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Local News

  • ChemCam zaps first Martian rock

     NASA's Curiosity rover has zapped its first Martian rock, aiming its laser for the sake of science.

    During the target practice on Sunday. Curiosity fired 30 pulses at a nearby rock over a 10-second window, burning a small hole.

    Since landing in Gale Crater two weeks ago, the six-wheel rover has been checking out its instruments including the laser. During its two-year mission, Curiosity was expected to point the laser at various rocks as it drives toward Mount Sharp, a 3-mile-high mountain rising from the crater floor.

    Its goal is to determine whether the Martian environment was habitable.

  • Autopsy: Death of handcuffed man in Ark. cop car a suicide--Video Extra

    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A man whose hands were cuffed behind him in the back seat of an Arkansas patrol car shot himself in the right temple with a handgun he apparently concealed from arresting officers, according to an autopsy report released Monday that listed the death as a suicide.

    The state crime lab report, signed by three medical examiners, said the muzzle of a gun was placed against Chavis Carter's head when it was fired. Jonesboro police released the report to The Associated Press and other news organizations under a Freedom of Information Act request.

    The report said the manner of death was ruled a suicide based on autopsy findings and investigative conclusions from the Jonesboro police department, which has faced questions from Carter's family and community members about the circumstances surrounding the July 28 shooting.

    "He was cuffed and placed into a police car, where apparently he produced a weapon, and despite being handcuffed, shot himself in the head," the report said. Chief Medical Examiner Charles P. Kokes did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.

  • Augusta National adds first 2 female members

    NEW YORK (AP) — For the first time in its 80-year history, Augusta National Golf Club has female members.

    The home of the Masters, under increasing criticism the last decade because of its all-male membership, invited former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina financier Darla Moore to become the first women in green jackets when the club opens for a new season in October.

    Both women accepted.

    "This is a joyous occasion," Augusta National chairman Billy Payne said Monday.

    The move likely ends a debate that intensified in 2002 when Martha Burk of the National Council of Women's Organizations urged the club to include women among its members. Former club chairman Hootie Johnson stood his ground, even at the cost of losing Masters television sponsors for two years, when he famously said Augusta National might one day have a woman in a green jacket, "but not at the point of a bayonet."

  • Today in History for August 20th
  • Today in History for August 19th
  • 62-year-old Renews Bid for Cuba to Fla. Swim
  • County, Stepan settle for $800K

    Los Alamos County and former employee Diana Stepan have reached a settlement for $800,000 in a sex discrimination case.

    According to a statement released late Friday by the county, the settlement was reached Aug. 1.

    Stepan said Friday night that everything became finalized earlier in the afternoon.

    The settlement addresses a claim that Stepan had filed last year against the county and former acting county administrator Randy Autio after her termination of employment.

    The statement read, “The county was represented in the settlement by the New Mexico Self-Insurer’s Fund, an insurance pool of New Mexico municipalities and other political subdivisions, including the county, through an arrangement with the New Mexico Municipal League.

    “Under the agreement, the New Mexico Self-Insurer’s Fund will pay $800,000 to Stepan. The county will pay $175,000 of that settlement, which includes a $25,000 deductible.”

    Stepan, who was earning $146,000 a year as the assistant county administrator, said she believes the settlement was one of the largest the county has ever given out.

    “The whole thing has been extremely hurtful because I did do my very best for the county,” Stepan said.

  • NCRTD opens new transit complex

    ESPANOLA — The North Central Regional Transit District (NCRTD) Friday dedicated the Jim West Regional Transit Center in a ribbon cutting ceremony outside the building.

    In dedicating the building, NCRTD Chairman and Taos County Commissioner Daniel Barrone stated that, “This Transit Center serves as a testament to the hard work and dedication of the government officials, NCRTD Board and the staff, both past and present, who believed that one day a transit system could connect a 10,000-square-mile area of North Central New Mexico and create mobility options for people in most cases where none had existed before.”

    “We are thrilled to be located in our new headquarters,” said Anthony Mortillaro, NCRTD executive director. “This now consolidates the administrative offices with the operations and fleet management divisions which previously had been spread out over three locations in Santa Fe and Española. The move will allow us to operate more efficiently and cost effectively as we position ourselves for the future.”

    The Jim West Regional Transit Center is named for the late Jim West, a Los Alamos County councilor.  He was among the founders of the NCRTD and was an inaugural member of the NCRTD Board of Directors in 2004. 

  • Transit Center recognizes West’s enduring legacy

    Val Boatman and her husband Bill traveled all the way from Kansas to be at Friday’s ribbon cutting for the NCRTD’s Jim West Regional Transit Center in Espanola.

    Val is the sister of the late Jim West, the former Los Alamos County councilor for whom the building is named.

    By the time the ceremony was over, Val was in tears.

    It probably was because of the moving tribute to West, who died of cancer in 2009, that LA County councilor Mike Wismer gave during the ceremony.

    Wismer’s talk certainly was powerful.

    He recalled meeting West on the campaign trail in 2002.

    “We became instant friends and worked together for four years on the council,” Wismer said.
    Wismer talked about how West became the transit district’s strongest proponent and its most “articulate cowboy spokesman.”

    He referred to West being very “Oklahoma Stubborn.” Wismer said, “For those on the East Coast, that term means damn persistent in his efforts to get the transit system going and for getting the GRT approved by voters and in making the board effective. For that reason alone, it is most appropriate to name this facility after Jim.”

    Then Wismer talked about a more personal reason for naming the facility after West.

  • Johnson exits council race

    Ken Johnson, a Democratic candidate for Los Alamos County Council, has dropped out of the race.

    Johnson sent in his withdrawal notice to the county clerk’s office Friday morning.

    “I expect if I were elected at some point, I would have had to leave the council and that would not be fair to the people who voted for me,” Johnson said in a phone interview. “I have plans to move away from Los Alamos during that time frame.”

    Later in the day Friday, Johnson released a statement.

    “This morning I officially withdrew as a candidate for the Los Alamos County Council.  A confluence of events in recent months has made it highly likely that I will be moving away from Los Alamos in the fairly near future. Consequently, if elected to the council, I would be unable to complete my term. As a candidate, I believe my supporters should have the expectation that, if my campaign is successful, I will represent them for the complete duration of my term.