Local News

  • County gets high marks on survey

    Los Alamos’ biannual citizens’ survey shows the county ranking higher in several categories than it did two years ago. According to Brian Sanderoff and Matt Hughes from Research and Polling, Inc., the company that conducted the survey, Los Alamos is rated better by its citizens than many of the communities they work with.
    Sanderoff and Hughes presented the results to the Los Alamos County Council July 19. Their executive summary states, “Residents of Los Alamos County enjoy a high quality of life and appear to be very appreciative of the services that are offered by the County. In fact, 92 percent of residents rate the overall quality of life in Los Alamos County as being either good (36 percent) or excellent (56 percent).
    “Furthermore, over the past two years residents have grown increasingly pleased, as the percentage who rate the quality of life as excellent has risen from 42 percent to 56 percent.
    “Residents also express a high level of satisfaction with the overall quality of services provided by the County with 86 percent rating the services as being either good (49 percent) or excellent (37 percent). Just 3 percent of residents rate the County services as being poor.”
    “This is almost to the level of resort towns…These scores are very good,” Sanderoff said.

  • Authorities ID remains as those of missing treasure hunter

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — A treasure hunter who disappeared this year while searching for an author's cache of gold and jewels in the New Mexico wilderness was confirmed dead by authorities Tuesday after his remains were discovered west of Santa Fe.

    Santa Fe Police spokesman Greg Gurule said medical investigators confirmed the remains found along the Rio Grande north of Cochiti Lake were those of Randy Bilyeu, a 54-year-old grandfather from Colorado.

    Gurule said the investigation ito the death remains active, and declined further comment.

    Bilyeu disappeared in early January while searching for antiquities dealer and writer Forrest Fenn's $2 million trove of gold and jewels in northern New Mexico.

    Fenn dropped clues about the treasure in a cryptic poem in his self-published 2011 memoir, "The Thrill of the Chase," inspiring tens of thousands to search for it.

    Fenn, an eccentric 85-year-old from Santa Fe, has inspired a cult following since his announcement several years ago that he stashed a small bronze chest somewhere in the Rocky Mountains.

  • Gov. Martinez seeking solution on budget crunch

    SANTA FE (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez provided new indications Tuesday that the state may be headed toward a special legislative session to address dwindling state operating reserves.

    The Republican governor told members of the State Investment Council that her office has been working for weeks with executive agencies and a key legislative committee on how to resolve the state's fiscal imbalance.

    New Mexico is one of several states dealing with general fund declines linked to reduced energy prices and production. Where some states have tapped rainy day funds or raised taxes, New Mexico has allowed its operating reserves to plunge.

    Martinez said a solution may involve a short, pre-negotiated Legislative session, without indicating exactly how the state would meet spending commitments. The governor has called the special sessions of the legislature before to resolve issues of electoral redistricting and spending on public works projects.

    "I'd really like to see this resolved, as we did, (at a) special session over at the capitol before we walk in, and it's a four-hour session," Martinez said.

  • Today in history July 26
  • Dems' opening night: Party stars, struggle to quiet disputes

    PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Former rivals Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders urgently joined forces Monday to tamp down dissent among his supporters, as Democrats tried to keep infighting from overtaking an opening night featuring some of the party's biggest stars.

    It was unclear whether the efforts would succeed. Chants of "Bernie" echoed through the arena, and boos could be heard nearly every time Clinton's name was raised. Outside the arena, several hundred Sanders backers marched down Philadelphia's sweltering streets. Signs carried messages such as "Never Hillary" and even in one case "Just go to jail, Hillary," an echo of the Republicans' "Lock her up."

    Much of Monday's program appeared aimed at giving Sanders' backers an opportunity to express their frustration before the convention moved on to focus on speakers who strongly support Clinton, such as first lady Michelle Obama. Sanders was delivering the night's closing address, just after Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who was expected to give a fervent address in favor of Clinton as well as denouncing Trump.

  • Abeyta sentenced to supervised probation

    The criminal past of a 22-year-old Alcalde man finally caught up to him when he was sentenced June 9 in district court for several crimes he committed in 2014 and 2015.
    Andrew Abeyta was sentenced to 108 months of supervised probation for three counts of possession of cocaine and heroin and one count of burglary. In all four counts, he was sentenced to 72 months in prison, all suspended.
    The drug charges were incurred in Santa Fe County and Rio Arriba County, but the burglary charge was incurred in Los Alamos County on Oct. 8, 2015.
    In that incident, Abeyta stole $200 in DVDs and a GPS tracker from a car in the Time Out Pizzeria parking lot in White Rock. The next day, Abeyta allegedly stole a .357 Smith and Wesson and $1,215 in camping gear from a car on Pruitt Avenue in White Rock. Police were able to identify Abeyta as the one who did the crimes through eyewitness reports and search of Abeyta’s vehicle.
    If Abeyta violates his probation, he could serve the 72 months in prison and incur about $20,000 in fines.
    As a part of his sentence, he must also admit to be the person who confronted a couple on Dec. 24, 2013 with a firearm inside the Smith’s parking lot during a road rage incident. 

