Today's News

  • ESB backs off trash cart fine plan

    The Environmental Sustainability Board tabled an ordinance Thursday that would have fined residents $50 to $200 for bringing their trash out too early, and for not keeping the roll carts in a secured, covered area when not in use. 

    “I was appalled by the ordinance we got back from county legal, we had what we thought was a reasonable approach,” Chairman John Bliss said.

    According to Fine and ESB Liaison Angelica Gurule, the ordinance had to meet a certain legal standard to be enforceable, and what came out of the department was not their intention.

    “Ordinances cannot be suggestive,” Gurule said. “You cannot have suggestive language, it cannot be enforceable.”

    The original draft ordinance contained no mention of structures where the carts are to be stored when not in use, only that they be “neatly stowed.” The second violation gave the owner the option buying a bear-proof container or paying the fine. 

  • State committee discuses chromium plume cleanup

    A state legislative committee met with Los Alamos National Laboratory officials in Los Alamos Thursday, focusing mainly on cleaning up a decades-old hazardous waste spill on lab property.

    The legislators were members of the Radioactive and Hazardous Materials Committee.

    The lab is treating the ground plume, which is on an aquifer below Mortandad Canyon that is part of a regional aquifer used by Los Alamos Santa Fe and other communities.

    The plume is 1,000 feet below the ground, and some has made its way into the regional aquifer below.

    LANL discovered the plume in 2005, and has been installing a series of wells to define where the boundaries of the plume are, so it can be stopped and the area inside the well boundary cleaned or rendered harmless to the environment.

    The chromium 6 was used as a corrosion inhibitor at a LANL power plant from the mid-‘50s to the early ‘70s. The chromium was regularly flushed out into the canyons. There is approximately 160,000 pounds of chromium in the plume.

    Officials believe the plume is about 20 to 50 feet deep, and a mile long by a half a mile wide.

    In a presentation to the committee, Doug Hintze, manager of the Environmental Management Los Alamos Field Office, disputed recent newspaper reports that the plume was spreading and growing in size.

  • Proposed changes to science ed raises concerns in Los Alamos

    Proposed changes to a rule guiding science education standards in New Mexico’s public schools are gathering attention in Los Alamos, home to many of the state’s scientists.

    A draft of a proposal released earlier this month by the state’s Public Education Department has seen some strong reaction, and push back to the criticism, plus a snarky headline in Mother Jones magazine: “New Mexico Doesn’t Want Your Kids to Know How Old the Earth Is…And Why It’s Getting Warmer.”

    The proposed rule changes, called New Mexico STEM-Ready for Science Standards, replace rules for science standards that are several years old. STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

    State lawmakers earlier this year had passed a bill supporting changes that mirror the Next Generation Science Standards. Called Next Gen for short, a national advisory council had developed the new standards over the past several years. Gov. Susana Martinez vetoed the bill.

  • County worker injured from 13,000-volt line

    A county lineman suffered a 13,000 volt shock Tuesday morning while working on a transformer on Quartz Street.
    The worker, whose name was not released, left the Los Alamos Medical Center Wednesday after being treated for minor burns.

    “They kept him overnight for observation, let him go (Wednesday) morning, then he returned to work actually,” said County Utilities Manager Tim Glasco. “But then they recommended he take some days to take it easy at home just in case something happens we don’t know about.”

    The lineman was helping to restore power on Quartz Avenue Tuesday morning when the lineman came in contact with the wire, either through a tool he was holding or his actual hand. The current traveled through the left side of his body and departed through his left knee.

    According to Glasco, the worker had taken voltage readings on the wire just before the accident, and the reading showed that the wire contained no electricity.

    Glasco said the lineman survived because of his clothing and the working conditions.

  • Toulouse Oliver: No evidence Russians attempted to hack New Mexico election networks

    New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver said Friday there is no evidence New Mexico was targeted by Russian hackers in the 2016 elections.

    According to Toulouse Oliver, the Department of Homeland Security said Russian hackers attempted to gain access to election networks in 21 states, but there is no evidence that any votes were affected. DHS is contacting the 21 states impacted to provide specifics on the breaches, she said.

    DHS called senior election officials in all 50 states and six U.S. territories Friday to provide information about attempts by Russians to gain access to various election networks around the country during the 2016 election, presumably with the goal of swaying election results in the favor of current President Donald Trump, Toulouse Oliver said.

     “Fortunately, it appears that New Mexico was not one of the states targeted by Russian hackers last year,” said Secretary of State Toulouse Oliver. “However, cybersecurity threats are still a major concern and should be handled with the utmost seriousness and attention to detail. My staff and I will continue cooperating with federal agencies and other states to maintain the integrity of New Mexico’s elections and protect the privacy of all voters. Election security is and always will be a top priority for me.”

