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Local News

  • Leadership change comes early at SOS office

    SANTA FE (AP) — New Mexico’s incoming secretary of state will take office early to replace a temporary appointee to the state’s top oversight post for elections and campaign finances.
    The Secretary of State’s Office announced Wednesday that Maggie Toulouse Oliver will take the oath of office on Dec. 9 rather than wait until the start of the new year.
    Toulouse Oliver was elected as a Democrat to serve out the final two years of a term vacated by Republican Dianne Duran, who resigned in 2015 and was convicted on embezzlement and money laundering charges. Duran acknowledged violating laws she was supposed to uphold by using campaign funds to fuel a gambling spree.
    Albuquerque City Councilor Brad Winter served as secretary of state for the past year under an appointment by Gov. Susana Martinez.

  • State health dept. responds to county

    The New Mexico Department of health has responded to concerns expressed by the county over the health department’s recent scale back of health services for Los Alamos.  
    A spokesman for the New Mexico Department of Health said the office received less than eight visits a week, which, to the department, justified the cutbacks.
    “We will continue to evaluate how to best address the need for family planning and STD services in the future”, Department of Health Spokesman Paul Rhien said.
    The department also assured Los Alamos residents that they will be working to make sure residents using its other programs would continue to be served.
    “Our public health offices are important resources for our communities to access basic care like immunizations and other services to keep New Mexicans healthy. As we’ve noted, the Los Alamos office will continue to serve WIC clients, receive Children’s Medical Service referrals, and address infectious diseases reported in the community,” Rhien said. “We’ll continue working with the Los Alamos community to help residents who need access to these and other services as well”.

  • North Road could see traffic control measures

    The Los Alamos County Council heard a petition Tuesday asking for two speed bumps on North Road by Mountain Elementary School. Councilors voted 5−1 to have petitioners work with staff to determine traffic calming solutions under the guidelines of the Neighborhood Traffic Management Program.
    Any petition with the signatures of at least five registered voters must be addressed by council. However, a previous council approved the NTMP policy as the means for addressing residents concerns about traffic problems.
    Sam Garner, who submitted the petition on behalf of 78 people, noted that although the posted speed limit is 25 miles per hour, cars regularly travel through at 35 mph or more.
    “It would be nice to start this in our community so people who are moving here – especially by the schools – know that it’s safe for the kids that are walking around, and especially the kids who might not be attended by adults or a crossing guard,” Gardner said.
    Becky Cocina, who lives across from the school, also addressed council

  • 60 toxic waste drums at LANL to be repacked after investigation

    Los Alamos National Laboratory will repackage 60 drums filled with toxic waste after an investigation into a 2014 explosion at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad.
    The investigation revealed 60 more drums at the lab contained similar packing material that the drum at WIPP contained. That drum was packed at LANL.
    The 60 drums of waste, which are stored at LANL’s “Area G,” will be repackaged in preparation for their eventual shipment to WIPP. The plant has been closed since the February 2014 explosion, but is due to be open by the end of this year.  
    The investigation found that the exploding drum was packed using packing materials that set off a chemical reaction. The explosion spread radioactive waste into a section of WIPP, which closed the plant.
    The drums are contained in a cooled facility at LANL under 24-hour surveillance. They have been at the facility since 2014.
    “They need to be treated before they can be rendered safe for shipment and also to meet the revised waste acceptance criteria,” said Los Alamos DOE Environmental Management Office Spokesman Steven Horak.
    The repackaging and retreatment is expected to begin in the spring.

  • Council supports making Bandelier a national park

    The Los Alamos County Council voted 5−1 Tuesday to support U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich’s efforts to elevate Bandelier National Monument to a national park and preserve.
    Councilor James Chrobocinski voted against the resolution. Councilor Pete Sheehey was not in attendance.
    Heinrich’s statewide outreach director, Michael Sullivan, presented the proposal to council.
    Heinrich’s white paper advocating the elevation of both Bandelier and White Sands National Monument to national park status notes that Carlsbad Caverns National Park is New Mexico’s only national park.
    National parks are considered the “crown jewels” of the park system. The Federal Reserve studied the eight monument-to-park re-designations that have occurred since 1979 and found that national park designation increased visitation by nearly 13,000 visitors per year, something that could bring increased tourism to Los Alamos County.
    Heinrich believes Bandelier – which has archeological, cultural, natural and recreational resources of national significance – is an excellent candidate for promotion. The white paper notes that most national monuments protect only one significant resource.

  • ‘Nutcracker on the Hill’ set for tonight

    The Christmas spirit and what makes Los Alamos Los Alamos will be on full display tonight at Duane W. Smith Auditorium. That will be when Dance Arts Los Alamos presents “The Nutcracker on the Hill,” a unique take the classic Russian ballet that first premiered in St. Petersberg Russia in 1892.  
    This year, Nutcracker Director Jonathan Guise has infused swing music, science fiction and a little bit of Los Alamos’ illustrious past into the production.
    “This is our second year running,” Guise said. “It was such a big hit, we wanted to do it again. Many people said last year that they wanted to go see it, but they just missed it. We want to give everybody a chance to check it out.”
    Without giving too much away, the production involves a time-traveling spy, and the theft of some of some very important documents.
    Guise said he enjoyed writing it, which involved trips to the Bradbury Museum and walking around Los Alamos until the story came together.

  • Today in history Dec. 2
  • Today in history Dec. 1
  • Feds prepare to repackage radioactive waste in New Mexico

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — The U.S. Department of Energy is preparing to treat dozens of containers of radioactive waste that were inappropriately packed at one of the nation's premier nuclear weapons laboratories.

    It was a similar container from Los Alamos National Laboratory that ruptured in 2014, forcing the closure of the federal government's only underground nuclear waste repository.

    The chemical reaction that caused the breach was spurred by organic cat litter that was meant to absorb moisture.

    The treatment process will involve adding water and an inert material to the 60 containers in question to stabilize them so they can ultimately be disposed of. State and federal officials describe the work as calculated and methodical.

    Officials say the work is expected to begin next spring following safety assessments and upgrades to the building where the treatment will be done.

  • Today in history Nov. 30