Local News

  • Airline resumes regular schedule

    Without much fanfare, New Mexico Airlines resumed its normal operating schedule last week at Los Alamos Airport, following more than two weeks of suspended service.
    The airline had canceled its flights Dec. 4 for service in both Los Alamos and Carlsbad. The Carlsbad Current-Argus was also reporting that its service to that airport had resumed Monday as well.
    The airline suspended its flights indefinitely earlier this month, something that caught Los Alamos County, which subsidizes flights to and from Albuquerque, off guard. According to the Associated Press, the airline had decided to ground some flights due to mechanical issues.
    Airport manager David Ploeger said in a statement released this morning by Los Alamos County that New Mexico Airlines has not informed the county of any maintenance issues, nor is the airline required to inform the county about such issues.
    “We don’t know anything specific about what those issues were,” he told the Los Alamos Monitor.
    In this morning’s statement, Ploeger said that “safety is a top priority for our passengers using the service.”
    He added that if the county learns of any documented safety-related issues, they would be addressed with New Mexico Airlines.

  • Machine will extract gases at Eco Station

    People driving down East Jemez Road past the Los Alamos County Eco Station may notice an odd piece of tech near the landfill — a tripod-like structure with a smokestack sticking out of it.
    According to county officials, the device, known as a “methane extraction system,” will probably be here for a few months.
    According to Angelica Gurule, environmental services manager for Los Alamos County’s Environmental Services Division, works like a vacuum sucking methane gas out of the landfill through a network of pipes connected to the stations methane monitoring wells. The goal, according to a consultant with SCS Engineers, is to contain and gradually reduce the amount of methane that has built up within the 40-acre landfill.
    “It’s not really a reduction, it’s keeping it from leaving the landfill on its perimeter,” said SCS Engineers Consultant Marcia Pincus.
    Gurule said the extractor will be here for about six months, or until they start seeing satisfactory results. According to a press release from the Los Alamos County Public Information Office, detected levels have ranged from zero to 41 percent of gas in the air, by volume.

  • Today in history Dec. 23
  • Valles Caldera looking to future

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — The management experiment at Valles Caldera National Preserve is coming to an end as the National Park Service prepares to take over the 140-square-mile property in northern New Mexico.

    The transition is among dozens of public land measures squeezed into the half-trillion-dollar defense bill signed by President Barack Obama on Friday, but details about how things will change at the preserve remain unclear.

    The Park Service is taking on Valles Caldera and numerous other properties at a time when the agency is struggling with more than $11 billion in deferred maintenance at existing parks and monuments and is looking to boost entrance fees at parks across the nation to generate more revenue in advance of the agency's centennial.

    Can the agency afford what amounts to its largest expansion in nearly four decades?

    U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn says no. The Oklahoma Republican said Friday on the Senate floor that expanding the park system was "a disastrous idea" and that the nation's existing parks were falling apart.

  • NWS issues winter weather advisory

    The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory for northern and eastern New Mexico. The advisory is in effect until 5 a.m. Tuesday.

    The NWS reported a strong upper-level jet stream that could bring moisture into the area. This could mean snow and blowing snow in the mountain areas in the northern part of the state.

    Snow accumulations anywhere between 2-7 inches are possible in the area and winds from the northwest could be 25-40 mph sustained and up to 55 mph gusts.

    The NWS said visibility could be an issue for travelers in the area.

    Check LAMonitor.com for updated information.

  • Today in history Dec. 22
  • Today in history Dec. 21
  • President signs NDAA Friday

    President Barack Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act Friday in Washington, D.C., which includes a provision to establish the Manhattan Project National Historical Park.
    The MPNHP will be partially in Los Alamos, as well as Hanford, Washington and Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
    The president’s signing was an expected move after the NDAA was approved by the House of Representatives earlier this month and the Senate last week.
    Los Alamos’ role in the Manhattan Project dealt with designing and testing the atomic bombs that were used against Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, that led to the surrender of Japan and the end of World War II. Uranium-enriching facilities were built in Oak Ridge and plutonium manufacturing was done at Hanford.
    Included in the Manhattan Project Park are 17 sites owned by LANL where bomb research took place and more than a dozen Los Alamos community properties, including the Oppenheimer House and the Hans Bethe House.
    To celebrate, a party was hosted at the Bethe House Friday afternoon.
    Obama didn’t address the provisions for the MPNHP or for the Valles Caldera Park when he signed the bill into law Friday.

  • BPU questions general fund transer formula

    As Board of Public Utilities member Stephen McLin put it, Vice Chair David Powell “opened up a big can of worms” at the board’s Dec. 17 meeting when he raised questions about the 5-percent transfer to the county’s general fund from the Department of Public Utilities electric and gas revenues.
    Powel suggested that transferring the equivalent of 5 percent of retail sales to the general fund, something agreed upon in a 1997 resolution (Resolution 97-07) negotiated between BPU and the Los Alamos County Council, may be contradictory to the County Charter.
    The charter contains a “Priority of Budgeted Expenditures,” which places transferring “remaining operating profits” at the bottom of the list.
    Top priorities are funding for current operations, payment of bond interest, maintaining adequate reserves to finance replacements required by normal depreciation, payments to the general fund in lieu of franchise fees and taxes and “provisions for additions and improvements foreseen as necessary to meet future requirements for the utility systems.”

  • Former Tuskegee Airman dies at 95

    VENTURA, Calif. (AP) — Lowell Steward, a former member of the Tuskegee Airmen who flew nearly 200 missions over Europe during World War II, has died in California. He was 95.
    His son Lowell Jr. says Steward died Wednesday of natural causes at a hospital in Ventura.
    After graduating with a business degree from Santa Barbara College in 1941, Steward joined the Army Air Corps and trained at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama.
    He was shipped to Italy in 1944 with the 100th Fighter Squadron of the famed all-black unit. From Capodechino Air Base in Naples, Steward completed 96 missions, flying P-39 Airacobras and P-40 Warhawks. Later based in Ramitelli, Italy, he flew 96 escort and strafing missions in P-51 Mustangs.
    America’s first black military pilots faced an unprecedented level of scrutiny under racial segregation.
    As a result they held themselves to a higher standard, Steward often said.
    “He would say, ‘we had to be better because we were looked at harder. The odds were stacked against us. Some people wanted us to fail,’” Lowell Jr. said.
    Steward was ultimately awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
    After being discharged in 1946, he moved to Los Angeles and tried to buy a house, only to be repeatedly denied bank loans because he was black.