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Today's News

  • No opt-out for Smart Meters

    At its July 20 meeting, the Los Alamos County Board of Public Utilities (BPU) voted 4–1 against an opt-out option for Smart Meters. Stephen McLin voted against the motion.
    According to the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) staff report, distributed energy resources such as roof-top solar are changing the face of the industry, and new options such as micro-grids, distributed energy resource management technologies and demand response programs for managing peak electricity demand more efficiently and economically are on the horizon.  
    Rate structures are also changing to provide options such as demand/response, time-of-use metering and value of solar tariffs (which credits customers for home solar generation).
    Smart Meters, which allow two-way communication between the utility and the customer, are central to implementing those changes.
    DPU plans to replace all electric meters with Smart Meters in FY2018. Gas and water meters will also be replaced with remotely read meters.
    “When we get to the full deployment of these radio reads in our system, our plan is to not have meter readers at all anymore,” DPU Manager Tim Glasco told the board. “So that begs the question of what do we do if someone has strong feelings about having a radio transmitter on their meters at their house?”

  • Gov. Martinez announces departure of NMED Sec. Flynn

    Gov. Susana Martinez announced late today New Mexico Environment Department Secretary Ryan Flynn would step down effective Aug. 12.

    Flynn served as Cabinet Secretary since 2013 and as Environment’s General Counsel from 2011 to 2013. Butch Tongate, Deputy Cabinet Secretary, will serve as acting Cabinet Secretary.  

    “Secretary Flynn has put his heart and soul into protecting our environment and always put New Mexicans first,” Martinez said in a press release sent late Friday.

    Martinez is credited with spearheading a number of settlements while secretary of NMED, including negotiating an agreement with Los Alamos National Laboratory for the cleanup of legacy waste from the Manhattan Project and Cold War Era.

    Martinez also commended Flynn for his leadership in negotiating the settlement between the state and the Department of Energy during the Gold King Mine spill and taking action on the Kirtland Air Force base spill.

    Flynn also lead the state through the radiation leak at the Department of Energy’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad. Flynn negotiated the largest settlement in the history of the United States between the Department of Energy and any state for the accidental release of radiation — a total of $74 million, Martinez said.

  • Saturday Comprehensive Plan meeting cancelled

    Los Alamos County announced Friday that the Planning and Zoning Commission work session on the Comprehensive Plan, scheduled for Saturday, July 30, has been cancelled due to inadequate notice. A second work session, scheduled for 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 6 in Council Chambers, in the Municipal Building, 1000 Central Ave., will continue as planned. A date to reschedule the cancelled meeting has not yet been determined.

  • Honors roll in before Olympics

    Former University of New Mexico cross country and track & field standout Courtney Frerichs claimed a pair of Mountain West awards on Wednesday as the conference named her Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year and Female Athlete of the Year.
    Frerichs, a native of Nixa, Missouri, had a stellar 2015-16 campaign in cross country and track & field for the Lobos, guiding the UNM women’s cross country team to its first national title last November before winning the NCAA title in the 3,000-meter steeplechase in record time in June.
    She also shined in the classroom, compiling a 4.16 GPA and MW Academic All-Conference and MW Scholar-Athlete honors as she pursued a master’s degree in community health organization.
    While at UNM, Frerichs ran to two national titles in one year, winning a team title and an individual title as a Lobo.
    She helped the UNM women’s cross country to its first national title in November, taking fourth place overall as the highest finisher in program history.
    After sitting out the indoor season, Frerichs continued to shine outdoors, twice running under 9:30 in the steeplechase before capping her collegiate career by setting the NCAA record at the NCAA Championships.

  • ‘Granite Mountain’ needs extras Aug. 5

    The movie “Granite Mountain” will be shooting a large scene in Los Alamos on Aug. 5 and is seeking paid extras to work in the film.
    The production, starring Josh Brolin, Jeff Bridges and Miles Teller, is the story of the real-life Granite Mountain Hotshots, an elite group of wildland firefighters that courageously battled one of the worst wildfires in history to save an Arizona town.
    The production is looking for men, women and children, dogs and cats, people with horse trailers and boats and cars.  
    The crew is casting police officers, fire fighters and families evacuating their homes. Email a photo with name, height, weight and phone number to egabelcasting@gmail.com. Put Los Alamos in the subject line. Also include the year, color and make of your car.

