Local News

  • US says ban on laptops in airplane cabins has been lifted

    DALLAS (AP) — The ban on laptops in the cabins of planes flying from the Middle East to the U.S. is over, as federal officials say that large airports in the region have taken other steps to increase security.
    Those measures include checking electronic devices to make sure they don’t contain a bomb, and pulling more people out of airport lines for additional screening.
    A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security said Thursday that all airlines and airports with flights departing for the U.S. had met the agency’s first phase of new security measures, which were announced in late June but not described in any detail.
    In March, the U.S. imposed a ban on laptops in the cabins of planes coming into the country from 10 Middle Eastern airports. This week, King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, was the last of the 10 to comply with U.S. security measures and exit the laptop-ban list.
    Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said the laptop ban was a “pause,” a stopgap measure until airports could make other security improvements. It grew from fear that terrorists were working on bombs that can be hidden in devices such as laptop and tablet computers.

  • Red Cap Ambassadors and Manhattan Project Historical National Park to meet today

    Attention all red capped Ambassadors, you are asked to be at the pavilion on Ashley Pond at 10:30 a.m. today for the first event of the Los Alamos Ambassadors, with more to follow. Every one is invited to this event, not just the red cappers.

    In an effort for the Los Alamos Ambassadors to be fully equipped to guide visitors on Los Alamos history, Chief Park Ranger Kirk Singer will address the Ambassadors on the importance of the new national park in telling the story of Los Alamos and he project to win World War II.

    The National Park here is one of three sites in the Unites States that worked to develop the bomb that ended World War II. (Thank you very much Los Alamo).  The other two sites are in Hanford, Washington, and Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

    There is still a lot of work to be done to have a fully mature program and exhibits in the park. Currently, Singer is trying to provide a means to allow visitors to have an escorted bus tour inside he wire at the lab so as to see historical places not now available.

  • Money taken from local child development center

    A longtime bookkeeper at Ark Child Development, a ministry of First United Methodist Church, is suspected of taking some $3,500 from the center, but no charges have been filed.

    Los Alamos Police Department Sgt. Monica Salazar-Casias was dispatched to the center on Diamond Drive June 24 to investigate the complaint of stolen money.

    Salazar-Casias made contact with the reporting party, who reported that on June 16, an employee had taken money from a teacher’s wallet.

    All parties involved in the case asked to remain anonymous.

    According to the police report, the reporting employee was aiding another teacher when she said she noticed the suspect employee in a classroom across the hallway go into a
purse and pull out $60.

    The witness said she confronted the suspect, who reportedly first denied the accusation, but the witness said she eventually told the suspect that she had seen the suspect remove the money from a purse.

    “(The suspect) stated that it was a big temptation and she couldn’t help herself,” according to the police report.
    The suspect offered to pay the stolen money back, or more, and begged her accuser not to send her to prison.

  • Council to decide on sheriff office

    Los Alamos County Council is set to vote on a resolution Thursday that, if passed, will restore all duties to the sheriff’s office removed by council last year when it sought to abolish the office. The resolution also seeks to add some extra duties.

    The resolution is sponsored by Councilor Pete Sheehey, who wants to restore to the sheriff’s office civil process duties, including lien and eviction processing.

    The office now only maintains the sex offender registry. New duties will include assisting the Los Alamos County Police Department with prisoner transport and courthouse security.

    Sheehey predicts that if council votes in his resolution, the new budget for the office will be about $200,000 a year, and will include a full time undersheriff with certified law enforcement training. Since January, the sheriff’s office has only been staffed by Los Alamos County Sheriff Marco Lucero, who has been carrying out his limited duties on an annual $15,000 budget.

    “What I’m proposing is that we put process serving back and we add some limited duties which basically are prisoner transport and providing security at the court building and courtroom,” Sheehey said. Lucero would also get an administrative assistant.

  • Forecasters: Flooding likely in New Mexico through weekend

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Forecasters say flash flooding is likely in New Mexico through the weekend due to monsoon moisture and a weather disturbance moving westward across the state.

    The National Weather Service says thunderstorms are expected over central and western New Mexico into Friday evening and then become more numerous Saturday, Sunday and into early next week.

    According to the weather service, the likelihood of flash floods is strongest Friday in western New Mexico and across New Mexico from the southwest to the northeast Saturday.

    The forecasters say there's also a possibility that multiple instances of flash flooding will occur across central and eastern areas on Sunday.

    Also, the potential for flash flooding may linger over the south-central mountains and the eastern plains on Monday as the disturbance moves into Texas and Mexico.

