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Local News

  • Council asks DPU to rewrite water report

    Council asked the Department of Public Utilities’ on Tuesday to redo it’s Long Range Water Plan, citing faults in wording and the high priority given to acquiring San Juan-Chama water rights.
    The plan forecasts water usage and changes to the county’s water supply over a 40-year-timeline. San Juan-Chama water rights refer to those along the Rio Grande River near White Rock.
    “Earlier today, I sent the utilities department an email asking them to consider correcting the language in the plan that incorrectly identifies the utilities department as the owner of the water rights that are at issue (and related contracts). Is there a problem with doing that?” Councilor Chris Chandler said to Deputy Utilities Manager James Alarid, one of the presenters of the report at the meeting.
    Chandler said the wording suggests the DPU owns the water rights instead of the county. In other places in the report, the moniker used made it sound like the county managed its water supply.

  • Woman faces arraignment in hit-and-run incident at store

    Ashley Garcia left a court appearance March 9 and went to the Los Alamos Bealls department store. Her day would end in the hands of law enforcement again, a suspect in a case of shoplifting and hit-and-run.
    At her arraignment Thursday on charges related to that incident, it was revealed that her March 9 court appearance involved shoplifting charges as well.
    Garcia, 23, of Hernandez, was there for a preliminary hearing, but it was postponed due to a conflict involving her defense attorney, Michael Jones. She also told court officials she had an 11:30 a.m. court appearance scheduled in Española that day.
    “So, even though she was going to be late for that appointment, she still took the time to stop at Bealls here in Los Alamos, committed a new felony shoplifting charge, and strike a pedestrian as she made her escape,” Santa Fe Assistant District Attorney Kent Wahlquist said to the presiding judge, Magistrate Court Judge Pat Casados. “That shows a significant flight risk, a significant inability to comply with court orders.”
    Wahlquist asked Casados to set a $25,000 cash-only bond for Garcia’s release.
    “If she’s able to post that, then I would also request she be placed on electronic monitoring,” Wahlquist said.

  • Martinez to consider bill to combine local elections

    SANTA FE (AP) — A piece of legislation awaiting Gov. Susana Martinez's signature would reshape the political landscape for school boards, cities and other nonpartisan local governments in New Mexico by consolidating elections and putting them before voters in November every other year.
    Currently, such elections draw little attention, with some garnering zero ballots, The Albuquerque Journal reported.
    Political analyst Brian Sanderoff said combining school board and municipal elections could boost turnout significantly. School elections on their own draw maybe 5 percent turnout, but Sanderoff said municipalities attract up to 45 percent.
    "School board candidates are going to have to reach out to a larger proportion of the electorate in order to get their message across and be successful," he said.
    Municipalities would have the option of opting out of the combined elections. Other agencies with taxing authorities could not opt out and would have to consolidate their elections into one in the fall.
    Some cities like Albuquerque and Las Cruces already hold their elections in the fall, meaning shifting over wouldn't be too hard.

  • Today in history 3-23-17
  • New Mexico governor orders hiring freeze to save cash

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez on Thursday ordered a hiring freeze for all agencies under her control, a move designed to save cash pending a political standoff over the funding of state government and public schools.
    The state personnel director outlined the freeze in a memo to cabinet secretaries, citing the need for executive agencies to take immediate action to control spending due to unprecedented budgetary challenges.
    Despite the freeze, some hiring will continue for jobs identified as critical for public safety and health as well as those related to taxation and revenue collections.
    The memo did not mention the governor's disappointment with the outcome of the legislative session that wrapped up more than a week ago. However, she has been outspoken about the Democratic-controlled Legislature sending her a budget built on $350 million in tax increases and fee hikes.
    "The fact is, state government affects every New Mexican, and passing a balanced budget is critical in funding education, public safety and service to protect abused children," she said in a statement.
    She went on to say she repeatedly called on the Senate to pass a balanced budget that didn't raise taxes on families.

  • DPU launches app for customers

    The Los Alamos Department of Public Utilities (DPU) announced the launch of its free Los Alamos DPU app Thursday by Smart Energy Systems. 