  • Classical night at the library
  • Santa Fe National Forest lifts fire restrictions

    The Santa Fe National Forest lifted campfire and smoking restrictions Thursday after widespread rain across the forest and fire danger decreased. The forest implemented Stage I fire restrictions on July 15 based on dry conditions and higher-than-normal temperatures.
    Forest managers use several criteria to determine when to lift fire restrictions, including current and predicted weather, fuel moisture, fire activity levels and available firefighting resources. The arrival of monsoonal moisture has eased the dry conditions that led to restrictions and decreased fire danger to moderate.
    Although Stage I restrictions on campfires and smoking will be lifted, forest managers urge visitors to continue to use caution around campfires and other potential ignition sources by following campfire safety procedures.

  • Investigators seek info on theft of firefighting equipment

    The Valles Caldera National Preserve is offering a reward for information about the recent theft of firefighting equipment.
    Special agents with the Investigative Services Branch and U.S. Park Rangers of Valles Caldera National Preserve are seeking information about the recent theft of crucial wildland firefighting equipment, apparently taken between 6 p.m. July 23 and 11 a.m. July 24.
    According to investigators, someone forcibly entered a closed area in the preserve, broke into several storage units and stole a significant amount of equipment that is part of the National Park Service firefighting program.
    The items taken include a utility task vehicle, an equipment trailer, drip torches, fuel cells, gas cans, tools, pumps, generators and compressors.
    The wildland fire crew using the equipment was working on the Big Hat Fire in the preserve when the theft occurred. The crew had recently returned from the Dog Head Fire in Albuquerque and from other fire assignments in New Mexico and Arizona.
    The loss of this equipment will impact interagency firefighting operations in northern New Mexico for the rest of the year, according to National Park officials.

  • Makerspaces nurture business development

    Uncertainty about the commercial viability of an innovation or idea — in addition to the cost of renting or buying the machinery needed to build a working prototype — has stifled many an entrepreneurial impulse. But the makerspace movement that’s gaining a foothold in several New Mexico communities is trying to change that.   
    Makerspaces offer access to expensive equipment and expert mentoring that innovators need to turn a concept into something tangible. Their advocates see them as cauldrons of entrepreneurism and economic development — as early-stage business incubators.
    Nurturing creativity
    New Mexico is home to half a dozen makerspaces, many of them only a few years old.
    Los Alamos Makers calls itself “a scientific playground for all ages,” and its members can use all sorts of industrial, mechanical, laboratory and electronic equipment that the organization has procured in its two years of existence.
    Lots of people have ideas, said founder Prisca Tiasse, a former biologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, but they lack the means to invest in something that might not go anywhere. “That is a major hurdle for entrepreneurism.”

  • Johnson is another choice for president

    The 2016 presidential contest is down to two people. That’s what Deborah Maestas, Republican chair, would have us believe.
    In a July 17 op-ed she called for “Republicans and conservatives” to unite behind Donald Trump. “Trump’s success represents a shift that our country desperately needed,” she said. However laughable Maestas assertion in the op-ed, she was just doing her job.
    But, well, no. While unhappiness is everywhere, more is happening here than an either-or choice. It ain’t over ‘til it’s over, as Yogi Berra said.
    A phone call came a couple of weeks ago from my sister-in-law in southwest Wisconsin. A Catholic and a Democrat, she works for a branch campus of the University of Wisconsin in a community of 12,000.  She is distressed at the prospect of either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump being president. Her protest vote in the Wisconsin primary was for Bernie Sanders.
    After a few minutes, the topic of Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson entered the conversation, as you might expect. My wife, the Clinton supporter, gave me the phone. I said, “Policies aside, Gary is honest.” The other two are serial, purposive liars, among other things.