Local News

  • US businesses cheer judge’s overtime ruling

    LAS VEGAS (AP) — Businesses around the country on Wednesday cheered a court decision blocking the Obama administration’s sweeping new overtime rules, but many had already raised salaries or ordered managers to stick to a strict 40-hour workweek to avoid costs they expected to incur starting next week.
    An injunction issued Tuesday by the federal court in the Eastern District of Texas prevents the Department of Labor from mandating overtime pay for salaried employees who make less than about $47,500 a year — a dramatic jump from the old threshold of $23,660.
    More than 4 million workers would have been newly eligible for time-and-a-half pay under the rule, which now faces far more uncertainty from Donald Trump’s incoming administration.
    The ruling giving businesses a reprieve “is a little late for a lot of people’s taste,” said Tom Gimbel of Chicago-based LaSalle Network, a staffing firm that advised companies on how to prepare for the new rule.
    Wal-Mart, for example, raised entry-level managers’ starting salaries by $3,500 in September to stay above the threshold.

  • Council to review bond projects, water plan

    The Los Alamos County Council will hear an update on scoping for the 2017 recreation bond projects and a presentation on the revised long-range water supply plan at its regular meeting Tuesday.
    Also on the agenda is a citizens’ petition requesting the installation of two speed humps on North Road in front of Mountain Elementary School.
    For details on the recreational bonds projects, read “Weigh in on rec bond projects Thursday” in the Los Alamos Monitor’s Nov. 16 edition and “Residents look at Rec bond package,” published Nov. 21.
    See “County to hold meeting on water supply plan Tuesday,” published Nov. 14, and “Water supply plan weighed by public,” published Nov. 21, for more on the long-range water supply plan.
    For Tuesday’s complete agenda packet, go to losalamos.legistar.com.
    Tuesday’s meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. in council chambers.

  • NM mulls partial closure plan for WIPP

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — New Mexico regulators have received a formal proposal from the U.S. Department of Energy to close part of the nation’s only underground nuclear waste repository due to safety and contamination concerns.
    The repository has been shuttered since February 2014, when a chemical reaction inside an inappropriately packed drum of waste triggered a radiation release.
    The closure halted the shipment of tons of Cold War-era waste from sites across the country, stalling a multibillion-dollar cleanup campaign by the Energy Department.
    The incident also resulted in an overhaul of policies and procedures, costly work to mitigate the contamination, and a multimillion-dollar settlement with the state of New Mexico for numerous permit violations.
    Under the proposal to close part of the underground area, federal officials want to install a series of steel barriers that would permanently seal off disposal rooms and other main corridors in the southern end, reducing the chance of waste disposal and mining activities stirring up dust and contamination.
    The barriers would reduce the footprint of the contaminated areas by about 60 percent, officials said.

  • Teachers treated to special event

    With a live jazz band playing in the background and multiple prize giveaways happening every hour, it wasn’t a typical teachers event, and that suited the teachers just fine.
    Nov. 18 was “Teacher Appreciation Day,” a day when the community reached out to teachers of Los Alamos and collectively said “We care.”
    “The intent was pretty straightforward, to let teachers know they’re appreciated.” Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus said. “It was organized by the District Parent Council and the school board as a way to say thank you to our teachers. One of the things that’s hard to explain is how hard a teacher works.”
    Over 100 people attended the event, where 100 gift bags filled with certificates and items from local business were given away. And, over $1,500 in gift certificates were given away.
    While the school always has an annual teacher appreciation event, this one was different. This one featured more of a personal touch from the community, as prizes, gift certificates and direct praise from parents and students was included.
    Parent District Council member Suzette Fox described the event as a “big hug” from the community to the teachers that educate its children.

  • New Mexico could be hard hit by gutting ACA

    Editor’s note: Second in a two-part series.

    According to Anne Sperling, president and CEO of Vanguard Resources, Inc., one goal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – eliminating discrimination based on factors such as preexisting health conditions and gender – has one glaring flaw.
    Age discrimination is built into the premium structure, and it impacts both individuals and small businesses. That impact will only get worse if the so-called “Cadillac tax” goes into effect in 2020.
    Sperling pointed to the premium for a Blue Cross/Blue Shield bronze plan with a $6,000 deductible and a maximum out-of-pocket expense of $7,150. The premium for a 59-year-old is $820 a month. A 21-year-old pays $200 a month.
    Needless to say, the impact on individuals is tremendous. But small employers – defined as one to 50 employees in New Mexico and up to 100 employees in other states – also feel both the financial and administrative burden of those rates.
    Large employers receive composite rates, in which the age of the population is averaged. Rates for small employers are based on the age of each individual in the organization.

