Local News

  • McMillan talks housing, LANL’s future, community

    Los Alamos National Laboratory Director Charles McMillan gave two similar yet different talks in Los Alamos last month, each one focusing on housing and jobs.

    At Los Alamos County Council’s Aug. 29 meeting, McMillan emphasized the lab’s employment strategies and how that figures into the council’s plans to create more housing opportunities.

    “We continue to bring new talent to the laboratory. As what  many organizations are experiencing today, we’re seeing retirements from the baby boom generation and, recognizing that was the case several years ago, we started working with the laboratory statisticians in the HR (human resources) organization, developing staffing plans that would address the future needs of the laboratory workforce, taking into account the projected retirements,” McMillan said. “Those projections are running very close to what we’ve expected and the consequences of that is that we hired over a thousand people last year at the laboratory, and this year, we are on track to hire almost another thousand.”

    McMillan said he and his staff were able to accomplish this goal with a five-year plan that is reviewed yearly. He also gave county council a breakdown of where the workforce lives.

  • Police: Thieves take SUV pulling U-Haul with a casket inside

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Police say thieves have stolen an SUV and an attached U-Haul trailer — with a casket inside — outside an Albuquerque motel.

    Albuquerque police say the coffin heist occurred early Monday at a Residence Inn.

    Authorities say the casket contained the body of the victim's father-in-law.

    Police are searching for a black 2005 Chevy Trailblazer SUV with Oklahoma license plates.
    No arrests have been made.

  • Powerful quake rocks southern Mexico coast; at least 32 die

    MEXICO CITY (AP) — One of the most powerful earthquakes ever to strike Mexico has hit off its southern Pacific coast, killing at least 32 people, toppling houses, government offices and businesses while sending panicked people into the streets in the capital, more than 650 miles (1,000 kilometers) away.

    The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake hit off Chiapas state near the Guatemalan border with a magnitude of 8.1, equal to the strongest of the past century in Mexico.

    Hundreds of buildings collapsed or were damage, power was cut at least briefly to more than 1.8 million people and authorities closed schools Friday in at least 11 states to check them for safety.

    "The house moved like chewing gum and the light and internet went out momentarily," said Rodrigo Soberanes, who lives near the Chiapas state city of San Cristobal de las Casas.

    Oaxaca state Gov. Alejandro Murat told local news media that at least 23 people had died in his coastal state. Civil defense officials said at least seven died in Chiapas and two others in the Gulf coast state of Tabasco.

  • Irma leaves a trail of ruin in Caribbean

    CAIBARIEN, Cuba (AP) — Hurricane Irma scraped Cuba's northern coast Friday on a course toward Florida, leaving in its deadly wake a ravaged string of Caribbean resort islands strewn with splintered lumber, corrugated metal and battered cars.

    The death toll in the Caribbean stood at at least 21 and was expected to rise as rescuers reached some of the hardest-hit areas. And a new danger lay on the horizon to the east: Hurricane Jose, a Category 4 storm with 150 mph winds that could punish some of the devastated areas all over again.

    "I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to know that further damage is imminent," said Inspector Frankie Thomas of the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda.

    Irma weakened from a Category 5 to a still-fearsome Category 4 on Friday morning with winds near 150 mph (240 kph).

    The hurricane smashed homes, schools, stores, roads and boats on Wednesday and Thursday as it rolled over some of the world's most famous beach paradises, including St. Martin, St. Barts, St. Thomas, Barbuda and Anguilla.

    It knocked out power, water and telephone service, trapped thousands of tourists, and stripped the trees of leaves, leaving an eerie, blasted-looking landscape. Looting was reported on St. Martin, and a curfew was imposed in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

  • County OK’s home buyer program

    Los Alamos County Council took the final steps Tuesday night in implementing the county’s affordable housing program.
    The council voted unanimously to approve a set of policies and procedures for the Homebuyer Assistance Program.

    The approval paves the way for The Los Alamos Housing Partnership to officially start the program immediately.
    The council initially approved the program in July, on the condition council review the program’s policies and procedures for approval in September.

    Councilor James Chrobocinski liked the thoroughness the Los Alamos Community Development Department and the housing partnership integrated into the set of rules and regulations governing the program.

    “The Los Alamos Housing Partnership has a strong track record of being a very positive partner with the county and addressing affordable housing issues and rehabilitation,” Chrobocinski said. “I’m very happy they produced a very thorough set of policies and procedures that should help us move forward in achieving our council goals.

  • Residents, county eye bump in tourism

    Residents and county tourism officials met Wednesday at the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos to discuss ways to deal with what officials say is a recent bump of tourism.

