Local News

  • LAPS meeting set for Monday

    The next Los Alamos Public Schools Budget meeting will be from 5:30-7 p.m. Monday in the White Rock Library.

    Parents, students, staff, and interested community members are invited to attend and participate in the conversation.

    The meeting will include a review of the budget development process and time for community members to ask questions, give ideas and suggest how funds would be best utilized. 

    School board members will also discuss the budget during the upcoming school board work session on March 29 at the Topper Freshman Academy, as well as during the school board meeting on April 17 in the Los Alamos Administration Board Room.

  • N.M. changes system for state lottery scholarships

    Associated Press

    ALBUQUERQUE — New Mexico is providing more certainty for college students about the amount of financial aid they can count on from state lottery revenues, but elected officials and others say more needs to be done to shore up the scholarship program as higher education costs climb.

    Gov. Susana Martinez signed legislation Wednesday that decouples the value of lottery scholarships from the cost of tuition by setting a fixed amount for the awards based on the kind of institution a student attends.

    Tuition and demand for financial aid have outpaced lottery revenues for nearly a decade, forcing lawmakers and university administrators to get creative about helping students fill the gap. When it began in 1996, the scholarship covered 100 percent of average tuition rates. This year, only 60 percent is covered.

    The lottery-funded scholarships help pay tuition for about 26,000 students.

    The two-term Republican governor warned that the measure approved by the Legislature during the recent session is just one step toward addressing the deeper issues facing the scholarship program.

  • GRT bill veto sparks criticism, uncertainty from LA officials

    Gov. Susana Martinez vetoed the bill Wednesday that would tax gross receipts of any non-profit contractor that would take over management and operations of Los Alamos National Laboratory.

    In her message to the State Senate explaining the veto Wednesday, Martinez said the bill was “poorly crafted tax policy.” A proposed amendment would have required all non-profits that make over a certain threshold to pay gross receipts tax, but it was withdrawn, she said.

    Also, she said the bill was another “piecemeal attempt at tax reform.”

    Los Alamos County may see a loss of about $22 million a year in gross receipts tax revenue, according to some estimates, if the contract to manage and operate the Los Alamos National Laboratory is awarded to a non-profit entity.

    Martinez said that while the loss of gross receipts tax is a concern, it may be less than what some claim it will be, as subcontractors will become taxable.

    State Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard (D-43) said the amendment, which she said was recommended by State Rep. and House Taxation and Revenue Committee member Jason Harper (R-57) would have left Los Alamos without GRT revenue for a year if the bill included it.

  • LAPS hosts school orientations

    Students from the five elementary schools in the Los Alamos School District got a taste of what they can expect next year when they become Los Alamos Middle School Hawks. 

    Barranca Mesa, Aspen, Mountain, Pinon and Chamisa sixth-graders took part in an orientation event Feb. 5 that allowed them to experience first-hand the ins and outs of their future school.

    LAMS Principal Mike Johnson, Assistant Principal Pamela Miller and Counselor Jennifer Neil visited each elementary school in the district ahead of the orientation so they could sit down and chat with the sixth-graders about rules, electives, courses, athletics and more.

    It was all part of the process of making the transition from elementary to middle school as stress free as possible.

    The LAMS team also had meetings with all sixth-grade teachers to go over any expectations and preview questions they might have in preparation for upcoming parent conferences.

    Sixth-grade classes from each elementary school got the chance to visit the middle school.

    Classes rotated between presentations and tours and learned about the classes, rules, clubs and activities LAMS has to offer.

  • Sign up for tour to Trinity Site

    Monday is the last day to sign up for this year’s guided tour to the Trinity Site, set for April 6-7.

    The Trinity Site is the location where, on July 16, 1945, a man-made nuclear weapon was detonated.

    The site is open to the public only twice each year, and the Los Alamos Historical Society is offering a guided tour to the site for the spring opening.

    The Society’s Trinity Tour includes a two-day, one-night experience through the Alamogordo southern approach through the seldom-seen interior of White Sands Missile Range. Departure from Trinity Site will be out of the northern Stallion Gate, with a lunch stop at New Mexico Tech in Socorro.

    Bonuses include a visit to the young (5,000-year-old) lava flows of Valley of Fires, and the New Mexico Space Museum overlooking the Tularosa Basin, Holloman Air Force Base and White Sands Missile Range.

    The excursion aboard a comfortable, restroom-equipped coach includes experienced tour direction is with Los Alamos locals Georgia and Gerry Strickfaden, who will be leading their 15th trip to Trinity.

