Local News

  • Science Says: Jack Frost nipping at your nose ever later

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Winter is coming ... later. And it’s leaving ever earlier.

    Across the United States, the year’s first freeze has been arriving further and further into the calendar, according to more than a century of measurements from weather stations nationwide. Scientists say it is yet another sign of the changing climate, and that it has good and bad consequences for the nation. There could be more fruits and vegetables — and also more allergies and pests.

    “I’m happy about it,” said Karen Duncan of Streator, Illinois. Her flowers are in bloom because she’s had no frost this year yet, just as she had none last year at this time either. On the other hand, she said just last week it was too hot and buggy to go out — in late October, near Chicago.

    The trend of ever later first freezes appears to have started around 1980, according to an analysis by The Associated Press of data from 700 weather stations across the U.S. going back to 1895 compiled by Ken Kunkel, a meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information.

  • Police Beat 10-29-17

    Police Beat items are compiled from public information contained in Los Alamos Police Department records.
    Charges or citations listed in the Police Beat do not imply guilt or non-guilt. The Los Alamos Police Department uses the term “arrest” to define anyone who has been physically arrested, served a court summons or issued a citation.

    Oct. 18
    Midnight – Police arrested Thea Medina, 39, Ranchitos, on an allegation that she was driving on a suspended license and had a warrant held by State Police out of Rio Arriba County. Police stopped the vehicle because it was speeding.

    Oct. 19
    12:51 p.m. – Police arrested an individual on an allegation of reckless driving.

    Oct. 20
    10:20 a.m. – Police reported an office observed Jaime Jose Castillo, 20, Los Alamos, driving through a parking lot, allegedly smoking marijuana. When stopped, police reported they found more of the substance in the vehicle.
    10:57 a.m. – Someone turned in a pellet gun for destruction to the Police Department.
    3 p.m. – Someone reported that they had been the victim of fraud when they received notice from a collection service for an overdue bill, for a television service they didn’t order.

  • Workers contaminated upgrading glovebox

    Workers in the plutonium facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory were hit with ariborne radioactive contamination Sept. 23 from a glovebox after they removed a plug in the box that let the contamination out into the room they were working in.
    Three workers were exposed, including one that was exposed to radiation on his chest. According to a report on the incident issued by the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, all the workers were tested.
    “Nasal smears were all determined to be negative and the workers were placed on special bioassay (tested and monitored),” the report read.
    They were unharmed by the accident, according to a LANL spokesperson Friday, who asked for his name not to be used.
    “The worker that received skin contamination was successfully and thoroughly decontaminated -- mostly by washing off the contamination with water,” the spokesperson said. “None of the three workers received any measurable dose, and there was no risk to the public. The facility’s safety systems worked as designed.”

  • Casados announces bid for fifth term

    Long-time Los Alamos Magistrate Pat Casados announced Friday she would be seeking a fifth term to the post.
    A Democrat, Casados said she’s decided to run for another four-year term with a hope that a new governor in the Roundhouse at the end of next year will help stick up for the state’s judiciary.

    “I want to be around to see what the next governor will do for the judiciary. We’ve got to have more support,” she said in an announcement on the pavement outside the Los Alamos Justice Center.

    Casados said she expects opposition – she has bested repeat opponent Greg Ahlers in the past.

    The judiciary, along with the executive branch and the Legislature, has faced budget cuts. Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, a former district attorney in Las Cruces, and lawmakers, have been criticized for their lack of support of the state’s third branch of government.

    Martinez ends her second term next year. The governor is limited to two, four-year terms. Magistrates do not face the same restriction. Casados was first elected in the early 2000s.

    Asked if there was a specific gubernatorial candidate she would support, Casados declined to say. Cuts to the judiciary have weakened programs originally intended to serve the public.

  • Death in a small town

    Ryan Barnes, 39, was someone’s brother, someone’s son.

    But he was an outcast – disfigured and damaged from a severe brain injury, a homeless alcoholic who forgot to take his medications and often had brushes with the law.

    Barnes of Los Alamos died Oct. 18 in Española in a stranger’s front yard. His sister, Christine Byers, 48, said she believes it was heroin that killed him, even though it wasn’t his drug of choice.

    He was her brother, even though they weren’t related by blood – her dad married Ryan’s mom.

    “When Ryan was normal he was a wonderful man, just full of energy and life. I’ll never forget that smile,” she said, speaking through her tears.

    When he was drinking, his behavior was aggressive and violent. He had several run-ins with the law in Los Alamos, faces charges of trespass and burglary. In 2015 he was charged with indecent exposure after allegedly dropping his pants in front of a glass window at a local wine bar, filled with patrons. He pleaded “no contest,” and was sentenced to a treatment facility in Santa Fe, but was seen around town a month later.

    Some people looked at him, as he walked around Los Alamos, as someone to fear because of his appearance and reputation.

