Local News

  • Early voting jump this year

    With four-and-a-half days of early voting remaining in this year’s primary election cycle, early voter turnout already surpasses that of 2012
    As of 11:53 a.m. Tuesday, in-person voting totaled 1,440. An additional 81 absentee ballots have been turned in, with 107 outstanding.
    In 2012, early voting and absentee ballots totaled 1,260. Election Day turnout was 1,913. The off-year election in 2014 totaled 1,092 early voters.
    Voter registration is also up slightly for this time of year, compared to 2012, but down from that in 2014. The total number of registered voters as of Tuesday was 13,476. It was at 13,218 in 2012 and at 13,768 in 2014.
    Only 10,006 of those registered voters are eligible to vote in the primary. Since New Mexico has a closed primary system and only Democratic and Republican parties have contested races, the 2,905 voters who declined to state party affiliation and the 565 who registered for other parties cannot participate.
    Another interesting aspect of this year’s registration number is that the balance of Democratic to Republican voters has shifted. For the first time since 1987, the number of registered Democrats exceeds Republicans.

  • Bears spotted roaming LA

    Los Alamos County residents have reported several bear sightings recently, two of them in residential backyards on Barranca Mesa, and one near the Los Alamos National Bank.
    No one was hurt in the incidents.
    It’s not known if they are one in the same bear, but one thing is for certain – it’s definitely the time of season for bear sightings, according to Los Alamos Police Department spokesman Cmdr. Preston Ballew.
    Bears are often seen this time of year, and residents should be aware of their presence. Ballew said.
    “They are now coming out of hibernation, and I would assume that they are now trying to find something to eat,” Ballew said.
    Residents can minimize encounters with bears if they bring in their trashcans and bird feeders. Doing so would allow the bears to move off in search of more natural food sources, he said.
    Lance Cherry, the chief of education information at the New Mexico Game and Fish Department, said the bears people are most likely seeing are black bears. Though the bears people are seeing range from cinnamon to dark brown, they are still considered black bears.

  • P and Z moving toward sign code changes

    At its April 27 meeting, the Los Alamos Planning and Zoning Commission asked staff to draft an ordinance adopting some of the business community’s suggestions for improving the sign code.
    Other suggestions met with some opposition.
    “The tweaks to the sign code would give the businesses a set of tools to visually switch up their exterior promotional marketing, to keep it fresh, to make their locations visible to the local consumers as well as tourists and it better allows them to communicate their messages in targeted formats,” said Chamber of Commerce Manager Nancy Partridge, who presented the Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation’s (LACDC) proposal, drafted after discussions with the business community and the county’s Community Development Department (CDD).
    The commission liked LACDC’s suggestions regarding new business banners, banner announcements and hours of operation signs, but wanted input from other groups on the issue of feather banners and vending machines.
    The current code for both new business and temporary banners allows a banner to be displayed for 30 days two times a calendar year.
    The proposal for the new ordinance differentiates between those two banner types.

  • Stamp dedication at Bandelier Thursday

    The U.S. Postal Service will hold a First-Day-of-Issue Dedication Ceremony for the National Parks Forever Stamps at the Bandelier National Monument visitor center at 11 a.m. Thursday.
    Bandelier was one of 16 national parks chosen for the stamp series honoring the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. The NPS system includes 411 national lands.
    Representatives of the U.S. Postal Service and local park officials will be on hand for the unveiling, and stamp booklets will be for sale.

  • ‘This is our moment’

    Los Alamos saw another class of high schoolers off into the world Saturday as 253 students, their friends and family crowded into Griffith Gymnasium to share the last two hours together.
    Between the opening color guard ceremony and the ceremonial tossing of the caps, guest speakers spoke about how important it was to savor every moment, follow their dreams, and to be the change they want to see in the world.  
    “Ultimately, today is a celebration,” said graduate Faith Montano. ”It is a culmination of 13 years of hard work. Class of 2016, after all of the long nights, all of the homework and practices, all of the school dances after all of the tests, quizzes and projects, and after rejoicing in all these beautiful things these years have had to offer and surviving all of the obstacles we’ve faced, we’re finally sitting here.
    “This is our moment. Let it sink in. Celebrate your classmates, your victories, and your classmates, and yourself,” she said.
    High school senior Eric Leith then inspired his fellow graduates with his story of how he went from being more interested in shooting paper balls into wastebaskets and texting, to finding his love for writing during his four years at Los Alamos High School.

