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Today's News

  • Health officials urge public awareness about dangers of tularemia

    Officials from the New Mexico Health Department are urging residents to educate themselves about the dangers of tularemia, a bacterial-borne disease most prevalent this time of year.  
    While the New Mexico Department of Health has not confirmed any cases in humans in Los Alamos County this year, the department confirmed 33 cases of cats and dogs infected by tularemia in Los Alamos, Bernalillo, Santa Fe, Taos and Torrance counties last year.
    Tularemia is also known as “rabbit fever,” since rodents are the main carriers and incubators of the bacterial infection.
    There was also one case of a 51-year-old Los Alamos County man getting the disease last year. He was hospitalized, treated and has since made a full recovery.
    This year, the DOH has confirmed four cases of tularemia in pets, and no human cases.
    The disease is named after the bacterium Francisella tularensis. It is passed to animals through infected ticks and deer flies. Humans can also get it through ticks and deer flies and handling infected animals. Infection is usually followed by symptoms that include chills, fever, diarrhea, muscle ache, joint pain, skin and mouth ulcers, chest pain, painful lymph glands, sore throat and pneumonia.

  • CIP consultant approved

    Los Alamos County Council approved a $560,000 contract with Dekker/Perich/Sabatini for architectural and engineering services for the proposed 2017 Capital Improvement bond projects at its June 14 meeting.
    The consultants will be required to bring all 12 projects up to the same level of schematic design, select a preferred site if there are alternatives to consider and refine current cost estimates to help support a finalized list of projects to carry forward for a $20 to $25 million bond issue.
    Dekker/Perich/Sabatini will also provide estimates for annual operation, maintenance and staffing requirements and extensive public outreach.
    The contract was approved 6-0. Steve Girrens was not in attendance.
    Council also approved $4,411,444 for a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System which will replace the software used by Information Management, Financial Management, Human Resources and Payroll and Utilities Management.
    The budget council approved for the project included a $2,099,058 budget revision. Council had previously approved a budget of $2,312,386.

  • On the Docket 6-22-16

    Mele Vaka Vete was found guilty at the time of traffic stop of speeding six to 10 miles an hour over the speed limit in a school zone. Defendant was fined $100 and must also pay $65 in court costs.

    Eddie L. Rios  was found guilty at the time of traffic stop of speeding 16 to 20 miles an hour over the speed limit. Defendant was fined $100 and must also pay $65 in court costs.

    Paul Mendoza paid a $50 fine for failing to display a current, valid registration plate while parked.

    June 11
    Tamara R. Jim was found guilty at the time of traffic stop of speeding 11 to 15 miles an hour over the speed limit. Defendant was fined $75 and must also pay $65 in court costs.

    Emanuele Mereghetti 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.

    June 13
    Zhoushen Huang was found guilty by the Los Alamos Municipal Court of speeding six to 10 miles an hour over the speed limit. Sentencing deferred until Aug. 11. Defendant also sentence to defensive driving school. Defendant must also pay $65 in court costs.

  • Fire reported in the Jemez Ranger District

    A small fire in the Jemez Ranger District located near Battleship Rock has been contained, fire officials said.

    “They kept it at three acres which is pretty phenomenal work on their part,” said Santa Fe National Forest Spokesperson Julie Anne Overton. “Our firefighters did a great job.”

    Fifty-five firefighters from three area companies helped combat the fire. 

    “That’s actually quite a bit for a three-acre fire but because of its location and the difficulty of the terrain, they opted to call in quite a few resources,” Overton said.

    The fire started sometime Sunday evening. The cause of the fire is still classified as human-caused and is still under investigation.

    Small plumes of smoke from the fire could still be seen from NM 4 at 2 p.m. Monday. Due to the wind, the smoke mostly kept in the trees as helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft dumped fire suppressant from above.

    Firefighters fighting the blaze plan to stay on the scene until 9 p.m. tonight.

    “They will then get back there tomorrow morning to monitor and complete the mop up,” Overton said.

  • Citizens to vote on keeping sheriff’s office

    Voters will decide in November whether Los Alamos will abolish its sheriff’s office.
    After a heated round of public debate Tuesday, the Los Alamos County Council decided to place the ballot item before voters in November. Councilors voted 4−3, with James Chrobocinski, Steve Girrens and Pete Sheehey deciding against the ordinance.
    If the citizens pass the proposed County Charter amendment, the change would go into effect after Sheriff Marco Lucero’s term ends in 2018.
    Chair Rick Reiss stressed that the ordinance council passed Tuesday does not abolish the office of sheriff but puts the issue before the voters.
    “Between tonight and November – assuming that this ordinance is approved – there will be a significant amount of time and numerous forms to debate the issue,” Reiss said. “This time will provide the public with information so they can determine how they should vote.”
    On May 24, council moved all process-serving responsibilities from the sheriff’s office to the Los Alamos Police Department, after Lucero expressed concerns for his deputies’ safety. The question of whether to retain a sheriff also stems from that issue. The staff report reads,

  • 'Rare, dangerous' heat headed to parts of Western US

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — It's a dry heat, Phoenix residents like to say about Arizona's hot weather. That bravado may vanish as the thermometer flirts with 120 degrees this weekend.

