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Local News

  • On the front lines of Los Alamos 311 center

    They are the first people encountered at the Los Alamos County municipal building. They answer the 311 information phone lines. They take utility payments and property tax payments, they handle banner permits and the county’s “lemon lot” permits. They also serve as notary publics and manage the sale of cemetery plots and arrange for internments.
    All these duties fall to the 311 Customer Care Center staff, who are often the first point of contact between county residents and county services.
    “Those people are so good. I needed some information yesterday and they really went out of their way to find out,” said resident Chris Judson. “They always come through for me. Every time I’ve ever dealt with them it’s been so positive. They really deserve kudos.”
    The Los Alamos Monitor sat down with Billing and Service Specialist Tracey Alarid to learn more about what the job entails.
    “My day is always very extremely busy, but it’s different every day,” Alarid said.
    Judson’s experience of having a 311-staffer track down information is not unusual.

  • Trinity Capital to pay 1.5 million in federal penalties

    The Los Alamos National Bank and its parent company, Trinity Capital Corporation, have agreed to pay $1.5 million in fines. In exchange, the Securities and Exchange Commissio will drop the charges it levied against the bank and Trinity for accounting fraud.

    “Without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings, Trinity agreed to provide ongoing cooperation and to pay a $1.5 million penalty, which takes into account the company’s significant remedial measures and cooperation during the investigation, The SEC said in a written statement.

    According to the SEC, Trinity underreported the net losses to its shareholders by $30.5 million. SEC officials said the company reported its 2011 income as $4.9 million, when actually the bank suffered a $25.6 million loss.

    In its investigation of the bank and Trinity Capital, the SEC directly blamed William Enloe, Trinity Capital’s CEO at the time, former chief credit officer Jill Cook and former lending officer Mark Pierce.

    The SEC’s complaint also blames Trinity’s former CFO Daniel Bartholomew and vice president of internal audit Karl Hjelvik for not installing proper internal auditing controls and failing “to ensure the bank’s books and records were reasonably accurate.” 

  • Schedule of Public Works projects set for Los Alamos

    Note: For more information about the projects listed below, please email lacpw@lacnm.us, call 662-8150, or visit the “Projects” link at www.losalamosnm.us. Please slow down and use caution within the construction work zones. Please note the below information is based on a schedule provided by the contractors and may change due to weather or other delays.
    Western Area
    Improvements Phase 3:
    Paving operations will begin on Monday, Sept. 21 on 43rd Street (north). Residents are asked to park vehicles in their driveways during paving hours.
    Work hours will begin 8 a.m. Residents can expect flagging operations. Crew members will be available to escort residents through the work zone if emergencies arise.
    20th Street/Fuller Lodge Improvements:
    The north bound lane will remain closed through Wednesday. On Thursday, the contractor will change the traffic control to allow for paving on the south bound lane. Motorists will use the north bound lane. Signs will be in place to help guide motorists through the detour. To access local businesses please follow detour signs.
    On Friday, the contractor plans to close 20th Street north of the Deacon Street intersection to the parking lot across from the Teen Center. This will allow for the contractor to construct new concrete pedestrian crosswalks.

  • Vote for Ona!

    Ona Gartz, an eighth-grader at Los Alamos Middle School, was just like any other middle-school student at a special assembly put on by Google Friday. She was surprised when Google representatives Nicholas Maurette and Tobias Rauscher called her name, telling her that she was the only winner in the state of New Mexico of the company’s “Doodle4Google” logo contest with her entry, “Colors Of My Island (above).” Ona now moves on to the “national finalist” category, where people can vote for her logo to help make her, and Los Alamos Middle School, the national winner. Go to doodle4google.com and follow the links. Look for the story in next week’s Los Alamos Monitor.

  • Vote for Ona!

    Ona Gartz, an eighth-grader at Los Alamos Middle School, was just like any other middle-school student at a special assembly put on by Google Friday. She was surprised when Google representatives Nicholas Maurette and Tobias Rauscher called her name, telling her that she was the only winner in the state of New Mexico of the company’s “Doodle4Google” logo contest with her entry, “Colors Of My Island (above).” Ona now moves on to the “national finalist” category, where people can vote for her logo to help make her, and Los Alamos Middle School, the national winner. Go to doodle4google.com and follow the links. Look for the story in next week’s Los Alamos Monitor.

