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Gov: Voters should decide on gay marriage

By The Staff

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is reacting to a county clerk’s office issuing marriage licenses to dozens of same-sex couples by repeating her call for a statewide vote on a constitutional amendment.

Martinez is an opponent of same-sex marriage and she says she continues to believe that marriage is between a man and a woman.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that a statement Martinez issued Wednesday says any change regarding marriage should be made by the people of New Mexico.

The Doña Ana County Clerk’s office starting issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Wednesday and issued more than 40 before closing for the day.

Doña Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins said his office had provided 35 licenses to same-sex couples compared to four or five given on an average day to heterosexual couples.

Jeff Williams, a public information officer in the county’s government and a reverend with Universal Life Church, said he was marrying same-sex couples all day long while wearing his rainbow-colored tie.

Outside the courthouse, television reporters were busy interviewing the people getting married and there was no sign of any protesters.

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County > Non-potable water plan gets green light

BPU split on water rate

By Arin McKenna

When the Department of Public Utilities was developing its conservation plan, it conducted public hearings and online surveys. One question asked was what types of water saving measures would the public support.

A tiered water rate received the highest response. DPU has been working on a proposal to implement such a rate.

On Wednesday, Los Alamos Deputy Utilities Manager for Finance and Administration Robert Westervelt presented the Board of Public Utilities with options for a tiered water rate, a seasonal water rate and one that incorporated both. The proposal received a lukewarm reception.

Historically, the water rate has consisted of a service charge broken down by water meter size and a water consumption charge. The same rate was charged for all classes (residential, commercial, multi-family, education, county).

One element of the proposal would base fixed rates on meter size, which provides a good measure as to who is using the water. A two-inch meter runs eight times as much water as a one-inch meter.

“We wanted to make the fixed charge for the service at least relational with the size of the meter,” Westervelt said. “An eight-inch meter carries 80 times as much water as a one-inch meter, but the fixed charge isn’t nearly as high as it should be.”

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Restaurant Inspections 08-22-13

Los Alamos
China Palace, 759 Central Avenue
Date inspected: Aug. 6
Violations: None.
Status of Establishment: Approved, following a complaint of a cockroach seen in drapes. No follow up required.

Daniel’s Cafe, 800 Trinity
Date inspected: Aug. 6
Violations: None.
Status of Establishment: Approved, following a complaint that raw chicken was handled without gloves. The staff has been trained about sanitary issues. No follow up required.

Giant, 11 Rover Blvd.
Date inspected: Aug. 7
Violations: None.
Status of Establishment: Approved. No follow up required.

Knapp’s Wraps Mobile Unit, 128 State Road 4
Date inspected: Aug. 7
Violations: One high-risk violation. Hand wash not working.
Status of Establishment: Approved. Follow up required on Aug. 21.

Giant, 3701 Arkansas Avenue
Date inspected: Aug. 7
Violations: One high-risk violation. The cold holding temperature is incorrect.
Status of Establishment: Approved. No follow up required.

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Zozobra > Burning of Old Man Gloom begins at dusk on Sept. 5

Viva La Fiesta

By The Staff

It is a grand tradition in Santa Fe this time of year to attend the fiestas. There is more to it than the Burning of Zozobra. Here are some highlights of what to expect this year.

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'Super Agers' - an Elite Group of Seniors

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Today in History August 22

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NSA collected thousands of US communications

WASHINGTON (AP) — The National Security Agency declassified three secret court opinions Wednesday showing how in one of its surveillance programs it scooped up as many as 56,000 emails and other communications by Americans not connected to terrorism annually over three years, revealed the error to the court — which ruled its actions unconstitutional — and then fixed the problem.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper authorized the release, part of which Obama administration officials acknowledged Wednesday was prodded by a 2011 lawsuit filed by an Internet civil liberties activist group.

The court opinions show that when the NSA reported its inadvertent gathering of American-based Internet traffic to the court in September 2011, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ordered the agency to find ways to limit what it collects and how long it keeps it.

In an 85-page declassified FISA court ruling from October 2011, U.S. District Judge James D. Bates rebuked government lawyers for repeatedly misrepresenting the operations of the NSA's surveillance programs.

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Safety board visits LANL

By John Severance

The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board is in town, conducting its annual site visit to the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

According to lab spokesman Fred DeSousa, four of the five members of the board are on the visit along with several staff members. They met with lab and Site Office staff Tuesday and Wednesday.

“We are briefing them on their topics of interest, including the status of PF-4 improvements, transuranic waste operations and emergency response,” DeSousa said. “The board will tour PF-4 and our Weapons Engineering Tritium Facility. In this case, there is no public hearing scheduled for this site visit.”

The main topic of conversation likely will be PF-4.

