Local News

  • Delayed start, more sleep, may still be an option at high school



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    A schedule that allows students some extra “z” time – with a delayed start to the school day – may still be a possibility at Los Alamos High School.


    The LAPS board decided earlier this week that they would not implement any delayed start time at elementaries, the middle school and the high school, but they also supported efforts by the high school to provide options for students.

    Board President Jenny McCumber on Friday said that she would “absolutely,” like to see the high school explore delayed start as an alternative for students.

    “Individualizing education is key to meeting the needs of students,” she said.

  • Famine to Feast hosts fundraiser for locals

    Famine to Feast, a local charity run by Los Alamos County residents Jaret and Jen McDonald, is looking to help local families with its second-annual, countywide, “Secret Santa” project.

    According to Famine to Feast’s lead volunteer, Tonya Sprouse-Mullins, from now until Dec. 21, residents can donate food, toys, warm clothing, and other items anonymously to help their neighbors in need.

    Residents can contact Famine to Feast through its website or app. Staff will then come and pick up the items, and deliver them to a specific address, or to the charity of choice.

    People who donate will be filling a real need, Sprouse-Mullins said.

    “The sad thing is that these wish lists, they are not for things like an Xbox… it’s for things like pajamas, blankets, things like that,” she said. “One boy wanted a $90 gift card for AutoZone to buy a part for his car so he could find a job and help his mom.”

    Famine to Feast is also trying something new this year. Called “Adopt-a-Family,” the organization is also matching donors with families in need. They have one more family to go.

  • Affordable housing project planned for DP Road

    A 70-unit affordable housing project is in the works on DP Road. If approved, the complex will be located the north side of the road, near the Canyon Rim Trail, between the Knights of Columbus building and the Los Alamos County Fire Department’s training station.

    County Council is expected to consider the project Dec. 19. If the developer is successful in getting funding for the project, the county would donate the land, which is worth $1.6 million. 

    Community Development Director Paul Andrus said the project part of the county’s efforts to eliminate Los Alamos County’s housing shortage.

    “For a community this size, we’ve had this really wide range of housing need,” he said. “This is an opportunity for the county to partner with a developer who’s been doing this for years and years, and has shown an interest in this local market.”

    The project will depend on whether or not Bethel’s application is selected for funding by the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority.

    Unlike other developers that have projects in Los Alamos County, this developer, Bethel Development Inc., rely specifically on raising funds for its projects through a federal low income tax housing program which is managed by the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority.

  • Izraelevitz provides update on state of county

    Los Alamos County Chairman David Izraelevitz delivered the county’s yearly review Wednesday to seniors at a lunch at the Betty Ehart Senior Center.

    Izraelevitz talked about county’s efforts to open up 20th Street to economic development, new art installations at the Los Alamos County Golf Course building and other projects.

    The audience was quiet and attentive, but when it came to his talk about the renovation of the White Rock Senior Center, the seniors clapped and cheered.

    “We can now serve meals at the White Rock Center, we can now do meals on wheels… we are very happy that that’s available,” Izraelevitz said.

    Izraelevitz also talked about future projects, such as extra restrooms for women at the county’s ice skating rink, a splash pad at Piñon Park in White Rock and a new irrigation system for the Los Alamos County Golf Course.

    The seniors were interested in the last project Izraelevitz mentioned, a multigenerational pool at the Larry R. Walkup Aquatic Center.

    “It will have a zero-entry, where you will be able to just walk your way in.” Izraelevitz said. “That will be nice for young children or people who may not be able to go up and down the steps to get into the therapy pool or the large pool.”

  • Theft, vehicle attack nets 2-year sentence

    A Hernandez woman who fled a Los Alamos clothing store in March with nearly $1,000 worth of stolen merchandise and then used her vehicle to strike a man trying to record her license plate, was sentenced to two years in prison following a plea deal including other crimes she committed in Rio Arriba, Santa Fe and Los Alamos counties.

    District Judge T. Glenn Ellington handed down the sentence to Ashley Garcia, 23, in a Los Alamos courtroom on Wednesday, saying that she had long ago crossed a line from self-destructive drug addict to dangerous person.

    “You act out of impulse and you disregard the impact your actions have on others…You strike back when you get cornered,” Ellington said.

    Garcia entered a plea deal in August.