  • County lobbies Legislature for LEDA expansion

    One of the Los Alamos County Council’s legislative priorities for the 2016 New Mexico legislative session is an expansion of the Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) that would allow small communities such as Los Alamos to utilize local economic development funds to incentivize retail development.

    As it is currently written, state statute prohibits the use of LEDA funds for retail in any community larger than 10,000. 

    “The majority of New Mexico communities under 25,000 still lack the retail activity that they want,” said Economic Vitality Administrator Greg Fisher, noting that the 10,000-population cap “left out a huge number of communities.”

    “We’re certainly interested in seeing that cap rise so we can at least level the playing field for our small community to attract more retail.”

    HB 139, cosponsored by Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard (D-43) and Rep. Jason C. Harper (R-57), chair of the Ways and Means Committee, would allow communities up to 25,000 to utilize local economic development funds for retail development. 

  • Investigators ask DA to reopen LANL director’s death case

    Three people with past connections to the Los Alamos National Laboratory are urging that the U.S. District Attorney’s Office reopen an investigation into the death of Richard Burick, a former deputy director at the lab. 

    Burick died in January 2003 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to Los Alamos County police. He was found near his truck at the Pajarito Mountain Ski Area parking lot. 

    The three people who have requested the reopening of the case, Charles Montaño, Glenn Walp and Steve Doran, sent a formal letter to Damon Martinez, U.S. Attorney for the New Mexico District. The letter was dated Feb. 2. 

    “Our concern is that a full and complete investigation is needed in order to clean house and help ensure that one of the premier nuclear weapons labs long plagued by scandal is properly managed in the future, free of any possible reoccurrence of fraud and corruption,” the letter read.

    The three also mentioned in the letter that the reason why they decided to contact Martinez is because he is also the chairman of the National Lab/Research University Working Group for U.S. Attorneys.

  • Debate team denied entry in competition

    The Jemez Mountain Home School Speech and Debate Team was denied a spot in the New Mexico Speech and Debate Association Congressional Debate Championship last week, and according to the coaches on the team, they will likely get shut out of many more future competitions.

    The highly ranked team, made up of Jemez and Los Alamos County students, was denied entry because of recently changed rules that govern how home-schooled children participate in extracurricular activities. 

    The associations that govern the competitions, the New Mexico Activities Association (NMAA) and the New Mexico Speech and Debate Association (NMSDA) have recently changed how they interpreted the rules allowing the teams to participate to better match state legislation passed in 2007.

    New Mexico Legislature passed a set of laws that kept parents from pulling their kids out a school that might not have a stellar sports program, home-school them, and then enroll them in a “winning” school. 

  • 'Longmire': Film industry supports local communities

    Saturday’s “Longmire” casting call in Española was co-sponsored by the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States, Local 480, and doubled as a “thank you” to Sen. Richard Martinez (D-District 5), whom the union called a “champion of workers.”

    Martinez was held up on Senate business and was unable to attend, but Jon Henry, business agent for the local IATSE, spoke with the Los Alamos Monitor about the film industry’s role in boosting local economies. 

    “Basically, what we’re doing is coming into the communities where ‘Longmire’ shoots and making sure there’s economic activity in these communities,” Henry said. “The picture business can’t just be about Santa Fe and Albuquerque, it’s got to be about everywhere.”

    The casting call had a dual purpose, not only giving local people a chance to work as background actors on Longmire but reaching out to potential vendors in the local business community. 

    “That’s really our goal, is to get as many local people making money from these movies as we can,” Henry said. 

  • Council tables variable gas rate

    The Los Alamos County Council voted 6−1 Tuesday to table discussion on the Department of Public Utilities’ variable gas rate. 

    The current gas rate is designed with both a fixed-cost recovery and a variable cost of gas component. When council approved the variable rate in 2013, one condition they placed on it was that DPU provide a yearly report.

    Department of Public Utilities Deputy Utilities Manager for Finance and Administration Robert Westervelt presented the report.

    According to Westervelt, the variable gas rate has fluctuated from 20 cents to 51.5 cents per MMBTU since this rate structure was implemented.

    “So by having this variable cost of gas, that meant that when the cost of gas in the San Juan Index was high, we were able to pass that cost directly through,” Westervelt said. “But for all of the months – there were a lot of months when the rate was considerably lower – we were able to not collect those funds from the ratepayer and allow them to keep that avoided cost in their bank accounts instead of in our bank account.”