Local News

  • Valles Caldera looking to future

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — The management experiment at Valles Caldera National Preserve is coming to an end as the National Park Service prepares to take over the 140-square-mile property in northern New Mexico.

    The transition is among dozens of public land measures squeezed into the half-trillion-dollar defense bill signed by President Barack Obama on Friday, but details about how things will change at the preserve remain unclear.

    The Park Service is taking on Valles Caldera and numerous other properties at a time when the agency is struggling with more than $11 billion in deferred maintenance at existing parks and monuments and is looking to boost entrance fees at parks across the nation to generate more revenue in advance of the agency's centennial.

    Can the agency afford what amounts to its largest expansion in nearly four decades?

    U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn says no. The Oklahoma Republican said Friday on the Senate floor that expanding the park system was "a disastrous idea" and that the nation's existing parks were falling apart.

  • NWS issues winter weather advisory

    The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory for northern and eastern New Mexico. The advisory is in effect until 5 a.m. Tuesday.

    The NWS reported a strong upper-level jet stream that could bring moisture into the area. This could mean snow and blowing snow in the mountain areas in the northern part of the state.

    Snow accumulations anywhere between 2-7 inches are possible in the area and winds from the northwest could be 25-40 mph sustained and up to 55 mph gusts.

    The NWS said visibility could be an issue for travelers in the area.

    Check LAMonitor.com for updated information.

  • Today in history Dec. 22
  • Today in history Dec. 21
  • President signs NDAA Friday

    President Barack Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act Friday in Washington, D.C., which includes a provision to establish the Manhattan Project National Historical Park.
    The MPNHP will be partially in Los Alamos, as well as Hanford, Washington and Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
    The president’s signing was an expected move after the NDAA was approved by the House of Representatives earlier this month and the Senate last week.
    Los Alamos’ role in the Manhattan Project dealt with designing and testing the atomic bombs that were used against Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, that led to the surrender of Japan and the end of World War II. Uranium-enriching facilities were built in Oak Ridge and plutonium manufacturing was done at Hanford.
    Included in the Manhattan Project Park are 17 sites owned by LANL where bomb research took place and more than a dozen Los Alamos community properties, including the Oppenheimer House and the Hans Bethe House.
    To celebrate, a party was hosted at the Bethe House Friday afternoon.
    Obama didn’t address the provisions for the MPNHP or for the Valles Caldera Park when he signed the bill into law Friday.

  • BPU questions general fund transer formula

    As Board of Public Utilities member Stephen McLin put it, Vice Chair David Powell “opened up a big can of worms” at the board’s Dec. 17 meeting when he raised questions about the 5-percent transfer to the county’s general fund from the Department of Public Utilities electric and gas revenues.
    Powel suggested that transferring the equivalent of 5 percent of retail sales to the general fund, something agreed upon in a 1997 resolution (Resolution 97-07) negotiated between BPU and the Los Alamos County Council, may be contradictory to the County Charter.
    The charter contains a “Priority of Budgeted Expenditures,” which places transferring “remaining operating profits” at the bottom of the list.
    Top priorities are funding for current operations, payment of bond interest, maintaining adequate reserves to finance replacements required by normal depreciation, payments to the general fund in lieu of franchise fees and taxes and “provisions for additions and improvements foreseen as necessary to meet future requirements for the utility systems.”

  • Former Tuskegee Airman dies at 95

    VENTURA, Calif. (AP) — Lowell Steward, a former member of the Tuskegee Airmen who flew nearly 200 missions over Europe during World War II, has died in California. He was 95.
    His son Lowell Jr. says Steward died Wednesday of natural causes at a hospital in Ventura.
    After graduating with a business degree from Santa Barbara College in 1941, Steward joined the Army Air Corps and trained at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama.
    He was shipped to Italy in 1944 with the 100th Fighter Squadron of the famed all-black unit. From Capodechino Air Base in Naples, Steward completed 96 missions, flying P-39 Airacobras and P-40 Warhawks. Later based in Ramitelli, Italy, he flew 96 escort and strafing missions in P-51 Mustangs.
    America’s first black military pilots faced an unprecedented level of scrutiny under racial segregation.
    As a result they held themselves to a higher standard, Steward often said.
    “He would say, ‘we had to be better because we were looked at harder. The odds were stacked against us. Some people wanted us to fail,’” Lowell Jr. said.
    Steward was ultimately awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
    After being discharged in 1946, he moved to Los Angeles and tried to buy a house, only to be repeatedly denied bank loans because he was black.

  • Martin says he’ll screen ’Interview’

    SANTA FE (AP) — “Game of Thrones” author George R.R. Martin is offering to show “The Interview” at his theater in Santa Fe.
    Martin wrote on his blog this week that the Jean Cocteau Cinema would be glad to screen the film if Sony ever releases the comedy for theatrical exhibition.
    Martin called the decision to shelve “The Interview” in the face of terrorist threats a “stunning display of corporate cowardice.”
    The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that Martin hasn’t seen the film and doesn’t know whether it’s good or bad.
    Whether it’s the next “Citizen Kane” or the next “Plan 9 from Outer Space,” Martin says he’s astonished that a major Hollywood film could be killed before release by threats from a foreign power and anonymous hackers.

  • Lottery: N.M. needs to upgrade to boost ticket sales statewide

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — The New Mexico Lottery needs to catch up with the mobile revolution if it wants to attract the next generation of players and raise more money for the lottery scholarship program, the head of the gaming agency told lawmakers Thursday.
    Lottery CEO David Barden and state Higher Education Deputy Secretary Glenn Walters testified before the legislative Revenue Stabilization and Tax Policy Committee on the status of the popular scholarship program.
    Without boosting sales, they echoed the concerns many have had about the solvency of the program as tuition increases and demand for financial assistance grows.
    More than $40 million was raised for college students during the last fiscal year, and lottery officials say they’re on track to raise nearly $43 million during the next budget year.
    Tapping into the spending habits of younger people will be key, Barden said, pointing to efforts in Minnesota and other states where players can purchase tickets at the gas pump or online.
    While more than 80 percent of tickets are sold at convenience stores, Barden said statistics show about 73 percent of people who stop for gas never go inside and that amounts to lost opportunity.

  • Clarification 12-20-14

    In “Los Alamos Beer Co-Op Getting Closer to Launch,” published Nov. 28, it was incorrectly stated that “The co-op also relies on member loans approved by the New Mexico Securities Division.” A representative of the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department has informed the Los Alamos Monitor that the Securities Division does not approve or review any loans.