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Around the Area

  • BPU endorses new sewer rates

    The Los Alamos Board of Public Utilities voted unanimously on Wednesday to endorse an increase in sewer rates proposed by the Department of Public Utilities.

    The hike is necessary to cover the costs of repairing and replacing the 50- to 60-year-old infrastructure. The proposed ordinance increases overall sewer rates but also simplifies residential customers’ bills to a restructured flat fee every month. It removes the variable rate that is based on the amount of potable water consumed during winter months. The ordinance also includes continuing annual rate increases of eight percent for the next four years beginning in June 2013 to meet the critical future capital expenses of the sewer collection and wastewater treatment systems.

    Commercial customers will continue to be charged a variable rate, but under the proposed ordinance these customers will pay the $7 customer fee in lieu of the previous fixed rate. The commercial variable rate will increase from $5.89 to $11.91 and will be based on the winter average of potable water consumed with a minimum 2000 gallons or other measuring period as determined appropriate by the DPU based on seasonal or other non-traditional water use patterns. Commercial customers’ rates will also rise by 8 percent a year through 2016.

  • SF man claims $1M Powerball prize

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A Santa Fe man has come forward to claim a $1 million prize in the multi-state Powerball game.

    New Mexico Lottery officials say Michael Vigil was one winning number away from taking the $40 million jackpot in last Saturday's drawing.

    Still, he's the state lottery's seventh millionaire so far this year.

    Vigil told lottery officials in Albuquerque that he plans to use his prize to pay bills, visit family out of state and travel abroad.

  • Police: Drunk NM man called police on himself

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Authorities say an Albuquerque man has been arrested for drunken driving — after he called police on himself.

    KRQE-TV reports that Antonio Candelaria recently was arrested when officers found him drunk in his driveway and lying on the ground with his foot stuck in his motorcycle.

    Police say the 50-year-old had called police for help after getting his foot stuck.

    According to police, Candelaria's breath test results came out above .16, which is twice the legal limit in New Mexico.

    Court records showed that Candelaria had a long list of DWI arrests and a handful of convictions.

    It was unclear if Candelaria had an attorney.

  • Hiking reopens on burned portion of Valles Caldera

    SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Part of the Valles Caldera National Preserve that was burned by a wildfire last year is again open to hikers and for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing this winter.

    The Valles Caldera Trust said Wednesday the public can access the preserve's Rabbit Mountain area through trails such as the Coyote Call trail and logging roads. Motorized vehicles are prohibited as well as overnight camping.

    New Mexico Route 4 borders Rabbit Mountain in the preserve, and the trust said access to the reopened area also is possible from Forest Roads 289, 268 and 36.

    The Las Conchas wildfire last year burned portions of the 89,000-acre preserve, which is near Los Alamos in northern New Mexico.

  • DOT to sell surplus equipment at auction

    SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The state Department of Transportation plans to sell surplus equipment ranging from bulldozers and snowplows to cars, mini-vans and four-wheel drive sport utility vehicles.

    An auction is scheduled Sept. 29 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the department's District 5 office, which is on the south side of Santa Fe.

    The agency says more than 1,000 items will be sold, including dump trucks, pickup trucks, road graders, trailers, mowers as well as office furniture and electronics.

    The equipment can be viewed at the District 5 office on Sept. 27-28. A partial listing of the equipment also is available on the auctioneer's web site (http://bit.ly/RS8cKZ ).

    Money from the auction will go into a state fund that pays for the department's operations.

  • Redondo replaces Johnson on Democratic council ticket

    The Los Alamos County Democratic Party Central Committee unanimously elected Michael Redondo to replace Kenneth Johnson on the Democratic ticket for the Los Alamos county council race. Johnson withdrew on Aug. 17, saying he would likely be moving away from the county before the term had ended.

    Redondo was the only candidate to put himself forward to fill the vacancy. He had contemplated entering the race before the primaries, but had chosen not to run so he could pursue a job with the county. The county position is no longer an option, so Redondo decided to throw his hat in.

    "I care for this town. I want to see it prosper. I want to see people like myself be able to come back to this town, having grown up here, and be able to get a job, and that job not necessarily be at the lab," Redondo said. "I think this community really needs to think about diversifying its economy. In essence, it's a one company town, and unless you are willing and can get a job at the lab, it's difficult for people who grew up here to be able to stay."

  • Seven vie to replace Selvage

    Seven Los Alamos county residents have submitted letters of interest in the council seat vacated by Ron Selvage earlier this month. They are Edward Birnbaum, John Bliss, Stephen Boerigter, Andrea Cunningham, Phillip Kunsberg, Ralph Phelps and Rick Reiss.

    Council will hold a special session at 7 p.m. Sept. 6 to select a replacement. The successful candidate will hold the seat for the remainder of Selvage’s term, which expires Dec. 13, 2014.

    Follow the Los Alamos Monitor for more on the candidates.

  • Severed line causes power outage

    At approximately10 a.m. Monday morning a contractor severed an underground electric line while removing a section of sidewalk, leaving businesses on the south side of Trinity from 20th to the end DP Road without power for a brief period of time.

    Electric line crews with the Los Alamos Department of Public Utilities responded and rerouted power around the damaged section to restore power in less than 30 minutes. Permanent repairs will be scheduled in the near future.

  • Rodgers elected vice chair of council

    In a unanimous decision, the Los Alamos county council voted Geoff Rodgers in as Vice Chair Tuesday evening. The position was vacated when Ron Selvage resigned last week.

    Council also voted unanimously on a procedure for filling Selvage's seat. Staff was directed to solicit letters of intent from those interested in the position, with a deadline of 5 p.m. Aug. 28. Council will select a candidate in a special session on Sept. 6.

  • High water at Bandelier washes out temporary bridges

    An evening rain in upper Frijoles Canyon Wednesday sent high water down Frijoles Creek, washing away three temporary bridges in Bandelier National Monument. Bridges along the trail to Alcove House and the second bridge on the Falls Trail were washed away.

    The high water also closed Hwy 501 and sections of Hwy 4 temporarily.

    Chief Ranger Tom Betts said the temporary bridges were designed for such events.

    “Our talented trail crew designed split log and rail bridges which are very simple and very cost effective,” Betts said. “We built them knowing they would wash away at some point.”