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Today's News

  • Fire marshal: WR fire not caused by fireworks

    Los Alamos Fire Department investigators have determined a White Rock brushfire that broke out Tuesday on Cherokee Lane was not caused by fireworks, Fire Marshal Jeff Wetteland said Thursday.
    “We have found no proof of fireworks causing that fire,” Wetteland said.
    The department will not be releasing any other information, Wetteland said.
    A neighbor at the scene of the fire reported to The Los Alamos Monitor that he saw fireworks going off in a field next to the property the night before.
    “The only thing I saw was some illegal fireworks off in this direction,” neighbor, Steve Watkins said, “They were clearly visible, and they were way above the houses.”
    The fire broke out around 2:30 p.m. Tuesday in a field near a house on 1 Cherokee Lane. The LAFD was able to put the fire out within 20 minutes, but not before it grew to about two acres in size and scorched a section of the house’s roof.
    The homeowner, Claire Sanders, was not home at the time, but her dog was. The dog was later found to be OK.

  • UNM-LA works to fill housing gap

    University of New Mexico-Los Alamos students looking for housing close to campus this fall still have a shot, but they have to hurry.
    UNM-LA recently made a deal with Ponderosa Apartments on Trinity Drive for eight fully furnished apartments, seven two-bedroom units and one three-bedroom unit.
    “Depending on how students are willing to bunk up, they can accommodate up to 14 students,” said Kathryn Vigil, director of Student Services at UNM-LA.
    Four students have already been approved by UNM-LA and have gone on to the individual application process with the management team at Ponderosa Pines Apartments.
    While Vigil is vetting their academic performance, the applications will ultimately be decided by Pajarito Plateau Property management, the entity that manages and runs Ponderosa pines.
    More students are in the middle of the application process, Vigil said.
    Vigil has received several referrals. Move-in day won’t actually take place until August, she said. The application process is open to current students, not just incoming freshmen.

  • LANL links past oxygen-rich atmosphere on Mars to rocks

    A group of rocks found on Mars may hold the key to just how much oxygen was in the planet’s atmosphere.
    A team of Los Alamos Laboratory planetary scientists, analyzing of data from ChemCams on the Mars Discovery Rover, has discovered a link between findings on the planet and a possible oxygen-rich atmosphere.
    Nina Lanza, a planetary scientist at Los Alamos Laboratory and a team of researchers published a paper in a scientific journal June 27.
    They based their research on what NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover’s ChemCam “saw” when it aimed its laser at a group of rocks in the Gale Crater, located in the Kimberley region of the planet.
    The ChemCam, built at LANL, gathers information by measuring and recording reactions of the Martian soil and rocks when Rover’s onboard laser makes contact with them.
    The tools aboard the Curiosity work together to determine the makeup of what ChemCam is  “looking” at and transmit that data back to Earth.
    For the four years Curiosity has spent on the Red Planet, it has transmitted data showing some targets had very high levels of manganese oxide in them. Manganese oxide is also found on Earth.
    Lanza and other scientists say manganese oxide can only be created in an atmosphere that has high levels of oxygen.

  • June’s heat above average

    June was abnormally warm in the Los Alamos area, including a heat wave that occurred near Father’s Day, according to weather specialist at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
    The heat wave was a result of a strong upper-level ridge of high-pressure located over the southwest states.
    From June 18-20,daily maximum temperature records were tied or broken, reported David Bruggeman, meteorologist with LANL’s Environmental Protection and Compliance Division.
    Since officials started keeping records in 1910, the recorded maximum temperature in Los Alamos was 95.2 degrees. On June 19, the temperature reached 95.5 degrees. The maximum temperature record in White Rock (since 1964) was tied on June 19 at 100.8 degrees.
    The minimum temperature measured in Los Alamos was above average each night, except for one night at the beginning of the month.
    The mean minimum temperature was 57.1 degrees (6.8 degrees above average), the warmest mean minimum temperatures in June since 1956.
    The National Weather Service defines the monsoon season from June 15 to Sept. 30. The trend of below-average precipitation continued through June.

