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Local News

  • On the Docket 1-20-16

    Jan. 10
    Erin L. Pearcy  was found guilty at time of traffic stop to speeding in a school zone, one-five miles an hour over speed limit and failing to pay a fine and/or court costs. Defendant was fined $80 and must pay $130 in court costs.

    Jan. 11
    Kiersten R. Temple pled guilty at the time of traffic stop to speeding 11 to 15 miles an hour over the speed limit and no contest to failing to pay court costs and/or fines. Defendant was fined $125 and must pay $130 in court costs.

    Ernesto Martinez  was found guilty by Los Alamos Municipal Court of possession of drug paraphernalia, driving in an improper lane and possession of marijuana.Defendant was fined $75 and must pay $185 in costs.

    Olha Dolin  was found guilty by the Los Alamos Municipal Court of failing to display rabies tags on pets and having animals at large. Defendant must pay $120 in court costs. Sentencing for the rabies tag violation was deferred until Feb. 11 and for animals at large violation, March 11.

    Jan. 12
    Evelyn S. Bankens  pled no contest to following too closely in her vehicle and causing an accident. Defendant was fined $65. Defendant was also sentenced to defensive driving school and community service.

  • NM hunters, anglers and others to rally for public lands

    Sportsmen and other public lands users from across the state will gather in Santa Fe on Thursday, to send a message to the New Mexico Legislature and Gov. Susana Martinez about the seizure and transfer of millions of acres of federal public lands to individual states.
    The Public Lands Rally starts at 2 p.m. in the Rotunda of New Mexico State Capitol Building.
    The public is invited to attend.  
    “New Mexico hunters and anglers have been using our national forests and other federal public lands for generations. They are our lands, and we strongly oppose any and all efforts to transfer these lands to the states, including New Mexico,” said Garrett VeneKlasen, Executive Director of New Mexico Wildlife Federation. “We’ve seen legislation in New Mexico and elsewhere that supports the transfer idea. More recently we’ve seen radical extremists seize a national wildlife refuge in Oregon and block its use by law-abiding citizens. These efforts to take away our public lands, if allowed to continue, will lead to more fences, more ‘no trespassing’ signs and diminished opportunity for all. This week’s Public Lands Rally will give sportsmen and women, along with hikers, bikers and others, a chance to tell our decision-makers: Keep your hands off our public lands.”

  • DOD announces New Mexico ID restrictions

    SANTA FE (AP) — Federal officials announced Wednesday that New Mexico driver's licenses will no longer be accepted as proof of identity to enter any Department of Defense installation, adding more pressure to lawmakers who are set to debate proposals aimed at making the state compliant under the federal REAL ID Act

    In a post on its website, the U.S. Department of Defense said driver's licenses from New Mexico — along with those from Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri and Washington state — can't be used to enter bases because of REAL ID requirements.

    Those attempting to gain physical access to Department of Defense installations must show an alternate form of identification, like a passport or a card issued by the base, officials said

    The move comes after the U.S. Department of Homeland Security declined to give New Mexico an extension on complying with tougher rules under the federal REAL ID Act. Those rules require proof of legal U.S. residency in order for state driver's licenses and IDs to be valid for some federal purposes.

  • Manhattan Project Park committee reviews progress

    The Manhattan Project National Historical Park (MPNHP) Committee has been quietly meeting behind the scenes for months, looking at how Los Alamos can prepare for having a new national park within its boundaries.
    Three subcommittees on transportation, signage and amenities/attractions presented their reports last week.
    “Our major issue has been, how many cars, and the need for parking,” said County Councilor David Izraelevitz, who chairs the transportation committee.
    The subcommittee is using traffic counts for peak visitation periods such as ScienceFest and Balloon Fiesta to help in developing a plan.
    Project Manager/Assistant to the County Manager Linda Matteson noted that the committee has also been looking at issues with Bathtub Row. The Historical Society (LAHS) will be opening Hans Bethe House as a Cold War Museum late this year.
    The committee supports the LAHS plan to make a pedestrian loop that runs from the back door of the Los Alamos Historical Museum to Bathtub Row. That route avoids the street and actually leads to the front of the houses.
    Public Works Director Philo Shelton is also looking into making Bathtub Row a pedestrian zone, which would reduce the speed limit to 20 miles an hour. Other options discussed include blocking off the street or making it one-way.

