Los Alamos County

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County: Available funds fall far short of meeting Capital Improvement Projects requests

CIP projects face budgetary roadblock

By Arin McKenna

The Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) that are ready to move forward may face a long delay. The FY2013/FY2014 budget includes only 20 percent of the total project costs, and projections for the future are not optimistic.

Newly appointed Deputy County Administrator Steven Lynne laid out the facts. Approximately $27 million is available in the next two years. Long-term projections estimate that only $2.5 million a year will be available after that, bringing the 10-year total to $47 million.

Projects that council has taken some initial action on total $123.5 million. Most of those have received phase 2 approvals, and others, such as the community broadband initiative, are nearing that.

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Notifications: Register now with fire season underway

Cleaning up the county CodeRED system

By Whitney Jones

As part of a test of Los Alamos County’s emergency all-call notification system late last month nearly 12,000 calls were made, but County Emergency Management Specialist Phil Taylor said some of those numbers aren’t in use anymore or go to fax machines and other devices.

“We don’t need to have that thing in our database,” he said.

County residents’ home phone numbers have either been entered automatically in the Florida-based CodeRED system through commercially available data sources or residents have signed up themselves, and some of those numbers have been in the system since after the Cerro Grande fire in 2000.

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Lynne, Bosshardt named deputy county administrators

During Wednesday night’s county council budget meeting, County Administrator Harry Burgess announced organizational changes within several management positions, following his review of the various county departments and divisions and their relationship to his office. Burgess was appointed as county administrator in October 2011.

“I reviewed the organization after meeting with staff to gather input, then worked to develop the best path forward for the organization,” Burgess said after the meeting, adding that he had also taken the last few months to review the county’s strategic goals and evaluate areas where he felt the staff could take on a more active role.

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Council: Three final applicants are interviewed

County closes in on attorney pick

By Arin McKenna

Los Alamos County will soon pass another major milestone, as it prepares to hire an attorney to fill the spot vacated by Randy Autio in December.

The role of acting county attorney has been filled by Brian James for the better part of a year, since Autio served most of his tenure as acting county administrator. James is one of three candidates who were interviewed to take the job on a permanent basis Friday.

The county received 15 applications from as far away as Los Angeles, Calif. The three finalists are all experienced city and/or county attorneys with a range of other experience.

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Study: LA continues to score high in residents’ well being

County health ranks top in state

By Arin McKenna

Los Alamos County leads the state in positive health outcomes, according to County Health Rankings and Roadmaps, a study published by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).
Results of the study were released just in time for National Public Health Week (April 2–8).
The study – in its third year – has ranked Los Alamos number one three years in a row. Thirty-two of New Mexico’s 33 counties are included in the survey. The Rankings are based on the latest publicly available data.

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Weather: Snow causes power outage in White Rock’s Pajarito Acres

Spring storm blankets area

By The Staff

Los Alamos residents woke up to a spring snow wonderland Tuesday as more than six inches of the white stuff fell overnight.


Plows were out early, doing their best to clear roads. And in the morning, business owners were out in full force clearing snow.
A winter weather advisory for moderate to occasional heavy snow was cancelled shortly after noon.

Residents of Pajarito Acres, in White Rock, meanwhile, have been without power since 8:30 p.m. Monday.

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Trinity Site deal signed

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Economy: Talk centers on increasing population in L.A.

Fisher makes first presentation to County Council

By Arin McKenna

The county’s new Economic Vitality Administrator Greg Fisher discussed various economic development incentives with council Tuesday evening.

“One of the main concerns in all the county’s strategic goals, is that we need to grow the population,” Fisher said.

He recommended going for the “low hanging fruit.”

“It’s interesting to be in a community where there are more jobs than there are people. There are 7,000 or 8,000 people climbing the mountain every day to come here to work. It’s a great opportunity to get them to live here,” he said.

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CIP projects sent to administrator

By The Staff

During earlier CIP Committee meetings, Committee Chair Gary Leikness indicated that the committee’s recommendations would be given to the county administrator and projects would be selected during the budget hearings April 16-18.
However, this week the approach to be used for the CIP portion of the budget has changed. 
During the council meeting March 20, County Administrator Harry Burgess recommended that the council hold a special meeting outside of the April budget hearings to discuss specific details of each CIP Phase 2 project that is seeking funds in FY13 or future years.

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NEDO: Research project brings Smart Grid technology one step closer

Smart Meter volunteers may help shape the future

By Arin McKenna

Homeowners have the chance to participate in a research project that could shape the way we use energy in the future.
The Department of Public Utilities is seeking 100 volunteers to participate in a smart meter study conducted by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization.
NEDO will use the information to build a database of energy use patterns in America. “This is all about gathering data for research,” said Deputy Utility Manager Janet Bettinger.  “Volunteers will be part of a world famous project. They’re trying to set standards up for smart meters and the smart grid.”

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County to test CodeRed Thursday

Los Alamos County will conduct a test of its CodeRED emergency notification system at approximately 2 p.m. Thursday. The county contracted with Emergency Communications Network to license its CodeRED high-speed notification solution in November of last year. The CodeRED system provides county officials the ability to quickly deliver messages to targeted areas or the entire county.

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County: Initiative, referendum, recall amendments move forward

Charter amendments inch forward

By Arin McKenna

After nearly three years of review by the Charter Review Committee, proposed amendments on sections of the county charter are another step closer to coming before the voters for ratification.
Council debated proposed changes to the Initiative, Referendum and Recall sections of the charter, as well as a proposed addition allowing voter approval of capital projects and the procedures for amending the charter.
Not all the proposed changes received council approval.

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Big crane comes to town

Traffic was closed on N.M. 502 for about an hour this afternoon as a crane was transported to the municipal complex site on Central Avenue.

Deputy police chief Kevin Purtymun said the road had to be closed because the transporters decided they could not bring up the crane via the truck route.

Purtymun said the road is now open in time for the commute home for lab employees.

The crane is part of the contractor's plans for setting the steel framework into place for the new, three story building. The crane will hoist the steel beams into position the last week of March.

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DPU: Many residences subject to costly problems without special devices

Sewer issues plague some homeowners

By Arin McKenna

In early February, the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) sent a letter to 2,438 customers with a potential risk of sewer backups, encouraging them to install backwater valves if their system was lacking one.

DPU began investigating after finding that four homes that experienced sewer backups should have been equipped with backwater valves. Only one was, and that one was not functioning properly.

A topographical survey was used to determine which sites could be at risk by being below grade of the nearest upstream manhole. DPU estimates that an average of five homes a year experience sewage backups that could have been prevented with backwater valves.

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CIP: Consensus comes after two hours of discussion

Debate Nearly Drowns Ashley Pond Decision

By Arin McKenna

Project manager Richard McIntyre, Capital Projects and Facilities Department Director Anne Laurent and George Radnovich, senior principal of Sites Southwest, LLC, spent two hours Thursday night responding to challenges from the Capital Improvements Program committee concerning improvements to Ashley Pond.

Committee member David Schiferl felt council’s direction had not been adequately addressed. The project addresses a depletion of oxygen in the water called eutrophication, which affects water quality and the need for Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility.

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