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Business/Economy

  • American Legion diner under new management

    There is a new sign outside the building of the American Legion Post 90 at 1325 Trinity Drive. The Fabulous ’50s Diner has become Cat’s Post 90 Café.
    Owner and General Manager Charlie Bracken took over the business a few months ago after The Fabulous ’50s Diner’s then-owner Peter Olivas passed away in November.
    The eatery re-opened under its new name Jan. 2.
    The 1950s theme was more the Olivas’ style, Bracken said. “I wanted to change the décor to create something that represents me,” he said.
    The philosophy is still the same as before, “Good affordable food year round.”
    “If you want to bring family, have a good meal and not spend so much money, this is the right place,” Bracken said.
    The menu is basically the same, although slightly revised.
    The salad bar remains and there is still Blue Bell Ice Cream available. The food is cooked to order.
    The restaurant still participates in functions hosted by the American Legion Post 90, such as benefit dinners and fundraisers.

  • MainStreet offers matching grants to LA businesses

    Los Alamos MainStreet is offering matching grants to downtown business or organizations that plan to improve their curb appeal. A second grant is offered to help with event advertising or business promotions. With spring just around the corner, now is the time to take advantage of these grants.
     Curb Appeal Grants of up to $500 are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Eligible projects will address curb appeal improvements such as signage, landscaping, or façade improvements. The application materials include a curb appeal self-assessment, a resource listing, and a guide to container planting in Los Alamos County developed by the local New Mexico State University extension office.
     Small Promotions Grants of up to $1,000 are available for advertising and marketing costs that promote downtown events or business promotions. All applications should be turned in prior to production so the Los Alamos MainStreet logo can be used in your marketing. Find application instructions and forms online at lamainstreet.com/grants. Contact Suzette Fox, Los Alamos MainStreet Executive Director, for more information: 661-4844, suzette@losalamos.org.

  • Local doctor receives Vein Center accreditation

    Dr. Kristen L Biggs, MD of Los Alamos, recently received word that her Vein Center in Santa Fe has received the distinction of becoming an accredited vein center by the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission (IAC). She is the first vein center in the state to receive the accreditation, and one of three in the nation.
    The IAC provides several medical accreditations, with the vein center accreditation being the newest to be offered.
    The IAC describes its accreditations as “a ‘seal of approval’ that patients can count on” and requires a thorough examination of the facility, the doctors, employees and the quality of care. For more information on the IAC accreditation process, visit intersocietal.org/vein/main/patients.htm.
    As soon as the accreditation was offered last October, Biggs began preparing her submission. She describes a lengthy and time-consuming process, where she had to detail everything from her office policies and procedures to equipment lists, and medical procedures. The mountains of paperwork are then submitted to the IAC where a panel of experts reviews the material. Her facility was scrutinized for quality, medical compliance and safety, and additional accreditations were required in order to complete the process. Her vascular testing center is also accredited by the IAC.

  • Taking care of 'family'

    Tucked away on the edge of town, Sombrillo Retirement Community and Aspen Ridge Lodge, collectively referred to as Los Alamos Retirement Community, are two local treasures that provide vital services to the elderly, special needs and disabled residents in Los Alamos. The facilities are essentially their own community, with the sole purpose of providing residents the best quality of life and care possible, regardless of their situation.
    During a recent interview with the Los Alamos Monitor, their staff gathered to explain their dedication to the future of the facility and the passion they have for the work they do there. Executive Director Robert McDonald shared that with all of the new changes in healthcare, they have had to become more creative in how they utilize their resources, including their employees.
    Many of their staff is certified in multiple areas and cross-trained to provide more efficiency. Unlike most retirement communities, LPNs and RNs are available not just during the daytime, but around the clock. The nurses all boast years of experience, with a few that have been with the facility since its inception, nearly 30 years ago.

  • Beer co-op gets closer to reality

    Los Alamos is getting closer to making its mark on the New Mexico brewery scene with a unique venture orchestrated by a group of local beer enthusiasts and small brewers.
    The Los Alamos Beer Co-op is edging closer to becoming a reality, as their Board of Directors begin the final push for a Fall 2014 opening. Although they have already raised $40K through memberships and fund raising efforts, they must raise significantly more to meet their target opening date.
    The concept of a beer co-op is rather progressive, with only a couple currently existing in the U.S. In fact, the Los Alamos Beer Co-op will be one of a handful in the nation, and the very first in New Mexico. Not to be confused with a bar or pub, a beer co-op operates a brewery and tap room, where they offer craft beer brewed on premises by a professional brewer. They offer memberships and investment opportunities. Memberships offer the potential for partronage rebates, and equity investments the possibility of a return through dividends. All potential returns are based on the annual performance of the co-op.

