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Local News

  • LA Super School team waits for news

    The “XQ Institute” will notify 50 finalists soon whether they were one of the top five who won a $10 million grant that will be used to reform high school education. The original date of Aug. 5 was moved.
    The Los Alamos group, “The LAPS Odyssey Academy Team,” is one of the finalists.
    “A public announcement is planned for a later date and we are legally bound to disclose no information at this time,” the team said Friday in a statement.
    In January, the team, made up of teachers, business people, health professionals and parents from the community, entered a contest sponsored by the XQ Institute. The institute is a consortium of private and public organizations looking to remake how high school is taught in the U.S. Their aim is to move away from a system dependant on traditional rote methods to a system that fully challenges a student’s spectrum of talents and abilities.
    For their entry, the Odyssey High School Team submitted a proposal that stressed the mental well being of students through a challenge-based curriculum not based solely on grades.
    The high school would exist along Los Alamos High School and would be considered a “fourth option” in the district’s offerings for secondary education.

  • Former LANL scientist: WIPP leak caused by expanding gasses

    A former employee with the Los Alamos National Laboratory has an alternate theory about what caused a leak of radioactive gases from a barrel at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad in 2014.
    Former LANL physicist Charles Bowman said Friday his findings show expanding gasses already present inside the barrel may have been responsible for the release.
    In February of 2014, a barrel containing transuranic waste shipped from the Los Alamos National Laboratory was blamed for the leak that caused the closure of WIPP. Some radiation was released but not at levels that would cause harm.   
    LANL came under fire by state and federal environmental regulators following the event. Lab officials said the barrel breach was possibly caused by a mix of waste and other materials in the barrel, including organic kitty litter not used before, and a nuclear worker’s glove.
    The prevailing theory was that the leak was caused after workers packed the barrel incorrectly, and the materials inside mixed with gasses already in the room, which caused the explosion.
    Bowman said the explosion would have happened regardless. His findings show the explosion may have been caused by gasses present in the storage room that mixed with gasses produced by the LANL barrel.

  • New Mexico tax holiday underway as school year approaches

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — New Mexico's annual tax holiday is underway as the start of a new school year approaches.

    The start of the tax-free weekend started Friday, and will last through Sunday.

    The annual gross receipts tax holiday runs Friday through Sunday, with the state lifting its 5.1 percent sales taxes on items that include clothing and shoes, some outdoor and athletic supplies, computers, and pens and pencils.

    Gov. Susana Martinez says "getting ready to go back to school can be expensive" for families, and the tax-free weekend aims to ease the cost.

    Clothing and footwear must be $100 or less, and computers must cost $1,000 or less to be sales tax-free. The cap on other classroom necessities is $30.

  • Education tops list for Garcia Richard

    In her bid for reelection, New Mexico State Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard (D–Dist. 43, Los Alamos, Rio Arriba, Sandoval and Santa Fe) stresses her ability to get things done and to work across the aisle.

  • Rio Arriba Co. woman 1st to get West Nile virus

    A 40-year-old Rio Arriba County woman is the first this year to be diagnosed with the West Nile virus, the New Mexico Department of Health announced Thursday.
    The woman was hospitalized with neuroinvasive disease, the more serious form of the illness, but is now at home recovering.
    This is the first human case of West Nile virus infection identified in New Mexico this year.
    To avoid mosquitoes that carry the virus, the health department cautions the public to use approved insect repellent when outside, regularly drain standing water and wear long sleeves and pants at dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.
    “While everyone is very concerned about Zika virus, we also need to remember that West Nile virus is still around and circulating in New Mexico,” said Department of Health Secretary Lynn Gallagher. “Eighty percent of people who are infected with West Nile virus don’t get symptoms and are not aware they have been infected; but those who do get sick can have very serious signs and symptoms including fever and muscles aches up to neurologic symptoms and even death.”

