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.

  • Congressman calls on New Mexico in water dispute

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — New Mexico’s only Republican member of Congress has joined the fight between ranchers and the federal government over access to water on national forest lands, saying the state can do more to protect the private property and water rights of its citizens.
    The U.S. Forest Service has fenced streams, springs and other watering holes to protect the habitat of an endangered mouse. The agency has repeatedly defended its actions, saying it has responsibilities under the Endangered Species Act to ensure the survival of the rodent.
    But U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce told a group of reporters Wednesday that the agency is blindly implementing laws without regard to the effects on livelihoods, customs and culture in rural New Mexico.
    “They’re required to look at those things, but they tend to enforce one piece of the law at the exclusion of the others,” Pearce said during a conference call from Washington, D.C.
    The congressman, whose district covers most of the southern half of the state, said the federal government is trampling on property and water rights in New Mexico as it has in other Western states.

  • Bill Clinton campaigns in New Mexico

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Former President Bill Clinton has wrapped up a two-day swing in New Mexico with a low-key rally at a packed Albuquerque community center.
    Clinton told the crowd Wednesday that his wife, Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, plans to address income equality and college debt and bring back manufacturing jobs to the United States.
    He also made a pitch to the working class, saying he understands their frustrations and that his wife doesn’t want to leave anyone behind.
    Clinton’s visit comes days after Democratic rival Bernie Sanders drew thousands to rallies in Santa Fe, Albuquerque and southern New Mexico.
    Though Hillary Clinton hasn’t campaigned in New Mexico, her team has opened offices in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Las Cruces and Las Vegas.
    New Mexico’s primary election is June 7.

  • Michelle Obama to speak at Native American commencement

    SANTA FE (AP) — Michelle Obama plans to address 105 Native American high school graduates Thursday during a commencement speech that comes as she tries to spotlight the plight of tribal youth in the final months of her husband’s presidency.
    The first lady’s commencement address at Santa Fe Indian School is being delivered as part of an Obama initiative that aims to remove “barriers to success” for Native American youth — a group the White House says make up the nation’s “most vulnerable population.”
    High poverty rates, aging school buildings, and health and housing disparities within tribal communities have been blamed for Native American graduation rates that fall just below 70 percent and are the lowest of any group in the country.
    Against this backdrop, the Santa Fe Indian School — owned and operated by the 19 pueblo tribes of New Mexico — has emerged as a bright spot, with a graduation rate on par with the national average of 82 percent and nearly every member of the 2016 class college-bound in the fall.
    The graduating seniors — who played a part in inviting Obama to their school — said they expected uplifting, empowering remarks from the first lady on their big day.

  • Fire officials urge safety for Memorial Day weekend

    Memorial Day Weekend may signal the start of summer, but unfortunately, it also signals the start of something less fantastic -- fire season in New Mexico.
    In the mountains, high winds, a dry climate and one careless moment can spell disaster. County fire officials say the public should first be aware and prepare, whether they are staying in the backyard or heading into the mountains.
    Ben Stone, acting deputy chief of the Los Alamos Fire Department, first recommends checking local fire conditions before heading out. Fire conditions are listed on the department’s web page at losalamosnm.us/fire. The public can find current conditions on the site.
    Fire officials are calling for moderate conditions for Memorial Day weekend. But that could change. “Moderate” means fire hazards are low, according to the site. Conditions could change quickly though, so it’s always a good thing to keep checking.
    Besides the web, the public can also call the U.S. Forest Service hotline at 877-864-6985 to get info on fire restrictions and closures.
    As far as fireworks, Stone said most of the accidents they’ve seen involve people underestimating their power and their flammability. If fireworks are in the cards this weekend, check for restrictions, Stone said.

  • LA opens arms to a runner with a cause

    Her sides hurt, her feet hurt, her lungs hurt, but thanks to the friends she’s met along the way on her journey across America, Jan Walker’s spirit and determination remain unbreakable.
    Walker is running, hiking and walking from California to Washington, D.C. to help raise money and awareness for the “September 11th National Memorial Trail,” an interconnected network of trails that link the three Sept. 11 terrorist attack sites (Shanksville, Pennsylvania, Pentagon and New York City) together.
    But right now, she’s resting up at the house of Los Alamos resident Lisa Reader, recovering from some health issues she encountered while on the road near Socorro.
    Walker and Reader knew each other from a previous race Walker ran in Utah called the “Grand to Grand,” where Reader was a volunteer.  
    Walker had just reconnected with Reader a couple of days before her health told her it was time to take a break. She knew just who to call.
    Walker has had a lot of serendipitous moments like that, where a friend will just show up out of the blue to offer assistance.

