Local News

  • Less of New Mexico's famed chile crop produced in 2017

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — New Mexico farmers produced fewer of the state's famed hot peppers in 2017, and data released by federal and state agriculture officials show the value of the chile crop has declined.

    The tallies for the last growing season show planted chile acreage has shrunk by more than half over the last 17 years, from a peak in 2005 of 17,500 acres (7,082 hectares) to 8,100 acres (3,278 hectares) last year. About 94 percent of that was harvested.

    The number of tons produced also has dropped, and agricultural experts are placing the blame on a lack of labor and a persistent drought that has forced farmers to shift priorities.

    As for the value of the crop, that dropped to an estimated $44.6 million in 2017 despite continued demand for New Mexico's signature crop.

    New Mexico Agriculture Secretary Jeff Witte said Wednesday that limited irrigation supplies have resulted in farmers focusing what little water they do get on more permanent crops such as the pecan orchards that line the Hatch and Mesilla valleys in southern New Mexico.

    That has left annual crops such as chile, lettuce and onions in the dust.

    Still, Witte said there's no danger of New Mexico's annual tradition of roasting green chile going by the wayside.

  • Nominations needed for nuclear worker advisory board

    SANTA FE (AP) — The terms have expired for nearly all members of a federal advisory panel charged with making recommendations and providing guidance for a program designed to compensate workers who were exposed to toxic chemicals at U.S. nuclear weapons labs.

    The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the Trump administration has not nominated any new members to the board.

    “For two years our board put a lot of brain power and cutting edge expertise into developing recommendations,” said Ken Silver, an occupational health professor at Eastern Tennessee State University, who until last month was a board member. “Without appointing another board, those recommendations may disappear into the ether.”
    Silver was one of 14 members of the Advisory Board on Toxic Substances and Worker Health whose terms expired in February. The remaining member’s term expires this month.

    The U.S. Labor Department did not respond to multiple requests for comment but indicated in a recent letter to a workers’ advocacy group that nominations were still being reviewed.

    In response to intense lobbying and long-standing concerns that workers were not receiving proper compensation, the advisory board was created in the waning years of the Obama administration.

  • Council OK’s business park rezoning

    Los Alamos County Council passed a Planning and Zoning Commission recommendation Feb. 27 to rezone the two buildings at a Los Alamos business park from professional office to mixed use to allow for the building of a mixed-use complex.

    The approval did not come without some hard questions about the county’s land use map and Comprehensive Plan. 

    A company is proposing turning the top two floors of 557 Oppenheimer Business Centre into 16 apartments.

    Los Alamos Professional Housing Partnership owns the building. The plan calls for a mechanical room to be added onto the first floor of the building, and the second floor be renovated to house eight residential units. A third will floor will then be added to accommodate another eight residential units.

    Los Alamos County Housing and  Special Projects Director Andrew Harnden told the council.

    The plan fits in with the county’s agenda to help the housing shortage in the county.

    “The applicant’s proposal conforms to the goals and policies of the Comprehensive Plan and is consistent with the county’s Leadership Plan goals in creating a variety of housing options for all segments of the Los Alamos Community,” Harnden said.

  • Progressive Democrat ends New Mexico gubernatorial candidacy

    SANTA FE (AP) — Progressive gubernatorial candidate Peter DeBenedittis of Santa Fe is ending his campaign for governor in the June Democratic primary and endorsing one of three remaining candidates.

    DeBenedittis announced Wednesday that he was fully throwing his support behind former media executive Jeff Apodaca.

    DeBenedittis, an alcohol prevention counselor from Santa Fe, says he and Apodaca see eye-to-eye on efforts to provide universal health care, legalize recreational marijuana and seek a statewide $15 minimum wage.

    Apodaca is leveling accusations about underhanded favoritism toward Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham in the primary-election process.

    Limited support from Democratic county delegates has forced Democratic state Sen. Joseph Cervantes of Las Cruces to collect more registration signatures to stay in the primary race.

  • LA Democrats make a showing at convention

    Stephanie Garcia Richard grabbed first position on the ballot in her bid for state land commissioner in a tight race at this year’s pre-primary convention in Albuquerque Saturday as Los Alamos Democratic delegates joined other delegates from across the state to prepare for the June primaries.

    Richard has served Los Alamos and the neighboring counties of Rio Arriba, Sandoval and Santa Fe as state representative of the 43rd district for six years.

