Local News

  • Police seek info on shoplifters
  • County to start homebuyer assistance program

    During the Los Alamos County Council work session on Tuesday, Community Development Department Director Paul Andrus updated council on a variety of issues related to housing, including the state of the current housing market, how many lots might be available for building and some of the challenges facing the county in terms of having housing available for approximately 2,000 employees Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) expects to recruit in the next five years.
    According to Andrus, the market for both rental properties and homes for sale is very tight right now. However, staff estimates there is enough vacant land zoned residential to build approximately 800 homes to accommodate an additional 2.000 residents.
    “This is encouraging. I didn’t expect that we already had that capacity,” Councilor David Izraelevitz said. “Another statistic that’s useful is a lot of large chains have kind of a minimum community size of about 20,000, so if we can get above that threshold we can satisfy what I call the ‘spreadsheet in the sky.’ And Applebee’s might actually come here because we fit a certain spreadsheet.”
    Andrus also provided an update on the Los Alamos Home Renewal Program and announced that CDD will launch a first-time, low-income homebuyers assistance program in the spring of 2017.

  • Wood agrees to plea deal in 2014 death

    A Los Alamos man who killed an Española woman in a car crash Nov. 29, 2014, has agreed to a preliminary plea arrangement in the case.
    The agreement includes additional charges stemming from an arrest in February when he was charged with smuggling drugs into the Santa Fe County jail.  
    The suspect, Robin Wood, 37, has pled guilty to charges of causing great bodily injury by vehicle and homicide by vehicle as the result of an accident in the early morning hours of Nov. 29, 2014.
    According to police reports, Wood was driving his Chevrolet Impala northbound on NM 30 when he crashed into a car driving southbound.
    Elizabeth Quintana was driving to work at Smith’s Marketplace when she was killed instantly. Wood’s passenger was seriously injured the crash and was taken to a nearby hospital, where she eventually recovered. Wood was arrested at the scene.  
    In February, Wood was supposed to turn himself in on an electronic monitoring warrant to the Santa Fe County Jail. Police became suspicious when he voluntarily turned himself in after the deadline a few days later.
    Police tracked his phone calls he made from the jail, and reported that they discovered Wood attempting to smuggle illegal drugs to other inmates.

  • Councilors back more aggressive policy to go after vacant homes

    During Tuesday’s Los Alamos County Council work session on housing, the major topic of conversation was how to deal with vacant and/or blighted properties.
    Community Development Department Director Paul Andrus and Housing and Special Projects Division Manager Andrew Harnden provided a status report and a range of new options for addressing the issue.
    According to the staff report, determining which properties are actually vacant can be a challenge. Records of ownership or responsibility can be dispersed among occupants, investors, servicers and lenders.
    Harnden described his efforts to determine which properties are actually vacant. Using utility records and follow up visits, 91 homes were determined to have a high certainty of vacancy. Approximately 25 percent of those are in foreclosure, 10 percent are in a family trust and 25 percent belong to out-of-state owners.
    The conditions of those homes range from good to very poor, with 21 “definitely or possibly” in code violation. Six of those have been resolved. The most common code violation was for weeds and vegetation.

  • Today in history Aug. 26
  • LA Co-op weathers the storm

    Businesses in Los Alamos are known to go through rough patches and in 2014 and 2015, the Los Alamos Co-op Market was no exception.
    The community-owned store went through six general managers in the space of 14 months when, around the time, the new Smith’s Marketplace opened up down the street.
    Though the two things weren’t necessarily related, it didn’t help, said the co-op’s new general manager, Tim Morrison. Before that happened, though, Morrison, a longtime Los Alamos resident left for China for a few years.
    “I expected it was going to be OK,” Morrison said. “I was going to be able to run away and everything was going to be fine. I was really disappointed to come back to a store that was really in trouble, but I’m here to fix it.”
    Morrison was made the co-op’s new general manager June 30.  
    Morrison said that since he’s come onboard, they’ve been averaging $60,000 in sales a week and last week, they hit $67,000.
    When asked what he said he’s done differently, he said while they’ve made a few changes, everything is basically the same. One thing he attributes to the success is employee morale.

  • Today in history Aug. 24
  • Los Alamos School District announces individual school grades

    After a preliminary examination of data from the New Mexico Education Department, the Los Alamos Public Schools today said Los Alamos is the best performing district in the state.

    LAPS based its assessment on standardized test scores averaged over a two-year period. The test used was the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers exam, or PARCC.

  • Middle school music room gets upgrade

    The Los Alamos Middle School’s Music Room got a new start this year, thanks to a partnership between the Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation and the Los Alamos Public Schools.
    Members of the Kiwanis Club, Music Teacher Ryan Finn, parents, members of the LA Public Schools Foundation and the Los Alamos Public Schools worked hard all summer refurbishing the school’s music room.
    The music room is adjacent to the school’s gym.
    They added new lighting, refurbished the storage lockers for the instruments and redid the room’s flooring. They also added acoustic panels to absorb sound.
    The Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation contributed $25,000 to the project, and the Los Alamos Public Schools contributed $10,000 to the project.
    This classroom makeover like most of those performed by Foundation was the joint effort and expense of the Los Alamos Public Schools, said Joanna Gillespie executive director of the foundation. “LAPS is heartwarmingly thanked for contributing $10,000 in materials and labor helping the Foundation keep costs down by adding our project to those already being performed here at the middle school.”

  • LAFD promotes from within

    The Los Alamos Fire Department had its annual promotion ceremony in late July, where the department promoted eight firefighters from within the department.
    Deputy Chief Steven Dawald said most of those promotions were to fill retirements that happened earlier in the year. Dawald himself was promoted to the department’s deputy chief position after long time Deputy Chief Justin Grider retired earlier this year.
    Firefighters within the department looking to be promoted often find what they need within the community.
    People that do promote forecast what they need to do to be promoted,” Dawald said.
    Resources could include anything from courses to obtaining a degree. Firefighters looking to become battalion chiefs, for example, must have at least an associate’s degree.
    Many firefighters have taken advantage of the Fire Science program at the University of New Mexico, Los Alamos campus. Dawald is co-chair of the EMS/Fire Science Program at UNM-LA.
    “We’ve got quite a few, and we have some taking courses from our department as we speak,” Dawald said.
    Promoting from within the department is important, he added.