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Local News

  • New Fly Santa Fe offers non-stop flights to Phoenix

    Northern New Mexico residents can now catch a nonstop flight to Phoenix from the Santa Fe Municipal Airport.
    Fly Santa Fe – an initiative of the Northern New Mexico Air Alliance – had its inaugural flight on Thursday. The alliance is a non-profit group of businesses, cities, counties and attractions that sees Fly Santa Fe as the first step to opening northern New Mexico to new economic opportunities.
    “We’d like to have all of Northern New Mexico using Santa Fe Airport as their hub to connect to the rest of the world,” said Simon Brackley, president and CEO of the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce, one of the partner organizations.
    “If you fly locally, that keeps the money locally, it generates jobs locally and it makes it easier for people to come here and spend money, whether it’s on skiing or real estate or art or technology.”
    Brackley sympathized with Los Alamos’ struggles to initiate air service, emphasizing that Fly Santa Fe is a regional effort.

  • Feds award $2.6B contract to manage Sandia National Labs

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Federal officials have awarded a $2.6 billion contract to manage Sandia National Laboratories to a subsidiary of Honeywell International.

    The U.S. Energy Department's National Nuclear Security Administration said Friday the winning bidder was National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia.

    Bidding began earlier this year, marking the first time in years that there was any competition for the lucrative contract. Lockheed Martin has operated the Albuquerque-based weapons and research lab for the past two decades.

    The current contract expires April 30. There will be a four-month transition period that officials say will provide stability for employees and operations.

    Federal officials say the bid generated unprecedented interest from the across the country. Other bidders were Lockheed Martin and Boeing as well as a team that including the University of New Mexico, the University of Texas, Texas A&M University.

     

  • New Mexico taxation secretary resigns amid investigation

    SANTA FE (AP) — The head of the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department resigned Thursday after prosecutors raided her agency's offices and seized her personal tax filings amid allegations she gave preferential treatment to a former business client.

    Gov. Susana Martinez accepted the resignation of Secretary Demesia Padilla and ordered the department to cooperate with an investigation by the attorney general.

    The attorney general served a search warrant Wednesday at state offices to seize personal and business income tax records for Padilla and her husband, Jessie Medina.

    In a search warrant affidavit, an investigator described interviews with several department employees that suggested Padilla may have tried to circumvent an agency audit of a former business client, identified as Harold's Grading and Trucking of Bernalillo.

    Investigators also were examining whether Padilla failed to report income from the company on financial disclosure forms filed with the state in her role as taxation secretary.

    Padilla's attorney, Paul Kennedy, could not immediately be reached for comment. Padilla took office as the state's top taxation official in January 2011 at the outset of Martinez's first term as governor.

  • New Mexico finds no 'red flags' after inspecting nuke dump

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — No red flags were uncovered during a recent state inspection of the federal government's underground nuclear waste repository as the troubled facility prepares to reopen, New Mexico Environment Secretary Butch Tongate said Wednesday.

    The department's team of inspectors focused on reviewing issues that dated back to a 2014 fire involving one of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant's mining trucks and a separate radiation leak that contaminated much of the underground disposal area and forced the repository's indefinite closure.

    Tongate described the review as thorough, explaining that the state has a responsibility to make sure the U.S. Energy Department and the contractor that manages the repository have addressed the numerous violations that stemmed from the two incidents and that corrective actions had been taken.

    "We've waited for nearly three years. We don't want to get anxious and jump too far without taking a real close look at it," he said. "We're being cautious."

    Once the state inspectors finish compiling their observations, the state Environment Department will formally notify the DOE and the contractor of any shortcomings that need to be addressed before operations can resume.

  • Famine to Feast gives Secret Santa opportunity

    Do you know of an individual or family who could use food or clothing or a gift this Christmas, but you do not want to embarrass them by bringing the items to their door? Or perhaps you have a warm blanket or coat you would like to pass on to a homeless person but do not know how to go about that.
    Famine to Feast will do that for you. The 501c 3 organization has designated Dec. 16–25 as “Secret Santa” time.
    “We’re always looking for ways to try to help our community. And in keeping with what we do, we try to facilitate…it doesn’t always have to be food,” co-founder Jaret McDonald said.
    Famine to Feast is dedicated to getting food and other donations from donors to where they are needed.
    “But this is the time of year when we’re not really busy because we’re an instant food type of donation,” McDonald said, noting that during the Christmas season most people save their food to contribute to food drives.
    So instead of an “instant donation” to a food bank or another charitable organization, Feast to Famine decided to play “instant Santa.”

