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Today's News

  • LAPS superintendent’s contract extended another 3 years

    The Los Alamos School Board agreed to extend Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus’ contract another three years Tuesday. The contract now ends in 2020.
    The three-year extension is the maximum number of years allowed by state law. The approval was made during an executive session of the board.
    “That is the strongest possible statement that the board could make about our confidence in our superintendent,” said school board member Matt Williams.
    Steinhaus’ annual salary will remain at $160,000.
    Steinhaus noted during contract negotiations that the board would consider giving him a raise when the time came to consider raises for staff.
    “I would politely decline a raise, because I want the money to go to our teachers,” Steinhaus said.
    The board was impressed by Steinhaus’s performance since the board picked him two years ago to replace Superintendent Gene Schmidt.
    “From the discussions I’ve had with him and conversations with individual board members, I think the board is quite pleased with Kurt,” said LASB President Jim Hall.

  • Museum idea picks up steam

    A group of residents are continuing to drum up support through speaking engagements for an art museum in Los Alamos.
    Their latest event was at the UnQuarked Wine Room Feb. 9, where Ruth Tatter and Amy Bjarke explained their case as to why Los Alamos needs its own art museum.
    “We always think it’s great when we meet people who we think can get the word out,” Tatter said at the event.
    Their talk at UnQuarked centered on getting a building for their museum and their strategy going forward.
    While they look for a building, the Los Alamos Museum of Art group plans to give more talks and start volunteer and art programs the community can participate in. They are due to speak again at Karen Wray’s Gallery in March where they will show some artwork from the museum’s board members. They also plan to have lectures and events at Project Y. They are also a 501 C 3 corporation.
    The group has already been promised some art collections from some Los Alamos residents. Keeping those collections together, and in Los Alamos, is also an important priority.  
    “There is a sense of urgency,” Tatter said to the audience. “We have these collections promised to us, but they are currently being housed with the collectors. We really want to make a new home for them.”

  • Relay for Life planning moves ahead

    The planning for the Los Alamos County American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life 2017 is moving ahead, with another meeting planned for 6 p.m. Tuesday in the small conference room of the Los Alamos Medical Center.
    The hope of the next meeting is to attract volunteers as team captains, and to have people attend who are cancer survivors and anyone interested in getting involved with this year’s Relay for Life.
    Many aspects go into planning Relay for Life, and to make it a successful event, the group needs the community’s  help, according to organizers.
    The following positions need to be filled this year:
    • Recruitment point of contact
    • Sponsorship point of contact
    • Entertainment point of contact
    • Fundraising point of contact
    • Survivor dinner point of contact
    • Logistics point of contact
    The organization’s goal is to raise $25,000 for cancer research for the American Cancer Society. This goal can be achieved by fundraising on-site during the event, off site prior to the event (bake-sale, car wash, silent auction, etc.), luminaria sales and donations from private parties and businesses.

  • LA students bring home trophies from FLL regional championship

    Students from Los Alamos were among the 36 teams competing in the First Lego League New Mexico Region Championship at Menual School in Albuquerque Feb. 11.
    Both local teams, the Atomic Phoenixes and the Split Atoms advanced from the Los Alamos Qualifier where 15 teams from New Mexico and Colorado competed for five championship slots.
    The Atomic Phoenixes brought home the first-place Programming Award, and the Split Atoms brought home the first-place Robot Performance Award.
    The Split Atoms came in fourth place overall and have the opportunity to advance to one of four national open invitational events in the coming months.
    Each year, as part of the FLL competition season, teams work on core values, a research project, and a robot game. Core values teaches team members that learning together, working as a team, and having fun are more important that what they win. The research project challenges students to develop innovative solutions for real-world problems.
    This year’s theme is “Animal Allies,” and solutions were focused on improving the interactions between humans and animals. The robot game is where teams build and program Lego Mindstorms robots to autonomously complete as many missions on the robot field as they can in three two-and-a-half minute rounds.

  • New Mexico grid linkup plan scaled back to $200M project

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — A company that once planned a $1.5 billion effort in New Mexico to link three major U.S. electricity grid systems and pump more renewable energy to more populated markets said Wednesday that it has scaled down the plan to one that would cost about $200 million.
    The Tres Amigas electrical infrastructure development company provided details about its plan a day after New Mexico's State Land Office suggested that the project was dead with the relinquishment of a long-term lease covering thousands of acres of state trust land in eastern New Mexico where the company's high-voltage transmission hub was supposed to be built.
    Russell Stidolph, the company's chief financial officer, said advances in technology and changes in the project's business model have reduced the amount of money and land required for the project and that Tres Amigas has identified a significantly smaller parcel as a backup site.
    The company's focus, he said, remains a project to connect independently operated electrical grids and move renewable energy generated in the rural reaches of eastern new Mexico to western U.S. population centers, including California.
    "Tres Amigas is not abandoning our project," he said.

