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Today's News

  • Former asst. county administrator found dead in Los Alamos home

    Former Los Alamos Assistant County Administrator Diana Mariani-Stepan was found dead by police in her Los Alamos home Dec. 4. She was 57.
    Los Alamos Police Department officers tried to contact Mariani-Stepan after receiving a request for a welfare check. Cpl. Adam R. Jung was dispatched to the home when a call came in reporting an unresponsive female.
    Upon arrival, medical personnel already on site informed Jung that Mariani-Stepan was deceased. She was pronounced dead at 10 p.m. The police report classified it as “unattended death.” There was no evidence that a crime was committed, according to the police report.
    Mariani-Stepan lived alone. She was formerly married to Tom Stepan.
    She began with the county as director of the Administrative Services Department in November 2001 and was promoted to assistant county administrator in May 2004.
    The county fired Mariani-Stepan in December 2010, after she had filed a grievance against former County Administrator Tony Mortillaro. An investigation by an outside firm found no wrongdoing by Mortillaro, but in June 2012, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) found the county guilty of sex discrimination and retaliation.
    Stepan filed suit against the county for wrongful termination, which resulted in an $800,000 settlement.  

  • Winterfest is a success for local nonprofits

    For many Los Alamos residents, the holiday light parade and tree lighting at Ashley Pond are probably the highlights of Winterfest. But many of the day’s events are not only community celebrations but also fundraisers for local nonprofits.
    Kiwanis Los Alamos’ annual “Breakfast with Santa” raises money for a Christmas party and presents for area foster children in Española and for other initiatives that benefit kids. Both breakfast and photos with Santa are provided on a donation only basis. The Kiwanis also take in canned food donations for LA Cares during the event.
    Del Norte Credit Union sponsored the breakfast, donating $1,500 to purchase 150 pounds of pancake mix, 1,400 sausages, 60 pounds of liquid eggs, 12 32-ounce containers of orange juice, 30 containers of chocolate milk, 50 containers of white milk and five gallons of maple syrup.
    According to organizer John Arrowsmith, almost all those supplies had run out by 10:15 a.m. Arrowsmith and other organizers believe this year had the best turnout ever, with more than 850 people attending. Volunteers took more than 350 photos with Santa.
    “So we’re doing very well today. It’s exciting. It’s exciting to see so many young families come out,” Arrowsmith said.

  • Former astronaut, US Sen. John Glenn of Ohio has died at 95

    SETH BORENSTEIN

    AP Science Writer

    WASHINGTON — John Glenn, whose 1962 flight as the first U.S. astronaut to orbit the Earth made him an all-American hero and propelled him to a long career in the U.S. Senate, died Thursday. The last survivor of the original Mercury 7 astronauts was 95.

    Glenn died at the James Cancer Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, where he was hospitalized for more than a week, said Hank Wilson, communications director for the John Glenn School of Public Affairs.

    John Herschel Glenn Jr. had two major career paths that often intersected: flying and politics, and he soared in both of them.

    Before he gained fame orbiting the world, he was a fighter pilot in two wars, and as a test pilot, he set a transcontinental speed record. He later served 24 years in the Senate from Ohio. A rare setback was a failed 1984 run for the Democratic presidential nomination.

    His long political career enabled him to return to space in the shuttle Discovery at age 77 in 1998, a cosmic victory lap that he relished and turned into a teachable moment about growing old. He holds the record for the oldest person in space.

  • Gun safes issue on hold

    The decision to install gun safes for the Los Alamos Police Department in the Los Alamos Middle School and the high school might not be decided until next year.
    LAPD Chief Dino Sgambellone is putting together a proposal to talk to the school district, but he has not completed it yet.
    Sgambellone’s initial idea was to install gun safes inside the buildings where they would be accessible only to police officers in active shooter or other emergency events, when they needed more firepower than what they normally carried.
    One officer is assigned to each school. The safes would contain AR-15s, shotguns, safety and first-aid equipment.
    “There has been nothing new on that…we are currently putting together a proposal that we will eventually discuss with the superintendent,” Sgambellone said.
    Sgambellone wants to come back to the district with a proposal that is acceptable to the community.
    “If we are going to do this, it will be in a way that makes the best sense for us,” he said.
    When the proposal returns, Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus said student and staff safety will be the No. 1 priority.

