Local News

  • New Mexico lawmakers express relief at budget compromise

    SANTA FE (AP) — New Mexico lawmakers expressed relief Tuesday that a budget agreement has been reached to restore funding to public colleges and universities and shore up state finances for the upcoming fiscal year that starts on July 1.

    Legislators converged on the state Capitol after a three-day recess to complete special legislative session. Republican Gov. Susana Martinez last Friday vetoed proposed tax increases and agreed instead to use severance tax bonds to shore up the state's finances.

    The budget compromise appears likely to quiet a months-long feud between Martinez and the Democrat-led Legislature over how to resolve a budget crisis from a significant drop in state revenue linked to the downturn in the oil sector and a weak state economy.

    Martinez rejected several tax hikes, while vetoing $745 million in annual general fund spending to state universities, community colleges and specialty schools.

    "The one thing that was most important was restoring higher education funding," said Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming.

    New Mexico's state government is expected to finish the coming fiscal year with about $24 million in reserves under legislation signed last week by the governor, state analysts said Tuesday.

  • Sandia Labs reportedly creates mobile app to test for Zika

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Scientists and researchers at the federal government's largest national laboratory have developed an app and mobile device they say can detect Zika.
    The New Mexico-based Sandia National Laboratories says the new app connects to a smartphone-controlled, battery-operated diagnostic device to identify Zika, dengue, and chikungunya within 30 minutes.
    Traditional testing for the mosquito-borne viruses often requires a laboratory and long waits. Officials say the cost for that testing can run $20,000 and make it out of reach for rural clinics in developing countries where the viruses thrive.
    But Sandia scientists say their new device weighs under a pound and costs as little as $100.
    The Sandia team describes its rapid-testing prototype in the journal Scientific Reports .

  • Pueblo applies to rename mesa 20 miles west of Bernalillo

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — The people of the Santa Ana Pueblo want to rename a mesa about 20 miles west of the town of Bernalillo as part of an effort to reclaim ancestral lands.

    The Albuquerque Journal reports that the San Felipe Mesa was likely named by Spanish conquerors to honor King Philip II of Spain.

    Under the proposal, it would be known by the name used by used by ancestors.

    The pueblo has applied to have the name changed on all federal maps to Kene-ewa.

    It's a process that requires approval from the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, though local maps can be changed without such a process.

    Nationally, other Native American communities and others have been working to rename locations to fit with their history or overturn cruel or exploitative names.

  • Trash fee increase proposed

    The Environmental Sustainability Board released its proposed trash pick up rate hikes Thursday. Councy Council is set to discuss them at its June 6 meeting.
    For curbside residential, roll cart trash service, the board has proposed a $3 increase from $22 to $25, with extra roll carts per household also going up to $25. The same increases will apply to roll carts for commercial businesses. The commercial recycle pickup fee of $2 goes away, making once-a-week pick up for commercial businesses free.
    The Environmental Sustainability Board also is proposing to make dropping off cardboard at the Eco Station free, instead of having residents mix it all in with other recyclables.
    “When people move here, they usually have a truckload of boxes to bring in. We’re hoping to serve people like that,” said Public Works Department Manager Philo Shelton.
    The board plans to present its entire proposal which include increases to dumpster fees, trash compactor fees and fee increases for special services at the County Council June 6 meeting.
    The board proposed the fee hikes to cover a $300,000 deficit in the Environmental Services budget.
    Inflation from labor costs, contracts and a rise in the price of trash cans are fueling the deficit, as are oil prices.

  • Police Beat 5-27-17

    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, served a court summons, or issued a citation.

    April 24
    10:45 a.m. — LAPD investigated a high school student found in possession of drug paraphernalia.

    12:27 p.m. — Shannandoaha D. Lopez, 35, of Alcalde was arrested on a municipal court warrant.

    1:41 p.m. — Casandra Ruybal, 27, of Los Alamos was arrested for driving on a suspended driver’s license and a warrant out of Santa Fe County.

    4:21 p.m. — LAPD investigated a report of a forged check at Smith’s.

    6:06 p.m. — Sarah M. Preteska, 60, of Jemez Springs was arrested for operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.

    6:33 p.m. — Garrett J. Eckhart, 35, of Los Alamos was arrested on a magistrate court warrant.

    7:06 p.m. — Russell C. Dupree, 44, of Espanola was arrested on a warrant and for driving on a suspended driver’s license.

    April 25

  • On the Docket 5-27-17

    March 30
    Michelle Frybarger pleaded not guilty to driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs. Defendant was fined $500 and must also pay $290 in court costs. Defendant was sentenced to DWI school, community service and substance abuse assessment.

