Local News

  • School Board President pulls out of election

    Judy Bjarke-McKenzie, president of the Los Alamos School Board, recently announced that she would not be seeking reelection. She said her decision was based on medical and personal reasons.


    “I liked working on the school board because I wanted to make a difference in education,” she said. “I’d like to still work in the field of education, but I’m afraid I will not be able to still contribute to the board.”

    Superintendent of Schools Gene Schmidt said that Bjarke- McKenzie was a valuable lliason between the board and the administration, and that she was a valuable asset during the reconstruction of the high school, the middle school and Aspen elementary.

    “She was a very committed believer in education,” Schmidt said. She was very focused on strategic planning and was very involved in our school construction projects. She can be proud of the work she did to help those projects come to fruition.”


    Bjarke-McKenzie was elected to the school board in 2011, and has been serving on the board every since. She joined a year after she retired from teaching in 2010. According to McKenzie she made the decision to retire so she could take care of her father.


  • Astronauts flee US side of space station

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — In a rare scare, astronauts fled the American side of the International Space Station on Wednesday after an alarm indicated a possible toxic leak. NASA later said a computer problem likely set off the alarm, rather than escaping ammonia coolant.

    "No signs of a leak," NASA reported via Twitter.

    In the meantime, the six crew members huddled safely on the Russian side of the orbiting outpost, as Mission Control analyzed the data. As it turns out, the astronauts had to rush over to the Russian segment twice: the first time when the alarm sounded, the second following an initial all-clear.

    "Hey everybody, thanks for your concern," Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti said in a tweet. "We're all safe & doing well in the Russian segment."

    The "unscheduled excitement," as NASA called it, occurred around 4 a.m. EST, well into the station crew's workday.

    As alarms blared, the astronauts followed emergency procedures in slapping on oxygen masks, taking cover in the Russian quarters, then sealing the hatches between the U.S. and Russian sides. At the same time, flight controllers at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston turned off non-essential equipment.

  • County Briefs 1-14-15

    Lunch With a Leader is Thursday

    The League of Women Voters will have its community Lunch with a Leader at 11:45 a.m. Jan. 20. The meeting will be at Mesa Public Library.
    This month, the speaker will be Angelica Gurule, who leads the Los Alamos County Green Team and is the staff liaison to the Environmental Sustainability Board.
    Lunch will be provided by the Los Alamos Co-op Market for $10.
    Contact Karyl Ann Armbruster at 661-6605 or kaskacayman@gmail.com, for the menu choices. Lunch orders must be received by Friday.
    A lunch order is not required to attend meeting.

    Burgess to give ‘State of County’

    Harry Burgess, county manager, will give a “State of the County” address Thursday morning at University of New Mexico-Los Alamos, room 230.
    Tickets for the address are on sale for $15. Registrations can be made at the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce website, losalamoschamber.com/events.htm.

    Warm Water Weekend set

    The Larry R. Walkup Aquatic Center will have a Warm Water Weekend. Water temperature is raised for the weekend. The event will be Saturday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m.5 p.m.

  • Update 1-14-15

    Open space plan

    Craig Martin of Los Alamos County will present the open space master plan at a meeting today. The meeting will be at 7 p.m. at the Pajarito Enviromental Education Center.

    APP viewing

    The Art in Public Places Board will hold a special event to give the public the opportunity to view the work of the top three finalists selected in the competition for art to be installed in the Municipal Building. It will be Thursday from noon to 3 p.m. in the Municipal Building lobby. Members of the board will be on hand but no action will be taken.


    The Environmental Sustainability Board will discuss commercial recycling fees and recycling locations at its meeting set for 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the municipal building.

    Winter market

    A Winter Farmers Market is scheduled for Thursday at Fuller Lodge. The market starts at 8 a.m.

    Coalition meeting

    The Regional Coalition of LANL Communities will hold a regular business meeting Friday at the Santa Fe City Council chambers.

    Sale canceled

    Los Alamos National Laboratory’s monthly surplus property sale on Thursday has been cancelled because of weather. The next scheduled surplus property sale, weather permitting, is Feb. 19.