  • Andrus pushes accessibility for CDD

    Los Alamos County Manager Harry Burgess announced last week that Paul Andrus has been chosen to fill the Community Development Department director vacancy left by Anne Laurent, pending council approval at their Jan. 26 meeting.
    Andrus sat down with the Los Alamos Monitor to discuss his priorities as CDD director.
    Andrus has been serving as acting director since Laurent left in September. He joined the county in 2012 as the housing and special projects manager.
    During his time in that position, Andrus brought two long-standing departmental projects to fruition.
    CDD had already developed an affordable housing plan with associated ordinances when Andrus arrived.
    “But the programs themselves had not been fleshed out,” Andrus said. “So there were some things that I needed to do, essentially starting from scratch on, one of which was the housing rehabilitation program, which really is one of our first true initiatives that the county has funded and is sort of a direct service provision.”

  • Major renovations planned for middle school cafeteria

    If all goes to plan, students at Los Alamos Middle School may have a brighter, happier place to eat.
    The Los Alamos School Board passed a motion in December to release $1.2 million in construction bond funding to renovate the school’s cafeteria, which also occasionally serves as space for athletics and classroom instruction. The cafeteria also provides room for a kitchen and food distribution center for the school district.
    The project will be included in $4.6 million in general obligation bonds the district must spend by January 2017. The board has an additional $600,000 it must spend by April 17, or that funding also will be lost.
    The school board has already earmarked most of that funding to redo the high school’s music wing, the high school’s parking lot and other small projects.
    While the middle school underwent a major, $18.5 million renovation that was completed in 2013, the school’s kitchen, food distribution center, located behind the newly renovated school remained largely untouched. The $1.2 million needed for the overhaul will come out of remaining funds from general obligation bonds to rebuild the school Los Alamos County residents voted for in 2009.

  • District counts on mill levy in ‘big picture’

    In Los Alamos County, the footballs that are tossed around at the high school football games, the pylons used to line the field and even the musical instruments the high school band plays at halftime are mostly paid for through a special tax levy enacted in 1988.
    The levy provides the school system about $2 million a year. The levy has to be approved by voters every six years by mail-in ballot. The levy calls for the imposition of a property tax of $3.25 for every $1,000 of net taxable value of property (about $325 a year for a $300,000 home).
    School officials consider the levy an important part of the district’s financial “big picture,” since funds from the levy provide many of the “behind the scenes” details that keep classrooms functioning and curricula competitive with other schools through the programs and equipment the levy purchases.
    This month, Los Alamos County residents again are considering the mail-in ballot question. It was mailed to every household in Los Alamos County several weeks ago. All ballots must be in the Office of the County Clerk by 7 p.m. Jan. 26.

  • Today in history Jan. 20
  • NM PBS to stream start of 2016 legislative session

    Join NM PBS for the televised broadcast, *and* live streaming.
    At noon Mountain time, join NM PBS online at NMPBS.org NewMexicoInFocus.org for online streaming of the start of the 2016 legislative session, followed by the governor's address. www.newmexicopbs.org  
    newmexicopbs.org/productions/newmexicoinfocus/state-of-the-state-2016/

    Ch. 5.1 will begin a televised broadcast of the speech when the governor starts her address, which may be anywhere between 12:30 p.m.– 2 p.m. (the start time is approximate).
    The NEW MEXICO IN FOCUS team will live tweet the State of the State address @NMinFocus
    Following the speech, NEW MEXICO IN FOCUS host Gene Grant will lead analysis of the Governor Martinez's address with a panel of former Republican and Democratic state lawmakers. Tune in on Channel 5.1, online, or on KUNM (89.9 in Albuquerque and Santa Fe or online at KUNM.org.
    newmexicopbs.org/productions/newmexicoinfocus/state-of-the-state-2016/

  • New Mexico lawmakers convene to forge budget

    SANTA FE (AP) — New Mexico's Legislature convenes at noon on Tuesday to forge a budget aimed at keeping pace with soaring health care costs for low-income residents, stimulating a sluggish state economy and possibly increasing pay to teachers and police.

    The 30-day budgetary session leaves little time to spare, and legislators already are clamoring to push through major policy initiatives designed to address concerns about violent crime and public corruption.

    At the same time, Republican Gov. Susan Martinez and lawmakers are under pressure from the federal government to resolve a stalemate over immigrant driver's licenses and the state's failure to comply with the REAL ID Act.

    Political stakes are high with every legislative seat coming up for election in November. Republicans hope to extend their control of the lower House to the Senate, where Democrats hold 24 out of 42 seats.

    Legislative leaders are largely in agreement with the governor on priorities for a nearly $6.5 billion budget proposal that increases spending 3.7 percent. A third of new spending would go toward new state Medicaid expenses.