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Today's News

  • Today in history Jan. 12
  • Warmer, drier trend continues

    On Friday, a winter snowstorm that promised to bring significant moisture once again came in with a whimper. Instead of the promised four to six inches of snow (early forecasts predicted as much as six to eight inches) Los Alamos received only 2.1 inches.
    That is not the first time that initially promising storm patterns left Los Alamos high and dry. According to both Chuck Jones, senior meteorologist for the National Weather Service/Albuquerque and Los Alamos National Laboratory Meteorologist David Bruggeman, reduced precipitation and warmer temperatures are not only the trend for this winter but a long term trend dating back decades.
    According to Bruggeman, Los Alamos has seen a downward trend in annual average precipitation since 1981. Snowfall has been declining since 1951.
    Both Bruggeman and Jones are predicting this winter will continue to be drier and warmer than usual. Charts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center (cpc.noaa.gov) show all of New Mexico with a 50- to 60-percent chance of having above normal temperatures for the next three months and a 33- to 40-percent chance of below normal precipitation.

  • Today in history Jan. 11
  • White Rock Senior Center opens

    Monday marked the first day seniors in White Rock didn’t have to travel to the Betty Ehart Center in Los Alamos for a hot lunch.
    The White Rock Senior Center was recently outfitted with a kitchen for the first time in its long history.  It also now has a bigger recreation area.
    “This has been a vision for many, many years,” said Los Alamos Senior Services Director Pauline Schneider to the applauding crowd Monday.
    The senior center was one of the last projects in the White Rock Master Plan. It was completed this year.
    Seniors who sat down for the lunch were treated to fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, peas and carrots, rolls and fruit cocktail.
    Lunch will be served from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. weekdays. Reservations are preferred. Reservations can be taken up until 10 a.m. on the day seniors plan to lunch. Lunch is free for seniors 60 or older. Others can attend for $7.50. For now, the best way to make reservations is to visit the center at 133 Longview Drive. Phones are still being installed.
    Schneider said that it will be a little bit before the other programs and features of the center are in place.

  • DOE releases report on state of labs

    U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz released a report to the public today detailing the state of the national laboratories.
    The report was in response to a request from the Commission to Review the Effectiveness of the National Energy Laboratories that the nation’s 17 laboratories should more publicly demonstrate their value and contributions to science, engineering, energy and other disciplines.
    “One of the recommendations was that we do an annual report on the state of the annual laboratories, a concise report that would capture annual progress,” Moniz said.
    The 212-page report, titled “Annual Report on the State of the DOE National Laboratories,” also includes Los Alamos National Laboratory.
    Since this report was the first of its kind, the DOE decided to give a bigger picture and go more in depth than it will in later reports.
    “What we decided to do is start out with a very comprehensive report that would also provide some of the history and go into quite some detail so that future editions presumably can revert to the much more concise updates with a strong foundation provided in this report,” Moniz said.

  • Udall weighs in on confirmation process

    During a teleconference on Tuesday, Democrat Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) discussed the hearings on President Elect Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees, which began yesterday in the Senate.
    Udall prefaced his statements by saying, “Every president, no matter who they are, should be able to choose his own team and the Senate should vote without unnecessary delay.
    But Udall went on to state, “The American people also deserve transparency. They deserve to know who is running our government and whether those people have conflicts of interest.
    “Many of Mr. Trump’s nominees are extremely wealthy. Many are connected to or have run major political or lobbying efforts. Several cabinet officials have not released their tax records or finished their ethics disclosure process,” Udall said.
    Udall pointed out that the director of the Office of Government Ethics has expressed concerns about the fact that his office has not finished the ethics review process for Trump’s nominees and that some have not yet provided the office with the required financial disclosures. The Ethics in Government Act requires that presidential appointments confirmed by the Senate obtain OGE certification of their financial disclosures prior to any congressional hearings.

