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Today's News

  • Defense Secretary Carter wraps up tour of LANL

    Defense Secretary Ash Carter wrapped up his visit to New Mexico Wednesday with a four-hour tour of the Los Alamos National Laboratory with Lab Director Charlie McMillan.
    One of the main stops on his tour was “Plutonium Facility 4,” the country’s only plutonium science, technology and manufacturing center. Carter observed operations in the pit casting area of the facility, where molten plutonium is molded and shaped to fit inside nuclear weapons.
    At the end of his tour, Carter expressed his thanks and appreciation for the LANL employees who made the plutonium cores and other nuclear weapon components.
    “A strong plutonium science and manufacturing capability is essential to the U.S. nuclear deterrent and cannot be underestimated,” Carter said. “I want to express my sincere appreciation for the difficult and vitally important work done at Los Alamos to help assure the development, assessment and security of the nuclear triad.”
    McMillan, who also accompanied Carter on his tour was glad Carter was able to make the trip to Los Alamos National Laboratory, according to LANL’s website.

  • LA students rank high in bullying, dating violence

    A state survey released Wednesday revealed that sexual dating violence, suicide ideation and bullying among Los Alamos students is higher than the state average.
    The statistics for sexual dating violence shows that Los Alamos ranks seven points higher than the state average of 9.2 percent.
    In 2013, the sexual violence question was added to the survey to distinguish it from other acts of physical violence. It includes “any coercion of a sexual nature.” That includes kissing, touching or being physically forced to have sexual intercourse.
    Los Alamos students that seriously considered suicide is five points higher than the state average of 16.5 percent.
    The survey also noted that incidents of bullying at school were 8.2 percentage points higher than the state average of 18.4 percent. Incidents of electronic bullying, students harassing each other through social media and other platforms of communication, was three points higher than the state average of 13.7 percent.  
    The survey, “The New Mexico Youth Risk and Resiliency Survey” was done as part of a nationwide monitoring system of the nation’s youth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • Council OKs water rate hike

    Customers will be seeing a 10-percent rate increase in their water bills. The Los Alamos County Council unanimously approved the new rate Tuesday.
    The rate hike addresses shortfalls created by a combination of reduced consumption and the high costs for maintaining the system.
    “We still have a very large and very complex water system with some aging infrastructure, so we still have to maintain that. The size and complexity of the system has not reduced any because of the reduced water sales,” Department of Public Utilities (DPU) Deputy Utilities Manager for Finance and Administration Robert Westervelt told council.
    Westervelt countered the notion that decreased sales are due to the tiered water rate and rate increase implemented in 2014. He illustrated how water consumption has decreased steadily since 2003, which he attributed to water conservation and sharply reduced usage at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).
    According to Westervelt, cooler weather and consistent rainfall throughout the irrigation season has also contributed to reduced sales in recent years. He pointed to 2013, a year in which most of the rainfall fell during one brief period. Drought conditions during the rest of the year resulted in high water sales.

  • Customers to see gas rates decrease

    The 10-percent increase in water rates will be offset by a 10-percent decrease in gas rates.
    The Los Alamos County Council unanimously approved the new rate on Tuesday.
    The rate reduction will serve to draw down a high cash balance in the gas fund. Staff policy is to maintain $2 million in reserve. The balance currently stands at $6 million. The reduction will be implemented by reducing the fixed rate billing charge by 20 percent.
    Vice Chair Susan O’Leary objected to using the service charge as the mechanism for reducing rates.
    “I think you have policy that requires rates to cover cost of service. You have used this as justification to raise rates in other utilities, but ignore this logic in this instance,” O’Leary said. “There are other ways to address this that don’t involve rate adjustments that could cause problems down the road that could have been avoided.”
    O’Leary suggested that options such sending customers a rebate would have been a better solution, and asked the board to reconsider this rate with that in mind.
    Councilor Steve Girrens proposed loaning the excess to the county’s cash-strapped utilities. The county charter requires that the utilities operate independently, but do allow loans between them.

  • Police Beat 9-30-16

    Police Beat items are compiled from public information contained in Los Alamos Police Department Records. Charges or citations listed in Police Beat do not imply innocence or guilt. The Los Alamos Police Department uses the term “arrest” to define anyone who has been physically arrested, served a court summons, or issued a citation.

    Sept. 13
    9:02 a.m. — Police reported that a 17-year-old Los Alamos male was the victim of criminal damage to property (less than $1000) at Diamond Drive.

    11:14 a.m. — Zachary Sanchez, 32, of Los Alamos was arrested on a magistrate court bench warrant at the Los Alamos police department. The original charge was aggravated driving while under the influence with a blood alcohol concentration of .16 or more at the intersection of Canyon Road and Rim Road in April.

    1:15 p.m. — Police reported that 15-year-old Los Alamos female was the victim of criminal sexual penetration: force/coercion at Trinity Drive.

    2:17 p.m. — Police reported that a 26-year-old Los Alamos woman was the victim of harassment.  

