Local News

  • New Mexico lawmakers move to restore vetoed funding

    SANTA FE (AP) — Despite resistance from the governor, New Mexico lawmakers pushed forward with a string of tax and fee increases Wednesday during a special legislative session to restore funding for higher education and the Legislature.
    The Democratic-led Legislature sent a bill to the governor's desk that would suspend infrastructure projects and tap severance tax bonds to fill a budget shortfall for the coming fiscal year. Lawmakers outlined additional tax increases to protect the state's credit rating and stave off further spending cuts to public schools and state agencies.
    Two-term Republican Gov. Susana Martinez and the Legislature have been feuding for months over how to fill a budget shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year. Martinez last month rejected a variety of tax hikes, while vetoing $765 million in state spending. Democratic lawmakers unsuccessfully petitioned the state Supreme Court to rescind the governor's spending cuts.
    On the first day of the special session, votes to override the governor's actions by a two-thirds majority failed in both the House and Senate. Sen. Majority Leader Peter Wirth said the override attempts were necessary to show every effort had been made in case they have to appeal to the state Supreme Court for a second time.

  • Special session starts with failed bids to override vetoes

    SANTA FE (AP) — New Mexico lawmakers on Wednesday kicked off a special session aimed at resolving a fiscal crisis with failed attempts to override Republican Gov. Susana Martinez's vetoes of spending proposals that were approved by the Legislature earlier this year.
    The two-term governor and the Democratic-led Legislature have been feuding for months over how to fill a budget shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year. Martinez last month rejected a variety of tax increases, while vetoing $765 million in state spending.
    Some lawmakers have said the vetoes have had devastating effects on the state, but efforts to overturn the governor's action failed in both the House and Senate and set the stage for hashing out a new spending plan.
    Without an agreement, all general-fund expenditures on the Legislature as well as state colleges, universities and specialty schools are scheduled to run out July 1.
    In May, leading Democratic lawmakers unsuccessfully petitioned the Supreme Court to rescind the cuts. They say the focus now is on restoring the funding in as little time as possible.
    "Priority No. 1, priority No. 2, priority No. 3 — it's all reinstating funding for higher education," Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth said.

  • LANL Foundation kicks off scholarship campaign

    The annual Los Alamos Employees’ Scholarship Fund (LAESF) Kickoff Reception took place last Thursday at the Oppenheimer Study Center on the Los Alamos National Laboratory campus.
    This kickoff event included several current and past scholars to talk about how the scholarships they received made an impact on their lives. The LAESF is a part of the LANL Foundation whose mission is to inspire excellence in education and learning in northern New Mexico through innovative programming, collaboration, and advocacy.
    Since 1999, $6.1 million has been awarded to students, most of which has been donated by the Laboratory workforce, with a $250,000 employee match from Los Alamos National Security.
    This year’s fundraising campaign champion, Jeff Yarbrough, associate director for Plutonium Science and Manufacturing, addressed students, parents and donors at the Lab, emphasizing the fundraising theme, “Education: Mission Critical.” John McDermon, LANL Foundation scholarship program manager, and LANL Director Charlie McMillan were also in attendance.

  • Civil complaint filed against WR dog owner

    A case involving a vicious dog attack in White Rock has been closed and reverted to a civil case instead.
    According to Magistrate Judge Pat A. Casados, the original criminal case was dismissed because the dogs in question had not been previously officially deemed dangerous.
    An amended civil complaint was filed May 11 against White Rock resident and owner of the two dogs involved in the attack, Leslie Sherman. Casados ruled if the dogs are ruled as dangerous, a criminal complaint may then be filed.
    The incident that sparked the original criminal complaint occurred on Acoma Lane March 29 when “…A witness observed (two) large dogs, one brown and the other black, come into the yard where a smaller dog was,” according to LAPD Commander Preston Ballew. “The (two) large dogs killed the smaller dog and left the area.”

  • Hearing looms for troubled plutonium facility

    As LANL continues toward its goal of ramping up plutonium production at Tech Area 55, the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board has called for a June hearing in Santa Fe regarding LANL’s troubled plutonium manufacturing facility, known as “PF-4.” LANL wants to boost its production of plutonium cores from 20 a year to 80 by 2027, but safety issues connected to work procedures and the age of the facility has caused concern with some government agencies.
    In April a fire broke out at the facility during “housekeeping day,” when workers attempting to dispose of materials that were capable of igniting through contact with air caught fire when they emptied them into a bag.

