Local News

  • US awards $73M contract for border wall work in New Mexico

    By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN, Associated Press

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The U.S. government has awarded a Montana-based company a contract worth more than $73 million to design and build replacement fencing along 20 miles (32 kilometers) of the U.S.-Mexico border in southern New Mexico, officials confirmed Wednesday.

    Existing vehicle barriers west of the Santa Teresa port of entry will be replaced with taller bollard-style barriers under the contract awarded in January to Barnard Construction Co. Inc. Bollard walls typically consist of sturdy, vertical posts that are spaced to provide visibility to the other side but are difficult to walk through.

    Regional Customs and Border Protection officials said there was no timeline for when work might start, and the construction company did not respond to email and phone requests inquiring about project details.

    News of the contract came after a federal judge in California sided this week with President Donald Trump on a challenge to building his promised border wall. The court rejected arguments that the administration overreached by waiving laws requiring environmental and other reviews before construction could begin.

  • Izraelevitz announces bid for 2nd term

    When David Izraelevitz was first appointed to the council in July 2011 Smith’s Marketplace was just a plan. He ran and won a seat in 2014, and now, he wants to continue to see how far he and the rest of council can go.

    Izraelevitz said Monday the council, as a group, has managed to maintain a certain path for the county to follow, and he would like to see that continue.

    “We’ve accomplished a lot in the last seven years, and I’d like to continue moving our community forward,” Izraelevitz said. “It’s been a great privilege, and actually a lot of fun.”

    Speaking just for himself, Izraelevitz said whatever path the council sets for itself after the next election, the Los Alamos National Laboratory must be a priority in any plans the council makes.

    “It is, and always will be, the economic engine that drives the community,” Izraelevitz said.

    He also said it’s important that the community and the Los Alamos National Laboratory find ways to continue to support each other and grow the relationship. When that happens, he says, everybody wins.

    “We need to make sure the community is an asset for the laboratory and not a liability, as far as recruitment is concerned,” Izraelevitz said.

  • PEEC raising funds for projector

    The Pajarito Environmental Education Center and a group of expert astronomers are raising funds for a new $80,000 projector for the planetarium that would double the brightness and resolution.

    Opening in 2005, the quality of planetarium shows has been hampered by the limitations of the planetarium projector, according to Sandra West, spokeswoman for PEEC.

    “During star shows, astronomers are unable to show the audience the different colors of the stars or their relative brightness, as the projector’s resolution is too poor. Films often appear dull, or washed out, their colors pale and uninspiring,” West said in a release late Tuesday.

    A group of expert astronomers who volunteer in the planetarium decided to do something about this.

    They are raising $80,000 for the new Digitarium Lambda Plus projector and plan to have the projector installed by Earth Day 2018, just in time for the opening of the award-winning National Parks Adventure film narrated by Robert Redford.

    As of Tuesday night, nearly $39,000 was raised. The new projector will give people a WOW experience – the kind that inspires children to pursue a career in astronomy or other sciences, West said in the release.

  • Santa Fe man arrested in connection to Pajarito Cliffs break-in

    The Los Alamos Police Department investigators arrested a Santa Fe man Monday on several charges related to an attempted break-in at the Los Alamos County Pajarito Cliffs Site on Feb. 17.

    Police are searching a second suspect, according a press release issued by LAPD Wednesday.

    Antonio Trujillo, 31, of Santa Fe, was arrested and charged with five counts of burglary; four counts of larceny; three counts of receiving/transferring stolen vehicle; two counts of breaking and entering; two counts of criminal damage to property; and one count each of unlawful taking of a vehicle; attempted burglary; aggravated fleeing and conspiracy to commit burglary.

    Arrest warrants are active for Gregorio Trujillo, 29, of Santa Fe. He is charged with one count each of receiving/transferring stolen vehicle; burglary; breaking and entering; criminal damage to property; and larceny.

    “LAPD investigators are still working with the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Office and the New Mexico State Police to determine if others were also involved in these crimes,” said LAPD Commander Preston Ballew. “Leads are being followed up on and future arrests are imminent in regards to these crimes and those committed at the storage rooms located at 1265 Trinity Dr.”

  • Fake news: An old problem is new again

    Despite what some may think, fake news is not something new to the 21st Century. Then again, neither is the best way to combat fake news.

    The unfortunate twist is that the lack of use of the latter is allowing the former to rage out of control.
    Journalist and author James McGrath Morris discussed that matter Monday night at the monthly meeting of Voices of Los Alamos.

