Local News

  • Council to propose DPU study

    After voicing frustration over recent requests for utility rate hikes, Los Alamos County Council is now asking for a study to find out just how the Department of Public Utilities operates.

     County Council set aside about $25,000 in funding for the study last week as part of the fiscal year 2018 budget.  

    Councilor Rick Reiss suggested the idea.  

    The funding includes money for a consultant.

    “I’m hoping the consultant is able to do both regular government accounting and also utility accounting so we can get some perspective,” Reiss said. 

    Council plans to bring the proposal up to the Board of Public Utilities and the DPU Tuesday. 

    The project would last no more than 120 days. If an agreement is reached on the plan, an oversight committee will be set up consisting of three county councilors, three members from the Board of Public Utilities, two people from the DPU and two county staff members. 

    In recent months, County Council expressed frustration with the DPU’s proposal to raise water and sewer rates by 8 percent. 

  • Senior centers’ budget short $70,000

     Betty Ehart and White Rock senior centers are short $70,000 for the next fiscal year following state and federal funding cuts, according to senior organization officials. Most at risk are the popular lunch programs.The Los Alamos Retired and Senior Organization sent out an appeal to its membership Tuesday, hoping private donations would make up for the shortfall.

    “I think it’s a shame that the government is choosing to shut down programs for older Americans who need those programs,” Betty Ehart Center Volunteer Ann LePage said about the situation. 

    The organization pointed to a decline in state and federal funding as the reasons for the shortfall. 

    Members who can afford it are being asked to donate $25 or more.  

    “Starting in July, our state and federal funding will be reduced, as it was this year for a total of 10 percent. We need to raise $70,000 to maintain our current operating capacity,” read a statement in an appeal sent out to its members in its monthly newsletter. 

  • County awarded $2M in federal funds for Canyon Rim Trail underpass

    Los Alamos County has been awarded about $2 million in federal funding for the Canyon Rim Trail Underpass project through the Transportation Alternatives Program. 

    “Los Alamos County is pleased to work once again with our state and federal partners to implement a project that will better serve our community," said County Engineer Eric Martinez.

    These funds, along with a county match of $340,000, will pay for the design and construction of an underpass across NM 502 from the Canyon Rim Trailhead to Entrada Drive just west of the Coop. 

    “This trail underpass will be a much needed safety improvement for crossing of NM502,” said Public Works Director Philo Shelton.  

    Funding is split to provide funds for project design in federal fiscal year 2018 and construction in fiscal year 2020. 

    The Transportation Alternatives Program was established by Congress in 2012, and is funded through a proportional set-aside of the core Federal-aid Highway Program.

  • Blaze burns Santa Fe Army barracks used in WWII

    SANTA FE (AP) — Officials say a fire broke out at a World War II-era building in Santa Fe that was part of the set of the "Manhattan" television series.
    The blaze next to the Santa Fe University of Art and Design sent flames 30 to 40 feet into the air Monday night. No injuries were reported.
    School spokeswoman Rachael Lighty says crews were able to get the flames under control about two hours after the fire started.
    The abandoned building was part of an Army hospital that housed men wounded in WWII.
    It was used later for two seasons of the WGN series "Manhattan," which debuted in 2014 and focused on the creation of the atomic bomb in Los Alamos in the 1940s.
    The cause of Monday's fire remains under investigation.


  • Payne chosen as LAHS principal

    Los Alamos Public Schools Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus announced Monday the district had selected Topper Freshman Academy Principal Carter Payne to become principal of Los Alamos High School starting July 1.

    “Mr. Payne has an extensive background in education. He is a seasoned teacher and administrator with strong interpersonal skills. Los Alamos High School is a community with solid traditions such as quality staff, high standards, support for a uniquely diverse population, and an uncanny ability to tackle challenging work.  I look forward to working with Carter to continue and grow the wonderful traditions at Los Alamos High School,” Steinhaus said in a release Monday.

    The New Mexico native served as principal for Topper Freshman Academy when it first started in 2016. Previously, he taught science and was an assistant principal in Las Cruces before moving to Los Alamos in 2010. Payne taught Physics at Los Alamos High School before becoming assistant principal in 2012. 

    School Board President Jenny McCumber said she was pleased that staff followed a very thoughtful and fair hiring process for Los Alamos High School principal. 

    “We had a strong pool of qualified candidates. Congratulations Mr. Carter Payne!” McCumber said.

    Mr. Payne said he was excited to be selected.

  • Police Beat 4-30-17

    Police Beat items are compiled from public information contained in Los Alamos Police Department Records. Charges or citations listed in Police Beat do not imply innocence or guilt. The Los Alamos Police Department uses the term “arrest” to define anyone who has been physically arrested, server a court summons, or issued a citation.

