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Local News

  • School start time, custodial contract and antidiscrimination on agenda Thursday

    The Los Alamos school board has at least three options for changes to school start time for older students.

    Those options – and a fourth, which would be to make no changes – will be discussed at the school board’s work session 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Aspen Elementary, 2182 33rd Street in Los Alamos.

    The board will review the final report from Think New Mexico, which was commissioned by the school district to study whether Los Alamos students would benefit from later start times. Studies have shown that the sleep cycle of older teens causes them to obtain deeper, more healthful sleep, later than older adults and younger children.

    Other items on the agenda include consideration of an annual custodial contract for the high school and middle school, and a propose re-write of the district’s policy and rules regarding nondiscrimination.

    Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus outlined the three options regarding later start time in an email, noting that the issue for the school district is about improving “sleep hygiene for full daytime alertness and student success at school.”

  • Charter school to be discussed

    The public is invited to a discussion on establishing a charter school in Los Alamos for students in sixth, seventh and eighth grades. The meeting with organizers of the proposed school will be 6-7 p.m. Friday at the historic Fuller Lodge.

    The discussion to launch the Polaris School Project will include introduction of organizers, as well as providing details on the project’s mission and vision, according to a press release.

    According to state law, a charter school is defined as a school authorized by a chartering authority to operate as a public school. According to another section of the law, charter schools may be state-chartered or locally chartered.

    A member of the Polaris organizing committee, Bill Hargraves, is also a school board member. He has stated that he is working with the Polaris committee as a private citizen.

    Fellow school board members, at a meeting in mid-November, criticized Hargraves’ meeting with LAPS Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus to discuss the establishment of the charter school. Hargraves defended his actions, stating that he was not trying to pressure Steinhaus in supporting the school.

  • Books headed to Africa for school libraries

    Sharon Allen has always been interested in Africa.

    “I’ve always been fascinated by it,” the retired Los Alamos teacher said.

    And last year, when she concluded her career as a first grade teacher in Los Alamos, she wanted to pass along the books she had bought to share with her students over the past 35 years.

    “I looked on the internet for school libraries in Africa for my books, but they just wanted money. It wasn’t what I wanted,” she said.

    Eventually, though, she found an organization called the African Library Project that would accept books for school libraries, especially for girls’ schools. She also visited Kenya to visit the schools where her first shipment landed.

    “I was very excited; I was able to help the kids put the books on the shelves,” Allen said.
    Meanwhile, she talked to other local organizations and schools about her effort, she said.

    “I knew people at the school would be interested,” she said.
    Indeed.

    On Tuesday, Allen and other volunteers welcomed boxes and boxes of books collected at local schools and by service organizations. In total, volunteers were expected to bring 14,460 books to the rental truck Allen parked near the high school.

  • Councilor, county in tussle over building permit

    Businessman James Chrobocinski, who is also a Los Alamos County councilor, has filed paperwork notifying officials of his intent to sue the county over permits related to a restaurant renovation in White Rock.

    Chrobocinski claims the county Community Development office and the fire marshal’s office has “harassed and retaliated” against him during the renovation process.

    Chrobocinski has been an instrumental figure in helping a local group, Citizens in Action, in its efforts to reform the county’s code enforcement regulations that it says code enforcements have been too overzealous with residents. He said he thinks this is why he’s allegedly being targeted.

    Chrobocinski alleges the two offices are conspiring to make it difficult for him to move White Rock’s Pig and Fig Cafe to a building he owns at 11 Sherwood Boulevard in White Rock. Chrobocinski is the owner and CEO of Zia Realty Group and ZRG Investments. ZRG owns the building.

    Chrobocinski believes his troubles began when the Pig and Fig’s current landlord, Kent Waterman, allegedly acted vindictively because he was about to lose the Pig and Fig to Chrobocinski.

  • Wallace named new LANL director

    Los Alamos National Laboratory’s new director Terry Wallace remembers when the front gate came down.

    He was a child back then. His father, Terry Wallace, Sr., worked at the lab. He loved the outdoors, played chess in the chess club and basketball at Los Alamos High School. His mother, Jeanette Wallace, was a Republican state representative for Dist. 43 for 22 years. 

    Wallce said he really loved Los Alamos, and the unique experiences the town offered him.

    “It was the greatest experience possible, but that’s probably because I didn’t know anything else,” he said.

    “By the time I left high school, I already had the equivalent of an undergraduate degree in mathematics,” he said.

    Wallace was appointed director of LANL and president of Los Alamos National Security, LLC, the company that manages and operates the laboratory for the National Nuclear Security Administration, the lab announced Tuesday. His appointment will officially take effect Jan. 1.

    Wallace first worked at LANL while getting his undergraduate degree at New Mexico Tech. He worked in the J-8 section of the laboratory, where they tested and monitored large explosions.

