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Local News

  • Community weighs in on future of preserve

    The dining hall at the Betty Ehart Senior Center was packed earlier last week with more than 100 residents wanting to weigh in on how the Valles Caldera National Preserve will be managed by the National Park Service.
    Legislation passed by the United States Congress in December transferred management of the VCNP from a board of trustees operating under the National Forest Service to NPS. During the transition, the trust will continue to manage daily operations — under NPS guidance — until Sept. 30.
    NPS is seeking public input as it formulates a management plan for the preserve. The enabling legislation allots three years for that process.
    “This is just another chapter in the evolution of the protection of this very special place,” NPS Acting Superintendent Charles Strickfaden said. “We’re spending time and money and energy to make sure that we know what the public wants. We’re not preordained. We’re not presuming that we know what you want.”
    Strickfaden and Valles Caldera Trust Executive Director Jorge Silva-Bañuelos, assisted by facilitator Lucy Moore, conducted listening sessions in Los Alamos, Santa Fe and Albuquerque last week. All three sessions had high turnout, with approximately 150 people in Albuquerque and 100 at each of the other two venues.

  • Snakes start to appear in town

    It’s that time of the year when nature wakes up from a long winter’s nap and starts to become active again.
    It’s also the time people have to be the most careful when walking around outside, whether that’s your yard or in the backcountry. Along with the mammals, reptiles will be coming out of hiding too, and that includes rattlesnakes. According to some experts, this year, Los Alamos may have a lot more rattlesnakes than in recent years due to the increase in the rain, as well as the local population of rodents.
    Local wildlife expert Tom Wyant said that, so far, he’s mostly received calls for garter snakes and bullsnakes and not many at that. Because of the weather, it’s been a little bit too cold for the local snake population to become fully active.
    However, for those seeing snakes on their property already, there may be a reason.
    “If you’re having a snake problem in your yard, it’s because there’s a food source,” Wyant said. “If you get rid of the food source, water and the shelter, or at least minimize that, then you’re less likely to have snakes.”

  • Today in history May 21
  • Banks fined for rigging

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Four global banks agreed Wednesday to pay more than $5 billion in penalties and plead guilty to rigging the world’s currency market, the first time in more than two decades that major players in the financial industry have admitted to criminal wrongdoing on such a scale.
    Traders at JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Barclays and the Royal Bank of Scotland conspired among themselves to fix exchange rates on U.S. dollars and euros, according to a resolution announced by the banks and the Justice Department. The currency traders, who called themselves “The Cartel,” allegedly shared customer orders and used that information to profit at their clients’ expense.
    The resolution is complex and involves multiple regulators in the U.S. and overseas.
    The four banks will pay a combined $2.5 billion in criminal penalties to the Justice Department for criminal manipulation of currency rates between 2007 and 2013. The Federal Reserve is slapping them with an additional $1.6 billion in fines.
    , as the banks’ chief regulator. Finally, Britain’s Barclays is paying an additional $1.3 billion to British and U.S. regulators for its role in the scheme.

  • Oldest tools found in Kenya

    NEW YORK (AP) — By taking a wrong turn in a dry riverbed in Kenya, scientists discovered a trove of stone tools far older than any ever found before. Nobody knows who made them — or why.
    At 3.3 million years old, they push back the record of stone tools by about 700,000 years. More significantly, they are half-a-million years older than any known trace of our own branch of the evolutionary tree.
    Scientists have long thought that sharp-edged stone tools were made only by members of our branch, whose members are designated “Homo,” like our own species, Homo sapiens. That idea has been questioned, and the new finding is a big boost to the argument that tool-making may have begun with smaller-brained forerunners instead.
    The discovery was reported by Sonia Harmand and Jason Lewis of Stony Brook University in New York and co-authors in a paper released Wednesday by the journal Nature. The find drew rave reviews from experts unconnected to the work.
    “It really absolutely moves the beginnings of human technology back into a much more distant past, and a much different kind of ancestor than we’ve been thinking of,” said anthropology professor Alison Brooks of George Washington University, who has examined some of the tools.