  • Trash steals the show at Fuller Lodge

    They came down the runway at Fuller Lodge Saturday sporting gowns made entirely of swim caps or shimmering with recycled CDs and pop tabs. Newspaper, egg cartons, old socks and even political junk mail were all transformed into whimsical creations by contestants in the Recycle Fashion Show.
    The annual show, sponsored by the Los Alamos Environmental Services Division, uses frivolity and fun to encourage recycling.
    Although most of the designs would be impractical for actual wear (try sitting encased in a box decorated with egg cartons or wearing a dress made of paper bags), they displayed an enormous amount of creativity and encouraged audience members to literally “think outside the box” when it comes to reusing materials.
    Contestants were required to use at least 75-percent recycled or reused materials that would have otherwise ended up in the trash or recycle bin. Outfits made strictly of vintage clothes or trash bags were not accepted.
    Joyce Haven emceed the show wearing a recycled jacket adorned with recycled ties. She also modeled the shirt she was wearing, made from a pair of recycled pants.
    The top prize in the child’s category went to Harper Barras for “Sparkle Swirl,” a dress made from panels of woven newspaper and other recycled paper and decorated with swirls and glitter.

  • Garden Club wreath sale Dec. 2

    The Los Alamos Garden Club will hold an annual fresh Christmas Wreath Sale, from 9 a.m. until they are sold out, Dec. 2 in the lobby of the Los Alamos National Bank.
    The wreaths are made of fresh green cut in the Jamez Mountains.  
    The proceeds from the sale support a scholarship fund.
    The club awards a scholarship to a local  graduating senior each year.  
    For more information, contact Sally Warner at 662-9473.

  • C’YA nominations now accepted

    The time of year has arrived to submit nominations for the Community Asset Awards annual program, aimed at recognizing the good efforts, great deeds and often not heralded acts of generosity in the community, the nation and the world.
    Champions of Youth Ambitions (C’YA) coordinates the annual ceremony to recognize the contributions of the young, young at heart.
    “This is the highlight of the calendar year for us,” said Bernadette Lauritzen, C’YA executive director. “The program tells the stories you don’t often get to hear, but that make our community a great place to live.”
    The program is once again co-sponsored by the Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation (LACDC), where the Assets received a firm foundation for the work in the community.
    The love of the work grew into a local non-profit 501-c-3 and today runs multiple programs to benefit the youth of the community with some grand plans for 2017.
    The 2015 ceremony highlighted the work of more than 30 individuals and organizations that contributed to better the community and the world during the previous year.

  • Christmas Bazaar set for Dec. 3

    The Children’s Christmas Bazaar at Trinity on the Hill Episcopal Church is set for 9 a.m.-noon Dec. 3.
    The bazaar is a child-friendly community event for students in kindergarten through sixth grade, where children shop and have their gifts wrapped.
     Help is available from elves for children who need a little assistance. Elves wrap the gifts after they are selected.
    The event is about giving and empowerment for children. Parents are not allowed in the shopping area. Last year, a little girl walked into Kelly Hall and said “I am finally old enough to shop!” It was a rite of passage moment for this child and she exuded confidence. Her parents were empowering her to select and give gifts. Empowered children learn the process of informed decision-making and problem solving.
    For the bazaar, children start in Sherrill Hall, where they prepare their list of people to shop for, complete their gift tags and get a shopping bag. Parents and younger children remain in the old parish hall where they enjoy coffee, treats and coloring. In Kelly Hall, children shop and pay for their gifts and elves wrap them!
    Adults are reminded that it may take children time to choose those special gifts and have their purchases wrapped.

  • Find something that floats your boat

    As Wednesday dawns, many people will wake up a little more bright eyed and bushy tailed when they realize they don’t have to go to work or school.
    What I see is a sense of burn out and doneness more commonly seen in the week leading up to spring break.
    So what I hope the beginning of the holiday season is for you is my annual whole lotta nothing. That’s right, what I feel many are needing is to do a whole lot of nothing for a day or two days to if you are lucky, the next five days.
    I realize that you may still need to do some laundry cook some meals or unload some dishes, but at least try and put a few of the things that you would like to do at the top of the to do list.
    We try and teach our children that they have to do something that “floats the boat,” or “re-fills the well,” we need to remember yet again to model the behavior as much for ourselves as for them to witness you doing it, too.
    What are you thankful for? Well, let them know and ask them what they are thankful for? Then no matter what the answer is, be joyful about it.