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Today's News

  • Sprinkler system update delays Duane Smith Auditorium construction

    A detour in construction brought on by a sprinkler system update isn’t dampening the plan of a March 23 finish to the work being done at Duane A. Smith Auditorium on the campus of Los Alamos High School.

    That was the update given by Herb McLean, coordinator of Bond and Construction for the Los Alamos School District, and Lisa Montoya, assistant superintendent for finance and operations, during this month’s Los Alamos School Board meeting.

    The original plan called for construction, which began in July of last year, to push on with the sprinkler system being updated this summer after the school year was over.

    “At the very beginning we were pushed to include this in the project and we knew it would impact the project’s schedule and cost,” said McLean. “I talked (the fire marshal) into letting us do the project as designed and then let us do the sprinklers over the summer, so it wouldn’t impact the project.”

    But when the plans reached the state level McLean was informed the new sprinkler system would have to be installed first before a permit would be issued.

    “So we went ahead and got it designed and put in, which added about six weeks to the total project,” McLean said.

  • NNSA releases draft assessment of LANL plutonium factory complex

    The National Nuclear Security Administration released a draft environmental assessment for one part of its proposed Plutonium Factory Complex at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

    The heads of two environmental and nuclear safety organizations say the assessment shows the plutonium pit program will remain at Los Alamos, and be expanded.

    The NNSA is looking for comments and questions through March 26 on it’s plans to convert the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Radiological Laboratory/Utility/Office Building into a facility capable of handling and testing plutonium slated to be used in the lab’s plutonium pit manufacturing facility at Tech Area 55. 

    The move comes after recent changes related to the health risks of handling plutonium were revised. To reflect the change, the building would be made into a material-at-risk-limited Hazard Category 3 nuclear facility.

    Los Alamos Study Group Executive Director Greg Mello said this is a sign that LANL’s plutonium pit manufacturing program is here to stay in Los Alamos.

  • Smart meter plan draws heated debate at meeting

     
    A proposal to replace 9,000 utility meters with electronic “smart” meters drew heated debate about security and accuracy issues at Wednesday’s Board of Public Utilities meeting.

    The data collected would be available to the public and at least one board member was worried about security breeches. 

    According to the Department of Public Utilities, customer’s data would be stored by  an “offsite hosted solution” according to Deputy Robert Westervelt. The information would then be sent to the Department of Utilities’ meter data management system, which the department would use to bill customers once a month. 

    Westervelt gave an example where the meters would record and send customer data to the database every 15 minutes.

    When asked by Board of Public Utilities member Stephen McLin if the information would be public, Westervelt said that it is, adding that that has always been the case.

  • Second judge says Trump can't keep stalling clean-air rules

    Staff and Wire Reports

    WASHINGTON — A second judge has told the Trump administration it can't keep stalling clean-air rules for oil and gas production on federal lands.

    U.S. District Judge William Orrick of the Northern District of California ordered the Interior Department to reinstate the Obama-era regulation aimed at restricting harmful methane emissions. Orrick said late Thursday the administration's delay is "untethered to evidence" and likely to cause "irreparable injury" to California, New Mexico and other states from increased air pollution and negative impacts on public health and the climate.

    New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas took credit Friday for the ruling that targets New Mexico’s oil and gas industry.

    “Attorney General Hector Balderas announced today to that (sic) he and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra secured a preliminary injunction against President Trump and Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, blocking their attempt to suspend the rule and forcing Zinke to implement the Bureau of Land Management’s methane rule,” Balderas’s office said in a press release Friday.

  • LAPS bolsters active shooter plans

     

    Since the beginning of the school year, Los Alamos Public Schools has been quietly taking steps to beef up school security in the wake of a series of school shootings.

    “We’re always working on school safety,” Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus said Thursday.

    The district implemented in December a safety plan, individualized for each school. 

    The high school and middle school are also equipped with gun safes installed in strategic locations, according to Los Alamos Police Chief Dino Sgamballone. 

    When first proposed last year, Sgamballone said the safes were to be equipped with safety equipment, first-aid kits and more powerful weapons than officers typically carry, such as AR-15s and shotguns, could help officers appropriately respond to active shooter situations.

    In the wake of the Parkland High School shooting in Florida that killed 17 people, the school system held a public strategy session at Aspen Elementary School Wednesday night. 

