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Local News

  • Ohkay Owingeh seeks help to preserve its adobe homes

    BY TRIS DEROMA and JILL MCLAUGHLIN
    Los Alamos Monitor

    Ohkay Owingeh resident Lourdes Little stood on the wooden floor of Fuller Lodge Wednesday, the rain patted against the glass and wood of the historic building and tears began to fill her eyes as the memories of her father’s words poured out.

    “I can still hear him talking about it. He used to say ‘You kids. This house was given to you by Mother Earth,’” Little began as she retold the story of her father’s words to her and her 11 brothers and sisters from many years ago.

    The house she described had one bedroom the children shared. They had one kitchen. Their mother and father lived in the other room of the small adobe house on the Pueblo.

    “I told my dad – we all did – ‘What do you mean Mother Earth made this home?’ and he said, ‘Well, think about it. You’ve seen us build our extra rooms if we need it. If we need extra rooms, where did we go? We went to the river, and we asked the Rio Grande River. Why? Because that’s where we got the rocks to start building the foundation,’” Little said.

  • Court orders N.M. secretary of state to enact 10 bills while awaiting appeal

    SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's secretary of state says 10 bills have been enacted into law after a court found that vetoes by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez were invalid.

    Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver said Thursday that a state district court judge denied a request to block the bills while the governor prepares an appeal.

    Members of the Democrat-led Legislature say Martinez either failed to indicate the reason why she vetoed the bills or missed a three-day deadline. Those veto requirements are designed to help lawmakers respond to the governor's concerns and to keep the Legislature operating efficiently.

    If left standing, the newly enacted laws open the way for industrial hemp research programs and allow high school students to count computer science classes toward core math credits needed for graduation.

  • Wounded Scalise returns to Capitol to bipartisan cheers

    Wounded Scalise returns to Capitol to bipartisan cheers
    By ALAN FRAM, Associated Press

    WASHINGTON (AP) — To bipartisan hugs, tears and a roaring standing ovation, a hobbling House Republican Whip Steve Scalise returned to the House on Thursday, more than three months after a gunman sprayed fire at a baseball practice and left the lawmaker fighting for his life.

    "You have no idea how great this feels to be back here at work in the people's House," the 51-year old Louisianan said to a chamber packed with lawmakers, including senators who crossed the Capitol to welcome him back.

    Scalise limped into the chamber on crutches and wearing sneakers, smiling broadly and blowing kisses in his first public appearance since the June 14 shooting. In an extraordinary gesture, Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., presided and ordered members to sit in their chairs to listen to Scalise's remarks.

    "Our prayers have been answered," Ryan said.

    The moment marked a departure from the bitter divisions that have dominated Congress this year between two parties locked in combat over President Donald Trump and the GOP agenda.

    "It does show the warm side of Congress that very few people get to see," Scalise said.

  • Ohkay Owingeh seeks outside help with housing project

    Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo is seeking private donations to help it finish a revitalization project that has already breathed new life into the heart of the community.

    The $11.5 million housing project started 12 years ago. The Pueblo spent 12 years and $8 million in federal funding to restore 34 dilapidated houses on its four central plazas. The pueblo has 15 more houses to restore, and this time its looking to neighboring communities for help.

    The houses fell into disrepair after families began moving to the outskirts of the Pueblo and into more modern government housing.

    “Some people left the more traditional, older adobe homes around the plazas and moved into nice, new HUD (Housing and Urban Development) Housing,” Ohkay Owingeh Housing Authority Development Officer Leslie Colley said.

    According to Colley, it was around 2005 that Executive Director Tomasita Duran decided to do put some resources together to rebuild the homes.

    While 34 of the homes have been completed and occupied, they need help raising $3.5 million to complete the last 15.

    The Pueblo will give a presentation at Fuller Lodge Wednesday to make Los Alamos County residents aware of the project, and how residents can help them through a New Mexico tax-credit program.

  • NNSA says LANL workers faced no danger in latest incident

    The National Nuclear Security Administration, the federal agency that oversees the Los Alamos National Laboratory, said the workers casting a plutonium pit were not in any danger of causing a nuclear chain reaction when they violated safety rules governing the casting process.

    The public was not in danger either.

    The incident happened on Aug. 17. According to a report on the incident by the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, workers casting a plutonium pit failed to accurately document the movement of the pit, causing the pit to be moved into an area where there was already plutonium present, putting the amount of plutonium allowed in a certain area over the safety limit.

    Five days later, when workers moved the pit, they discovered the error, and moved other nuclear material  “for product quality and security” according to the report. According to established training criteria, they were instead supposed to declare a potential change in procedure.

    Lab management informed the NNSA field office of the incident and the actions taken. Management informed NNSA officials that they disqualified the workers involved and introduced new rules and procedures. The new rules require that all movements of nuclear material be authorized through the casting room group leader.

