Today's News

  • Insurance rates reflect science

    Hurricanes, as we saw last week, are complex. Such events bring out only a few of the talking points, which leaves a good many pertinent factors still drifting in the dark.

    Think where we are today. Republicans and Democrats have settled into rejecting each other’s beliefs about sea rise from climate change. Further, the two parties cling to opposing views of big corporations. 

    Imagine if a big business were to change the conversation about sea rise. This outcome is not as crazy as it seems. Sea levels affect many interests. Average sea levels in the future will rise or not rise. Each possible trend results in a different amount of flooding near coastlines. Floods near the sea may get worse or stay the same.

    A flood means a streak of bad business hits a lot of people all at once. A flood also means a patch of strikingly good business comes in a rush. Bad business for homeowners, churches and shopkeepers is suddenly good business for builders and suppliers. In the middle are the insurers. 

    A place to watch for news is the future rates that insurers will charge for flood insurance on sea coasts. Commercial insurance companies will respond the way big insurers always have, by applying sound business principles.

  • Smith’s hit with another shoplifting incident

    Just two days after the shoplifting and crash incident that resulted in two arrests, Smith’s Marketplace suffered another shoplifting attempt.

    Around 4:43 p.m. on Sunday, Los Alamos Police Department Sgt. Monica Salazar-Casias was contacted by the Smith’s Loss Prevention Officer, Melissa Chamberlain, regarding a female and two males who she suspected were trying to shoplift. She also reported that the same group had been in the store on Aug. 25, and apparently had taken some items.

    A female, who later identified herself as Maria Tafoya, was wearing a pink shirt and a male in a gray-and-black plaid shirt and cap was behind her.

    Chamberlain reportedly stopped Tafoya before she left with a grocery cart full of items. Tafoya had reportedly passed the checkout point and made no attempt to pay for the items.

    Salazar-Casias and Cpl. Boe were in the Smith’s parking lot when they reportedly saw a man and woman that matched Chamberlain’s description, so Salazar-Casias pulled up next to them and asked what was going on. Tafoya replied, “Nothing,” and denied taking any items from the store.

  • Potential LANL contractors meet with county leadership

    The Regional Coalition of LANL Communities met Wednesday with representatives from two contractors considering bidding on Los Alamos National Laboratory’s management and operations contract.

    The meeting was arranged at the last minute at a local restaurant by RCLC Executive Director Andrea Romero for potential contractors.

    Others at the meeting included County Council Chair David Izraelevitz, councilors James Chrobocinski and Chris Chandler, and County Manager Harry Burgess.

    The contractors were in town touring LANL and meeting with the officials from the lab’s oversight agency, the National Nuclear Security Administration.

    CEO Eric Sundin, from Virginia-based Internal Computer Services and David E. Daniel, deputy chancellor of the University of Texas System were the only contractors who attended Wednesday’s meeting.
    Romero arranged the meeting so contractors could learn how much northern New Mexico relies on the lab’s economic and philanthropic commitment to the region.

    Daniel said he appreciated the effort.

    “I thought it was a great meeting. I sincerely appreciate the locally elected officials, the community reaching out to prospective offerors. I made many great connections today,” Daniel said.

  • LA Makers: A space to share

    Special to the Monitor

    Of all places the makers’ space trend might be nurtured, Los Alamos and White Rock should have been on the map some time back.

    However, until a year ago, the idea of sharing tools, practice and expertise in a space – a relaxed classroom – wasn’t well known here, said Los Alamos Makers founder and biologist Prisca Tiasse, Ph.D.

    In a town where home workshops are legend and legendary, Tiasse has discovered there’s also a desire to share.

    “Even though they have their own shop, they like the idea of community; they like coming together and helping,” said Tiasse.

    Los Alamos Makers offers opportunities to learn or share skills such as coding, sewing, woodworking and soldering – an important component of simple computer board construction.

    Children, teenagers and adults want to learn skills they haven’t acquired at home or in a more formal classroom, she said. Makers’ spaces had their beginning in big cities, among those who wanted to make or repair things but lacked space for tools and their own workshops, she said.

  • Hilltop property could open as hotel in a year

    The new owner of the former Hilltop House Hotel on Trinity Drive said plans are underway to open the property as a hotel again in a year.

    The renovation would bring back to life the shuttered brown-and-blue building that greets visitors at the gateway to Los Alamos.

    According to Kuzi Mutsiwegota, of Atomic City Investments, the company that bought the 78-room hotel in 2015, their goal is to try and get the hotel open within a year. Their main obstacle right now he said is bringing the 44-year-old building up to current building code standards.

    “We are working as aggressively as we can to get it open,” Mutsiwegota said. “..We are trying to have everything taken care of appropriately,” Mutsiwegota said.

    Since taking over the project, Atomic City has been working with the county to  bring things up to code.

