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Local News

  • Teen Court gets budget boost

    The Los Alamos County Council tentatively approved the Municipal Court budget on Monday. Council unanimously approved not only the $461,010 flat budget for the department, but an additional $43,105 requested by Judge Alan Kirk.
    All departments were asked to report on what they were able to accomplish with their budgets this year (find those in attachment C in the agenda packet at losalamos.legistar.com). Kirk elaborated on his department’s achievements.
    One was reducing the amount of time it takes to put youth with misdemeanor offenses through Teen Court. In the past, the process went through the Juvenile Probation Office (JPO) and took eight to 10 months.
    “So here are kids that are being charged with very minor offenses, that are usually nonviolent misdemeanors, yet their family has been held hostage for eight months until they find out what’s really going to happen,” Kirk said.
     Now the court is working directly with the Los Alamos Police Department (LAPD) on a diversion program for nonviolent violations. The juvenile and their family are given the option to go through teen court. Once the offender completes the sanctions set by the court, the offense is removed from their record. Approximately 85 to 90 percent of offenders are choosing that option and are completing the program in four to six weeks.

  • Council OKs 7 budgets Monday

    The Los Alamos County Council tentatively approved seven departmental budgets on the first night of budget hearings Monday, including all requests for funding above and beyond the flat budgets each department put forward.
    All were approved by a 7−0 vote except for the budget for the sheriff’s department.
    During budget guidance, council asked County Manager Harry Burgess to present a flat budget this year, along with a list of optional additions.
    The probate court ($5,885) and the county attorney ($683,762) departments had no requests for additional resources. The attorney office’s budget has actually decreased due to a retirement.
    Councilor David Izraelevitz asked that $15,000 be added to the council budget to provide training opportunities for councilors. That was approved unanimously.
    The fire department budget increased 13 percent this year to $29,376,361, due to the terms of the Cooperative Agreement with the Department of Energy (DOE)/National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).
    The 10-year agreement changes the proportion paid by each entity. The split has been 80 percent DOE/20 percent county. That changes to 74/26 in the next fiscal year.

  • Man arrested for theft of LANL tools

    A 52-year-old Española man has been arrested for reportedly trying to steal at least $12,673 in tools and equipment from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in September 2015.
    Richard Atencio was charged with crimes related to the theft April 4, pending an investigation.
    Atencio was caught north of Tech Area 18 after an eyewitness said he saw Atencio taking the equipment out of his car and tossing the items into the bushes on the side of a road near the technical area.
    The witness told the police at the scene where the tools were found that the suspect drove a car, but he did not get the color. However, the witness also said the suspect was wearing a brown shirt.
    Items recovered at the scene included a band saw valued at $5,493, and two dollies valued at $7,180.
    Police were able to match the exact price of the items through records kept by LANL. Other stolen items included a box of pipe fittings, two pairs of work gloves, a bottle of liquid cleaning agent, a yellow roll of tape, a silver metal transport hitch, two rolls of white tape, blue and silver tow rope, and a green water hose.
    One of the tools was found to be radioactive, which prompted all employees who may have had contact with the tools to be called to TA 54 to be tested.

  • Today in history April 19
  • Is it really spring?

    Residents and commuters awoke this morning not to flowers and sunshine but to a snowstorm that dumped at least two to three inches of snow on Los Alamos County. Though everyone likely arrived safely to work and school today, there was one weather-related fender bender in the main parking lot of Los Alamos National Laboratory, according to Los Alamos Police Department Commander Preston Ballew.

    In this photo, residents brave the snow and the downtown traffic to get to their desinations.

  • Today in history April 18
  • VIDEO: Third graders rock their recorders

    A group of Mrs. Teague's third grade students give a stellar performance of "Here Comes A Blue Bird" on their recorders for the school board during a school board work session at Pinon Elementary School.

  • Española vehicle explosion likely caused by cigarette

    ESPANOLA (AP) — Authorities say a vehicle explosion in Española that injured two people was ignited when a lit cigarette came into contact with a canister of oxygen.

    New Mexico State Police said Saturday that Henry Wilton and Eric Lucero are hospitalized with severe injuries at an Albuquerque hospital.

    According to Sgt. Elizabeth Armijo, Wilton was driving a Jeep Friday morning that was carrying 15 oxygen canisters.

    Lucero, the only other passenger, reached back while holding a lit cigarette in his hand to stop a canister from leaking.

    Police say the canister blew up, causing the car to become engulfed in flames.

    Both men were able to escape the vehicle before three other canisters exploded.

    There were no other injuries.

    Two vehicles sustained damage from debris from the scene.

  • Boutique Air pulls LA-ABQ service

    Boutique Air has terminated its contract with Los Alamos County to provide service from the city to Albuquerque after the end of April, the county airport manager announced Friday.
    “We’re certainly disappointed in this turn of events, as it’s been part of our economic development strategy to facilitate airline service to the community,” County Manager Harry Burgess told the Los Alamos Monitor.
    Los Alamos County Airport Manager David Ploeger received a letter Thursday from Shawn Simpson, CEO of Boutique Air. Boutique and the county entered into a contract last November to provide three flights a day between the Los Alamos airport and the Albuquerque Sunport.
    According to a release from the county, the letter came after conversations between Simpson and Ploeger about low passenger counts for the commercial airlines service, and the need for Boutique Air to reposition the plane that was serving Los Alamos for higher, more efficient usage in other cities that it served.
    Under the contract with the county, either party has the ability to terminate with 15 days written notice. Simpson said that flights are booked through the month of April and therefore Boutique expects to fly the route through April 30, according to the release.

  • 2016 crime on downward trend

    The Los Alamos Police Department released its first quarter crime report for 2016 Friday, which showed the crime rate in Los Alamos County remained steady.
    Crime categories in the report are determined by the FBI Uniform Crime Report Program, according to Los Alamos Police Chief Dino Sgambellone. The two categories are “crimes against persons” (violent crime) and “crimes against property.”
    The report which was compiled and organized by the LAPD’s record department, violent crime –  which included rape, robbery and aggravated assault and murder – were up from four offenses in 2015 to six in 2016.
    “It is an increase, but when you’re dealing with such small numbers, just one or two cases can show a dramatic increase but overall the numbers remain relatively low,” said LAPD Chief Dino Sgambellone.
    However property crime fell from 42 crimes committed in the first quarter of 2015 to 32 in the first quarter of 2016.
    Overall, the combination of both categories of crime in the first quarter of 2016 saw a 17 percent decrease from statistics recorded in the first quarter of 2015.