  • Customers could see 10% water rate hike

    Los Alamos residents could soon be paying more for water.
    On June 15, Los Alamos Department of Public Utilities Staff presented a draft water rate ordinance to the Board of Public Utilities which calls for a 10-percent across-the-board increase in water rates.
    Under the proposed ordinance, service charges for households with 1-1/4 inch meters would go from $7.93 to $8.72 per month, and 1-1/2-inch meters rates would increase from $25.12 to $27.63.
    Commodity charge increases will vary based on the season and the amount of water used. Those using 9,000−15,000 gallons would see an increase from $4.45 per 1,000 gallons to $4.90 during peak season and from $4.19 to $4.61 in the off-season. Those using under 9,000 gallons will pay $4.61 (up from $4.19) in both peak and non-peak seasons.
    According to the staff report, cool weather and moderate rainfall has “created a trend toward reduced water sales.”
    The department has traditionally budgeted for a 1.5-percent increase in sales every year. The FY2016 projection was for 850,000 kilogallons (kgal). That has been projected downward to 704,000 kgal. Reduced sales have left the utility’s cash balance $845,000 lower than projected.
    As revenues drop, costs for operating and maintaining a complex water production and delivery system continue to increase.

  • Judge says ethics violations relevant to criminal charges

    SANTA FE (AP) — A New Mexico district court judge says some prior admissions to violations of Senate ethics rules and the state constitution by a disgraced former senator can be used to determine whether the lawmaker should stand trial on criminal charges.

    State District Judge Brett Loveless on Thursday denied a request to exclude a March 2015 agreement between a Senate ethics subcommittee and former Sen. Phil Griego, signed as he resigned from office. In the document Griego acknowledges violating a constitutional prohibition on benefiting from a state contract.

    The New Mexico attorney general's office alleges Griego used his role as a senator to profit from the sale of a state owned building.

    Defense attorney Thomas Clark says the ethics violations have no bearing on criminal accusations against Griego of fraud and bribery.

  • Today in history July 7
  • Annual ACI draws a crowd

    Los Alamos’ premier Fourth of July golf tournament lived up to the billing this past weekend at the Los Alamos Municipal Golf Course.
    The Annual Atomic City Invitational was filled some of the areas most talented and golf-crazed players. This year’s ACI included a closest to the pins, chipping, putting, long drive and smoking gun competitions.
    The men’s long drive winner was Jason Norman, while Mick Irving claimed the senior and Margot Liberty won the women’s long drive. Larry Rich won the chipping contest, while Bruce Norman finished first in the putting contest. Curtis Norman won the smoking gun contest.
    The invitational also included 13 flights that golfers played in a span of four days.
    Eric Trujillo won the Men Championship flight. Doug Cramer finished first in the Seniors Championship flight.
    Cale Jones was first in the First Men flight, while Phil Pendorf won the First Seniors flight. The Second Men flight was claimed by Brett Kniss and Brodie Anderson won the Senior White Tee Championship flight. Eddie Sanchez claimed the Championship Super Senior flight and Lance Lackas won the Third Men flight. Jason Cox won the Fourth Men flight, while Larry Hults won the First Super Senior flight.
    Chanet Fiorina won the Ladies Championship flight, while Anna Swertfeger won the First Ladies flight.

  • New Mexico announces more ‘record-breaking’ tourism

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — New Mexico saw record-breaking tourism for the fourth year in a row and created more than 2,500 related tourism jobs last year, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez announced Tuesday.
    The governor and state tourism officials said 700,000 more trips were taken in New Mexico last year, bringing the total number of visitors to 33.4 million.
    Those numbers, based on survey data from research firm Longwoods International, point to a steady increase of travel to New Mexico since Martinez took office in 2011.
    “New Mexico True allows us to showcase adventures all around the Land of Enchantment that truly feed the soul like no other state is able to do,” Martinez said. “As a result, we’re breaking tourism records and sharing our unique culture, scenic vistas, unrivaled ski slopes and, of course, our green chile.”
    Last year, Martinez said half a million more people visited New Mexico in 2014 than in 2013 and credited the state’s New Mexico True campaign. That campaign has featured the state’s famous outdoor locations and New Mexico celebrities, such as mixed-martial arts fighter Carlos Condit.
    New Mexico True advertisements have been spotted in airports around the country, including at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.

  • No charges for Clinton, FBI says – despite biting criticism

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The FBI lifted a major legal threat to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign Tuesday, recommending no criminal charges for her handling of highly classified material in a private email account. But Director James Comey’s scathing criticism of her “extremely careless” behavior revitalized Republican attacks and guaranteed the issue will continue to dog her.
    Comey’s announcement effectively removed any possibility of criminal prosecution arising from Clinton’s email practices as President Barack Obama’s secretary of state. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said last week that she intended to accept the recommendations of the FBI and of career prosecutors.
    But the FBI director’s blistering televised statement excoriated her handling of national secrets, contradicted her past explanations about her emails and ensured she will remain on the defensive about voters’ views of her trustworthiness and judgment.
    GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump said the statement provided more evidence against “Crooked Hillary” and showed anew that “the system is rigged.” Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan said the decision not to prosecute simply defied explanation.