Local News

  • Rael pleads no contest to DUI

    David Rael, 36, of Los Alamos was sentenced Aug. 16 for driving under the influence and causing an accident at the intersection at Central Avenue and Diamond Drive in January.
    Rael pled no contest to the charge in Los Alamos Magistrate Court.
    Rael was sentenced to 364 days in jail with 30 days of credit for time served with 334 suspended. He was also sentenced to three years of supervised probation and to 96 hours of community service. He was also fined $750 and must also pay $291 in court costs.
    No one was injured in the accident on Jan. 29. Rael was out on bail for a prior offense when the accident occurred.
    In September 2014, Rael was arrested on suspicion of distributing, manufacturing and possessing child pornography. Rael is scheduled for trial for those offenses in January 2017.
    While being examined for injuries at the accident, Rael admitted to driving while intoxicated.
    “I admit I’m DWI,” he reportedly told police, according to court documents.
    Rael also reportedly told police at the scene he consumed a six-pack carton of an alcoholic beverage two hours before the crash.
    While on probation, Rael must perform community service and avoid breaking state or federal laws for the next three years.

  • Los Amigos de Valles Caldera, NPS sign cooperative agreement

    Los Amigos de Valles Caldera, the friends group for the Valles Caldera National Preserve (VCNP), will continue supporting the preserve as it has since 2007.
    The organization recently reached a cooperative agreement with the National Park Service to continue serving in that capacity under NPS jurisdiction.
    “It’s an agreement so we can work together, and so they can transfer money to us. And they are giving us some money this year so we can work on restoration projects,” said Los Amigos Vice Chair Barbara Johnson. “It’s not unusual for them to have some sort of cooperative agreement with their friends group to do some variety of tasks that need to be done on the park unit.”
    Los Amigos was formed when the preserve was still held as a national trust, with a mandate to become self supporting by 2015 or be transferred to the National Forest Service. New Mexico’s congressional delegation and supporters from around the state – including Los Alamos residents and elected officials – fought to place the Valles Caldera under NPS jurisdiction.
    The bill granting VCNP national park status passed in December, 2014, and on Oct. 10, 2015, the preserve officially joined the national park system.

  • Lujan in favor of more drug treatment funds

    U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (NM-3) vowed to keep fighting for $1.1 billion in federal funding that, if passed, would strengthen and create new drug treatment resources in New Mexico and the U.S.
    “Remembering that addiction is an illness and addiction is something that can be cured, I believe with that being said our members, our colleagues in the house, the Republicans, when I offered the amendment in committee and our colleagues offered the language to fund the legislative package at $1.1 billion, which is the president’s 2017 request level, it was our Republican colleagues who refused to request that. It did not pass,” Lujan said. “We’re standing to hold our colleagues accountable and to make sure we’re able to get a vote on that funding package by the end of the year. That’s our hope.”
    The announcement was made during a conference call to state media about an upcoming community forum on drug treatment in Albuquerque Thursday.
    In July, President Obama signed into law the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016. In May, Lujan proposed the $1.1 billion in funding for the act in House Bill 5216, The Opioid and Heroin Abuse Crisis Investment Act of 2016. The bill is in the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations.

  • ‘Enthusiastic’ kids get back to class

    Thursday was the first day of school in Los Alamos, and as could be expected, thoughts and feelings were wide ranging.
    In the Mountain Elementary School neighborhood, some former students decided to get an early start to the bus stop.
    First year middle-school students Grace Xie and Nina Johnson were first to arrive. They said one thing would enjoy was being back with their friends. However, they’ve never been to the middle school before, so that would be a challenge.
    “It’s so big,” Xie said, as she and Johnson headed past Mountain Elementary and up North Street to the bus.
    Cody Rosson, another new middle-school student, wasn’t far behind. He said it was good to be back, but he was a little apprehensive about going to a new school.
    “I’m a little nervous, because of all the classes and the stuff you have to do.” he said. “Other than that, I think it’s going to be fun,” Rosson said.
    Mountain Elementary School Principal Jennifer Guy arrived at the school hours ahead of schedule, making last minute preparations to make sure all the students and teachers got off to a good start.
    “It’s going to be a great year,” she said. “I’m ready.”
    Guy said the school has five new teachers.

