Local News

  • Romero says she will not return to coalition

    Andrea Romero, former executive director of the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities, said Thursday she would not rebid for the contract to head the coalition.

    Romero was hired as the coalition’s executive director in 2015 through Andrea Romero Consulting, LLC. Her contract naturally expired Feb. 28.

    “I don’t plan to (submit a bid) at this point,” Romero said. “It’s been way too politicized with the board, and there are a lot of other decisions to be made.”

    Romero is still running as a Democrat for a House seat in Santa Fe County’s District 46.

    “I just filed yesterday,” Romero said. “That’s what’s next… there are a lot of other things going on to relation to the race. I’ve obviously made the commitment to run for this race and I will.”

    Romero will face incumbent Carl Trujillo in the June 5 Democratic primary.

    Romero said that though politics played a part, she believes in the mission of the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities.

  • Push for gun laws faces resistance in most states

    IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The campaign for tighter gun laws that inspired unprecedented student walkouts across the country still faces an uphill climb in a majority of states, an Associated Press review of gun legislation found.

    The AP survey of bill activity in state legislatures before and after the Parkland, Florida, school shooting provides a reality check on the ambitions of the “Enough is Enough” movement. It suggests that votes like the one in Florida, where Republican lawmakers defied the National Rifle Association to pass new gun regulations, are unlikely to be repeated in many other states, at least not this year.

    The student-led activism might yet lead to future reforms, but for now, the gun debate among most lawmakers still falls along predictable and largely partisan lines, with few exceptions, according to the analysis.

    Because Congress shows no sign of acting, state legislatures dominate the national debate over guns. And major changes won’t be easy to achieve in statehouses that are mostly controlled by the gun-friendly GOP.

  • Board extends school chief’s contract

    The Los Alamos School Board voted Tuesday night to extend the contract of Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus and approved a raise for him that hinges on final figures from the 2018-19 budget that are under review.

    “It is an honor and a privilege serving as superintendent of the Los Alamos Public Schools,” Steinhaus said following the vote near the close of the board’s monthly meeting. “Along with incredible students and parents, we have outstanding teachers, school leaders and staff supporting the learning process. I enjoy working with the whole team.”

    Steinhaus said he would accept a raise only if the money was first available for other staff raises.

    “I accept the school board’s contract extension and salary raise proposal only after we identify funds to provide a much-needed raise for all LAPS staff,” he said.

    The one-year extension means Steinhaus, who started with LAPS in May 2015, is now under contract through the end of the ’20-21 school year and puts him at the three-year extension limit allowed by New Mexico state law.

    While the vote for the raise was unanimous, the vote for the one-year extension wasn’t, with the lone dissenting vote coming from Bill Hargraves, who said it wasn’t a reflection on the superintendent.

  • US and French companies form venture for nuke waste storage

    HOBBS (AP) — A Dallas company and a France-based multinational corporation are forming a joint venture to license an interim storage site in West Texas for high-level nuclear waste.

    Orano USA and Waste Control Specialists announced on Tuesday their intent to form the joint venture as a competing group tries to promote its proposal for southeastern New Mexico, the Hobbs News-Sun reports.

    Waste Control Specialists had notified the Nuclear Regulatory Commission three years ago of its plan to seek the license to build the facility in rural Andrews County, Texas, that would store spent fuel rods from power plants. There's currently no such disposal site in the U.S.

    The proposed site is five miles east of Eunice, New Mexico.

    Orano USA is a division of the Paris, France-based Orano company that specializes in nuclear power and renewable energy.

    The move comes as a debate over what to do with spent fuel generated by the nation's nuclear power plants. Backers of another plan to build a temporary storage site in southeastern New Mexico are pressing Washington officials to support their proposal.

  • Fire warnings issued for 6 states in nation's midsection

    OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The National Weather Service has issued fire warnings for six states in the nation's midsection.

    The Red Flag warnings issued Friday include most of Oklahoma, the Texas Panhandle, southern Kansas, northeastern New Mexico, southeastern Colorado and southeastern Missouri.

    Oklahoma Forestry Services has already requested and received firefighters and equipment from Alabama, Kentucky and Louisiana because of the fire threat that is expected to continue into next week. Additional firefighters and equipment from Georgia and Mississippi are on the way.

    Forestry spokeswoman Michelle Finch-Walker says they are positioned at various areas of the state and that could change daily in anticipation of which area is under the greatest threat of wildfire.

    Finch-Walker said the firefighters and equipment could be sent to any of the other states as needs arise.

