Local News

  • Death penalty bill fails to clear NM Senate

    SANTA FE (AP) — The New Mexico Legislature has adjourned from a special legislative session without considering a measure to reinstate the death penalty and other criminal justice initiatives backed by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez.

    The Democrat-led Senate adjourned Thursday without taking up stricter sentencing provisions approved by the House or Representatives.

    New Mexico repealed the death penalty in 2009. Martinez and allies in Legislature have pushed for stricter criminal sentencing as a response to the recent killing of two police officers and the August sexual assault, killing and mutilation of 10-year-old Victoria Martens in Albuquerque.

    Many Democrats said it was inappropriate to consider the weighty issue of capital punishment during an abbreviated special session.

  • Trash sort quantifies recycling progress

    On Friday, members of the Environmental Sustainability Board (ESB) and Eco Station staff suited up in coveralls, gloves, hardhats and masks to sort through three to four tons of solid waste looking for items that could have been recycled instead. The goal was to quantify the amount and types of waste being generated.

    “The reason we’re doing it is basically to help us plan for the future,” said Environmental Services Manager Angelica Gurule. “So by determining how much brush or food or recycle or cardboard it is, then we can target our audience better, like target the residents when we promote recycling cardboard.”

    Gurule began with some instructions for the crew, including how to safely sort the trash to avoid injuries from such objects as syringes and broken glass. She summed up what to expect with “Basically, you just have to get dirty.”

    A truck load of solid waste from a residential neighborhood in White Rock was set aside for the sort. A truck holds eight to 10 tons, but Gurule anticipated sorting three to four tons over the course of the day. In the first sort of this nature, conducted on March 25, workers got through 3.14 tons – the equivalent of approximately 100 households. 

  • Pajarito celebrates end of summer season

    A festival goer enjoys ULLR Fest Saturday at Pajarito Mountain and the Los Alamos Ski Club. The popular event included live music with JJ and the Hooligans and special guest Bronach. Guests also enjoyed New Mexico craft beer that included Enchanted Circle, Bathrub Row, Blue Heron, Boxing Bear, Chil Line, La Cumbre, Santa Fe, Second Street, Taos Mesa, Tractor, and wine from UnQuarked Wine. ULLR Fest activities included a lift-served hike and bike, a downhill bike race, a costume contest and a disk golf tournaments. 

  • House ed committee kills bill

    A bill that would’ve transferred $25 million in operational reserves from New Mexico’s school districts back into state’s General Fund died in the House Education Committee Saturday. The bill, known as “Senate Bill 10” was one of several the legislature has tried to pass in this year’s special session to try and head off  $600 million shortfall in the state budget.

    Though the bill passed the Senate, all seven republicans on the House Education Committee voted against it, effectively killing the bill for this session. Shortly after the vote, the Republicans on the committee issued a statement sharply criticizing the six Democratic colleagues on the committee for trying to keep the bill alive. 

    “We shouldn’t try to balance the budget at the expense of schools, teachers, and students,” said Dennis Roch, R-67, chair of the Legislative Education Study Committee. “This bill punishes school districts that responsibly anticipated the current budget situation and built reserves to protect their ability to cover expenses and teacher salaries. We must look for other alternatives to resolve our budget situation.”

  • Report: LANL to end on-site radioactive waste disposal at Area G in 2017

    A Los Alamos National Laboratory environmental report released has revealed that by Oct. 1, 2017, the lab will cease disposing of low-level radioactive waste on site. 

    “The strategy for both low-level radiological waste and mixed low-level waste is to minimize its generation and to dispose of all newly generated waste off-site… No new, on-site disposal capacity will be developed,” read a statement in the report. The report also mentioned that the lab plans to dispose of  low-level waste at “Area G” by Oct. 1, 2017.  

    The report also indicated that for 2015 the amount of plutonium detected in the air was nine attocuries per cubic meter, which the lab categorized as the lowest it’s been in recent years, because there was not much soil activity at the site. The lab was shipping the low-level waste from Area G to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad. That stopped when an improperly packed barrel shipped from the lab exploded at the plant in February 2014. The WIPP plant is due to resume partial operations in December.

    Greg Mello, executive director of the Los Alamos Study Group, a nuclear disarmament and environmental organization, was pleased to hear the news. 

  • Today in history Oct. 4
  • White Cane Awareness Week is Oct. 15-22

    Special to the Monitor

  • Recent astronomy discoveries to be discussed at Nature on Tap

    Anyone fascinated by discoveries in astronomy is invited to join this week’s discussion at Nature on Tap from 5:30-7 p.m. Thursday at UnQuarked Wine Room.
    Local astronomers and astrophysicists Dr. Paul Arendt, Dr. Galen Gisler and Dr. Rick Wallace will provide an engaging discussion about black holes, NASA’s Juno probe, the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, the night sky, and upcoming planetarium shows.
    Nature on Tap is part of a series of conversations about art, history, nature and science.
    Arendt received his Ph.D. in physics at Ohio State University and now works in commercial manufacturing and the Applied Research and Development of Materials department at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Galen Gisler spent his life studying astrophysics around the world before furthering his career at the LANL. Rick Wallace, now a thirty-year member at LANL, attended U.C. Santa Cruz to study numerical calculations of stellar explosions and nuclear fusion.
    Nature on Tap, hosted by the Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC), is part of an informal discussion series started by the Los Alamos Creative District. At each Nature on Tap event, the topic is introduced by a facilitator before being opened up to the group for informal discussion.

  • Chamber to host insurance seminar Wednesday

    The Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce will host a health insurance seminar from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday at Wallace Hall on the UNM-LA Campus.
    Topics to be addressed will include:
    • History of health insurance in New Mexico and how we got to where we are now;
    • The Affordable Care Act;
    • Options employers have now;
    • What is and is not legal for providing insurance to employees
    • Forms necessary to provide to employees.
    There will be time for questions and answers.  
    The chamber will plan a follow up seminar for early November to follow up with new questions and address them.  
    The presenter,  Anne Sperling, is the President and chief executive officer of Vanguard Resources. She has 32 years of employee benefits training and is a certified instructor for the New Mexico Office of the Superintendent of Insurance for Group Health Plan training.
    Sperling is a trainer for Leadership New Mexico and Leadership Santa Fe. She is also an author and instructor for the University of North Carolina continuing education series on retirement and employee benefit series.
    Register on the events page of the chamber website.

  • Kerr keeps plan alive for civics course

    Los Alamos resident Vernon Kerr, 88, isn’t about to give up on the youth of Los Alamos just yet.
    Kerr, who spent 17 years as a counselor with the American Legion’s Boys State Girls State Program, wants to start a similar program with the schools.
    The American Legion’s program is a civics course for high school kids held in the summertime that lasts one week at Eastern New Mexico University.
    In that time frame, students learn how local county and state governments run, how to write bills and at the end of the week, they nominate representatives that go to Washington, D.C. and learn about how things run on a national level. Called Boys Nation and Girls Nation, the trip for the representatives is paid for through the American Legion.
    Kerr wants to do something similar with the Los Alamos Public Schools. While a trip to D.C. may not be possible, he envisions a similar course for middle and high school students that they can take as an elective during the year.
    Though he said he’s had some positive feedback from conversations he’s had with board members and Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus about the program. Steinhaus said he had a lot of respect for Kerr and the contributions he’s made to Los Alamos through the years.