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Business/Economy

  • Social Security raise to be among lowest in years

    WASHINGTON (AP) — For the second straight year, millions of Social Security recipients, disabled veterans and federal retirees can expect historically small increases in their benefits come January.

    Preliminary figures suggest a benefit increase of roughly 1.5 percent, which would be among the smallest since automatic increases were adopted in 1975, according to an analysis by The Associated Press.

    Next year's raise will be small because consumer prices, as measured by the government, haven't gone up much in the past year.

    The exact size of the cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, won't be known until the Labor Department releases the inflation report for September. That was supposed to happen Wednesday, but the report was delayed indefinitely because of the partial government shutdown.

    The COLA is usually announced in October to give Social Security and other benefit programs time to adjust January payments. The Social Security Administration has given no indication that raises would be delayed because of the shutdown, but advocates for seniors said the uncertainty was unwelcome.

    Social Security benefits have continued during the shutdown.

    More than one-fifth of the country is waiting for the news.

  • LANB hires new chief credit officer

    Los Alamos National Bank announced the hiring of Thomas (Tom) M. Lilly as chief credit officer this week.
    Lilly brings more than 25 years of community banking financial management experience overseeing credit administration, underwriting, loan operations and collections for several Mid-Western regional banks.
    “Tom is a great addition to LANB,” said Steve Wells, president, “he brings valued expertise to the credit quality function of the organization and will make us a better bank”.
    Lilly will oversee all credit administration of LANB and will lead the lending and credit operations in assuring strong asset quality and effective credit risk management.
    Upon accepting the position, Lilly said, “I’m excited to work for a community bank with the stature of LANB. I want to ensure that LANB continues to be an active and effective lender in the communities it serves.”
     Lilly has served on a number of non-profit boards in Milwaukee, Wisconsin including the American Cancer Society, the Children’s Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House. He is particularly interested in serving the needs of children in the community.

  • Banks to help furloughed workers

    Some local banks and credit unions are offering help to those who have been or will be furloughed.
    Los Alamos National Bank is rolling out a program to provide relief for furloughed Federal Employees called “LANB S.T.R.O.N.G.”.
    “Our community and customers have always counted on LANB to be there for them. The unfortunate situation many may find themselves in due to government furloughs is a time when LANB can again help,” said bank President Steve Wells.
    LANB S.T.R.O.N.G. stands for “Short Term Relief Options (while) No Government.” It contains four main relief options for furloughed federal employees:
    • Payment Deferrals on Consumer Loans and Credit Cards (1 month)
    • Home Mortgage Loan Payment Forbearance (up to 6 months)
    • Waived Overdraft Fees
    • Short Term Relief Loans (new customers as well)
    They are up to $5,000, 24-month-term, five percent fixed rate, no fees, with approved credit and must be repain with a monthly payments of $219.36.
    Furloughed federal employees need only to contact LANB and the Bank will quickly assist with their request. Direct any questions or requests to: Toll Free: 800-684-5262, Los Alamos and Santa Fe 505-662-5171, Albuquerque: 505-449-5100

    Zia Credit Union

  • Christmas at Neiman Marcus: $1.9M Diamond Deal
  • 965 federal employees submit unemployment claims in NM

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Officials say nearly 1,000 federal employees submitted unemployment claims in New Mexico.

    Federal employees who are laid off — including those furloughed during the temporary shutdown of the federal government — can file for unemployment benefits through the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions.

    Department officials said Monday that there have been 965 total initial claims for federal employees filed on or after Oct. 1.

    They say federal employee claims are about 36 percent of all new claims, which total 2,700.

  • Great Reset: How Great Recession Changed Habits
  • E-cigarette shop aims for smoke-free world

    Gator’s LA Vapor opened in May with the purpose of helping people quit — as their motto suggests, “Thank You for Not Smoking.”

    Owners Darin Diffey and his wife Shannan know how hard it is to stop smoking so they both have turned to vapor after being heavy smokers for several years.

