Today's News

  • Citizens to vote on keeping sheriff’s office

    Voters will decide in November whether Los Alamos will abolish its sheriff’s office.
    After a heated round of public debate Tuesday, the Los Alamos County Council decided to place the ballot item before voters in November. Councilors voted 4−3, with James Chrobocinski, Steve Girrens and Pete Sheehey deciding against the ordinance.
    If the citizens pass the proposed County Charter amendment, the change would go into effect after Sheriff Marco Lucero’s term ends in 2018.
    Chair Rick Reiss stressed that the ordinance council passed Tuesday does not abolish the office of sheriff but puts the issue before the voters.
    “Between tonight and November – assuming that this ordinance is approved – there will be a significant amount of time and numerous forms to debate the issue,” Reiss said. “This time will provide the public with information so they can determine how they should vote.”
    On May 24, council moved all process-serving responsibilities from the sheriff’s office to the Los Alamos Police Department, after Lucero expressed concerns for his deputies’ safety. The question of whether to retain a sheriff also stems from that issue. The staff report reads,

  • 'Rare, dangerous' heat headed to parts of Western US

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — It's a dry heat, Phoenix residents like to say about Arizona's hot weather. That bravado may vanish as the thermometer flirts with 120 degrees this weekend.

    Phoenix won't be alone in the oven. A strengthening ridge of high pressure lifting out of Mexico is on course to also scorch other parts of Arizona and Southern California, bringing potentially record-shattering temperatures.

    Though accustomed to triple digits, the upcoming heat spell is a rarity in Phoenix, a desert metropolis of 1.5 million people, raising concerns of heat stroke.

    Temperatures are predicted to hit 118 degrees in Phoenix on Sunday and peak at 119 degrees Monday. Such heat is "rare, dangerous and deadly," according to a National Weather Service warning.

    "This is extreme even for our standards," said Matthew Hirsch, a weather service meteorologist in Phoenix.

    The hottest day on record in Phoenix occurred June 26, 1990, when the thermometer reached 122 degrees.

    Extreme heat is likely to become more common, scientists say, blaming man-made greenhouse gas pollution.

  • Citizens speak for, against eliminating sheriff’s office

    Although Tuesday night’s Los Alamos County Council meeting was packed with people following the debate about whether voters should decide if the sheriff’s office should be abolished, only a dozen or so people offered public comment.
    Several of those opposed to abolishing the office argued that an elected sheriff provides a check and balance to other elected officials and county management.
    Matt Wolk claimed council did not have the authority to pass this ordinance.
    “He is an elected official that answers to the people, and he has a right to investigate, to find the truth. He or she, as sheriff in any county in this country, is the last separation of power that us, the people, have to make sure there is checks and balances, proper investigations,” Wolk said. “You guys can shut down the police. They may not like it, but the chief has to answer to you.”
    Deputy Sheriff John N. Horne, speaking as a private citizen, argued that, “As far as our federal Constitution goes, I do believe that there are some implications here, because all the citizens of Los Alamos County are entitled to equal protection under the law. Everyone in this state, in every other county, has a sheriff that works directly for them.

  • Girlfriend charged after fight

    The ex-girlfriend of Los Alamos resident Zachary Keller was arrested after an altercation at her apartment.
    The ex-girlfriend called police shortly after the alleged incident took place June 7 and filed a complaint against him.
    Ashley Fragua, 23, was charged with false imprisonment and battery against a household member. The arresting officer reported that he based the arrest on a witness at the scene and Keller’s mother.
    Keller was also arrested following the incident. Keller pled not guilty June 8 in magistrate court.
    “After leaving Fragua’s apartment, I was approached by a man who stated that he had seen some of the altercation between Fragua and Keller,” LAPD Cpl. James Keane wrote in the police report. “The man stated that he witnessed Keller making several trips to and from the apartment to remove items, and while Keller was doing so, Fragua was following and yelling at him in an angry manner.”
    The witness then told Keane that Fragua allegedly grabbed Keller while he was on his bicycle attempting to leave.
    That was when Keller’s mother, who was also at the scene, stepped in and prevented Fragua from trying to stop her son from leaving.

