reports the help of store clerks and media broadcasts of the girl's photo helped reunite the child with her family, but investigators say there still may be charges of negligence in the case.

Deputies say the family - including a mother, a father, eight children and a baby sitter - were camping at Lake Sumner. Some of them went to the store for supplies.

The father assumed the girl was with the baby sitter, and the baby sitter thought the girl was with the father. They left the store in separate cars and didn't realize the girl was still inside at the store.

SANTA FE SCHOOLS-IPADS

Santa Fe schools to launch tech program

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - Students at one Santa Fe elementary school soon will be sharing about 250 iPads.

The move marks one of the first steps in the district's $55 million plan to provide every one of its 14,000 students with a digital device.

The New Mexican reports the Santa Fe school system is contracting with Apple and Pearson, an educational services company that provides a curriculum on the devices. It's also working with IT Connect Inc., a local company that will provide the hardware, software and other support.

The district says it plans to implement the technological infrastructure at a gradual pace of six or seven schools per year.

The school board voted 3-2 earlier this year to impose an additional property tax to raise the money needed for the program.

PLAYWRIGHT HONORED

Famous faces to fete NMSU professor, playwright

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico State University is using star wattage to raise funds for a new lecture series named after longtime professor and Tony-winning playwright Mark Medoff.

NMSU is hosting "Mark Medoff: Far From Finished," a fundraising dinner Saturday at the campus Center For The Arts in Las Cruces.

Organizers say several actors who previously worked with Medoff are scheduled to attend including Richard Dreyfuss, Jeffrey Tambor and Linda Hamilton.

Medoff won the Tony Award for Best Play in 1980 for "Children of a Lesser God." Medoff, who has been connected to the school for nearly 50 years, helped establish its Creative Media Institute for Film & Digital Arts.

Officials say the planned lecture series will bring world-class artists to the campus to speak to students.

OBIT-CHARLES BOWDEN

Author, journalist Charles Bowden dies at 69

(NOT FOR USE IN THE PHOENIX MARKET)

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) - Southwest author and journalist Charles Bowden has died at the age of 69.

Bowden's partner, Molly Molloy, says she found Bowden dead in their Las Cruces home Saturday evening. She told the Las Cruces Sun News (http://bit.ly/1umAN0h ) he had recently fallen ill but did not want to speculate on what caused his death.

Bowden worked for years as an investigative journalist in Arizona and wrote many books and articles. He's credited with helping to bring national attention to the violence and corruption that has permeated the Mexican border city of Juarez.

Writer Barry Graham told The Arizona Republic that Bowden was most proud of his ability to be a witness and to give a voice to those people who did not have one.

Bowden's books include "Murder City" and "Down by the River."

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