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Local News

  • NNSA releases draft assessment of LANL plutonium factory complex

    The National Nuclear Security Administration released a draft environmental assessment for one part of its proposed Plutonium Factory Complex at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

    The heads of two environmental and nuclear safety organizations say the assessment shows the plutonium pit program will remain at Los Alamos, and be expanded.

    The NNSA is looking for comments and questions through March 26 on it’s plans to convert the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Radiological Laboratory/Utility/Office Building into a facility capable of handling and testing plutonium slated to be used in the lab’s plutonium pit manufacturing facility at Tech Area 55. 

    The move comes after recent changes related to the health risks of handling plutonium were revised. To reflect the change, the building would be made into a material-at-risk-limited Hazard Category 3 nuclear facility.

    Los Alamos Study Group Executive Director Greg Mello said this is a sign that LANL’s plutonium pit manufacturing program is here to stay in Los Alamos.

  • Sheriff's Office: Student detained in school bomb threat

    KIRTLAND, N.M. (AP) — San Juan County authorities say a 17-year-old Kirtland Central High School student is accused of making a bomb threat against the school.

    The Sheriff's Office says the male student was detained Wednesday at a juvenile center on suspicion of a felony charge of making a bomb square.

    The office says the threat involved a handwritten note found in a school restroom and that the resulting investigation included interviews and handwriting samples.

    According to the office, detectives obtained a confession from the student.
     

  • Authorities investigate suspicious deaths in Santa Fe County

    SANTA FE (AP) — Authorities say they found two bodies in southern Santa Fe County, in an investigation that apparently started after a rancher discovered a dead woman stuffed into a garbage container along the road near his home.

    The Santa Fe County sheriff's office says the rancher, Fidel Montoya of Stanley, found the deceased woman Monday, and calls the deaths "suspicious."

    The bodies have been sent to the state Office of the Medical Investigator.

    Sheriff's office spokesman Juan Ríos declined Wednesday to provide any more information on the case — such as how long the victims might have been dead, their genders or whether they were killed elsewhere and dumped at the site or died close by.
     

  • Belen police: Student into custody in school shooting threat

    BELEN (AP) — Authorities in Belen say a 16-year-old student is in custody after allegedly threatening to carry out a school shooting at Belen High School, resulting in a two-hour delay of the start of classes Thursday.

    Police say the threat was made Wednesday night via social media and that investigators tracked down the student by tracing the social media account.

    Police Chief Scott Conner told the Albuquerque Journal that the student said he had no intention of shooting up the school and only made the threat "to see what kind of response he would get from the school and law enforcement."

    The Associated Press generally does not publish the identities of juvenile suspects.

    Police presence at the school was stepped up Thursday morning.

    Belen is 30 miles south of Albuquerque.
     

  • Drought forces painful choices for New Mexico ranchers

    By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN, Associated Press

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Some stretches of New Mexico have gone months without meaningful moisture, leaving farmers and ranchers to make difficult decisions as long-term forecasts call for drought to intensify across the already arid state.

    Experts with the National Weather Service talked of pitiful snowpack levels in the mountain ranges that feed the state's rivers ahead of the release Thursday of the latest drought map.

    Despite the snow that fell overnight and early Thursday in some parts, the map shows all but a small sliver of southern New Mexico is grappling with some level of dryness, with extreme drought increasing in the northwest corner of the state.

    The absence of moisture elsewhere in the West also has become more common since the start of the year. Every square mile of neighboring Arizona along with Utah and Nevada are mired in drought. Significant portions of Texas and Colorado have also fallen behind in snow and rainfall.

    Royce Fontenot, a senior hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque, said it would take more than the recent moisture to recover from the long-term effects of drought.

    "Drought is like malnutrition. One meal is not going to catch you up," he said.