  • Court gives Congressman Steve Pearce access to campaign cash

    SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Republican Rep. Steve Pearce won access to a $1 million stockpile of campaign cash that he raised while in Congress to use in his run for New Mexico governor, under a federal court ruling issued Tuesday.

    Albuquerque-based U.S. District Court Judge Judith Herrera blocked enforcement of limitations on campaign transfers from Pearce's federal campaign account to a state one. The preliminary injunction gave Pearce access to the campaign funds while underlying issues are litigated.

    The Secretary of State's Office has said that only $11,000 can be transferred by Pearce, based on a New Mexico law that limits campaign contributions to $5,500 in a primary election and again in the general election.

    Attorneys for Pearce contend that New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, a Democrat, has misinterpreted state law that limits campaign contributions, effectively violating Pearce's constitutional rights to free speech under the First Amendment.

    In her ruling, Herrera said it was likely Pearce will succeed during further litigation in showing that the $5,500 per-election limit on transfers is unconstitutional and obstructs free speech.

  • University of Texas moves ahead with LANL bid

    The University of Texas System regents narrowly approved a plan Monday for the university system to officially submit a bid to manage and operate the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

    Three regents voted against the bid, citing safety concerns at the lab and concerns about UT System spending.

    Regents Janiece Longoria, Kevin Eltife and Steve Hicks cited safety concerns and potential reputational and economic risks, according to reports. UT system regents had postponed the bid submission earlier this month without giving an explanation.

    Deputy Chancellor Daniel, appointed to lead the bid preparations said, “While the scale and the scientific assets of UT’s 14 academic and health institutions strongly position us to manage and operate the Lab, the Lab management role also creates an extraordinary opportunity for students and faculty to advance research and discovery. Moreover, UT institutions have the know-how to safely and securely advance the broader scientific mission of the Lab and serve as a good steward of the Los Alamos community.”

  • NNSA, Air Force complete two more B61-12 Life Extension Program qualification flight tests

    Two more qualification flight tests were completed with the B61-12 gravity bomb at the Tonopah Test Range in Nevada, government officials announced Monday.

    The tests, completed Nov. 7-8, were a continuation of a series of flight tests that will be conducted over the next three years.

    “These tests continue to demonstrate that the B61-12 meets requirements and marks another on-time achievement for the B61-12 Life Extension Program,” said Brig. Gen. Michael Lutton, the National Nuclear Security Administration’s principal assistant deputy administrator for military application.

    The tests involved releasing non-nuclear configured joint test assemblies from two F-15Es based at Nellis Air Force Base, demonstrating the aircraft’s capability to deliver the weapon and the weapon’s non-nuclear functions.

    The flight test included hardware designed by Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory and manufactured by the Nuclear Security Enterprise plants.

    The tail-kit assembly section was designed by the Boeing Company under contract with the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center. 

    The B61-12 LEP is a joint NNSA and Air Force program that preserves a critical element of the U.S. nuclear triad.

  • LANL names new director

    Dr. Terry Wallace has been appointed director of Los Alamos National Laboratory and president of Los Alamos National Security, LLC, the company that manages and operates the Laboratory for the National Nuclear Security Administration, the lab announced Tuesday. His appointment will officially take effect Jan. 1.

    The appointments were announced today by Norman J. Pattiz and Barbara E. Rusinko, chair and vice chair of the Los Alamos National Security (LANS) Board of Governors.

    “Dr. Wallace’s unique skills, experience and national security expertise make him the right person to lead Los Alamos in service to the country” said Pattiz. “Terry’s expertise in forensic seismology, a highly-specialized discipline, makes him an acknowledged international authority on the detection and quantification of nuclear tests.”

    Wallace, 61, will succeed Dr. Charlie McMillan, who announced in September his plans to retire from the laboratory by the end of the year.  Wallace becomes the 11th director in the laboratory’s nearly 75-year history.

  • NKorea launches intercontinental missile, spiking tensions

    By LOLITA C. BALDOR and ROBERT BURNS, Associated Press

    WASHINGTON (AP) — North Korea abruptly ended a 10-week pause in its weapons testing Tuesday by launching what the Pentagon believes was an intercontinental ballistic missile, a move that will escalate already high tensions with Washington.

    Pentagon spokesman Col. Rob Manning said that the missile was launched from Sain Ni, North Korea, and traveled about 1,000 kilometers (about 620 miles) before landing in the Sea of Japan. Japan said it may have landed within 370 nautical kilometers (200 nautical miles) of its coast.

    The launch is North Korea's first since it fired an intermediate range missile over Japan on Sept. 15, and it appeared to shatter chances that the hiatus could lead to renewed diplomacy over the reclusive country's nuclear program. U.S. officials have sporadically floated the idea of direct talks with North Korea if it maintained restraint.

    An intercontinental ballistic missile test will be considered particularly provocative as it would signal further progress by Pyongyang in developing a weapon of mass destruction that could strike the U.S. mainland, which President Donald Trump has vowed to prevent.