  • County to publish 'Cone Zone' again

    Los Alamos County will start publishing its Cone Zone updates again, according to officials.
    Residents and visitors are encouraged to check the Cone Zone on its webpage, losalamosnm.us. It runs in the summer months and is usually published through October.
    Cone Zone will also be published weekly in the Los Alamos Monitor.

  • A Big Slice of Pi

    Tazler Smith was celebrated for his accomplishments at Los Alamos Middle School. Smith memorized the first 113 digits of pi, the famous irrational number, represented on the poster behind him. Smith was heralded by the math department for his efforts.

  • Local Briefs 5-20-15

    Party for Washburns is set for Thursday

    Los Alamos Public Schools will host a going-away party for Gerry and Audrey Washburn Thursday at the Mountain Elementary School gymnasium.
    Gerry Washburn is a longtime teacher, basketball coach and administrator at LAPS, while Audrey Washburn worked for many years in the schools’ transportation department.
    Gerry Washburn recently announced his resignation as the assistant superintendent and human resources director at LAPS to take a superintendent position in Oregon.
    The ceremony will be from 4-6 p.m. at the school. Light refreshments will be served.

    Artists program deadline approaching

    Bandelier National Monument announced the deadline is approaching for its Artists in Residence Program.
    The program, for those in the fields of writing, composition, visual arts and performing arts must apply for the program by June 1.
    The residency is scheduled between mid-September and mid-December.
    For more information, visit Bandelier’s website, nps.gov/band.

    Surplus sale is canceled

    Los Alamos National Laboratory announced it has canceled its monthly surplus property sale.
    The sale was originally scheduled for Thursday. A LANL official said the next scheduled sale will be June 18, weather permitting.

  • Update 5-20-15

    Bandelier

    Bandelier National Monument will have a Night Sky Program Friday at the Juniper Campground Amphitheater. It will take place at 8 p.m.

    Sustainability

    The Environmental Sustainability Board will have a plastic bag ban discussion at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the municipal building.

    Science Museum

    The Bradbury Science Museum will have a special presentation Friday, “Exploring the Solar System.” The event will be part of the Los Alamos Creative District’s Fourth Fridays initiative. The presentation will be from 4-6 p.m. at the museum.

    Community Winds

    The Los Alamos Community Winds will present a Memorial Day Concert. 2 p.m. Monday on the Fuller Lodge lawn.

    Farmers Market

    The Los Alamos Farmers Market is scheduled from 7 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at Mesa Public Library.

    Science On Tap

    Science On Tap will present “Attack of the Drones!” Thursday at UnQuarked Wine Room in Central Park Square. James Privette, will discuss how the lab is working to counter the risk of drones. It will begin at 5:30 p.m.

    Concert Series

    James Carothers and his band will perform at Friday night’s Gordon’s Summer Concert Series. The show will be at 7 p.m. at Ashley Pond.

  • Oil spill clean-up efforts underway

    GOLETA, Calif. (AP) — Cleanup crews fanned out Wednesday along a stretch of scenic California coastline stained by thousands of gallons of crude oil that spilled from a broken pipe and flowed into the Pacific Ocean.
    Workers from an environmental cleanup company strapped on boots and gloves and picked up shovels and rakes to tackle the gobs of goo stuck to sand and rocks along Refugio State Beach on the southern Santa Barbara County coast.
    The accident Tuesday happened on the same stretch of coastline as a 1969 spill, which was the largest ever in U.S. waters at the time and is credited with giving rise to the American environmental movement.
    Members of the International Bird Rescue organization were also on hand Wednesday to clean any birds that become covered with oil, though none were immediately spotted in the calm seas that produced small waves.
    Fan Yang, 26, of Indianapolis, stood on a bluff overlooking the beach, where the stench of petroleum was heavy.
    “It smells like what they use to pave the roads,” said Yang, who was hoping to find cleaner beaches in Santa Barbara. “I’m sad for the birds — if they lose their habitat.”