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Local News

  • EPA proposes expanded use of new herbicide

     KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed more than doubling the number of states allowed to use a new version of a popular weed killer on genetically modified crops despite its earlier concerns.

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    Environmentalists are outraged with the proposal to increase from 15 to 34 the number of states that could use Enlist Duo, saying the EPA sought court authority last year to withdraw approval of the weed killer. 

    An EPA spokeswoman took issue with that characterization, saying the agency had “asked the court to vacate” the weed killer’s registration. The EPA had cited information from manufacturer Dow AgroSciences that indicated Enlist was probably more toxic to other plants than previously thought.

     

  • Teacher attendance requirement for evals sparks ‘surprise’

    SANTA FE (AP) — A revamped New Mexico teacher evaluation changed after a court ruling is drawing surprise and concern from some educators.

    Though the state Public Education Department earlier this year mandated that attendance be factored in teachers’ performance evaluations, Santa Fe and Los Alamos school leaders recently expressed surprise regarding the change, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.

    The department required attendance to be factored in to teachers’ performance evaluations after a judge ruled the evaluation system needed to be more uniform. 

    Before, state officials gave school districts the option to use attendance as an alternative to considering surveys of parents and students.

    The state says including attendance helps reduce teacher absences, saves money on paying substitute teachers and increases students’ learning time.

     

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    The department sent out a memo to school officials in January detailing the change and issued a second notice in August. 

  • 2 accidents prompt LAPD to caution about sun glare

    Two accidents this week attributed to sun glare prompted the Los Alamos Police Department to issue a warning Thursday.

    Drivers should slow down, use common sense, sunglasses and use their car’s visors to keep them from getting into car accidents, LAPD spokesman Preston Ballew said. 

    The department is especially urging drivers to use caution around the intersection of Trinity Drive and Oppenheimer Drive, where sun glare is more prevalent.

    Ballew said the LAPD had to respond to two accidents Wednesday that were directly attributed to sun glare at that intersection. 

    “The Los Alamos Police Department has responded to two different traffic crashes at the intersection of Trinity and Oppenheimer in the last two days. The times of these crashes occurred at 8:05 a.m. on Wednesday and 7:47 a.m on Thursday. The sun played a contributing factor into both of these crashes which resulted in two people being transported to the hospital with injuries.” 

    The most dangerous time at that particular intersection is between 7:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m.  Ballew also warned about other intersections, and reminded residents that the hours when sun glare is strongest will change when daylight savings time arrives Sunday.

  • Famine to Feast to open Saturday

    A year and a half ago, Jen and Jaret McDonald rented a beach house with some other family members. At the end of their stay, they were troubled at having to throw out approximately $200 worth of food, Kleenex and toilet paper in order to leave the house in its original condition. 

    “We were in a hurry to get out of the house, didn’t know of a place that would take it, didn’t know of a place that would take this versus that versus anything else,” Jaret said. “So we threw away $200 worth of food that could have helped somebody, because you have to be out of the house. It has to be clean.”

    That is when the McDonalds conceived the idea of utilizing today’s technology to enable “an instant food drive,” and Famine to Feast was born. 

    “In Los Alamos, some people may not realize we don’t have a hunger problem, per se, but what we do have is a food insecurity problem. And it’s very real. Basically, people have food, but they don’t have enough,” McDonald said. 

  • McDonald’s to open new location in December

    The McDonald’s restaurant expects to open at its new location in mid-December, according to the corporation’s northern-area supervisor. 

    McDonald’s Northern Area Supervisor Vangie Martinez had just come from a construction meeting when the Monitor reached her Wednesday. She was able to provide the projected time frame for opening.

    “We’re just super excited,” Martinez said. “The whole design of the restaurant is targeted at making it a faster, more pleasant experience for the customer.” 

    The new restaurant will be located at 901 Trinity Drive, just across Knecht Street from Smith’s Fuel.

    According to Martinez, the new restaurant will have many state-of-the-art features designed to get customers in and out as quickly as possible and enhance their experience. Those include a more easily accessible entrance, a two-lane drive through and digital menu boards in the lobby with graphics that Martinez describes as “amazing.” 

    “It will be the newest design that McDonald’s has out, so we’ll have the latest and greatest in our technology and restaurant equipment,” Martinez said.

  • Sheriff’s lawsuit moved to LA County

    A lawsuit filed by Sheriff Marco Lucero against the county and the county council has been moved from Santa Fe to Los Alamos County. 

