Local News

  • 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.

  • Smartphones overtake desktops for holiday shopping

    NEW YORK (AP) — If the beginning of the holiday season is any indication, it could be a merry mobile Christmas for shoppers.

    For the first time, there's expected to be more people visiting retailers' web sites through their smartphones than on desktop computers or tablets during the first weekend of the holiday shopping season that begins on Thanksgiving Day.

    Mobile traffic during the five-day start to what is typically the busiest shopping period of the year is expected to reach 56.9 percent of total traffic, up from 48.5 percent last year, according to IBM Watson.

    And even though everyone who "window shops" on their phones isn't going to buy, mobile sales are jumping too. Mobile sales are expected to account for 36.1 percent of online sales, up from 27 percent last year, according to IBM Watson Trend.

    The bumps in traffic and sales come as retailers try to make the mobile shopping experience easier by improving their mobile apps and adding coupons and other deals. Shoppers also have gotten more comfortable browsing retailers' web sites as smartphone screen sizes have gotten bigger, making it easier for them to see photos of the items they want to buy. Digital wallets and apps that let shoppers store payment information are helping too.

  • Today in history Nov. 25
  • Travelers take to the roads and the skies for Thanksgiving

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — The big Thanksgiving getaway went into full swing Wednesday with drivers delighted by the lowest November gas prices in years and many airline passengers undaunted by terrorism fears and long lines at security checkpoints.

    At the White House, President Barack Obama said there is no "specific and credible" intelligence indicating a plot against the U.S. and assured anxious Americans: "While the threat of terrorism is a troubling reality of our age, we are both equipped to prevent attacks and we are resilient in the face of those who would try to do us harm."

    "And that's something we can all be thankful for," he added as one of the biggest travel periods of the year got under way.

    Nearly 47 million Americans are expected to take a car, plane, bus or train at least 50 miles from home over the long holiday weekend, according to AAA. That's the most travelers since 2007, a rise attributed to an improving economy and the cheapest gasoline for this time of year since 2008.

    Pat Flynt had the recent terror attacks in Africa and Paris on his mind as he waited to get through a checkpoint at the Atlanta airport for his flight to visit a sick uncle in Baltimore.

  • Driver’s ed for seniors pays off in savings and safety

    If you are 55 or older, you can save some money on your auto insurance by taking a driver safety class. New Mexico law (paragraph 59A-32-14 in the Insurance Code) provides that insurers must give you a discount if you take such a class, approved by the Traffic Safety Bureau of the state Transportation Department, and provide a certificate to your insurance company. The statute does not specify the amount of the discount. The discount is good for three years.
    I recommend that you do this. You will learn useful things, you will be a safer driver, and you will not be bored. Take an in-person class rather than an online class, if you can find one. Check with a senior citizen center near you to find out if classes are offered. In some cities, AARP offers classes taught by trained volunteers.  
    You might find yourself in a lively conversation – as I have on several occasions. A few examples:
    Some years ago, the instructor talked about the strength of the steel barriers that line hazardous places on New Mexico roads. I was fascinated. I occasionally drive on roads where one of those barriers is the only thing between a sheer drop and me. Since that class, I’m a little more confident that the barrier will save me if I’m driving at a reasonable speed.