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Local News

  • Council grills DPU, passes budget

    Los Alamos County Council voted to tentatively approve the budget of the Department of Public Utilities’ $71.4 million budget for 2018 by a slim majority, as some councilors said the department wasn’t doing enough to curb proposed rate increases for consumer water usage.

    In its 2018 proposed budget, the DPU built an 8-percent rate increase into its 2018 budget in an effort to raise cash reserves that will be used to build a new wastewater treatment plant in 2021.
    The council has yet to approve the 8-percent increase, an issue that’s scheduled to be taken up sometime this year by the council.

    Some councilors didn’t think DPU did enough with its 2018 budget to prevent the proposed rate hike.

    “I guess I’m wondering why any business wouldn’t think about shouldering some of the impact of the financial situation through expense cuts as opposed to just raising rates,” Vice Chair Susan O’Leary said to DPU Manager Tim Glasco.

    Glasco replied that they have tried to be as efficient as possible with department expenses, but the replacement of an extensive network of aging waterlines and the pending replacement of a water treatment plant are the main drivers behind the increase.

    O’Leary took issue with the DPU’s proposed 2-percent salary increase.

  • Starbucks barista has meltdown over Unicorn Frappuccino

    SEATTLE (AP) — A Starbucks barista has taken to social media hoping to make orders for the coffee chain's much buzzed about Unicorn Frappuccino disappear.

    Starbucks' entry into the unicorn food craze was released Wednesday and its popularity was too much for 19-year-old Colorado barista Braden Burson. He posted a video (now-deleted) on Twitter after his shift complaining that it was difficult to keep up with orders for the drink and he's "never been so stressed out" in his life.

    The Unicorn Frappuccino is a sweet and sour pink and blue cream swirl topped with what Starbucks calls "fairy powder." Burson says in the video that a day of making the treat left him with sticky hands and residue from the drink stuck to his clothes and in his hair.

    Burson tells The Associated Press that he didn't think his rant would get this much publicity and he didn't intend to "downgrade" the drink.

    "It's a great drink. But it is difficult to make when there are like 20 fraps all at once both front and drive thru," he wrote in a Facebook message.

  • Science on Tap explores Fukushima nuclear reactor meltdown tonight

    In March 2011, a tsunami slammed into the coast of Japan and initiated the meltdown of three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Radiation levels inside the buildings there are still lethal, but the cleanup needs to proceed.

    The public is invited to a special Science on Tap beginning at 5:30 p.m. tonight at the UnQuarked Wine Room, 145 Central Park Square, where Chris Morris, of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Los Alamos Neutron Science Center, will talk about how LANL scientists are using people-friendly particles called muons to help assess the status of the nuclear fuel inside the damaged reactors.

    Accurate answers to questions about the fuel rods could help reduce recovery efforts by more than a decade and save billions of dollars. Join us for a short, informal presentation, followed by lively discussion.

    Science On Tap happens every third Thursday of the month, featuring a new topic each time. Science On Tap is sponsored by the Los Alamos Creative District and hosted by the Bradbury Science Museum. The On Tap series begins each evening with an informal 10-15 minute lecture followed by a lively group discussion. All ages are welcome.

  • Council votes for sheriff's budget, plus one extra position

    It was a tense but civil discussion Monday night as Los Alamos County Sheriff Marco Lucero addressed his budgetary needs for next year with the Los Alamos County Council. The council is currently reviewing the needs for each county department, and is also considering extra requests each department has made as it gets ready to adopt a county budget for fiscal year 2018. 

    Last year, council voted to transfer many of the sheriff’s duties to the Los Alamos Police Department, and put a referendum out to residents on whether Los Alamos County needs a sheriff, since the town of Los Alamos and the county of Los Alamos are one in the same. 

    Residents voted to keep the sheriff’s office, and Monday night, Lucero made that point clear.

    Many of his “extra” requests had to do with putting back what the council took away last year. 

    Among Lucero’s extra requests was a full-time “office specialist” at $58,911 a year, three part-time deputies at $29,565 a year and an undersheriff at $130,000 a year.

  • Derby Dames hit the big leagues

    The Los Alamos Derby Dames have roller skated into the big time at last. Actually, they’ve always been pros, but the league they were apprenticing in, the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association, recently made it official by making the Los Alamos league an official member of the WFTDA. The team started as apprentices in April of this year, and graduated into full membership this year. 

    Part of the requirements included having a mock sanctioned game, which they did with the High Altitude Roller Derby team from Flagstaff. Altitude came up in the ranks with the Dames, and they became full members around the same time. 

    The Dames will be playing them again on the Altitude’s home turf in Flagstaff, Arizona, on Saturday. 

    The game will be the first time the two teams have met since becoming full members.

    “They’re a full member and we’re a full member, and we’re going to have a full, sanctioned game on Saturday,” LA Roller Derby Dames member Michele Holtkamp said. “It’s going to be exciting.” 

