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Local News

  • Warrants point to allegations of fraud at MLK Commission

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Search warrants targeting bank records, invoices, emails and other documents related to the financial activities of the Martin Luther King, Jr. State Commission are shining new light on accusations of possible fraud and embezzlement by the commission's executive director.

    The warrants were made public Wednesday, a day after special agents with the New Mexico Attorney General's Office seized documents and computers from the commission's office in Albuquerque. Also searched were executive director Kimberly Greene's home and the offices of the nonprofit Educational, Research, Evaluation and Design Inc., or eRead.

    State prosecutors have yet to file any charges related to the case, but investigators detailed checks issued to Greene and what they believe is a forged invoice for more than $51,000.

    "This is an active investigation, and we will update the public with a final determination as soon as possible," Attorney General Hector Balderas said in a statement.

    The New Mexico State Auditor's Office also is investigating the commission for possible fraud, waste and abuse, noting that the commission has been on the state's "at-risk" list for two years.

  • School bus route added

    Los Alamos Public Schools has added an afternoon high school bus route to North Mesa. Route 10, Bus 123 will begin serving the community starting today.

    Here are the initial routes:

    Route 10  Bus 123

    2:42 p.m.   Leaves High School

    2:49 p.m.    San Ildefonso Between Camino Redondo and Durasnilla

    2:52 p.m.    San Ildefonso S @ Broadview

    2:53 p.m.    La Mesa Trailer Ct/945 San Ildefonso S

    2:57 p.m.    San Ildefonso S @ Alamo

    2:59 p.m.    Stoneview

    3:02 p.m.    San Ildefonso Transit Stop by Tsikamu

    Contact the transportation department at 663-2255 if you have any questions about the route. Check the LAPS website to find out the latest times and changes here: laschools.net/busroutes

  • County seeks letters to fill probate judge vacancy

    Los Alamos County reminded residents this week that those interested in the upcoming probate judge vacancy should send in letters of interest by 5 p.m. Feb. 5.
    The county has not yet received letters to fill the vacancy left following the resignation of Probate Judge Christine Chandler. 

    The council is responsible for filling the vacancy. Chandler’s resignation takes effect Feb. 20, 2016. The successful applicant will fill the unexpired term, which began in 2014 and expires in 2018. Under state law, any qualified person over the age of 18 who is a resident of Los Alamos County may serve. Interested applicants should submit a one- or two-page letter indicating why they would be interested in serving.
    Letters of interest should be mailed or hand-delivered by the deadline to: County Manager Harry Burgess, Los Alamos County Municipal Building, 1000 Central Avenue, suite 350, Los Alamos, New Mexico, 87544.
    Candidates who submit a letter will be expected to attend the Feb. 16 council meeting to respond to questions from the council about their letter and qualifications. The council meeting begins at 6 p.m.
    For more information about the duties of the probate judge or responsibilities of court, visit losalamosnm.us/clerk/Pages/ProbateCourt.aspx.

  • Council updates strategic priorities

    The Los Alamos County Council held a work session Saturday to update its priorities for 2016. The end result – to be voted on at and upcoming session – was the adoption of three new goals, one new priority and two modifications.
    Councilor Steve Girrens suggested the three new goals.
    Two related to Department of Energy land transfers to the county.
    In the category of Economic Vitality, “Maximize utilization of county-owned land” was added as both a focus area and a strategic goal. Under Quality Governance/Intergovernmental Relations, “Actively pursue land transfers” was added as a strategic goal.
    According to Girrens, his third proposal addressed “the elephant in the room.”
    Under Quality governance/Operational Excellence, Girrens suggested adding “Establish and implement a mechanism for effective utility policy review and setting.”
    “We’ve got major utility policy things that need to be addressed, and I think we need to make that a priority,” Girrens said.

