• Iconic hotel heads for auction block

    Barring some 11th-hour reprieve, the Hilltop House Hotel will be auctioned off to the highest bidder on the steps of the Los Alamos Justice Center Wednesday.

    Judge Sarah Singleton of the First Judicial District Court of Los Alamos ruled last month that the special master will sell the hotel at public auction for cash or certified funds at 11:45 a.m. Wednesday at the front entrance of the Justice Center.

    According to a legal notice published in the Los Alamos Monitor last month, the total amount awarded by the judgment to Los Alamos National Bank with interest to the date of the sale was approximately $4.5 million plus additional costs and attorney fees. The amount of interest to date is more than $500,000.

    “It is my understanding there will be a sale tomorrow,” LANB president Steve Wells said Tuesday morning. “The special master will conduct the sale and accept bids on the property. The bank would be a bidder and whoever has the highest bid will take over the property.”

    The Los Alamos National Bank put the wheels in motion to foreclose on the company that owns and manages the Hilltop House Hotel back in October.

    Hotel owners Ron and Kim Selvage, along with the hotel’s investors, were hopeful that a deal could be struck with the bank to restructure the debt.

  • LACDC names Randall as new executive director

    The Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corp. board of directors has hired a veteran of municipal government and economic development as its new executive director.

    Board members met in a special session late Thursday afternoon and voted unanimously to bring Scott Randall on board to succeed Kevin Holsapple who has served as the organization’s top executive for the past 15 years.

    Holsapple announced his intention to step down from the post in December.

    Randall formally accepted the position Tuesday morning after working through details related to relocation and other matters.

    Randall, 57, has an extensive resume spanning about 35 years, the bulk of which he spent serving as city manager in locations that range from LaGrange, Ill., to Superior, Colo. Most recently, Randall worked as the general manager for the Hot Springs Village Property Owners Association in Arkansas.

    As he embarked on his career in the late 70s, Randall said that his goal was to become a city manager. Once he grabbed that “brass ring,” Randall told the board that he’s ready to tackle a new challenge.

  • Branding Los Alamos

    Imagine summing up what is most relevant and distinct about Los Alamos in one sentence.

    How would it read?

    That is the challenge that North Star Destination Strategies is taking up for the county. Community Brand Supervisor Adam Winstead and Director of Strategic Planning Ed Barlow spent three days in Los Alamos last week, launching a four to five month process of developing that brand, which will be the end result of a $50,000 contract with the county.

    “Every community is different across the nation, and so we aim to really uncover what is most relevant and distinct, and what Los Alamos County’s patent advantage is,” Winstead said. “Obviously you have a broad variety of assets and strengths, so we have to keep all that in mind as we develop a strategy.”

    The pair met with representatives of the county, members of the community involved with tourism, economic development and the Creative District. They toured the county, ate in the restaurants and talked to the managers and owners of the businesses they visited.

    A brainstorming session for business owners Tuesday attracted a fairly large crowd.

    Many of the questions were standard: What comes to mind when you think of Los Alamos County? What assets does the community have? What are the challenges it faces?

  • White Rock restaurant serves up family fun

    Several restaurants have come and gone in White Rock, but one local restaurant is now celebrating nearly six years.
    Owners Trish and Omar Sanchez created Timeout Pizzeria, modeling the restaurant after one of Omar’s favorite childhood restaurants in Roswell. He was inspired by the restaurant’s displays of local memorabilia, which he felt gave a real sense of community.
    In fact, much of the décor in the restaurant’s arcade room comes from Omar’s family farm in Roswell. Antique bikes, signs, toy cars and trucks and figurines line the walls and ceiling. Some of the toys actually belonged to Omar, or his siblings, when they were children.
    Los Alamos sports memorabilia occupies the rest of the wall space. Local athletes, both past and present, have donated Hilltopper jerseys, letterman jackets, helmets and signed team photos — and they are always looking for more. Both Trish and Omar expressed their desire to continually add more to their collection. Memorabilia donations are always welcome.

  • LA real estate entrepreneur eyes statewide market

    Zia Realty Group Broker/Owner James Chrobocinski shrugs off the suggestion that he is a “mogul in the making.”

    “I wouldn’t go that far,” he said.

    But Chrobocinski’s expansion into the Los Alamos real estate market has been meteoric and his plans are undoubtedly ambitious.