  • Clubhouse inspection

     Council Vice Chair Kristin Henderson and County Administrator Harry Burgess admire the deck space of the new golf clubhouse.

  • Job growth in U.S. sluggish for December

    WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. employers added a scant 74,000 jobs in December, the fewest in three years. The disappointing figure ended 2013 on a weak note and raises questions about whether the job market can sustain its recent gains.

    Economists cautioned that cold weather likely played a role in the sharp slowdown in hiring. Job gains had averaged 214,000 in the previous four months.

    The Labor Department said Friday that the unemployment rate fell from 7 percent in November to 6.7 percent, its lowest level since October 2008. But the drop occurred mostly because many Americans stopped looking for jobs. Once people without jobs stop looking for one, the government no longer counts them as unemployed.

    The proportion of people either working or looking for work fell to 62.8 percent, matching a nearly 36-year low. Last month's expiration of extended unemployment benefits for 1.3 million Americans could accelerate that trend if many of them stop looking for work. They had been required to look for work in order to receive benefits.

    The stock market fell in early trading. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 46 points to 16,398 . And the yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.88 percent from 2.97 late Thursday.

  • Mexico's economy still lags after NAFTA

    MEXICO CITY (AP) — Looking around a Mexico dotted by Starbucks, Wal-Mart and Krispy Kreme outlets, it’s hard to remember the country before the North American Free Trade Agreement, which has dramatically expanded consumer choice and trade since it took effect 20 years ago on Jan. 1.
    While it changed the country in some fundamental ways, the treaty never met many of its sweeping promises to close Mexico’s wage gap with the United States, boost job growth, fight poverty and protect the environment. Mexico’s weak unions and competition from Asia and Central America kept wages down; the tightening of security along the U.S. border closed off Mexico’s immigration “escape valve,” and environmental provisions in the agreement proved less powerful than those protecting investors.
    Mexico took advantage of the accord with the United States and Canada in some areas. The auto, electronics and agriculture sectors grew, and foreign banks moved in, increasing access to credit, but a majority of Mexicans saw little benefit in income. While there is undoubtedly a larger middle class today, Mexico is the only major Latin American country where poverty also has grown in recent years.

  • LANB, OCC modify regulatory pact

    The Los Alamos National Bank signed another consent order with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency Dec. 17.
    LANB president Steve Wells said this consent order replaces the one signed with the OCC in November of last year.
    “It further clarifies the areas LANB needs to address to be in compliance and to meet the expectations of our primary regulator,” Wells said in an email.
    According to a SEC release, the focus of the order is on improving the bank’s credit administration, credit underwriting, internal controls, compliance and management supervision. Additionally, the Order requires that the Bank maintain certain capital ratios and receive approval of the OCC prior to declaring dividends.
    The Order terminates the previously entered Formal Agreement dated November 30, 2012 and will remain in effect until terminated, modified or suspended by the OCC.”
    Wells said the consent order does not directly affect an agreement that LANB signed with Kansas City Federal Reserve earlier this year.

  • Holiday sales down for third week

    NEW YORK (AP) — Stores are hoping Americans who’ve been tight-fisted with their money will get the last-minute itch to buy in the final week of the holiday shopping season.
    After a strong start to the season, sales at stores have fallen for three consecutive weeks. That puts a lot of pressure on retailers to get shoppers into stores in the final days of what’s typically the busiest shopping period of the year.
    Sales at U.S. stores dropped 3.1 percent to $42.7 billion for the week that ended on Sunday compared with the same week last year, according to ShopperTrak, which tracks data at 40,000 locations. That follows a decline of 2.9 percent and 0.8 percent during the first and second weeks of the month, respectively.
    The numbers, which don’t include online sales, are another challenge in what has largely turned out to be a disappointing holiday shopping season for stores. The two-month period that begins on Nov. 1 is important for retailers because they can make up to 40 percent of their annual sales during that time.