Local News

  • Council OKs White Rock senior center contract

    The Los Alamos County Council unanimously approved a joint motion on Tuesday that will allow the remodel of the White Rock Senior Center/Civic Center complex to move forward.
    The motion included approval of a $268,092 grant from the New Mexico Aging and Long-Term Services Department for outfitting a commercial kitchen at the senior center. Council also awarded a $3,965,000 construction agreement to R and M Construction LLC.
    The project includes complete renovation of all four buildings at the complex, new mechanical equipment, demolition and reconstruction of parking lots and an upgrade to meet LEED Silver Certification standards.
    The construction award includes a $1,666,861 budget revision to the original design estimate, slightly lower than the $1.8 million  increase originally estimated. Construction of the kitchen, installation of a new waterline and replacement of aging utility systems were some of the factors contributing to the higher cost.
    The project is expected to be finished in November.
    County Lobbyist Scott Scanland also provided an update on the 2016 legislative session. Scanland has been the county’s lobbyist for 23 years.
    “I’m here to report actually very good news,” Scanland said. “Los Alamos County had a very successful session this year.”

  • LAPS seeks input on funding

    The Los Alamos School Board is right in the middle of a series of public forums it hopes will help it and the administration better match funding to help educate Los Alamos students.
    At a meeting in White Rock Tuesday, Superintendent of Schools Kurt Steinhaus introduced the audience to its proposed budget (expected to be finalized in May), and a draft of its new “Strategic Plan.”
    Steinhaus told them what they were going to do and how members of the audience could help them by providing input.
    The administration and the school board were primarily interested in how they would like Los Alamos County residents to spend the “State Equalization Guarantee” portion of the budget, which are education funds allotted to Los Alamos from the state.
    “We’re doing what’s ideal,” said Steinhaus. “We’re having the school board develop a strategic plan and a direction, and then we build a budget to implement that plan. So, your comments tonight… can be about the strategic plan or about the budget, or a mixture of both.”
    The current school budget is for $55 million. That’s $40.5 million in operating funds, $3.5 million in special revenue funds and $10.9 million in capital projects funds.

  • ‘Jessica, our angel’

    Hundreds of mourners showed up at the Knights of Columbus Hall on Trinity Road Wednesday to pay their last respects to Jessica Dawni Fleming, a Los Alamos resident who was known by many throughout the county.  
    Not only was she a wife, sibling, aunt and a daughter, she seemed to make friends wherever she went.
    “I went through a very rough time in my life and she was my rock and I will always be indebted to her for what she did for me,” said Agatha Marquez, who was the general manager of the Holiday Inn Express in Los Alamos from Aug. 2009 to Aug. 2015. “She taught me how to love and forgive and to be at peace with myself. I love her and will always love her.”
    By all accounts she took her job as a front desk agent seriously, Marquez said.
    “I remember one day I had meetings set up all day and she had the flu and she still came in.”  But even when she was home sick, or supposed to be, Marquez recalled that Fleming kept calling in to make sure the hotel was OK.
    “That was just the type of person she was,” Marquez said. “Always putting other people first which is probably why she was such a good front desk agent and friend.”
    She worked hard at her flower arranging, too, so much so that many people around town knew her as the “flower girl.”

  • Council rejects roundabout petition

    Los Alamos County Council rejected a petition Tuesday aimed at stopping a roundabout planned for the Trinity Drive/Central Avenue intersection and putting a 10-year moratorium on roundabouts in the county.
    The vote was 6–1, with Councilor Pete Sheehey voting against the motion.
    The two-lane roundabout is part of a New Mexico Department of Transportation upgrade to NM 502, and is at 90-percent design completion.
    William Mead – who presented on behalf of the petitioners – called the proposed roundabout ugly and confusing to out-of-town visitors.
    “There are local rules that evolve for using roundabouts, and mixing a local crowd with an out of town crowd is likely to be a safety hazard and certainly unpleasant for visitors,” Mead said.
    Mead also contented that two-lane roundabouts have built in conflicts, especially in the case of aggressive drivers, which are “only resolved by drivers’ wits.”
    “It’s well known and widely advertised that roundabouts are dangerous for pedestrians, bicycles and motorcycles,” Mead said.

