Local News

  • 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.

  • Earth Day festival set for Saturday

    The Los Alamos Nature Center will host its annual Earth Day Festival at its Canyon Road location beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday.
    The public is invited to the festival for a full day of entertainment, food, activities, informational booths, and more.
    There will be entertainment for all ages. Recycle Man performs at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. The Hill Stompers perform at noon. They’ll be a variety of food vendors with delicious lunch and snack options from Dr. Field Goods Kitchen, Secret City Kitchen, Los Alamos Co+op Market and Houdini’s Magic Kettle Corn.
    New things to do this year are two free shows at the center’s planetarium. Shows include: “We are Stars” at 12:30 p.m. and “Exploding Universe” at 2 p.m.
    Other things to do include picking up a new Passport to the Pajarito Plateau Part II, touring the solar array at the EcoStation, viewing the “One Second of Bottles at the center’s Sustainability Pavilion, making ollas for the garden and helping Buguy find Roady to solve “The Case of the Mixed up Lunch Bags.” Successful puzzle solvers will get a prize.
    Festival-goers can also pledge to help nature and win a prize. Attendees to the festival will also learn about the plans for the Los Alamos Museum of Art, Citizen’s Climate Lobby and the Defenders of Wildlife.

  • LANL union to host town hall meeting Wednesday

    A union that represents some scientists and technical workers that work at the Los Alamos National Laboratory will host a town hall-style meeting Wednesday in Los Alamos to discuss the upcoming contract transfer.
    The Department of Energy’s rebid process for the lab’s management and operations contract, currently held by Los Alamos National Security, LLC, is scheduled to start in the late spring or summer.
    The union, the “University Professional and Technical Employees,” is advocating for a non-profit company to take over the contract.
    Members of the community are invited to the meeting.
    “This is really organized as a true town hall meeting, where we want input from stakeholders,” said Jeff Colvin, executive vice president of the union. “Stakeholders are basically every employee at the laboratory and people who live in the local communities. Everybody is a stakeholder in the success of the laboratory. We want to hear from them.”
    Colvin and others plan to attend to provide as many answers as they can.
    “They will know what’s going on, as far as we know, concerning what the bid process is about, what the timeline is, and to have their say in what they’d like to see happen in this upcoming bid process,” Colvin said.

  • Local pizzeria takes a time-out

    Local pizza joint, Time Out Pizzeria, will temporarily close its doors in Los Alamos.

    But have no fear. The restaurant’s White Rock location is staying open for business and a new space in Los Alamos is in the works.

    When asked about the reasoning for the closure, owners Omar and Trisha Sanchez explained that they simply could not afford the rent anymore. Although business was good, “a lot of things happened when we first started here; a lot of that stuff killed us and we weren’t able to stand up,” Omar Sanchez told the Los Alamos Monitor.

    The owners provided some insight about the events that led to their decision. Road closures on Central Avenue were the main culprit, they said.

    The first year they opened the Los Alamos location, the road construction began.

    “Phase One was at the height of the summer months and it just killed us when they shut the road down,” Omar Sanchez said.

    Then Smith’s opened up and drew a crowd over to Trinity Drive, and finally, Phase Two of road construction on Central Avenue provided the final blow. The Sanchez’s were starting to get ready for the summer but the landlords had other plans and gave them 30 days to move out.

  • Council grills DPU, passes budget

    Los Alamos County Council voted to tentatively approve the budget of the Department of Public Utilities’ $71.4 million budget for 2018 by a slim majority, as some councilors said the department wasn’t doing enough to curb proposed rate increases for consumer water usage.

    In its 2018 proposed budget, the DPU built an 8-percent rate increase into its 2018 budget in an effort to raise cash reserves that will be used to build a new wastewater treatment plant in 2021.
    The council has yet to approve the 8-percent increase, an issue that’s scheduled to be taken up sometime this year by the council.

    Some councilors didn’t think DPU did enough with its 2018 budget to prevent the proposed rate hike.

    “I guess I’m wondering why any business wouldn’t think about shouldering some of the impact of the financial situation through expense cuts as opposed to just raising rates,” Vice Chair Susan O’Leary said to DPU Manager Tim Glasco.

    Glasco replied that they have tried to be as efficient as possible with department expenses, but the replacement of an extensive network of aging waterlines and the pending replacement of a water treatment plant are the main drivers behind the increase.

    O’Leary took issue with the DPU’s proposed 2-percent salary increase.