Local News

  • University of Texas regents postpone LANL bid proposal

    The University of Texas System regents postponed a vote Thursday on submitting a bid to manage and operate Los Alamos National Laboratory.

    The surprise move would not immediately stop the university from working toward potentially bidding on the lab contract, according to a university official.

    The regents discussed the matter in a closed-door session earlier that day, but made the decision in a meeting Thursday without giving a reason.

    Deputy Chancellor David Daniel told the Los Alamos Monitor Friday the bid process would continue.

    “The University of Texas System team continues to work diligently on a potential bid to operate Los Alamos National Laboratory, and looks forward to sharing its work with the UT System Board of Regents at the scheduled meeting ‪November 27,” he said in a written statement.

    The university system had approved $4.5 million in university funds to pursue the bid. They are among the educational and business institutions expected to bid on the National Nuclear Security Administration management and operations request for proposals recently released.

    Bids are due by Dec. 11. The university regents are expected to meet again Nov. 27 to vote again on the bid proposal.

  • Below average snow expected in LA area

    The Los Alamos National Laboratory Climate Prediction Center predicts La Niña conditions during the fall and winter will result in below-average snowfall this winter in Los Alamos.

    The center also predicts above-average temperatures and below-average precipitation from November through January in the area, according to LANL meteorologist David Bruggeman.

    Los Alamos and White Rock received near-average precipitation for October and the area continues to measure near average for the year. Los Alamos measured about 1 degree above average for maximum, minimum and mean temperature for October, Bruggeman said.

    “The slightly above-average temperatures were a result of high-pressure systems near the state,” Bruggeman said.
    All of the precipitation measured in Los Alamos happened during the first week of October. High-pressure systems kept the area dry for remainder of the month.

  • Veterans feted at annual pancake breakfast at Chamisa Elementary

    Area veterans were treated to breakfast Thursday at Chamisa Elementary in White Rock, an annual event where youngsters get an opportunity to learn more about the military service of their relatives and neighbors.

    “It’s delightful,” said Jim Nesmith, a veteran of the Vietnam War.

    Veterans Day is Saturday.

    The cafeteria teemed with children, parents, staff and veterans before school began Thursday morning. They enjoyed a nearly endless stream of warm pancakes and bacon, juice and coffee, along with a color guard presentation of the flags and a pledge of allegiance.

    “We are so grateful they are here to put a face on service,” said Jenny Lambson, of Chamisa’s Parent-Teacher Organization, who worked on the line dishing up pancakes.

    While veterans and uniformed scouts ate for free, others paid $5 each. Profits from the annual event goes to the VFW No. 8874 in Los Alamos, said Lambson.

    D.J. Luscher, a den leader for local Webolos Pack 20, was keeping an eye on members of his den while appreciating the service of veterans.

  • Locals question LA’s median home price

    Not so fast, Forbes.

    Locals expressed some doubts over Los Alamos County’s recent listing as sixth on the magazine’s “Top 10 Richest Counties” in the United States, in particular the $535,000 figure listed as the median home price here in 2016.

    The median price of a home sold in Los Alamos in the past 12 months is nearly half that.

    Since New Mexico doesn’t require disclosure of the final selling price of real estate as a public record, a median price for a home anywhere in the Land of Enchantment is going to be somewhat speculative, according to Los Alamos County Assessor Ken Milder.

    However, licensed realtors have access to the final sales price and compile the numbers in a database – called the multiple listing service or MLS – that can provide a closer idea of home sales, prices, and to a certain extent, the market.

    Chris Ortega, owner and broker at Re/Max real estate company in Los Alamos, said in an email that the median price of a home sold in Los Alamos in the last 12 months was $281,250. That’s up from the median home price at the same point in the year last year – which was $258,500, Ortega wrote.

    There have been 356 home sales in Los Alamos in the past 12 months, he wrote.

  • ‘A loss of freedom’

    Citizens in Action, a group of residents looking to reform Los Alamos County’s nuisance ordinance told Los Alamos County Council Tuesday the ordinance is taking away the small-town sense of community.

