Local News

  • Tornadoes, floods hit OKC area

    OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Victims from a 51-twister outbreak across Tornado Alley sifted through rubble Thursday while forecasters issued ominous forecasts for the coming days.
    Tornadoes hit Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and north Texas on Wednesday. Most were small and chewed up only farmland, but a pair crossed into Oklahoma City and damaged homes and businesses. A few injuries were reported — including about a dozen at an Oklahoma City trailer park — and one woman drowned in an underground storm shelter that flooded.
    “There is a hotel on Interstate 35 that sustained major damage — it just looks destroyed,” said Oklahoma Police Sergeant Gary Knight. “We’ve been going room to room.”
    The Storm Prediction Center had warned that severe weather would come to Tornado Alley and said more storms were possible later in the week. Meteorologist John Hart said the greatest threat for severe weather Thursday was in southern Oklahoma and north Texas. Even two days out, the center was warning of a “moderate risk” of severe storms Saturday from the high plains of Kansas to the Red River area north of Dallas, including much of western Oklahoma.

  • Book Drive

    Sara Shiina helped collect books for the Kiwanis’ Club’s book drive Saturday at the Betty Ehart Senior Center. Donated books at the pancake breakfast were donated to several independent libraries that operate in Rio Arriba County.

  • Mortillaro named NMTA board president

    The New Mexico Transit Association announced earlier this week it had elected four new members to serve on its nine-member board.
    The NMTA membership voted former Los Alamos County Administrator Anthony Mortillaro as its new board president. Mortillaro is currently serving at the executive director of the North Central Regional Transit District. The NCRTD operates the “Blue Bus” service in Los Alamos, Rio Arriba and Santa Fe counties.
    Mortillaro will replace outgoing board president John Bulthuis. Bulthuis, the transportation director of the City of Santa Fe, did not seek reelection.
    Philo Shelton, who is the director of Atomic City Transit’s bus service, was named treasurer for the board.
    The NMTA, which was known as the New Mexico Passenger Transport Association until it changed its name last year, coordinates training and provides technical support for New Mexico’s rural transit providers in cooperation with the state Department of Transportation.

  • Update 5-7-15

    Open Forum

    Los Alamos County has an open forum question to solicit feedback from those who were unable to attend the May 5 branding meeting. The forum will be open through May 14. Those wanting to give feedback can visit peakdemocracy.com/portals/119/Forum_345/Issue_2727.


    A ceremony to honor law enforcement and corrections officers who have lost their lives in service will be at the Justice Center 9 a.m. May 13.

    County Council

    Los Alamos County Council will meet at Friday from noon-1:30 p.m. in council chambers.

    Pool closed

    The Larry R. Walkup Aquatic Center pool will be closed for in-service training May 16. The front office of the pool, however, will be open for regular business. For more information, call 662-1870.

    Food drive

    A letter carrier’s food drive is scheduled for Saturday. Members of the local postal service or local Boy Scouts will come by during the day to collected donated food. Those wishing to drop off donations of food may also do so at the local Smith’s locations.

    Queen's court

  • Teachers get details on evals

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — New Mexico teachers are getting more detail on their evaluations under a new system that had a rocky unveiling last year.
    The Albuquerque Journal reports the state overhauled its teacher evaluation system to reflect students’ standardized test scores, and fewer teachers statewide were rated effective or better this year than last year from more than 78 percent to less than 74.
    Teacher complaints led the Public Education Department to turn the usual one-page report into a five-page description of each rating category in an attempt to clear up confusion.
    Student test scores account for half a teacher’s rating and principal observations make up 40 percent. Teacher attendance and student surveys are also part of the reports the department made available Monday and that districts are distributing to teachers.

  • Union rep walks out of SOC meeting

    Talks between the security workers who protect Los Alamos National Laboratory and the subcontractor that employs them have broken down.
    Union officials announced Wednesday that their negotiating team walked out after learning that security company SOC-Los Alamos did not have the ability to deliver better retirement benefits it had promised the union it would pursue.
    Union agent Chris Mandril accused the company of negotiating in bad faith.
    He said the union has learned SOC doesn’t have the authority to work directly with federal officials to set contract terms.
    The company did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
    The talks have been ongoing since January. In April, the two sides agreed to a 60-day extension, meaning the security force would continue working as normal. That extension expires in June.

  • Mitigation to start near Smith's

    Los Alamos National Laboratory announced that it is performing a high-angle canyon-side cleanup on Department of Energy property just south of the new Smith’s Marketplace.
    LANL said work is scheduled to begin this month and will take about two months to complete.
    “We are committed to reducing the laboratory’s historical footprint and intend to continue to make progress on environmental legacy cleanup,” said Christine Gelles, acting manager of DOE’s Environmental Management at Los Alamos Field Office.
    In collaboration with experts from contractor TerranearPMC, LANL’s Environmental Remediation program is using a specialized telescoping crane and spider excavator to remove from the rugged, steep slope side of Los Alamos Canyon a small area of mercury-contaminated soil that derived from Manhattan Project and early Cold War-era operations at former Technical Area 32.
    “During the 1940s and 1950s, there was no understanding of the consequences associated with these types of releases,” said Dave McInroy, director for the Environmental Remediation program. “The complexity of this job demonstrates the lab’s commitment to remedy all historical discretions.”

  • Market is back for the season

    The Los Alamos Farmers Market returned to the great outdoors this morning.
    The Farmers Market, which is sponsored by Los Alamos MainStreet, is a popular destination for locals looking for fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as locally-grown and processed commodities such as honey, jams and kettle corn. Throughout the season, vendors selling meats, cheeses and similar products will also make an appearance.
    Prior to today’s debut in the sunshine, the Farmers Market had its winter season indoors in nearby Fuller Lodge.
    The outdoor season is scheduled to run from May through October. For more information on the local market, call 575-581-4651.

  • Lapel cams pass council scrutiny

    The Los Alamos Police Department FY2016 budget passed unanimously during budget hearings, surviving a challenge by Councilor Susan O’Leary regarding a request for $40,000 for lapel cameras.
    “When I look at the tradeoffs…we’re basically talking library hours plus some as a cost of the cameras, and we’re going to have to make some tradeoffs at the end of the day,” O’Leary said. O’Leary’s motion to restore $24,400 to the library budget so hours would not have to be cut was passed by council.
    O’Leary suggested delaying a year to purchase the cameras, something Chief Dino Sgambellone was reluctant to do. He pointed out that the cameras can be useful in investigating complaints, defending an officer in a lawsuit and for ongoing professional audits.
    “I feel that given what’s happening nationally that I at least want to investigate that possibility,” Sgambellone said. “I feel we’re better able to serve the public and be more transparent in response to their concerns.”

  • LANL worker is released from LAMC

    One of the two Los Alamos National Laboratory workers in the hospital following Sunday’s accident at TA-53 Sunday was released Tuesday.
    The injured worker, who was taken to Los Alamos Medical Center following the accident, was discharged from there Tuesday, according to LAMC spokesperson Mary Beth Maassen.
    LAMC received all nine workers injured in the electrical accident at a substation at TA-53. Of those, seven were treated and released Sunday, one suffered serious injuries and was transported to UNM Hospital in Albuquerque, and the other, who was identified only as a 57-year-old male, was at LAMC through his discharge Tuesday.
    The Associated Press reported today that the most seriously injured worker, who hasn’t been identified, is still at UNM. He is in critical but stable condition.
    LANL said it is investigating the cause of the accident along with representatives from the Department of Energy.