Local News

  • Public invited to Luminaria Walk, Buffet Wednesday

    Luminarias will be glowing for the upcoming annual holiday walk with a welcome buffet and dessert to follow on Wednesday at the Sombrillo Nursing Home and Aspen Ridge Assisted Living.

    Los Alamos Retirement Community is celebrating 33 years during this annual holiday event. Teens at the Teen Center helped fold the traditional paper bags, which will light up the evening on Wednesday around Sombrillo Court.

    The event begins at 5:30 p.m. and continues until 7:30 p.m.

    Dinner will be served at Sombrillo and dessert follows at Aspen Ridge. No RSVP is required to attend.

    More information is available by calling Cynthia at 695-8981.

  • Mining to resume at nuke waste dump for 1st time since leak

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Officials at the nation's only underground nuclear waste repository are flipping the switch on an interim ventilation system this week, allowing mining to resume for the first time since a 2014 radiation release contaminated part of the facility.

    Still, they caution it will take a few years and cost hundreds of millions of dollars before the flow of air is enough to meet the pace of operations before the leak.

    Bruce Covert, president of the contractor that runs the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant for the federal government, said testing was done and the U.S. Energy Department approved starting up the air handling system.

    He called it a big step for the facility, which disposes of waste from decades of bomb-making and nuclear research. The waste is placed in rooms mined out of an ancient salt bed some 2,000 feet (610 meters) below the desert surface.

    "We have not done mining in over three years, so the good news is we're going to walk before we run," Covert said at a recent public meeting. "We're going to work real steady, methodical, to get the teams back at it."

    The repository restarted operations earlier this year with a couple of weekly shipments of waste from federal sites across the U.S. That has now that has been ramped up to about six a week.

  • ‘Nobody does science without code’

    The new chief of Los Alamos National Laboratory brought along something incredibly old Friday to demonstrate the usefulness of learning something new to a sixth-grade class Friday in Los Alamos.

    A chunk of black quartz crystal collected on the 14,000-foot Pikes Peak is a billion years old, and only in the age of calculations from computers could he know that, Terry Wallace told Brett Hawkins’ class at Mountain Elementary.

    Wallace, with a Ph.D in geophysics from California Institute of Technology and the recently named director of the national laboratory, told students participating in a global event this week called an Hour of Code – where students at all grade levels focus on computer coding – that determining the age of his shiny rock wasn’t possible without computer coding.

    “I don’t know how to do that problem on paper…Nobody does science without code,” Wallace told the students.
    He was introduced to mathematics as a student growing up in Los Alamos, and learned to “think in equations,” he said.
    An introduction to coding – through games such as Minecraft and one based on the characters in “Star Wars” – will help them, Wallace said.

  • Small fire reported in Jemez Ranger District

    UPDATE (4:30 p.m.): The fire is now 3- to 4-acres and is now 40-percent contained.

    A small brush fire started about 12:30 p.m. today in the Jemez Ranger District of the Santa Fe National Forest.

    The 2- to 3-acre Guadalupe Fire is producing heavy smoke near Forest Road 376 and the smoke is visible as far south as Rio Rancho, according to Forest Service officials.

    Officials are asking travelers along FR 376 to be mindful of fire personnel and equipment in the area. The fire is burning through logging slash and pre-made piles.

    Three fire engines are reporting to the fire. A 10-person hand crew out of Santa Fe, knows as the “Returning Heroes” has been ordered to respond.

  • Health care options expanded for some New Mexico vets

    ALAMOGORDO (AP) — Specialized care for some veterans in southern New Mexico will be more accessible thanks to a recent decision by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

    Members of New Mexico's congressional delegation say the agency is giving veterans in Alamogordo the new option to seek advanced care at the VA medical center in El Paso, Texas.

    Until now, veterans in Alamogordo needing specialized care have been referred to the Albuquerque VA hospital, which is more than three hours away.

    U.S. Congressman Steve Pearce and Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich urged VA officials to make the administrative changes after hearing from veterans who said they were delaying or foregoing care because the drive to Albuquerque was too difficult.

