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Today's News

  • Reiss gives ‘State of the County’

    In his last act serving as Los Alamos County Council Chair, Rick Reiss presented a “State of the County” message at Tuesday’s council meeting. 

    A charter amendment approved by voters in 2014 calls for the council chair to give an annual State of the County address. Reiss is the first chair to act upon that directive. 

    Reiss described struggling with how to distinguish his message from the annual “State of the County” report given by County Manager Harry Burgess for the last five years. That report – presented at last Thursday’s Chamber breakfast – focused on the operational nuts and bolts, such as the status of county projects and finances.

    Reiss chose a high-level look at the county’s achievements. He opened his remarks with, 

    “I believe Los Alamos is a wonderful community with great amenities and beautiful surroundings. In summary, I believe the state of the county is “outstanding,” with excellent county staff that addresses the strategic goals of the council, operational excellence, which is the foundation of county government and comparable results that exceed our neighbors, the region and/or the state.”

  • Redmond takes over reigns at Youth Activity Center

    John Redmond, the new director for the Los Alamos Family Council’s two Youth Activity Centers, has spent a significant part of his career working with young people. 

    Redmond served as school resource officer with the Los Alamos Police Department for five and a half years. He was assigned to the high school for most of that time, but also worked at the middle school. 

    Before joining the LAPD, Redmond provided leadership training for a Silicon Valley health tech company. Prior to that, he worked at St. John’s Military School, a boarding school for seventh- through 12th-grade boys in Salina, Kansas.

    As the school resource officer, Redmond was responsible for a variety of community outreach activities. He ran the first Safety Town, a program initiated by police Chief Dino Sgambellone. He also conducted a three-day Boy Scout public safety merit badge powwow, based on regional powwows he had taught, helping approximately 25 boys earn seven merit badges. 

    What Redmond enjoys most about working with youth is their energy. 

  • Youth Activity Center gets remodeled

    The Youth Activity Center in Los Alamos, operated from the south side basement of the community building, is scheduled for remodeling starting mid-January. 

    Improvements include leveling the uneven floor and updating the near 30-year-old finishes.  

    After completion of improvements to the Teen Center, staff from the Los Alamos Family Council, operator of the YAC, requested improvements to the obsolete and deteriorated interior. With project savings from the Teen Center and others, this became possible.

    “We are fortunate that the Teen Center and other projects came in under budget,” said Los Alamos County Project Manager Steven Huebner.  “The floors were sloped with floor drains because this part of the building was originally a truck garage in the early days.”  

    The sloped portion of the concrete floor will be removed and replaced with a level floor to eliminate tripping hazards. 

    The space will be finished with concrete polished floors for longevity and easy cleaning. Cabinets and counter tops will be replaced, walls patched and painted, a sink added to the kitchenette, and the exit door will be updated to be a code-compliant fire exit.  

  • EPA says it can’t pay economic damages from mine spill

    DENVER — The Environmental Protection Agency announced Friday it will not repay claims totaling more than $1.2 billion for economic damages from a mine waste spill the agency accidentally triggered in Colorado, saying the law prohibits it.

    The EPA said the claims could be refiled in federal court, or Congress could authorize payments.

    But attorneys for the EPA and the Justice Department concluded the EPA is barred from paying the claims because of sovereign immunity, which prohibits most lawsuits against the government.

    “The agency worked hard to find a way in which it could pay individuals for damages due to the incident, but unfortunately, our hands are tied,” EPA spokeswoman Nancy Grantham said.

    The EPA said it has spent more than $31.3 million on the spill, including remediation work, water testing and payments to state, local and tribal agencies.

    A total of 73 claims were filed, some by farmers who lost crops or had to haul water because rivers polluted by the spill were temporarily unusable for irrigation and livestock. Rafting companies and their employees sought lost income and wages because they couldn’t take visitors on river trips. Some homeowners sought damages because they said their wells were affected.