    Among the charges, she pleaded guilty one count of aggravated battery, a third-degree felony, stemming from the shoplifting incident and attack with a vehicle in March.

    David Demello was struck and severely injured.

    She also pleaded guilty to two shoplifting charges, both fourth-degree felonies. One stems from an incident in Santa Fe and another one in Los Alamos. She also pleaded guilty to a charge of forgery, a fourth-degree felony, which occurred in December 2015 in Rio Arriba County.

  • No change for LAPS start time

    After two hours of comments from students, parents and coaches, and debate among themselves, the Los Alamos Public Schools board split three to two to retain current start times for its eight schools.

    The vote on Tuesday night followed months of study of later start times – in the hope of improving adolescents’ opportunity to sleep.

    More than 20 people, including several students, spoke in favor of keeping the same start time, and dismissal.

    Many said they were concerned that starting later would mean ending later, and extracurricular activities, after-school pursuits and family time would have to be curtailed.

    Despite the strong opposition to a potential change, board members Ellen Ben-Naim and Bill Hargraves said they supported pushing back start times to help address young peoples’ severe lack of sleep.

    “We need to look at what we’re asking our kids to do,” Ben-Naim said.

    Sleep is as necessary as food, shelter and clothing, she said.

    Ben-Naim and Hargraves voted against a motion, made by board member Stephen Boerigter, to retain the current school starts times for all the schools. Board President Jenny McCumber and Board Vice President Andrea Cunningham, who was calling in from New Orleans, voted in support of Boerigter’s motion.

  • Batch of newly declassified nuclear test videos released

    Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory released 62 newly declassified videos Thursday of atmospheric nuclear tests films.

    The videos are the second batch of scientific test films to be published on the LLNL YouTube channel this year. The team plans to publish the remaining videos of tests conducted by LLNL as they are scanned and approved for public release.

    LLNL nuclear weapon physicist Gregg Spriggs is leading a team of film experts, code developers and interns on a mission to hunt down, scan and reanalyze what they estimate to be 10,000 films of the 210 atmospheric tests conducted by the U.S. between 1945 and 1962.

    With many of the films suffering from physical decay, their goal is to preserve this priceless record before it’s lost forever, and to provide more accurate scientific data to colleagues who are responsible for certifying the stockpile every year.

    “We’ve received a lot of demand for these videos and the public has a right to see this footage,” said Spriggs. “Not only are we preserving history, but we’re getting much more consistent answers with our calculations.

  • Red-y for Santa
  • Tax package would lower top tax rate for wealthy Americans

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional Republicans on Tuesday rushed toward a deal on a massive tax package that would reduce the top tax rate for wealthy Americans to 37 percent and slash the corporate rate to a level slightly higher than what businesses and conservatives wanted.

    In a flurry of last-minute changes that could profoundly affect the pocketbooks of millions of Americans, House and Senate negotiators agreed to expand a deduction for state and local taxes to allow individuals to deduct income taxes as well as property taxes. The deduction is valuable to residents in high-tax states like New York, New Jersey and California.

    Negotiators also agreed to set the corporate income tax rate at 21 percent, said two congressional aides who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss private negotiations. Both the House bill and the Senate bill would have lowered the corporate rate from 35 percent to 20 percent.

    Business and conservative groups lobbied hard for the 20 percent corporate rate. Negotiators agreed to bump it up to 21 percent to help offset revenue losses from other tax breaks, the aides said.

  • N.M. gets tax forecasting tool

    SANTA FE (AP) — New Mexico lawmakers began using information from a fiscal planning tool that predicts future tax revenues as they contemplate changes to the state’s complex taxes on sales and business services.

    The Legislature commissioned the fiscal calculator for $400,000 from a consulting group to anticipate the consequences of tax reform on state government income, family finances and business interests.

    Republican New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and allied Republican lawmakers pushed unsuccessfully this year for an overhaul of the state’s gross-receipts tax that would lower rates while eliminating hundreds in tax credits, deductions and exemptions.

    New Mexico relies on the gross receipts tax for about one-third of its annual general fund budget — collecting about $2.1 billion to meet spending obligations of $6.1 billion.

    Various lawmakers have balked at potential changes that would collect more taxes from nonprofit health care providers or reinstating sales taxes on food, while industry groups have warned of possible costly and unpredictable consequences for state government.