Local News

  • LA County roads take a front seat this month

    In spite of Los Alamos County’s request for a lean budget this year, the county’s roads and streets are getting a lot of positive attention.

    In the county’s proposal for its fiscal 2019-20 budget, released Saturday, the Public Works Department shared some good news about the condition of Los Alamos County’s 300-mile network of roads and streets.

    At the end of 2017, the Public Works Department did an in-depth assessment of its streets and roads, giving the 300-mile network a pavement condition index rating of 65.

    “The survey shows that 6 percent of the roads were rated as excellent, 20 percent of the of the roads received a good rating and 45 percent were listed as fair. One percent was listed as poor and 12 percent of the roads were listed as unacceptable.

    Los Alamos County Public Works Department Manager Shelton sees the roads improving in the coming years, as public works continues ongoing maintenance and repairs. If council approves this budget, the department’s budget will have about $4 million in the new budget to keep maintaining and improving the roads.

  • Fire dept. a step closer to $400,000 grant

    The Los Alamos Fire Department has moved a step closer to receiving a $400,000 grant that would help the department better control the ladder fuels that often help wildfires gain their momentum.

    LAFD actually started working toward this grant almost two years ago and was awarded the Phase I portion of the $400,000 in August 2017.

    The process is now moving into Phase II after a period set aside for public comment.

    “You always want to hear from the public because this is their county and they use these lands as much as we do,” said LAFD Wildland Division Chief Kelly Sterna. “We want to make sure everybody’s concerns are addressed.”

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved the LAFD’s final draft, and copies were made available to the public on March 29 at the Mesa Public Library. The public has 30 days from that date to comment on the final draft.

    “We want to see the public come back with comments,” said Sterna. “We had a non-required public meeting to kick off the project and we had some concerns that were brought forward. You want to try to address those whether it’s about a prescription we wrote to try to mitigate these fuels or just looking at the area in general to see if there’s an actual need to get in there and mitigate.”

  • County considers options for expanded services at public health office

    The return of a more comprehensive public health service to Los Alamos appears to be a matter of when, not if.

    Community Services Department Director Brian Brogan presented the options for public health service for residents at Tuesday night’s Los Alamos County Council Meeting.

    The New Mexico Department of Health, up until September 2016, staffed a Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. operation in Los Alamos, covering services such as family planning and vaccinations.

    Now the Public Health Office has been limited to being open on only the first and third Tuesday’s of each month, from 8 a.m.-noon and 1-5 p.m., with the WIC program seeing recipients on the second Thursday of each month.

    Brogan explained that in Option 1, the DOH would continue operating the Los Alamos PHO about two days a month on the first and third Tuesday of each month from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

    “The services would be limited to family planning, one day of WIC and children’s medical service by appointment,” he said. “Pretty much all the other services would be referred down to Española” to the Rio Arriba Public Health Office.”

  • Noon boom came from LANL test explosion

    A Los Alamos National Laboratory spokesman has confirmed an explosion that resonated throughout the downtown area of Los Alamos County at noon Thursday was the result of ongoing experiment tests.

    “The laboratory did conduct an explosives experiment on Thursday, April 5 at approximately noon,” according to LANL Spokesman Kevin Roark. “The laboratory uses high explosives in a wide variety of dynamic experiments, conducting several hundred experiments per year. While the vast majority of these experiments use small amounts of explosives, some are large enough to be heard off site.”

    Roark also said the lab makes preparations beforehand to make sure sound is kept to a minimum and safety to a maximum.

    “Before all experiments, the laboratory does an extensive assessment of atmospheric conditions in order to limit the possibility of off site sound intrusions. All experiments are conducted under strict regulations and with the utmost in safety, security and environmental stewardship,” Roark said.

  • Friday's Regional Coalition of LANL Communities meeting canceled

    Friday’s meeting of the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities has been canceled because not enough members of the coalition will be able to attend, according to Los Alamos County Manager Assistant Linda Matteson.

    Los Alamos County is now overseeing the coalition.

    The coalition planned to discuss a revised joint powers agreement, and a plan to recruit a new executive director.

    The meeting has been postponed until April 27. A new agenda will be posted April 23, Matteson said. The items on Friday’s agenda will be discussed, with the possibility of additional items. A location for the April 27 meeting has not been announced.

