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Around the Area

  • Hiring slows in March, ending streak of gains

    WASHINGTON (AP) — A weakening U.S. economy spilled into the job market in March as employers added just 126,000 jobs — the fewest since December 2013 — snapping a 12-month streak of gains above 200,000.
    The unemployment rate remained at 5.5 percent, the Labor Department said in its monthly report Friday.
    The March jobs data raised uncertainties about the world’s largest economy, which for months has been the envy of other industrialized nations for its steadily robust hiring and growth. Employers now appear wary about the economy, especially as a strong dollar has slowed U.S. exports, home sales have sputtered and cheaper gasoline has yet to unleash more consumer spending.
    Some of the weakness may prove temporary: An unseasonably cold March followed a brutal winter that slowed key sectors of the economy.
    Last month’s subpar job growth could make the Federal Reserve less likely to start raising interest rates from record lows in June, as some have been anticipating. The Fed may decide that the economy still needs the benefit of low borrowing costs to generate healthy growth.

  • Rio Grande Trail commission bill signed

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Governor Susana Martinez signed legislation Thursday to create a commission to define the best routes and reach necessary agreements to build a 500-mile, statewide recreation trail stretching from Colorado to Texas.
    “Establishing a trail the length of the Rio Grande would be a historic achievement for New Mexico,” Martinez said at a Rio Grande Nature Center State Park bill signing.
    Called the Rio Grande Trail, the pathway is envisioned as being similar to the Appalachian Trail or the Continental Divide Trail.
    The commission will act as the conduit to designate a path that would weave through majestic vistas, monuments and cultural areas of the state.
    Commission members would include cities, counties, tribes, federal agencies, conservancy districts and private citizens.
    The trail would only cross land accessed through voluntary agreements with owners and would link pathways that already exist along the Rio Grande, including the Bosque in Albuquerque, Taos, Elephant Butte and Las Cruces.
    The existing pathways comprise just 10 percent of the proposed trial.
    As envisioned, the trail could be built in pieces — even non-contiguous ones.

  • A walk of faith

    Their journey may start a few miles away, or from as far off as Taos, Las Trampas or Albuquerque. They are of every age and physical condition, some jogging along while others ride in strollers or wheelchairs. Some carry crosses; others carry oxygen to assist their breathing.
    These are the pilgrims who flood the roads to El Santuario de Chimayó on Good Friday, a tradition in New Mexico for more than 60 years now. The event has become famous worldwide.
    Pilgrims are drawn to Chimayó not only during Holy Week, but year round. The Church of the Ascension in Albuquerque and Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Taos both sponsor 100-mile pilgrimages to the chapel, usually in early June.
    But Good Friday holds a special place for Catholic worshipers as the day that Christ suffered and died on the cross.
    “This is an embedded part of our culture, which is mixed with our religion. It’s an expression of our faith,” said Richard Valez, who frequently made the pilgrimage when he was growing up in Santa Fe. Valez has lived in Albuquerque since he was 18 years old, but still makes the effort to do the pilgrimage.
    “After the sacrifice our lord made for us, I’m using his example as a way to sacrifice in this minimal way,” said James, who was walking with his cousin Geraldine.

  • NM 4 is now open

    NM 4 has been reopened, but the mobile home that had been blocking it is still very near the road.

    The incident occurred at the intersection of NM 4 and the Truck Route before 6 p.m. A truck that had been towing the mobile home broke down and traffic was obstructed before crews were able to move the home.

  • Pajarito Road should reopen after 7 p.m.

    LOS ALAMOS, NM -- As of 3:20 p.m. Pajarito Road remains closed as DPU crews continue making repairs to a broken water main.  Officials anticipate that the road will be open to through traffic after 7 p.m.

    The concrete cylinder water main broke early this morning on Pajarito Road just west of the intersection of Diamond Drive on the Los Alamos National Laboratory side. Pajarito Road is closed to through traffic at this intersection as Department of Public Utilities’ crews make repairs.  

    Traffic traveling southbound on Diamond Drive and eastbound onto Pajarito Road is unaffected. Vehicles traveling westbound on Pajarito Road will detour north onto Diamond Drive.

    Water valves have been shut off to isolate the break.  No customers should be without water. 

    Once the damage is assessed, DPU crews will have a better idea as to how long it will take to make repairs.

  • New Mexico Airlines grounded again

    KOAT Channel 7 reported last night that New Mexico Airlines has again stopped flying and that the FAA is currently investigating maintenance problems that pushed the airline to voluntarily ground its planes Dec. 11.

    According to Los Alamos County Public Information Officer Julie Habiger, Airport Manager Dave Ploeger has confirmed that the airlines’ last flight to or from Albuquerque was Monday afternoon. All flights since have been cancelled. The county was not notified of the interruption.

    “We have not talked to the officials at the airlines at this time. We are not in contact with the FAA nor would they talk to us about what the possible maintenance issues might be,” Habiger said,

    Habiger confirmed that the county is addressing the issue and hopes to issue a statement about the situation soon.

  • Senate approves National Park status for Manhattan Project, Valles Caldera

    The senate has just voted 89−11 to approve the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which includes public lands legislation creating the Manhattan Project National Historical Park (MPNHP) and granting National Park Preserve status to the Valles Caldera National Preserve (VCNP).

    Both pieces of legislation have been years in the making. Senators Tom Udall, Martin Heinrich, and former Sen. Jeff Bingaman were sponsors of both pieces of legislation. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan helped sponsor the MPNHP legislation in the House.

    On Dec. 11. Heinrich delivered statements supporting the inclusion of several public lands bills in the NDAA. He stated,

    "None of this would be possible were it not for years of effort and support from the local communities that helped craft these bills. Thanks to their work, New Mexico's critical public land based economic engine will continue to grow in the energy, tourism, sporting and recreation sectors."
    Lujan also issued a statement after the House passage of the bill last week, stating that establish the MPNHP

  • Expect Main Hill Road delays

    The New Mexico Department of Transportation has restricted traffic on the Main Hill Road to one lane in order to perform shoulder work. The Los Alamos Monitor is currently trying to determine how long the delay is expected to continue.

  • BPU gives itself high ratings

    The Board of Public Utilities gave itself high marks on its first self-evaluation during a special meeting on Friday. A yearly self-evaluation is part of the new Policies and Procedures Manual adopted on May 21 of this year.

    Most of the questions were routine checks, such as, “Is there an annual board calendar?” or “Do all board members participate in a formal orientation?”

    On a scale of one to five, the lowest score was a three on the question of “Does the board give clear directions to management on the mission and goals of the organization?”

    The board felt that the mission and goals were too driven by Department of Public Utilities staff, and that the board itself should have more discussion regarding those and provide more direction to the department.

    “Our responsibility is to set direction,” Board Chair Timothy Neal said. “I don’t think we have talked among ourselves about how we want the department to move… I think we should have a consensus about where we want to move.”

  • Valles Caldera trust asks for five more years

    The board of trustees for the Valles Caldera National Preserve voted on Wednesday to ask Congress to extend the current trust model for another five years.

    Under the 2000 Valles Caldera Preservation Act (VCPA), the enabling legislation that created the preserve, the trust dissolvesif it fails to achieve financial self-sufficiency by 2015 and management of the 89,000-acres preserve transfers to the U.S. Forest Service.

    The legislation allows for an extension of the current model to 2020 provided sufficient progress has been made toward self-sufficiency. The board is officially requesting that extension.

    Read Thursday’s Los Alamos Monitor for more on this story.