Local News

  • County to select from 4 attorney candidates

    The four candidates for the open county attorney’s position were in town for interviews last week. The Los Alamos Monitor interviewed them during a meet and greet last Thursday.

    Joseph Alvin Leaphart is currently city attorney and solicitor for the City of Statesboro, Georgia, where he has been for five years. Leaphart created the in-house council position for Statesboro. 

    “They had an outside council on a contractual basis before that, so I helped start that office and get that office organized,” Leaphart said. 

    He describes Statesboro as a university town, and sees his experience dealing with the university system as somewhat analogous to dealing with Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). 

    Leaphart also has 16 years of trial practice.

    “Over the years of practice I’ve just handled a wide variety of legal matters that affected local government,” Leaphart said. 

    When asked what attracted him to the position, he replied, “I’ve always loved the Southwest. It is basically the Southwest and the beauty of the natural environment, and the unique community that you have here. It’s just a very special place.”

  • Watchdogs concerned about readiness of WIPP

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — A series of recent ceiling collapses at the federal government’s only underground nuclear waste repository has watchdogs calling on officials to ensure safety before moving ahead with a planned reopening later this year.

    U.S. Energy Department officials and the contractor that manages the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southern New Mexico will update the public on the collapses during a meeting Thursday evening.

    A radiation release forced the closure of the repository in February 2014. Since then, thousands of tons of waste left over from decades of nuclear weapon research and development have been stacking up at sites around the country, hampering the government’s multibillion-dollar cleanup program.

    The waste is meant to be entombed in storage rooms carved out of a salt formation deep underground. 

    Contamination and limited ventilation has made maintenance of the salt rock walls and ceilings difficult, but officials have said the recent collapses happened in areas that are restricted and will not affect plans for resuming some operations before the end of the year.

  • Alamogordo officials vote to OK off-road vehicles on streets

    ALAMOGORDO, N.M. (AP) — Alamogordo officials have voted to allow the use of off-road vehicles on city streets.

    The Alamogordo Daily News reports (http://bit.ly/2dNI5db ) that city commissioners voted in favor of the change but it won’t be official unless it is finalized at the Nov. 1 commission meeting.

    Southwest Suzuki Kawasaki owner Tyler Johnson says many of his customers have asked about Alamogordo’s law. He says he supports the change, explaining that it simplifies things for ATV users who need to go slightly down a paved road to access another dirt trail.

  • County website down Saturday

    The county announced Thursday its website at losalamosnm.us will be temporarily unavailable beginning late Saturday evening for planned server updates and upgrades. 

  • Gun safety advocates pump money into New Mexico

    SANTA FE (AP) — State legislative elections and big spending by a gun-safety group are thrusting New Mexico into the national tussle over access to firearms and whether current restrictions and background checks are sufficient to stem violence.

    Everytown for Gun Safety, a national organization advocating for universal background checks on firearm purchases, made several recent contributions to Democrat-aligned political committees in the state, including a $100,000 donation to Patriot Majority New Mexico, according to campaign finance disclosures filed this week.

    Patriot Majority New Mexico is a Washington-based super PAC that channels unlimited contributions, frequently from labor groups, to political efforts in New Mexico under rules that prohibit direct coordination with parties or candidates.

    The focus of Everytown’s new effort is to support champions of gun safety in the state’s Legislature, Everytown spokeswoman Mackey Reed said. The entire New Mexico Legislature is up for election in November.

  • Gays and Catholicism: Pope’s words open door to confusion

     PROVIDENCE, R.I. — An ideological tug of war over the firing of a Rhode Island church music director for marrying his same-sex partner illustrates the confusion that permeates some U.S. Roman Catholic parishes over Pope Francis’ words on homosexuality.

    Francis’ famous declaration “Who am I to judge?” in 2013 energized Catholics who had pushed the church to accept gays and lesbians. Now, some gay Catholics and supporters who hoped for rapid acceptance find themselves stymied by many bishops and pastors.