NNSA acting administrator Bruce Held sent a letter to DNFSB chairman Peter Winokur, regarding the conduct of operations and the implementation of criticality safety controls at PF-4.

In June, lab director Charlie McMillan paused all programmatic activities at the facility and in early August some of those activities resumed.

But not all.

Held’s letter detailed the corrective actions the lab has taken in regards to PF-4 and by Dec. 6, Held said the NNSA will provide the DNFSB with a fully developed plan and an updated status of progress.

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Business > Long-running restaurant owner is ready to retire

Eatery Set To Close

After 35 and a half years of serving up trademark burgers, free chips and salsa, a variety Mexican fare and live entertainment, De Colores is closing its doors. The restaurant, located at 2470 East Road, just past the airport, will be no more after Aug. 28

According to general manager Sue Dummer, the restaurant’s owner, Joan Duran, is ready to retire.
“It’s time,” she said. “The owner wants to retire and so it’s time.”

Dummer has been with the Duran from the beginning, back when they started the business in White Rock. Then it was a Tastee Freeze before they changed the name to “Mel’s Diner” after a TV show restaurant that was popular at the time. They then moved to the center of town on Trinity, where they came up with the name to fit in with the many colored buildings on their block. But, as landlords began to rent more and more to the Los Alamos National Laboratory and its contractors in 2003, De Colores eventually moved out by the airport, where it’s been located ever since.

According to its website, the restaurant was the longest running one in the area, having started in 1978. Dummer credits a loyal following for the restaurant’s longevity.

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DPU > Utility gets direction on next steps

Wells get more scrutiny

By Arin McKenna

The San Juan/Chama Water Project was the major topic of discussion during a five-hour Los Alamos County Council meeting Tuesday. Most councilors reached consensus that building infrastructure to secure the county’s water rights was critical, but directed the Department of Public Utilities to explore additional options for developing the project.

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DPU Senior Engineer Jack Richardson briefed council on why the San Juan/Chama water rights should be secured and why — despite protests by nearby residents — Alternative 5 (digging one to three wells in White Rock) is still considered the best alternative.

Attorneys then weighed in on the legal issues.

“Even though the county’s contract with the federal government is not listed as a perpetual contract, it probably is a perpetual right once the county finishes its payoff in a couple of years,” said County Attorney Rebecca Ehler.

Ehler admitted there was some risk of losing the rights, but based on federal agency postures and a court ruling regarding the Rio Grande silvery minnow, “The county’s right is pretty secure at this point. It’s a risk I’d be willing to bet on,” Ehler told councilors.

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Wildfire Alert at Highest Level in Idaho

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Today in History for August 21st

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NM court asked to expedite gay marriage ruling

By Barry Massey

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A same-sex couple from Santa Fe has asked the New Mexico Supreme Court to streamline the handling of lawsuits seeking to legalize gay marriage in the state.

Rep. Brian Egolf, a Santa Fe Democrat and lawyer for the couple, said Tuesday the goal is to get a quick lower court decision and clear the way for an expedited ruling by the state's highest court.

The justices are being asked to consolidate all cases involving the gay marriage issue and assign them to a district court judge in Santa Fe, who would issue a ruling that would go directly to the Supreme Court for review.

The Supreme Court took a similar approach in 2011 by consolidating several competing lawsuits over the drawing of new district boundaries for legislative, congressional and other elected offices. The court assigned the redistricting challenges to a retired judge in Santa Fe. That avoided the possibility of conflicting rulings in different lower courts.

Two cases involving gay marriage are pending in lower courts — one in Santa Fe brought by two men who were denied a marriage license, and a lawsuit in Albuquerque brought on behalf of several same-sex couples by the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

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Teams 'go Green' at Robocon 2013

A team from Japan captured the grand prize at an environmentally-themed 'Robocon' competition in Vietnam. Eighteen teams from across Asia and the Pacific region participated in the annual event featuring robots designed by technology students.

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Jemez > Residents to use perilous, temporary fix for months

Fix for washed-out road to take time

By Tris DeRoma

With the weather pleasant and the birds singing, It was a very nice morning in the Jemez Mountains to have a meeting.

For residents living on Elk Trail Road however, the Monday gathering was bittersweet. During a meeting with Sandoval County Project Manager Fred Marquez near where the road washed out, they received some good news and some bad news.

The good news is, Marquez said the county has made fixing the washout a top priority. The bad news, the residents are looking at least two to three more months of navigating their vehicles across the county’s temporary fix, a fill of stones over the bottom of the washout.

Residents have complained that the round stones get displaced under the weight of their vehicles, saying it’s only a matter of time before someone gets stuck.

Marquez said the road washed out for two reasons, one, the Thompson Ridge Fire burned off all the plants and root systems that secured the soil and two, the area experienced a once in a 500 year storm event, according to their measurements.

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