Local News

  • 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.

  • N.M. warily studies Republican health overhaul plan

    SANTA FE (AP) — New Mexico’s health care sector and policy makers were warily studying a proposal Tuesday by U.S. House Republicans to replace the Affordable Care Act that has cut the state’s uninsured rate in half since 2013.
    Of particular concern were measures to reduce federal matching funds for newcomers to Medicaid health coverage starting in mid-2019, and link overall federal spending on Medicaid to a limited, per-beneficiary amount.
    Residents of New Mexico have flocked to enroll in Medicaid health care for the poor and disabled since Republican Gov. Susana Martinez agreed to expand the program to more low-income individuals. The uninsured rate in New Mexico has plummeted to 8.9 percent of the population, from 18.6 percent in 2013, according to state insurance regulators.
    Martinez, who cannot run for a third term in 2018, now favors repeal and replacement of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, while declining to comment Tuesday.

  • Lawmakers consider renewable energy tax credits

    The New Mexican

  • New UNM-LA Advisory Board sworn in
  • Wallstrom to hold recital at Fuller Lodge

    Miriam Wallstrom, a high school junior, will present her first trumpet recital at Fuller Lodge at 2 p.m. Sunday.
    Playing pieces on both a b-flat trumpet and a piccolo trumpet, she will perform works by Haydn, Albinoni, Sasche, and a Dixieland jazz piece.
    Jan McDonald is her music teacher, and he will accompany her on trumpet for several of her recital pieces. Cindy Little, a well-known piano player, will also accompany her on the piano, and her friend, Jenny Paige, will play duets with her on the euphonium.
    Wallstrom has studied the trumpet for almost six years, played in the Los Alamos Middle School band for two years, and played in the Los Alamos High School band for one-and-a-half years. She was selected for the New Mexico All State Band two years in a row. During the previous two summers Wallstrom studied trumpet at the Interlochen Arts Camp in Michigan. The first summer there she spent a week at an intensive Trumpet Institute and the second summer she spent six weeks playing with the World Youth Wind Symphony.
    In addition to the trumpet, Wallstrom also plays the piano, and at the high school is active in the National History Day Club, and the Key Club, a service organization related to Kiwanis. In Key Club, she will serve as an officer during the 2017-2018 school year. She is also a member of the LAHS National Honor Society.

  • Gov. mulls special session if issues linger

    ALBUQUERQUE — The focus of New Mexico lawmakers on “meaningless bills” such as establishing the official state dance may force Gov. Susana Martinez to call a special session to deal with larger issues such as the strapped budget, a spokesman for the governor said Tuesday.
    Martinez, a Republican, might have no choice because the Democratic-controlled Legislature is debating measures such as a holiday song about the traditional foods of empanada and posole, said Michael Lonergan, a Martinez spokesman.
    State lawmakers also have considered declaring the green chile cheeseburger as New Mexico’s official burger.
    Meanwhile, the full Legislature has yet to pass a budget that would address a significant shortfall in funding for public education, Medicaid and other government programs.
    In addition, the Democratic-controlled Senate has refused to hold confirmation hearings on some of the governor’s appointments, and both chambers have stalled items like payday loan and ethics reforms.
    “Not only have they killed bills to protect children from predators – they are even neglecting to do their basic constitutional duties,” said Michael Lonergan, a Martinez spokesman.

  • Police to conduct drill at 1 p.m. today at Barranca

    The Los Alamos Police Department will be conduct training at Barranca Mesa Elementary School at 1-3 p.m. today.  
    The police plan to notify any nearby residents to disregard the increase in police presence during that time frame at the school.   

  • Cadet achieves milestone

    Monday night, Civil Air Patrol Cadet Officer Jack Weston Stafford achieved a milestone in his career that few cadets with the CAP ever achieve.
    Stafford received his General Billy Mitchell Award, an award that shows he has successfully completed the second phase of the CAP cadet program. With his award, Stafford graduated from CAP Chief Master Sergeant to a CAP 2d Lt.
    Very few CAP cadets in the country get this far in the program. The award marks a turning point in their careers in CAP.  
    “There are 23,000 cadets in the U.S. Of those 23,000, only 15 percent of them achieve the Mitchell Award,” said Lt. Col. and Deputy Commander for Cadets Annette Peters.
    The Mitchell Award marks the midway point in Stafford’s career in the Los Alamos CAP squadron, otherwise known as the Los Alamos Composite Squadron. To get to that point, Stafford logged many hours in leadership training, physical training, aerospace training and character development.
    “It’s definitely taken a lot of work,” Stafford said. “I’m very excited to have the honor of wearing these new ranks.”
    Stafford was inspired to make the achievement after seeing the examples set by his fellow friends and cadets, cousin J.D. Downing and friend Caleb Britton.