Local News

  • School Board mulls starting school later

    By this time next year, there’s a real possibility that Los Alamos’ middle and high school students could be getting up a little later to go to school.
    The group of high school administrators and teachers assigned to the task, the “High School Schedule Work Group” is still working out the details, but based on discussions and studies the group has completed, school start times could be pushed up by as much as 50 minutes to an hour.
    Topper Freshman Academy Principal Carter Payne, who is also a member of the group, presented the group’s progress toward instituting later start times to the Los Alamos School Board.
    The group’s next step is to reach out to the public through surveys and community input. That could start as soon as March or April. The group has another meeting with the school board in January or February where it will present more data.
    During discussion about the proposed times, School Board Member Matt Williams wanted to know how the 50 minute shift in time would affect caregivers and parents having to come home around 3 p.m. instead of 4 p.m. or 5 p.m.
    “Right now they can get home around 3 p.m. or 4 p.m. but to get home by 3 p.m. or so is very difficult for people in that position,” Williams said.

  • Lab answers lawsuit

    Los Alamos Security LLC has responded to lawsuit by  former Los Alamos National Laboratory executive John Tapia.   
    “Following a comprehensive, two-month investigation by the laboratory into allegations of multiple policy violations, John Tapia was presented with the findings and opted to resign in lieu of termination,” a spokesman for the laboratory said.  “We are confident that we will prevail in the law.”
    The spokesman would not say what those policy violations were.
    Attorneys for LANS also filed a response in court Tuesday.
    “The LANS defendants deny the allegation … that Mr. Tapia was ‘forced to resign’ and admit that because Mr. Tapia resigned in lieu of termination for cause based on misconduct, Mr. Tapia could not seek employment with LANS, be granted a LANL access badge or work on laboratory property under contract with another employer,” LANS attorneys said.  

  • Council approves recreation bond projects

    More than 100 people showed up at Tuesday’s Los Alamos County Council meeting to weigh in on which projects would be included in the 2017 recreation bond.
    Those participants included many of the county’s youth teams involved with various sports. During an hour of public comments, both individuals and teams made one last plea for why the projects they supported are necessary.
    Council then debated how to proceed.
    Dekker/Perich/Sabatini (DPS), the consultants hired to scope the projects, had estimated that all seven projects — a splash pad at Piñon Park, a multigenerational pool, golf course improvements, ice rink improvements, improvements to the Overlook Park ball fields, additional tennis courts and a combined recreation center/indoor ice rink — would cost $35,058,300.
    Council had only allotted $27 million for the projects: $7 million from Capital Improvement Project (CIP) funds coupled with a $20-million bond to be placed before voters for approval next May.
    Deputy County Manager Steven Lynne presented some reassuring numbers at the beginning of the meeting.

  • Trump: US must 'greatly strengthen' nuclear capability

    PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday abruptly called for the United States to "greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability" until the rest of the world "comes to its senses" regarding nuclear weapons.

    Trump made the statement on Twitter and did not expand on the actions he wants the U.S. to take or on the issues he sees around the world. His comments came one day after meeting with incoming White House national security adviser Michael Flynn.

    Trump's transition website says he "recognizes the uniquely catastrophic threats posed by nuclear weapons and cyberattacks," adding that he will modernize the nuclear arsenal "to ensure it continues to be an effective deterrent." Beyond that, he has offered few specifics, either as a candidate or during the transition.

    Trump's vanquished campaign rival Hillary Clinton repeatedly cast the Republican as too erratic and unpredictable to have control of the nation's nuclear arsenal. Ten former nuclear missile launch operators also wrote that Trump lacks the temperament, judgment and diplomatic skill to avoid nuclear war.

  • Continue to enjoy holiday festivities

    This week, I am full of it. The, “it,” is holiday tips and shameless self-promotion. 

    So for the first time since I can remember, we walk school right up to Christmas Eve. If like many you have been Winterfesting, Nut Crackering or a variety of other holiday things, you might be a little behind.

    If that means you have holiday shopping scheduled for Friday night and Saturday, plan ahead now. You can divide and conquer, send someone to the movies with everyone while the other shops. Then switch up at lunch and one takes everyone for lunch while the number two swoops around on their own.

    If you are going out, head out with an open mind, an open heart and realizing that everyone is in the same boat if they are shopping too.

    Sustenance is key to success and in some small part sanity. Take a small cooler or lunch bag with some ice packs and several drinks. Bottled water always keeps well and a box of granola bars hidden in the back seat may save the day and some cash in your wallet and snack in between stops.