    “We’ve had some preliminary meetings about our plans, and they seem to be happy with that, but the reality is we have to show them specifics that they can then vet against code. Once we get through that process, we will really begin to green light it,” Mutsiwegota said.

  • Fatalities reported in accident at state land oil pad site in Loving Friday

    The State Land Office has reported an accident involving fatalities has occurred on state trust lands south of Loving today.

    Welders working on frac tanks, tanks involved in oil production operations at the oil well pad site, were involved in the accident that resulted in the reported fatalities, according to Deputy Commissioner Laura Riley.

    “I know there are fatalities. I can’t confirm how many,” Riley said.

    The State Land Office was notified of the accident at about 3:30 p.m.

    The site is about 5 acres in size and is located away from residents, according to very early estimates, Riley said.

    Riley will be monitoring the ongoing situation, she said.

    “It is with great sadness that I learned of the tragic accident and loss of life on State Trust Lands in Eddy County,” said State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn in a statement issued late today. “On behalf of the State Land Office, I offer my deepest condolences to the families of the victims.  The investigation is unfolding and my staff is monitoring the situation and cooperating with authorities as needed.”

  • Community Calendar 9-1-17

    The final White Rock Artist Market will be from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. outside the White Rock Visitor Center. This is the last Artist Market for the summer and will return Memorial Weekend 2018. The White Rock Visitor Center is located at 115 NM State Road 4 and is open daily from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. For information about the White Rock Artist Markets, contact Melanie Peña at 661-4836 or email melanie@losalamos.org.

    Bigfoot BBQ and & Blues Fest from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. in Jemez Springs. Festival will include a barbecue, music and lecture to celebrate Bigfoot. 1 Jemez Plaza, Jemez Springs.
    Charles Strickfaden will present “Partnership Parks in the 21st Century – Building a national park from nothing: Manhattan Project Historical Park (with a perspective by Valles Caldera National Preserve staff)” at 7 p.m. at the Nature Center. Strickfaden, the Los Alamos Site Manager, will enlighten attendees on some of the efforts required to initiate, design and develop a newly established unit of the National Park Service. Please join us at PEEC to ask questions and find out about volunteer opportunities with this growing park.

  • Chamisa to hold yard, bake sale for Hurricane Harvey victims

    Chamisa Elementary School is planning to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey this September with a yard and bake sale.
    The sale will be in the Chamisa Elementary School parking lot Sept. 16.

    The sale’s organizers looking for people to loan them tables for the event and baked items.    

    They are also looking for gently used backpacks, school supplies and stuffed animals to take to the students of an elementary school, Port Aransas School, that was flooded during the storm.

    The donations, baked items and the tables can be dropped of Sept. 15, or on the day of the event.

    Residents dropping off items before the event can contact Tammy Jaurique at 623-341-0663 or contact her by email at tajaurique@gmail.com. Lindsay Young, at 806-290-6991, can also take in donation, tables and items for the sale. Her email is lindsayyoun@gmail.com.

    The idea started through some families that recently moved from Texas who knew of relatives caught up in the hurricane.

  • Congress eyes vote next week on aid for Harvey storm

    Associated Press

    WASHINGTON — Congress is gearing up for a vote as early as next week on a multibillion-dollar down payment on relief aid for Harvey.

    White House and congressional aides said Thursday an emergency request to replenish rapidly shrinking aid reserves is coming from the Trump administration as early as Friday and that votes in both the House and Senate would quickly follow.

    Members of the Texas and Louisiana delegations are pressing for immediate action when lawmakers return to Capitol Hill next week from their summer recess, and they have pledges from top GOP leaders such as Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., that the House will quickly respond. McCarthy told lawmakers from Texas and Louisiana on a conference call late Wednesday, “We are with you,” a GOP aide said Thursday.

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency is spending existing disaster aid reserves — just $2.1 billion as of Thursday – at a high rate.

  • Passengers in getaway car nabbed for drug possession

    Three women were pulled over for a traffic stop and later arrested when drug paraphernalia was found in their car about 2 a.m. Saturday.

    The Los Alamos Police Department officer who made the arrest was traveling eastbound on Trinity Drive when he saw a white Cadillac make abrupt turns without using a signal, so he pulled the vehicle over into the Smith’s gas station.

    The driver, Esperanza Bayless, said she was trying to locate a friend of hers, Stephen Montano, because he requested a ride. Montano was arrested just a few hours prior as one of the shoplifting suspects who crashed a truck and attempted to flee from the police the night before.

    After running Bayless’ name through the system, the officer noticed she was driving on a suspended license.

    “I then notified Bayless that she had a suspended driver’s license and that her friend, Stephen Montano, was currently incarcerated at the Los Alamos County Detention Facility,” the officer wrote in his report.