  • Cold War Patriots to host fair in August

    August will be the month that current and former Los Alamos National Laboratory workers can find help with benefits, get free health checkups and possibly catch up with old friends.
    Cold War Patriots will host a community resource fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 24 at the Santa Claran Hotel Casino in Española.
    The event will feature live entertainment, free healthcare screenings and exhibitors that could help them, according to Patriots Chairman Tim Lerew.
    The event is free, and so are the services provided at the fair.
    Exhibitors will include representatives from the Energy Employees Compensation Resource Center, Radiation Exposure Screening Education Program, the Los Alamos retirement community and others.
    Lerew has been with the Cold War Patriots since the organization started eight years ago, and has helped them start their resource fairs. He said the organization tries to have at least four major resource fairs a year.
    “Our mission is to connect former nuclear weapons workers and uranium miners to anything that can help them, especially if it has to do with a work-related illness, understand the benefits that are available to them and how they can access those,” he said. “We do that type of outreach all over the country.”

  • Freshman Academy ready to roll

    When this year’s 313 freshmen enter Los Alamos High School for the first time, Topper Freshman Academy will be ready for them, and by the time they’re sophomores the students will be ready for high school.
    Principal Carter Payne and his staff are hard at work getting the academy’s 12 classrooms into place. The new spaces were repainted, old insulation was removed and the floors were waxed.
    Later this year, the academy, which is located in Los Alamos High School’s E Wing,  will also officially have its own separate entrance and administrative offices in the same building.
    This means that eventually, visitors will be able to have access to Topper Freshman Academy off of Canyon Road.
    That is really the only difference between Freshman Academy and the rest of the high school.  
    “We’re not trying to separate the kids. In places where it makes sense to have them together we’re putting all the resources we can right there with them,” Payne said.
    Freshmen will still come to and from school at the same bus drop off, and parents bring their kids to school will still drop them off at the Sullivan Field drop off or at Griffith Gym.

  • P and Z tackles comp plan

    After several months of gathering public input, the Planning and Zoning Commission begins working in earnest on the comprehensive plan update this Saturday.
    From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in council chambers, the commission will develop the structure for the update, discuss the major themes and draft the goals and policies of the plan.
    The goals, policies and strategies suggestions developed by Community Development Department (CDD) staff appear to incorporate much of the public input gathered through two surveys and several public meetings.
    Goals included in the section on “housing, neighborhoods and growth” include providing more housing choices for all segments of the population, including workforce housing and smaller units for seniors wishing to downsize.
    Citizens wanted the comprehensive plan to include strategies for addressing vacant and/or blighted properties and prioritize infill for development over expanding into new areas. Those positions seem to be incorporated in the suggested strategies, which include:
    • Consider adoption of an inclusionary (affordable) housing ordinance.
    • Create a dedicated revenue source for mortgage assistance.
    • Preserve existing rental housing stock through incentives.
    • Investigate public/private funding options.

  • Today in history Aug. 4
  • Most of New Mexico experiencing moderate drought conditions

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Despite the start of monsoon season, most of New Mexico is under moderate drought thanks to high temperatures last month and below average rainfall.

    Data released Thursday by the U.S. Drought Monitor showed that 72 percent of New Mexico is experiencing moderate drought conditions. Nearly 100 percent of the state is "abnormally dry" or worse.

    The drought conditions are returning a year after the state received a good amount of rainfall.

    For example, Albuquerque Sunport saw 3.28 inches in July 2015. This July, Albuquerque Sunport received only 1.14 inches and below the average amount for the month.

    Record high temperatures also have played a role in bring severe drought back to New Mexico. Average temperature in Roswell last month was 86.5 degrees — the warmest July on record, according the National Weather Service.

    The agency said there were 11 record highs that were tied or broken during July in New Mexico.

    In addition, the first 18 days of July were 100 degrees or higher, smashing the previous 100 or higher consecutive days of 13, back in 2011.