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Local News

  • Residents near Trinity Test Site to hold anniversary vigil

    TULAROSA (AP) — New Mexico residents living near the site of the first atomic bomb test 72 years ago are planning a vigil to remember loved ones who have died from cancer.
    Tularosa Basin Downwinders have scheduled a candlelight vigil Saturday to honor those advocates say died from diseases related to the atomic explosion.
    The group says the Trinity Test on July 16, 1945, irreparably altered the gene pools of residents in surrounding communities such as the historic Hispanic village of Tularosa.
    The Downwinders are currently lobbying for compensation and apologies from the U.S. government.
    The Trinity Test took place as part of the Manhattan Project, a top-secret World War II nuclear development program run out of the then-secret city of Los Alamos, New Mexico.
     

  • NNSA releases draft RFP for LANL contract

    A draft request for proposals released by the National Nuclear Security Thursday shows the government has lowered the performance fee for prospective bidders to 1 percent of approximately $2 billion contract to operate Los Alamos National Laboratory.

    The lower fee could be a turn-off for some for-profit companies and could mean less money for Los Alamos County, in terms of gross-receipts taxes.

    Regional Coalition of LANL Communities Executive Director Andrea Romeo remarked that the 1 percent performance fee is a marked change from the current management and operations contract, held by Los Alamos National Security, of 3 percent of the contract.

    “With a smaller fee the GRT (gross receipts tax) could be greatly affected based on any tax they pay on any fee,” Romero said.

    Romero noted that would be a 2 percent decrease in GRT on what is generally an annual $2 billion contract.

    Since the fee threshold is smaller, Romero said this could also impact how many for-profit companies apply for the contract.

    If a non-profit is awarded the contract, it could spell even more trouble for Los Alamos County and other counties in the region, since non-profits are exempt from paying gross receipts tax in New Mexico.

  • 2nd hantavirus death this year reported in New Mexico

    SANTA FE (AP) — New Mexico Department of Health officials have reported the second hantavirus death this year in the state.
    They say a 53-year-old woman from McKinley County died while a 35-year-old woman in Lincoln County was hospitalized with hantavirus but has recovered.
    State health officials say there have been five lab-confirmed cases of hantavirus in New Mexico this year.
    In 2016, there were eight cases in the state with five fatalities.
    Hantavirus is a severe respiratory disease in humans.
    It is passed to humans by infected rodents through urine, droppings or saliva and can be fatal.
    People can contract the disease when they breathe in aerosolized virus.
    Authorities say the deer mouse is the main carrier of the hantavirus strain found in New Mexico.
     

  • County expands free public wifi to downtown area

    Los Alamos County has expanded its free public wifi system in time for this weekend’s ScienceFest.

    Residents and visitors can now access free wifi at Ashley Pond Park, Fuller Lodge, including the eastern Fuller Lodge Lawn area, and the library overflow lot, used by the weekly Farmers Market on Thursdays.

    “As we begin to enhance the visitor experience with more digital technology or apps for our historic district, having free WiFi was given a high priority in our immediate goals to promote the new park,” said Linda Matteson, assistant to the county manager and project manager for the new Manhattan Project National Historical Park. “By using this public WiFi and the Los Alamos: Secret City of the Manhattan Project app, visitors should be able to take a virtual tour of this area in downtown Los Alamos that will allow them to step back in time and experience Los Alamos as it appeared during the days of the Manhattan Project.”

    The permanent service will remain in place after ScienceFest, and is an expansion of the county-provided wifi service at the library and Municipal Building.

    The cost to design and install the service was about $150,000 and was approved by County Council in May 2016 as part of the Fiscal Year 2017 budget.

  • NNSA releases LANL contract bid details

    The National Nuclear Security Administration released a draft request for proposals late Wednesday for the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s management and operations contract.

    Main criteria includes past performance, the resumes of key personnel and small business participation.

    "The contractor shall, with the highest degree of vision, quality, integrity, efficiency, and technical excellence, maintain a strong, multi-disciplinary scientific and engineering capability and technical depth that is responsive to scientific issues of national importance in addition to national security responsibilities, including broadly based programs in such areas as the environment, national infrastructure, health, energy, economic and industrial competitiveness, and science education to achieve the mission,”  a statement in the RFP said.

    Los Alamos National Security, the group that currently manages the lab, has a $2.2 billion management and operations contract that ends in 2018. LANS LLC is made up of a consortium of private and public companies, including Bechtel National, INC., BWXT Government Group, Inc., the University of California and URS.

    The Department of Energy decided in 2015 to put the contract out to bid after LANS failed to meet performance goals set by the DOE.

  • Council OK's waste fee hike

    Los Alamos County Council voted six to one Tuesday night to increase waste disposal and recycling fees by an average of $3 for some of the services the county offers.

