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Local News

  • Program helps over 80 families

    Over 80 families applied for assistance this past holiday season. The Los Alamos Adopt A Family Program was able to match every single family with a generous local sponsor family.

    “We decided to do a trip this year and not presents for us, but it was a good excuse to still shop for someone who needs it more than us,” mom Talia Keller said.  Alpha Zeta set up gifting headquarters at the Christian Church on East Road.

    The Adopt-a-Family program was founded many years ago and has assisted many Los Alamos and surrounding area residents. In 2003, Margie Gillespie, longtime program coordinator, had to step down and the Los Alamos Alpha Zeta chapter of Beta Sigma Phi took on the challenge of coordinating the program.

    “It’s one of our missions, to help people and pass it on to others.  We love getting things for families in need to make them happy at Christmas,” mom Judy Nekimken said. 

    Nekimken brought in a bike and other goodies for a family in need.

    The applying families come into the program through the Los Alamos Public Schools, which means one or more children in the family attend a local school.

  • Robinson leads efforts to support rehabilitation and education

    Environmental Sustainability Board member James Robinson has taken on making Los Alamos “a bear-friendly town” as his special project on the Environmental Sustainability Board (ESB), due to his longtime connection with and love for bears. That started when he was in seventh grade, when he reconnected with his preschool friend, Ty Horak.

    Horak’s mother is Dr. Kathleen Ramsay, who runs Cottonwood Rehab (CWR). The facility’s work took center stage this summer when it rehabilitated two black bear cubs orphaned when their mother was euthanized after attacking a marathon runner at Valles Caldera National Preserve.

    “One day I was down at Ty’s place and his mom comes in, and she puts us to work unloading a bear she’s going to rehab. And that’s when I fell in love with bears,” Robinson said. “Just hanging out with Doctor Ramsay, I get to help rehab them. Through them, I got to learn about and appreciate bears.”

    That passion for bears has grown so strong that Robinson helped found the Land of Enchantment Wildlife Foundation, which funds wildlife rehabilitation efforts, particularly for bears. It costs approximately $6,000 to rehab a bear. 

  • Board looks for ways to make LA more bear friendly

    Environmental Sustainability Board member James Robinson updated the board on efforts to make Los Alamos a bear-friendly city at Thursday’s meeting.

    The most recent news is that six of the 13 bear resistant commercial dumpsters purchased through a collaborative partnership between the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF), Los Alamos Medical Center (LAMC) and Los Alamos County have arrived. NMDGF paid 65 percent of the costs for 10 dumpsters, with the county paying the remaining 35 percent. LAMC purchased three dumpsters with its own funds. 

    That effort was initiated after a female bear charged two workers trying to take out trash at LAMC in November. Game and Fish euthanized the bear after that event, identifying it as one spotted rummaging through trash and approaching film crews at Pajarito Ski Area in July.

    “I was looking at the bear they got. It was a tannish bear, which I believe had learned the art of breaking into residential roll carts early in the spring, and when it was big enough, it got into dumpsters,” Robinson said. 

  • Board looks for ways to make LA more bear friendly

    Environmental Sustainability Board member James Robinson updated the board on efforts to make Los Alamos a bear-friendly city at Thursday’s meeting.

    The most recent news is that six of the 13 bear resistant commercial dumpsters purchased through a collaborative partnership between the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF), Los Alamos Medical Center (LAMC) and Los Alamos County have arrived. NMDGF paid 65 percent of the costs for 10 dumpsters, with the county paying the remaining 35 percent. LAMC purchased three dumpsters with its own funds. 

    That effort was initiated after a female bear charged two workers trying to take out trash at LAMC in November. Game and Fish euthanized the bear after that event, identifying it as one spotted rummaging through trash and approaching film crews at Pajarito Ski Area in July.

    “I was looking at the bear they got. It was a tannish bear, which I believe had learned the art of breaking into residential roll carts early in the spring, and when it was big enough, it got into dumpsters,” Robinson said. 