  • Sheehey seeks to define sheriff’s duties in new resolution June 6

    County Councilor Pete Sheehey wants to restore what he called a reasonable set of duties to the Los Alamos County Sheriff’s office, and has crafted a resolution reflecting what he wants those duties to be.
    He plans to introduce the resolution at a June 6 council meeting.
    “I support returning a reasonable set of duties to the Sheriff’s Office: process and writ serving, sex offenders tracking, court security, and some transportation of prisoners,” he said in a written statement Tuesday. “It makes sense to assign enough duties to the Sheriff’s Office to justify a full-time deputy Sheriff.”
    The Los Alamos County Sheriff Marco Lucero was officially stripped of most of his duties, personnel and budget in a council vote last year. The majority of councilors wanted to end the office, calling it a redundancy in a county that practices home rule.
    However, when the question went out in a referendum this year to eliminate the office all together or keep it, voters voted to keep it.
    Sheehey also included in his resolution that council include a big enough budget so the sheriff can carry out those duties.
    When reached for comment, Lucero would like to see Sheehey’s resolution adopted then expanded on.

  • Police ask for help in identifying two dogs

    On May 22nd at approximately 8:00 am, two black Labrador retriever type dogs were walking with their owner off leash on Rim Trail in Los Alamos, NM. The two dogs attacked a small breed dog that was on leash and accompanied by its owner causing injured that required medical attention.

    One of the dogs appeared to be a mixed breed lab, black in color with white on its chest, the other appeared to be more lab and was black in color. The dogs were accompanied by a slim built, fair skinned woman with short dark hair. She is reported to be in the 30 to 40 year old age range.

    The owner of the two dogs did not provide name or contact information to the victim, and Animal Control is in need of the public's help to locate them.

    If anyone has any information on the whereabouts of the animals involved in this attack, please call police dispatch at 505-662-8222.

  • Recreation bond fails

    The $20 million recreation bond did not pass muster with the those that voted in the mail in the ballot election. The vote was 3,446 for and 3,932 against the recreation bond. A large number of voters, 7,378, voted in in the election, making it a little over 50 percent of the county voting, with the the county getting back 7,383 ballots returned out of the 13,480 that were sent out.

    In February, County Council, after a year and half long vetting process that included the public and community partners, voted for five capital improvement projects to fund with the $20 million bond. The county also had $13 million in funding reserves it was going to use to fund the five projects.

  • New furnace installed at Barranca Mesa pool

    The venerable Barranca Mesa Pool will be half a century old next year in 2018. As the old lady is getting older one or the other pool element has to be replaced to keep the old pool young for all its young patrons.
    Two furnaces heat the pool water to a comfortable temperature of 83 degrees, so that swimmers as well as bathers can enjoy the water.
    The the first furnace was replaced four years ago, and now No. 2 was falling apart and had to be replaced.
    “I was surprised to find out that the replacement was much smaller than its predecessor,” said Jorg Jansen, manager of the pool. “Modern technology made this possible and at the same time increasing the heating capacity to 900,000 BTU/hr. What an achievement! And what a sight seeing the furnace dangling in the air as the crane operator lowered it very slowly in its resting place.”
    They are ready to open the pool on Memorial Day weekend on at noon May 27.
    Come and join the fun! If you are not yet a member of the Barranca Mesa Pool Association become one before the fun season begins by contacting president2017@barrancapool.com.

  • Leadership Los Alamos celebrates graduates of ‘best class ever’

    Pajarito Ski Lodge hosted a graduation ceremony May 12 for Leadership Los Alamos. The graduating class of 2016-17 consisted of 26 Los Alamos locals who completed the nine-month long program and lovingly referred to themselves as the “Best Class Ever.”

    Leadership Los Alamos started in 2003 as a non-profit organization that focuses on finding and building leaders within the community.

    It is a unique opportunity for individuals who live or work in Los Alamos and are committed to assuming roles of responsibility in civic, charitable, and governmental organizations in the region.

    The program starts with an orientation and continues with seven all-day sessions that each focus on a different civic-oriented topic or issue.

    Chair-Elect Brian D’Andrea began the ceremony by reiterating the ultimate mission behind LLA and the privilege to recognize those who committed to Leadership Los Alamos.

    “Most fundamentally, it is to inspire engagement within the community and hopefully leadership positions or leadership roles,” D’Andrea said.

    He noted that LLA is a mix of introductions into the community but also an inspiration to lead.