Local News

  • House heads toward passage of bill to keep gov't running

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The House easily passed a $1.1 trillion governmentwide spending bill on Wednesday, awarding wins to both Democrats and Republicans while putting off until later this year fights over President Donald Trump's promised border wall with Mexico and massive military buildup.

    The 309-118 vote sends the bill to the Senate in time for them to act to avert a government shutdown at midnight Friday. The White House has said Trump would sign the measure, which is the first major legislation to pass in Trump's short, turbulent presidency.

    House Speaker Paul Ryan praised the measure as bipartisan, and said the biggest gain for conservatives came as Democrats dropped longstanding demands to match Pentagon increases with equal hikes for nondefense programs.

    "No longer will the needs of our military be held hostage by the demands for more domestic spending," Ryan said. "In my mind, that is what's most important here."

    Democrats also backed the measure, which protects popular domestic programs such as education, medical research and grants to state and local governments from cuts sought by Trump — while dropping from earlier version a host of GOP agenda items.

  • Letter Carriers Food Drive May 13

     The Los Alamos County 25th Annual National Letter Carriers Food Drive is set for May 13. 

    Local Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, and Venture Scouts are prepared to help the Atomic City Letter Carriers and LA Cares to collect, sort, and store local donations of food and supplies during the 25th Annual National Letter Carriers Food Drive  May 13.

    Residents who want to donate should fill a grocery bag or a box with non-perishable food and other necessities and place it near the mailbox before 10 a.m. May 13.

    Alternately, visit Smith’s MarketPlace in Los Alamos or Smith’s Food and Drug Center in White Rock on May 13 and a Cub Scout will be waiting to accept your donations from about 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Those who will be out of town can leave non-perishable food and supply donations year-round at the Aquatic Center or at Los Alamos County Social Services at 1505 15th Street during regular business hours.

  • 1st District Attorney’s office partners with Uber

     District Attorney Marco P. Serna announced Wednesday a partnership with the ridesharing service Uber to promote a safe alternative to drinking and driving during the Cinco de Mayo holiday weekend this weekend.

    As part of the partnership, Uber will offer new users a “first ride free up to $15.

    The promotional offer will remain in effect through the Fourth of July.

    “I am proud to partner with Uber and provide safe alternatives to drinking and driving,” Serna said. “We always make it a point to curb drunk driving during the holidays, but it’s a year round problem that requires constant attention and vigilance.” “We encourage people to take advantage of this campaign by making the smart choice not to drink and drive.”

    “Partnerships and awareness are paramount in the fight to prevent impaired driving in our communities. Impaired driving is 100 percent preventable. It is a choice. We believe our technology provides people with more options, empowering them to make better, safer choices.” said Uber Safety Spokesperson Tracey Breeden.

  • Drug take back day a success

    On Saturday, the Los Alamos Police Department facilitated another DEA sponsored drug take back day.
    “We’ve been doing it pretty steadily twice a year, usually in April and October,” said Commander Oliver Morris.
    Two collection locations were staffed by officers for citizens to turn in unwanted and unused prescription medications at the Smith’s Marketplace in Los Alamos and the White Rock visitor center.
    Despite the snowstorm, LAPD collected 32 pounds of prescription medications. “I think we typically do more than that,” but considering the snowy conditions Morris considers the collected amount considerable. Another reason for the dip could be due to the collection box in LAPD’s lobby that is also being used. The LAPD maintains a drug take-back box at LAPD year-round and can arrange drop-offs with the Agency.
    The next drug take back day will be in October. For more information about the DEA’s Take-Back initiative, contact DEA spokesman Patrick J. Trainor at either (215) 852-8740 or patrick.j.trainor@usdoj.gov. 

  • New Mexico Democrats pick Santa Fe man to lead party


    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — The new chairman of the state Democratic Party has plans to heal divisions within the party stemming from last year’s presidential election.

    Richard Ellenberg of Santa Fe was selected to serve as state party chairman Saturday over outgoing Vice Chairman Juan Sanchez III, a 25-year-old from Belen.

    Ellenberg is a retired lawyer and was previously the chairman of the Santa Fe County Democratic Party.

    The 69-year-old told members of the state party’s central committee that he would work to create a more unified party. He pledged to do that by bringing together supporters of ex-presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.

