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Local News

  • Citizens to vote on keeping sheriff’s office

    Voters will decide in November whether Los Alamos will abolish its sheriff’s office.
    After a heated round of public debate Tuesday, the Los Alamos County Council decided to place the ballot item before voters in November. Councilors voted 4−3, with James Chrobocinski, Steve Girrens and Pete Sheehey deciding against the ordinance.
    If the citizens pass the proposed County Charter amendment, the change would go into effect after Sheriff Marco Lucero’s term ends in 2018.
    Chair Rick Reiss stressed that the ordinance council passed Tuesday does not abolish the office of sheriff but puts the issue before the voters.
    “Between tonight and November – assuming that this ordinance is approved – there will be a significant amount of time and numerous forms to debate the issue,” Reiss said. “This time will provide the public with information so they can determine how they should vote.”
    On May 24, council moved all process-serving responsibilities from the sheriff’s office to the Los Alamos Police Department, after Lucero expressed concerns for his deputies’ safety. The question of whether to retain a sheriff also stems from that issue. The staff report reads,

  • New Mexico wildfire destroys 24 homes, pushes east

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Hundreds of firefighters battling a fast-moving blaze that has destroyed two dozen homes and numerous other structures in central New Mexico are bracing for hot, dry and windy weather as they look for any chance Friday to slow the flames.

    Fire managers released the damage assessment overnight after saying previously that the blaze destroyed some structures near the small community of Chilili as it made a big push Wednesday night.

    Authorities also expanded the mandatory evacuation zone to include a few more subdivisions to the north and east, but they could not immediately say how many homes were affected or how many were directly threatened by the fire.

    Dozens of residents left their homes in the Chilili area Wednesday after the fire made a big push. Residents packed their vehicles with clothes, photo albums and other belongings, and some loaded animals into livestock trailers as a wall of smoke loomed between them and the border of the Cibola National Forest.

    Gov. Susana Martinez declared an emergency, clearing the way for state resources to help with the fire. She surveyed the blaze via air Thursday evening and received a briefing from state and federal officials.

  • Hot temps, wind hamper firefighter efforts in New Mexico

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — A blaze burning in central New Mexico outpaced firefighters Thursday as it marched across miles of tinder dry forest, forcing evacuations and destroying structures near the small community of Chilili.

    The blaze made a big push overnight, but fire information officers could not immediately say how many structures were lost or whether any were homes since crews have not been able to access and survey the area.

    The community was among those in Bernalillo and Torrance counties that were placed under a mandatory evacuation Wednesday night as the flames raced to the northeast.

    It wasn't immediately clear how many homes and other structures were threatened by the flames, fire information officer Denise Ottaviano said.

    "We have ground crews throughout the perimeter of the fire and out ahead of it," she said. "They're trying to provide some structure protection in certain points that could be threatened."

    Close to 700 personnel were assigned to the fire, along with a fleet of air tankers and helicopters.

    Despite all the work, there was no containment Thursday afternoon.

    Roads remained closed as authorities prepared for the blaze to shift course and possibly head east into previously evacuated areas that are dotted with ranches.

  • New Mexico fire prompts emergency decree, evacuations

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — A wildfire burning in central New Mexico grew to more than 3-square miles and forced evacuations, after sending up a towering plume of smoke that blanketed the state's largest city in a thick haze.

    The blaze burning in the Manzano Mountains southeast of Albuquerque prompted Gov. Susana Martinez to declare an emergency, clearing the way for state funds to be used.

    Evacuations continued overnight in Bernalillo and Torrance counties, Bernalillo County officials said. At least 50 residences had been evacuated by Thursday morning, they said, and several people had taken shelter at a community center in Tijeras, which also took in dozens of pets.

    The New Mexico Environment Department and state Health Department of Health issued an advisory, warning that smoke from the fire would affect Albuquerque and the surrounding areas as well as other parts of New Mexico, including Santa Fe, as it drifted north.

    The forecast called for more hot, dry and stagnant weather, and officials said that's expected to contribute to increased smoke concentrations throughout this weekend.

    The governor issued the emergency declaration Wednesday and directed state agencies to offer all available resources to assist local authorities. Martinez said the first priority is the health and safety of New Mexicans.

  • Today in history June 16
  • Carlsbad Caverns adjusts schedule for Obama's visit

    CARLSBAD CAVERNS NATIONAL PARK (AP) — Carlsbad Caverns National Park in southern New Mexico has announced adjustments to its public schedule to accommodate a visit from President Barack Obama.

    Park spokeswoman Valerie Gohlke says the public will be able to enter the park Friday until 11 a.m. when the main gate will close. Visitors already in the park then must exit before 1 p.m.

    Big Room cave tours will be available in the morning, but no other cave tours will be offered to the public that day.

    The Natural Entrance will remain closed all day.

    The park is expected to open again at 4:30 p.m. with the bat flight program taking place as usual at 7:30 p.m. in the outdoor amphitheater.

    Obama's visit coincides with the National Park Service's celebration of its 100th anniversary.

  • Wildfire burns 800-1,000 acres, forces residents from homes

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Authorities don't have a containment estimate yet for a wildfire burning in the Manzano Mountains southeast of Albuquerque but say good weather helped firefighters attack the fire overnight.

    The so-called "Dog Head Fire" in part of the Cibola National Forest east of Los Lunas started Tuesday and grew to over a square mile by Wednesday morning after its growth slowed overnight.

    Officials issued voluntary evacuation advisories for areas northeast of the fire, but Forest Service spokeswoman Donna Nemeth says there's no immediate estimate on how many people left their homes or otherwise affected.

    Nemeth says there are no reports of homes being immediately threatened.

    The fire is being fought by ground crews and air tankers.

    Cause of the fire is under investigation.

  • LA Makers opens Monday
  • McDonald focuses on law enforcement, charter

    Editor’s note: second in a series profiling candidates running for local and state offices.

  • Today in history June 15