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Today's News

  • Power restored in White Rock

    The power was restored in White Rock at 6:53 p.m. Wednesday after more than four hours. The Public Service Company of New Mexico and The Los Alamos Department of Public Utilities determined the cause of the outage to be a lightning strike that hit a building within the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

    “We had to coordinate with LANL and PNM to get the system back up," DPU Spokesperson Julie Williams-Hill said. Earlier in the day, PNM and LANL thought there may have been a break in a transmission line outside of the county’s power grid.

    White Rock experienced a total power failure at 2:30 p.m. At 4 p.m., the county set up portable generators at the major intersections in White Rock to handle the traffic from the 5 p.m. commute.

    Williams-Hill thanked the utility companies involved in finding the source of the problem. “Thank you PNM, LANL and all our customers in White Rock,” Williams-Hill said in an update on the DPU's Facebook page.

  • Scientist union weighs in on contract

    A union of technicians and scientists that has a chapter at the Los Alamos National Laboratory recently commented on the National Nuclear Security Administration’s recent request for proposals for the laboratory’s contract.

    Jeff Colvin, executive vice president of the University Professional and Technical Employees, was pleased with how the contract seems to give non-profit organizations a chance to successfully bid.

    “UPTE believes that the present for-profit contract is the root cause of many problems besetting LANL, so that the draft RFP fee structure represents a big step in the right direction,” Colvin said.

    Of particular interest to the union is the contract’s performance fee, which in the proposal, has been cut from 3 percent to 1 percent.

    “UPTE first commends the NNSA for eliminating the Performance-Based Incentive (PBI) management bonus and re-structuring the new management and operations contract to be largely a fixed fee contract, with the fee capped at 1 percent,” Colvin said. “With the 0.5 percent award fee, applying only to DOE’s (Department of Energy’s) portion of the lab budget, it means that overall, this is a management fee structure that levels the playing field between for-profit and non-profit contractor bids.”

  • Preserving friendships

    Los Alamos County Council Chair David Izraelevitz handed over a Proclamation of Friendship to History Museum Director Judith Stauber Monday, who shook his hand enthusiastically. 

    The proclamation is an offering of friendship between the Los Alamos History Museum and its Japanese counterparts, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and the Nagasaki Atomic Museum, in order to preserve and understand the history behind the different perspectives of the Manhattan Project story.

    Stauber and Board Member Michael Redondo are looking forward to traveling to Japan in early August to personally deliver the proclamation and the 1,303 handmade origami cranes to the Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    Stauber and Redondo will also attend memorials on Aug. 6 and 9, the anniversaries of the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, respectively.

  • 19-year-old died rock climbing in White Rock

    A local teen tragically fell to his death Sunday after losing his footing in the White Rock Canyon. News of the heartbreaking death has not only pained the community, but also had people questioning the safety of that area.

    County officials confirmed Monday that 19-year-old hiker as Trevor Matuszak, of Los Alamos, died from his injuries.

    Matuszak was hiking with two friends in the area known as Hell’s Hole, a treacherous cave located on the side White Rock Canyon.

    According to the accompanying hikers, Matuszak lost his footing in a steep portion of Hell’s Hole and fell into the canyon. The area was too perilous for the hikers to climb down in order to reach Matuszak, so they called 911 for help.

    Los Alamos Fire Department and Los Alamos Police Department officers were dispatched to the canyon at about 5:30 p.m. Emergency response crews trained in rock climbing under hazardous conditions were able to rappel to the scene of the accident, with assistance from LAPD.

    Rescue crews were able to reach Matuszak, but determined that he had apparently died of his injuries in the fall. Crews were able to retrieve his body from the canyon just before nightfall.

    LAFD and LAPD crews safely rescued the other two hikers accompanying Matuszak out of the canyon.

  • LA resident convicted of killing wife released from prison

    Jack Markham, 64, was released from prison Monday, nine years after killing his wife in their Los Alamos home.

    In 2008, Markham shot his wife, Robin Markham, three times in the chest Aug. 4, 2008, inside their Los Alamos home. In May 2009, he was convicted of second-degree murder.

    Markham did not explain in court why he killed his wife. He received 15 years with five suspended followed by two years mandatory probation and he must pay restitution for his wife’s funeral expenses upon his release.

    “He was supposed to serve 10, and I believe it’s only been nine, and I’m a little disappointed,” Robin Markham’s friend Geri Perrault said Monday. “I’m curious myself, as to why he’s being let out. I don’t have any good comments to say about that, nothing good to say.”

    Articles in the Los Alamos Monitor at the time indicated that a struggle between the Markhams took place before the shooting. Evidence presented at the 2008 trial detailed that Robin Markham was missing several fingernails and that there were bruises found on several parts of her body.

    “She did everything for that man,” Perrault said. “I still don’t know why, even after talking with his family, why he did what he did, he never did say.”