  • Man lures underage girl with Neflix login

    A 24-year-old Washington state man waived his right to a preliminary hearing on Friday on allegations that he swapped a login to a Netflix account for pornographic selfies of a 15-year-old Los Alamos girl, then sent a few of his own.

    Charges against Tyson Collins of Centralia, Washington, include solicitation of a child with an electronic device, causing a child to engage in sexual exploitation, criminal sexual communications with a child and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

    The charges will be heard in District Court.

    Collins appeared briefly in Los Alamos Magistrate Court Friday to waive the first hearing on the charges, which are fourth degree felonies.

    The charges stem from a report by the 15-year-old girl and her father, who said the girl came in contact with Collins in mid June on an app called Whispers. The girl had sent a message that she wanted a Netflix login, according to court documents.

    Collins allegedly responded, saying at first that the girl could have access to his Netflix and Hulu accounts for $100, but that he also wanted to see a photo of her.  She sent him a photo, although she wondered why he wanted it, according to the documents.

  • Proposed science standards shift again

    New science standards proposed by the state’s public education department for kindergarten through 12th grade continued to catch flak on Thursday, even as the secretary designate announced Wednesday night he was rolling back on the controversial changes to national standards he had earlier stood behind.

    Educators and scientists lined up on Thursday in front of the Legislative Education Study Committee in Santa Fe to blast, in general, the proposed STEM-Ready Science Standards proposed by the Public Education Department Secretary Designate Charles Ruszkowski.

    The PED’s original proposal, released to the public about five weeks ago, was an edited version of national standards developed called Next Generation, but Ruszkowski’s edits included changes to instruction and content regarding evolution, climate change and the age of the earth.

    Late Wednesday, however, Ruszkowski said that he had heard the criticism – including an eight-hour public hearing in mid-October where few voiced support of his proposal – and he planned to replace his STEM-Ready with Next Generation, with six additions, according to the Associated Press. The additions include instruction on local accomplishments in science and industry.

  • NNSA releases RFP for lab contract

    The National Nuclear Security Administration released its final request for proposals Wednesday for the management and operations contract for Los Alamos National Laboratory.

    The final RFP includes a 1-percent fixed performance fee for the contractor and language for a community commitment plan.

    Bidders have until Dec. 11 to submit proposals.

    When the NNSA announced the draft RFP, over 20 contractors, including the University of California, the University of Texas System, Bechtel, General Dynamics and others responded. Many toured the lab over the summer.

    The University of California issued a statement Wednesday following the NNSA’s release of the final RFP.

    “The university is strongly committed to Los Alamos’ scientific and technological excellence, driving the lab’s culture of operational excellence, and ensuring the continued high quality and integrity of its critical national security missions,” University of California Vice President for National Laboratories Kimberly Budil,  said in a written statement.

  • Student arrested for threatening to ‘shoot up school’

    A 17-year-old Los Alamos High School student who threatened on Oct. 18 to “shoot up the school” returned to school this week.

    The student, a male from Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo, was released from juvenile custody by Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer in First Judicial Court in Santa Fe Wednesday on conditional release.

    The student will attend an alternative education program in the Los Alamos Public School District’s administration building on Trinity Drive.

    The juvenile will not be allowed to have any type of weapon on his person or a backpack on school grounds, as part of his conditions of release.

    He also must wear a monitoring bracelet and have no contact with LAHS Principal Carter Payne. He will also be required to stay at least 100 yards away from Los Alamos High School, located on Diamond Drive.

    LAHS officials also requested a trespass order, barring him from all LAPS properties and activities, allowing him to only attend classes at the Trinity Drive administration building.

    The court made one exception to the 100-yards rule, allowing him to attend welding classes at UNM-LA.
    The student was out on another conditional release from a Sept. 12 incident for allegedly making threats against Payne and for allegedly possessing drug paraphernalia.

  • GOP targets environmental rules after wildfires

    WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans are targeting environmental rules to allow faster approval for tree cutting in national forests in response to the deadly wildfires in California.

    Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Thursday that lawmakers will vote next week on a bill to loosen environmental regulations for forest-thinning projects on federal lands. The GOP argues the actions will reduce the risk of fire.

    The Republican bill makes needed changes to forest management and "includes reforms to keep our forests healthy and less susceptible to the types of fires that ravaged our state this month," McCarthy said.

    California has declared a public health emergency in the northern part of the state, where fires that began Oct. 8 have killed at least 42 people, making them the deadliest series of wildfires in state history. Authorities have warned residents returning to the ruins of their homes to beware of possible hazardous residues in the ashes, and required them to sign forms acknowledging the danger.

    The GOP bill is one of at least three being considered in Congress to address wildfires. Republicans and the timber industry have long complained about environmental rules that make it harder to cut down trees to reduce fire risk.