  • Facebook has plans to expand New Mexico data center

    ALBUQUERQUE — Facebook’s plans for New Mexico now call for a half-billion-dollar investment and a data center that will span an area equal to 17 football fields.

    Gov. Susana Martinez’s office announced early Tuesday that the social media giant will be doubling its investment in the state with the planned expansion of its data center currently under construction near Los Lunas, a rural area just outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico’s largest metropolitan area.

    The governor praised the announcement, saying Facebook is among the state’s key partners as it works to diversify its economy.

    “New Mexico’s powerful incentives are bringing more opportunities to our state — once again ahead of schedule with more jobs and investment than initially anticipated,” the governor said in a statement.

    The news comes as New Mexico looks to turn the corner after a crippling budget crisis that stemmed from a downturn in the oil and natural gas sectors and an overall weak economy. The state also has struggled with high unemployment numbers, only recently ending its stretch at the top of the nation’s jobless rankings.

  • Domino’s aids LA woman

    The online version of this story has been updated.

    Domino’s will host a fundraiser called “Have a Heart Day” at its Los Alamos location to raise funds for a local woman whose home was lost most of her home to a fire.

    The pizza franchise was touched by her plight and will donate 100 percent of profits from sales in the Los Alamos store on Thursday to help her regain her home.

    On June 24, Bonita Rogozinsky, who works bike patrol at the local ski hill, was in the process of moving into her brand new home when the house went up in flames.

    Rogozinsky and her beloved pets escaped without injury, but the fire destroyed about 75 percent of her home and insurance will not cover the full cost of the loss.

    General Manager Celesta Lasater explained that Rogozinsky had ordered a pizza that day, but called to cancel 15 minutes later.

    According to Lasater, Bonita had said, “Sorry, I can’t get my pizza because my house is on fire,” and then she hung up.
    The call surprised the staff, to say the least.

  • LA crime stats show downward trend in 2nd quarter

    The Los Alamos Police Department Chief of Police Dino Sgambellone released the crime statistics this week for the second quarter of 2017, which show an overall decrease by 10 percent.

    “Crime continues to drop and that’s great,” Sgambellone said.

    The main purpose of distributing these quarterly crime statistics, which were compiled by the LAPD Records Department, is to let people know what is happening in their community.

    Offenses reported as crime statistics are determined by the FBI Uniform Crime Report Program and are classified as crimes against persons (violent crime) and crimes against property.

    The offenses of murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault make up the violent crime category.

    The property crime category includes the offenses of arson, burglary, larceny and auto theft. Both of these categories combined are referred to as Part I Offenses.

    Property crime dropped from 37 in 2016 to 30 in 2017, which is a decrease of 19 percent.

    Violent crime increased 100 percent from three offenses in 2016 to six in 2017.

  • LANL partners speak out on draft RFP

    Local non-profits, business organizations and representatives of Los Alamos County expressed concern this week about the National Nuclear Security Administration’s initial draft management and operations contract for the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

    To those that have seen it, the contract seemed to provide little support to the region or the county, a sharp contrast to the contract held by Los Alamos National Security since 2006.

    The RFP was posted on the NNSA website July 13. Those interested in making suggestions to modify the draft RFP have until July 26 to respond to NNSA.

    Los Alamos County Manager Harry Burgess said he was concerned that the 50-page draft RFP only mentions the county twice.
    With the extensive partnerships the county has enjoyed with the lab through the years,  he said he would have liked to seen more.

    “We feel that given our formal relationship with the operator through fire, utilities, transit and dispatch, it warrants fleshing that out a little bit,” Burgess said.

    The Department of Energy announced in 2015 it was putting LANS’ contract out to bid after LANS failed to meet certain performance criteria. A new contractor is expected to be in control of LANL by 2018. The NNSA oversees LANL.  

  • County sells another piece of A-19

    County Council approved selling another piece of A-19 land in White Rock to a real estate developer in hopes of getting the long-stalled project off the ground.

    The decision to sell the land was made during council’s regular meeting July 11.

    The development at A-19 has been plagued by delays. Contractors walked off the job in May 2016 after a thick layer of basalt was discovered beneath the site.

    The county negotiated a deal in June, agreeing to pay the developer, the A-19-A-1 Acquisition Group, $2 million to break up the basalt and install utilities.

    Council agreed July 11 to sell 12.76 acres in the northern section for $460,000 to the A-19-A-1 Acquisition group. The parcel is on the north side of NM State Road 4, between the intersections of Sherwood Boulevard and New Mexico State Road 4.

    The county has been working with the A-19-A-1 group to build housing in that area in anticipation of the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s recent announcement to hire thousands of workers to fill an upcoming retirement gap. The homes are expected to cost between $300,000 and $400,000.