  • County council approves selling parcels through real estate agent

    The Los Alamos County Council voted 6–0 at its Dec. 6 meeting to try marketing parcels A-8 and A-12/A-13 through a real estate agent. Councilor James Chrobocinski recused himself, stating that although he had no intention of bidding any the Request for Proposals (RFP), some of the agents who work for him might do so.
    Councilor Kristin Henderson – whose term ends this month – proposed the idea.
    “My main goal here is that we try to proactively address our severe housing issue,” Henderson said.
    Henderson – a real estate agent – used statistics provided by RE/MAX to illustrate the need for housing development.
    Those statistics included the absorption rate: how long it would take to absorb all houses on the market on a given date. According to Henderson, six months is a good absorption rate, which is the average for the past four or five years. The current absorption rate is 15 days.
    Over the last three years, the average days on the market was 90, which Henderson called “a good, strong market.”
    “Right now, 70 percent of our houses sell in three days,” Henderson said.
    Henderson also noted that the average number of homes on the market for the 12 years she has been selling real estate was 175. As of last Tuesday, only 18 homes were listed.

  • New county leaders take the oath
  • Lujan Grisham announces bid for governor

    SANTA FE (AP) — Democratic U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced her candidacy Tuesday for governor of New Mexico in 2018 elections, becoming the first open contender for the state’s highest office.
    Second-term GOP Gov. Susana Martinez cannot run again in 2018 because of term limits.
    In an online video message juxtaposed with appeals for campaign contributions, Lujan Grisham described a long list of social and economic problems afflicting New Mexico and accusing the current governor of ignoring the issues.
    She emphasized her Hispanic family roots in New Mexico and qualifications as a two-term congresswoman and former head of New Mexico’s Department of Health.
    “We won’t solve our problems overnight, that’s why this is a beginning,” said Lujan Grisham, of Albuquerque. “New Mexico is a place of enormous potential – in our economy, our schools, our people and our culture.”
    No Republicans have entered the race for governor so far.
    State Attorney General Hector Balderas says he is giving serious consideration to a run. Balderas’ campaign account had a balance of $490,000 as of October.

  • University president to leave early

    University of New Mexico President Robert G. Frank will leave office Dec. 31, several months before the expiration of his contract on May 31, 2017.  
    UNM’s Board of Regents and Frank worked out an agreement that allows Frank to remain on campus in a faculty position, while the Regents move forward with its search for a new president.
    The announcement of the decision was welcomed at the UNM-Los Alamos campus.
    “I’m pleased that the regents and Dr. Frank were able to come to an agreement which will allow the university to move forward,” UNM-LA CEO Cindy Rooney said.
    Regents President Robert Doughty said they were glad to reach an agreement quickly.
    “The Board of Regents has determined it is in the best interest of UNM to bring a quick resolution to this matter that is both fair and doesn’t impede our ability to move forward as an institution and conduct a successful presidential search,” Doughty said.
    UNM’s Board of Regents announced the agreement Tuesday.
    The board and Frank agreed that Frank would begin a paid leave of absence immediately in preparation of his new job, director of UNM Center for Innovation in Health and Education that will begin on June 1 at an annual salary of $190,000. The position will be tenured.

  • DOE ‘unsettled’ over Trump request

    A request from President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team to the Department of Energy for the names of all federal and national laboratory employees working on climate policy has many who study climate change at the nation’s national laboratories unsettled, according to a DOE spokesman.
    The department will not provide individual names to the transition team, but will give all other publicly available information and will continue to stand behind its employees, said DOE Spokesman Eben Burnham-Snyder in Washington, D.C. Tuesday.
    The form included questions about the department’s employees who were or are working on climate policy.
    “The Department of Energy received significant feedback from our workforce throughout the department, including the national labs, following the release of the transition team’s questions. Some of the questions asked left many in our workforce unsettled,” Burnham-Snyder said.
    “Our career workforce, including our contractors and employees at our labs, comprise the backbone of DOE and the important work our department does to benefit the American people,” Burnham-Snyder said. “ We are going to respect the professional and scientific integrity and independence of our employees at our labs and across our department.”