Today's News

  • Former LANL scientist: WIPP leak caused by expanding gasses

    A former employee with the Los Alamos National Laboratory has an alternate theory about what caused a leak of radioactive gases from a barrel at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad in 2014.
    Former LANL physicist Charles Bowman said Friday his findings show expanding gasses already present inside the barrel may have been responsible for the release.
    In February of 2014, a barrel containing transuranic waste shipped from the Los Alamos National Laboratory was blamed for the leak that caused the closure of WIPP. Some radiation was released but not at levels that would cause harm.   
    LANL came under fire by state and federal environmental regulators following the event. Lab officials said the barrel breach was possibly caused by a mix of waste and other materials in the barrel, including organic kitty litter not used before, and a nuclear worker’s glove.
    The prevailing theory was that the leak was caused after workers packed the barrel incorrectly, and the materials inside mixed with gasses already in the room, which caused the explosion.
    Bowman said the explosion would have happened regardless. His findings show the explosion may have been caused by gasses present in the storage room that mixed with gasses produced by the LANL barrel.

  • New Mexico tax holiday underway as school year approaches

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — New Mexico's annual tax holiday is underway as the start of a new school year approaches.

    The start of the tax-free weekend started Friday, and will last through Sunday.

    The annual gross receipts tax holiday runs Friday through Sunday, with the state lifting its 5.1 percent sales taxes on items that include clothing and shoes, some outdoor and athletic supplies, computers, and pens and pencils.

    Gov. Susana Martinez says "getting ready to go back to school can be expensive" for families, and the tax-free weekend aims to ease the cost.

    Clothing and footwear must be $100 or less, and computers must cost $1,000 or less to be sales tax-free. The cap on other classroom necessities is $30.

  • 10 Tips for Becoming a Knowledgeable Renter  

    On the hunt for a new apartment? A move can be an exciting opportunity to explore a new area or meet new people. However, competitive rental markets can make it difficult to find a desirable place on a budget.
    Keep these ten tips in mind to manage the process like a pro. They’ll help you stand out from the crowd, get a good deal, enjoy the neighborhood and manage your rights and responsibilities as a renter.
    1. Talk to Other Tenants. Speak with current or past renters to get a sense for the building and landlord. Ask about the neighborhood, noise, timeliness with repairs and any other pressing questions. Consider looking for online reviews of the landlord as well, and research the neighborhood.
    2. Upgrade Your Application. Go beyond the basic application requirements and include pictures, references, credit reports and a short bio about yourself and whoever else may be moving in. Try to catch the landlord’s eye and show that you’ll take care of the property. You can order a free credit report from each bureau (Equifax, TransUnion and Experian) once every 12 months at AnnualCreditReport.com.  

  • Pot will get us through times of no money

    I’ve seen dozens of economic development schemes over the years. Some were visionary, others simply delusional. Almost all involved tapping the taxpayers to benefit a handful of politically savvy lobbyists and their clients.
    I can count the number of winners on one hand. New Mexico wine, which scarcely existed 30 years ago, is now a $60 million business expanding at 10 to 15 percent a year. Beer has grown from 25 craft breweries five years ago to 45 today with an estimated $340 million in economic impact.
    Both succeeded without government subsidies and in the teeth of Prohibition-era laws and bureaucratic inertia. Real businesses flourish not by rent-seeking in Santa Fe or Washington to get the government to underwrite their costs and mandate customers to purchase their product, but by producing something consumers actually want to buy.
    If the Drug War has taught us anything over the past 40 years, it’s that people want to buy marijuana.
    Since Colorado’s first pot shop opened two years ago, that state’s legal recreational market has grown from zero to nearly $600 million last year and may top $1 billion this year. The state rakes in more than a quarter of that with a hefty 27.9 percent levy on sales.

  • Education tops list for Garcia Richard

    In her bid for reelection, New Mexico State Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard (D–Dist. 43, Los Alamos, Rio Arriba, Sandoval and Santa Fe) stresses her ability to get things done and to work across the aisle.