  • Robot Rodeo brings in bomb squads from all over U.S.

    Emergency bomb squads from all over the U.S. are teamed up at Los Alamos National Laboratory this week to compete and show off their skills.   
    Called the Robot Rodeo, it’s one of the few events where these teams can show off their skills taking their unit’s bomb handling robots through many types of real life scenarios.
    Opening suspicious packages, taking bombs off trains, and delivering packages are just some of the scenarios the teams in the competition practice.
    The Robot Rodeo takes place at Sandia National Laboratory or Los Alamos National Laboratory. This year it was at LANL’s Tech Area 49, where teams from the Los Alamos Police Department, Colorado, California and elsewhere put their robots through their paces.
    In Los Alamos at Tech Area 49, event coordinator and LANL bomb technician Christopher Ory was in charge of the event, making sure each of the teams had what they needed to successfully complete their missions.
    Though there’s some fun and competition involved, the lab tries to make each scenario as realistic as possible.

  • San Miguel County pays out $38,000 to email scam

    LAS VEGAS (AP) — San Miguel County is out $38,000 after a sophisticated email scam persuaded the county finance supervisor to transfer the funds to an outside account.

    The Las Vegas Optic reports that New Mexico State Police is working to figure out who is behind the email, which made it appear that Les Montoya instructed finance supervisor Melinda Gonzales to transfer the money to pay a consultant.

    The false email appeared to have been sent from Montoya's iPhone.

    Montoya says that if policies and procedures had been followed, the money would not have been transferred.

    Similar scams were sent to multiple counties and school districts in the state. Employees from San Miguel County, Zuni Public Schools and Deming Public Schools initiated transfers to the scammers totaling over $100,000, though the schools were able to stop the process.

  • New Mexico wildfire destroys 24 homes, pushes east

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Hundreds of firefighters battling a fast-moving blaze that has destroyed two dozen homes and numerous other structures in central New Mexico are bracing for hot, dry and windy weather as they look for any chance Friday to slow the flames.

    Fire managers released the damage assessment overnight after saying previously that the blaze destroyed some structures near the small community of Chilili as it made a big push Wednesday night.

    Authorities also expanded the mandatory evacuation zone to include a few more subdivisions to the north and east, but they could not immediately say how many homes were affected or how many were directly threatened by the fire.

    Dozens of residents left their homes in the Chilili area Wednesday after the fire made a big push. Residents packed their vehicles with clothes, photo albums and other belongings, and some loaded animals into livestock trailers as a wall of smoke loomed between them and the border of the Cibola National Forest.

    Gov. Susana Martinez declared an emergency, clearing the way for state resources to help with the fire. She surveyed the blaze via air Thursday evening and received a briefing from state and federal officials.

  • ‘Safety Town’ heads into second year

    For the next two weeks, a bumper crop of soon-to-be kindergartners will be navigating “Safety Town,” a partnership program between Los Alamos Public Schools and the Los Alamos Police Department.
    By the time it ends, they will probably know more than their parents about how to navigate traffic safely by bike and by foot and how to stay safe at home and when they’re playing outdoors.
    “All of the planned activities are a combined effort with Los Alamos County employees and the Los Alamos Police Department,” Superintendent of Schools Kurt Steinhaus, in a letter to parents about the program. “Keeping your child safe at school is our top priority.”
    Safety Town was introduced last year by Los Alamos Police Chief Dino Sgambellone as a way to show kids going off to school for the first time how to keep safe when their parents aren’t around.
    The program was popular last year. This year, Safety Town has three classes of 57 students at Mountain Elementary School. Last year, there were 39 students enrolled.
    For the next two weeks, the kids will tackle a different topic everyday, including bike safety, “stranger danger” animal awareness, fire safety, water safety and other subjects. Each day begins at 9 a.m. and ends at noon.

  • Today in history June 17
  • Today in history June 20