Today's News

  • UPTE meets with public about contract change

    Representatives of the University Professional & Technical Employees (UPTE), which has a chapter at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, urged people at a town hall meeting to help it make changes to the laboratory’s management and operations structure.
    “We put together this panel to initiate this discussion, which we hope will turn into an ongoing discussion over the next number of months as the requests for proposals for the next LANL contract is being composed and created within the DOE (Department of Energy) and the NNSA (National Nuclear Security Administration),” said UPTE System-wide Executive Vice President Jeff Colvin.
    When the lab’s operations and management contract comes up for rebid sometime this year, UPTE is hoping a non-profit entity takes it over, instead of a for profit entity, which is what the lab has now under Los Alamos National Security LLC. Representatives at the meeting told the audience the for-profit model has led to a LANL being a national lab without a sense of mission, like it had in the days of the Manhattan Project and the Cold War.

  • LAFD rescues dog stranded on cliff in Española

    The Los Alamos Fire Department was called at 10 a.m. Wednesday to assist with a technical rescue with Rio Arriba County Emergency Services. Captain Manny Pacheco was head of the response team and explained that there was a report of a dog stranded on a cliff edge 200 feet down. With the help of Pacheco and his team, the scared pup named Smiley was safely rescued.
    The brother of the dog’s owner was watching the dog when Smiley reportedly escaped. The last time Smiley had been seen was Tuesday during the day, and the owner believes he was out on the cliff overnight.
    About 10 people came to help, which included four firefighters from LAFD, two personnel from Espanola Fire Department, two personnel from Rio Arriba County Fire Department, and one Rio Arriba County Animal Control Officer. The rescue took about one to one and a half hours to complete.

  • Council adopts $200.1-million budget for ‘18

    Los Alamos County Council Tuesday adopted a $200.1 million budget for fiscal year 2018, but not without a lot of soul-searching and debate about what to cut. The goal was to get the budget to within an acceptable range of a 20-percent funding reserve in the General Fund unassigned balance. The council made it to 19.9 percent. There will be $51.7 million in General Fund expenditures for FY2018.
    Several items council tentatively agreed to fund during its budget sessions were officially cut, including a 1 percent “cost of labor” increase for county employees that council initially agreed to fund at ½ percent, or $186,500.
    But when it came time to do so Tuesday, council cut the raise to zero. The reasons had to do with the 2 percent raise previously approved. The council also had already made a $500,000 cost of living adjustment to county employees’ salaries last year.
    “In order to do that, we would have to cut so many other things out,” Councilor James Chrobocinski said. “I think that’s something that can be deferred… If looked at, 1 percent next year rather than a half percent this year, we’re still going to be keeping up,” he told the council.

  • Local political action group discusses March for Science, immigration resolution

    Voices of Los Alamos is a relatively new political action group affiliated with the Indivisible Movement that focuses on fueling a progressive grassroots network. According to their Facebook page, their priority is to resist the incoming administration anti-environment, anti-regulation and anti-ethics agenda and get involved in the upcoming local elections. They achieve this by sharing action items like phone calls, petitions, town hall meetings, flyers, door-to-door activism, and more.
    The meeting on Monday evening began with an overview of two major events: March for Science and the immigration resolution. Christina Olds, one of the administrators of the group, said the march in Santa Fe seemed like a success. There was great turnout of people and booths, especially from Los Alamos. She also mentioned strong speakers that gave high-powered speeches, including one from Dr. Bette Korber.
    When asked if such marches would be annual, Olds said, “I personally feel that they should do a women’s march every year and a march for science every year… at least for the next four years.” Some members from the group helped to organize the March for Science along with main coordinators in Santa Fe.

  • ‘Green Team’ opens garden in White Rock

    The Los Alamos “Green Team” cuts the ribbon, above, on the “Demonstration Garden” in White Rock. The Green Team is comprised of Los Alamos County employees interested in implementing “green” environmental practices in trash reduction, irrigation, energy use and other practices. The White Rock Demonstration Garden was created by the team with native plants that require little to no water. The plants are labeled so visitors to the garden will know what they are and perhaps use them in their own gardens. Included in the picture are county employees, Matthew Allen, Anita Barela, Kirsten Bell, Leah Frazier, Benjamin Gonzales, Angelica Gurule, Jonathan Henley, Jason Wardlow-Herrera, Robert Martinez, Lea Ortiz, Tim Shrayer and others.

