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.

  • Today in history Nov. 27
  • On the Docket 11-27-15

    Nov. 18
    Joseph Fawcett was fined $50 for failing to display a current, valid registration plate while parked.
    Nov. 20
    Aaron N. Martinez was found guilty by Los Alamos Municipal Court of failing to appear. The defendant was fined $50 and $65 in court costs.
    Laura E. Oberg was found guilty of speeding 11-15 mph over the limit. Defendant was fined $75 and $65 in court costs.
    Magili Cook was found guilty of speeding 1-5 mph over the limit. Defendant was fined $30 and $65 in court costs.
    Matthew T. Reiten was found guilty of speeding 11-15 mph over the limit. Defendant was fined $75 and $65 in court costs.
    Nov. 23
    Robert M. Martinez pleaded no contest in Los Alamos Municipal Court to failing to yield to a pedestrian. Defendant must pay $65 in court costs.
    Christian Chavez was found guilty of speeding 6-10 mph over the limit and failing to pay court costs and fines. Defendant was fined $75 and $130 in court costs.
    Skyler R. McCall was found guilty of speeding 6-10 mph over the limit. Defendant was fined $50 and must pay $65 in court costs.

  • Open space specialist has passion for trails

    Los Alamos County’s new Open Space Specialist, Eric Peterson, brings seven years of experience to the job.
    Peterson spent two years as caretaker of Bernalillo County’s Bachechi Open Space and five years managing Albuquerque’s foothills open space. He was hired in July to replace retiring Open Space Specialist Craig Martin.
    “It’s been exciting. I’m always busy, which is great. There’s never been a dull day being open space specialist, which I really look forward to,” Peterson said.
    “I’ve got plenty of energy and lots of ideas that Craig kind of left, and some ideas that I’ve spun off of Craig’s open space plan, from a lot of the trail building to open space standards, how we just run the open space division here, being kind of a one-man crew.
    “It takes your attention from every angle and you have to kind of be involved in every aspect of the Open Space Plan.”
    Peterson has been working to implement the trail signage plan Martin developed. Peterson just completed two pilot projects in White Rock Canyon and on Deer Trap Mesa Trail. He will move forward with the rest of the plan in the spring after assessing user feedback.

  • AVID earns place in LA Middle School

    The program is called “Advancement Via Individual Determination” or AVID, and the Los Alamos School Board was sold on it during a recent presentation.
    Started 30 years ago by a teacher in San Diego, representatives of the national school program came to Los Alamos recently to see if the Los Alamos Public Schools would be interested in what they have to offer.
    The program specifically targets the “academic middle” – students who aren’t in special education programs or enrolled in the Gifted and Talented Education program.
    AVID representatives told the board it could be the answer for Los Alamos’ middle school students who have college as a goal, but may need a little help getting there. The program would help students’ writing and reading skills, as well as critical thinking skills so they will be ready for college when they get there.
    About a month ago, Los Alamos Middle School officials were tasked by the board to survey staff and parents to see if AVID could work at the middle school. At that meeting, a regional director for AVID, Denise Campbell, made a presentation on how middle school students could benefit from AVID.
    Recently, Middle School Assistant Principal Ana Vargas Gutierrez and Principal Mike Johnson presented their findings to the board.

  • Text from the FER report section on electric vehicles

    In the Future Energy Resources Committee report, electric vehicles are listed as one of five factors that could impact electrical load projections. This is a copy of the section in question.
    Electric Vehicles. The largest potential increase in electrical energy use would be a transition to all-electric motor vehicles (EVs). Presently, an average (2006-14) of 6.3 million gallons of gasoline and diesel fuels are dispensed in LA County each year. Their combustion adds another 55,000 metric tons of CO2 to the atmosphere annually. Conversion to electric vehicles would be environmentally beneficial (presuming carbon-free electrical power is available) and should be  encouraged but would correspondingly increase electric load.
    There are many other issues outside the scope of this study. Relevant here is the roughly 44,000 MWh / year in additional electricity that could be needed.

  • Future energies a spark for BPU debate

    The Los Alamos Board of Public Utilities on Nov. 18 approved a plan to “address recommendations in the Future Energy Resources Committee Report” by a 4−1 vote. Vice Chair Stephen McLin opposed the motion.
    The FER committee was created to investigate and recommend options for achieving carbon neutrality by 2040, one of BPU’s strategic goals.
    The plan developed by board members David Powell and Jeff Johnson lays out a step-by-step process for reviewing, voting on and implementing the committee’s recommendations. The schedule they suggested calls for:
    •December 2015: BPU will adopt a definition of “carbon neutral” electrical energy.
    •January: BPU will adopt a strategic policy for electrical energy resources.
    •February: BPU will adopt a strategic policy for distributed electrical generation and rate structure;
    •March: BPU will direct the utilities manager to develop an implementation plan for the adopted strategic policies;
    •June: DPU staff will present a comprehensive plan to implement the strategic policies;
    •July: BPU will approve a comprehensive plan to implement the strategic policies.

  • F-16 fighter jet crashes near Holloman; pilot safe

    SALINAS PARK, N.M. (AP) — Authorities say an F-16 fighter jet from an Air Force base in Arizona crashed while on training mission in New Mexico, but the pilot safely ejected.

    The Fighting Falcon went down about 8:45 a.m. Wednesday near Salinas Peak, some 45 miles northwest of Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. Officials from Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, Arizona, say emergency response teams found the pilot in good condition.

    An Air Force team will investigate the cause of the crash. Officials say the pilot is from the base in New Mexico and the F-16 was part of the 54th Fighter Group at the base in Arizona.

    Luke is making room for F-35 jets and shifting many F-16s to Holloman for training missions.