  • Cuba Ranger District Chaparral piles prescribed burn to start Thursday

    To take advantage of favorable conditions, to include fuel moisture levels, air quality and weather forecasts, fire managers on the Cuba Ranger District of the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) expect to begin ignitions Thursday on Chaparral piles to reduce the risk of high-severity wildfire.

    Weather permitting, crews are expected to treat up to 49 acres of the Chaparral piles.

    The Chaparral piles area is located along Forest Service Road 539, two miles south of the Rancho del Chaparral Girl Scout Camp. Smoke may be visible from Cuba, Jemez Springs, San Ysidro and Highway 550.

    Smoke from the prescribed burn will be monitored to ensure that the New Mexico Environment Department’s Air Quality Bureau regulations are met. Smoke-sensitive individuals and people with respiratory problems or heart disease are encouraged to take precautionary measures. Information on air quality and protecting your health can be found online at the New Mexico Department of Health’s website at nmtracking.org/fire.

    For more information about this prescribed burn, contact the Cuba Ranger District at 575.289.3264.

  • Las Cruces student arrested after Snapchat photo with rifle

    LAS CRUCES (AP) — A Las Cruces high school student has been arrested after allegedly posting a photo of himself holding a rifle and referencing school shootings, making it the third threat arrest of a New Mexico teen.

    Las Cruces police said Thursday that 18-year-old Ernest Padilla has been booked on one count of unlawful carrying a deadly weapon on school premises.

    Administrators discovered the photo on social media app Snapchat on Wednesday afternoon. An accompanying message stated "Mexican school shooter" along with the abbreviations for "just kidding."

    Police found a butterfly knife and brass knuckles on Padilla and recovered a rifle from his home.

    Also on Wednesday, a San Juan County teen made a bomb threat and a 16-year-old Belen boy threatened to carry out a school shooting the next day.
     

  • Weather update: Schools on two-hour delay this morning, snowfall expected into afternoon

    UPDATE: Los Alamos Schools on two-hour delay for Thursday morning. Lab is on regular operating schedule

     

    According to the National Weather Service, snowfall is expected in Los Alamos County starting at 5 p.m. and continue into the mid afternoon Thursday.

    Los Alamos County is expected to get up to three to four inches of snow and the Jemez Mountains is expected to get up to 10 inches of snow on the westward facing slopes.

    The Los Alamos Public Schools is on a two hour delay Thursday morning. Parents and laboratory employees are advised to look for phone alerts and emails between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. Thursday from LANL and the schools for a revised commute schedule.

    The snowstorm alert is in place until 5 p.m. Thursday. The National Weather Service also expects snow packed roads, icy roads, and visibility to drop to about a quarter of a mile during times of heavy snow in the affected areas.

  • Car crash at East Road and Central Avenue

    A Toyota pickup truck and an Infiniti sedan collided at the intersection of East Road and Central Avenue Wednesday night at around 10 p.m. There were injuries at the scene, and police are still investigating what happened. Police would not say the extent of the injuries or who was involved. Police at the scene believed weather may have played a part in the crash. Los Alamos County is currently under a winter storm warning until 5 p.m. Thursday. The National Weather Service is also warning snowpacked and icy conditions on the roads all day Thursday.

    Log into the Los Alamos Monitor Thursday for more details. 

  • Man who died in Yellowstone in 2017 was looking for Fenn’s treasure

     

    BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A 53-year-old Illinois man who fell to his death in Yellowstone National Park last year was looking for a supposed hidden cache of gold and jewels.

    KULR-TV reports that Jeff Murphy of Batavia, Illinois, was looking for the treasurer that antiquities dealer Forrest Fenn says he stashed somewhere in the Rocky Mountains several years ago.

    The investigation by Yellowstone officials into Murphy’s death was kept private, but KULR obtained it through a Freedom of Information Act request.

    The investigative report reveals Murphy’s wife told park authorities that Murphy was looking for the treasure when she called to report him missing.

    Murphy’s body was found June 9, 2017.  He had fallen about 500 feet down a steep slope.

    The report ruled the death an accident.