    No matter what your age, use the facilities before you leave at least every other location. Then snow, storm or traffic snarl will not keep you from your appointed rounds.

  • Officials draft jaguar recovery plan

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A team of wildlife officials in the United States and Mexico on Monday released details of a proposed recovery plan for the endangered jaguar, prompting criticism from environmental groups who say more needs to be done to restore a breeding population of the elusive cats north of the border.

    While jaguars are found in 19 countries stretching from the American Southwest to South America, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Monday that the focus is on efforts in northern Mexico and the U.S.

    As part of the proposal, scientists are not prescribing jaguar reintroductions in the U.S. They’re focused instead on efforts to sustain habitat, eliminate poaching and improve social acceptance of the animal to accommodate jaguars that disperse into the U.S. so they can survive and multiply.

    Federal officials are seeking comments on the proposal and any additional information that could help shape a final version of the plan.

    “We recognize the significant challenges of recovery planning for an elusive species with such an expansive, international range,” Steve Spangle, the agency’s field supervisor in Arizona, said in a statement.

  • Treatment plant options discussed

    The Los Alamos Department of Public Utilities held an informational meeting on a replacement for the White Rock wastewater treatment plant on Dec. 7. Only two people attended that meeting, but residents have until Jan. 1 to review the reports and weigh in on the options. 

    The design for the new treatment plant – called the White Rock Water Resource Recovery Facility – is slated to begin in early 2017, with project completion in 2019.

    The original train of the current treatment plant was built in 1966, with an additional train added in the 1970s. Service life for wastewater treatment plants is typically 20 to 30 years. 

    “We’re well beyond the service life of that facility, and it speaks very highly of the operators who are keeping up that infrastructure that has continued to operate and produce compliant effluent,” said Clayton Ten Eyck, consultant Molzen Corbin’s vice president for water resources, who presented the preliminary engineering report (PER) on the project. 

  • First look at nuclear power project

    The Los Alamos Department of Public Utilities (DPU) hosted a presentation Dec. 1 on NuScale Power’s small modular reactors. 

    The Board of Public Utilities directed DPU to explore whether to add a next-generation nuclear power facility to the county’s energy generation portfolio to meet its goal to be carbon neutral by 2040.  

    DPU is a member of the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS), making it eligible to buy into UAMPS Carbon Free Power Project, which uses NuScale’s small modular reactor technology.

    Speakers included NuScale’s Chief Commercial Officer Mike McGough, Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Director of the Office of Civilian Nuclear Programs DV Rao, and Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) Chief Executive Officer Doug Hunter. 

    The meeting opened with a video of Franklin Orr, Department of Energy (DOE) undersecretary for science and energy, addressing a UAMPS informational meeting. 

  • Candidates declare for boards in Feb. 7 vote

    A number of residents have come forward to fill seats on the UNM-LA Advisory Board and the Los Alamos School Board. 

    Both of the school board’s White Rock seats, districts one and two, are up for contention, as District Two Board Member Matt Williams announced earlier he will be stepping down to pursue prior commitments. Former UNM-LA Advisory Board Chairman Steven Boerigter said he will be running for William’s vacant seat. Also running is Darryl Sugar, a retired physician. Sugar decided to run after talking with his family and residents in White Rock. He is also impressed with Chamisa Elementary School, the school that resides within his district. 

    “It seems the teachers really enjoy what they do and they have a unique, community school,” Sugar said. “They certainly want to keep their school, and that sounds like a reasonable thing.”

    Sugar also heard about how some students are having a hard time coping with pressures of school, and he would like to help with that, too. 

     If elected, Boerigter wants to help guide the school district through the last school renovation projects and further strengthen the partnership the Los Alamos Public Schools and UNM-LA have enjoyed through the years.  

  • Veteran’s group wreaths every soldier’s grave

    The Los Alamos American Legion Riders accomplished a milestone Saturday with their visit to honor fallen veterans interred at Guaje Pines Cemetery. 

    With help from the community and other organizations, they were able to lay a wreath on each of the 350 veterans’ graves at Guaje Pines. 

    The Los Alamos event was part of a larger, national effort organized by “Wreaths Across America,” an organization whose goal is to place a wreath on every veteran’s gravesite annually on one day in December. 

    “It’s a national ceremony to honor all of our veterans that have passed,” American Legion Rider Linda Fox said. 

    The American Legion Riders managed to raise $5,250 through fundraisers and donations to get the job done. 

    Though the temperature was in the 20s, about 100 veterans and their families took part in a remembrance ceremony Saturday morning before the group took the wreaths out to the graves.