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Today's News

  • Bandelier stepping up preparedness efforts

    2011 was a turning point for Bandelier National Monument.
    That not only the year of the Las Conchas Fire and post-fire flooding, it began with a severe drought that prompted backcountry closures and included manmade challenges such the discovery of a marijuana operation in the park, a critical electrical infrastructure failure, frozen pipes and a natural gas shortage.
    At an Aug. 27 presentation to the Local Emergency Planning Committee, Bandelier Superintendent Jason Lott stressed the lessons learned during that time and the steps Bandelier has taken to address the issues. Those include asking for help, delegating authority and “over communicating.”
    Lott came back to communication again and again, and the importance of building relationships ahead of time.
    “You can’t spend too much time working together,” Lott said. “Otherwise, if I sit in this hole over here and other people sit in their offices and you don’t network, that’s how you get a Cerro Grande Fire. And a big part of that Cerro Grande Fire was that we didn’t have good relationships.”
    Lott pointed to a similar disconnect during the Las Conchas blaze.

  • Henry Wilton's trial put on hold

    The trial of a former school district groundskeeper accused of killing his girlfriend has been delayed indefinitely, according to documents obtained from Taos District Court.
    Police are alleging that Henry Wilton, 49, fatally beat his girlfriend Angela Serrano, 41 while they were on a camping trip in Taos last year.
    Serrano allegedly couldn’t get medical help for several days, because, according to police documents, Wilton prevented her from going to the hospital immediately after the beating.
    According to court documents, that’s what Serrano told medical personnel before she died at Christus St. Vincent’s Hospital shortly after midnight June 23, 2014.
    In those documents, Serrano said she and her 10-year-old daughter were camping with Wilton at the La Junta campgrounds over Father’s Day weekend when he allegedly attacked her, “stomping” on her and kicking her.
    Serrano allegedly said Wilton performed these acts this while wearing either shoes or boots. According to documents, she also told nurses that after Wilton was done, she then crawled back to the trailer where Wilton locked her inside.

  • Manhattan Project vets die

    A pair of World War II veterans with ties to Los Alamos and the Manhattan Project died recently.
    The Atomic Heritage Foundation reported in a recent media update that Walter Goodman and Kenneth Pumphrey died in the past few weeks. Goodman passed away on Aug. 22 at the age of 92 and Pumphrey on July 20 at the age of 87.
    According to biographical information from the foundation, Goodman joined the Special Engineer Detachment at Los Alamos in 1943. He worked as an electrical engineer on the implosion bomb with Manhattan Project scientists Luis Alvarez and Harold Agnew.
    In July 1945, after witnessing the Trinity test, he traveled to Tinian to help prepare the Fat Man bomb.
    On Aug. 9, 1945, he witnessed the bombing of Nagsaki from The Great Artiste.
    Goodman, who had a video camera with him, took motion pictures of the mushroom cloud above Nagasaki. The photo at the top of the newsletter shows Goodman, Alvarez, Agnew, Bernard Waldman and an unknown man in front of a shrine on Tinian.
    Pumphrey joined the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos in 1946.
    Pumphrey, according to the foundation, worked as a security guard until 1948, guarding various site facilities and checking ID badges, which were required to enter certain restricted areas and buildings.

  • Romero to run for Luján’s seat

    There will be at least one challenger for the 3rd congressional district seat in the 2016 general election.
    Mike Romero, who lives in Taos County, was scheduled to announce his candidacy for the 3rd congressional district chair today. An official announcement was planned by Romero’s organizers on the steps of the Roundhouse in Santa Fe.
    According to Romero’s online biography, he is a fifth generation native New Mexican who has served in both the United States Air Force and the state’s Air National Guard, as well as being a police officer in Las Vegas, New Mexico, and a sheriff’s deputy in Taos County.
    Romero will vie for the Republican nomination for the seat. His road, however, might be a tough one.
    Since the 3rd district, which includes Los Alamos County, was formed in the early 1980s, three of the four seat-holders have been Democrats, starting with Bill Richardson, who was elected in 1982. Richardson was eventually elected as the state’s governor.
    The only GOP candidate to beat the odds was Los Alamos’ Bill Redmond, who was elected finished out the term of Richardson in 1997-1999 after Richardson was named the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations by then-president Bill Clinton.
    Redmond lost the seat to Tom Udall in 2000.

