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Today's News

  • Stolen PEEC trail posts found

    Pajarito Environmental Education Center’s new trail exploration program has already delivered plenty of adventure for the staff after the mysterious theft of two of its posts.
    Nature Center employees were upset to find that someone had pulled out the wooden posts that marked two of the 16 trails included in the program for Passport to the Pajarito Plateau. Hundreds of children and adults have the passports and crayons to make “rubbings” at the post and return them for prizes at the center.
    “We were really upset that people could be so mean spirited,” said PEEC Executive Director Katie Watson.
    Employees discovered the posts missing at Acid Canyon Loop and Bridges Loop trails Sunday, said Marketing Manager Sandra West.
    Staff searched the area Sunday and Monday, and figured the posts would not be far from their original locations because of their size and weight, West said.
    Tuesday morning, Watson decided to take her morning run around the Acid Canyon Loop trail area. She located the post not far from where it went missing.
    “I decided to look one last place and there it was,” Watson said.
    Whoever removed the posts apparently took time to cover their tracks.
    “Interesting thing is, with both of them, the original holes were covered up,” West said.

  • Today in history April 29
  • NMED to host Open House tonight in Council Chambers

    The New Mexico Environment Department’s Hazardous Waste Bureau will host an Open House from 5-7 p.m. in the Los Alamos County Council Chambers, 1000 Central Ave., to present an overview of proposed changes to the Draft Consent Order regarding clean up at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

    NMED representatives will take citizen and stakeholder input, address concerns and answer questions.

    On March 1, 2005, NMED and the U.S. Department of Energy and the Regents of the University of California entered into the 2005 Consent Order that prescribed fence-to-fence clean-up requirements for LANL. Any scope of work that was not completed under the 2005 Consent Order is carried forward by inclusion in the draft Consent Order. NMED started public discussion and feedback on this draft Consent Order at the November 12, 2015 Northern New Mexico Citizen Advisory Board meeting and the November 13, 2015 Regional Coalition of Los Alamos communities meeting.

    NMED continues to meet with other interested stakeholders, including tribes, local governments and non-governmental organizations, to better understand the public’s outlook on NMED’s recommended approach to the order. The public comment period continues through May 16.

  • Application filed for high-level nuclear waste site in Texas

    DALLAS (AP) — A Dallas-based company has submitted an application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a license to construct and operate an interim storage site in West Texas for high-level nuclear waste from around the country.

    Waste Control Specialists, which submitted the application Thursday, had notified the NRC last year of its plan to seek the license to build the facility in rural Andrews County that would store spent fuel rods from power plants. There's currently no such disposal site in the U.S.

    The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says the review process is expected to take about three years.

    Rod Baltzer, president and chief executive officer of Waste Control Specialists, says the license submittal puts his company on track for completion of the facility as early as 2021.

  • Voter registration for primary closes May 10

    Those wanting to vote in New Mexico’s primary election must register as either a Democrat or a Republican by 5 p.m. May 10.
    New Mexico has a closed primary, meaning that only those registered with one of the two major parties can vote in the primaries.
    Those not registered or who wish to change or add a party affiliation can pick up a voter registration form at the Los Alamos County Clerk’s office, the Motor Vehicles Department or either library.
    The New Mexico Secretary of State also provides online voter registration to eligible New Mexico citizens. Those with a state-issued I.D. can update their existing registration or register for the first time at sos.state.nm.us.
    The timeline for the upcoming primary is as follows:
    May 10−May 20: Absentee and early voting begins.
    May 10 is the first day absentee ballots can be mailed to the clerk’s office. Those wishing to have an absentee ballot mailed to them must complete an absentee application. Download the application at losalamosnm.us/clerk/Pages/Elections.aspx or call 662-8010. June 3 is the deadline for mailing absentee ballots.
    In person early voting is from 8 a.m.−5 p.m. Monday−Friday in council chambers at the Municipal Building.
    • May 21: Early voting expands.

