Local News

  • 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.

  • Snow removal ordinance fails

    An ordinance that would have required residents to remove snow from sidewalks adjacent to their property within 24 hours of a snowfall failed by a 5–2 vote of the Los Alamos County Council on Tuesday. Only councilors David Izraelevitz and Kristin Henderson supported the motion.
    Community Development Director Paul Andrus tried to reassure council that the CDD would not be heavy-handed in enforcing the ordinance, noting that it would be enforced on a complaint basis with a focus on resolving the problem.
    The ordinance required a courtesy notice as the first step in resolving the issue, but also allowed fines for noncompliance. CDD would also work with those physically unable to clear sidewalks.
    “We see this as an ordinance that is attempting to address that hazardous or chronic situation, something that is clearly a problem, something that clearly needs to be addressed within a particular time period,” Andrus said.
    Andrus stressed that tickets are rare under a program such as this. County Manager Harry Burgess pointed out that only 5 percent of the nuisance complaints that staff process end up in court.

  • Mountain Air Cleaners opens at new location

    The Los Alamos Laundromat may be closed, but owner Dina Quintana wants people to know that Mountain Air Cleaners is up and running in a new location.
    “We definitely want people to know that we’re still here and that even with the laundromat gone, there are still things that we can do,” Quintana said.
    Quintana – who owns the enterprise with her husband Richard Beaudoin – explained why the couple had to close the laundromat, which they acquired 25 years ago. There had been a laundromat at that location since the 1950s.
    Their landlord decided to utilize the building they were in for other purposes and gave all the tenants notice.
    “We certainly did not want to reduce our services,” Quintana said. “But the truth of the matter is that we did not own the building. We rented the building and our landlord elected to do something different with the building. And we had to respect that.”
    Quintana and Beaudoin tried to find another location, but were unable to locate any with the type of infrastructure a laundromat requires.
    Laundromats have very specialized utility needs, such as large power and sewage capacity, not the type of infrastructure found in most commercial space.

  • Census report: N.M. sees economic growth; LA remains steady

    New Mexico residents have been riding a wave of recent economic prosperity and growth, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau report.
    New Mexico saw a significant rise in income and a decrease in poverty rates, according to the “2015 American Community Survey,” released Thursday.
    The data showed that real median household income grew by 1.2 percent, or $523, for all households in New Mexico.
    The Santa Fe and the Albuquerque metro areas saw the fastest rates of growth, with incomes rising 5.3 percent in Santa Fe.
    Los Alamos census statistics showed 4.2 percent of the population lives in poverty and 4 percent of county residents do not have health insurance. Median household income has remained steady at $105,989.
    Acting Secretary of New Mexico’s Economic Development Department Barbara Brazil welcomed the good news, and credited Gov. Susana Martinez with contributing to New Mexico’s rise in economic prosperity.