    Many have complained that the ordinance, which was designed to promote beauty and eliminate safety hazards, is too heavy handed when it comes to residential properties, where enforcement officers are quick to write up frequent notices for minor infractions, yet they claim the same officers overlook more egregious offenses being committed by businesses and commercial development.

    One of the group’s leaders, Heather Ortega, said many residents told them the ordinance made them feel they no longer have control over their own property.

    “There’s a feeling of a loss of freedom… to have things and to do things in their private yards,” Ortega said. “Be it gardening, various flowers, strollers, bikes, toys, campers parked in their driveway, project vehicle cars, woodworking, landscaping choices, yard decor and people are very worried about their paint choices.”

    For the past year, Citizens in Action has been gathering data, and seeking opinions from residents and county officials on how they can all make the nuisance ordinance more balanced and fair.

  • 3 Santa Fe High students arrested over threatening letter

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Authorities say three Santa Fe High School students have been arrested for a letter that described plans for a school shooting.

    The Albuquerque Journal reports that the students told Santa Fe police that the letter as a joke.

    Santa Fe Public Schools spokesman Jeff Gephart says students found the letter Tuesday and notified school officials.

    The Journal says the letter had a list of student and teachers names that were intended "targets."

    It also reportedly included a map of the school showing where the shootings would take place and noting the best location in the school to kill.

  • House speaker: Session to focus on public safety, budget

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — New Mexico House Speaker Brian Egolf says his Democratic colleagues hope to consider legislation during the upcoming session that will help cities hire more police officers.

    Another consideration for the 30-day session will be legislation that will make it easier for the state's courts to keep certain defendants locked up while they await trial.

    The Albuquerque Journal reports that Egolf made the comments while addressing a group of business leaders Wednesday in Albuquerque.

    Egolf expects the session to focus on public safety, the budget and tax policy.

    He said Democrats also will push for a scaled-back plan to put an extra $50 million into early-childhood education programs. Unlike previous plans that called for tapping New Mexico's land grant permanent fund, the new plan will involve severance tax funds.

  • State Rep. Dennis Roch says he will step down

    CLOVIS (AP) — State Rep. Dennis Roch says he will step down from the New Mexico Legislature after 10 years.

    The Eastern New Mexico News reports the Logan Republican announced Tuesday he will not run for re-election when his term expires on Dec. 31, 2018.

    He said his chief reason for leaving state politics is the imminent birth of his fourth child.

    Roch says he's also facing difficulty in balancing his political career with his duties as superintendent of Logan Municipal Schools.

    Roch worked to pass an array of legislation, including one that rescinds worker's compensation for those injured while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

  • Sandia Labs looks to boost recruitment of employees

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — The head of Sandia National Laboratories says the research facility has recently made changes aimed at bolstering recruitment and diversifying the workforce.

    Lab director Stephen Younger told members of a state legislative committee on Wednesday that Sandia has dropped its grade point average requirement for non-intern positions.

    Younger says the change adopted in August is part of an effort to look at the whole person, rather than just transcripts or what kind of degree a person might have.

    He says the change opens up the field to prospective workers who might have struggled early in college but went on to earn degrees. He says the lab is looking for people with grit and determination and it plans to work more closely with New Mexico's colleges and universities.

    Sandia is among the state's largest employers with about 12,000 workers.

  • New Mexico political corruption trial details private talk

    SANTA FE (AP) — A former top-ranked New Mexico lawmaker told a jury he was confronted in his state Capitol office in 2014 by a senator for interfering with the proposed sale of a state-owned building.

    The sale of the building, over objections of then-House Speaker Ken Martinez, is the focus of a corruption trail in state district court against former Sen. Phil Griego.

    Griego is accused of using his elected office to help collect a $50,000 real estate commission without properly disclosing his involvement. He has pleaded not guilty to charges including bribery, fraud and perjury in a trail that began last week.

    Former House Speaker Ken Martinez testified Wednesday that Griego entered his office alone on April 9, 2014, and asked him, "Why did you screw up my deal?"

    Martinez says he did not initially understand the question about a decision that day by a state buildings commission to delay authorization of the sale of the building in downtown Santa Fe — but he quickly deduced that Griego was representing the intended buyers. Griego would eventually earn a commission of just over $50,000.