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Local News

  • LA County, council deals with sheriff’s office, rec projects, rate increases

    Los Alamos County Council and the county dealt with several controversial issues in 2017, including adopting an immigration proclamation, paying for recreation projects and going to court over the county sheriff’s office.

    Five recreation projects hung in the balance in May as county voters decided against the sale of $20 million in general obligation bonds that would have partially funded the projects.

    Two of the projects were in White Rock. They included a “splash pad” at Piñon Park and improvements to the softball field at Overlook Park. For the town of Los Alamos, county council voted for a project that would include improvements to the Los Alamos Golf Course, a multigenerational pool at the Larry R. Walkup Center on Central Avenue and a recreation center on DP Road.

    The recreation center would have included an ice rink in one building, and in the other will be a gymnasium lined for various sports such as basketball. If the bond is approved, Los Alamos would have two ice rinks, including the one on West Road.

  • Bingham sentenced to 5 years in prison

    Former Los Alamos County detention officer Dustin Bingham was sentenced Wednesday in First Judicial Court to five years in prison with 16 years suspended for engaging in sexual contact with two underaged girls.

    Bingham must also register as a sex offender.

    When Bingham is released, he must also serve between five and 20 years of probation.

    Bingham was arrested in May 2017 after an investigation by the Los Alamos Police concluded Bingham had fondled two girls. An investigation started after two of Bingham’s relatives went to the Los Alamos Police Department to ask for help.

    The relatives reported to police Bingham had inappropriately touched children that the relatives and Bingham both knew. The type of contact ranged from fondling and allegedly removing the minors’ underwear while they slept. Bingham reportedly also allegedly helped the children set up secret “SnapChat” accounts so he could talk with them, they said.

    When confronted by police through a conference call between the relatives who reported the crimes to police and Bingham, Bingham allegedly told police that he would sometimes fondle the minors “when the girls were wearing bras and sometimes when they were not wearing bras.” Dustin also stated he “needed help,” LAPD Det. Ryan Wolking said in his report.

  • Donating for life
  • Medicaid, tax reform, court services priorities for legislative session

    In a forum hosted by the New Mexico Attorney Richard Minzner and the State Bar of New Mexico, state Reps. Nate Gentry (R-Bernalillo) and Antonio “Moe” Maestas, (D-Bernalillo) gave the association a preview Friday of what to expect for the 30-day legislative session that starts Jan. 15.

    The lawmakers covered hot topics, including the gross receipts tax, New Mexico’s crime rate and Medicai.

    The only bills being considered in the legislative agenda are financial bills, taxes and appropriations, and bills sent by the governor.

    The Legislative Finance Committee recommends spending $6.26 billion from the state’s general fund for the 2018-19 fiscal year, which starts July 1. This would be a 2.9 percent increase from last year’s FY18 budget.

    Gov. Susana Martinez also released her priorities, which included spending $6.23 billion from the state’s general fund for 2018-19.

    According to Gentry, the state received about $200 million in new money since the last budget, which represents just under a 3-percent increase over the fiscal 2018 budget.

    “It’s welcome news,” Gentry said. “We had to make some very significant cuts, a couple hundred million dollars over the last two years to the state budget.”

  • BPU to mull smart meters for LA County

    Smart meters for electricity, gas and water may be installed throughout homes and businesses in Los Alamos County if the Department of Public Utilities gets approval from the Board of Public Utilities and County Council.

    DPU officials are set to appear before the Board of Public Utilities Jan. 17 with a contract from a company that will change out about 8,000 existing electric meters for smart meters. 

    The company will also install “communication modules” on 14,000 gas and water meters throughout the county. If the contract is approved by the BPU and then by County Council on Jan. 30, installation of the meters would begin in June or July in White Rock.

    The project is expected to take about 18 months to finish, according to DPU spokeswoman Julie Williams-Hill.

    The work will also include taking out previously installed smart meters installed on Barranca Mesa and North Mesa by another company, Landis and Gyr.

    When the system is up and running, the DPU and its customers will have a better idea of energy usage, Williams-Hill said.

