Today's News

  • Council urges Congress to fund deferred maintenance at parks

    The Los Alamos County Council voted 5–0 on Tuesday to approve a resolution encouraging congress to create a reliable, predictable stream of resources to address deferred maintenance needs in America’s national park system.

    Chair Rick Reiss and Councilor David Izraelevitz were not in attendance. County Administrator Harry Burgess explained the reason for bringing the resolution before council.

    “A couple of weeks ago, there was a contingent from the Pew Charitable Trust in town, doing a tour around the nation, informing communities and asking communities about the needs of the National Park Service,” Burgess said. “Part of their discussion was that at present the National Park Service has a list of maintenance deferrals that total almost $12 billion dollars. And the push of their efforts was try to obtain support from communities to write to Congress, let them know of the desire to fund those various maintenance deferred projects, because they do affect the number of visitors that come to town and also the economic impact that the parks have on communities within which they reside.”

  • Council approves wildfire plan

    The Los Alamos County Council approved the 2016 Community Wildfire Protection Plan on Tuesday.
    “The goals under the Wildfire Protection Plan are to save lives, protect property and reduce risk. And the last one is to enhance the environment,” said Wildland Fire Public Education Division Chief Ramon Garcia. “The vision that we have is to have some big trees, bark this thick (he mimes several inches). I won’t get to see it, you won’t get to see it, but hopefully our great grandkids will.”
    According to the CWPP document, the Departments of Agriculture and the Interior developed a National Fire Plan in response to the Cerro Grande fire and other major fires that occurred in 2000. In the 2003 Healthy Forests Restoration Act, congress also set forth guidelines for communities at risk from wildfire to seek funding for mitigating potential losses from wildland fire at the urban interface.
    At-risk communities such as Los Alamos must develop a CWPP before applying for grants administered under the Act. The county’s plan was originally passed in 2009.
    The updated CWPP re-evaluates risks based on changes in the community, the local fire regime and the current climate over the past five years, and then prioritized implementation strategies.

  • DOE finds problems with missile program

    The U.S. Department of Energy has highlighted problems in the life extension program of the B61-12 nuclear missile, one of the oldest weapons in the country’s nuclear arsenal.
    The issues included scheduling problems between Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories, the potential for cost overruns, and the inability to get the two labs to work together.
    “Given the critical national security mission, as well as the significant cost of the project, we initiated this audit to determine whether (the National Nuclear Safety Administration) was effectively managing the B61-12 LEP (Life Extension Program),” said the DOE’s Acting Inspector General Rickey Hass in a memorandum to Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz.
    Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories are working on ways to extend the missile’s life by at least 20 years. Sandia is working to add a guidance system to the tail and LANL’s role is to update the weapon’s other components.
    The first completed unit is due in March 2020. The project’s estimated cost is $8.1 billion.
    NNSA manages the life-extension program. The B61 started life in 1963 when it was known as the TX-61.

  • LAHS student dies following sleepover

    A 15-year-old Los Alamos student died earlier this week, after a sleepover at a house in the Jemez Mountains.
    The Sandoval County Sheriff’s Department would not release details about the death and could not disclose the official cause Thursday.
    Arleigh Huff, a 10th-grade student at the high school, was airlifted Sunday to the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque from the Jemez Mountain-area home after suffering a “medical incident” at the house, according to Investigations Supervisor Lt. Allen Mills.
    “It was a sleepover and there was some juveniles that were there that brought liquor,” Mills said.
    Mills also said it will be probably a month or so before they can determine exactly what happened.
    Toxicology results are still pending, Mills said. Mills also said no charges have been filed and probably never will be filed, as only juveniles were at the party where he said alcohol was being served.
     “They won’t have anything official until they get back a toxicology report, which will probably be six weeks,” Mills said. “The district attorney’s office has been contacted and they believe there will be no charges, as nothing criminal has been found.”

  • Council declares "Friday College Day/Military Day"

    The Los Alamos County Council issued a proclamation on Tuesday declaring Friday "College Day/Military Day" in Los Alamos County and 2016-2017 as a "Year of Asset Building.” The Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation (LACDC) and Champions of Youth Ambitions (C’YA) were on hand to accept the proclamation. Both organizations support local efforts to encourage the Search Institute's 40 Developmental Assets, which they call “common sense, positive experiences and qualities that help influence the choices young people make to become caring, responsible adults.” Those assets include support, empowerment, boundaries and expectations, constructive use of time, commitment to learning, positive values, social competencies and positive identity. The Los Alamos Program, called Assets in Action, is focused on creating “a Healthy Community, Healthy Youth.”