  • Jemez House is top recyler of 2014

    Jemez House Thrift Shop was named Los Alamos County’s Business Recycler of the Year at a county council meeting Jan. 6.
    The Business Recycler of the Year award, which is given annually, is sponsored by the Los Alamos County Environmental Services Division and the Los Alamos County Environmental Sustainability Board. It is granted to one business in town that excels in its implementation and promotion of reducing, reusing and recycling.
    For this year’s award, Los Alamos County noted that Jemez House did an excellent job of managing donated items and reselling them.
    Some items in particular were noted by the county, such as used clothing, which was either sold or went to a good cause, Clothes Helping Kids.
    Other items, such as books, were donated to women’s prisons, and unsold used toys were donated to a children’s home in Mexico.
    To be eligible for the award, businesses must be nominated by a member of the community. Those nominations are then presented to the Environmental Sustainability Board, which selects the top three businesses in the county.
    Along with the Jemez House, Enterprise Computer Consulting and the Los Alamos Co-op were also nominated. The co-op was the winner of the first award given last year.

  • County ending deal with airline

    Los Alamos County has given written notice to Pacific Wings, LLC, that it is terminating its service contract with the airline.
    The county sent a letter of termination to Pacific Wings Tuesday notifying it of the contract termination effective Jan. 23.
    The announcement by the county comes on the heels of New Mexico Airlines’ second stoppage of service between Los Alamos Airport and the Albuquerque Sunport. New Mexico Airlines had been supplying service between the two airports since April 2013.
    On Jan. 5, New Mexico Airlines abruptly ended its service without giving Los Alamos County prior notice of its intent to do so, according to county officials. Commuter service, according to the county, was scheduled to resume this week.
    A similar disruption occurred in early December, right before the holiday travel season, although New Mexico Airlines resumed its regular flight schedule Dec. 19, after more than two weeks of interruption.
    Around that same time, Carlsbad, which is also serviced by New Mexico Airlines, was also reporting problems with service to and from Albuquerque.
    County officials stated they would make no more comments to the media about the decision following a press release issued late Tuesday afternoon.

  • Common Cause debates campaign fiance, ethics

    At a forum last Thursday, sponsored by the American Association of University Women and the League of Women Voters, Common Cause Executive Director Viki Harrison urged voters to sign a pledge supporting the organization’s legislative priorities.
    Common Cause is a citizens’ lobby working toward an “open, honest, accountable government.” Harrison elaborated on how the New Mexico chapter’s legislative priorities are working toward that goal.
    Harrison addressed a question directed at Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard, D-District 43, and Sen. Carlos Cisneros, D−District 6, earlier in the forum.
    A citizen asked what the legislature could do to counteract the negative campaigning generated in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to removed campaign spending limits in Citizen’s United.
    Garcia Richard explained that short of a constitutional convention, there was little individual states could do. Constituents have asked Garcia Richard to pursue that option.
    “It’s intriguing, and a little bit frightening, to open up the constitution for change in the current climate, but I don’t know that it’s very likely,” Garcia Richard said.
    According to Harrison, Common Cause does not support a constitutional convention.

  • LAFD preps for accreditation

    When an organization’s mission statement requires its members to run toward danger and disaster instead of away from it, its members can’t afford to be just “good enough.”
    When lives and property are on the line, they have to be the very best.
    According to Los Alamos Fire Department Chief Troy Hughes and Fire Department Manager Norma Jean Valdez, the key to being the best is constant self-assessment. Not just in the areas the public sees, such as disaster and hazard mitigation, fire suppression and rescue, but everything, such as how budgets are balanced and employee morale is maintained.
    Since 1997, the department has partnered with Center for Public Safety Excellence’s Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI). According to Valdez, the LAFD was chosen by CFAI as a beta site to test its newly-created accreditation process during that year.
    Fast forward to 2015 and the department is still getting high marks with the CFAI and is just one of just 200 departments in the world to maintain its accreditation with the CFAI.
    “This was when the commission decided to launch this process,” said Valdez. “We were one of five that participated in the beta site throughout the world.”

  • Gurule to speak at Lunch with a Leader

    Angelica Gurule, who oversees the Los Alamos County Green Team and staff liaison to the Environmental Sustainability Board, will be the guest speaker at the Lunch with a Leader talk hosted by the League of Women Voters.
    The meeting will begin at 11:45 a.m. Jan. 20 with a community lunch.
    Gurule is a native of the Española Valley. She started working in Los Alamos in 2001 as a medical records clerk.
    In 2003, she took the opportunity to work with Los Alamos National Laboratory as an undergraduate student in the Risk Reduction Environmental Stewardship Office.
    Once there she quickly realized she wanted to work in the environmental field. Her interest in recycling and waste reduction made her decide what she wanted to study.
    She graduated from the University of New Mexico with a bachelor’s degree in environmental science. Later, she completed her master’s degree at James Madison University in sustainable environmental resource management and information science and technology.
    At LANL, the majority of her positions focused on pollution prevention, waste reduction, energy conservation and promoting recycling and sustainability.

  • Today in history Jan. 14