  • Today in history April 28
  • Council OKs shelter manager

    The Los Alamos County Council tentatively approved the Los Alamos Police Department’s proposed budget of $7,952,256 on Monday, plus all six of the department’s optional budget items, which totaled $262,077.
    Councilor Steve Girrens voted against the motion, objecting to $75,000 to create a shelter manager position in the Police Animal Control division.
    Chief Dino Sgambellone explained the need for the shelter manager, reciting a long list of duties that the county’s three animal control officers have to perform in addition to answering calls for service and taking enforcement action if necessary. Sgambellone noted that officers have to shut down the shelter to answer a call. The new shelter is open 46 hours a week, as opposed to the 21 hours the old shelter was open.
    “And if they don’t go out and they leave the shelter open, the (non-animal control) officers are handling those calls, which, the officers don’t have the training that our animal control officers do and, quite frankly, probably don’t share the passion that our animal control offers do, which is why they have made that their career,” Sgambellone said.

  • 2016 wildfire season expected to be less severe

    DENVER (AP) — The upcoming wildfire season across the U.S. isn't expected to be as bad as last year's infernos, when a record 15,800 square miles burned, the nation's top wildland firefighting official said Wednesday.

    But parts of the nation should expect a rough season after a warm, dry winter or because of long-term drought, U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said.

    Southern California, other parts of the Southwest, Alaska and Montana are all vulnerable, he said.

    "So where we anticipate the severity of the fire season will not be at the same level as last year, we still expect to have some areas that will be really active," Tidwell said.

    Tidwell discussed the fire outlook with The Associated Press four days before the federal government issues its wildfire outlook for the summer season. He was in Denver for a conference on forest health.

    California is vulnerable because much of the state remains in a drought, despite an El Nino weather system that brought near-average snowfall to its northern mountains. Wildfires have already broken out in Alaska after a warm winter with below-average precipitation.

  • LANL projects rosy job numbers

    Los Alamos National Laboratory Director Charlie McMillan assured local leaders in Santa Fe Tuesday that the lab is going to continue to be a strong community and regional partner.
    LANL is facing a period of relative uncertainty as Los Alamos National Security’s contract to manage the lab goes out to bid sometime after 2017. The National Nuclear Safety Administration put Congress on notice that LANS’ current contract will not be renewed and will be put out to bid after 2017.
    LANS LLC failed to get another renewal due to performance issues, even though the lab’s performance for 2015 was better than its performance in 2014.  
    “A very clear priority for us is assuring that the laboratory is as strong as it possibly can be through the contract transition,” McMillan said at Tuesday’s breakfast meeting. “Not just up to the transition, but through the transition. So, we’re looking to make decisions today about long-term strengths for the laboratory.”
    One of those long-term strengths will be through employee attrition, as LANL prepares to replace the next wave of employees that are set to retire.

  • Search resumes for missing treasure hunter

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Authorities on Wednesday resumed the search for a Colorado man who disappeared more than three months ago while hunting for a $2 million cache of gold, jewels and artifacts in a rugged part of New Mexico.

    Officials at Bandelier National Monument confirmed that a search-and-rescue mission was underway in an area of the monument off-limits to the public.

    Bandelier Superintendent Jason Lott declined to provide details but said authorities are encouraging people to stay out of the area, which covers steep slopes and a mass of loose rocks.

    "It's rugged country and it takes a pretty high level of expertise to work in that area," he said. "We're actively pursuing the search and rescue and just ask that others don't try to engage in this."

    The search was triggered by the discovery of a backpack last weekend. Authorities wouldn't say whether it belonged to Randy Bilyeu of Broomfield, Colorado, who disappeared in early January after he set out to raft a portion of the Rio Grande northwest of Santa Fe.

    Bilyeu's dog and raft were found along the river, but authorities called off the search in mid-January when the trail went cold.