Local News

  • UPTE meets with public about contract change

    Representatives of the University Professional & Technical Employees (UPTE), which has a chapter at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, urged people at a town hall meeting to help it make changes to the laboratory’s management and operations structure.
    “We put together this panel to initiate this discussion, which we hope will turn into an ongoing discussion over the next number of months as the requests for proposals for the next LANL contract is being composed and created within the DOE (Department of Energy) and the NNSA (National Nuclear Security Administration),” said UPTE System-wide Executive Vice President Jeff Colvin.
    When the lab’s operations and management contract comes up for rebid sometime this year, UPTE is hoping a non-profit entity takes it over, instead of a for profit entity, which is what the lab has now under Los Alamos National Security LLC. Representatives at the meeting told the audience the for-profit model has led to a LANL being a national lab without a sense of mission, like it had in the days of the Manhattan Project and the Cold War.

  • Council adopts $200.1-million budget for ‘18

    Los Alamos County Council Tuesday adopted a $200.1 million budget for fiscal year 2018, but not without a lot of soul-searching and debate about what to cut. The goal was to get the budget to within an acceptable range of a 20-percent funding reserve in the General Fund unassigned balance. The council made it to 19.9 percent. There will be $51.7 million in General Fund expenditures for FY2018.
    Several items council tentatively agreed to fund during its budget sessions were officially cut, including a 1 percent “cost of labor” increase for county employees that council initially agreed to fund at ½ percent, or $186,500.
    But when it came time to do so Tuesday, council cut the raise to zero. The reasons had to do with the 2 percent raise previously approved. The council also had already made a $500,000 cost of living adjustment to county employees’ salaries last year.
    “In order to do that, we would have to cut so many other things out,” Councilor James Chrobocinski said. “I think that’s something that can be deferred… If looked at, 1 percent next year rather than a half percent this year, we’re still going to be keeping up,” he told the council.

  • New Mexico Supreme Court agrees to hear state budget dispute

    SANTA FE (AP) — The New Mexico Supreme Court agreed Monday to hear a lawsuit by the state Legislature that accuses Republican Gov. Susana Martinez of overstepping her authority by vetoing funding to the state Legislature and all state universities and colleges.
    Martinez was ordered to respond to a petition from the Democratic-led Legislature that says her line-item vetoes would "effectively abolish" state institutions of higher education and upset the balance of powers between branches of government outlined in the state's constitution.
    Oral arguments were scheduled May 15 at the Supreme Court in the extraordinary legal challenge that springs from an escalating feud over how to resolve the state's financial crisis.
    Lawmakers sent Martinez a $6.1 billion budget package in March that would slightly boost spending and includes several tax increases designed to shore up wobbly state finances.
    This month, Martinez rejected the tax hikes and issued line-item vetoes that defunded the Legislature and cut $745 million in annual general fund spending to state universities, community colleges and specialty schools.

  • Meet LAHS principal candidates

    The public is invited to meet the three candidates for Los Alamos High School Principal  Tuesday in the High School Speech Theater.
    At 5 p.m.: Laura Jeffery is the principal of Capshaw Middle School in Santa Fe Public Schools. She has 10 years of Administrative Experience, which also includes Assistant Principal of Rio Rancho High School.  
    At 6 p.m.: Carter Payne is the principal of the Topper Freshman Academy in Los Alamos Public Schools. He has seven years of administrative experience, which also includes assistant principal of Los Alamos High School, and assistant principal of Onate High School in the Las Cruces Public Schools.
    At 7 p.m.: Valerie Trujillo is the Superintendent of Questa Independent School District. She has nine years of administrative experience, which also includes principal and athletic director of Questa Jr. Sr. High School and assistant principal of Capshaw Middle School in Santa Fe Public Schools.
    For more information, please contact Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus at 663-2230 or 470-3478.

  • Bandelier gets the buzz on bees

    Special to the Monitor

  • Council OK’s Community Services budget with extras

    Community Services got its $3.9 million budget tentatively approved by council Tuesday, plus some extras.
    As council goes through each department budget presentation, department heads can also can request extra items not included in its budget it would like to see funded.
    At Tuesday’s hearing, council adopted 10 out of 12 of the department’s original requests, plus two requests put forward by council members Chris Chandler and Vice Chair Susan O’Leary. Chandler requested that a traffic island at 36th Street and Arizona Avenue be landscaped and O’Leary requested that council consider reserving $80,000 for a public health nurse for Los Alamos.
    Though council has not created an actual public health nurse position yet, O’Leary and others thought it prudent that council take tentative steps toward reestablishing the position.
    “We don’t know what we’re doing yet, but something needs to happen there,” O’Leary said. “It would be better to have some kind of placeholder to make sure we have money if and when we figure out how we’re going to move forward to improve services in our community.”