  • Today in history April 7
  • ‘Longmire’ shoots in LA

    Sheriff Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor) greeted Aihnoa Briano-Medina and other locals on the set of “Longmire” in Los Alamos Monday.
    The show filmed scenes at a private home in a Barranca Mesa neighborhood and another outside the gates at Guaje Pines Cemetery.
    All activities were coordinated with Los Alamos County Parks, Recreation and Traffic divisions. Look for Los Alamos locations in episode 2 of the final season 5 of “Longmire.”

  • ES board drafts trash options

    The Environmental Sustainability Board met in a work session Thursday to draft options for revising the brush and bulk collection program.
    The board has been reviewing the program to determine what works and what needs improvements.
    ESB concerns include the cost of the program and green waste contaminated with trash, making it worthless for composting.
    The major concern expressed by residents – in an recent Open Forum survey and in comments to the board and Los Alamos County councilors – is the unsightliness of brush and bulk items sitting curbside months in advance of pickup.
    A recent Open Forum survey revealed overall satisfaction with the program, so board members looked at options that would maintain the program while addressing those issues.
    Environmental Services Manager Angelica Gurule recently met with code enforcement to see how curbside issues could be addressed.
    Code enforcement has agreed to cite violators under the nuisance code if items are placed out more than 10 days in advance of pickup. To address safety concerns, ESB will no longer include refrigerators in its bulk pickup. They also defined one load (the acceptable amount for pickup) as a load that could fit in a pickup truck.

  • School reform group to host free movie

    A group of residents interested in changing how high school is taught in Los Alamos are urging the community to come out and see a movie that explains what they’re trying to accomplish.
    Called “Most Likely to Succeed,” the movie talks about the start of public education, where public education is today and where it should be headed.
    The film will be screened three times, starting at 7 p.m. Friday in the Duane W. Smith Auditorium.
    The other dates and locations are Sunday at the White Rock Presbyterian Church at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. April 15 in the  Duane W. Smith Auditorium. Admission is free for all screenings.
    “The film encourages each school to reimagine its future by leveraging the passions, expertise and aspirations of the community,” said Mountain Elementary School Teacher Michel Altherr. “It’s a very, organic, grassroots and participatory process.”
    According to Los Alamos Super School group member Ken Holmes, there will be a short, 30-minute panel discussion with the audience afterward, when viewers of the film will be invited to submit suggestions and questions to the panel. The discussion will be moderated by Superintendent of Schools Kurt Steinhaus.

  • Tribe on front lines of fight

    ALBUQUERQUE — The tribal community of San Ildefonso Pueblo sits in the shadow of Los Alamos National Laboratory, one of the nation’s premier laboratories and the birthplace of the atomic bomb.
    The tribe is on the front lines of a battle to rein in contamination left behind by decades of bomb-making and nuclear research.
    Pueblo Gov. James Mountain says he’s encouraged that New Mexico regulators, under a revamped cleanup proposal, have identified as a priority a plume of chromium contamination at the tribe’s border with the lab.
    San Ildefonso Pueblo, in northern New Mexico’s high desert, has a tribal enrollment of about 750. Its members are known for their artistry, creating jewelry, paintings, traditional black-on-black pottery and other works.
    Groundwater sampling shows increasing chromium concentrations at the edges of the plume, indicating it’s migrating through an area considered sacred by the tribe and closer to the Rio Grande, which provides drinking water to communities throughout the region.
    The plume has stretched about 1 mile into the upper part of the regional aquifer, and is about a half-mile wide and 100 feet thick.
    It’s about a half-mile from the closest drinking water well.
    “Without a doubt, it definitely raises concerns,” Mountain said.

  • Today in history April 6