  • Today in history Dec. 8
  • LAFD buys 2 wildfire trucks

    The Los Alamos Fire Department hopes its latest acquisitions will help with faster response times and better wildfire fighting.
    In November, the department bought a specially equipped Ford F-550 pickup truck and an International truck to help the department fight wildfires. The trucks will be called “Brush 1” and “Brush 4.”
    The trucks are the first ones purchased by the LAFD. All other department vehicles were bought and owned by the U.S. Department of Energy.
    To LAFD Wildland Division Chief Ramon Garcia, having equipment the department owns outright means more fluid cooperation with other departments in the region and more wildfire training opportunities for the men and women in the LAFD.
    “Up until now, everything we owned was purchased by the Department of Energy,” Garcia said. “If we needed to send something off the hill, such as to Tennessee to help fight the wildfires out there, we would have to ask the DOE for permission. Now, we don’t have to ask for permission anymore. If a department needs help, we can immediately go help them.”
    Garcia said the department had no problems with the DOE in getting permission to lend equipment to other departments.

  • Today in history Dec. 7
  • Williams won’t seek 2nd term on school board

    Los Alamos School Board member Matt Williams announced Monday he won’t be running for a second term. Williams made the announcement through an email to The Los Alamos Monitor that also included a public meeting about school issues he will be having in White Rock on Thursday.
    “I would also like to take this time to announce that I am not running for reelection. I appreciate very much the opportunity that I’ve had to work for the Chamisa community and the Los Alamos community in general,” he said. “I’ll make more comments at the meeting on Thursday. I would be happy to lead or assist in a conversation concerning our next LAPS School Board representative at the end of the meeting.”
    Williams was elected to the board in 2012.
    Part of William’s platform then was making sure the state kept its formula for distribution of education dollars intact.
    “I’ve heard that there may be changes in how the state is going to give funding to the school districts, and we need to have a strong presence at the state level to make sure we’re well represented,” Williams said in 2012.
    Williams served on the board during a time of many changes, including the resignation of former Superintendent Gene Schmidt and the search for his replacement, Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus.

  • New Mexico senator decides against running for governor

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — U.S. Sen. Tom Udall says despite the encouragement of supporters, he has decided against running for governor in his home state of New Mexico in 2018.

    The Democrat made the announcement in a statement issued Wednesday, putting to rest any speculation that he might be in the lineup of fellow Democrats who will be seeking the seat.

    Udall said he believes he has the experience to address issues that have plagued New Mexico, but that he can better serve the state by remaining in the Senate.

    He sits on the influential appropriations committee as well as panels that oversee commerce, American Indian issues and foreign relations.

    The senator said he consulted with his family, colleagues and some constituents before making the decision.

    Udall was re-elected to the Senate in 2014.

  • No public opinion survey on projects

    During its Dec. 29 meeting, the Los Alamos County Council decided not to conduct a public opinion polling survey about the 2017 recreation bond in advance of an election.
    Earlier in the year, councilors had directed staff to conduct a survey to gage public response to the upcoming bond and the proposed projects for inclusion, something that several residents proposed during public meetings.
    County Manager Harry Burgess explained that avoiding conflict with the November General Election and the Los Alamos Public Schools/UNM-LA bond election in January would mean conducting the survey in March, too late to compile a report on the survey results and make any adjustments to the bond proposal in time for a May election.
    Despite those issues, Henderson made a motion to conduct the poll, which failed for lack of a second.
    O’Leary made the motion to not conduct a survey.
    “I think we’ve had a tremendous amount of public input. We’ve been working on this since October of last year. We’ve had many town halls; we’ve had many individual conversations with citizens,” O’Leary said. “I’m comfortable that we’re going to be able to come together next month with a package that makes sense for our community.