Local News

  • On the Docket 4-3-16

    March 24
    Victoria T. Lovato was found guilty by the Los Alamos Municipal Court for headlamps on motor vehicles. Sentence deferred until April 25. Defendant must also pay $65 in court costs.
    Cuilan Yuan pled no contest in Los Alamos Municipal Court for speeding 11 to 15 miles an hour over the speed limit. Sentence deferred until May 23. Defendant also sentenced to defensive driving school. Defendant must also pay $65 in court costs.

    March 25
    Jerry C. Dudley was found guilty at the time of traffic stop of speeding six to 10 miles an hour over the speed limit. Defendant was fined $50 and must also pay $65 in court costs.

    March 28
    Karen D. Miller was found guilty at the time of traffic stop of speeding 11 to 15 miles an hour over the speed limit. Defendant was fined $75 and must also pay $65 in court costs.
    Mark D. Ortega was found guilty at the time of traffic stop of speeding one to five miles an hour over the speed limit in a school zone. Defendant was fined $30 and must also pay $65 in court costs.
    Kathy Steck was found guilty at the time of traffic stop of speeding six to 10 miles an hour over the speed limit. Defendant was fined $50 and must also pay $65 in court costs.

  • Feds: $2.7M in grants available for New Mexico businesses

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Small businesses in New Mexico working on new innovations that could help the U.S. Energy Department will be getting a boost thanks to $2.7 million in federal grant funding.

    The agency announced the grants this week. In all, officials say $116 million in grants will be awarded nationwide for research and development through a technology transfer program aimed at helping small businesses.

    The projects in New Mexico range from the development of a special membrane to help reduce carbon dioxide emissions to research on soil, fuel cells, particle accelerators and high-energy physics.

  • LANL defends plutonium production in wake of report

    Los Alamos National Laboratory is fighting back this week in the wake of a critical report on safety issues at its plutonium production facility.

    The report by Patrick Malone and Jared Bennett of the Center of Public Integrity was published beginning Sunday and describes a safety review shutdown in 2013 that has slowed work on the manufacture and testing of new and existing plutonium pits at LANL.

    An internal LANL memo obtained by the Los Alamos Monitor sent to employees Monday at the facility assured PF-4 employees that the facility is safe and ready to expand its plutonium pit manufacturing program.

    “Since 2013, PF-4 programmatic operations and safety management programs have successfully completed seventeen independent external assessments – nine Contractor Readiness Assessments and eight Federal Readiness Assessments,” said LANL Principal Associate Director of Operations and Business Craig Leasure in the memo. 

    Leasure also assured workers that PF-4 has the full support of the Department of Energy in its efforts to ramp up plutonium pit production.

  • Report puts New Mexico at No. 34 for education spending

    SANTA FE (AP) — A report by the Census Bureau ranked New Mexico as 34th in the nation for its public education spending.
    The Census Bureau released its findings last week, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported (http://bit.ly/2sxtvxe). The report took from nationwide data from 2014-15. New Mexico spent $9,752 per student during those years, 14 percent less than the national average for that period, according to the Census Bureau.
    In comparison, Utah spent around $6,500 per student, while New York invested a hefty $21,206.
    Experts found that despite those amounts, the state's proficiency scores and graduation rates are behind New York's by less than 10 percent while Utah's graduation rate passes New Mexico's by 12 percent. Utah students also beat New Mexico students' reading proficiency scores by 19 percent.
    Bruce Baker, a Rutgers University professor and expert in education finance, told The New Mexican that the disparities can be a result of the different economies and demographics in the two states. About 1 in 3 New Mexico children are from impoverished families compared with 12.5 percent of the low-income Utah children, according the report.
    "In New Mexico, you have an extreme poverty population, and there is not money to target resources in those areas," Baker said.

  • Cajete Fire 87 percent contained

    The Cajete Fire is 87 percent contained, according to forest service officials.

    Also, the Central Incident Command, the national interagency command that took over management of the fire from local management Thursday, will be cutting its firefighting force down from 416 members to around 105 members according to the U.S. Forest Service.

    The fire, which has burned 1,412 acres, will be downgraded from a type 1 incident to a type 3 incident. A type 3 incident still calls for fire fighters from teams from all over the country to fight the fire.

    When it becomes a type 4 incident, local command will assume control of fighting and managing the fire.

    As of Tuesday, the 13 fire engines, one bulldozer, three water tenders and six helicopters have been used to fight and contain the blaze.

    Incident command was still battling fire on Los Griegos Mountain by flying crews in by helicopter. Incident command is also beginning to repair the landscape where fire fighting activities have been taking place.