  • Monitor co-founder Mark McMahon dies

    Howard Markley “Mark” McMahon, who founded the Los Alamos Monitor with his wife June, Dan Miles and John Barnett in 1963, died in Davis, California on Sunday.
    Markley was born Sept. 12, 1928, in Dallas, Texas. He began delivering newspaper for his father, Howard, who was publisher of the Abilene Reporter-News, at age 12.
    After attending college and serving in the U.S. Air Force during World War II, McMahon went to work for the San Angelo Standard-Times in San Angelo, Texas, in 1954, where he met June McDonald Hazlip, who was editor of the women’s page at that time. They were married Jan. 29, 1955.
    McMahon took a job at Albuquerque-based The Oil News. One day his work took him to Santa Fe.
    “And when he came back he was so excited he burst into the house and he said, ‘Guess what. Los Alamos doesn’t have a newspaper.’” June told the Los Alamos Monitor.
    “So three weeks later it did. We just started one right away. We were young. We didn’t know what we were doing.”
    They packed up their two sons, Steve and Brian (their daughter Susan was born in Los Alamos is 1965), sublet a small apartment from a lab employee on sabbatical, rented office space over a department store and got to work.

  • Mobile home transfer scheduled for Friday

    El Rancho Mobile Home Transport will be transporting two halves of a mobile home Friday.
    Starting on San Ildefonso Road to North Mesa to Diamond Drive and finally to East Jemez Road.  
    The transport will begin at 9:30 a.m. and end by 11 a.m.
    Residents are urged to plan their travel during these dates and times accordingly.

  • LAPS teachers do own survey for exit info

    Concerned by the fact that some of Los Alamos County’s better teachers were thinking of leaving the profession, teachers Megan Lee and Amy Bartlett-Gaunt decided to take a survey of the district’s teachers.
    They later presented the survey to the school board at a Jan. 26 work session at Chamisa Elementary School.
    “What if we did a survey, where we asked real questions to teachers, and collected data to show what the situation is?” Lee told the board at the work session.
    With the approval of Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus, they set to work, and came up with some interesting data. Lee said 193 out of the 247 teachers in the district participated.
    What the two teachers found was that about 67 percent of the teachers were seriously thinking about leaving the profession.
    “We think that this is a very sad but valuable piece of information as we go forward looking for a new evaluation system,” Bartlett-Gaunt said to the board.
    They also found that many of them thought the survey system the state uses to rate their effectiveness as teachers was seriously flawed, and was one of the main reasons teachers were thinking about quitting teaching.

  • Gardeners get a start with seed exchange

    It was obvious from the number of people walking around town in short sleeved shirts during the early February “heat wave” that spring fever had set in. In some people, that brings on the urge to get their garden going.
    Although it is far too early for that, Master Gardener KokHeong McNaughton says it is the perfect time of year to start the seeds for that garden.
    “This is about the time of year to start seeds, right after Groundhog Day,” McNaughton said. “According to the agricultural calendar, this is when most farmers would start thinking about planting seeds.”
    To help facilitate that, the church’s gardening group began hosting the Community Seed Swap three years ago.
    The idea grew out of the local permaculture group’s annual seed exchange. The group meets for breakfast on the second Friday each month to talk about permaculture. Every year they gather to trade the seeds they saved the previous year for others.
    Since most of the group’s members belong to the Unitarian Church, they decided to turn their annual swap into a church project open to other members of the congregation.
    “And then we decided, why don’t we involve the community,” McNaughton said, and the Community Seed Swap was born.

  • Lab responds to critical report of safety practices

    The Los Alamos National Laboratory responded to an annual report the National Nuclear Security Administration sent to the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board Feb. 2. The report was critical of the lab’s design and manufacture of nuclear components.
    The report measures the lab’s nuclear criticality safety programs and how well LANL is doing in implementing safety measures in the manufacture and design of nuclear components.
    The purpose of the report is to prevent accidents that could lead to the discharge of radiation and other toxic materials related to the components and their manufacture into the environment.
    “Along with the National Nuclear Security Administration, the Laboratory continues its effort to improve in the area of criticality safety,” LANL Spokesman Kevin Roark said. “As noted in the metric report, compensatory measures are in place to ensure safe operations. The Laboratory has taken a series of actions that include: implementing new and rigorous criticality safety controls; providing enhanced training to management and staff; evaluating and improving operating procedures which implement criticality controls; validating procedures can be used exactly as written; ensuring criticality safety documents and procedures are readily available to operators and increasing staffing levels.”​