    The cost of the trip for Historical Society members is $350 per person for double-occupancy and $400 for non-members, with a $50 single supplement for either. The price includes a tax-deductible donation to the Los Alamos Historical Society.

  • School district gets input on safety issues

    The Los Alamos School District recently reached out to community leaders for their input on ways to better hear the voices of its students in the wake of recent school shootings across the country.

    Approximately 65 business owners, elected officials, school principals, law enforcement members and many others gathered on Feb. 27 for a Community Leaders’ Breakfast hosted by Los Alamos Public Schools and held at the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos.

    “I thought it went very well,” said Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus. “We had a lot more people show up than what we expected – which is always good – and we had to add a lot more seats.”

    Steinhaus opened the presentation with a report on the improving graduation rates at Los Alamos High School, measures taken to improve the transition between schools and an overview from the recent legislative session.

    He specifically thanked outgoing Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard, who attended the breakfast.

  • DPU negotiates minimal penalty to power deal

    Los Alamos County Department of Public Utilities officials told county elected officials Tuesday they had negotiated an exit plan for the small-scale nuclear reactor pilot project should the county want to withdraw from the investment in the future. 

    Deputy Utilities Manager Steve Cummins told a joint session of Los Alamos County Council and the Board of Public Utilities that it had successfully negotiated a financial penalty down to $80,000, with its partners, should the county decide to pull out of the project by March 2019.

    Department of Public Utilities has been considering getting some of its power from the Carbon Free Power Project, a nuclear power project that is in the planning stages by NuScale Power.

    The main part of the project will consist of 12, 50 megawatt light water, nuclear reactor modules designed by NuScale, which plans to build the project in Idaho. NuScale plans to have the reactors online by 2025.

    The Department of Public Utilities, as a member of the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, has an eight-megawatt share in the project. So far, 34 members of UAMPS, including Los Alamos have subscribed to the project. The project is expected to generate 600 megawatts of power. So far, partners have purchased 183 megawatts.

  • New Mexico residents aim to tell Congress about bomb fallout

    By RUSSELL CONTRERAS, Associated Press

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Residents of a New Mexico Hispanic village near the site of the world's first atomic bomb test want to share their stories with Congress about health problems they say are linked to the explosion.

    The Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium is raising money so its members can travel to Washington, D.C., this summer and testify about the effects of the Trinity Test on generations of Tularosa residents and others who lived near the site.

    Tina Cordova, co-founder of the Downwinders, said around 10 members are planning to go before the Senate Judiciary Committee but no date has been scheduled.

    "Two previous hearings have already been canceled so we are anxious to go and share our story," Cordova said.

    Scientists working in the then-secret city of Los Alamos developed the atomic bomb as part of the Manhattan Project. The secret program provided enriched uranium for the atomic bomb. It also involved facilities in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and Hanford, Washington.

    The bomb was tested in a stretch of desert near towns with Hispanic and Native American populations.

  • New Mexico candidates for governor join bipartisan forum

    SANTA FE (AP) — Republican and Democratic candidates for governor in New Mexico have agreed to participate in a public forum Sunday about the public's right to access government documents and other transparency issues.

    New Mexico Foundation for Open Government Executive Director Peter St. Cyr said the participation of all gubernatorial candidates is a testament to widespread concerns about transparency in government as an essential component of democracy.

    A live webcast of the forum in Albuquerque is planned on the foundation's Facebook page.

    Republican Gov. Susana Martinez cannot seek a third term in November elections. U.S.  Rep. Steve Pearce is the only Republican candidate for the top statewide office. The Democratic nomination is being sought by U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, state Sen. Joseph Cervantes, former media executive Jeff Apodaca and educator Peter DeBenedittis.

  • Former New Mexico senator starts prison term for corruption

    SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Former New Mexico state Sen. Phil Griego has begun serving a jail term for fraud, bribery and other convictions stemming from accusations he misused his elected office to profit from a real estate deal.

    Defense attorney Thomas Clark said Thursday that Griego turned himself over to the state Corrections Department in Los Lunas to serve an 18-month sentence.

    A judge has asked that the 70-year-old Griego be confined in a facility reserved for elderly inmates or those with health difficulties rather than with the general prison population. Corrections officials have yet to decide where to hold Griego.

    Griego initially was fined $47,000 and sentenced to 12 years in prison. A judge waived all but 18 months. Griego may serve as little as 9 months with credit for good behavior.