  • ‘The more confidence you have, the quicker you’ll go’

    By Wrenn Propp

    Robert Taylor’s advice – delivered in a voice lightly threaded with an Irish brogue and immigrant Australian – is pretty good if you’re riding a pony or poised on horseback.

    “The more confidence you have, the quicker you’ll go,” urged Taylor, an internationally known riding and jumping instructor, during a jumping clinic April 8 at the Rodeo Grounds in Los Alamos.

    It’s also applicable for the rest of us.

    For example, when you’re coming down from a big jump, lean back, or it is certain you will fall.

    “Shoulders forward and it’s not a matter of when, it’s a matter of where,” you will go down, he said.

    About 20 riders participated in activities sponsored by the Los Alamos Pony Club last weekend, including 11 riders for mounted game competition April 8. Taylor, who has lived in the United States for 20 years and operates TaylorMade Stables in Maryland, has taught annual clinics in Los Alamos four times in the past. He also presents clinics in Albuquerque and Taos.

    With an estimated 300 to 350 horses, ponies and other equines in Los Alamos County, his clinics have been popular. And appreciative spectators abound.

  • Second suspect nabbed for Bealls theft

    The second suspect in a March 9 shoplifting incident, where a male bystander was struck by a fleeing vehicle, is now in custody in the Los Alamos Detention Center.

    The shoplifting incident took place early afternoon at Bealls Department Store. 

    Stephanie Garcia, 31, was transported from Española Tuesday to the center. Before being booked, she was charged with shoplifting (more than $250, less than $2,500) and conspiracy. Both charges are fourth-degree felonies. Garcia is being held without bail until her initial hearing before a judge, which is expected to be this week. 

    Police arrested the second  suspect, Ashley Garcia, 23, of Hernandez, March 13. Garcia remains in custody at the LADC pending her preliminary hearing May 4. 

    The two women are not related. Garcia was charged with shoplifting (over $500 but not more than $2,500), aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and failure to give and render aid.

    Ashley Garcia described Stephanie Garcia as a “friend” in an interview with police about the incident. Ashley Garcia was arrested Rio Arriba County Sheriff’s deputies March 14 for the March 9 incident. 

  • DOE outlines priorities for cleanup

    The Department of Energy’s Los Alamos Environmental Management Field Office outlined its immediate priorities for safety and cleanup this week at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
    Those projects included the remediation of a chromium plume under Mortandad Canyon, and dealing with the 60 barrels of toxic waste and nitrate salts involved in the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant accident in 2014.
    “The Environmental Management Los Alamos Field Office’s biggest priorities right now are the safety of the workers and the public as we execute our mission,” said Steven Horak, the field office spokesman said in a written statement Thursday.
    Lab to start treatment of barrels this spring
    The 60 barrels of transuranic waste are stored at Area G in an air conditioned and filtered facility that’s kept at a constant 57 degrees Fahrenheit.
    Lab workers have also installed a special filter and venting systems on the barrels’ lids as further prevention against the type of accident that happened at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad in February 2014.
    The 60 barrels were ready to be shipped to WIPP when the accident occurred.

  • Second suspect nabbed for Bealls theft

    The second suspect in a March 9 shoplifting incident, where a male bystander was struck by a fleeing vehicle, is now in custody in the Los Alamos Detention Center.

    The shoplifting incident took place early afternoon at Bealls Department Store. 

    Stephanie Garcia, 31, was transported from Española Tuesday to the center. Before being booked, she was charged with shoplifting (more than $250, less than $2,500) and conspiracy. Both charges are fourth-degree felonies. Garcia is being held without bail until her initial hearing before a judge, which is expected to be this week. 

    Police arrested the second  suspect, Ashley Garcia, 23, of Hernandez, March 13. Garcia remains in custody at the LADC pending her preliminary hearing May 4. 

    The two women are not related. Garcia was charged with shoplifting (over $500 but not more than $2,500), aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and failure to give and render aid.

    Ashley Garcia described Stephanie Garcia as a “friend” in an interview with police about the incident. Ashley Garcia was arrested Rio Arriba County Sheriff’s deputies March 14 for the March 9 incident. 

  • Flow trail plan gets good, bad reviews Thursday

    Dozens of people crowded into a small room at the Los Alamos County Municipal Building Thursday to voice their praise and concerns about a proposed flow trail for mountain bikers to the Parks and Recreation Board.

    The flow trail is being designed by the county’s Parks, Recreation and Open Space Division. Division staff presented an update of the plan to the board. 

    Resident Bruce Warren, the first to speak, didn’t think the trail was needed.

    “One of the great things about living here in Los Alamos is that we have already an existing, amazing trail system. Poorly maintained, but a great trail system,” Warren said. “My recommendation would not be not to build any more trails but maintain and improve what we have.” 

    Resident Brad Nyenhuis, co-owner of Los Alamos’ Fusion Multisport, was in favor of the idea. He said the trail would bring more tourists to town, which he said has a landscape made for mountain biking.