    E-cigarettes are different than its tobacco counterpart because there is no burning or smoke involved. An e-cigarette starter kit consists of a mechanism with a battery and a vaporization chamber that holds a cartridge of liquid nicotine. When someone takes a puff off the contraption, the liquid is heated, delivering nicotine into the lungs and the person exhales vapor instead of smoke.

    The argument that e-cigarettes are safer than tobacco products is still in question by the FDA; however, according to the website Discovery Fit and Health, e-cigs only contain nicotine, which in itself is relatively safe. The e-cigarette lacks the 4,000-plus toxins and carcinogenic chemicals that tobacco cigarettes contain.

    Diffey said he always keeps up to date on the latest findings. This and other e-cigarette companies do not make safety or health claims, however they do push the benefits of e-cigarettes as an alternative to tobacco. There has not been enough research to reach a definite conclusion.

  • LANB parent company inks deal with KC Fed

    Trinity Capital Corporation, the parent company of Los Alamos National Bank, reached an agreement with the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, to develop a plan to provide financial support to the bank and maintain sufficient capital.

    The written agreement, signed Sept. 26, between the two entities bars Trinity from paying dividends or incurring additional debt without the Fed’s approval.

    “We entered into the agreement with the federal bank last week,” LANB president Steve Wells said. “The agreement also requires Trinity and LANB to abide by a Nov. 30 agreement between the bank and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. That agreement called for the bank to review its management team and credit underwriting and administrative policies."

    According to Wells, the OCC was concerned that LANB overextended itself on $5.5 million in loans that were spread out amongst seven customers. The bank extended the loans into 2012. The OCC’s opinion was that the bank should have called in the loans in 2011. Wells said the bank has about $1.2 billion in total loans.

  • Warm hearts

    If there’s one thing Tina Derr remembers about the Cerro Grande Fire, it’s the Christmas ornaments.
     She was one of the 400 residents who lost her home to the fire, but someone, somewhere thought about her family’s plight, and gave them Christmas decorations.
    A small gesture, but one she remembered as going a long way toward adding a little normalcy as well as dignity to the end of what was a very gut wrenching and tumultuous year for many.
    “People were so kind to us, and someone did a really nice gesture by giving us some Christmas ornaments after the fire so we had something, ” she said.
    “To have something like that happen in the midst of rebuilding, it just touched our hearts, just knowing that somebody cared.”
    Now, a full 13 years later, Derr was thinking about this as she watched what the residents of Black Forest, Colo., were going through earlier this year, as fire raged through their town claiming 509 homes and two lives before it was over.
    “One day, God put this in my head, saying, ‘hey, we need to make gloves, hats and scarves because it’s going to start getting cold up there,” she said. “It’s been two months since the fire, but for some reason, God dropped this on my head and said ‘get it done.’”

  • Food truck offers variety of fare

    At festivals and outdoor concerts around Los Alamos, Chuck’s Wagon is there to make sure no one goes hungry.
    Chuck’s Wagon mobile food truck travels throughout the state to festivals, carnivals, picnics and other events that require “Fair food.” Most recently, they were the only food vendor at the Next Big Idea Festival at Fuller Lodge and they also were a vendor at Zozobra and the Renaissance Fair in Santa Fe. It was occasionally one of the vendors at the Friday Night Concerts. It plans to be at Mountain Elementary School’s Halloween Carnival.
    Chuck’s Wagon is known for its “Fair” food, burgers, funnel cakes, fresh cut fries and fresh squeezed lemonade.
    Chuck and Miracle Miller make their business a family affair. Their two sons, Reagan, 12 and Hunter, 10, also help out during festivals. It was first established in July.
    The plan is to expand their menu and find a permanent spot in the Los Alamos community, which is a plan already in the works. They leased the space from the property owner and went to the county for approval on the space. They received a permit to park across from Ashley Pond and they can begin operations on Oct. 1.