    The judge dismissed the case last week. Lucero’s attorney refiled the case locally.

    The lawsuit was scheduled to be heard in Santa Fe County after the election. The date had not been set. 

    The New Mexico Sheriff’s Association is also listed as plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

    County Attorney Kathryn S. Thwaits argued for the dismissal from Santa Fe County, claiming the suit did not have the proper title for the Los Alamos County Council and that it should have been filed in Los Alamos County.

    Lucero’s attorney, John D’Amato, Jr., agreed to the changes, but also said nothing else about the case has changed. This case is about “home rule” law and nothing else, he said.

  • Rock fall causes evacuation of nuclear waste repository

    CARLSBAD (AP) — Employees evacuated the federal government's only underground nuclear waste repository after a reported rock fall at the southern New Mexico plant.

    Officials say there were no injuries and no release of radiological contamination Thursday at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, located in the Carlsbad area.

    Employees working in the area of Panel 7 reported a loud noise about 2:20 p.m. and saw salt dust indicating a possible rock fall.

    The employees reported the incident to the Central Monitoring Room, which ordered an evacuation as a precaution.

    A team of mine rescue, geotechnical and radiological control personnel are developing a plan to re-enter the underground repository Friday to determine the exact location and extent of the rock fall.

    The plant has been closed since February 2014 due to a radiation release.

  • University executive director under fire for Bigfoot hunt

    GALLUP (AP) — The head of the University of New Mexico's Gallup campus is under fire for spending money on Bigfoot-related pursuits.

    UNM Gallup's Executive Director Dr. Christopher Dyer organized a two-day, on-campus Bigfoot conference in February followed by a Bigfoot expedition, costing taxpayers more than $7,000, KRQE-TV reported.

    "It was the largest and most well-attended event in the history of this campus," Dyer said.

    UNM paid for advertising, meals for guest speakers, airfare and per diem. Self-professed Bigfoot expert Dr. Jeff Meldrum was paid a $1,000 honorarium plus expenses. The other guest speaker, Rob Kryder, was paid a $500 honorarium plus expenses.

    Dyer is an avid Bigfoot hunter in his free time and says he only pursues the mythical creature when he isn't on the job. He has a collection of Bigfoot hairs and photos of suspicious footprints.

    After the conference, Dyer and some of his companions went to the desert searching for Bigfoot. No students or faculty went on the expedition, but KRQE found UNM paid for the expedition. Dyer said he and his companions did not spot Bigfoot, but they did see habitat.

  • House fire contained

    A house fire that broke out at 10:15 a.m. Wednesday  at 108 Sherwood Boulevard White Rock was contained by the Los Alamos Fire Department crews within 45 minutes.

    Homeowner Dan McCarn was able to leave the house with his two dogs, but his three cats did not survive the fire.

    No official cause of fire has been determined by the LAFD. McCarn said he was sleeping when smoke detectors in the back of the house woke him up. Fire Marshall Jeff Wetland said officials were continuing to investigate the fire Wednesday afternoon.

    "We certainly think it is accidental. That's the important part," Wetland said. "Nothing leads us to believe that there was any criminal activity. But before we make any conjectures we just want to dot our i's and cross our t's."

    McCarn said he barely had time to escape the house with his two dogs before the entire back of the house became engulfed in flames. McCarn said he thinks the fire originated from a gas heater in one of the back rooms of the house.

    “I heard an alarm go off, then a second alarm, felt the door, cracked it open… looked out into the back room and saw some fire,” McCarn said.

  • TV series ‘Midnight, Texas’ to film in New Mexico

    SANTA FE (AP) — State film officials say NBC’s new television supernatural drama “Midnight, Texas” will be shooting in New Mexico through early next year.
    Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Bernalillo and Belen are serving as backdrops for the series, which is based on a collection of books by author Charlaine Harris.Home to a vampire, witch, angel and hit woman, Midnight, Texas is a mysterious safe haven for those who are different until one of their own is murdered.
    The cast includes Francois Arnaud, Dylan Bruce, Parisa Fitz-Henley and Arielle Kebbel.
    While in New Mexico, the production will employ over 450 local crew members and about 1,800 local background talent. The pilot episode was directed by Niels Arden Oplev. Other directors involved in the series include David Solomon, Steve Shill and Milan Cheylov.