Local News

  • School board to discuss gun safes Tuesday

    The Los Alamos School Board will hold a special meeting Tuesday to discuss its decision to install gun safes at the middle and high school.
    The meeting is in response to the reaction the board received following national online news reports about the Aug. 25 decision.
    The board approved a Los Alamos Police Department recommendation to install the safes and stock them with AR-15s, shotguns, safety and first aid equipment that may be needed in active-shooter events.
    The meeting will start at 5:30 p.m. in the school board room at 2075 Trinity Drive, Suite V.
    Los Alamos School Board President Jim Hall said he was appalled by some of the exaggerations by news outlets about the police installing an “arsenal of AR-15s” inside the safes. He said he felt the meeting was necessary so the board could explain to the public the purpose the safes will have in district’s overall school safety plan.
    “In my opinion, this is in response to the misinformation that’s out there,” Hall said.
    “What we’re going to do is talk about our whole student safety program, and try to put the whole gun safe issue in context,” Hall said. “Clearly, there are going to be people who are going to focus on the gun safe issue.”

  • McMillan: LANL’s infrastructure problems threaten maintenance of nuclear stockpile

    Some plumbing and electrical systems at Los Alamos National Laboratory are in such disrepair, they threaten the lab’s mission of maintaining the nation’s nuclear stockpile, Director Charlie McMillan told members of a House subcommittee Wednesday.
    In McMillan’s testimony to the U.S. House Strategic Forces Subcommittee in Washington, D.C., he talked about infrastructure problems at LANL.
    “Let me just give you an example from last weekend. We had the air conditioning systems in the vaults of one of our classified computers fail, and when that went down, that took out the computing systems we need to support experimental work,” McMillan said to Rep. Mike Rogers (Dist. 3-Ala.), chairman of the subcommittee.
    McMillan and other nuclear officials testified before the subcommittee about the growing backlog of work that was needed at all nuclear facilities across the country.
    The cost of fixing the problems is now at $3.7 billion, according to the National Nuclear Safety Administration.
    “This backlog is now actively threatening (National Nuclear Safety Administration’s) mission and the safety of its workers,” Rogers said.
    Rogers also described what he and ranking subcommittee member, Rep Jim Cooper (Dist. 5-Tenn.) saw on tours of some of the facilities.

  • Today in history Sept. 8
  • State Health Dept.: Valencia County man dies from West Nile

    SANTA FE (AP) — New Mexico Department of Health officials say a 63-year-old Valencia County man has died from West Nile virus.

    They say the man developed neuroinvasive disease and was hospitalized before his death.

    It's the second human case of West Nile infection identified in New Mexico this year and the state's first West Nile fatality in 2016.

    The man's name wasn't released Thursday.

    Last year, the New Mexico Department of Health identified 14 cases of West Nile virus in people, including 12 with neuroinvasive disease. There were no fatalities.

    Authorities say there are no medications to treat or vaccines to prevent West Nile.

    They say people over 50 and those with other health issues are at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill or dying when they become infected with the virus.

  • New Mexico governor, lawmakers no closer to special session

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Republican Gov. Susana Martinez's administration and Democratic state lawmakers exchanged more blame Thursday for inaction as New Mexico grapples with a growing budget deficit.

    Martinez promised earlier this summer to call a special legislative session so lawmakers could address a nearly quarter-billion-dollar shortfall from the last fiscal year and an estimated $458 million hole for the fiscal year that started in July.

    She wanted lawmakers to agree at least on the building blocks of a possible solution so the session will be quick and efficient and thus cost taxpayers less.

    No agreements have been reached, and some state officials say time is running out.

    Martinez says she has already asked departments under her control to cut back but that Democratic lawmakers haven't shared that message with other independent state agencies or offered their own plan for shoring up the state's finances.

    Democrats criticized Martinez, saying her executive requests won't go far enough to make up for revenues that have failed to materialize because of weak oil and natural gas prices and the ripple effect they have had on local economies from Artesia and Hobbs to Bloomfield. They have called on Martinez to present more specific proposals.