    Sept. 15
    7:45 a.m. — Shawn Trujillo, 19, of Chimayo was arrested on a magistrate court bench warrant in the 1600 block of Trinity Drive.

  • On the Docket 9-30-16

    Sept. 8
    Marjorie Gavett  was found guilty at the time of traffic stop of speeding six to 10 miles an hour over the speed limit. Defendant was fined $50 and must also pay $65 in court costs.

    Sept. 9
    Marcos Gonzales  was found guilty at the time of traffic stop of speeding six to 10 miles an hour over the speed limit. Defendant was fined $50 and must also pay $65 in court costs.

    Steven Reneau  was found guilty at the time of traffic stop of speeding six to 10 miles an hour over the speed limit. Defendant was fined $50 and must also pay $65 in court costs.

    Friedrick Spoerel  was found guilty by the Los Alamos Municipal Court of speeding six to 10 miles an hour over the speed limit. Defendant was fined $50 and must also pay $65 in court costs.

    Sept. 12
    Robert Coyne was found guilty by the Los Alamos Municipal Court of not having a proper building permit. Defendant was fined $60. Sentenced deferred until Dec. 10.

    Carson L. Ware was found guilty by the Los Alamos Municipal Court to speeding 11 to 15 miles an hour over the speed limit. Defendant must pay $65 in court costs. Sentencing deferred until Nov. 10. Defendant also sentenced to defensive driving school and community service.

  • N.M. Senate leader focuses on budget, not crime bills

    SANTA FE  — New Mexico lawmakers grappled Thursday with how to address a major shortfall in revenues during the final hours before a special legislative session convenes, with no clear political pact yet for rewriting the state budget.
    Republican Gov. Susana Martinez called for the start of a special session today to resolve a stalemate with Democrats over how to fix the budget, and has added weighty criminal justice measures to the agenda – including a bill to reinstate the death penalty for convicted killers of police, children and corrections officers.
    Lawmakers at the helm of the Democratic-controlled Senate have criticized Martinez for not providing a detailed budget proposal, and gave indications that anti-crime initiatives may take a back seat to addressing a gaping budget deficit.

  • LANL coalition seeks to eliminate tax-exempt status

    The Regional Coalition of LANL Communities asked the State Legislative Finance Committee today to consider eliminating tax-exempt status for possible, future nonprofit contractors of Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories.
    The coalition is seeking to ensure that the roughly $200 million in gross receipts tax the state annually receives from the laboratories continues, even if the laboratories acquire nonprofit management and operations contractors.
    Of that $200 million, Los Alamos County receives about $30-$40 million.
    Sandia and LANL are in the process of acquiring new contractors.
    The coalition will appear before the committee today to hopefully provide a more complete picture of what the loss would be to the state.
    “The finance committee has this on their radar. They’ve been thinking about the possibility of legislation to keep that from happening,” State Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard (D-4) said. “The committee is looking for more expert testimony to see what the impacts would be.”
    Garcia Richard, who is sponsoring the bill, is also looking for support and sponsorship from other legislators.

  • Defense Secty Carter to visit LANL, Sandia

    Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter will be wrapping up his two-day visit to New Mexico today after a whirlwind tour of Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque and the state’s two national laboratories, Sandia and Los Alamos.
    The purpose of Carter’s stop in New Mexico was to greet and thank the personnel at the base “for their work to ensure the readiness of the nuclear force,” according to the Defense Department.
    His tour of the two laboratories was also to thank them for their work in the “development, assessment and security of the nuclear triad.”
    The tour of the laboratory was closed to the press and the public.
    During his visit, U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich asked Carter to open a “Defense Innovation Unit Experimental” office in the state.
    Udall and Heinrich, in a joint statement, said they told Carter New Mexico would be a natural place to have such an office, because of the support it would get from the state’s two laboratories.
    DIUx offices are staffed by a mix of civilian, active duty reserve and contractor, and they are part of the U.S. military’s strategy to stay militarily and technologically relevant.  

  • Council eyes three economic projects

    When Dekker/Perich/Sabatini presented the results of several months of scoping and public input on proposed Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) to the Los Alamos County Council Sept. 20, they pointed out that three proposed economic development projects seemed to have community support. Council, for the most part, echoed that sentiment.
    Dekker/Perich/Sabatini Principal/Urban Planner Will Gleason and Craig Bouck, president and CEO at Barker Rinker Seacat Architecture, who made the presentation, provided options and probable costs for Deacon Street improvements, 20th Street expansion and DP Road improvements.
    The economic development projects would not be part of the proposed $20 million recreation CIP bond. Council allocated $4 million toward the three projects in March. The consultants’ “opinion of probable costs,” which represents “our best calculation at this point based on a number of assumptions about the project,” totaled $6.7 million.
    The probable costs for those projects are:
    • Deacon Street improvements: $1.2 million to $2.1 million depending on the chosen design. Improvements include pedestrian-scaled lighting, landscaping, reconfigured parking and pedestrian linkages to Central Avenue.