  • US, states agree to collaborate on Mexican wolf recovery

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — The U.S. government and state officials have signed an agreement that furthers their intentions to work together to recover an endangered wolf that once roamed the American Southwest.

    The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish announced the agreement with Arizona and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Thursday. The agreement is aimed at getting Mexican gray wolves to the point where they can eventually be removed from the endangered species list.

    As part of the effort, a field team that includes members from the states' wildlife management agencies will provide input to determine the timing, location and the circumstances for releasing wolves into the wild in Arizona and New Mexico.

    New Mexico Game and Fish Director Alexandra Sandoval called the new agreement an act of good faith.

  • LAHS students show support for Parkland victims

    Students gathered on the front lawn of Los Alamos High School this morning to show their support for the victims of the recent shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

    The event was organized by students and included a speech by state Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard.

    Members of the Los Alamos Police Department were on hand to provide protection for the students at the event as well as support to LAHS.

    “As the principal here my first concern is for the safety and well-being of our students,” said LAHS Principal Carter Payne. “We have a lot of diversity and individuality here and we’re happy to support and honor that and this was a way we could do that. We are happy to support the students in this manner.”

    LAHS student Sophia Jeffery thanked the administration for “its flexibility” in allowing the students to organize the event. She also thanked the League of Women Voters for being on hand to register students to vote and thanked LAPD for being present “to make sure our safety was not compromised.”

    After the crowd observed a minute of silence for the 17 victims of the shooting in Parkland, Garcia Richard addressed the gathering.

  • Less of New Mexico's famed chile crop produced in 2017

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — New Mexico farmers produced fewer of the state's famed hot peppers in 2017, and data released by federal and state agriculture officials show the value of the chile crop has declined.

    The tallies for the last growing season show planted chile acreage has shrunk by more than half over the last 17 years, from a peak in 2005 of 17,500 acres (7,082 hectares) to 8,100 acres (3,278 hectares) last year. About 94 percent of that was harvested.

    The number of tons produced also has dropped, and agricultural experts are placing the blame on a lack of labor and a persistent drought that has forced farmers to shift priorities.

    As for the value of the crop, that dropped to an estimated $44.6 million in 2017 despite continued demand for New Mexico's signature crop.

    New Mexico Agriculture Secretary Jeff Witte said Wednesday that limited irrigation supplies have resulted in farmers focusing what little water they do get on more permanent crops such as the pecan orchards that line the Hatch and Mesilla valleys in southern New Mexico.

    That has left annual crops such as chile, lettuce and onions in the dust.

    Still, Witte said there's no danger of New Mexico's annual tradition of roasting green chile going by the wayside.

  • Nominations needed for nuclear worker advisory board

    SANTA FE (AP) — The terms have expired for nearly all members of a federal advisory panel charged with making recommendations and providing guidance for a program designed to compensate workers who were exposed to toxic chemicals at U.S. nuclear weapons labs.

    The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the Trump administration has not nominated any new members to the board.

    “For two years our board put a lot of brain power and cutting edge expertise into developing recommendations,” said Ken Silver, an occupational health professor at Eastern Tennessee State University, who until last month was a board member. “Without appointing another board, those recommendations may disappear into the ether.”
    Silver was one of 14 members of the Advisory Board on Toxic Substances and Worker Health whose terms expired in February. The remaining member’s term expires this month.

    The U.S. Labor Department did not respond to multiple requests for comment but indicated in a recent letter to a workers’ advocacy group that nominations were still being reviewed.

    In response to intense lobbying and long-standing concerns that workers were not receiving proper compensation, the advisory board was created in the waning years of the Obama administration.

  • Council OK’s business park rezoning

    Los Alamos County Council passed a Planning and Zoning Commission recommendation Feb. 27 to rezone the two buildings at a Los Alamos business park from professional office to mixed use to allow for the building of a mixed-use complex.

    The approval did not come without some hard questions about the county’s land use map and Comprehensive Plan. 

    A company is proposing turning the top two floors of 557 Oppenheimer Business Centre into 16 apartments.

    Los Alamos Professional Housing Partnership owns the building. The plan calls for a mechanical room to be added onto the first floor of the building, and the second floor be renovated to house eight residential units. A third will floor will then be added to accommodate another eight residential units.

    Los Alamos County Housing and  Special Projects Director Andrew Harnden told the council.

    The plan fits in with the county’s agenda to help the housing shortage in the county.

    “The applicant’s proposal conforms to the goals and policies of the Comprehensive Plan and is consistent with the county’s Leadership Plan goals in creating a variety of housing options for all segments of the Los Alamos Community,” Harnden said.