    Several members of the state Legislature also advocated for the change.

  • Diamond Drive closure today

    Los Alamos County Traffic and Streets Division will close the northbound and southbound lanes on Diamond Drive at the Los Alamos County Fire Department from 1-3 p.m. today to install new firetruck crossing signs

    Motorists are asked to proceed with caution through these work zones.

  • LAFD personnel deployed to California wildfires

    For the third time in the past four months, personnel and equipment from the Los Alamos Fire Department were sent west to help battle wildfires in California.

    The LAFD’s Wildland Fire team has joined a task force of fire fighting agencies from New Mexico to work on the wildfires in California as of Thursday morning.

    Some wildfires there have scorched more than 100,000 acres this week near Ventura, Calif., and Los Angeles, fed by fierce Santa Ana winds and dry vegetation.

    LAFD Captain Tim Johnson, Driver Engineer Van Leimer and Firefighter Brian Palmer left Thursday morning in the fire department’s Brush 1, a Wildland Engine. Brush 1 is one of two county-owned wildland firefighting apparatus, according to a prepared statement by Wildland Division Chief Kelly Sterna.

  • Candyman expansion heralded; more music, less gas

    When the Candyman – an iconic music store in Santa Fe – began stocking a few counters with guitar strings, reeds and other musicians’ necessities at the Los Alamos Music Academy on DP Road last year, the building’s light-filled foyer captured his imagination, said Rand Cook, co-owner along with his wife, Cindy.

    Light pours in from the two-story block of windows and plants thrive in the atrium.

    “I wanted to fill it with guitars,” Cook said.

    His vision has come true.

    Without displacing LAMA, the Cooks expanded the selection of items to include electric and acoustic guitars, ukuleles and banjos, cymbals and other percussion instruments, along with a broader selection of electronics.

    Room 102, which used to be a music room for students, now provides a visual feast of guitars and other stringed instruments.

    The expansion was completed recently, in time for holiday shoppers, and is actually the second time the Cooks have expanded at the location.

    Last spring, the store expanded its hours to help those looking for equipment and supplies outside of the hours open for LAMA students.

  • Electric vehicle donation sparks interest

    The electric vehicle “crew” – seven advanced auto shop students at Los Alamos High School – assembled in the dry cold of Wednesday morning outside the classroom/shop building.

    They were going to take their first look at the innards of Tony Tomei’s converted Honda Civic station wagon.

    Tomei had decided more than a year ago that his hand-assembled electric vehicle, or EV, a masterpiece of simplicity and silence, needed a home where it would do the most good.

    What better good than educating the future?

    Still, there’s a little bit of a feeling of loss, he said.

    “I’m a little sad. It’s been a lot of work and a lot of love. I’ve used it to promote the use of electric vehicles,” he said.

    Tomei’s neighbor, LAHS auto shop teacher Scott Pomeroy was one of those with access to students. Tomei also considered the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos and Santa Fe Community College, he said.

    A long-time proponent of the EV movement, Tomei said he hoped to pass on the knowledge he had acquired in the ways a four-wheel vehicle powered by electricity by way of rechargeable batteries is different than one powered by gasoline from fossil fuels.

  • Council approves $6.5 million for pool

    The Los Alamos County Council Tuesday approved the use of up to $6.5 million in capital improvement funds to build a multi-generational pool that will be attached to the Larry R. Walkup Aquatic Center.

    Design for the project is expected to begin in February 2018 and construction may start in February 2019 and continue through January 2020. The heated pool will feature a slide and a lazy river. The dimensions will be about 80 feet by 25 feet. The new building will also feature family changing rooms and other amenities.

    Looming large over the pool discussion was the future of the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

    The lab’s management and operations contract is scheduled to go to a new contractor next year. If the lab’s contract goes to a non-profit contractor, the county, and the state, would lose millions of dollars in proceeds from the gross receipts tax. New Mexico does not apply a GRT tax to non-profits.

    Some councilors wanted to put the vote off until next year, after the contract issue with the lab was settled, and the county had a better idea of its financial picture.

    Some residents also brought up the issue during public discussion.