  • Congressman calls on New Mexico in water dispute

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — New Mexico’s only Republican member of Congress has joined the fight between ranchers and the federal government over access to water on national forest lands, saying the state can do more to protect the private property and water rights of its citizens.
    The U.S. Forest Service has fenced streams, springs and other watering holes to protect the habitat of an endangered mouse. The agency has repeatedly defended its actions, saying it has responsibilities under the Endangered Species Act to ensure the survival of the rodent.
    But U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce told a group of reporters Wednesday that the agency is blindly implementing laws without regard to the effects on livelihoods, customs and culture in rural New Mexico.
    “They’re required to look at those things, but they tend to enforce one piece of the law at the exclusion of the others,” Pearce said during a conference call from Washington, D.C.
    The congressman, whose district covers most of the southern half of the state, said the federal government is trampling on property and water rights in New Mexico as it has in other Western states.

  • Bill Clinton campaigns in New Mexico

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Former President Bill Clinton has wrapped up a two-day swing in New Mexico with a low-key rally at a packed Albuquerque community center.
    Clinton told the crowd Wednesday that his wife, Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, plans to address income equality and college debt and bring back manufacturing jobs to the United States.
    He also made a pitch to the working class, saying he understands their frustrations and that his wife doesn’t want to leave anyone behind.
    Clinton’s visit comes days after Democratic rival Bernie Sanders drew thousands to rallies in Santa Fe, Albuquerque and southern New Mexico.
    Though Hillary Clinton hasn’t campaigned in New Mexico, her team has opened offices in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Las Cruces and Las Vegas.
    New Mexico’s primary election is June 7.

  • Michelle Obama to speak at Native American commencement

    SANTA FE (AP) — Michelle Obama plans to address 105 Native American high school graduates Thursday during a commencement speech that comes as she tries to spotlight the plight of tribal youth in the final months of her husband’s presidency.
    The first lady’s commencement address at Santa Fe Indian School is being delivered as part of an Obama initiative that aims to remove “barriers to success” for Native American youth — a group the White House says make up the nation’s “most vulnerable population.”
    High poverty rates, aging school buildings, and health and housing disparities within tribal communities have been blamed for Native American graduation rates that fall just below 70 percent and are the lowest of any group in the country.
    Against this backdrop, the Santa Fe Indian School — owned and operated by the 19 pueblo tribes of New Mexico — has emerged as a bright spot, with a graduation rate on par with the national average of 82 percent and nearly every member of the 2016 class college-bound in the fall.
    The graduating seniors — who played a part in inviting Obama to their school — said they expected uplifting, empowering remarks from the first lady on their big day.

  • Fire officials urge safety for Memorial Day weekend

    Memorial Day Weekend may signal the start of summer, but unfortunately, it also signals the start of something less fantastic -- fire season in New Mexico.
    In the mountains, high winds, a dry climate and one careless moment can spell disaster. County fire officials say the public should first be aware and prepare, whether they are staying in the backyard or heading into the mountains.
    Ben Stone, acting deputy chief of the Los Alamos Fire Department, first recommends checking local fire conditions before heading out. Fire conditions are listed on the department’s web page at losalamosnm.us/fire. The public can find current conditions on the site.
    Fire officials are calling for moderate conditions for Memorial Day weekend. But that could change. “Moderate” means fire hazards are low, according to the site. Conditions could change quickly though, so it’s always a good thing to keep checking.
    Besides the web, the public can also call the U.S. Forest Service hotline at 877-864-6985 to get info on fire restrictions and closures.
    As far as fireworks, Stone said most of the accidents they’ve seen involve people underestimating their power and their flammability. If fireworks are in the cards this weekend, check for restrictions, Stone said.

  • LA opens arms to a runner with a cause

    Her sides hurt, her feet hurt, her lungs hurt, but thanks to the friends she’s met along the way on her journey across America, Jan Walker’s spirit and determination remain unbreakable.
    Walker is running, hiking and walking from California to Washington, D.C. to help raise money and awareness for the “September 11th National Memorial Trail,” an interconnected network of trails that link the three Sept. 11 terrorist attack sites (Shanksville, Pennsylvania, Pentagon and New York City) together.
    But right now, she’s resting up at the house of Los Alamos resident Lisa Reader, recovering from some health issues she encountered while on the road near Socorro.
    Walker and Reader knew each other from a previous race Walker ran in Utah called the “Grand to Grand,” where Reader was a volunteer.  
    Walker had just reconnected with Reader a couple of days before her health told her it was time to take a break. She knew just who to call.
    Walker has had a lot of serendipitous moments like that, where a friend will just show up out of the blue to offer assistance.