Local News

  • New Mexico House passes budget, tax package

    The New Mexican

  • Legislative Roundup 2-24-17

    Days remaining in session: 23

    Signed: Staving off a breakdown in the state justice system, Lt. Gov. John Sanchez signed a bill Thursday to provide short-term funding for New Mexico’s courts.
    Sanchez was acting as the state’s executive while Gov. Susana Martinez traveled to Washington, D.C., for meetings of the National Governors Association and Republican Governors Association.
    Sanchez’s signing of House Bill 261 ends a battle over the judiciary’s budget that had dragged through the 60-day legislative session.
    The bill includes $1.6 million to pay for jury trials through the end of the fiscal year in June and $80,000 to avoid furloughs at the state Supreme Court.
    Chief Justice Charles Daniels had warned that, without the money, courts around the state would be unable to afford trials by March 1.
    But when Democrats in the Senate attached the court funding two unrelated bills, Martinez vetoed each measure. Martinez suggested that her administration needed to adequately vet the judiciary’s request. The Republican-sponsored bill that Sanchez signed includes about the same amount of money the courts had been requesting for months.

  • Senate bill allows state to impose steeper fines for oil spills

    A Senate panel approved a bill Thursday that would make it easier for state regulators to fine oil and natural gas producers for spills and other environmental violations. The bill, which advanced along party lines, follows years of sharp increases in the volume of spills involved in oil and gas production, and comes as major companies like ExxonMobil and Halliburton have shown a surge of interest in the Permian Basin of southeast New Mexico.
    Democrats and environmental advocacy groups say the measure would give teeth to an agency they describe as defanged by a 2009 court ruling that stripped away some of its authority to impose penalties.
    State data show a sharp drop in fines collected by the New Mexico Oil Conservation Division since the ruling. The agency collected $735,500 in penalties in 2009 but only $14,000 the following year, according to an analysis by the Legislative Finance Committee. Penalties have been rare since then.
    The sharp decline followed a ruling by the state Supreme Court that said the division cannot on its own collect fines for violations of New Mexico’s oil and gas regulations. Under the ruling, the department can only ask the attorney general to file a lawsuit against the company in the judicial district where a violation occurred.

  • Latest wilderness plans draw fire from N.M. ranchers

    Associated Press

  • Manhattan Project NHP at Los Alamos seeks volunteers

    Volunteers are needed to help get the Manhattan Project National Historical Park at Los Alamos off and running.
    At least eight to 10 new volunteers are needed, according to District Interpretive Park Ranger Kirk Singer.
    The volunteers would work about three to four hours or more per week working the visitor’s center, or work on building more programs, such as planning guided ranger walks on the planned trails that will skirt through the park, Singer said.
    “This is the fun part, because it’s all new to all of us,” Singer said. “This is completely new every day.”
    The park was officially established in November 2015. The park preserves three sites where work on the atomic bomb was completed: Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, Tennessee and Hanford, Washington.
    Federal officials said in 2015 the park will not glorify war or nuclear weapons, but will tell the story of the three historical sites from a range of perspectives, including the cities in Japan where two nuclear bombs were dropped in 1945.

  • Reward offered for info on burglary

    Police are offering a $250 reward for information that will lead to the arrest and conviction of whomever burgled the Beall’s Department Store at 610 Trinity Drive.
    The suspect, gained access into the store between 2:30-3 a.m.  Monday morning by throwing a rock through one of the store’s display windows.  
    Surveillance cameras in the area  reportedly show one young male entering the store, running in, and then quickly running back out. All that appeared to be taken was one bra.
    “So far, we don’t think anything was disturbed,” Store Manager Valerie De Mello said. “We’ve been here a long time, and nothing like this has ever happened.”
    When the store opened Monday morning, neighboring merchants stopped by to see if she was OK.
    Police are currently looking through area surveillance camera footage to see if a suspect can be identified.

  • ‘Power of Pets’ to help animals

    Three Los Alamos boys have found a way to help the community through their love of skiing and pets.
    Aidan Ortiz, Stephen Boone and Jackson Boone hope to get many pets adopted and cared for through their love of skiing and ski racing.  
    The three have started a fundraiser event with the Pajarito Mountain Ski Area called the “Power of Pets.”
    The skiing event and competition for the whole family is set for March 5 on Pajarito Mountain.
    Proceeds raised at the event will go toward helping the Los Alamos County Animal Shelter.
    “This is about having fun learning how to ski and do racing,” Ortiz said. “It’s also about raising money for the animal shelter and finding homes for cats and dogs.”
    Attendees of the event can purchase a token for $3. Attendees can buy as many as they want, and each token represents one run down the hill. At the top, participants give one token to someone to race. Each participant and group will get their scores, names and times documented and announced.
    All money raised at the event goes to the animal shelter. Racers will also have the option of getting a group shot taken at the event for a fee.  

  • Water, sewer rates may go up by summer

    Los Alamos residents may see an increase in their water and sewer rates this summer.
    Officials from the Department of Public Utilities have had at least three meetings with the Board of Public Utilities over the rate increases. The department is proposing an 8 percent increase in the water rate and an 8 percent increase in the sewer rate.
    The reason for the proposed increase is to help replace the county’s aging water distribution infrastructure.
    “We are focusing on some of the capital replacement needs in our system that we have projected out over the next 15 to 20 years,” DPU Manager Tim Glasco said. “We feel we are going to be needing this additional revenue just to take care of some of these more pressing needs.”
    Part of the problem the DPU faces has to do with how fast Los Alamos was built. Unlike many U.S. towns and cities, Los Alamos and White Rock were created almost instantly – along with most of it’s water distribution system.
    The department is looking to replace the White Rock waste treatment facility at some point in the near future.
    “Unlike other cities, that grow over a period decades where things wear out and there’s a kind of a natural turnover, we have a little more of a logjam here,” Glasco said.

  • WR Complex opens Thursday

    Los Alamos County Council Chair David Izraelevitz and White Rock Senior Center Coordinator Annie Bard cut the ribbon on the new White Rock Municipal Complex Thursday, a project that has been years in the making.
    Accompanying them were Glenn Lockhart, member of the White Rock Master Implementation Committee; Project Manager Anthony Strain, Los Alamos Senior Services Director Pauline Schneider and County Councilor Chris Chandler.
    The complex’s Senior Center now includes a kitchen for hot meals, as well as ADA compliant restrooms and more space for recreation and activities. The renovations cost about $3.96 million and was one of the last projects in the White Rock Master Plan.
    “We are extremely excited to open up this beautiful expansion” Strain said.
    The improvements to the center include, new interior floor plans and finishes, new utilities and mechanical/electrical equipment, new ADA restrooms, window and doors, improved grading and drainage, fresh landscaping, and a new commercial kitchen and 1,200 more square feet of new space.
    The exterior has been refurbished with new tuck pointed masonry and fresh colors.

  • New Mexico governor plans meeting with US Health Secretary

    SANTA FE (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez plans to meet with Health and Human Services Sec. Tom Price during her visit to Washington, D.C.
    A spokesman for the second-term GOP governor says she traveled Thursday to the nation's capital to participate in meetings with other governors, including a group meeting at the White House with Donald Trump.
    Spokesman Michael Lonergan offered few details about the engagement with Price. New Mexico residents and state government have a lot at stake in the pending health care overhaul by Republicans in Washington.
    Nearly 15 percent of New Mexico's 2.1 million residents have enrolled in Medicaid since coverage was expanded in 2014 under the Affordable Care Act.
    About 45,000 New Mexico residents participate in the state's health insurance exchange.