  • LANL announces new director for Tech Transfer Division

     
    Antonio “Tony” Redondo will be taking over as head of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s tech transfer division, the Richard P. Feynman Center for Innovation Monday, LANL announced Thursday. 

    Named after the famous Manhattan Project physicist, the Feynman Center helps to transition science and technology created at the laboratory to the private sector. 

    Redondo is the former Theoretical Division leader and currently a senior scientist in the Theory, Simulation and Computation Directorate. 

    In his 35 years at Los Alamos, he has served as principal investigator for several projects, including Soft Matter Mechanical, Rheological and Stability Properties, funded by Procter and Gamble; Metal Corrosion, funded by Chevron; Sustainable Materials, funded by Procter & Gamble; and Crystallization of Sugar, funded by Mars, Inc.

  • Hobbs residents rally to keep Ten Commandments at City Hall

    HOBBS (AP) — Some residents in southeastern New Mexico are opposing calls from civil liberties advocates to remove a Ten Commandments monument from public property.

    The residents, citing religious concerns, crowded a commissioners' meeting this week in Hobbs to speak out against another group's effort to take down the monument, the Hobbs News-Sun reports.

    "I was raised (in Hobbs) all my life," resident Cassandra Lawson told the Hobbs City Commission on Tuesday. "And I stand before you to say that the Ten Commandments (are) the decalogue upon which our nation is founded."

    The move came after members of the Freedom From Religion Foundation said the Hobbs monument violated First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution regarding the separation of church and state.

    Hobbs resident and foundation member Jeremy Wood asked the Hobbs City Commission last month to remove the Ten Commandments monument outside City Hall. Wood cited court cases forcing city governments to remove similar monuments.

    "Politicians in towns like Hobbs have used public resources to promote their own religious beliefs and, in doing so, have denied their most vulnerable constituents their First and 14th Amendment rights," Wood said.

  • New Mexico high school graduation rate holds steady

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — The percentage of New Mexico students who graduate high school is holding steady at 71 percent.

    Public Education Secretary Christopher Ruszkowski announced new graduation data Friday, saying he was particularly encouraged by the notable leap among Hispanic students over the last several years.

    He said the graduation rate for Hispanic students was less than 60 percent in 2011. That continued its upward trajectory in 2017 and now stands at nearly 71 percent.

    Ruszkowski said the bar has been raised over the years and that New Mexico's students and families are responding.

    The state has long ranked near the bottom when it comes to the number of students who finish high school. New Mexico marked an all-time high after the 2016 school year when it first recorded an overall 71 percent graduation rate.
     

  • LA native Robinson to run for County Council

     

    Los Alamos native James Robinson announced this week he plans to seek a seat on the Los Alamos County Council.

     

    But that isn’t the only decision the young, up-and-coming community leader has made recently. 

    After a lot of thought, the former Los Alamos County Republican Party chair will file as a Democrat.

    Robinson resigned following the defeat of the recreation bond in early 2017. He said the elections of 2016 and 2017 served as a “tipping point” for him, prompting him to change his party affiliation just before the new year.

    “When I resigned from the party, I did a lot of reading,” Robinson said. He describes himself as socially progressive and fiscally conservative.

    “I tend to be more of a John F. Kennedy Democrat,” he said.

    “When I evaluated my own beliefs and priorities, I found that they were in line with the values of the Democratic Party,” he said in a press release. “I know this decision will come as a shock and surprise to some, but I believe it is the best for me.”

  • Weather update: Schools on two-hour delay this morning, snowfall expected into afternoon

    UPDATE: Los Alamos Schools on two-hour delay for Thursday morning. Lab is on regular operating schedule

     

    According to the National Weather Service, snowfall is expected in Los Alamos County starting at 5 p.m. and continue into the mid afternoon Thursday.

    Los Alamos County is expected to get up to three to four inches of snow and the Jemez Mountains is expected to get up to 10 inches of snow on the westward facing slopes.

    The Los Alamos Public Schools is on a two hour delay Thursday morning. Parents and laboratory employees are advised to look for phone alerts and emails between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. Thursday from LANL and the schools for a revised commute schedule.

    The snowstorm alert is in place until 5 p.m. Thursday. The National Weather Service also expects snow packed roads, icy roads, and visibility to drop to about a quarter of a mile during times of heavy snow in the affected areas.