    Customers will be able to monitor their usage online or through a phone app, Williams-Hill said. The DPU will be able to monitor usage for each customer.

  • Police Beat 1-7-17

    Police Beat items are compiled from public information contained in Los Alamos Police Department Records. Charges or citations listed in Police Beat do not imply innocence or guilt. The Los Alamos Police Department uses the term “arrest” to define anyone who has been physically arrested, served a court summons, or issued a citation.
    Dec. 27
    4:42 p.m. – Aaron B. Koetter, 41, of Los Alamos was arrested for reckless driving in Central Park Square and booked into the Los Alamos County Detention Center. He was later released.
    6:09 p.m. – Los Alamos police issued a warrant for someone involved in the intimidation of a witness.
    Dec. 28
    9:35 a.m. – Anthony Raymond Martinez, 32, of Los Alamos was arrested on a magistrate court bench warrant. He was later released.
    10:34 a.m. – Lisa Chavez, 32, of  Española was arrested on a municipal court warrant, tampering with evidence and carrying contraband into jail.
    2:26 p.m. –  Los Alamos police investigated the theft of fire extinguishers at State Route 4 Self Storage.
    Dec. 29
    11 a.m. – Los Alamos police investigated an incident of a dog bite, and issued a summons to the dog’s owner.
    Dec. 31

  • Reservoir and access road closed to public Monday

    Pedestrian access to the Los Alamos Canyon Reservoir and surrounding areas located west of the Ice Rink off West Road will be closed Monday through the summer. 

    The Los Alamos Department of Public Utilities will construct a new 10-inch non-potable water pipeline from the reservoir along the reservoir access road and connect to the townsite’s non-potable water system.

    Department officials warn that construction crews with heavy equipment will use and work on the single dirt road rendering it and the surrounding area unsafe for hikers and/or cyclists.

    Signs about the closure are posted at the entrance of the access road beginning the second week of January. Construction will continue into the winter as long as weather allows, likely with a winter work suspension. Work will resume in April, when weather permits, and it is expected be completed by summer.

    This pipeline replaces the original pipeline destroyed in 2013 by floods resulting from the watershed damaged by the Cerro Grande and Las Conchas wildfires. The new pipeline will convey non-potable water to Los Alamos to irrigate county parks and school fields, which will offset the use of potable water for irrigation, and conserve drinking water in the regional aquifer.

  • Former state Dems chair to run for New Mexico state auditor

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Former New Mexico Democratic Party chairman Brian Colon is running for state auditor.

    Colon announced his bid in a statement late Sunday.

    Colon says he is running because he is "fed up" and wants to ensure taxpayer money goes to the right places. He says his background in finance and law make him the right candidate.

    Colon earned an undergraduate degree in finance from New Mexico State University in Las Cruces and graduated from law school at the University of New Mexico.

    Wayne Johnson is currently the acting state auditor. He was appointed by Gov. Susana Martinez after former State Auditor Tim Keller resigned in November to serve as Albuquerque mayor.

    Colon ran against Keller in that mayoral race but failed to make the runoff.

  • Prosecutors in pot-friendly states will decide on crackdown

    By KATHLEEN FOODY and DON THOMPSON, Associated Press

    DENVER (AP) — Whether to crack down on marijuana in states where it is legal is a decision that will now rest with those states' top federal prosecutors, many of whom are deeply rooted in their communities and may be reluctant to pursue cannabis businesses or their customers.

    When he rescinded the Justice Department's previous guidance on marijuana, Attorney General Jeff Sessions left the issue to a mix of prosecutors who were appointed by President Donald Trump's administration and others who are holdovers from the Barack Obama years.

    Legal experts do not expect a flood of new cases, and people familiar with the job of U.S. attorney say prosecutors could decide against using already limited resources to seek criminal charges against cannabis companies that abide by state regulations or their customers.

    "There are higher priorities: terrorism and opiates to start with," said Rory Little, a former prosecutor and a professor at the University of California Hastings College of Law. "You also have to draw the jury pool from the local people, who appear to generally support the state policy. You're not going to waste your resources on cases you can't win or cases your community is against."

  • Today in History Jan. 5