  • Relay for Life at Ashley Pond tonight

    Community members touched by cancer, and those who support them, will spend tonight walking around Ashley Pond to raise money for the American Cancer Society (ACS).
    During the annual Relay for Life event, individuals and teams will camp out at Ashley Pond Park and take turns walking.
    Each team is asked to have a representative on the track at all times “because cancer never sleeps.” Participants may be survivors, walking in remembrance of someone or celebrating a cure.
    Despite the fact that participants are raising money to combat a grim disease, Community Manager Manuel Luna is quick to point out that the event is anything but somber.
    “For the most part, everybody’s just walking, you’re visiting, you’re having a good time. You have your chairs out there, you have your picnic tables,” Luna said. “You’re just having a good old time. The luminaria ceremony is probably going to be the only somber part of the whole event.”
    During the sunset luminaria ceremony, Relay for Life participants and donors personalize luminaria bags with a name, photo, message or drawing in memory or honor of a friend or loved one who has been affected by cancer.

  • US says $400M payment was contingent on release of prisoners

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration said Thursday that a $400 million cash payment to Iran seven months ago was contingent on the release of a group of American prisoners.

    It is the first time the U.S. has so clearly linked the two events, which critics have painted as a hostage-ransom arrangement.

    State Department spokesman John Kirby repeated the administration's line that the negotiations to return the Iranian money — from a military-equipment deal with the U.S.-backed shah in the 1970s — were conducted separately from the talks to free four U.S. citizens in Iran. But he said the U.S. withheld the delivery of the cash as leverage until Iran permitted the Americans to leave the country.

    "We had concerns that Iran may renege on the prisoner release," Kirby said, citing delays and mutual mistrust between countries that severed diplomatic relations 36 years ago. As a result, he explained, the U.S. "of course sought to retain maximum leverage until after the American citizens were released. That was our top priority."

    Both events occurred Jan. 17, fueling suspicions from Republican lawmakers and accusations from GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump of a quid pro quo that undermined America's longstanding opposition to ransom payments.

  • New Mexico student scores up, but less than 1/3 proficient

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — New Mexico student tests scores are up across the state, but less than a third of students remain proficient or better in reading and math, according to results released Thursday.

    The new numbers show around 20 percent of students tested this spring are proficient or better in math and about 28 percent are proficient or better in reading. Both results are slight improvements from the 2014-15 school year when officials first gave assessments developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC.

    The tests, administered by New Mexico and 10 other states, are designed to show how well schools helped students from grades 3 to 11 meet Common Core standards.

    State data show all grades tested except third saw small increases in the percentage of students scoring proficient or better in reading. All grades except 11th saw an increase in the percentage testing proficient in math, the results said.

    Albuquerque Public Schools, the state's largest school district, had decreases in some categories. For example, only around 21 percent of the district's third-graders scored proficient or better in reading. That's a 10 point decline from the previous year.

  • New Mexico governor to call special legislative session

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez said Thursday she will call for a special legislative session to address a budget crunch that has been building because of dwindling state revenues and weak energy prices.

    The governor's office is talking with House and Senate leaders, hoping all parties will be prepared to reach quick and easy agreements on shoring up the state's finances that will make the special session brief.

    "Yes, we're going to call one for sure and we want to make sure it doesn't go on and on for days and day because it costs New Mexicans about $50,000 a day to have a special session," Martinez said.

    While the exact timing for the special session is uncertain, Martinez said it will probably take place in September.

    Legislative analysts are expected to release an updated state revenue forecast next week.

    They have said the state general fund was short an estimated $150 million for the budget year that ended in June and faces potentially greater shortfalls for the current fiscal year that ends in June 2017.

    Martinez earlier this month directed most major state agencies to make spending cuts of at least 5 percent in response to a sharp downturn in tax receipts and revenue tied to oil and gas prices.

  • Green chile peels causing messy roads in New Mexico

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — It's harvest time for New Mexico's green chile. And some residents say peels from the state's staple crop are creating a hot mess.

    The KOAT-TV in Albuquerque reports that some trucks transporting green chile are dropping peels in Albuquerque's South Valley. Residents say the peels are sloshing and are spilling out of the trucks and onto roads.

    Drivers say one intersection even is covered in green chile.

    Andres Garcia says the wet peels are dangerous. He told KOAT-TV he recently had to hit his brakes at a stop sign because his truck kept sliding.

    The Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office says it is a misdemeanor crime for any truck to spill loads.

  • Today in history Aug. 18