    An audience of approximately 70 people met at the Unitarian Church to hear Morris speak on the topic of “Journalism Ethics and the War over Fake News: A Guide for Citizens Wanting to be Media Literate.”

    He said the status of fake news today is as big an issue as it was back in the dawn of newspapers.

    “It is a seismic tremor comparable to that in the 19th century when the modern mass media emerged from the debris in that we’re going through a period of immense change in journalism,” he said. “And what will come out of it we don’t know.”

    Morris said there’s a “huge danger” in fake news today.

    "The fact that people are ready to believe what you and I know is not real news, and a large part of the population is believing it, undermines your work as a journalist and undermines our work as citizens because what can we trust?" he said.

  • LANL Coalition in disaray after audit

    Los Alamos Monitor

    As of today, the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities may be operating without an executive director.

    The contract with Executive Director Andrea Romero officially expired today, leaving the regional group without someone at the helm.

    Meanwhile, the coalition remains entangled in an organizational mess and seeking legal advice following an internal audit completed earlier this month that uncovered questionable expenditures made by Romero.

    The internal audit was published by Los Alamos County Feb. 21 was prompted by a complaint by a state group seeking information on travel expenditures.

    During a review of the audit Monday, the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities was told it never had the authority to hire Executive Director Andrea Romero, and her supporting staff through Romero’s consulting company, Andrea Romero Consulting. 

    The audit of the travel expenditures was prompted by a complaint from Northern New Mexico Protects, which requested the organization’s internal emails and receipts for examination. The audit found Romero spent $1,850 on a dinner in Washington, D.C., $307 for a dozen Major League Baseball ticke

    ts and other gatherings where alcohol was purchased.

  • Utility reaches agreement in Texas over proposed wind farms

    By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN, Associated Press

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — A utility has reached an agreement with rural electric cooperatives and others as it looks for regulatory approval to build two massive wind farms along the Texas-New Mexico border.

    Xcel Energy on Tuesday announced the proposed deal with several parties in Texas, which would guarantee customers see a positive net benefit from the wind farms for the first 10 years of operation. The agreement also caps related construction costs that could be recovered through customer rates.

    A similar agreement was reached in recent months with the New Mexico attorney general's office, consumer advocates and others in New Mexico. It's now up to utility regulators in both states to approve the $1.6 billion project. Final decisions could come as early as March.

    Xcel officials say the proposed wind farms would take advantage of what has become the least expensive generating resource in the region to reduce fuel costs and ultimately save customers money on their monthly bills.

    "We know these projects will deliver lower-cost electricity, protect the environment and stimulate local economic development," David Hudson, Xcel's New Mexico and Texas president, said in a statement.

  • Police ID victims found near roadside as missing roommates

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Police say the two people whose bodies were found near a rural New Mexico roadside have been identified as a 70-year-old man and a 28-year-old woman who had been renting a room from him in Albuquerque.
    Both Eugene Carrell Ray and Zakaria Fry were reported missing last month.

    Officer Simon Drobik confirmed Tuesday that the roommates were the two victims who authorities say were found last week in Stanton, a small town in southern Santa Fe County and more than 40 miles east of Albuquerque.

    Fry, a transgender woman, previously was known as Zackary Fry.

    Albuquerque police have taken over as the lead agency on the case, which is being investigated as a homicide.

  • Interim university president to return to provost job

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — The acting and then interim president of the University of New Mexico will return to his former post as the new president enters the office.

    The Albuquerque Journal reports Chaouki Abdallah will return to his job as university provost when Garnett Stokes assumes the presidency Thursday.

    The university honored Abdallah for his contributions in the top role with a reception Monday. The regents also recognized his work by officially naming him the 22nd university president earlier this month.

    The board of regents selected Abdallah to take over the presidency after former university President Bob Frank left the position in December 2016.

    Abdallah says he is happy to return to "the heart of the university," a role that he considers to be possibly the most vital.

  • BPU has doubts about nuclear power project

    Some members of the Board of Public Utilities voiced doubt about a possible investment in a small-scale nuclear power project Wednesday during a meeting with the Department of Public Utilities.

    The meeting was a preview of a joint public meeting the board will have about the project with the County Council at 6 p.m. March 6 at the county Municipal Building. 

    The board was expecting answers about what the risk would be to the county if the project went sour.

    The project is proposed and designed by Nuscale and consists of 12 50-megawatt light water, nuclear reactor modules. The units would be installed in Idaho.

    The Board of Public Utilities is expected make a decision about whether to invest $500,000 in the project in late March.
    BPU member Stephen McLin wanted to know why they haven’t given them more definite answers, since the initial Jan. 25 meeting explaining the project.