  • Tulsa man charged for dealing meth

    Police arrested a Tulsa, Oklahoma, man July 19 in Loma Linda Park suspected of dealing methamphetamine.
    A Los Alamos Police Department officer patrolling the area around 11:30 p.m. when they reportedly spotted Jeremiah Colson, 36, sitting in the dark in a white, Ford Escape truck. According to the police report, Officer David Bradshaw, told him that the park closed at 10 p.m. Bradshaw reported that Colson “was extremely nervous” while talking with him.
    Colson apparently told Bradshaw there was a handgun in the car. Bradshaw then asked Colson to step out of the vehicle to put distance between Colson and the gun. Colson was checked for additional weapons.
    “Colson was extremely nervous and appeared to be under the influence of narcotics,” Bradshaw said in his report.
    When Bradshaw took the gun, he apparently also noticed a black, plastic case on the console, and could also smell marijuana in the vehicle.
    Bradshaw discovered a small pipe used for smoking marijuana in the case. Another search of the vehicle turned up another black case with traces of methamphetamine in it. There were also digital scales in the case. Thirty-three small plastic “baggies,” a pipe for smoking methamphetamine and a torch lighter were also found, according to the report.

  • XQ Super School Project team one step closer in competition

    The Los Alamos Public Schools announced Monday that the Los Alamos XQ Super School Project team is in the top 50 finalists in the competition to create a high school with a curriculum with a more global relevance.

    The district received word of their placement late last week in the competition. Their team’s concept is the “Odyssey High School,” which has an emphasis on mental health and has a curriculum on global relevance.

    “It is with great excitement that we share, the Los Alamos Team creating ‘Odyssey High School’ in the XQ competition is one step closer to realizing the vision of expanding the possibilities of education for our students,” Marvel Harrison, Los Alamos Odyssey Team member.

    The announcement of winners will be made Aug. 4. The winner will receive a $10 million grant. Five teams will be designated a winner in the competition.

    Read more about this story in Wednesday’s edition of the Monitor.

  • Wildlife groups look to change law

    Los Alamos marathon runner Karen Williams has galvanized public support for her efforts to change the regulation that mandated the euthanasia of the bear that attacked her on June 18 during the 2016 Valles Caldera Runs in the Valles Caldera National Preserve.
    On Tuesday, several wildlife organizations held a public meeting in Santa Fe to discuss ways to change that regulation and to provide information on how to safely cohabitate with wildlife.
    Williams was one of the speakers. After telling her story, she stressed that killing the bear that attacked her was not mandated by law but by a New Mexico Department of Health (DOH) regulation.
    During Williams’ appearance before the legislature’s Water and Natural Resources Committee meeting on July 14, the state’s public health epidemiologist contended that since it is possible for bears to get rabies, they should be tested for it when they bite a human. The only way to test for rabies is to kill the animal.  
    Williams examined the 1965 study that tested bears’ susceptibility to rabies.
    “They took 10 black bears and three grizzly bears and they injected them with a huge amount of rabies that they acquired from an arctic fox,” Williams said.

  • Gas rates likely to drop 10 percent

    After last month’s news that the Los Alamos Board of Public Utilities will consider a 10-percent water rate increase at its Aug. 17 meeting, there is some good news for customers. That increase is likely to be offset by a 10 percent rate reduction on their gas utility bills.
    The board had a preliminary discussion about the proposed gas rate structure at its July 20 meeting.
    Department of Public Utility (DPU) staff is recommending that the current rate structure be maintained, with a 20-percent reduction to the fixed cost portion of the bill.
    The fixed cost recovery rate would be reduced from $0.29 to $0.23 per therm, which would result in a 10-percent reduction on the overall bill.
    If future projections prove themselves out, customers will see another 10 percent reduction a year from now.
    The rate reduction will serve to draw down a high cash balance in the gas fund. Staff policy is to maintain $2 million in reserve. The balance currently stands at $6 million.
    “We’d start spending that cash reserve down until we identified through our cash policies what should our target level be. We intend to get to that through rate reductions as appropriate,” said Deputy Utilities Manager for Finance and Administration Robert Westervelt.