  • Virgin Galactic conducts 1st powered flight of new spaceship

    MOJAVE, Calif. (AP) — Virgin Galactic has conducted the first powered test flight of its new space tourism rocket.
    Virgin Galactic tweets that the spaceship named Unity was carried aloft by its mother ship and released over California's Mojave Desert early Thursday.

    The company says the spacecraft achieved supersonic speed before the pilots shut down the engine and it glided back to Mojave Air & Space Port.

    This was Virgin Galactic's first powered flight since the 2014 crash of its original spaceship that killed one of its two pilots.

    Unity was previously flown on test flights in which it remained attached to the mother ship and others in which it was released to glide without lighting the rocket.

    Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson tweets that "Space feels tantalisingly close now."

  • New Mexico to consider approval for $2B transmission project

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Developers of a $2 billion project that will serve as a path to get renewable energy from New Mexico and Arizona to large markets in the American Southwest are seeking approval for the location of two massive transmission lines and related infrastructure.

    SunZia submitted its application to the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission in March. A hearing examiner with the agency issued an order this week that sets the stage for the approval process, which will include a public hearing in June.

    The project has been years in the making and not without controversy as disputes have arisen over its proximity to a U.S. military installation and potential effects on wildlife.

    The proposed transmission lines would cross about 520 miles of state, federal and private land in the two states.

  • Today's gubernatorial candidate forum focuses on vulnerable populations

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Four candidates for governor of New Mexico are offering solutions to the state's struggle to provide adequate care for the severely disabled, the elderly and residents coping with addiction and mental health issues.

    Specialty health care providers will sponsor a Thursday afternoon discussion about shortages in the health care workforce, burdens of an aging state population and responses to Medicaid reforms sought by the Trump administration.

    Candidates are discouraged from criticizing each other directly or wandering off topic.

    The forum also is likely to delve into mental health issues linked to violence and the opioid addiction crisis in a state with the highest overdose death rate in the western U.S.

    Three Democrats and one Republican are vying to succeed GOP New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, who cannot run for a third consecutive term in fall elections.

    U.S. Congressman Steve Pearce of Hobbs — the sole Republican — will eventually confront one of three Democratic candidates: Congresswoman and former state health secretary Michelle Lujan Grisham of Albuquerque, state Sen.

    Joseph Cervantes of Las Cruces and former media executive Jeff Apodaca of Albuquerque.

  • Santa Fe schools to no longer accept funding from the NRA

    SANTA FE (AP) — Santa Fe school officials have decided to cut ties with the National Rifle Association, agreeing to no longer accept money or equipment from the organization.

    The five-member school board voted unanimously Tuesday to reject NRA grant money that has supported the district's junior ROTC program.

    "We think it's a good move because we don't think school districts, not just ours, but anywhere should be taking funds from the NRA," Steven Carrillo, the board's president, said.

    Opponents to the decision said the board would be making a political move and would be dragging the junior ROTC program into the middle of the complex debate.

    The district received about $4,000 worth of equipment from the NRA over the past several years.

    The program teaches leadership and military skills to students. The junior ROTC students have competed in several local, state and national competitions, including earning top honors in a national marksmanship championship earlier this year.

    "Support from the NRA has allowed our program to get quality equipment that has turned these kids into national champions in a very short time," Lt. Commander Craig Stapleton said, who oversees the program.

  • Trump to sign order sending National Guard to Mexican border

    By JILL COLVIN and LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump and border-state governors are working to "immediately" deploy the National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border to fight illegal immigration, with some troops potentially arriving later Wednesday, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said.

    "The threat is real," Nielsen said at an afternoon briefing, adding that Trump was signing a proclamation to put the deployment into effect. "It's time to act."

    The announcement came hours after Trump pledged "strong action today" on immigration and a day after he said he wants to use the military to secure the southern border until his "big, beautiful wall" is erected.

    In a tweet early Wednesday, Trump said that "Our Border Laws are very weak" and that Democrats "stand in our way" of new laws. He added, "We will be taking strong action today."

    Trump told reporters on Tuesday that he'd been discussing the idea of using the military at the border with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.