    More than 100 Los Alamos County residents showed up to the meeting at the student center to give their take on how Los Alamos should capitalize on the new increase in tourists.

    Since the addition of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, tourism has increased in Los Alamos County, according to a marketing firm hired by the county.

    The Denver-based marketing firm says the recent additions of the Manhattan National Historical Park and the Valles Caldera to the national parks system, tourism has caused an increase of 6 percent in the last decade and a lodgers’ tax revenue increase of 13 percent. This was cited on the company’s website. 

    “Things have changed for us, we’ve been discovered,” Los Alamos County’s tourism work group chair Susan O’Leary said. 

    With the new Manhattan Project National Historical Park attracting more visitors to Los Alamos, the county hired a marketing firm, Design Workshop, out of Denver, Colorado, to develop strategies on how to capitalize on the new tourism boom.

  • LAHS scores high on ACT

    The Los Alamos High School graduating class of 2017 received their test scores from the ACT (American College Testing) they took last school year.

    Based on the report, LAHS had higher scores than in the past five years, and higher than the state as a whole.

    More specifically, LAHS students scored over 30 percent better in every category than the rest of New Mexico, the greatest difference being 38 percent in math and science.

    Since the ACT exam is designed as a way of predicting student success in college, the high scores indicate that a larger percentage of Los Alamos graduates are likely to succeed in college, according to Los Alamos Public Schools Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus.

    “I was pleased to see that over a five-year period, the Los Alamos school is on a path of doing better and better,” said Steinhaus, in reaction to the newly released scores.

    The ACT is a set of curriculum-based tests to measure educational development in English, mathematics, reading, and science, and is used to measure how prepared a student is for the first year of college coursework.

    Each year, ACT provides an analysis of high school graduates college and career readiness.

  • DOE: Half of legacy waste cleanup incomplete

    The Department of Energy released an update Tuesday on how toxic waste legacy cleanup is progressing at 14 sites, including Los Alamos National Laboratory.

    According to the DOE, legacy waste, which is toxic waste generated before 1999, is the Office of Environmental Management’s responsibility.

    The DOE had identified 2,100 cleanup sites at the lab’s 40 square mile property. Only 10 percent of the sites remain to be investigated. Half of the legacy cleanup is complete, according to the report.

    That includes waste sites in Los Alamos Canyon.

    “Earlier this summer, two contaminated sites, the final legacy sites to be cleaned up along Los Alamos Canyon, were cleaned up on DOE property in what was the laboratory’s original footprint,” said Los Alamos EM Public Affairs Specialist Steven Horak. “The contaminated soil was primarily associated with legacy outfalls and surface disposal from the Manhattan Project and early Cold War research and site management activities.”

  • Hurricane Irma likely to be far worse than monster Andrew

    BY SETH BORENSTEIN, AP Science Writer

    WASHINGTON (AP) — For an entire generation in South Florida, Hurricane Andrew was the monster storm that reshaped a region. Irma is likely to blow that out of the water.

    Bigger and with a 90-degree different path of potential destruction, Irma is forecast to hit lots more people and buildings than 1992's Andrew, said experts, including veterans of Andrew. At the time Andrew was the costliest hurricane in U.S. history with damages of $26.5 billion in 1992 dollars (about $50 billion in current dollars), according to the National Weather Service.

    "The effect of Irma on the state of Florida is going to be much greater than Andrew's effect," said Weather Channel senior hurricane specialist Bryan Norcross, who was a local television meteorologist hailed as a hero during Andrew.  "We're dealing with an entirely different level of phenomenon. There is no storm to compare with this. Unless you go way back to 1926."

    Kate Hale, Miami-Dade's emergency management chief — who grabbed national attention during Andrew by beseeching "where the hell is the cavalry on this one?" — said by nearly every measure Irma looks far worse.

  • Watchdog agency: US nuclear dump running out of room

    By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN, Associated Press

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — A government watchdog agency says the only underground nuclear waste repository in the United States doesn't have enough space for radioactive debris left over from decades of bomb-making and research, much less tons of surplus weapons-grade plutonium.

    A Senate committee requested the review from the U.S. Government Accountability Office amid concerns about ballooning costs and significant delays related to a 20-year-old pledge the U.S. made with Russia to dispose of extra plutonium from its stockpiles.

    The agency found that officials with the U.S. Energy Department haven't analyzed or planned for expanding the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico and that regulatory approval for doing so would take years.

    The findings and recommendations from the Government Accountability Office were released this week following a lengthy review of documents and interviews.