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Today's News

  • Valles Caldera could join ‘elite club’ of geothermal national parks

    It can be difficult to remember that the 89,000-acre Valles Caldera National Preserve actually encompasses a 1.25 million year-old dormant volcanic caldera.
    The keyword is dormant – not extinct. The magma chamber beneath the surface produces a number of geothermal features both within and outside the preserve’s boundaries, including hot springs, warm springs, acid pools and fumaroles.
    Because of the wealth of geothermal resources, the National Park Service has nominated the preserve to the Geothermal Steam Act list of “significant thermal features” within the national park system. If the Department of the Interior approves the nomination, Valles Caldera would be one of only 18 parks units within the 400-plus national park system with that designation.
    According to Bob Parmenter, the preserve’s division chief for science and resource stewardship, the designation would serve two purposes: protection and an added level of distinction for the park.
    “It adds to the diversity of the national park system as a volcano and certainly accentuates the geologic resource that provided the geothermal aspect to this,” Parmenter said.

  • Trump plans to nominate former New Mexico congresswoman for Air Force post

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said Monday he has selected former Republican congresswoman Heather Wilson of New Mexico to be secretary of the Air Force.
    Wilson, an Air Force Academy graduate, served as an Air Force officer in Europe during the 1980s and was on the National Security Council staff under President George H.W. Bush during the fall of the Berlin Wall.
    Now president of the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, Wilson would be the first Air Force Academy graduate to serve as Air Force secretary if confirmed by the Senate.
    Trump said in a statement that Wilson's military service and expertise in a range of fields "gives me great confidence that she will lead our nation's Air Force with the greatest competence and integrity."
    In a statement provided by the White House, Wilson said the United States and its vital national interests "continue to be threatened" and said she will do her best, "working with our men and women in the military, to strengthen American air and space power to keep the country safe."

  • Next phase of NuScale pilot project could cost county $425,000

    The first phase of the NuScale Pilot Project – the risk assessment phase – is nearly complete.
    Now the Los Alamos Department of Public Utilities, along with other members of the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, must decide whether to invest further in the development of the small-scale nuclear plant.
    “The next decision point will commit us to a lot more money in the development costs of this project, and it still might not come to fruition. We still might exit the project,” said DPU Deputy Utilities Manager for Power Supply Steve Cummins.
    DPU invested $50,000 in the initial phase. DPU’s cost percentage for the next phase is $850,000. Under the current contract with Los Alamos National Laboratory, the county and LANL would each pay half of that.
    DPU held a public meeting Jan. 12 to lay out the issues with moving forward. Mason Baker, UAMPS general counsel, presented a detailed report on next steps, along with the associated risks and mitigating factors.
    If the project proceeds, the NuScale plant to be constructed in Idaho would be the first of its kind. Baker admitted that any first-time project carries risks, but stressed both the factors that mitigate those risks and steps UAMPS is taking to further decrease potential losses to its members.

  • High school music room renovations complete

    It’s been 60 years in the making, but Los Alamos High School finally has an up-to-code music wing, with plenty of storage space.
    The wing now includes four practice rooms and individual offices for the three music teachers.
    The two main rooms, the choral room and the band/orchestra room have also been redesigned. The band and orchestra room has three rooms for instrument, percussion and uniform storage.
    The orchestra also has a storage room in the hallway for its instruments. The choral room has a storage room inside the main room. Even the heating and cooling system has been redesigned, giving more control over the temperature to those using either the choral or band/orchestra room.
    “I am very pleased with the beautiful facility that we now have,” LAHS Principal Brad Parker said. “Promises were made by the school board and Superintendent Steinhaus to update the facility and those promises have been kept.
     As a result, we have new practice rooms for our students to work in, new storage rooms for instruments and music and very functional rooms in which our choir, orchestra and band can learn and play music.  I am grateful for a community that takes education seriously.”

  • Police Beat 1-22-17

    Police Beat items are compiled from public information contained in Los Alamos Police Department Records. Charges or citations listed in Police Beat do not imply innocence or guilt. The Los Alamos Police Department uses the term “arrest” to define anyone who has been physically arrested, served a court summons, or issued a citation.
    Jan. 4
    6:54 a.m. — Sonja Martinez, 39, of Los Alamos was arrested on a magistrate court bench warrant in the 2400 block of 46th Street. The original charge was aggravated DWI (refusal to submit to chemical testing at Rendija June 15, 2016).

    12:30 p.m. — Police reported that a 15-year-old female was the victim of child solicitation by electronic communication device at White Rock.

    3 p.m. — Police reported that a 59-year-old Los Alamos woman was the victim of identity theft.
    Jan. 5
    10:30 a.m. — Police reported that a 65-year-old Los Alamos man was the victim of fraudulent use of a credit card by false representation.

    5:11 p.m. — Police reported that a 54-year-old Santa Fe woman was the victim of an accident with no injuries at East Road.
    Jan. 6
    10:30 a.m. — Police reported that a 63-year-old Los Alamos woman was the victim of careless driving at Rover Boulevard.

