Local News

  • Snow removal ordinance fails

    An ordinance that would have required residents to remove snow from sidewalks adjacent to their property within 24 hours of a snowfall failed by a 5–2 vote of the Los Alamos County Council on Tuesday. Only councilors David Izraelevitz and Kristin Henderson supported the motion.
    Community Development Director Paul Andrus tried to reassure council that the CDD would not be heavy-handed in enforcing the ordinance, noting that it would be enforced on a complaint basis with a focus on resolving the problem.
    The ordinance required a courtesy notice as the first step in resolving the issue, but also allowed fines for noncompliance. CDD would also work with those physically unable to clear sidewalks.
    “We see this as an ordinance that is attempting to address that hazardous or chronic situation, something that is clearly a problem, something that clearly needs to be addressed within a particular time period,” Andrus said.
    Andrus stressed that tickets are rare under a program such as this. County Manager Harry Burgess pointed out that only 5 percent of the nuisance complaints that staff process end up in court.

  • Mountain Air Cleaners opens at new location

    The Los Alamos Laundromat may be closed, but owner Dina Quintana wants people to know that Mountain Air Cleaners is up and running in a new location.
    “We definitely want people to know that we’re still here and that even with the laundromat gone, there are still things that we can do,” Quintana said.
    Quintana – who owns the enterprise with her husband Richard Beaudoin – explained why the couple had to close the laundromat, which they acquired 25 years ago. There had been a laundromat at that location since the 1950s.
    Their landlord decided to utilize the building they were in for other purposes and gave all the tenants notice.
    “We certainly did not want to reduce our services,” Quintana said. “But the truth of the matter is that we did not own the building. We rented the building and our landlord elected to do something different with the building. And we had to respect that.”
    Quintana and Beaudoin tried to find another location, but were unable to locate any with the type of infrastructure a laundromat requires.
    Laundromats have very specialized utility needs, such as large power and sewage capacity, not the type of infrastructure found in most commercial space.

  • Census report: N.M. sees economic growth; LA remains steady

    New Mexico residents have been riding a wave of recent economic prosperity and growth, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau report.
    New Mexico saw a significant rise in income and a decrease in poverty rates, according to the “2015 American Community Survey,” released Thursday.
    The data showed that real median household income grew by 1.2 percent, or $523, for all households in New Mexico.
    The Santa Fe and the Albuquerque metro areas saw the fastest rates of growth, with incomes rising 5.3 percent in Santa Fe.
    Los Alamos census statistics showed 4.2 percent of the population lives in poverty and 4 percent of county residents do not have health insurance. Median household income has remained steady at $105,989.
    Acting Secretary of New Mexico’s Economic Development Department Barbara Brazil welcomed the good news, and credited Gov. Susana Martinez with contributing to New Mexico’s rise in economic prosperity.

  • On the Docket 9-30-16

    Sept. 8
    Marjorie Gavett  was found guilty at the time of traffic stop of speeding six to 10 miles an hour over the speed limit. Defendant was fined $50 and must also pay $65 in court costs.

    Sept. 9
    Marcos Gonzales  was found guilty at the time of traffic stop of speeding six to 10 miles an hour over the speed limit. Defendant was fined $50 and must also pay $65 in court costs.

    Steven Reneau  was found guilty at the time of traffic stop of speeding six to 10 miles an hour over the speed limit. Defendant was fined $50 and must also pay $65 in court costs.

    Friedrick Spoerel  was found guilty by the Los Alamos Municipal Court of speeding six to 10 miles an hour over the speed limit. Defendant was fined $50 and must also pay $65 in court costs.

    Sept. 12
    Robert Coyne was found guilty by the Los Alamos Municipal Court of not having a proper building permit. Defendant was fined $60. Sentenced deferred until Dec. 10.

    Carson L. Ware was found guilty by the Los Alamos Municipal Court to speeding 11 to 15 miles an hour over the speed limit. Defendant must pay $65 in court costs. Sentencing deferred until Nov. 10. Defendant also sentenced to defensive driving school and community service.

  • Police Beat 9-30-16

    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.

    Sept. 13
    9:02 a.m. — Police reported that a 17-year-old Los Alamos male was the victim of criminal damage to property (less than $1000) at Diamond Drive.

    11:14 a.m. — Zachary Sanchez, 32, of Los Alamos was arrested on a magistrate court bench warrant at the Los Alamos police department. The original charge was aggravated driving while under the influence with a blood alcohol concentration of .16 or more at the intersection of Canyon Road and Rim Road in April.

    1:15 p.m. — Police reported that 15-year-old Los Alamos female was the victim of criminal sexual penetration: force/coercion at Trinity Drive.

    2:17 p.m. — Police reported that a 26-year-old Los Alamos woman was the victim of harassment.  

