Local News

  • Working the night shift at Los Alamos County

    If you have ever attended an evening event, class or council meeting, you may have noticed a county worker in a cowboy hat waiting quietly for it to end.
    That man is Event Attendant Phil Vigil, who has the lonely duty of cleaning up and locking up after everyone goes home.
    Vigil does not mind his solitary duties. In fact, he enjoys them.
    “I like that I’m on my own most of the time,” Vigil said. “Also, on my two previous jobs, because I worked at night, I spent a lot of time on my own and I think I work better on my own. Tell me what my responsibilities are and I’ll take care of them. I don’t need a lot of management. I’m a grown man.”
    Before joining county staff in October 2013, Vigil spent 11 years as overnight security for the Inn of the Anasazi, followed by four years with similar duties at Rancho Encantado.
    “That entailed a lot more than security when you’re working at a four star, four diamond property,” Vigil said. “I did everything there — valet, everything — but officially I was the security guy.”
    Vigil’s late shift at the county is a breeze compared to the 11 p.m.-7 a.m. shift he pulled at the hotels.

  • School board to meet on Tuesday

    The Los Alamos School Board will hear updates on food services, graduation information and a bond resolution at its meeting Tuesday.
    The meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. in the Los Alamos High School Speech Theater.
    Also scheduled for Tuesday, the board will hear updates about this week’s bonfire and Homecoming parade. This week is Homecoming week around Los Alamos High School, which is highlighted by the Los Alamos-Moriarty football game on Friday.
    At Tuesday’s meeting, the board will hear several presentations, including the bond resolution, which will be presented by Loretta Bush.
    Kurt Steinhaus, superintendent of schools, along with chief operations officer Joanie Ahlers, will also talk about their preparations for upcoming community input meetings about school construction. Those meetings are scheduled to start Sept. 17.
    Following presentations, recognition, which will include recognition for the local winners of the state’s Summer Reading Challenge, and public comment, board president Jim Hall will call for a motion to go into executive session.
    The executive session, according to the board’s agenda, will deal with “collective bargaining strategy prior to negotiations between a public body and a union representing employees of the public body.”

  • Cone Zone 9-4-15

    For more information about the projects listed below, e-mail lacpw at lacnm.us, call 662-8150, or visit the “Projects” link at losalamosnm.us.
    Motorists are advised to slow down and use caution within the construction work zones. The information is based on a schedule provided by the contractors and may change due to weather or other delays.
    Western Area Improvements Phase 3:

    Roadwork continues on 43rd Street north. Expect flagging operations during ongoing project.

    20th Street/Fuller Lodge Improvements:

    The northbound lane will be closed to allow for the demolition of curb and gutter, asphalt and sidewalks on the east side of 20th Street.
    The southbound lane will be open for traffic use and business access. Motorist may experience flagging operations and minimal delays. Pedestrians will need to use the west side of the street.
    Work hours will be Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.  Services such as mail delivery, emergency services, trash and recycling collection will be maintained.

    Sherwood Blvd. /La Vista Drive:

  • Henry Wilton's trial put on hold

    The trial of a former school district groundskeeper accused of killing his girlfriend has been delayed indefinitely, according to documents obtained from Taos District Court.
    Police are alleging that Henry Wilton, 49, fatally beat his girlfriend Angela Serrano, 41 while they were on a camping trip in Taos last year.
    Serrano allegedly couldn’t get medical help for several days, because, according to police documents, Wilton prevented her from going to the hospital immediately after the beating.
    According to court documents, that’s what Serrano told medical personnel before she died at Christus St. Vincent’s Hospital shortly after midnight June 23, 2014.
    In those documents, Serrano said she and her 10-year-old daughter were camping with Wilton at the La Junta campgrounds over Father’s Day weekend when he allegedly attacked her, “stomping” on her and kicking her.
    Serrano allegedly said Wilton performed these acts this while wearing either shoes or boots. According to documents, she also told nurses that after Wilton was done, she then crawled back to the trailer where Wilton locked her inside.

  • Bandelier stepping up preparedness efforts

    2011 was a turning point for Bandelier National Monument.
    That not only the year of the Las Conchas Fire and post-fire flooding, it began with a severe drought that prompted backcountry closures and included manmade challenges such the discovery of a marijuana operation in the park, a critical electrical infrastructure failure, frozen pipes and a natural gas shortage.
    At an Aug. 27 presentation to the Local Emergency Planning Committee, Bandelier Superintendent Jason Lott stressed the lessons learned during that time and the steps Bandelier has taken to address the issues. Those include asking for help, delegating authority and “over communicating.”
    Lott came back to communication again and again, and the importance of building relationships ahead of time.
    “You can’t spend too much time working together,” Lott said. “Otherwise, if I sit in this hole over here and other people sit in their offices and you don’t network, that’s how you get a Cerro Grande Fire. And a big part of that Cerro Grande Fire was that we didn’t have good relationships.”
    Lott pointed to a similar disconnect during the Las Conchas blaze.