  • LAPS faces up to $1M in budget cuts

    The Los Alamos Public Schools’ $26.8 million budget could take a hit of up to $1 million this fiscal year as the state prepares to make up for a projected $675 million budget shortfall.
    LAPS is already looking at a $660,000 reduction after cuts the legislature made in November. That figure could grow to $1 million once the legislative session gets under way in January.
    Cuts to teacher positions and pay is off the table, said Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus at Tuesday’s school board meeting.  
    “I want to make sure there’s no confusion with regards to what’s being presented,” Steinhaus said. “The district office is not proposing to the board any teacher cuts at this point, there’s no proposing that.”  
    The budget cuts would be seen in reduced payouts to the district from the State Equalization Guarantee fund and “sweeps” by the New Mexico Public Education Department to the transportation fund and instructional materials fund from now until June 30.
    “They are contemplating cash sweeps,” said LAPS CFO Lisa Montoya. “Anything we hold in reserve over the 3 to 5 percent they (NMPED) suggest we save, they will take out of our accounts.”

  • DOH reduces Los Alamos public health office hours

    The New Mexico Department of Health announced Friday that it will reduce the hours of operation and services provided at the Los Alamos Public Health Office.

    The office will now only be open Wednesdays and Fridays beginning Monday, according to a press releases issued at 5 p.m.
    The clinic, located at 1183 Diamond Drive, Suite D, will be open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays (closed from noon-1 p.m.), and will be closed Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays.

    Services provided at this clinic will include Children’s Medical Services (children and youth with special health care needs), and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) supplemental nutrition program.

    Services will be provided by appointment only.

    Health department spokesman David Morgan said the department is still determining what they are going to do about replacing the nurse at the health clinic.  The clinic’s nurse resigned October.

    Since that time, the county has sought answers from the state about the reduced hours, which were Tuesday through Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., and the replacement of a nurse.

    All other public health services are available at the Rio Arriba County Public Health Office located at 2010 Industrial Park Rd in Española. Appointments are also required at the Rio Arriba office.

  • NM Legislature opens doors to pre-filed bills

    SANTA FE (AP) — New Mexico lawmakers are getting their first opportunity to file bills for consideration ahead of next year’s regular legislative session.
    The Legislature began accepting “pre-filed” bills on Thursday in advance of a 60 day session.
    Lawmakers convene on Jan. 17 to resolve a budget deficit linked a downturn in the oil and natural gas industry and consider a wide variety of policy initiatives. Lawmakers are honing proposals to crack down on reckless driving, increase funding for childhood education and shore up state finances by legalizing and taxing recreational marijuana, to name just a few anticipated initiatives.
    Democrats will outnumber Republicans 26-16 in the Senate and 38-32 in the House of Representatives.

  • Community stakes high with levy vote

    The University of New Mexico-Los Alamos will ask residents in January to vote for a 1-mill increase in property taxes. The vote will be through a mail-in ballot that’s in resident’s mailboxes in early January.
    UNM-LA is hoping the increase in funds the levy increase will bring will help make up for the steady decline in state funding the school has seen since 2008.
    “At UNM-LA, we have positive momentum, but we are running on very limited resources,” said UNM-LA Campus CEO Cindy Rooney. “We need additional operational funds to be able to restore, continue, and expand strategic programs.”
    Since fiscal year 2008, funding for the Los Alamos campus has declined by 32 percent, or $855,625.
    Between that time, the campus has taken steps to try and offset the decline. The campus has increased tuition by 6 percent every year since 2008 to try and offset the balance. Revenue from contracts and grants has increased from 12 percent to 19 percent during that time period.
    If voters approve the increase, the levy increases property taxes by $33.33 per $100,000 of market assessed property value, $66.67 per $200,000 of market assessed property value and $100 per $300,000 of market assessed property value, etc.

  • McD’s prepares to open
  • Legislative challenge will be budget

    At a Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce breakfast Wednesday, New Mexico Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard (D-Dist. 43) called the state’s budget, “the most pressing issue we’ll be facing.”
    According to Garcia Richard, the estimated shortfall for the coming year is at minimum $150 million dollar. She stressed that filling that gap would only maintain solvency, with no additional money designated to shore up the state’s reserve funds.
    The predicted deficit piles on this year’s $500 million dollar shortage, which the legislature addressed during a special session in September.
    Garcia Richard expects legislators to vote for a tax increase, but noted that Gov. Susana Martinez has said she would not sign such a bill.
    She also stressed the limits of that solution.
    “We cannot balance a budget on raised taxes alone. It’s like the people who say, you cut until you can’t cut anymore,” Garcia Richard said. “It’s the same way with raising taxes. You can’t raise taxes to balance your budget.”
    Garcia Richard also anticipates efforts to close tax loopholes, but she sees such actions as short-term solutions. For her, the real solution is diversifying the state’s economy.