Los Alamos County thanks Sen. Domenici

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By Carol A. Clark

Admiration and appreciation marked a day dedicated to one of the town’s most revered public officials Thursday. Los Alamos County hosted “Domenici Day” to honor and thank Sen. Pete Domenici for all he has done for the community during his 36 years in office, which will end with his retirement Dec. 31.

Domenici commented that this will be his final trip to Los Alamos to participate in ceremonies.

“Sen. Domenici is a man to be admired in so many ways,” County Administrator Max Baker said. “He has accomplished so much and helped so many during a long career, which he has served with distinction.”

The senator was clearly touched when it was announced during a ceremony at White Rock Fire Station 3 that the station was being named in his honor.

Domenici was driven up to Los Alamos where he had an opportunity to view progress at the Airport Basin development site.

“Residents of Los Alamos can be proud at the progress their community is making to diversify its economy and build a sustainable community,” Domenici said. “Over the years, I have worked to ensure that Los Alamos has a source of longevity on top of the benefits afforded by hosting a national laboratory. I commend the progress made and challenge this remarkable county to continue to take initiative in developing the area’s economic potential.”

Domenici also praised the county for its progress at the Entrada site, which is an 18-acre development he helped break ground on in 2006. The site is intended to house a hotel and other establishments.

“While LANL remains the lifeblood of this region, important progress has been made to transfer land back into the hands of the community,” Domenici said. “This work has benefited everything from local schools to the area’s business prospects. In these uncertain times where funding for the labs exists from one year to the next, I believe it is all the more important for Los Alamos to build up its own economic resources.

Domenici has overseen the transfer of more than 300 acres of land to Los Alamos county, including 30 acres for area schools, during the last several years.

During a ceremony at the Los Alamos County Airport, the senator participated in a ceremony recognizing the transfer of some 89 acres of Department of Energy property to the county for airport improvements. The improvements include a new terminal building, hangar construction, runway extension and taxiway rehabilitation.

“The transfer of Parcel A-4 is very important to the county because it allows us to have true ownership of our local airport…We have recognized for many years the importance that the airport plays in our community’s future,” County Council Chair Jim Hall told the crowd gathered inside the terminal lobby.

Hall thanked Domenici for his efforts to make the land transfer a reality. He also praised the ongoing efforts of NNSA Local Area Site Office Manager Don Winchell. “Don Winchell has proved to be a real friend to Los Alamos and he’s helped us get things done,” Hall said. He credited Winchell’s help on finalizing the fire department contract, which had been pending for some 11 years, Hall said.

In officially transferring the land, Winchell presented the deed to Domenici.

Council Vice Chair Robert Gibson is a pilot and flight instructor who flies in and out of the airport on a regular basis. He briefed the crowd on the history of the airport land transfer.

Before heading to visit the Valle Caldera, Domenici was guest of honor at the county’s special appreciation reception attended by county officials, community leaders and residents at Fuller Lodge.

“New Mexico has just been very fortunate, whether Democrat, Republican or you don’t believe in politics at all, to have someone represent us who cares so much about the citizens of our state, who has the vision and ethics to be able to establish the respect of his peers in congress in the form of Sen. Pete Domenici,” Enloe said.