Local News

  • Anti nuke group wants lab cleanup agreement tossed

    Nuclear Watch New Mexico has asked a federal judge to throw out a new hazardous waste clean-up agreement signed by the New Mexico Environment Department, the U.S. Department of Energy and the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
    The citizen-action group filed a lawsuit in federal court in May, calling for the DOE and LANL to be held responsible for not meeting deadlines set by NMED in a consent order worked out between the parties in 2005.
    The 2016 order is a revamp of the earlier consent order that was made between the DOE, NMED and the University of California (predecessors of Los Alamos Security LLC, the managers of the lab). The 2005 order established deadlines and methods LANL must adhere to in cleaning up multiple sites on the property, including areas that were in use during the Manhattan Project.
    The lawsuit cites 12 alleged violations where deadlines and timetables were not met. The lawsuit claims NMED set and reset deadlines at least three or four times under the 2005 agreement.
    The lawsuit’s amendment, which was filed July 19 and includes the lab’s new managing contractor, Los Alamos Security LLC, claims NMED failed to adequately consider public comments concerning the 2016 update.

  • LANB customers, bank deal with computer upgrade

    Customers of Los Alamos National Bank who may have had difficulties enrolling in the bank’s new online banking system should see their issues resolved by next week, officials said Thursday.
    The bank started the massive system upgrade Saturday and completed it on Monday.
    Chief Executive Officer John Gulas also wanted customers to know that everyone’s money is right where it should be.
    “No customer data was lost or destroyed during the upgrade,” he said.
    The upgrade did cause customers some grief this week. Customer wait times were reported to have exceeded one hour when they called the bank’s call center for assistance.
    Those who went to the bank for help were met by customer service representatives in the lobby with clipboards, who took down their names. Seating sections were created so customers could wait sitting down.
    The changes are designed to make present – and future – online banking more convenient and safer.

  • County: Los Alamos 911 line out

    Los Alamos Police Department’s dispatch center is reporting that the 911 phone lines are out.

    The dispatch center has forwarded 911 calls to Santa Fe’s police dispatch center as an interim solution. Santa Fe dispatch is then working the calls made to 911 back to LAPD dispatch using cell phones to relay information.

    Phone technicians are on their way to the dispatch center to try and resolve the issue and Century Link is also investigating the phone line, according to county spokeswoman Julie Habiger.

    Radio transmissions are not impacted and dispatchers are able to receive and transmit information with public safety services through the radio system. There is no estimate yet on when 911 line service may be restored, Habiger said.

  • New Mexico senator sounds alarm on evaporating revenues

    SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A bipartisan alarm was sounded Thursday by state officials who say evaporating revenues could leave New Mexico scrambling to meet its spending commitments for everything from schools and public safety to health care over the next budget year.

    A key state senator called on Republican Gov. Susana Martinez to order lawmakers back to Santa Fe this summer to fill an expected hole of close to $200 million in the budget for the fiscal year that ended in June.

    The other concern is future spending, as revenues are not expected to keep up with spending plotted out under the current budget.

    Sen. John Arthur Smith, a Deming Democrat who heads the Senate Finance Committee, warned that anywhere from $300 million to a half-billion dollars in revenue could fail to materialize and that state leaders need to address the problem soon rather than wait for the next legislative session in January.

    "The volatility we're looking at that created this is the roller coaster of oil and gas," Smith said, pointing to the ripple effect caused in the state's economy by tanking prices, resulting job losses and the effect the downturn has had on gross receipts and corporate taxes.

  • Today in history July 21
  • 113-year-old New Jersey woman holds title of oldest American

    PITTSTOWN, N.J. (AP) — A 113-year-old New Jersey woman is the new holder of the title of oldest American.

    Adele Dunlap became the country's oldest person earlier this month following the death of Goldie Michelson, of Worcester, Massachusetts, The Record newspaper reported.

    She also is the 10th oldest person in the world, according to the Los Angeles-based Gerontology Research Group, which tracks supercentenarians, people 110 or older.

    Dunlap lives at the Country Arch Care Center in Pittstown, where she first arrived at age 99 ½. Asked how it feels to be the oldest American, she told the newspaper: "I don't feel any different." Asked what it means to be an American, she said: "Well, I've never been anything else."

    Dunlap taught school before marrying and settling down to raise the couple's three children. Her husband worked for an insurance company and died in 1963.

    She doesn't give an explanation for her longevity, and her 86-year-old son, Earl, is also at a loss to credit any particular thing for his mother's long life.

  • Today in history July 20
  • Historical Society seeks nominations for 2016 LA history award

    Nominations are now open for the 2016 Los Alamos History Award, an annual prize recognizing significant contributions to preserving the world-changing history of the Los Alamos community.
    Nominations are due by Aug. 19, and the award winner will be announced at the Los Alamos Historical Society’s Annual Gala and Experience Auction on Sept. 10.
    Factors that weigh heavily in consideration for the award include depth and breadth of achievement over time, volunteer commitment, and a lasting impact. Both individuals and organizations are eligible.
    Posthumous awards are not made, and self-nominations are not allowed. Staff and board members are not eligible during the period of their active service. Awardees are selected through a rigorous, blind voting process by the Historical Society’s board of directors.
    Nomination forms are available online at the Los Alamos Historical Society’s website, losalamoshistory.org, or in the Los Alamos History Museum’s temporary space at 475 20th St., Suite C. They are due by at 5 p.m. Aug. 19, and can turned in at the temporary museum space or at the Historical Society’s administrative offices, upstairs in the north wing of Fuller Lodge.

  • Public input low for new wildfire protection plan

    Few people provided input to the county’s new wildfire protection plan, but officials in charge of the update are comfortable that what they did get was enough.
     Most of the information came from an online survey residents were asked to fill out, said Matt Piccarello, the county’s coordinator for the plan.
    Only 40 surveys were returned.
    “That was our primary method for getting public involvement, since sometimes it’s difficult to get people to show up for meetings,” he said. “They can fill out a survey on their own time.”
    Piccarello and his organization, The Forest Stewards Guild, distributed surveys to many Los Alamos-based organizations, such as the North Mesa Stable owners, The Los Alamos County Open Space and Trails Page, and the Los Alamos County Fire Department’s web page on the county website.
    Piccarello said he’s not surprised that after all that, they only got 40 back. He said that when it comes to planning meetings about plans, that’s usually what happens.
    “To be honest. It doesn’t surprise me. Any kind of community process is like that, unless it’s some very controversial issue,” Piccarello said. “To get people to try and show up for a planning meeting is a challenge.”

  • ScienceFest puts the fun in science

    Even those whose eyes glaze over when someone starts talking science could find something to love at the Los Alamos ScienceFest. Crowds flocking to last week’s event could play with robots, learn what produces the colors in their plasma TVs and challenge themselves on a drone obstacle course.
    ScienceFest, an event produced by Los Alamos MainStreet, has become the county’s signature event. A Los Alamos County Council proclamation declaring July 14-17 as “Los Alamos ScienceFest Weekend” states that “ScienceFest provides an opportunity for the community to take pride in its science heritage, to celebrate its unique relationship between science and creativity, to inspire the next generation to carry it forward, and to celebrate the evolution of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park.”
    “It’s an outstanding event with a great organization led by Suzette Fox (MainStreet executive director) and others,” said council Chair Rick Reiss. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for visitors to become acquainted with our community, and for us to show off what a wonderful community we have. Local businesses enjoyed a steady stream of out-of-towners and the community will benefit from the dollars spent here.”