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Local News

  • Today in history May 19
  • Today in history May 18
  • Wildfire-fighters warn 2016 could be bad

    California could face a dangerous and difficult wildfire season in 2016 despite a relatively wet winter, federal officials warned Tuesday.
    Most of the rest of the nation is expected to see an average summer, but even that means thousands of wildfires, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said after a briefing from the U.S. Forest Service, which is part of his department.
    A five-year drought has left 40 million dead and dried-out trees in California, including 29 million that died last year alone, Vilsack said.
    “This creates a tremendous hazard, potential hazard, for fires and firefighting this year,” he said.
    An El Niño weather pattern brought near-normal snowfall to parts of California last winter, but its forests need much more rain and snow to recover fully from the drought, Vilsack said.
    Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said Southern California didn’t benefit from the El Niño as much as the state’s northern mountains.
    He said the effects of drought will continue to kill California’s trees for at least three more years.
    Tidwell and Vilsack said the Forest Service — the primary federal wildfire-fighting agency — has 10,000 firefighters ready nationwide, along with more than 350 aircraft and 900 fire trucks.

  • Watchdogs file lawsuit over cleanup at LANL

    LOS ALAMOS (AP) — A watchdog group is suing the federal government and managers of one of the nation’s premier nuclear weapons laboratories over missed deadlines for cleaning up hazardous waste left behind by decades of research.
    Nuclear Watch New Mexico filed its lawsuit in federal court, naming the U.S. Department of Energy and Los Alamos National Security LLC as defendants.
    The lawsuit points to a dozen violations. It says the defendants are liable for hundreds of thousands of dollars in civil penalties for failing to comply with a 2005 cleanup agreement with state officials.
    The Department of Energy did not immediately respond Tuesday to a request for comment. The agency typically doesn’t address pending litigation.
    The state recently proposed changes to the cleanup plan. The public has through the end of May to comment.

  • Burglary suspect nabbed in SF

    A 28-year-old Santa Fe man suspected of being involved in two April burglaries in Los Alamos has been caught, police said. The man, Jeremy Chavez, was caught after a brief car chase in Santa Fe around 1 p.m. April 16 after two people reportedly burgled a house in Los Alamos on Totavi Street.
    Santa Fe detectives apparently were able to tie Chavez to the burglaries from items found in his car shortly after police apprehended him. Chavez reportedly confessed his part in the burglary to Santa Fe detectives shortly after he was caught.
    The other person in his car was not the accomplice, according to court documents.
    Chavez told authorities that he and another suspect, who has not been apprehended yet, drove up to Los Alamos in a stolen White Mazda sedan that Saturday morning on April 16. In his confession, Chavez described to Santa Fe detectives what the house they burgled looked like, and Los Alamos detectives were able to match the description to an earlier complaint they received from a Totavi homeowner.

  • Volunteers needed for trail cleanup

    Open Space Specialist Eric Peterson had a disappointing turnout for the first of four Trail Cleanup Days he has scheduled for this year. On Earth Day, no one showed up.
    Peterson admitted it might be a difficult day to get volunteers, since Earth Day fell on a Friday this year. He is hoping the second event – scheduled for Saturday to coincide with National River Cleanup – is more successful.
    Volunteer help has long been a critical part of maintaining the extensive series of trails in Los Alamos County. Restoring trails after both the Cerro Grande and Las Conchas fires would have been a monumental task without the efforts of volunteers.
    After the enthusiasm for restoring trails after a major catastrophe wears off, volunteerism tends to decline. But the fact is that trails need regular maintenance, and at present, Peterson is a one-main show. He is hoping to build a network of volunteers who will support several trail cleanups a year, and encourages trail users to participate.
    “This is just kind of the beginning, I’m hoping. If this goes well, I’ll be offering more volunteer projects throughout White Rock and Los Alamos,” Peterson said.
    Volunteers can show up at 9 a.m. Saturday at Overlook Park. The day will begin with a safety talk and filling out a waiver.

  • Honoring the fallen

    One name stood out Monday at the Los Alamos Police Department’s annual memorial to fallen police officers.  
    Det. Daniel Roberts called out that name three times during a ceremonial roll call at the memorial, but former Cmdr. Scott Mills did not answer. Instead, another police officer standing by the memorial silently walked over and faced the memorial’s bronze plaque, paused, then removed a small piece of black cloth covering a section of the memorial.
    Underneath was Scott Mills’ name.
    The memorial is reserved for those officers who served with the department but who did not die in the line of duty.
    “Although I did not know Scott personally, I know he will be remembered as a man who cared deeply for others,” said LAPD Chief Dino Sgambellone. “As stated in his obituary, as Scott moved through the ranks of law enforcement, he took pride in serving his community and showed compassion and kindness for all those he came in contact with.”
    Mills joined the LAPD in 1998 and except for a three-year stint with the Albuquerque Police Department from 2010 to 2012, served with the LAPD until 2013, when he retired.
    Mills was killed March 15 on Hwy. 550, while riding his motorcycle off-duty. He was slowing down to make a left turn when he was hit from behind by a pickup truck.

  • Voters question council candidates

    The League of Women Voters of Los Alamos held its first forum of the 2016 election on Thursday at University of New Mexico-Los Alamos. The focus was on primary candidates in contested elections: the four Democratic candidates for Los Alamos County Council and the three Democrats running for the First Judicial District Attorney.
    The two Republican candidates for U.S. Dist. 3 representative were also invited, but only Michael Romero attended. Since Michael Glenn Lucero was not there, Romero was allowed to make a statement but not respond to questions.
    These are some of the questions voters put to council candidates and their responses.
    One voter asked how economic development funds should be utilized.
    Incumbent Pete Sheehey’s response covered a history of the fund. He stated that it should be used to attract new business and to get Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) spinoffs to stay here.
    “I’m conflicted about it, because I recognize there is a need to diversify the economy. But my concern is, local government does not have the talent or the perspective to be able to identify good investments.” candidate Chris Chandler said, pointing to the two failed attempts to attract air service.

  • VIDEO: XQ School Challenge: Come see what it's about

    The Odyssey High School group is holding a weekly conversation every Wednesday afternoon at the Starbuck's Cafe, Smith's Marketplace at 4 p.m. The group is looking to change the way high school is taught through a partnership with the XQ Institute, an organization looking to make changes to the high school curriculum on a national level. 

    Watch the videos and stop by and see what it's all about.

  • Today in history May 17