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Local News

  • Valle Grande prescribed fire a success

    BY STEWART ROBERTSON
    National Park Service, Special to the Monitor

  • NMED extends cleanup comment period

    Residents interested in commenting on the cleanup of Los Alamos National Laboratory will have more time to do so thanks to a recent development from the New Mexico Environment Department.
    In March, NMED asked the public to add their comments to the initial agreement worked out between the state, the Department of Energy and the Los Alamos National Laboratory in 2005. The agreement details where, when and to what extent the Los Alamos National Laboratory will clean up decades of toxic waste disposal that have been happening at the site since 1943.
    In a recent announcement, NMED Secretary Ryan Flynn extended the comment deadline from May 16 to 5 p.m. May 31.
    The department is extending the deadline because it has received numerous requests to do so from the public.
    “On March 30, 2016, the New Mexico Environment Department issued an initial public notice for opportunity to submit public comment no later than May 16, 2016,” said a written statement from the Environment Department. “Since issuance of that initial notice, NMED has received requests to extend the public comment period.”

  • Lowriders visit Chamisa Elementary

    Frank Chavez had a lot of great things happen to him in his life, but being the subject of a history report from Chamisa Elementary School meant more to him than anything.
    “I’ve been all over the world...this is the best achievement, the best honor I’ve ever had, is to have a 9-year-old to write a story about me. That’s unbelievable to me,” he said.
    Chavez, and a lot of other figures from world and New Mexico history, was the subject of Chamisa’s annual “wax museum” event, where students dress up as their history subject and give an oral presentation to visitors to the museum.
    Fourth-grade student Alanna Fresquez chose Chavez because of the work he’s done promoting “lowrider” car culture in New Mexico and around the world as president of the New Mexico chapter of the “Duke’s Car Club.” The club is the oldest, continuing, international lowrider car club in existence. The club got its start in 1962 in Los Angeles. The New Mexico club, which is based in Albuquerque, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

  • Council rejects call for independent audit

    By a 2–4 vote on Tuesday, the Los Alamos County Council rejected Vice Chair Susan O’Leary’s call for an independent audit of the county’s personnel policies and compliance with those policies.
    Large settlements in five lawsuits against the county in the last five years prompted O’Leary’s recommendation for an audit.
    “Because there have been a number of personnel related lawsuits in a relatively short time period, I think there might be issues with our county personnel system, and in particular with its policies or adherence to personnel policies,” O’Leary said.
    Only Councilor Pete Sheehey voted with O’Leary on the motion. Councilor James Chrobocinski abstained because his brother was involved in one of those lawsuits, but seconded O’Leary’s motion because he felt having a conversation on the issue was important.
    O’Leary insisted that pursuing an independent investigation was necessary from a financial standpoint and a matter of public trust. Her proposal reads,
    “The negative actions that resulted in many of these cases were completely inconsistent with the values shared by the Los Alamos community – values that include treating others with respect and encouraging diversity in the workplace.”

  • Value of nuclear power up for debate in New Mexico rate case

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Discrepancies over the value of electricity purchased from a nuclear-fired power plant in Arizona has interrupted proceedings related to a request by New Mexico's largest electric utility to raise rates for more than a half-million customers.

    A hearing officer has extended the schedule in the Public Service Co. of New Mexico case so more evidence related to the Palo Verde plant can be submitted.

    The move was spurred by what the officer described as "significant unanswered discrepancies" that arose after the utility recalculated the net book value of power purchased from one of the units at the Arizona plant.

    PNM valued the power at just over $83 million, nearly $20 million less than what utility officials had testified to during a hearing last month, according to an order issued by the hearing officer on Wednesday.

    Environmentalists, who have been raising questions about the costs, said the overvaluation could have amounted to a $100 million burden for ratepayers over the life of the plant.

    Mariel Nanasi, a frequent critic of the utility and executive director of Santa Fe-based New Energy Economy, accused PNM of misleading the state Public Regulation Commission about the actual cost of the Palo Verde power.

  • Bernie Sanders adds rally in southern New Mexico

    SANTA FE (AP) — Bernie Sanders is adding a third rally to his swing through New Mexico to drum up support ahead of a June 7 presidential primary vote.

    The Vermont senator and Democratic presidential hopeful announced Thursday a rally at an elementary school in the largely Hispanic town of Vado between Las Cruces and El Paso, Texas.

    Pollsters expect Hispanics will account for at least half of Democratic primary voters in New Mexico.

    Sanders is scheduled to speak Friday to audiences at a community college in Santa Fe and a convention hall in Albuquerque. He is the first presidential candidate to visit New Mexico.

    Sanders trails in the delegate count but has vowed to stay in the race through the final primary date that includes New Mexico and California.

  • Trump to make stop in Albuquerque

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump has scheduled his first campaign appearance in New Mexico — the state with the highest percentage of Hispanics in the nation and where its GOP Latina governor has previously denounced him.

    His campaign website announced Thursday that Trump will hold a rally Tuesday evening at the Albuquerque Convention Center as New Mexico prepares for its primary two weeks later on June 7.

    Trump's scheduled visit to the state comes after Gov. Susana Martinez, the nation's first Latina governor and a rising star within the GOP, has harshly criticized his past statements about Mexican immigrants and Mexico.

    Trump has vowed to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and last year he compared Mexican immigrants to rapists and drug dealers.

    Martinez has urged comprehensive immigration reform and asked candidates to tone down their rhetoric amid strong anti-immigration sentiment from some fellow Republicans.

  • Today in history May 19
  • Today in history May 18
  • Wildfire-fighters warn 2016 could be bad

    California could face a dangerous and difficult wildfire season in 2016 despite a relatively wet winter, federal officials warned Tuesday.
    Most of the rest of the nation is expected to see an average summer, but even that means thousands of wildfires, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said after a briefing from the U.S. Forest Service, which is part of his department.
    A five-year drought has left 40 million dead and dried-out trees in California, including 29 million that died last year alone, Vilsack said.
    “This creates a tremendous hazard, potential hazard, for fires and firefighting this year,” he said.
    An El Niño weather pattern brought near-normal snowfall to parts of California last winter, but its forests need much more rain and snow to recover fully from the drought, Vilsack said.
    Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said Southern California didn’t benefit from the El Niño as much as the state’s northern mountains.
    He said the effects of drought will continue to kill California’s trees for at least three more years.
    Tidwell and Vilsack said the Forest Service — the primary federal wildfire-fighting agency — has 10,000 firefighters ready nationwide, along with more than 350 aircraft and 900 fire trucks.