  • Today in history Sept. 4
  • LA students among state’s winners

    A trio of Los Alamos Public Schools students were among the winners of the Gov. Susana Martinez’s True Summer Reading Challenge and were recognized in a ceremony at Piñon Elementary School Monday.
    Among those honored were Bryanna Trujillo, a first grader from Barranca Mesa, Rocco Del Mauro, a second grader from Piñon, and Benjamin Sanchez, a third grader from Aspen.
    Martinez paid a visit to Piñon Monday afternoon, one of two stops she made to announce the winners of the challenge.
    The New Mexico True Summer Reading Challenge was designed to encourage school-aged kids in the state to read during the summer months. The emphasis was on keeping students sharp during the summer when they might otherwise be in front of the television.
    “Knowing how to read is the very foundation of learning,” Martinez said in a statement announcing the winners Monday. “Once our kids learn to read, they read to learn. And that is a skill they will need for the rest of their lives.”
    To enter, students must have submitted a log of the books they read over the summer. Those who read at least 12 books and submitted an essay on why they love New Mexico were entered in a random drawing to win one of several nifty prizes given away by the state.

  • Programs give teens work experience

    This summer, two programs at Bandelier National Monument, the Bandelier Conservation Corps and the Bandelier Preservation Corps, provided local young people the opportunity to learn skills and help improve and maintain the park.
    According to Bandelier Superintendent Jason Lott, “We hope that the young people participating on these crews will come to have stronger connections to the area, their own cultural backgrounds, and national parks. In addition, in spirit it is a continuation of the 1930s-era Civilian Conservation Corps, which taught young people skills and self confidence and did such valuable work for public lands all across the country.”
    This was the sixth year for the Bandelier Conservation Corps.
    In finding young people to make up the BCC, the objective is to have enrollees ages 16-25, with diverse local backgrounds.
    This year the crew was made up of seven young men and women from Albuquerque, Corrales, Las Cruces, Santa Fe and Pojoaque.
    Their first week was orientation, and they participated in other training weekly throughout the 10-week session.

  • Local Briefs 9-4-15

    Soccer players pitch in on project

    Players from the Los Alamos High School girls soccer program pitched into paint the over 700 linear feet of handrails at Pajarito Complex, a rental property owned by Los Alamos Public Schools and leased to Los Alamos National Laboratory.
    The team was interested in a community service project, according to a release from LAPS.
    More than 35 players took part on the paint job, which took less than two hours to complete.
    “We have a phenomenal group of girls this year, they work together as a team both on and off the field,” said coach Gary Ahlers.

    Credit union among top 200 in U.S.

    Del Norte Credit Union, which operates a branch in Los Alamos and is in the process of constructing a new facility in White Rock was recently named to the 2015 edition of the “Top 200 Healthiest Credit Unions in America,” that according to DepositAccounts.
    Del Norte received solid ratings in all of the primary evaluation categories, including Texas ratio, deposit growth and capitalization.
    The credit union received a ranking of 192 among the top 200. It was the third highest rated credit union in New Mexico and only one of four to make DepositAccounts’ list.

    Visitors center to host artists’ market

  • Committee to discuss Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action

    The Los Alamos Committee on Arms Control and International Security will have a meeting Friday to discuss the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the federal nuclear arms deal.
    The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the United Church building at 2525 Canyon Road.
    According to a mailer from the LACACIS, the steering committee is proposing to support the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which is an agreement between the United States, Iran and numerous other countries, most of them U.S. allies, to regulate Iran’s uranium enrichment program for the purposes of generating power.
    The public is invited to attend Friday’s meeting, but only dues-paying members of the LACACIS will be allowed to vote on the position.
    According to its website, LACACIS was formed in 1986 “to examine the increasingly complex international environment with respect to arms control, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and verification.”
    Although most of the committee’s active members are or were staff at Los Alamos National Laboratory, LACACIS’ goal is to remain a non-governmental organization that independently researches, debates and advocates political positions.

  • Bluecoat system approved for LAPS

    At a recent meeting, the Los Alamos School Board was reminded once again that Los Alamos is not just another small town in New Mexico.
    Unlike other towns, it’s also home to a historically famous, top-secret facility focused on nuclear weapons design and research.
    As a result, statistically, there’s more of a chance that Los Alamos employees, as well as members of their own families, can and do become targets of computer hacks and breaches.
    At the meeting, district officials asked the board to sign a contract for a new “content filtering system” the district wants to purchase, a system that will hopefully keep students’ school online activities safe, private and secure while they are at school.
    According to the district’s Chief Operations Officer, Joanie Ahlers, it was time to make the switch to a more powerful system.
    “Just because our name is Los Alamos Public Schools, we do receive a large number of outside attacks, including those from foreign countries. We felt that from a security standpoint and considering who the parents are to some of our students, we felt compelled to choose an appliance that can do a number of advanced things than just be a basic filter,” she said to the board.