Local News

  • N.M. driver’s license overhaul provides 2 options

    By Morgan Lee

  • Weigh in on rec bond projects Thursday

    Citizens can once again weigh in on the 2017 recreation bond projects. Consultants from Dekker Perich Sabatini will present an update on their “opinion of probable costs” and take feedback from the public at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Fuller Lodge.
    DPS has been working to bring costs within the $27 million limit set by council, which includes $7 million in Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) funding and a $20 million dollar recreation bond that will come before voters in 2017.
    DPS’s original estimates were $63.8 million to $65.9 million, largely due to a projected $47 million for a combined multigenerational pool, recreation center and indoor ice rink.
    The latest estimate still exceed council’s cap by at least five million. DPS projects a total of $32,453,292 to $40,224,487 for all seven projects.  
    According to DPS Principal/Urban Planner Will Gleason – who updated the Parks and Recreation Board last Thursday – there are a range of options for reducing those costs. DPS is not offering recommendations on limiting scope, but will suggest developing criteria such as funding as many projects as possible, prioritizing funding based on the potential number of users and factoring in operations and maintenance costs.

  • Board OKs ‘Baseball Academy’

    The Los Alamos School Board took about 20 minutes Monday to approve a land lease for a year-round, for-profit baseball training facility.
    The facility, known as the “Baseball Academy,” will be built on school district property.  
    The board approved the lease unanimously, with Board President Jim Hall abstaining, citing his business ties with local developer and businessman James Chrobocinski. Chrobocinski is in charge of the project.
    Chrobocinski plans to build the facility near the Los Aamos School of Gymnastics building on North Mesa Road.
    The facility is also near the county’s North Mesa baseball fields.
    “The schools are all about creating healthy alternative choices for kids, that’s what we’re in business for. It’s a perfect match for the schools to lease land for this purpose. It also ties in really well with the baseball facilities that are already out there,” said LAPS Chief Operations Officer Joan Ahlers, who oversaw the lease agreement between the school district and Chrobocinski.

  • Council passes comp plan

    Los Alamos County Council approved a new comprehensive plan Tuesday that included one change to the future land use map, a new feature of the plan.
    The plan was approved 4−1. Councilors Steve Girrens and Pete Sheehey were not in attendance. Councilor Kristin Henderson joined by phone.
    Council Chair Rick Reiss objected to changing three parcels abutting the Canyon Rim Trail – currently zoned industrial – to open space.
    Planning and Zoning Commission Chair Phillip Gursky explained that the commission reached a consensus that the close proximity of those parcels to the trail, and the steepness of one of them, would make development difficult, therefore open space was an appropriate designation.
    Councilor James Chrobocinski also opposed the open space designation, noting that there have been discussions about using those parcels for RV parking for the Manhattan Project National Historical Park (MPNHP) or as a location for service organizations. According to Henderson, those discussions occurred during MPNHP committee meetings.
    During public comment, Councilor-elect Chris Chandler urged council to delay a vote until the public could weigh in on the proposed change. Chandler noted the land use map has been disseminated online and at several public meetings, so people believe those parcels are designated open space.

  • Española Walmart reopens today

    The Española Walmart Supercenter, which has been closed since mid-September, reopened today.
    The store was closed in order for the company to make repairs to its foundation, and to fix drainage issues.
    Those have been corrected, but the store also used the opportunity to do a remodel of the store’s interior, and that will continue into March.
    “We also had accelerated the remodel that was scheduled for 2017, so we were able to make some progress on some of the heavier pieces of the remodeling,” said Walmart Spokeswoman Delia Garcia. The store’s pharmacy is now bigger, and includes more customer bays and a private consultation room, something the Walmart Supercenter pharmacy didn’t have before.
    All that remains is the remodeling of the store’s grocery section. However, shoppers will still be able to buy turkeys and other Thanksgiving staples. The merchandise section has already had its redesign, so Christmas shopping shouldn’t be affected.
    “We are making accommodations to make sure those Thanksgiving meal fixings are available in the store,” Garcia said. “We’ll have turkeys, hams, pies and vegetables available that typically accompany the holiday meal, such as green beans.”
    Holiday rolls and breads will also be available.

  • Rose Chocolatier to move to a new location this month

    Special to the Monitor

    Rose Chocolatier, the local shop that makes hand crafted rich dark chocolate, will move to their new storefront at 149 Central Park Square.
    On Thursday, Ray Villegas was working hard to keep the dust under control.
    Villegas, who works with Rancho Creston, a company that does electrical, plumbing and general contracting, is getting the space ready so that Rose Chocolatier will be ready to make chocolates in the store, serve customers in the sunny dining area, and (starting soon) serve espresso.
    The contractors are prepping the slab to be painted, framing the privacy walls so that there will be a cooking area and a bathroom area, and adding sinks.
    After they move they will become neighbors with projectY cowork Los Alamos, Posada Dental Works, Allure Salon, The Finishing Touch, El Rigoberto’s Taco Shop, Unquarked Wine Bar and Bathtub Row Brewing Company.
    Marguerite McClay, the owner of Rose Chocolatier, wanted to let people know that she will continue to be open at their current location at 991 Central Ave. up until the move.
    Stop by, or call 695-1156 to make a special order of chocolates or pastries. The website is rosechocolatier.com.