    Sept. 15
    7:45 a.m. — Shawn Trujillo, 19, of Chimayo was arrested on a magistrate court bench warrant in the 1600 block of Trinity Drive.

  • N.M. Senate leader focuses on budget, not crime bills

    SANTA FE  — New Mexico lawmakers grappled Thursday with how to address a major shortfall in revenues during the final hours before a special legislative session convenes, with no clear political pact yet for rewriting the state budget.
    Republican Gov. Susana Martinez called for the start of a special session today to resolve a stalemate with Democrats over how to fix the budget, and has added weighty criminal justice measures to the agenda – including a bill to reinstate the death penalty for convicted killers of police, children and corrections officers.
    Lawmakers at the helm of the Democratic-controlled Senate have criticized Martinez for not providing a detailed budget proposal, and gave indications that anti-crime initiatives may take a back seat to addressing a gaping budget deficit.

  • Customers to see gas rates decrease

    The 10-percent increase in water rates will be offset by a 10-percent decrease in gas rates.
    The Los Alamos County Council unanimously approved the new rate on Tuesday.
    The rate reduction will serve to draw down a high cash balance in the gas fund. Staff policy is to maintain $2 million in reserve. The balance currently stands at $6 million. The reduction will be implemented by reducing the fixed rate billing charge by 20 percent.
    Vice Chair Susan O’Leary objected to using the service charge as the mechanism for reducing rates.
    “I think you have policy that requires rates to cover cost of service. You have used this as justification to raise rates in other utilities, but ignore this logic in this instance,” O’Leary said. “There are other ways to address this that don’t involve rate adjustments that could cause problems down the road that could have been avoided.”
    O’Leary suggested that options such as sending customers a rebate would have been a better solution, and asked the board to reconsider this rate with that in mind.
    Councilor Steve Girrens proposed loaning the excess to the county’s cash-strapped utilities. The county charter requires that the utilities operate independently, but do allow loans between them.

  • Council OKs water rate hike

    Customers will be seeing a 10-percent rate increase in their water bills. The Los Alamos County Council unanimously approved the new rate Tuesday.
    The rate hike addresses shortfalls created by a combination of reduced consumption and the high costs for maintaining the system.
    “We still have a very large and very complex water system with some aging infrastructure, so we still have to maintain that. The size and complexity of the system has not reduced any because of the reduced water sales,” Department of Public Utilities (DPU) Deputy Utilities Manager for Finance and Administration Robert Westervelt told council.
    Westervelt countered the notion that decreased sales are due to the tiered water rate and rate increase implemented in 2014. He illustrated how water consumption has decreased steadily since 2003, which he attributed to water conservation and sharply reduced usage at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).
    According to Westervelt, cooler weather and consistent rainfall throughout the irrigation season has also contributed to reduced sales in recent years. He pointed to 2013, a year in which most of the rainfall fell during one brief period. Drought conditions during the rest of the year resulted in high water sales.

  • Defense Secretary Carter wraps up tour of LANL

    Defense Secretary Ash Carter wrapped up his visit to New Mexico Wednesday with a four-hour tour of the Los Alamos National Laboratory with Lab Director Charlie McMillan.
    One of the main stops on his tour was “Plutonium Facility 4,” the country’s only plutonium science, technology and manufacturing center. Carter observed operations in the pit casting area of the facility, where molten plutonium is molded and shaped to fit inside nuclear weapons.
    At the end of his tour, Carter expressed his thanks and appreciation for the LANL employees who made the plutonium cores and other nuclear weapon components.
    “A strong plutonium science and manufacturing capability is essential to the U.S. nuclear deterrent and cannot be underestimated,” Carter said. “I want to express my sincere appreciation for the difficult and vitally important work done at Los Alamos to help assure the development, assessment and security of the nuclear triad.”
    McMillan, who also accompanied Carter on his tour was glad Carter was able to make the trip to Los Alamos National Laboratory, according to LANL’s website.

  • LA students rank high in bullying, dating violence

    A state survey released Wednesday revealed that sexual dating violence, suicide ideation and bullying among Los Alamos students is higher than the state average.
    The statistics for sexual dating violence shows that Los Alamos ranks seven points higher than the state average of 9.2 percent.
    In 2013, the sexual violence question was added to the survey to distinguish it from other acts of physical violence. It includes “any coercion of a sexual nature.” That includes kissing, touching or being physically forced to have sexual intercourse.
    Los Alamos students that seriously considered suicide is five points higher than the state average of 16.5 percent.
    The survey also noted that incidents of bullying at school were 8.2 percentage points higher than the state average of 18.4 percent. Incidents of electronic bullying, students harassing each other through social media and other platforms of communication, was three points higher than the state average of 13.7 percent.  
    The survey, “The New Mexico Youth Risk and Resiliency Survey” was done as part of a nationwide monitoring system of the nation’s youth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.