    Aaron L. Sanchez was found guilty of driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs. Defendant must pay $290 in court costs. Defendant was sentenced to DWI school, community service and substance abuse assessment.

    Gerald F. Heck was found guilty to driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs. Defendant was fined $500 and must also pay $290 in court costs. Defendant was sentenced to DWI school, community service and substance abuse assessment.

    Eunjung Park was found guilty of speeding six to 10 miles an hour over the speed limit. Defendant was fined $50 and must also pay $65 in court costs.

    Lucy Scully was found guilty of menacing behavior and must pay $65 in court costs. Sentence deferred until May 29.

    Janine Sears was found guilty for failing to display a current and valid registration plate. Defendant was fined $50.

  • Cerro Grande Fire 17 years later

    Pajarito Group Sierra Club

    Seventeen years ago, May 18, 2000, a New Mexico National Guardsman at the bottom of the Main Hill Road saluted the Cerro Grande evacuees who were heading home to Los Alamos. 

    The Jemez Mountains to the northwest still burned, smoke still hovered over Pajarito, and police and the National Guard prevented all but the residents to enter the neighborhoods incinerated at the urban/forest interface.

    As a disaster, Cerro Grande was well-run, and the efficiency was due in large part not only to the “national importance of LANL” and the (only ever) admission of guilt by the federal government, but to the emergency management planning that had begun back in 1992.

    When then Fire Chief Douglass MacDonald came to Los Alamos in December 1992 what he noticed first was the dangerous wilderness/urban interface that surrounded The Hill.

    Having come from a wildlands fire background, he made two decisions – to live in White Rock, and to inform people of the imminent danger posed by the overcrowded forest growing up to people’s back doors.

    We had forgotten the proximity of La Mesa Fire in 1977 – the past 15 years were wet. But MacDonald remembered the urban-interface fires in Southern California, and the1988 Yellowstone Fire.

  • Española man pleads no contest in LANL copper thefts

    A 23-year-old Española man who was charged last year with stealing copper pipe and fittings from the Los Alamos National Laboratory worth between $15,000 and $20,000 was sentenced to three years probation Wednesday at the Los Alamos Magistrate Court.

    Joshua Montoya worked as a pipefitter when the thefts occurred. Montoya was arrested in July 2016, after the owner of an Española scrap metal yard gave investigators Montoya’s driver’s licence information and sales records of the transaction that also had Montoya’s personal information. 

    In court Wednesday, Montoya pleaded no contest to larceny. In exchange for his plea, Montoya was sentenced to three years probation. If he completes the three years without breaking any other laws, the felony conviction will be wiped from his record.

    Montoya’s attorney, Tyr Loranger, said he was able to get a more lenient sentence for his client because there were others involved.

  • School board OK’s $800,000 more for Duane Smith Auditorium project

    The Los Alamos School Board approved an $800,000 increase in the budget to remodel the Duane Smith Auditorium during a work session Thursday.

    Los Alamos Public Schools Chief Financial Officer Lisa Montoya presented the Duane Smith Auditorium finance plan to the board.

    “I stand before you tonight to respectfully request that you consider authorizing an increase to the Duane Smith Auditorium Lobby Remodel budget,” Montoya said.

    LAPS was given $1.2 million by the county for the renovation and Montoya asked that the board authorize the district to increase the budget to $2 million.

    The one-time expense of up to $800,000 would be pulled from the leased facilities fund.

    The district is in the process of updating the 66-year-old, 956-seat auditorium on the Los Alamos High School campus. The new plans feature 3,600 square feet of new construction to the front of the building. The bathrooms that were once located inside the hall will be moved into the space, and there will also be additional rooms for concessions, merchandise, and storage.

    Suggestions were given for ways to reduce the overall cost, but most were in agreement that the auditorium was worth putting extra money toward.

  • New Mexico governor restores university funds, vetoes taxes

    SANTA FE (AP) — Republican New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez restored funding Friday to all state colleges and universities that she had vetoed earlier by tapping money from suspended infrastructure projects, while rejecting a string of tax increases proposed by the Democratic-led Legislature.
    The spending bill signed by the governor reinstates $745 million in general fund dollars to institutions of higher education that include university hospitals, medical research facilities, agricultural programs and schools for the blind and deaf.
    It also restores funding for the upcoming fiscal year to the Legislature that the two-term Republican governor struck from legislation in April amid a standoff with lawmakers over how to resolve a budget crisis.
    "It restrains government spending to live within our means — as our families do every day — and puts us back on track," Martinez said in a written statement. "I'm disappointed lawmakers once again tried to take the easy way out with hundreds of millions in tax increases."
    Lawmakers from both parties have emphasized the need to rebuild the state's depleted financial reserves after New Mexico's credit rating was downgraded in October, raising borrowing costs.