    The a new cloud-based platform has a friendly interface for DPU customers to access their account, track consumption and pay utility bills from their computer or mobile device, according to department officials.

    In 2015, a DPU customer satisfaction survey revealed that a segment of customers wanted more online functions.

    “Customers under the age of 45 told us that they wanted better ways to do business with us online. We listened and believe the Los Alamos DPU App will allow customers the flexibility and convenience they seek,” said Utilities Manager Tim Glasco, in a statement issued Thursday.  

    Some of the advantages that DPU customers can expect from the Los Alamos DPU app when used on their computer or downloaded to their mobile device include the ability to:

    • Customize the home screen to create personalized dashboards,

    • View current and historic bills,

    • Make payments with a credit card or electronic check,

    • View current and historic consumption,  

    • Compare personal consumption to the average of all Los Alamos customers’ consumption, and

  • County issues RFP for two land parcels behind medical center

    Los Alamos County’s Economic Development Division published a Request For Proposals seeking developers for two land parcels located behind Los Alamos Medical Center.

    Most residents better know these sites as the location of the former Los Alamos Site Office, at the end of 35th Street, just south of Trinity Drive.

    As stated in the RFP, the county “endeavors to develop an entirely new neighborhood that is environmentally and financially sustainable in a safe and beautiful high desert setting.”

    Parcels A-13-2 and A-12 are about 11.8 acres, and the county is looking to find a developer that “has the vision, interest and ability to implement and manage an overall development strategy for the A-13-2/A-12 sites,” according to a county spokeswoman Julie Habiger.

    The county will consider all development options as long as they align with Los Alamos County Council Strategic Leadership Plan priorities, conform to the Comprehensive Plan and adhere to any and all applicable building and development codes adopted by the county, Habiger said in a release Wednesday.

  • Storm to produce dangerous winds in parts of New Mexico

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Forecasters say an approaching storm system with potentially damaging strong winds is expected to pose hazards that include extreme fire conditions on New Mexico's eastern plains through Thursday and into Friday.
    The National Weather Service says eastern and central New Mexico will see winds gusting up to 70 mph.
    Forecasters warn of dangerous crosswinds on roads oriented north and south and blowing dust reducing visibilities to a mile or less on the eastern plains and central New Mexico's lower elevations.
    Other hazards could include damage to trees, power lines and roofs, and forecasters say lightweight objects could become airborne.
    Up to 6 inches of snow are expected in the northern mountains late Thursday and Friday.
     

  • Judge approves settlement barring ICE cooperation

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Forecasters say an approaching storm system with potentially damaging strong winds is expected to pose hazards that include extreme fire conditions on New Mexico's eastern plains through Thursday and into Friday.
    The National Weather Service says eastern and central New Mexico will see winds gusting up to 70 mph.
    Forecasters warn of dangerous crosswinds on roads oriented north and south and blowing dust reducing visibilities to a mile or less on the eastern plains and central New Mexico's lower elevations.
    Other hazards could include damage to trees, power lines and roofs, and forecasters say lightweight objects could become airborne.
    Up to 6 inches of snow are expected in the northern mountains late Thursday and Friday.

     

  • Board proposes $3 hike in waste fee

    To partially cover a projected $300,000 budget deficit in FY 2017, Los Alamos County’s Environmental Sustainability Board is recommending the county raise its $25 trash collection fee by $3.
    All trash container types — 48, 64 and 96 gallon — would be included. Inflation from labor costs, contracts and a rise in the price of trash cans are fueling the deficit, as are oil prices.
    “The biggest market change has to do with when oil prices dropped,” Public Works Director Philo Shelton said.
    Though it’s still cheaper for the county to recycle, the county is now paying to recycle. The county used to get $22 a ton for it’s recyclables, now it has to pay $15 a ton, and next year $16, to recycle.
    The county’s landfill contract and its trucking and hauling contract are two major contracts involved in the recycling and disposing of county waste. Labor costs and inflation are the other drivers behind the rate increase.
    “Every time we renew a contract, we’re seeing inflationary pressures and cost escalations,” Shelton told the board on Thursday.