  • Newton brings rain, cooler temps to Southwest

    PHOENIX (AP) — Less intense remnants of Newton brought rain and cooler temperatures to Southwest Wednesday as the tropical storm crossed the border from Mexico into southern Arizona.

    The National Weather Service in Tucson reported light to moderate rainfall throughout the day. The area has seen about 0.9 inches of rain, meteorologist Emily French said.

    There were no reports of injuries and only one street under a freeway bridge was flooded.

    Newton also brought a more tropical-like climate in the form of temperatures in the 70s and relative humidity between 75 and 90 percent. Compare that with the usually more muggy Miami, which had a humidity of 61 percent and a high of 98 degrees Wednesday.

    The desert region is more prone to getting monsoon thunderstorms at this time of the year that stir up dust storms or rain.

    "It's not our typical monsoon patter at the moment, that's what makes it more unusual," French said. "But it's not unheard of for southern Arizona to have gotten hit by tropical storms before."

    Newton was rapidly weakening as a tropical storm after slamming the resorts of Mexico's southern Baja as a hurricane and making landfall on the country's mainland.

  • Climb set to honor Sept. 11 victims

    The fire department will once again hike to the top of Pajarito Mountain to honor those that died in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The event will take place Saturday in an effort to accommodate more people.
    “The first two times, we did we did it on Thursday and then a Friday. So I figured I might as well make this easier for the public and our guys to attend,” said Capt. William Nackers. “By having it on a Saturday, it will allow more people to come and participate.”
    Nackers started the event two years ago to honor those that died in the attacks. As far as he knows, it’s the only significant Sept. 11 event in the region.
    Each year, the event has gotten bigger, with 20 attending the first event in 2014 and 30 in 2015.
    “I’m hoping to get 50 this year, but we’ll see,” he said. “Smith’s is providing a deli lunch afterwards, so when people come back down, they will have something quick to eat,” Nackers said.
    The hike to the top takes about two hours round trip, and it’s not a competitive event. The trail is relatively easy for civilians, and is family friendly. Pets are also invited.
    “We keep together and make it a group thing,” he said.

  • LANL Foundation provides funds for school program

    Two people, Mathilde Schaumberg and her husband Joseph, recently came forward to publicly thank the Los Alamos National Laboratory Foundation for helping the kids in their program have a great time this summer.
    Mathilde Schaumberg, a teacher and the director of the before and after school care program at the Pablo Roybal Elementary School, became director of the program this year.
    The after school program provides enrichment activities for kindergarten- through fifth-grade students. This summer, the students went on field trips to the Albuquerque Aquarium, Meow Wolf in Santa Fe, the ¡Explora! Science Center and Children’s Museum in Albuquerque, the Los Alamos Farmer’s Market, and other places.
    “With that grant, they were able to use it for transportation, swimming lessons and go on several field trips,” Joseph Schaumberg said.
    The program has 20 to 25 students, but the program has been known to have up to 40 members, Joseph Schaumberg said.
    The students took their swimming lessons at the Pojoaque Wellness Center every Thursday afternoon, which was a half-day at the school. Transportation costs were prohibitive for this program and the field trips until the foundation stepped in.

  • Former pastor pleads guilty to child porn

    Former Los Alamos Baptist Church pastor Paul Cunningham, 54, was sentenced to one year in jail Friday for possessing and distributing child pornography.
    Cunningham pled guilty in First Judicial Court in Santa Fe.  The sentence was reached during a plea agreement hearing with Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer.
    In exchange for pleading guilty to sexual exploitation of children (distribution) and sexual exploitation of children (possession), Cunningham agreed to four and a half years of jail time with actual time served limited to one year in county jail.
    At the official sentencing, Cunningham can argue for probation or a conditional discharge.
    No date for an official sentencing hearing has been set.
    If Cunningham serves one year in jail, he must also serve two years of supervised probation after he completes his jail sentence. Cunningham must also register as a sex offender.
    If Cunningham violates the terms of his agreement or probation, Cunningham will have to serve four and half years in prison.
    Prosecutors took Cunningham’s lack of prior criminal convictions into account for the plea agreement, according to the Associated Press.

  • Neighbors in difficult times