  • Republican candidates address Kiwanis members

    One week after Democratic candidates introduced themselves to the Kiwanis Club of Los Alamos, Republican candidates had their chance.
    On May 17, All three candidates for the Los Alamos County Council, and several other candidates, were given three minutes to state their qualifications and discuss their most pressing issues.
    County Clerk Sharon Stover, who is opposing incumbent Democrat Stephanie Garcia Richard for the District 43 state representative seat and Michael Romero, running against U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan for his District 3 seat, were both on hand.
    Judith Nakamura, who is running to keep her appointed seat on the Supreme Court, also addressed the group. District 1 district attorney candidate Yvonne Chicoine and county clerk candidate Naomi Maestas also spoke.
    Councilor Steve Girrens, running for reelection, won the draw to speak first. Girrens has lived in Los Alamos 37 years and been employed at Los Alamos National Laboratory for 35 years.
    “I’m running primarily because I think there are exciting times ahead for our county, and I would like to continue to be part of those influencing in which direction those things go,” Girrens said.

  • New Mexico employers most likely to be sued

    A report to the Los Alamos County Council on May 17 by New Mexico Association of Counties Executive Director Steve Kopelman and General Counsel Grace Phillips provided a chilling perspective on liability suits against government entities in New Mexico.
    Kopelman cited a study conducted by Hiscox, an insurance company which specializes in employment law, reported on in “Property Casualty 360.” The study found that New Mexico employers are at higher risk of facing an employment lawsuit than in any other state.
    According to the study, the national average for lawsuits against employers is 11.7 percent. In New Mexico, the average is 66 percent, one point above Washington D.C.’s 65 percent. The next nearest “competitor” for the number of employment lawsuits was Nevada, at 47 percent.
    “It means we’re six times more liable for any of our businesses to have to defend an employment lawsuit,” Kopelman said “And the reason for that is because our laws and our court interpretations are so unfavorable for employers. And they are particularly unfavorable for public employers.”
    Kopelman and Phillips discussed some of the issues that contribute to those statistics and their impact on local governments.

  • Work stopped at A-19 site

    A layer of hard basalt rock has temporarily derailed plans for a mixed-use development project in White Rock.
    The county and a contractor installing utilities at the project site agreed to call it quits Friday. The contractor’s solutions to remove the rock would put the project beyond the county’s budget for the project.
    “RMCI (the contractor) sought out two potential alternatives, by blasting and by use of specialized trenching equipment, yet the costs proposed were well beyond the established project budget,” Los Alamos County Engineer Eric Martinez said in a written statement.
    The project site is located along NM 4 between the White Rock Visitor Center and “Area G,” a toxic waste disposal site owned and operated by the Los Alamos National Laboratory.  
    “Site A-19-A-1 Acquisition Group, LLC,” a subsidiary of Transcor Development Corporation (TDC), is developing the parcel.
    Once the utilities are installed, future plans for the site include a combination of housing and commercial use.
    Partners with TDC involved in the project, which include Raylee Homes and Cascade Creek Holdings LLC, could not be reached for comment when contacted at their Rio Rancho offices.

  • White Rock Canyon cleanup starts

    Four volunteers attended Saturday’s Trail Cleanup Day, part of the National River Cleanup, but their efforts made a dent on the massive cleanup needed in White Rock Canyon.
    Open Space Specialist Eric Peterson reported that volunteers hauled out 17 bags of trash, three bags of recycling, two doors, four buckets of glass and one  toilet.
    Strange items found included half an electric guitar, a water heater, two Lazy Boys, a push mower, a bike frame and a motorcycle.
    The cleanup focused on an area just below Overlook Park on the canyon rim, which has been used as an illegal dumping spot.
    “We still have a long way to go until the canyon is clean on trash but we made progress and were able move a lot of the heavier stuff closer to be hauled out,” Peterson said. “For the next cleanup in White Rock Canyon I hope to have aerial assistance either from a winch or crane to hoist out the heavier objects.”
    The next Trail Cleanup Day is scheduled for National Trails Day on June 4 at the Woodland Trailhead.