  • New Mexico college bake sale charged prices based on race

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — A bake sale at the University of New Mexico set up by a nonprofit group to charge students based on race and ethnicity ended after outraged opponents disrupted it.

    The group, Turning Point USA, set up what it called an "Affirmative Action Bake Sale" on campus Thursday with a sign advertising higher prices for Asians and Caucasians and cheaper prices for African Americans and Hispanics.

    William Witt, a Turning Point regional director, said the bake sale was aimed at generating a conversation about affirmative action programs. "Certain groups get different opportunities than other groups, and we believe it doesn't give equal opportunity," he said.

    But protesters outnumbered the people who set up the bake sale, and the members of Turning Point ended up leaving.

    "We had tons of people who wanted to have great conversations. But once people start yelling, destroying our stuff and breaking everything on the table, it makes it tough to have good discussions," Witt said.

    Some students encouraged a dialogue and asked angry students to calm down.

    Bake sale opponent and student Ryan Sindon said the group's departure came after "we exercised our free speech to the point where they felt they needed to leave."

  • Metzger’s celebrates 70 years of serving Los Alamos

    Metzger’s Do It Best hardware store will celebrate its 70-year anniversary in Los Alamos Saturday, and the public is invited to join the festivities.

    Metzger’s offers a wide variety of items to fulfill any and all practical needs, like building materials, cleaning supplies, hand tools, hardware, housewares, outdoor living, paint and painting supplies, plumbing supplies and much more. 

    The first Metzger store was founded by Lee J. Metzger in 1947, and it has been an integral part of the community since its inception.

    Technically two years older than the county, Metzger’s boasts being the oldest business in Los Alamos, save for maybe KRSN. The hardware store has been through ownership changes, but has stayed in the same family for four generations.

    A comment from Los Alamos resident and Metzger’s customer Roslyn Reeves sums it up nicely: “With the kind of customer service they have, it’s easy to see why they have been around for 70 years.”

    The beginning

    Metzger’s story began during World War II, when Lee Metzger opened stores within the Hanford Project site in Washington and found success offering basic provisions to workers in the plant.

  • LAFD starts study of Wildfire Mitigation, Education project

    About 114 acres of forested “benches” and shrubby swaths within Los Alamos County are the target of a new wildfire mitigation project in the early stages of discussion.

    About 10 members of the public attended the preliminary discussion on Wednesday with Los Alamos Fire Department officials, including newly appointed Wildland Division Chief Kelly Sterna, and a representative of SWCA, an environmental consultants firm based in Durango, Colorado.

    Seven areas within Los Alamos proper have been identified as prime spots to clear brush and dead trees, along with some still-living trees, to prevent or slow down the next big wildfire that may head toward Los Alamos.

    “If you think about it, there was the Cerro Grande in 2001, the Las Conchas in 2011. So, you wonder, what’s going to happen in 2021?” Sterna told the group.

    Sterna and retiring Wildland Division Chief Ramon Garcia both said mitigation in wind-driven “chimneys” within the wooded urban areas of the county plays a large role in preventing another conflagration.

  • White to run for LA County Sheriff

    Los Alamos resident Greg White announced he was running for Los Alamos County Sheriff during a joint public session between the Board of Public Utilities and the Los Alamos County Council Tuesday.

    White, and any other candidate thinking of running for the office, will make it official when they file with the County Clerk’s Office March 13.

    White said he decided to run because he was inspired by Los Alamos County Sheriff Marco Lucero and his struggles with town government to have a functioning sheriff’s office. Lucero has been sheriff of Los Alamos County since 2010.

    In November 2016, the Los Alamos County Council voted to give most of the sheriff’s duties, and the office’s budget, to the Los Alamos Police Department effectively shutting down the office. Though the public voted in January to restore the office, council has yet to do so.

    White didn’t name names, but said he feels County Council has become too powerful, and needs a law enforcement official who is elected by the people to counterbalance that power.

  • Small Business Saturday commercial films

    Production is underway on a local commercial promoting the businesses participating in Small Business Saturday in Los Alamos. Filming started Thursday at several of the retailers who have already signed up to be involved in the event.

    Jean Gindreau of PAC-8 and Kate O’Donnell of Real Deal Advertising started early Thursday with their camera at Rose Chocolatier, filming actresses, locals and shop owner Marguerite McClay. Filming was scheduled to take place during the day at Pet Pangaea, Boomerang, Bennett’s Fine Jewelry, and CB Fox. Metzger’s Do-it- Best Hardware is among the businesses on the production schedule for next week.

    The commercial will air at the Real Deal theater in late October and November when the holiday block buster movies are scheduled for release.

    Businesses can still sign up to be part of Small Business Saturday. It’s free to sign up to participate and gives the business substantial promotion.

    To sign up call Ufemia Bernal-Rios at 661-4816 or email Ufemia@losalamos.org.