    For residents and businesses, the monthly $22 fee will increase to $25. Dumpster collection service will increase from $121.22 to $125.

    The new fee structure was based on recommendations from Environmental Services staff and the Environmental Sustainability Board.

    The fee increase will go into effect immediately.

    The increase will close a chronic $300,000 average deficit in the Environmental Services budget, which Environmental Services officials said is due to escalating disposal and recycling costs. The fee increase will total $326,000.

    Read Friday’s Los Alamos Monitor for more on this story.

     

  • Trinity Drive may reopen today

    Trinity Drive between 751 Trinity Drive and 4th Street is expected to reopen by today, according to county officials.
    County officials closed off the road and began repairs July 5, after discovering a bowl-like impression in the westbound lane of the avenue.

    According to Traffic and Streets Manager Dan Erickson the impression appeared almost overnight.

    “It settled very quickly. In less than 24 hours, it settled over a foot and that’s when we made the decision to close westbound Trinity because it was getting dangerous,” Erickson said.

    When county workers opened up the pavement and investigated, they discovered a 10-inch clay sewer main that serviced businesses along Trinity Drive since the 1950s had broken. The main crossed the avenue.  Workers then decided to dig a 30-foot wide hole to keep the sides from falling in on workers as they repaired it, and to entirely replace the main. The hole ended up being 12 to 15 feet deep.

    The repair is expected to cost between $25,000 and $30,000.

    Crews of 12 to 15 people were working on it at any time from 12 to 16 hours a day, including weekends.  Asphalt to repair the road was brought in from Santa Fe.

  • New Mexico AG targets major health care provider over taxes

    ALBUQUERQUE — New Mexico’s top prosecutor is suing one of the state’s largest health insurance providers over allegations that it falsified Medicaid deductions and credits and as a result evaded tens of millions of dollars in premium taxes and surcharges.

    State Attorney General Hector Balderas on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against Presbyterian Health Plan Inc., Presbyterian Network Inc. and Presbyterian Insurance Co. Inc.

    The case stems from a previous complaint filed by whistleblowers and is part of an ongoing civil and criminal review of Presbyterian and other health care companies that is being conducted by the attorney general’s office. The state auditor’s office is also conducting its own review.

    “When insurance providers break the rules, they must face consequences,” Balderas said in a statement issued after the lawsuit was filed.

    Presbyterian officials disputed the claims made in the lawsuit, saying they have acted in good faith and with the intent to comply with the company’s legal obligations and responsibilities.

    They called the allegations surprising, noting that the premium taxes paid by the health plan have been audited multiple times by independent firms and state agencies.

  • ScienceFest 2017 Schedule of Events

    Wednesday
    Burro Packers at the Los Alamos Nature Center. The Aparejo Packing System will demonstrate the old Spanish-style packing system on a live burro. Meet the burros up close and participate in hands-on activities.
    6:30-8 p.m. Admission$5/Family, PEEC Members are free.
    Movie in the Park featuring “Back to the Future 3” at the Los Alamos Ashley Pond Park. Rated PG. Run Time 119 minutes. 8:30 p.m. Free.

    Thursday
    Unveiling of Big House Art at Central Park Square. Join the group for the TOP SECRET unveiling of a new art installation to commemorate the Big House.
    Ranch School Nights Celebration at Fuller Lodge. The most anticipated party of the year. Join the party for an old fashioned Ranch School evening at Fuller Lodge and Lawn to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Los Alamos Ranch School. Dinner, drinks, music, campfire stories and songs, rootbeer floats and s’mores. Live auction of props from WGN’s Manh(A)ttan TV show. 6-9 p.m. Tickets in advance only: $50

  • 10th year of ScienceFest kicks off today

    The Los Alamos ScienceFest, perhaps one of the most anticipated local events of the year, begins its 10th year today and runs through Sunday.
    This year’s ScienceFest will highlight the 100th anniversary of the Los Alamos Ranch School, an important piece of the Los Alamos puzzle. Many activities give the community a chance to step back into history and experience Los Alamos from a different perspective.
    “It’s the 100th anniversary so we’re really trying to feature the history, tours of the lodge, the Boy Scouts and lots of different things,” said Ryn Herrmann, the communications director for the Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation.
    With over 30 different activities to choose from over the course of the five-day event, the Los Alamos ScienceFest is sure to entertain parents and children alike.
    This year’s ScienceFest will be a great way for curious individuals to experience the special history of Los Alamos.
    “It’s a huge part of not just New Mexico history, but also United States and world history,” Hermann said.
    Attendees will get to choose from free movies, interactive activities, informative trolley tours and much more for the whole family to enjoy. Most events are free and open to the public.