  • Rio Arriba Co. woman 1st to get West Nile virus

    A 40-year-old Rio Arriba County woman is the first this year to be diagnosed with the West Nile virus, the New Mexico Department of Health announced Thursday.
    The woman was hospitalized with neuroinvasive disease, the more serious form of the illness, but is now at home recovering.
    This is the first human case of West Nile virus infection identified in New Mexico this year.
    To avoid mosquitoes that carry the virus, the health department cautions the public to use approved insect repellent when outside, regularly drain standing water and wear long sleeves and pants at dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.
    “While everyone is very concerned about Zika virus, we also need to remember that West Nile virus is still around and circulating in New Mexico,” said Department of Health Secretary Lynn Gallagher. “Eighty percent of people who are infected with West Nile virus don’t get symptoms and are not aware they have been infected; but those who do get sick can have very serious signs and symptoms including fever and muscles aches up to neurologic symptoms and even death.”

  • Endurofest set for Saturday

    Pajarito Mountain Ski Area is gearing up for its second summer festival of the season, Los Alamos Endurofest.
    The third annual Endurofest is schedule for Saturday and Sunday, with mountain biking beginning at 9 a.m. both days. Compared to Pajarito’s first summer festival, Endurofest focuses more on riders competing in the mountain biking course.   
    Day one’s biking will include four stages of 2,500 feet of climbing and 5,500 feet of descending, while day two includes 1,800 feet of climbing and 4,000 feet of descending in the rigorous trails of Pajarito.  

  • Cold War Patriots to host fair in August

    August will be the month that current and former Los Alamos National Laboratory workers can find help with benefits, get free health checkups and possibly catch up with old friends.
    Cold War Patriots will host a community resource fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 24 at the Santa Claran Hotel Casino in Española.
    The event will feature live entertainment, free healthcare screenings and exhibitors that could help them, according to Patriots Chairman Tim Lerew.
    The event is free, and so are the services provided at the fair.
    Exhibitors will include representatives from the Energy Employees Compensation Resource Center, Radiation Exposure Screening Education Program, the Los Alamos retirement community and others.
    Lerew has been with the Cold War Patriots since the organization started eight years ago, and has helped them start their resource fairs. He said the organization tries to have at least four major resource fairs a year.
    “Our mission is to connect former nuclear weapons workers and uranium miners to anything that can help them, especially if it has to do with a work-related illness, understand the benefits that are available to them and how they can access those,” he said. “We do that type of outreach all over the country.”

  • Freshman Academy ready to roll

    When this year’s 313 freshmen enter Los Alamos High School for the first time, Topper Freshman Academy will be ready for them, and by the time they’re sophomores the students will be ready for high school.
    Principal Carter Payne and his staff are hard at work getting the academy’s 12 classrooms into place. The new spaces were repainted, old insulation was removed and the floors were waxed.
    Later this year, the academy, which is located in Los Alamos High School’s E Wing,  will also officially have its own separate entrance and administrative offices in the same building.
    This means that eventually, visitors will be able to have access to Topper Freshman Academy off of Canyon Road.
    That is really the only difference between Freshman Academy and the rest of the high school.  
    “We’re not trying to separate the kids. In places where it makes sense to have them together we’re putting all the resources we can right there with them,” Payne said.
    Freshmen will still come to and from school at the same bus drop off, and parents bring their kids to school will still drop them off at the Sullivan Field drop off or at Griffith Gym.

  • P and Z tackles comp plan

    After several months of gathering public input, the Planning and Zoning Commission begins working in earnest on the comprehensive plan update this Saturday.
    From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in council chambers, the commission will develop the structure for the update, discuss the major themes and draft the goals and policies of the plan.
    The goals, policies and strategies suggestions developed by Community Development Department (CDD) staff appear to incorporate much of the public input gathered through two surveys and several public meetings.
    Goals included in the section on “housing, neighborhoods and growth” include providing more housing choices for all segments of the population, including workforce housing and smaller units for seniors wishing to downsize.
    Citizens wanted the comprehensive plan to include strategies for addressing vacant and/or blighted properties and prioritize infill for development over expanding into new areas. Those positions seem to be incorporated in the suggested strategies, which include:
    • Consider adoption of an inclusionary (affordable) housing ordinance.
    • Create a dedicated revenue source for mortgage assistance.
    • Preserve existing rental housing stock through incentives.
    • Investigate public/private funding options.