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Local News

  • Habitat helps history

    BY VICTORIA ERHART
    Special to the Monitor

  • Topper Freshman Academy gains new physics teacher

    New Topper Freshman Academy teacher Ali Renner began teaching Conceptual Physics Jan. 30.
    Her path to landing the job started with a walk around Ashley Pond. Renner was hanging out her kids and a friend when her friend introduced her to Carter Payne, the academy’s principal.
    She told him that she used to be a physics teacher. That got his attention.
    They exchanged emails and right before winter break, he emailed her saying one of the physics teachers was moving. Would she be interested in the job?
    “I had always thought that when my children went to school, I would start subbing and see how it goes. But this came up, and I said, ‘Wow! It seems too good to be true. I feel really lucky,” Renner said.
    Renner earned her bachelor’s degree in physics, with a minor in math, at the University of Cincinnati. She went on to Boston University where she started work on her Ph.D.  
    While at Boston University, she was required to teach the freshmen physics course. While other grad students seemed to think it was a drag to teach the freshmen, Renner said she loved it.
    “It was fun, and I realized that I looked forward to my teaching more than my own classes and the research that I was doing,” she said.
    That was the moment she said she realized that she loved teaching.

  • Teacher sick leave bill vetoed

    Gov. Susana Martinez on Thursday vetoed a bill intended to stop penalizing public school teachers on their evaluations if they take more than three days of sick leave, making good on her promise to keep intact a teacher rating system that has been heavily criticized by educators since it was put in place in 2012.
    The veto drew immediate rebukes from teachers unions and, in a rare move, prompted one of the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Craig Brandt, R-Rio Rancho, to say he will attempt to muster enough votes to override it.
    It would be the first attempt to override a Martinez veto in the six years she’s been governor. Momentum for an override could be stalled in the House, however, where enthusiasm for overturning the governor’s decision appeared less urgent Thursday. To override the veto, the Senate and the House would need a two-thirds majority vote.
    The legislation, dubbed the “Teachers Are Human Too” bill by its sponsors, had cleared the Legislature with near unanimous support. The bill would have allowed teachers to take up to 10 days of sick leave without hurting their performance evaluations. The Senate passed the bill with no dissenting votes. The House passed it 64-3. The main sponsor of the bill was Rep. Jason Harper, a Republican from Rio Rancho. Co-sponsors included two Democrats and two Republicans.

  • BPU OK’s power plant repairs

    A county hydroelectric plant shut down nearly a year ago is expected to be back in service this summer, following the approval of a contract to fix a broken seal this week.
    The Board of Public Utilities voted 4-0 Monday to authorize the DPU to purchase a “field services” contract with Voith Hydro for $120,000 along with $52,000 in funding for components to fix the bad seal on a turbine and generator unit at the county’s El Vado Hydroelectric Plant.
    The plant was shut down in May 2016 because of the leak.
    The water from the generator was leaking into the plant’s powerhouse.
    “It got to the point where the plant had to shut itself down because it was a flooding condition that could cause damage if it continued,” said Deputies Utilities Manager James Alarid at Monday’s meeting.
    The Voith Hydro contract is to hire Voith Hydro personnel to make sure JR Merit, who installed the valve during the original refurbishment, do it to specifications outlined by DPU and Voith Hydro. Voith Hydro is the manufacturer of the turbine and generator unit.
    If JR Merit ultimately decides not to do the repair, the contract gives DPU permission to have Voith Hydro perform the repairs itself.

  • Today in history March 9
  • Alaska Airlines adds daily Albuquerque-San Francisco flight

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — City officials say Alaska Airlines is adding a non-stop, daily flight from Albuquerque to San Francisco and back this fall.
    The flights will begin Sept. 18 with one flight leaving for San Francisco International Airport at 7:15 a.m. and another flight headed back to Albuquerque International Sunport at 6:15 p.m.
    The daily flights will be operated by Horizon Air on 76-seat E175 jets.
    Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry says Alaska Airlines now will serve four nonstop destinations from the Sunport.
    Since 2009, the Sunport has added three new airlines with service to three new destinations and expanded options to five existing destinations.
    The city also has announced a major renovation project to the pre-security portion of the terminal this spring, with completion scheduled next year.
     

  • Shoplifter strikes pedestrian after fleeing Bealls

    UPDATED: 4:20 p.m.

    Los Alamos police are searching for a light-blue, silver Volvo driven by a suspected shoplifter after the suspect struck a pedestrian in the Bealls parking lot after noon today while speeding away from the store.

    Los Alamos fire personnel attended to the 47-year-old man who hit the windshield of the vehicle driven by the suspect. The windshield was shattered.

    The man was loaded into an ambulance at the scene and transported to Los Alamos Medical Center. Police expect to release more information about the incident in an official press release, according to officers at the scene.

    More details will be added to this story as it develops.

  • Over objections, New Mexico energy chief confirmed

    By Andrew Oxford

    The New Mexican

    After his confirmation hearing turned to discussion of climate change and the Four Corners methane hotspot on Wednesday, environmental groups lambasted Mew Mexico's top oil and gas regulator as echoing politically conservative talking points while one legislator described the conversation as "very troubling."\

    But despite opposition from conservationists and a small group of Democratic lawmakers, the state Senate voted 32-4 to confirm former oil and gas industry executive Kenley McQueen as secretary of the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department.

    While McQueen won praise from some lawmakers as having an expert grasp on the sector he is now in charge of policing, environmental groups have likened his appointment to picking a fox to guard a hen house, prompting some of the harshest opposition that any of Gov. Susana Martinez's appointees have met so far in the current legislative session.

    The secretary's confirmation hearing on Wednesday only seemed to enflame criticism from liberal senators.

    "What I heard today was very troubling," Sen. Cisco McSorley, D-Albuquerque, said later on the Senate floor.

  • New Mexico officials warn of escalating fire danger

    SANTA FE (AP) — State and federal land managers in New Mexico are warning people about escalating fire danger.
    This week, red flag warnings were issued throughout eastern New Mexico due to extreme fire danger, and the dry, windy conditions are likely to remain in the forecast.
    Surrounding states such as Colorado, Oklahoma and Kansas have already been hit with serious wildfires this year due to similar conditions.
    So far this year, officials say New Mexico has seen 55 wildfires burn more than 10 square miles — about half of that being charred in the last two weeks alone.
    Acting State Forester Donald Griego says last year's fire season was very active and destructive. More than 200 square miles burned on public and private lands in 2016.

  • Los Alamos County reports email system attacked by phishing scam

    Los Alamos County reported today its email system was attacked by an apparent phishing scam and has turned the incident over to law enforcement.

    The incident affected at least one public works employee, according to the county spokeswoman.

    “While it is believed that the attack was contained to a single e-mail account in the Public Works Department, the County turned the matter over to the Los Alamos Police Department for investigation. Affected employees have been notified and LAPD Investigations conducted a thorough investigation of this incident,” said Spokeswoman Julie Habiger, in a statement released today.
    The county’s e-mail system is hosted as a cloud-based system. The county uses multiple layers of anti-virus and anti-malware protections, Habiger said in a statement.

    The county Human Resources division issued letters to employees who might have been impacted by the scam and has placed these individuals in a credit monitoring service for one year at no cost to the employee.

    County Manager Harry Burgess has taken it a step further and urges all county residents to be cautious of suspicious emails.