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Local News

  • New Nuclear Security chief visits Los Alamos National Laboratory

    The new Department of Energy Undersecretary for Nuclear Security and NNSA Administrator Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty toured Los Alamos National Laboratory facilities Friday and address employees.

    “The work that’s done at Los Alamos is critical to the nation’s nuclear security and central to our stockpile stewardship mission,” she said to a standing-room-only audience of employees. “Los Alamos was established to develop a scientific solution to win World War II, and it has remained a truly extraordinary place where cutting-edge science and engineering are deployed in service to the nation.”

    Gordon-Hagerty was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in February. This was her first visit to the laboratory as NNSA administrator.

  • Geisik hearing delayed

    Stephen Geisik, 27, of Hernandez, a former Los Alamos resident, was granted a postponement of an evidentiary hearing Thursday. The new hearing date is May 4.

    Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer granted the move after Geisik’s attorney, Jennifer Burrill, asked for more time.

    “He’s facing a probation violation, and there are some allegations that involve some other agencies that we’re trying to get paperwork from,” Burrill said.

    Geisik was arrested Feb. 23 for violating the 20-year parole sentence he received April 6, 2015.  At that time he pleaded guilty to three counts of criminal sexual contact of a minor second degree (child under 13) and three counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

    Geisik moved to Hernandez July 15, 2017, and registered as a sex offender with the Rio Arriba County Sheriff’s Department in Española. His two children were living with him at the time.

    When Children Youth and Families officials made a second visit to his house Jan. 20, they removed his children and told him he had to get rid of his cats and buy mattresses for his kids. Geisik said he complied with their order. On Feb. 23 though, he was arrested.

  • County’s plan to use drones for inspections draws critics

    Los Alamos County’s plans to use drones for roof and construction inspections is already drawing fire from a group of local residents.

    County Council Candidate Helen Milenski said she’s concerned, not so much about the person who may request the roof inspection, but the neighbors next door and those who live in the general vicinity of the camera’s eye.

    “I waived my right to privacy because of that permit, but did my neighbor, or the neighbor down the block?” Milenski said.  

    Los Alamos County Council Chairman David Izraelevitz said he feels there really isn’t an issue with the Los Alamos County Development Office using a drone to do roof inspections.

    When asked about the expectations of privacy and other issues, Izraelevitz said there would be policies in place that will protect residents.

    Izraelevitz said the drones would also save the town money in the long run by preventing medical and legal liability.

    “Why wouldn’t you want to find a way for your workers not to climb on roofs?” Izraelevitz said.

    County Development Office Manager Paul Andrus said worker safety was the main reason why the drone was purchased.

  • New Mexico candidate forum focuses on vulnerable populations

    By MORGAN LEE, Associated Press

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Four candidates for governor of New Mexico squared off in a forum Thursday about how to shore up care networks for the severely disabled, elderly and residents coping with addiction and mental health issues.

    Specialty health care providers sponsored the discussion about shortages in the health care workforce, burdens of an aging state population and responses to Medicaid reforms sought by the Trump administration.

    The conversation at a university auditorium in Albuquerque veered off into prescriptions for reviving a lagging state economy and delved into mental health issues linked to gun violence.

    Seizing on concerns about workforce shortages in health care, U.S. Congressman and gubernatorial candidate Steve Pearce said he wants to require "able-bodied" adults to "go back to work" if they are on Medicaid. He said later that work could be in the form of apprenticeships that lead to new opportunities.

    The Trump administration in January said it would allow states to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients. It already approved proposals from Kentucky, Indiana and Arkansas. More than one-third of New Mexico residents are enrolled in Medicaid health care for people with low incomes and disabilities.

  • LA County roads take a front seat this month

    In spite of Los Alamos County’s request for a lean budget this year, the county’s roads and streets are getting a lot of positive attention.

    In the county’s proposal for its fiscal 2019-20 budget, released Saturday, the Public Works Department shared some good news about the condition of Los Alamos County’s 300-mile network of roads and streets.

    At the end of 2017, the Public Works Department did an in-depth assessment of its streets and roads, giving the 300-mile network a pavement condition index rating of 65.

    “The survey shows that 6 percent of the roads were rated as excellent, 20 percent of the of the roads received a good rating and 45 percent were listed as fair. One percent was listed as poor and 12 percent of the roads were listed as unacceptable.