  • Christmas tree permits to go on sale Nov. 21

    Permits to cut your own Christmas tree on the Santa Fe National Forest go on sale Nov. 21, at forest headquarters, all ranger district offices and select third-party vendors.
    As part of the White House’s “Every Kid in a Park” initiative, every fourth-grader is eligible for a free holiday tree permit.
    In order to redeem the free permit, the student must present a valid fourth-grade pass, downloadable at everykidinapark.gov. Once the pass is printed out, the fourth-graders must bring a parent or guardian over the age of 18 with them to the nearest SFNF office to pick up the permit. The free permits can only be fulfilled at a SFNF office.
    The nonrefundable Christmas tree permits are for personal use only and may be purchased for $10 by check, credit/debit card or cash through Dec. 23. Permit purchasers will receive a tree tag, map and guidelines for harvesting a tree.
    One tag is valid for a tree up to five inches in diameter and 10 feet in height. Trees taller than 10 feet or wider than five inches require another tag. The Santa Fe National Forest has a three-tag limit per person.
    Permit holders should be prepared for unpredictable weather changes and colder conditions at higher elevations.

  • Celebrating Veterans Day in LA

    This Veterans Day, Brigadier General (Ret.) James Fox reminded New Mexican veterans of their role in defending America throughout it’s history as a country.
    Fox was the keynote speaker at the Los Alamos American Legion Post’s Veterans Day ceremony Friday.
    Fox, who is also New Mexico’s Secretary of Veteran’s Services, spoke about New Mexico’s contributions from the Civil War to the current wars in the Middle East.
    “I want to point out that New Mexicans served in the Civil War. We sometimes overlook that. Just south of here, in Glorieta, and further south in Valverde, New Mexico, boys died for this country,” Fox said. “Our legacy as New Mexicans has been paid in blood as well.”
    He also reminded veterans that over 40 percent of Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders were New Mexicans, and that the Rough Riders suffered the highest casualty rate of Spanish-American War.
    “That’s our heritage. That’s who we are,” Fox said to the somber crowd of veterans and families gathered at American Legion Post ceremony. “We fought and endured to help make us a country and a state.”
    Fox also reflected on the beginnings of America.

  • Trump shakes up transition team Friday

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President-elect Donald Trump shook up his transition team Friday as he plunged into the work of setting up his administration, elevating Vice President-elect Mike Pence to head the operations. The move, one of the first key decisions as Trump pivots from campaigning to governing, amounted to a demotion for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who had been running the Republican’s transition planning for months.
    On the heels of Trump’s upset victory this week, his team has begun to embark upon building a government, an enormous undertaking that likely requires Trump to alter his hands-on management style and consider going outside his small, insular group of loyalists. He has been scrambling to identify people for top White House jobs and Cabinet posts, a herculean task that must be well in hand by the time Trump is inaugurated on Jan. 20.
    For Trump, who ran on a pledge to “drain the swamp” of Washington insiders, the team is strikingly heavy on those with long political resumes.
    And another apparent contradiction emerged Friday as Trump, who repeatedly vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act “on day one,” said he would be open to maintaining portions of President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement.

  • Longtime LA doctor says he was forced out after 39 years at LAMC

    A local doctor at the Los Alamos Medical Center said he has been pushed out of his lease, forcing him to leave his practice after 39 years.
    Dr. Phillip Hertzman, who specializes in the treatment of veins, received a letter in the mail in August that he had 30 days to move out, or he would be evicted. The letter was from a real estate company representing Tennessee-based Lifepoint Health.
    “They said that they were planning to buy it, and they just wanted to inform me that after they close I have to vacate within 30 days,” Hertzman said. “The fact is they (Lifepoint) didn’t even own it when the sent me that letter.”
    He said LAMC offered him no choices. LAMC is owned by Lifepoint Health.
     “Nobody from the hospital has ever spoken to me personally about what was going on,” he said.
    LAMC’s interim Chief Executive Officer John Whiteside, who became the center’s interim CEO in August, said Hertzman did send a letter to LAMC’s board members about the situation.
    Whiteside also said that he couldn’t speak for the actions of former LAMC CEO Feliciano Jiron. Whiteside did not reach out to Hertzman because at the time the bank still owned the suite Hertzman’s suite, he said.