  • Pre-trial set for Santa Cruz man

    Santa Cruz resident Celso Ramos, 37, of Santa Cruz, was arrested July 13 in Los Alamos on a magistrate and district court warrant on charges relating to possession of heroin.

    In early 2015, Ramos was arrested as part of a series of drug trafficking arrests that took place in Los Alamos on Feb. 17-20, 2015, and yielded several prescription drugs and slightly more than two ounces of heroin (58.2 grams).

    According to court documents, police were called to a White Rock neighborhood because Ramos and a 29-year-old woman named Deanna Doss were seen acting suspicious.

    LAPD first received reports of the couple “walking up and down driveways.”

    Police made contact with the couple in the parking lot of the Smith’s grocery store in White Rock.

    When questioned and searched, police found four fully loaded syringes of heroin in his backpack. The amount of heroin in the syringes turned out to be more than 2 ounces. While searching Ramos at the detention center, police discovered an additional 2.5 grams of heroin, according to the report.

    Ramos was charged with trafficking controlled substances (possession with intent to distribute, narcotic or meth, first offense), possession of a controlled substance (felony narcotic drug) and use or possession of drug paraphernalia.

  • State News Briefs 7-26-17

    New Mexico adjusts rules for dark-money groups in politics

    SANTA FE (AP) — New Mexico campaign finance regulators are making some adjustments as they move forward with a proposal for more detailed financial disclosures from nonprofit advocacy groups that attempt to influence elections.
    In response to public comments, Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver on Tuesday released revised rules aimed at so-called dark money groups that can spend unlimited amounts to influence elections and ballot measures when acting independently.
    Several conservative-backed groups with a statewide and national presence say Toulouse Oliver is overstepping her authority by requiring that independent expenditure groups disclose their contributors.
    Toulouse Oliver says New Mexicans have a right to know who is paying for ads that attempt to influence their vote. Revisions rules would raise the spending threshold to $2,500 before independent expenditure groups must reveal their contributors.

    New Mexico to get $18M from Volkswagen emissions settlement

    SANTA FE (AP) — New Mexico is set to receive $18 million following a settlement connected to the Volkswagen smog device emissions scandal.

  • Interior secretary to visit Las Cruces amid monuments review

    LAS CRUCES (AP) — U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is scheduled to visit Las Cruces this week in connection with the Trump administration's review of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.

    Zinke is slated Thursday to take part in a public meeting at the Las Cruces Convention Center with the mayors of Las Cruces, Mesilla, Anthony and Sunland Park.

    The Rio Grande del Norte National Monument and the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument are among 27 monuments where a review ordered by President Donald Trump might remove protections previously considered irreversible.

    The review is rekindling a fierce debate about oversight of lands marked by ancient petroglyphs and towering mountain spires.

    The New Mexico Cattle Growers Association is urging Trump to eliminate certain large-scale national monuments.
     

  • Tremor shakes Los Alamos County

    UPDATED:

    The Los Alamos National Laboratory’s seismic network detected an extremely small earthquake today at 10:32 a.m. that did not disrupt lab operations, but the tremor was felt in areas across the community.

    "The event did not have any impact on Laboratory operations and there were no reports of anyone feeling the earthquake on Laboratory property," said LANL spokesman Kevin Roark.

    A laboratory seismologist  calculated a preliminary magnitude of 1.5 at a location about two kilometers, or 1.2 miles, west-northwest of the northwestern edge of the town of Los Alamos and at a depth less than one kilometer, Roark said.

    "This extremely small magnitude is typical for the vast majority of earthquakes in the vicinity of Los Alamos," Roark said. "Most are further away and deeper and are not felt by anyone. The area experiences this type of seismic activity near the eastern margin of the Jemez Mountains roughly once every 3-5 years."

    LANL Seismologist Richard Kelley said on social media he and others were gathering information as to its location and magnitude through emails and reports on social media. Kelley and Peter Roberts are asking the general public to email them to help them with their assessments.

  • Mosquitos that can carry Zika found in Otero, Hidalgo counties

    Mosquitos that can transmit Zika virus have been found in Otero and Hidalgo counties, the state health department announced Tuesday.

    This is the first time a species of mosquito that can transmit Zika virus has been located in this part of the state. There have been no identified human cases of Zika virus in either county.

    Zika virus can be transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito. The mosquitoes become infected when they feed on a person already infected with the virus.

    Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to other people through bites.

    Mosquito surveillance in New Mexico’s southern counties is part of an ongoing collaboration between the state health department and New Mexico State University.

    These recent discoveries bring the total number of counties in the state with mosquitos capable of spreading Zika to eight. Mosquitoes that can carry Zika virus have been trapped and identified in Doña Ana, Eddy, Chaves, Sierra, Lea, Luna and now Otero and Hidalgo counties.