    March 30
    12:14 p.m. — Byron Keith, 49, of Los Alamos was arrested for a magistrate court warrant and was released.

    1:15 p.m. — Frank Bizzel, 33, of Española was arrested on a municipal court warrant and was released on a $10,000 bond.

    4:21 p.m. — Police found drugs in a vehicle being used for training at Fire Station 2.

    7:30 p.m. — Daniel J. Merrill, 29, was arrested on the 1000 block on Central Ave for disorderly conduct and use of loud/profane language.

    March 31
    10:46 a.m. — Javon Bert Martinez, 21, of Velarde was arrested on a warrant in another jurisdiction and larceny of over $55.  

    11:40 a.m. — A Santa Fe warrant was served on a male in LAPD jail facility.

    3:00 p.m. — Los Alamos Police Department investigated an animal case.

    April 1

  • On the Docket 4-30-17

    March 14
    Yvette Martinez pleaded no contest to speeding 16 to 20 miles an hour over the speed limit. Sentence deferred until May 12. Defendant also sentenced to defensive driving school and community service. Defendant must also pay $65 in court costs.

    Jacob Yoder paid a $50 fine for failing to display a current, valid registration plate while parked.

    March 15
    Jacob M. Hill was found guilty by the Los Alamos Municipal court of speeding one to five miles and hour over the speed limit in a school zone. Defendant was fined $30 and must also pay $65 in court costs.

    Richard Cobb was found guilty through Citepay of speeding six to 10 miles an hour over the speed limit. Defendant must pay $50 and must also pay $65 in court costs.

    Walter Spall was found guilty by the Los Alamos Municipal Court of speeding six to 10 miles an hour over the speed limit. Defendant was fined $50 and must also pay $65 in court costs.

    March 16
    Heather Metzger-Majors was found guilty through Citepay of speeding six to 10 miles an hour over the speed limit. Defendant must pay $50 and must also pay $65 in court costs.

  • Northern New Mexico College to raise tuition

    New students attending Northern New Mexico College will see tuition rates rise by 4.5 percent starting this upcoming quarter. The board made the decision Monday, and it was based on a proposed decrease in state funding from the state legislature.
    “The board made the decision not on the fear of what is coming, but solely based on what’s in House Bill 2 (higher education bill),” NNMC President Rick Bailey said. “Even what was given to the governor had more cuts to higher education and we’ve taken what will end up being about an 8.4 percent cut over the last 18, 19 months. The tuition increase was solely based on the cuts we’ve already taken.” The board voted 3-1 in favor of the raise.
    The tuition isn’t going to cover the House Bill 2 cuts either.
    “We are still going to make other cuts as an institution,” Bailey said. The cost cutting measures and the tuition hike are expected to save staff position and prevent programs getting cut.
    The board also decided to raise tuition immediately so as not to appear to be deceiving students taking part in early registration, which started Wednesday.

  • Quarterly crime stats show downward trend

    Los Alamos Police Department Chief of Police Dino Sgambellone recently released crime statistics, which showed a downward trend for the first quarter of 2017.
    The main purpose of distributing these quarterly crime statistics is to let people know what is happening in their community, according to Sgambellone.
    Sgambellone’s impressions were positive overall.
    “We continue to see a downward trend, which is a good thing for Los Alamos,” he said.
    Sgambellone attributed this to not only enforcement on the police department’s part, but also “prevention education and treatment that we partner with the community on to help sustain a low crime rate,” which makes Los Alamos one of the safest communities in the nation.
    Offenses reported as crime statistics are determined by the FBI Uniform Crime Report Program and are classified as crimes against persons (violent crime) and crimes against property.  
    The offenses of murder (homicide), rape, robbery and aggravated assault make up the violent crime category.  
    The offenses of arson, burglary, larceny, and auto theft make up the property crime category. Both of these categories combined are referred to as Part I Offenses.

  • LAPD gets body cams

    The Los Alamos Police Department has joined the ranks of law enforcement using body-worn cameras, which is a device that attaches to an officer’s uniform and records video while they are on duty.
    Commander Preston Ballew, the manager of this project, said body cams had been in the back of the department’s mind for a few years, but the department was finally able to start implementing the program last year.
    At this point, every police officer in Los Alamos utilizes this special piece of equipment.
    The main goal behind this implementation is transparency and accountability.  “Personally, it’s not so much that I worry about my officers and what they do,” Ballew said, but more so when an officer is accused of something. The body cam is used as a tool to show the real issue, whatever that may be.
    “Maybe it will reflect a training issue, maybe it will clear up a complaint that the officer clearly didn’t do anything wrong,” Ballew said.
    Another example of its use could be in a traumatic situation where the officer cannot remember the details of the incident. The body-worn camera “gives us a first look as to what the officer was seeing and hearing at the time,” Ballew said.
    As many might assume, the video footage can be used as evidence in court.