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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.

  • Today in history Feb. 8
  • BPU's clarification of liaison role fails

    During a special session on Thursday primarily devoted to Code of Conduct training, the Board of Public Utilities voted on a revision to their Policies and Procedures Manual that would have clarified the board’s relationship to the council liaison. The motion failed for lack of the supermajority needed to change the manual.
    The liaison’s role became a point of contention at BPU’s regular January meeting, when Councilor Susan O’Leary – contrary to precedence – was initially asked to sit in the audience rather than on the dais and told that she should not join in the board’s discussions.
    Thursday’s motion, crafted by Chair Jeff Johnson, read:
    During meetings, the Council Liaison is invited to sit at the Dias or with members of the BPU, at Council Liaison discretion.
    When the Council Liaison chooses to sit with the BPU the Council Liaison name-placard shall be displayed.
    The Council Liaison is encouraged to participate in DPU discussion when the Council Liaison has clarifying points pertinent to the discussion. 
    The Council Liaison is discouraged from interjecting personal opinion into discussion, unless speaking as a member of the public during periods reserved for public comment. 

  • LA man arrested for DWI crash awaits sentencing for child porn conviction

    David Rael, of Los Alamos, was recently arrested for driving while under the influence in Los Alamos, which may complicate his sentencing for another crime in 2014. Rael was arrested for downloading child porn in May of that year.
    He is due to be sentenced for that crime Feb. 24.
    Rael, 38, of Los Alamos was arrested Jan. 29 for allegedly driving while under the influence.  
    Police arrested Rael at a two-car accident at the intersection of Trinity and Central Avenue at 6:51 p.m. While Rael was being transported by ambulance to the Los Alamos Medical Center for an evaluation, He reportedly admitted to police that he was driving while under the influence of alcohol.
    “I admit, I’m DWI,” Rael apparently told police, according to reports.
    Rael reportedly told police he had consumed a six-pack of an alcoholic beverage two hours before the crash.
    Rael is awaiting sentencing on child pornography charges, charges he incurred when he downloaded child pornography onto his computer in May of 2014.

  • 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.