    Phoenix won't be alone in the oven. A strengthening ridge of high pressure lifting out of Mexico is on course to also scorch other parts of Arizona and Southern California, bringing potentially record-shattering temperatures.

    Though accustomed to triple digits, the upcoming heat spell is a rarity in Phoenix, a desert metropolis of 1.5 million people, raising concerns of heat stroke.

    Temperatures are predicted to hit 118 degrees in Phoenix on Sunday and peak at 119 degrees Monday. Such heat is "rare, dangerous and deadly," according to a National Weather Service warning.

    "This is extreme even for our standards," said Matthew Hirsch, a weather service meteorologist in Phoenix.

    The hottest day on record in Phoenix occurred June 26, 1990, when the thermometer reached 122 degrees.

    Extreme heat is likely to become more common, scientists say, blaming man-made greenhouse gas pollution.

  • Citizens speak for, against eliminating sheriff’s office

    Although Tuesday night’s Los Alamos County Council meeting was packed with people following the debate about whether voters should decide if the sheriff’s office should be abolished, only a dozen or so people offered public comment.
    Several of those opposed to abolishing the office argued that an elected sheriff provides a check and balance to other elected officials and county management.
    Matt Wolk claimed council did not have the authority to pass this ordinance.
    “He is an elected official that answers to the people, and he has a right to investigate, to find the truth. He or she, as sheriff in any county in this country, is the last separation of power that us, the people, have to make sure there is checks and balances, proper investigations,” Wolk said. “You guys can shut down the police. They may not like it, but the chief has to answer to you.”
    Deputy Sheriff John N. Horne, speaking as a private citizen, argued that, “As far as our federal Constitution goes, I do believe that there are some implications here, because all the citizens of Los Alamos County are entitled to equal protection under the law. Everyone in this state, in every other county, has a sheriff that works directly for them.

  • Girlfriend charged after fight

    The ex-girlfriend of Los Alamos resident Zachary Keller was arrested after an altercation at her apartment.
    The ex-girlfriend called police shortly after the alleged incident took place June 7 and filed a complaint against him.
    Ashley Fragua, 23, was charged with false imprisonment and battery against a household member. The arresting officer reported that he based the arrest on a witness at the scene and Keller’s mother.
    Keller was also arrested following the incident. Keller pled not guilty June 8 in magistrate court.
    “After leaving Fragua’s apartment, I was approached by a man who stated that he had seen some of the altercation between Fragua and Keller,” LAPD Cpl. James Keane wrote in the police report. “The man stated that he witnessed Keller making several trips to and from the apartment to remove items, and while Keller was doing so, Fragua was following and yelling at him in an angry manner.”
    The witness then told Keane that Fragua allegedly grabbed Keller while he was on his bicycle attempting to leave.
    That was when Keller’s mother, who was also at the scene, stepped in and prevented Fragua from trying to stop her son from leaving.

  • Robot Rodeo brings in bomb squads from all over U.S.

    Emergency bomb squads from all over the U.S. are teamed up at Los Alamos National Laboratory this week to compete and show off their skills.   
    Called the Robot Rodeo, it’s one of the few events where these teams can show off their skills taking their unit’s bomb handling robots through many types of real life scenarios.
    Opening suspicious packages, taking bombs off trains, and delivering packages are just some of the scenarios the teams in the competition practice.
    The Robot Rodeo takes place at Sandia National Laboratory or Los Alamos National Laboratory. This year it was at LANL’s Tech Area 49, where teams from the Los Alamos Police Department, Colorado, California and elsewhere put their robots through their paces.
    In Los Alamos at Tech Area 49, event coordinator and LANL bomb technician Christopher Ory was in charge of the event, making sure each of the teams had what they needed to successfully complete their missions.
    Though there’s some fun and competition involved, the lab tries to make each scenario as realistic as possible.

  • San Miguel County pays out $38,000 to email scam

    LAS VEGAS (AP) — San Miguel County is out $38,000 after a sophisticated email scam persuaded the county finance supervisor to transfer the funds to an outside account.

    The Las Vegas Optic reports that New Mexico State Police is working to figure out who is behind the email, which made it appear that Les Montoya instructed finance supervisor Melinda Gonzales to transfer the money to pay a consultant.

    The false email appeared to have been sent from Montoya's iPhone.

    Montoya says that if policies and procedures had been followed, the money would not have been transferred.

    Similar scams were sent to multiple counties and school districts in the state. Employees from San Miguel County, Zuni Public Schools and Deming Public Schools initiated transfers to the scammers totaling over $100,000, though the schools were able to stop the process.