  • Gov. Martinez unveils plan to fix budget shortfall

    SANTA FE (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez called on Tuesday for further belt tightening by state government as she unveiled a budget proposal to close the state’s general fund deficit and restore depleted reserves, while sticking with her vow to avoid tax increases.
    The budget plan for the coming fiscal year preserves funding for economic development initiatives and public safety agencies and extends recent spending reductions for other agencies and deepens cuts to the legislative branch and state universities, colleges and specialty schools.
    New solvency measures would shrink overall compensation to state employees and public school teachers by decreasing government pension contributions to the state’s two main retirement funds by 3.5 percent of salaries. Government employees would contribute more to maintain the same benefits, with less take-home pay as a result.
    “This sends a message that it’s up to state government to tighten its own belt – not our hard working families,” the Republican governor told reporters. “Furthermore this proposal will ensure that we have a strong, healthy savings account for the next oil and gas downturn or the next time federal government fails us.”

  • Garcia Richard pre-files gun bill

    State Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard (D-43) will introduce  a bill next week that would require criminal background checks for firearms sellers who are not licensed to sell but are looking to sell or transfer guns to another individual.
    “What they’re trying to do is, if you wanted to go and buy a firearm from your next door neighbor, you would not be able to do that. They would make that illegal,” said White Rock firearms dealer Stanley Hayes. “It should be the same as you wanting to sell your car and you not having to take it to an auto dealer to sell it.”
    The bill would require a licensed firearms dealer to act as a middleman between the buyer and the seller.
    It would also require that the two people involved comply with all state and federal laws, as if a person was buying the gun directly from a firearms dealer.
    With the bill, Garcia Richard is seeking regulate all firearms sales by requiring both parties to submit to criminal background checks as part of the sale.
    Garcia Richard did not return several calls requesting comment Friday. The bill is co-sponsored by State Rep. Miguel Garcia (D-14, Bernalillo), who also did not immediately return a call for comment.
    Hayes thinks the bill would only discourage law-abiding citizens from selling guns to each other.

  • School district sets priorities for upcoming session

    Teacher evaluation systems, saving gas money and a more flexible health insurance system are the top priorities of the Los Alamos Public Schools for the upcoming legislative session.
    Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus has been in talks with Los Alamos state Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard (D-43) and other legislators about getting several bills passed that will make things a lot easier and less expensive for Los Alamos Public Schools and districts across the state.
    Their biggest priority is getting a bill through that will give the LAPS and at least three other districts permission to pilot their own teacher evaluation programs, instead of relying on the state’s system.
    Many teachers feel the state’s system, called “NMTEACH,” places too much emphasis on student test scores and sometimes doesn’t use the right data to make fair and accurate evaluations.
    Los Alamos and other districts want to develop an evaluation system that is more customized to their needs.
    “That bill would provide an opportunity for Los Alamos Schools and three other school districts to pilot test a brand new teacher evaluation system that better meets the student learning goals and helps retain quality teachers,” Steinhaus said.
    Los Alamos School Board President Jim Hall is behind the bill 100 percent.

  • Bandelier, UNM partner for dig

    Bandelier National Monument’s Frijoles Mesa will see some unusual activity this summer.
    In addition to campers at Juniper Campground and visitors attending ranger programs at the amphitheater, a group of students from the University of New Mexico will be excavating test sites in order to document archeological resources.
    The project – paid for with a $35,000 grant from the National Park Service – is in preparation for building a housing unit for seasonal employees on the mesa. With thousands of archeological sites within the park’s boundaries, surveying archeological resources is always a first step for any project.
    “It’s a major construction project, so basically what we need to determine here first at the park is if there’s any intact archeology located where they want to put the building,” said Jamie Civitello, Bandelier’s cultural resources program manager. “The only way we can go about doing that in a definitive way is to do an excavation where we actually look under the ground methodically and document what we find.
    “So the project is really going to be an excavation to really to determine the nature and extent of any archeology that might be there at the location.”