  • Manhattan Project vets die

    A pair of World War II veterans with ties to Los Alamos and the Manhattan Project died recently.
    The Atomic Heritage Foundation reported in a recent media update that Walter Goodman and Kenneth Pumphrey died in the past few weeks. Goodman passed away on Aug. 22 at the age of 92 and Pumphrey on July 20 at the age of 87.
    According to biographical information from the foundation, Goodman joined the Special Engineer Detachment at Los Alamos in 1943. He worked as an electrical engineer on the implosion bomb with Manhattan Project scientists Luis Alvarez and Harold Agnew.
    In July 1945, after witnessing the Trinity test, he traveled to Tinian to help prepare the Fat Man bomb.
    On Aug. 9, 1945, he witnessed the bombing of Nagsaki from The Great Artiste.
    Goodman, who had a video camera with him, took motion pictures of the mushroom cloud above Nagasaki. The photo at the top of the newsletter shows Goodman, Alvarez, Agnew, Bernard Waldman and an unknown man in front of a shrine on Tinian.
    Pumphrey joined the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos in 1946.
    Pumphrey, according to the foundation, worked as a security guard until 1948, guarding various site facilities and checking ID badges, which were required to enter certain restricted areas and buildings.

  • Romero to run for Luján’s seat

    There will be at least one challenger for the 3rd congressional district seat in the 2016 general election.
    Mike Romero, who lives in Taos County, was scheduled to announce his candidacy for the 3rd congressional district chair today. An official announcement was planned by Romero’s organizers on the steps of the Roundhouse in Santa Fe.
    According to Romero’s online biography, he is a fifth generation native New Mexican who has served in both the United States Air Force and the state’s Air National Guard, as well as being a police officer in Las Vegas, New Mexico, and a sheriff’s deputy in Taos County.
    Romero will vie for the Republican nomination for the seat. His road, however, might be a tough one.
    Since the 3rd district, which includes Los Alamos County, was formed in the early 1980s, three of the four seat-holders have been Democrats, starting with Bill Richardson, who was elected in 1982. Richardson was eventually elected as the state’s governor.
    The only GOP candidate to beat the odds was Los Alamos’ Bill Redmond, who was elected finished out the term of Richardson in 1997-1999 after Richardson was named the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations by then-president Bill Clinton.
    Redmond lost the seat to Tom Udall in 2000.

  • Local Briefs 9-4-15

    Soccer players pitch in on project

    Players from the Los Alamos High School girls soccer program pitched into paint the over 700 linear feet of handrails at Pajarito Complex, a rental property owned by Los Alamos Public Schools and leased to Los Alamos National Laboratory.
    The team was interested in a community service project, according to a release from LAPS.
    More than 35 players took part on the paint job, which took less than two hours to complete.
    “We have a phenomenal group of girls this year, they work together as a team both on and off the field,” said coach Gary Ahlers.

    Credit union among top 200 in U.S.

    Del Norte Credit Union, which operates a branch in Los Alamos and is in the process of constructing a new facility in White Rock was recently named to the 2015 edition of the “Top 200 Healthiest Credit Unions in America,” that according to DepositAccounts.
    Del Norte received solid ratings in all of the primary evaluation categories, including Texas ratio, deposit growth and capitalization.
    The credit union received a ranking of 192 among the top 200. It was the third highest rated credit union in New Mexico and only one of four to make DepositAccounts’ list.

    Visitors center to host artists’ market

  • Today in history Sept. 4
  • State Briefs 9-3-15

    Pair of plague cases confirmed in Bernalillo County

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — A second human plague case has been confirmed in New Mexico’s Bernalillo County.
    The New Mexico Department of Health says a 59-year-old woman from Bernalillo County is recovering.
    Her name isn’t being released.
    It’s the third human case of plague in New Mexico this year and the second in Bernalillo County.
    The other cases in the state occurred in a 52-year-old woman from Santa Fe County who died from the illness and a 65-year-old man from Bernalillo County who recovered.
    Plague is a potentially fatal illness in people that occurs in many parts of New Mexico.
    It is caused by bacteria found in rodents, especially ground squirrels, rabbits and hares.
    Most human cases of plague are acquired through the bite of infected fleas.

    Another dead body found in Sandias