    “They still have firefighters up there today, and they are being used to secure that line,” U.S. Forest Service Spokeswoman Julie Anne Overton said.

    At some point this week, crews are expected to switch to just watching the remaining fire burn itself out.

  • Safety Town kicks off third year

    The third year of Safety Town began Monday morning at Mountain Elementary School.

    The two-week program was created for incoming kindergarteners in the school district to learn how to traverse the town in a safe manner with regards to walking, taking the bus or riding a bike.

    “The whole program is designed to not only introduce them to safety, but to integrate them into the school environment,” explained Los Alamos Police Department Chief Dino Sgambellone.

    The partial days help to acclimate the kids and they also get the chance to meet future classmates.

    Kids are introduced to bus drivers, teachers, police officers, fire fighters and animal control officers, all of whom discuss safe ways for children to interact in their environments.

    Activities include class time, videos, craft time and exercise time, where they can practice all they have learned.

    LAPD Cpl. Adele McKenzie has been involved with Safety Town the past few years and explained that the kids come in with different abilities and, at times, they actually teach the students how to ride a bike.

    “It’s a lot of fun,” she said. 

  • Rael found guilty on all charges

    David Rael, of Los Alamos, was found guilty Monday all on counts, which were three charges of manufacture, one charge of distribution, and one charge of possession related to the sexual exploitation of children.

    Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer gave her verdict Monday, following a two-day bench trial.

    When Sommer entered the courtroom, she asked the defendant and attorney Marc Walker Edwards to stand and pronounced Rael, 40, guilty of all charges.

    She required Rael to first undergo a psychological evaluation.

    “I’m going to put off sentencing, but I’m going to have Mr. Rael remanded for a 60-day diagnostic,” Sommer said.

    Rael was taken into custody following the verdict.

    According to Sommer, the psychologist will be able to see the criminal charges and take them into account during Rael’s evaluation.

    Assistant Attorney General Jason Yamato said of the verdict, “We are pleased with the outcome.”

    Yamamoto said he believes the right decision was made. Of last week’s trial, he said, “We presented a strong case,” said Yamato, with the help of Assistant Attorney General Celedonia Munoz.

    Although Yamato could not make a comment on sentencing, he said, “The 60-day diagnostic will maybe shed some light.”

  • Hot temps expected to ease up by weekend

    Temperatures are expected to keep Los Alamos residents hot under the collar this week, but cooler weather is expected this weekend.

    According to Albuquerque meteorologist Kerry Jones, of the Albuquerque Office of the National Weather Service, the hottest days will be today and Thursday, with temps hitting the mid- to late-90s all day.

    It has been 20 years since Los Alamos have seen temperatures this high at this time of year.

    “You have to go back to 1998 to get to a year where we had two consecutive days where temperatures were at or above 94 in Los Alamos. That’s hot,” Jones said.

    Friday, the temperatures will go down into the low 90s and continue to fall through the weekend, with a forecast high of 78 for Sunday in Los Alamos. Residents will also get relief at night, as temperatures will drop into the mid 60s this week.

    “We are going to go from hot and dry to cool and moist. There will also be a really good chance for showers and thunderstorms,” Jones said.

    The heat wave is being caused by a high pressure over west central New Mexico. By Friday, the high-pressure system will start to move south.

  • New Mexico top elections official to run for re-election

    SANTA FE (AP) — New Mexico's top elections official says she will run for re-election in 2018.
    Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver announced her bid for the Democratic nomination Tuesday, saying she wants to continue implementing reforms of the state's campaign finance rules as well as increasing voter education in rural and Native American communities.
    Toulouse Oliver was elected secretary of state during a special election in November 2016.
    She's serving out the remainder of the term vacated by Republican Dianna Duran, who resigned as secretary of state in 2015 and was convicted on embezzlement and money laundering charges.
    Before taking over the statewide office, Toulouse Oliver served as the Bernalillo County clerk from 2007 to 2016.

  • Police implore New Mexico author to end treasure hunt

    SANTA FE (AP) — New Mexico's top law enforcement officer is asking the author and antiquities dealer who inspired thousands to comb remote corners of the West in vain for a chest of gold and jewels to end the treasure hunt.
    The plea from New Mexico State Police Chief Pete Kassetas follows what authorities believe is the latest death related to the hunt for Forrest Fenn's hidden treasure.
    Kassetas told the Santa Fe New Mexican that Fenn should retrieve the treasure from wherever he hid it and "stop this nonsense."
    Fenn says he's been considering how to make the search safer or cancel it altogether but hasn't made any decisions.
    The New Mexico Search and Rescue team is reaching out to the public through a survey for their thoughts on whether Fenn should call off the search.