  • Relay for Life to take over Ashley Pond this weekend

    Twelve teams walking for Los Alamos Relay for Life will be circling Ashley Pond Park beginning Saturday morning until evening to battle cancer.

    The relay is the annual fund raising event for the American Cancer Society and takes place in hundreds communities across the nation.

    The Los Alamos relay involves teams of people who have asked donors to sponsor them from around the community.

    All teams are asked to have a team member on the circuit from 10 a.m. until the closing ceremony at 8:30 p.m.

    While team members are walking, the rest of the community can enjoy some activities, including bounce houses, a silent auction, dunk tank, Zumba, and demonstrations of equipment with Los Alamos firefighters and police officers.

    Before the main event, sponsors will honor cancer survivors with a Survivor’s Lap, followed by a Caregiver’s Lap for all of those who take care of people with cancer.

    An opening ceremony will be held at 9 a.m., registration starts at 8 a.m.

    A luminaria ceremony begins at 6 p.m. Purchase of a luminaria to remember a loved one, someone who is fighting cancer, or someone who is supporting a person with cancer, can be purchased.

    A donation of $10 to the American Cancer Society is suggested.  Credit cards are accepted.

  • Smoke in LA from small fire in Jemez Ranger District Monday

    A lightning-sparked fire on Peggy Mesa in the Jemez Ranger District allowed fire managers to burn excess fuel in the forest Monday, according to the Santa Fe National Forest.

    The smoke in Los Alamos and White Rock on Monday came from the 1,022-acre Deer Creek Fire on the mesa – a site where fuel wood slash, timber killed by insects and trees cut down to reduce density burned in a controlled manner after a lightning hit over the weekend.

    Due to rain in the area, the fire set by Mother Nature was given an additional boost with aerial ignition to complete the entire portion set for management with a low-intensity burn, according to a press release provided by the Santa Fe National Forest.

    Smoke was visible in Albuquerque on Monday, as well.

    Besides reducing fuel that could stoke a high-intensity fire, the Deer Creek Fire was intended to provide protection for historical and culture sites, as well improving forest health, wildlife habitat and range conditions, according to the service.

               

     

     

  • New science standards may not be enough

    New science standards proposed by the state’s Public Education Department for elementary through high school students may not do enough to combat ignorance of science, according to a resolution proposed by Jenny McCumber, president of the Los Alamos Schools Board.

    Instead, the PED should embrace the original Next Generation Science Standards, with some specific additions about New Mexico-related phenomenon, McCumber’s proposal says.

    The board will discuss the resolution at its monthly work session, which begins at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Mountain Elementary, 2280 North Road.

    Other items include reports on the scope and costs of two construction projects, a closed discussion on the evaluation of the superintendent, report on education goals from Mountain Elementary staff, and a proposal to bar vaping from school grounds.

    The state education department drew fire last week after its new proposed standards, called New Mexico STEM-Ready Science Standards, were released in mid-September. While the proposal appears to have included Next Gen standards, omissions may have diluted its rigor, said Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard, D-Los Alamos and chair of the House of Representatives’ Education Committee. She commented last week.

  • Residents get update on gun bill legislation

    A bill requiring background checks for the sale of guns at gunshows and over the internet may get a hearing in 2019, according to gun control advocates who spoke at a Voices of Los Alamos meeting Monday night.

    Members of a group affiliated with Everytown, called Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, were there, along with Taryn Nix, a political advisor to State Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard.

    Moms Demand Action representatives urged the audience to get involved, to meet with their legislators about the bill and other gun control related issues.

    “If you want to go online and buy a gun online you do not need any type of background check whatsoever. There’s a lot of transactions happening out there,” said New Mexico Moms Demand Action volunteer Maggie Byers to the audience about what’s happening in the state. “Why would you steal a gun if you don’t have to? You can go online, you can get one in Albertson’s parking lot for $50. We want to address the fact that New Mexico has largely ignored the people that are arguing this.”

  • Texas firm awarded $19M for storing New Mexico nuclear waste

    LOS ALAMOS (AP) — A Texas firm is being awarded a contract worth more than $19 million to continue storing radioactive waste from a federal laboratory that was initially intended to be disposed of at an underground government site in southern New Mexico.

    The U.S. Energy Department had the containers sent to Waste Control Specialists in Andrews County, Texas, after a 2014 radiation release forced a nearly three-year closure of the government's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

    The repository resumed operations earlier this year, but the two-year storage order allows for the waste to remain in Texas until shipments to the repository ramp up.

    Los Alamos National Laboratory initially sent 582 barrels of waste to Texas, including 113 containers similar to one that caused the radiation leak at the repository. Investigators say that container was inappropriately packed and caused a chemical reaction.