    Francis is being cited by both the music director, Michael Templeton, and by Providence Bishop Thomas Tobin, known for taking a hard line on church teaching about marriage and abortion. Tobin has criticized Francis, writing after the pope’s summit on the family two years ago that “Francis is fond of ‘creating a mess.’ Mission accomplished.”

    The pope has upheld Catholic teaching on homosexuality, reiterating the church’s opposition to same-sex relationships. But his shift in tone and broad statements about mercy have left a trail of comments that amount to a Rorschach test open to interpretation, say those who have closely followed Francis.

  • October brings changes to Bandelier

    As the leaves, things at Bandelier National Monument are also moving from summer to fall. On Sunday, the Visitor Center hours will go to 9 a.m.-5 p.m. 

    The last day for the Atomic City Transit shuttles will be Tuesday, and after that, visitors are welcome to drive in to the Visitor Center parking lot throughout the day until the buses resume in late spring. 

    The White Rock Visitor Center will change their hours to 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. on Wednesday. 

    The Centennial celebrations for Bandelier and the National Park Service continue into the fall. Monday, there will be a special guided walk on the Main Loop Trail as part of the observance of International Archeology Day.  Sunday, there will be a photo workshop, emphasizing panoramas and wide views of landscapes. 

    Thursday is the anniversary of the establishment of the Bandelier Wilderness, and there will be a backcountry hike led by the head of the park Trails program.  The hike will be moderate to strenuous, eight-10 miles, and take about eight hours. For the photo workshop and backcountry hike, numbers are limited so signups are required; those interested should call the Bandelier Visitor Center at 672-3861 ext. 517. 

  • Los Alamos eyes grabbing solar power from building windows

    LOS ALAMOS (AP) — A Los Alamos National Laboratory team is trying to develop a project that would grab solar power from building windows.

    Team leader Victor Klimov said this week researchers are developing solar concentrators that will harvest sunlight from building windows and turn it into electricity.

    Klimov leads the Los Alamos Center for Advanced Solar Photophysics.

    The team currently is taking quantum dot, solar-powered windows from the laboratory to test at a construction site. 

    It is trying to prove that the technology can be scaled up from palm-sized demonstration models to windows large enough to put in and power a building.

    Their study will be published this week in the journal, Nature Energy.

  • Community Calendar


    Gentle Walks at 9 a.m. at the Nature Center. A gentle walk for which the emphasis is on discovery, not mileage gained. Free. More information at peecnature.org.


    Dia del Rio: White Rock Canyon Clean-up from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Nature Center. Help us keep our open spaces beautiful. Join the County’s Open Space Specialist, the Los Alamos Fire Department staff, and other volunteers to clean up White Rock Canyon, one of our treasured landscapes. Free.


    Energy Efficiency Home Tour from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Nature Center. See energy efficient homes in Los Alamos County. Get ideas for making upgrades to your home. Free. More information at peecnature.org.


    Feature Film: “We are Stars” at 2 p.m. at the Nature Center. This exciting, family-friendly film connects us to the evolution of the Universe and explores the secrets of our cosmic chemistry. Cost is $6 for adults, and $4 for children. 


    PEEC-nic at 2 p.m. at the Nature Center. Come to PEEC’s annual member meeting to enjoy fun activities, delicious desserts, and fresh-pressed apple cider. Free.


  • Mountaineers to meet Oct. 25

     Ever wonder what it would be like to stand on the highest point in Antarctica? Come to the Los Alamos Mountaineers meeting at 7 p.m. Oct. 25 at the Nature Center, to hear from adventurer Eiichi Fukishima, who will talk about Antarctica’s Mt. Vinson. 

    Fukishima’s talk will begin at 7:15 p.m. The Los Alamos Mountaineers meeting will start at 7 p.m. and cover information about upcoming outings.

    This is a tale of the first ascent of the last high point of any continent to be climbed. 

    The genesis of the trip is mundane and exciting, with an intrigue, some suspense, and many questions that would not be answered until we were actually on the climbs. 

    The Los Alamos Mountaineers meetings are always free to the public, and no registration is required. 

    For more information about this and other Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC) programs, visit peecnature.org, email programs@peecnature.org or call 662-0460.