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Today's News

  • O’Leary challenges county fleet replacement

    The Los Alamos County Council this week tentatively approved the remaining departmental budgets, but tabled discussion on parking lot items and adoption of a fiscal year 2017 budget.
    Council tentatively approved the Los Alamos Police Department budget of $7,952,256, plus  $262,077 in optional budget items, plus budgets for Public Works, the Department of Public Utilities and Administrative Services.
    The $30,132,463 Public Works budget and four of the five proposed options received tentative thumbs up. Those are:
    • $160,000 to replace the Mesa Public Library HVAC unit.
    • $53,000 to restore funding for pavement preservation and facilities maintenance contractual services.
    • $105,000 for an industrial tractor with boom mower to maintain county right of ways and reduce hand labor.  
    • $48,000 to implement a Recycle Bank points program to promote recycling and help to reduce waste generation.
    A $325,000 option for constructing new hangars at the airport was not approved on the grounds that the county should explore options for private investment first.
    Vice Chair Susan O’Leary asked how staff determined when fleet vehicles needed to be replaced.

  • Rising IT costs raise questions

    The Los Alamos County Council approved the $7,525,176 Administrative Services budget plus $208,000 in optional items by a 4–3 vote on Monday, with councilors James Chrobocinski, Steve Girrens and Pete Sheehey opposing the motion.
    The optional items were $69,080 for IT network replacements, $106,920 for routine desktop hardware and software replacements and $32,000 for an investment advisor.
    The Information Management Division’s (IM) budget received especially close scrutiny. Chair Rick Reiss in particular questioned the county’s IT costs.
    Reiss asked if the division repurposed older equipment.
    IM Division Manager John Roig affirmed that they did, but added, “The problem with it is that the vendors themselves, after a certain amount of time, won’t support the equipment any more.
    “So your maintenance becomes that you have one or two extras laying around, so that when this one fails you pull another one off the shelf and plug it in, but it’s still unsupported by the vendor.”
    Roig also pointed out that when something such as a new phone system is installed, older equipment may not support that technology and have to be replaced.

  • ‘Spamalot’ in the running for Popejoy Awards

    The cast of Los Alamos High School’s production of Monty Python’s “Spamalot” was ecstatic when they learned this week that they had been nominated in several categories for the inaugural Popejoy Awards.
    The Popejoy Awards website (popejoyawards.org) states that “Our goal is to inspire and honor excellence in high school musical theater, and to recognize the importance of musical theater and arts education. We will use a competitive adjudication process to find the highest caliber of high school musical theater talent in New Mexico.”
    Winners in the May 8 competition will compete for scholarships at the National High School Musical Theatre Awards (NHSMTA) in New York City.
    “Spamalot” was nominated for Best Production, Best Director (LAHS drama teacher David Daniel) and Best Ensemble. Devon McCleskey (King Arthur), Max Herrmann (Lancelot) and Camille Rousculp (Patsy) received Best Actor and Best Actress nominations.

  • 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.

  • LAPS to get new website

    By next school year Los Alamos Public Schools’ website is going to have a new look to it. It will also have features that will make it easy for the school to share information with the public.
    According to the district’s website coordinator, Pierce Jones, the new website will be up and running sometime this summer. The website was designed by a committee comprised of teachers, staff, administration and members of the business community.
    Jones said there were three things the schools and the committee wished to accomplish with the new website: semantics, engagement and relatedness.
    As far as semantics is concerned, Jones said it was important that they use words that are more descriptive so people will want to click on the link. That means words and titles for menu items such as “home” or “basic facts” will be replaced with phrases like “Discover LAPS” and other call-to-action phrases. There will also be a section for prospective residents where they will be able to see all the stats that show off all the good things about the district, like average grade scores, number of scholarship winners, or athletic championships.
    “It will highlight an important story, something great that has happened that’s happened in our district,” Jones 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