  • Burgess talks development

    Los Alamos County Manager Harry Burgess talked about economic development in his annual State of the County address Thursday to members of the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce.
    Burgess took his remarks from the Los Alamos County 2016 Annual Report, which is available online at the county’s website.
    Some of the topics covered included tourism, quality of life and regional projects.
    First on his list was the county’s collaboration with the National Park Service to help get the Manhattan Project Historical Park off the ground. One of the things the county did to make the park more accessible was give space to the NPS for the park’s visitor center at 475 20th Street.
    The move allowed the park to start growing a base in Los Alamos, where visitors could orientate themselves to the park and what it has to offer.
    The county also worked with the NPS to ensure the Los Alamos part of the park was compatible to its other locations  in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and Hanford, Washington.
    “Over the cycle of that year, the park service has made great strides to make it a more permanent facility,” Burgess said. “They are taking baby steps to get to the point where the unit is in place not only here but in our sister cities as well.”

  • Celebrating over lunch
  • LANL contract high on LA’s legislative priorities

    In December, the Los Alamos County Council approved a list of 2017 state legislative priorities. Efforts to support those priorities are already underway and will kick into high gear when the New Mexico State Legislature opens its session on Tuesday.
    Newly elected council Chair David Izraelevitz and County Manager Harry Burgess hold out little hope for council’s top legislative priority: legislation supporting the county’s application for capital outlay funding to develop affordable housing infrastructure.
    “We expect that there will be very little to no capital outlay given the current budget situation,” Izraelevitz said.
    “We’re hopeful. We have pressing needs, like many other communities around the state. But given the situation, we would be delighted if some of these things get addressed, but I think it’s going to be a very difficult argument to make, given all the cuts in just basic services that the state is looking to impose.”
    The county is taking a two-pronged approach to the second priority: adequate funding of local public health offices.
    The county has been protesting the New Mexico Department of Health’s decision to severely curtail both hours and services.

  • Sen. Udall fears repeal of ACA on state

    During a teleconference on Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) discussed how the Republican plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) could impact New Mexico.
    “Seven years ago, New Mexico had one of the highest rates of people without health insurance. Tens of thousands of people couldn’t afford to see a doctor except in the hospital emergency room. They couldn’t get preventative care. Many were one major illness away from bankruptcy,” Udall said. “The Affordable Care Act, or ACA, is not perfect, but there is no question that it has helped many New Mexicans get healthcare.”
    According to Udall, since congress passed the ACA in 2010, the rate of uninsured in New Mexico has dropped by 44 percent.
    That figure is confirmed on the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services website, which also documents that since the ACA was passed, 82,000 New Mexicans have gained coverage through Medicaid. An additional 47,497 people have coverage through the marketplace. Of those, 32,703 moderate- and middle-income New Mexicans receive tax credits averaging $212 per month. An estimated 15,000 young adults in New Mexico have benefited from the ACA provision that allows them to stay on their parents’ health insurance up to age 26.

  • Gov. Martinez sets state’s fiscal solvency as priority

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is warning that before anything reaches her desk during the upcoming legislative session, she wants lawmakers to come up with a “serious solvency package.”
    The Republican governor made the comment Thursday while addressing business leaders in Albuquerque. She’s referring to projections that the state is expected to outspend revenues by nearly $220 million this fiscal year.
    Martinez and lawmakers rolled out dueling budget proposals earlier this week.
    Despite opposition from Democrats, part of her plan calls for sweeping some money from school district reserves.
    She argues that districts are sitting on more than $130 million in such funds and in some cases that’s far beyond the 5 percent recommended for hard times. She says the surpluses can be tapped to avoid classroom and program cuts.

  • Court docs to go online

    The New Mexico Supreme Court announced its decision Jan. 6 to open up access to the public and others as part of a new policy.
    “The new policy is part of the Judiciary’s continuing efforts to make judicial proceedings more transparent and accessible to the public while balancing privacy concerns,” Communications Officer Barry Massey said. “The state courts recognize that people increasingly use and rely on electronic information in their day-to-day lives.”
    The New Mexico court system plans to have computer access operational by the spring or the summer. Access will first be  granted to attorneys licensed in New Mexico, out-of-state attorneys admitted by the New Mexico Supreme Court, state, municipal and federal law enforcement agencies, corrections agencies, federal state and municipal courts, compliance programs and agencies involved in adult, family or child welfare.