County hobnobs with community

-A A +A
By Katy Korkos

Los Alamos County was not to be left out of the festivities at Winterfest downtown Saturday evening, when it hosted a Community Building full of information on county projects, and also served as a warming hut for chilly residents.

More than 150 people came in out of the wind and rain to learn about the new Atomic City Transit schedule, find out all about the Eco Station, get the latest thinking on the Judicial/Police Jail Complex and drink hot chocolate.Road works like the Diamond Drive, West Jemez Bypass and Grand Canyon projects drew the most interest, and project managers Rey Gonzales, Audoro Espinoza and Ernesto Gallegos spent from 5:30-8 p.m. answering questions, with only a brief lull during the parade.Diamond Drive project manager Rey Gonzales, who oversaw the completion of Phase I of the four-part project, hopes to see construction bids for Phase II going out in February and construction starting mid-March of 2008. The second phase will run from North Road to 35th Street.David Apple, the project manager for the Judicial Police/Jail Complex, brought the functions and requirements for the complex to Saturday’s gathering; the same report he presented to council Tuesday. Apple has assembled 145 pages of supporting documents in his staff report, detailing the state’s requirements for court space and the American Corrections Association’s standards for correctional facilities.The report is available at both libraries and the KanDu center as well as on the county’s project website, www.lac-nm.us.The weather has been a beneficial factor in at least two county projects this fall, with the warm dry fall allowing work to proceed quickly on the Grand Canyon project, and cooler temperatures and rainfall during the last week of November making conditions right for burning.Open Space Specialist Craig Martin brought a poster showing progress on community wildfire protection. Martin said that he had been waiting for cold weather and moisture before burning, and was pleased that he did not have to wait for snow to build up before igniting the brush piles. “We got two inches of rain,”  Martin said.Plans for the Canyon Rim trail to connect the Western Area and Eastern Area of Los Alamos, plans for Central Avenue streetscaping and renovations to North Mesa picnic grounds were all on the table set up by the Parks Division on Saturday.Atomic City Transit also attracted a large number of residents, offering a prize wheel as well updated maps and schedules for the county’s new bus system. Ridership on the new transit system has exceeded expectations, and all-day service is set to roll out beginning Dec. 10. The service will remain free through April 2008. The buses run from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.“One man said he saved $150 in one month by riding the bus,” Transportation Division Manager Nancy Talley said.Residents' questions for Talley centered around individual routes and times, but they also offered suggestions for improvements on the service. She said that all-day service, originally scheduled for January, could see further increases in ridership as the system becomes more convenient.There will be no bus service on Christmas, but there will be special New Year’s Eve party service, and residents can call 661-RIDE to book reservations.