  • LAPS to revisit consolidation in White Rock

    The Los Alamos School Board recently came to the conclusion that if any decision is made about school consolidation in White Rock, it will have to include Mountain Elementary, in Los Alamos.
    Piñon Elementary School, Chamisa Elementary School and Mountain Elementary Schools are the last schools in need of renovation. Since the mid-2000s, the county has held bond elections to fund school renovations. Schools renovations so far have included Los Alamos High School, Aspen Elementary School and Los Alamos Middle School. All three are in Los Alamos.
    This fall during public input sessions, one option considered was to combine Piñon Elementary and Chamisa Elementary in White Rock.
    Though the school board eventually decided in favor of funding an “education specifications” study with an eye instead toward renovating Barranca Mesa Elementary in Los Alamos, the board publicly made a promise to White Rock residents that it would revisit the consolidation, since many White Rock residents were concerned and upset that the consolidation option was being considered.
    At the time, many White Rock residents spoke out against consolidating the two schools, fearing it would lead to overcrowded classrooms, limited education resources for their children and other problems.

  • Group seeks change in capital outlay funding

    In 1977, a group of New Mexico legislators had an idea. Rather than have each legislator’s infrastructure funding project wind its way through the legislature as a separate bill, why not put them all together into one bill?
    The logic behind grouping all those projects together (accomplished through the Senate Finance Committee) was that not only would each legislator actually get a “present” for their district, but theoretically, the state’s infrastructure would be maintained in a uniform, efficient manner.
    “The idea was, everybody gets a project, we’re going to put all of this into one big bill, everybody gets a present… and it passed unanimously,” said Kristina Fisher, associate director of Think New Mexico, a self-described nonpartisan think tank based in Santa Fe.
    What could possibly be wrong with that?
    Plenty, if you ask Fisher and her colleagues at Think New Mexico.
    Recently, Fisher spoke at a January legislative forum in Los Alamos about what it is they want to do about “The Christmas Tree Bill,” the nickname legislators now call the bill that funds and maintains the state’s infrastructure through grouping all those capital outlay projects together.

  • Today in history Jan. 27
  • REAL ID showdown set in GOP-controlled New Mexico House

    SANTA FE (AP) — A Republican-sponsored bill aimed at putting New Mexico in compliance with the federal REAL ID Act is scheduled to go before the full House despite objections from immigrant advocates and an uncertain future in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

    The proposal moved through two committees in the first week of the 30-day legislative session, highlighting anxieties lawmakers have about the future of the state's driver's licenses. The GOP-led House is expected to take it up Wednesday.

    Last year, the U.S Department of Homeland Security said New Mexico wouldn't get another extension to meet strict REAL ID mandates. Some military installations have announced they would no longer accept New Mexico driver's licenses for entry.

    The REAL ID Act requires proof of legal U.S. residency for those who want to use state identification to access certain areas of federal facilities. New Mexico has no such requirement and allows immigrants to get state driver's licenses regardless of legal status.

  • HB33 Mill Levy ballot approved

     By a very wide margin, residents of Los Alamos County voted to sustain the property tax levy that has supplied the Los Alamos School District with nearly $2 million in funds almost every year since 1988.

    According to County Clerk Sharon Stone, 4,095 Los Alamos residents voted for the levy, and 1,698 voted against it. 

    Upon hearing the vote, Superintendent of Schools Kurt Steinhaus thanked the voters of Los Alamos.

    “Thank you to the parents and the voters of Los Alamos, we appreciate the support and we’ll be prudent with the money,” he said.

    Steinhaus said he sees it as a vote of confidence for the schools, teachers, administration and all involved.

    The mill levy question is put before voters every six years. It’s primary purpose is to help the school district purchase athletic equipment and educational tools that it would otherwise have to fund by using its Operational Fund monies. 

  • Plan calls for boosting forest restoration around New Mexico

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — More than 140 square miles of overgrown, fire-prone areas around New Mexico have been thinned over the last several years, but state forestry officials are telling lawmakers they need more funding to continue the work.

    The Forestry Division is seeking another $4 million in capital funds to expand a statewide watershed restoration program.

    Acting State Forester Eddie Tudor told members of a House committee Monday that his agency is on track to complete several projects by the end of the year.

    However, he says there are more areas that still need to be treated, including parts of the Santa Fe watershed.

    Tudor says both state and federal land managers will be meeting this spring to identify other projects that have the potential to improve water quality and benefit entire landscapes.