    At the pre primary convention, held at the Albuquerque Convention Center, Richard got top billing on the June ballot with 618 votes. Following a close second was Garrett VeneKlasen with 553. VeneKlasen was boosted by a strong endorsement speech by Sen. Martin Heinrich.

    Richard said her experience as state representative has prepared her well for the office of land commissioner.
    She said she felt her political experience and background as an educator resonated most with the delegates.

    “First and foremost the qualifications and expertise that I bring being in the state Legislature, but also having and educator in the land office that knows what’s at stake,” Garcia Richard said.

    She also thanked the delegates for their support in getting her to the top of the primary ballot

  • 2nd suspect in Pajarito Cliffs site burglary arrested

    A preliminary examination date has been set for the second of two men suspected in several recent break-ins at the Pajarito Cliffs Site in Los Alamos.

    Gregorio Trujillo, 29, of Santa Fe, appeared in Magistrate Court on Monday and received a date of March 23 for his preliminary examination.

    Trujillo, who was arrested by the Rio Arriba County Sheriff’s Department at 4:50 p.m. Sunday, was transported to Los Alamos for his Magistrate Court appearance on Monday and then transferred to the Santa Fe County Detention Facility Tuesday afternoon.

    He had an active arrest warrant out charging him with one count each of receiving/transferring stolen vehicle; burglary; breaking and entering; criminal damage to property; and larceny.

    His updated charges include four counts of non-residential burglary; 13 counts of breaking and entering; two counts of tampering with evidence; four counts of larceny; one count of receiving or transferring stolen motor vehicles; and one count of criminal damage to property.

    Trujillo is the younger brother of Antonio Trujillo, 30, of Santa Fe, who was arrested Feb. 21 after leading officers on a chase in a stolen car in Santa Fe.

  • District urges residents to watch for bus riders

    The citizens of Los Alamos and White Rock are riding a safety hot streak and Keith Rosenbaum is urging them to do all they can to keep that streak alive.

    Rosenbaum, who oversees 26 buses and 16 bus routes as the director of facilities and transportation for the Los Alamos Public Schools, was happy to report Tuesday that over the past two weeks there have been no instances called in of vehicles passing a school bus while the stop arm of that bus was deployed.

    “Over the past two weeks we haven’t had any, which is the first time this school year where we didn’t have a week where somebody ran a stop arm,” he said.

    Rosenbaum keeps track of these incidents through reports from his drivers. While the number of incidents called in during the first half of the school year was high, the number of second-half reports has decreased.

    “We were having three to five a week for a period of time,” he said. “Since we returned (from Christmas break) we’ve been aggressively getting information out to the public by putting signs up. I’m not sure if that’s a contributing factor, but it’s my hope that people are at least becoming aware of the danger they are creating by running the stop arms.”

  • Celebrating 75 Years
  • 19-year-old student looks to make a difference, files for County Council

    By far the youngest candidate to file for elected office Tuesday in Los Alamos County was Los Alamos High School graduate and University of New Mexico-Los Alamos nursing student Quentin David Dimick, 19.

    As the stream of other candidates came through the county clerk’s office, Dimick, a Democrat, filled out paperwork.

    “I guess I’m a little nervous, but I feel confident in my abilities,” Dimick said. When asked about what made him decide to run, Dimick said. “It’s time for the young people of Los Alamos to make a difference.”

    Dimick’s dad, Denis, a Libertarian, said he was very proud of his son and his bid for public office.

    “Politically, I disagree with him, but I support him, because it’s their world, and they might as well try and make the changes they want now,” Denis Dimick said.

    Los Alamos County had few other surprises on filing day, but many candidates streamed in to the county clerk’s office to file paperwork to run for county council, sheriff, municipal judge, county assessor, magistrate court judge and probate judge.

  • Embattled New Mexico Democratic Party chairman resigns

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — The embattled chairman of the Democratic Party of New Mexico has resigned.
    Richard Ellenberg announced his resignation in a letter Tuesday following a state party convention where he was accused of questioning the credibility of sexual misconduct allegations against a union leader.

    Ellenberg also had faced criticism for his response to a Democratic Party of New Mexico vice chair's claim that she was a target of unwanted sexual advances by a party official.

    Ellenberg says he regretted the way he managed complaints of women who have come forward about sexual harassment.

    Other say Ellenberg oversaw a "slanted" process over delegates that favored certain candidates this weekend.
    The resignation comes before midterm elections where New Mexico Democrats are hopeful at winning back the governor's seat and capturing more Legislative seats.

    The Democratic Party issued a statement following Ellenberg's resignation.