    Los Alamos County Public Works Department Manager Shelton sees the roads improving in the coming years, as public works continues ongoing maintenance and repairs. If council approves this budget, the department’s budget will have about $4 million in the new budget to keep maintaining and improving the roads.

  • Fire dept. a step closer to $400,000 grant

    The Los Alamos Fire Department has moved a step closer to receiving a $400,000 grant that would help the department better control the ladder fuels that often help wildfires gain their momentum.

    LAFD actually started working toward this grant almost two years ago and was awarded the Phase I portion of the $400,000 in August 2017.

    The process is now moving into Phase II after a period set aside for public comment.

    “You always want to hear from the public because this is their county and they use these lands as much as we do,” said LAFD Wildland Division Chief Kelly Sterna. “We want to make sure everybody’s concerns are addressed.”

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved the LAFD’s final draft, and copies were made available to the public on March 29 at the Mesa Public Library. The public has 30 days from that date to comment on the final draft.

    “We want to see the public come back with comments,” said Sterna. “We had a non-required public meeting to kick off the project and we had some concerns that were brought forward. You want to try to address those whether it’s about a prescription we wrote to try to mitigate these fuels or just looking at the area in general to see if there’s an actual need to get in there and mitigate.”

  • County considers options for expanded services at public health office

    The return of a more comprehensive public health service to Los Alamos appears to be a matter of when, not if.

    Community Services Department Director Brian Brogan presented the options for public health service for residents at Tuesday night’s Los Alamos County Council Meeting.

    The New Mexico Department of Health, up until September 2016, staffed a Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. operation in Los Alamos, covering services such as family planning and vaccinations.

    Now the Public Health Office has been limited to being open on only the first and third Tuesday’s of each month, from 8 a.m.-noon and 1-5 p.m., with the WIC program seeing recipients on the second Thursday of each month.

    Brogan explained that in Option 1, the DOH would continue operating the Los Alamos PHO about two days a month on the first and third Tuesday of each month from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

    “The services would be limited to family planning, one day of WIC and children’s medical service by appointment,” he said. “Pretty much all the other services would be referred down to Española” to the Rio Arriba Public Health Office.”

  • Noon boom came from LANL test explosion

    A Los Alamos National Laboratory spokesman has confirmed an explosion that resonated throughout the downtown area of Los Alamos County at noon Thursday was the result of ongoing experiment tests.

    “The laboratory did conduct an explosives experiment on Thursday, April 5 at approximately noon,” according to LANL Spokesman Kevin Roark. “The laboratory uses high explosives in a wide variety of dynamic experiments, conducting several hundred experiments per year. While the vast majority of these experiments use small amounts of explosives, some are large enough to be heard off site.”

    Roark also said the lab makes preparations beforehand to make sure sound is kept to a minimum and safety to a maximum.

    “Before all experiments, the laboratory does an extensive assessment of atmospheric conditions in order to limit the possibility of off site sound intrusions. All experiments are conducted under strict regulations and with the utmost in safety, security and environmental stewardship,” Roark said.

  • Friday's Regional Coalition of LANL Communities meeting canceled

    Friday’s meeting of the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities has been canceled because not enough members of the coalition will be able to attend, according to Los Alamos County Manager Assistant Linda Matteson.

    Los Alamos County is now overseeing the coalition.

    The coalition planned to discuss a revised joint powers agreement, and a plan to recruit a new executive director.

    The meeting has been postponed until April 27. A new agenda will be posted April 23, Matteson said. The items on Friday’s agenda will be discussed, with the possibility of additional items. A location for the April 27 meeting has not been announced.

  • Virgin Galactic conducts 1st powered flight of new spaceship

    MOJAVE, Calif. (AP) — Virgin Galactic has conducted the first powered test flight of its new space tourism rocket.
    Virgin Galactic tweets that the spaceship named Unity was carried aloft by its mother ship and released over California's Mojave Desert early Thursday.

    The company says the spacecraft achieved supersonic speed before the pilots shut down the engine and it glided back to Mojave Air & Space Port.

    This was Virgin Galactic's first powered flight since the 2014 crash of its original spaceship that killed one of its two pilots.

    Unity was previously flown on test flights in which it remained attached to the mother ship and others in which it was released to glide without lighting the rocket.

    Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson tweets that "Space feels tantalisingly close now."