  • Time Out Pizzeria settles on new location

    Omar and Trisha officially signed the papers to their new location in Central Park Square next to Pet Pangaea. They recently moved out of their former location on Central Avenue and wanted to find a new space in town, which they were able to achieve. They are hoping to re-open by August or September of this year.
    Trisha said, “People are happy that we’re going to still be up here. I think it’ll be a good change for us.” There is no doubt, the Central Park Square location will offer better parking and convenient access to Bathtub Row Brewing, which is only a few steps away. The White Rock location is still offering free delivery for larger orders with a $35 minimum. Time Out Pizzeria will also have the same phone number.
    According to Omar, the complex owner, Philip Kunsberg, has been very helpful during the whole process. He expects to start seeing some commotion in that area in the coming days and weeks as Philip’s contractors begin working on the interior and exterior of the space. “Once they get all that stuff done we just have to plug in,” Omar remarked. He also mentioned that they would hang banners on the windows of the Central Avenue location to let people know where they are going.

  • Candidates for LAHS principal meet the public
  • BPU sends water plan back for public review

    The Board of Public Utilities Wednesday approved a much larger revamp of the Department of Public Utilities’ Long Range Water plan, even though the County Council asked for only minor changes.
    Deputy Utilities Manager James Alarid presented two options to the board Wednesday, both designed to save the three years of work and the $90,000 invested into the plan already.
    Alarid suggested to the board they choose “Option 1” an option that had the best chance of not being rejected by the state. Option 1 includes changes requested by the Los Alamos County Council, and updates by the DPU to include 2016 data.
    “There’s a very good chance that the state engineer is going to reject the plan because it’s not current,” said Alarid. Alarid explained to the board that the plan, which they started in 2014, was unexpectedly put on hold due to extensive negotiations with the Los Alamos National Laboratory over water rights.
    “Turns out, we’re now on pace to submit to the state engineer probably in the fall of 2017,” Alarid said to the board. “All of our data in the plan is current as of 2015. We have a whole new calendar year of 2016… there’s a very good chance that the state engineer is going reject the plan because it’s not current.”

  • Council OK’s Community Services budget with extras

    Community Services got its $3.9 million budget tentatively approved by council Tuesday, plus some extras.
    As council goes through each department budget presentation, department heads can also can request extra items not included in its budget it would like to see funded.
    At Tuesday’s hearing, council adopted 10 out of 12 of the department’s original requests, plus two requests put forward by council members Chris Chandler and Vice Chair Susan O’Leary. Chandler requested that a traffic island at 36th Street and Arizona Avenue be landscaped and O’Leary requested that council consider reserving $80,000 for a public health nurse for Los Alamos.
    Though council has not created an actual public health nurse position yet, O’Leary and others thought it prudent that council take tentative steps toward reestablishing the position.
    “We don’t know what we’re doing yet, but something needs to happen there,” O’Leary said. “It would be better to have some kind of placeholder to make sure we have money if and when we figure out how we’re going to move forward to improve services in our community.”

  • New Mexico Supreme Court agrees to hear state budget dispute

    SANTA FE (AP) — The New Mexico Supreme Court agreed Monday to hear a lawsuit by the state Legislature that accuses Republican Gov. Susana Martinez of overstepping her authority by vetoing funding to the state Legislature and all state universities and colleges.
    Martinez was ordered to respond to a petition from the Democratic-led Legislature that says her line-item vetoes would "effectively abolish" state institutions of higher education and upset the balance of powers between branches of government outlined in the state's constitution.
    Oral arguments were scheduled May 15 at the Supreme Court in the extraordinary legal challenge that springs from an escalating feud over how to resolve the state's financial crisis.
    Lawmakers sent Martinez a $6.1 billion budget package in March that would slightly boost spending and includes several tax increases designed to shore up wobbly state finances.
    This month, Martinez rejected the tax hikes and issued line-item vetoes that defunded the Legislature and cut $745 million in annual general fund spending to state universities, community colleges and specialty schools.