    Ellenberg has also said he’ll collaborate more with county parties around the state and deploy more resources to campaigns.


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    Ellenberg succeeds Debra Haaland, who did not seek re-election.

  • Sandia Labs to keep focus on national security

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Scientists and researchers at the federal government’s largest national laboratory are pushing ahead with work related to national security and the proliferation of nuclear weapons as new managers take over New Mexico-based Sandia National Laboratories for the first time in decades, officials said Monday.

    Director Stephen Younger discussed the lab’s future during a news conference that marked the start of a new contract with National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia, a subsidiary of Honeywell International.

    The U.S. Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration announced the $2.6 billion management contract in December. Officials have spent the last few months working on a smooth transition for the lab’s thousands of employees and operations.

    The bulk of work at Sandia centers on the research, development and maintenance of nuclear weapons, but scientists there also have worked on energy and climate projects.

    Younger, who has a background in nuclear weapons, called Sandia’s employees the “superheroes of technology.”

  • LAVA celebrates volunteers

     Friday afternoon, the Los Alamos Volunteers Association (LAVA) threw a ‘50s-themed celebration to honor those involved in the organization. 

    “Because we partner with over 30 non-profits, this is a way for everybody to come together,” LAVA Director Linda Boncella explained. LAVA matches volunteers 55-years-and-older with opportunities to serve within their partnering non-profit organizations. Their goal is to “have healthy, happy seniors and a self-sufficient community that meets the needs of its members,” according to LAVA’s website. 

    The Betty Erhart Senior Center was decorated in ‘50s-themed fashion, complete with root beer floats and throwback glass bottled sodas.

    “We have over 500 volunteers, so typically anywhere between 120 to 140 people come to this volunteer celebration,” Boncella said. 

  • Rec bond ballots in the mail

    Five multimillion recreation projects hang in the balance this month as Los Alamos County voters decide to vote for or against approving the sale of $20 million in general obligation bonds. Most residents received their ballots Tuesday. If voters vote “yes,” then the funds will go toward funding the five projects.  If voters approve the bond sale, Los Alamos County Council would take an additional $13.4 million from its Capital Improvement Project Fund to pay for the projects.

    Council decided on general obligation bonds because it would give a chance for voters to decide.

    “The Council discussed different funding options last year as part of their deliberations about the funding level and the list of final projects. Proposing an increase in property tax requires a vote, therefore, it puts the decision before those most directly affected and benefited by the results of the election,” County Spokeswoman Julie Habiger said.

  • Council to propose DPU study

    After voicing frustration over recent requests for utility rate hikes, Los Alamos County Council is now asking for a study to find out just how the Department of Public Utilities operates.

     County Council set aside about $25,000 in funding for the study last week as part of the fiscal year 2018 budget.  

    Councilor Rick Reiss suggested the idea.  

    The funding includes money for a consultant.

    “I’m hoping the consultant is able to do both regular government accounting and also utility accounting so we can get some perspective,” Reiss said. 

    Council plans to bring the proposal up to the Board of Public Utilities and the DPU Tuesday. 

    The project would last no more than 120 days. If an agreement is reached on the plan, an oversight committee will be set up consisting of three county councilors, three members from the Board of Public Utilities, two people from the DPU and two county staff members. 

    In recent months, County Council expressed frustration with the DPU’s proposal to raise water and sewer rates by 8 percent. 

  • Senior centers’ budget short $70,000

     Betty Ehart and White Rock senior centers are short $70,000 for the next fiscal year following state and federal funding cuts, according to senior organization officials. Most at risk are the popular lunch programs.The Los Alamos Retired and Senior Organization sent out an appeal to its membership Tuesday, hoping private donations would make up for the shortfall.

    “I think it’s a shame that the government is choosing to shut down programs for older Americans who need those programs,” Betty Ehart Center Volunteer Ann LePage said about the situation. 

    The organization pointed to a decline in state and federal funding as the reasons for the shortfall. 

    Members who can afford it are being asked to donate $25 or more.  

    “Starting in July, our state and federal funding will be reduced, as it was this year for a total of 10 percent. We need to raise $70,000 to maintain our current operating capacity,” read a statement in an appeal sent out to its members in its monthly newsletter.