  • State looks to dismiss lawsuit over federal nuke lab cleanup

    SANTA FE (AP) — The New Mexico Environment Department is asking a federal court to dismiss a watchdog group's lawsuit over a cleanup effort at one of the nation's premier nuclear weapons factories.

    Nuclear Watch New Mexico filed its lawsuit in federal court in May, naming the U.S. Energy Department and Los Alamos National Security LLC as defendants.

    The lawsuit lists a dozen violations. It says the defendants are liable for hundreds of thousands of dollars in civil penalties for failing to comply with a 2005 cleanup agreement with state officials.

    The agreement, which ended a court fight between New Mexico and DOE, was supposed to have required cleanup of the lab's entire 40-square-mile site by last year but that work was not completed as the lab failed to receive federal appropriations.

    In a motion filed Thursday, the Environment Department argues that a new agreement made in 2016 invalidates the 2005 agreement the lawsuit is based on and therefore the lawsuit should be dismissed.

    "Because the 2005 Consent Order has been superseded by the 2016 Consent Order, the 2005 Consent Order is void and is no longer in effect," the motion says.

  • Today in history Sept. 1
  • Explosion at SpaceX launch pad destroys rocket, satellite

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A massive explosion erupted Thursday at SpaceX's main launch pad, destroying a rocket as well as a satellite that Facebook was counting on to spread internet service in Africa.

    There were no injuries. The pad had been cleared of workers before what was supposed to be a routine rocket test.

    The mishap dealt a severe blow to SpaceX, still scrambling to catch up with satellite deliveries following a launch accident last year. It's also a setback for NASA, which has been counting on the private company to keep the International Space Station stocked with supplies and, ultimately, astronauts.

    SpaceX was working to conduct a test firing of its unmanned Falcon rocket when the blast occurred shortly after 9 a.m. at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The test was in advance of Saturday's planned launch of an Israeli-made communications satellite that was supposed to provide home internet for parts of sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East.

    SpaceX said that in preparation for Thursday's engine firing — a test carried out a few days before every launch — "there was an anomaly on the pad resulting in the loss of the vehicle and its payload." No additional details were provided. It wasn't clear whether the rocket caused the problem or something else on the pad.

  • Community Calendar 8-31-16

    Green Hour Hike at 9 a.m. at the Nature Center. Join other families for a kid-centered hike on the Las Conchas Trail. Free.
    Nature Yoga at 5:15 p.m. at the Nature Center. Practice yoga with Christa Tyson at the nature center, where you have a great view of nature. Cost is $15 for non-members, $12 for members.
    Gentle Walks at 8:30 a.m. at the Nature Center. A gentle walk for which the emphasis is on discovery, not mileage gained. Free. More information at peecnature.org.
    September Night Sky Show at 7 p.m. at the Nature Center. Discover and identify objects visible in our night sky this month, and enjoy their beauty from our planetarium. Cost is $6 for adults, $4 for children.
    Feature Film: “Exoplanets” at 2 p.m. at the Nature Center. How do we know there are planets outside our solar system, exoplanets? Find out and venture past the edges of our solar system. Cost is $6 for adults, $4 for children.
    Feature Film: “Exoplanets” at 2 p.m. at the Nature Center. How do we know there are planets outside our solar system, exoplanets? Find out and venture past the edges of our solar system. Cost is $6 for adults, $4 for children.

  • LA Retirement Community to celebrate National Assisted Living Week

    The Los Alamos Retirement Community/LARC, Sombrillo Nursing and Rehabilitation Community and Aspen Ridge Assisted Living will celebrate National Assisted Living Week and National Appreciation Week for housekeeping, laundry and maintenance employees from Sept. 11-17.
    Events throughout the week will be a special opportunity to bring together residents, families and employees to recognize the unique individuals that live at Aspen Ridge Lodge, Sombrillo Nursing and Rehabilitation Community, and the staff that deliver care every day. Events will acknowledge the bonds that are built between residents and the professionals who are committed to providing person-centered care.
    The theme this year, “Keep Connected,” celebrates the ways employees nurture the whole resident and build community through caring relationships and personal connections.
    Assisted Living in Los Alamos, and nursing/rehabilitation community are a component of senior services. Los Alamos community citizens are invited to visit friends and loved ones who reside at the facility.