    Chrobocinski’s Los Alamos roots run deep. His grandfather, James Bramble, moved to Los Alamos to work on the Manhattan project.

    LAPD Cmdr. Randy Chrobocinski Foster is his brother and his other brother Joe Foster, and his sister Jennifer Foster King, also live here.

    Chrobocinski moved to Corpus Christi with his father just after junior high.

    “I have been trying to get back here ever since,” Chrobocinski said. It took him 26 years to reach that goal. He and his wife Jacqueline, decided to move here with his son JJ in June 2011 in order to take care of his grandfather.

    Chrobocinski’s career path echoes his mother’s, Jeannie Bramble Foster, who worked as a registered nurse in Los Alamos for a number of years before becoming a real estate agent for the Pat Rogers Agency.

  • NM City Sees Influx of 'Breaking Bad' Tourists
  • Sheryl Sandberg: On a mission to elevate women

    Sheryl Sandberg is not backing down.

    The Facebook chief operating officer's book "Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead" goes on sale Monday amid criticism that she's too successful and rich to lead a movement. But Sandberg says her focus remains on spurring action and progress among women.

    "The conversation, the debate is all good, because where we were before was stagnation — and stagnation is bad," she said in an interview with The Associated Press. "And sometimes it takes real heated debate to wake people up and find a solution."

    With "Lean In," Sandberg aims to arm women with the tools and guidance they need to keep moving forward in the workforce. The book's release is coupled with the launch of Sandberg's LeanIn.org, a nonprofit that will receive all of the book's proceeds.

    The book isn't just for women. It calls on men to lend support, both at home and in the office.

  • Affordable housing rehab effort gets a boost

    As affordable housing in Los Alamos remains in relatively short supply, one apartment complex is getting a boost for a rehab project through a grant program.

    The Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas) and Los Alamos National Bank announced they have awarded a $252,000 Affordable Housing Program (AHP) grant to YES Housing, Inc. to assist with the rehabilitation of a dated apartment community.

    The grant funds are part of a $6.2 million project that aim to revitalize the property into a new affordable housing community in Los Alamos.

    Mesa Del Norte was originally developed in 1996 as a 36-unit apartment community available only to families with incomes less than 60 percent of the area’s median income level. It consists of four, two-story 8- and 12-plex buildings with one-, two-, and three-bedroom units.

    As of March 2012, Mesa Del Norte had an occupancy level of 92 percent, and YES Housing, Inc. believes the upcoming renovations will help the property remain competitive in the affordable housing market.

  • LA companies on the move

    Cruising around downtown, locals may notice some businesses are missing from their once familiar locations.

    That’s because several longtime operations have recently moved, or are preparing to move, into spaces that are better suited to their current objectives.

    Much of the activity is centered on Central Park Square, where changing storefronts and newly renovated spaces are a common site around the complex.

    Each business has its own reasons for relocating, but there is one common factor among them all — to provide a better experience for customers.

    RE/MAX of Los Alamos and Stewart Title Company
    RE/MAX of Los Alamos outgrew its previous space long ago. Owner Kendra Henning says she’s been looking for a more suitable space since she bought the company nearly six years ago. There were too many agents crammed in space that wasn’t even large enough to hold their bi-weekly staff meetings.

    Henning found the perfect place at 116 Central Park Square, in the space formerly occupied by Los Alamos Visiting Nurses, where she and Paula Glover, President of Stewart Title Company, decided to combine resources to renovate and occupy the space. Glover had the opposite problem; she had downsized in the past few years and was looking for something a bit smaller.

  • Los Alamos Monitor marks milestone

    Today, the Los Alamos Monitor turns 50.

    The first edition of the newspaper was produced with typewriters, a headline machine, four employees and all the work was done in rented offices above a jewelry store.

    And what was in that first edition?

    The lead story was about 85 Los Alamos residents who placed $250 each in a Pajarito Site Trust Fund.

    Another top story detailed the resignation of Los Alamos police chief Jesse L. Rose, who was resigning his $10,000 a year job to take a post in Ecuador. The Los Alamos Monitor reported that a search for Rose’s replacement was underway.

    At the top of the page, there was a photo of two Los Alamos youths, who were on their way to school, but got sidetracked and started writing their names in the snow.

    On that first front page of the Los Alamos Monitor, there were 16 headlines.