  • On the Docket 1-22-17

    Jan. 5
    Linda Saisa pled no contest in  the Los Alamos Magistrate Court of driving while under the influence of liquor and/or drugs (.08 or above, first offense). Defendant must pay $241 in court costs. Defendant must also spend 90 days in the Los Alamos Detention Center, all suspended. Defendant must also perform 24 hours of community service and must undergo 364 days of supervised probation.

    Jan. 6
    Mark Kenamond was found guilty by the Los Alamos Municipal Court of speeding 11 to 15 miles an hour over the speed limit. Defendant was fined $75 and must also pay $65 in court costs.

    Jan. 8
    Darryl M. Sugar was found guilty by the Los Alamos Municipal Court of speeding six-10 miles an hour over the speed limit through Citepay. Defendant was fined $50 and must also pay $65 in court costs.

    Jan. 9
    Rita M. Toledo was found guilty by the Los Alamos Municipal Court of failing to display a current, valid registration plate, not having proper car insurance and two counts of failing to appear in court. Defendant was fined $175 and must also pay $260 in court costs.

    Dominic R Archuleta  was found guilty by the Los Alamos Municipal Court of speeding six-10 miles an hour over the speed limit. Defendant must pay $65 in court costs. Sentence deferred until March 9.

  • Electric system reliability earns recognition

    In 2008, power outages for Department of Public Utilities customers reached a record peak of 300 minutes a year, sparking the department to initiate an intensive capital improvement program to reduce that average to 60-minute or less per year.
    DPU reached that goal in 2011. A setback occurred in 2012, when a major power outage in White Rock doubled that to two hours, but reliability has steadily increased since then.
    Based on the System Average Interruption Duration Index (SAIDI), the nationally recognized measure for reliability, DPU’s average in December 2016 was just 23 minutes for the previous 12 months.
    The rolling average in September was only 19 minutes.
    “Some customers will be higher, some will be lower,” said Rafael De La Torre, deputy utility manager for electric distribution. “But on average, over our entire customer base over the last year, it would be about 23 minutes.”
    In recognition of that achievement, the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) just presented DPU with a System Improvement Award.

  • Local protestors mark presidential inauguration

    Local protestors gathered in front of the Los Alamos police station around 9 a.m. Friday, coinciding with the inauguration of President Donald J. Trump as the nation’s 45th president, 1900 miles away.
    With signs reading “Equal rights for all” and “Global warming is real,” the small group braved the cold, getting many honks from cars driving up and down Trinity Drive as a reward.
    Not part of an organized group, the protest was a spontaneous event, the Los Alamos residents said.
    “We just want to promote equal rights for all,” said group member Jack Kennison.
    Kennison and the group were glad they did it, even though the temperature only reached 32 degrees.
    “There was a lot of honking and thumbs up,” he said. “We didn’t get any anger. All thumbs up, positive and happy honking.”
    The event was small, but one of the picket wavers said this was just a first step.
    “I don’t think I was as active as I could have been in taking part in finding solutions for things like healthcare and equal rights,” said Nina Lanza. “For me this is my start. This will not be the last thing I participate in.”

  • Former LANB execs settle charges

    Correction: In the following story that ran Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, Los Alamos National Bank Chief Financial Officer Daniel Bartholomew and Vice President of Internal Audit Karl Hjelvik did not admit in court documents their guilt in misrepresentation of key books and records. In a press release issued Sept. 28, 2015 by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the commission stated: “Bartholomew and Hjelvik consented to charges of books and records, reporting, and internal control violations, and entered into cooperation agreements with the SEC to assist in the litigation against Cook and Pierce.” Also, Former LANB Chief Executive Officer William G. Enloe, former Senior Vice President and Chief Credit Officer Jill Cook, former Senior Loan Officer and former Collections Department Supervisor Syndi Schlindwein were fined by the Department of the Treasury, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency in December 2016. They were not sentenced, but agreed to settlement terms and did not admit or deny allegations in the charges against them. The story has been corrected below.

  • Trump signs first bill and actions as president

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump on Friday quickly claimed the mantle of the White House, signing legislation allowing retired Gen. James Mattis to serve as his defense secretary, as well as the nomination papers for his Cabinet choices.
    Less than an hour after wrapping up his inaugural address, Trump sat in an ornate room steps from the Senate floor and signed a series of papers formally launching his administration. Flanked by Vice President Mike Pence and congressional leaders, he praised each of his nominees as he signed the papers and handed out the pens he was using, exchanges that allowed him to banter with his new congressional rivals, including Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California.
    Trump also signed a proclamation declaring a national day of patriotism, according to a tweet from White House spokesman Sean Spicer.
    The bill passed by Congress last week grants Mattis a one-time exception from federal law barring former U.S. service members who have been out of uniform for less than seven years from holding the top Pentagon job. The restriction is meant to preserve civilian control of the military. Mattis, 66, retired from the Marine Corps in 2013.