  • BPU sends water plan back for public review

    The Board of Public Utilities Wednesday approved a much larger revamp of the Department of Public Utilities’ Long Range Water plan, even though the County Council asked for only minor changes.
    Deputy Utilities Manager James Alarid presented two options to the board Wednesday, both designed to save the three years of work and the $90,000 invested into the plan already.
    Alarid suggested to the board they choose “Option 1” an option that had the best chance of not being rejected by the state. Option 1 includes changes requested by the Los Alamos County Council, and updates by the DPU to include 2016 data.
    “There’s a very good chance that the state engineer is going to reject the plan because it’s not current,” said Alarid. Alarid explained to the board that the plan, which they started in 2014, was unexpectedly put on hold due to extensive negotiations with the Los Alamos National Laboratory over water rights.
    “Turns out, we’re now on pace to submit to the state engineer probably in the fall of 2017,” Alarid said to the board. “All of our data in the plan is current as of 2015. We have a whole new calendar year of 2016… there’s a very good chance that the state engineer is going reject the plan because it’s not current.”

  • New Mexico Legislature sues governor in escalating conflict

    SANTA FE (AP) — The New Mexico Legislature sued Republican Gov. Susana Martinez on Friday over budget vetoes that would effectively eliminate the legislative branch of government by cutting off its funding amid an escalating clash over how to resolve the state's financial crisis.

    The move by the Democratic-controlled Legislature was an extraordinary step in a drawn-out feud over budget shortfalls that already have triggered cuts to public school athletic programs, layoffs at state museums and shortages of public defenders. Without a compromise, New Mexico runs the risk of closing down its Statehouse and crippling university teaching and research programs for agriculture, medicine and oil exploration, along with specialty schools for the blind and deaf.

    The Legislature on Friday petitioned the New Mexico Supreme Court to rescind Martinez's line-item vetoes on spending that it says would "effectively abolish" state institutions of higher education and upset the balance of powers between branches of government outlined in the state's constitution.

  • Volunteers needed for new steering committee

    Los Alamos County Council approved a contract at its regular meeting Tuesday with Design Workshop to create a new Tourism Strategic Plan.
    As a result, the county is seeking volunteers from Los Alamos or White Rock to serve as representatives on a new steering committee led by Council Vice-Chair Susan O’ Leary.
    The Tourism Master Plan/Economic Development Strategic Plan Steering Committee will serve as an advisory body to the County Council and county planners for the tourism strategic planning process.
    The committee will provide county planners with community member input during the planning process to ensure that the interests of the community at-large as well as tourism stakeholders are considered as the strategic plan is developed.
    This input will be acquired through formal participation in steering committee meetings facilitated by the Design Workshop and informal comments and feedback during the planning process.
    The committee will also serve a valuable role in communicating project progress with the general public and County Council.
    Volunteers can be from the community-at-large, a business, or an organization, and will join county staff and others representing amenities, assets and attractions, lodging/hotels, history, the National Park Service and San Ildefonso Pueblo.

  • Local Habitat for Humanity awarded housing grant

    Special to the Monitor

    Habitat for Humanity – Española Valley and Los Alamos was awarded a $15,000 grant from Wells Fargo Housing Foundation.

    The award is part of Wells Fargo’s mission “to build stronger communities by investing and volunteering in support of neighborhood revitalization efforts … to create affordable and sustainable housing for low-to-moderate income families, seniors and veterans.”

    Wells Fargo Bank Community Engagement Coordinator Mike Sedillo and Española Wells Fargo Bank Branch Manager Jeannette Chavez said they looked forward to working with Habitat EVLA on its 2017 house build.

    Chavez has worked with Habitat for Humanity in Santa Fe in previous years.

    “We have numerous employees who are excited about actually building a house from the ground up,” Chavez said. 

    Team Wells Fargo will lead the volunteers for the official kickoff for the 2017 Build on Saturday. Team Wells Fargo will also participate in Habitat for Humanity’s annual Women’s Build the weekend before Mother’s Day.