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Today's News

  • Tent caterpillars once again munching on the aspens

    Visitors and locals driving up NM 475 (the road to the Santa Fe Ski Basin) may notice something happening with aspen groves that create one of the most popular vistas on the Santa Fe National Forest.

    To the casual observer, the aspens may appear to be dying. But those bare branches signal the return of the western tent caterpillars, native defoliators whose larvae feed on a variety of hardwood trees species. At least here in New Mexico, they seem to be particularly fond of aspen.

    The caterpillar gets its name from the conspicuous “tent” it builds on branches and twigs. The silken shelter protects the larvae during molting. As they mature, the larvae disperse and continue feeding on leaves until it’s time to retreat into cocoons for their transformation into moths. The process takes a couple months after which the adults mate and the female moths lay the eggs that become next year’s caterpillars.

  • Jemez House Thrift Store reaches a turning point

    BY ROBERTA R. FINE
    Special to the Monitor

    Jemez House Inc. Thrift Store is rounding out its 21st year as a community and youth resource. Thanks to the generosity of its donors, it is facing growing pains and must make some hard decisions, again asking the community for its cooperation and forbearance.

    It has become an eyesore and a thorn in county management’s side due to unmanageable donations left on the store’s porch during off hours.

    The organization is an outgrowth of a group home for troubled or neglected children founded by a pastor of the United Church of Los Alamos. When the group home closed in 1996, due to new state requirements that were too expensive for it to meet, one of the thrift stores that helped to support it remained open.

  • Derby Dames seeking revenge in rematch against Crossroads City

    The Los Alamos Derby Dames will get a chance to prove whether practice makes perfect as they head to Las Cruces this weekend for a rematch with the Crossroads City Derby Las Santas.

    The team has not competed since May 27, a game which was also against Crossroads City.

    That match did not go well for the Derby Dames, who ultimately fell 325-100. The match took place at the Los Alamos County Ice Rink.

    One thing to consider heading into this rematch is the trouble Los Alamos had with the defensive pressure of the Las Santas.

    On the offensive end, the team struggled to shed blocks, while on the defense the team struggled to contain the opposition’s jammers.

    The bigger, stronger Las Santas proved to be far too much for the less-experienced Derby Dames, who continually tried to push their way through blocks but appeared to be running into a brick wall time and time again.

    As the team treks south, they will be hoping for much different results, with hopes that the previous experience has taught them what it takes to be successful.

    This weekend’s match will take place at the Meerscheidt Recreational Center, the home of the Las Santas.

    Gates will open at 7 p.m., and the match is set to begin at 8 p.m.

  • Red Caps meet with laboratory retiree group board

    The Los Alamos Retiree Group is a civic-minded group of retired Los Alamos National Laboratory employees that is constantly looking for projects to better the community.

    The LRG may not be the best organization to have an outing to pick up trash around the Los Alamos Reservoir and so the idea of welcoming visitors to the city was attractive. They have already received some Red Cap head cover. They have accepted the promise to wear the cap downtown and to engage any tourists they meet.

    In speaking to the board of directors, Vernon Kerr noted that the town needs more eating places as one board member expressed it, “If I come to Los Alamos on a weekend, I can’t find anything open to get a good meal.” There are no downtown shops to buy souvenirs.

  • UNM-LA says farewell to Kay Willerton

    The University of New Mexico-Los Alamos faculty and staff gathered on June 29 to celebrate Kay Willerton’s long and successful career at the college. After 30 years of service, Willerton is retiring from UNM-LA.

    Willerton began her employment with UNM-LA in 1987 as a teacher of mathematics, and over the years she has served in a number of capacities while continuing to teach.

    She has supported the college with committee work, strategic planning, accreditation reviews, bond elections, and grant proposals.

    She has served as mathematics department chair, division head, and Associate Dean of Instruction. In the fall of 2015, CEO Dr. Cindy Rooney appointed Willerton Interim Dean of Instruction for UNM-LA.

    Willerton first taught at UNM-LA as a substitute for math classes. In 1987 she accepted an adjunct position as a math instructor. Soon thereafter she became a continuing faculty member and the curriculum coordinator for developmental studies and math. Willerton continued to teach math classes at UNM-LA through spring 2016.

    Before her work with UNM-LA, while teaching high school math in Texas, Willerton developed a style in which she would alternate providing short lessons with engaging students in math exercises.

  • Looking forward to old-fashioned holiday

    This week our family is on an adventure – a staycation if you will – but a vacation for others.

    You see this week, we have three young visitors from the State of Utah. They are Dakota, Brynlee and Ella.

    Dakota will be in sixth grade next year, Brynlee in third and Ella in kindergarten. How I wish that time would be spent at Chamisa Elementary, alas, we will just play there for the next two weeks.

    It has been a long time since our boys were elementary age but it seems like just yesterday, too.

    Chad junior, the dad and mom Crystal will have some quiet nights, but days filled with work just like usual.

    We will take our young tourists to all of the hot spots in town, Rocket Park, Rover Park and the Overlook to name a few.

    Of course, the White Rock highlights were the LDS funfest on the Fourth and the Kiwanis fireworks…perhaps viewed from our roof, but don’t tell Crystal.

    We will head uptown to do the Bradbury, the PEEC and I am sure a trip to Bandelier. We’ll also visit each library because they are pretty wonderful in and of themselves.

    There’s that great mini golf course by the dog park and free movies at the Reel Deal. Who knows how many great, cool things we overlook and take for granted each day.

  • How to save money with a new pet in your home

    By Nathaniel Sillon
    Visa Financial Education Programs Director

    Whether it’s a dog, cat or another furry (or scaly) friend, many people have pets who are more than just animals – they’re part of the family.

    Pets can be friends, they can offer nonjudgmental companionship when you’re feeling down and they can put a smile on your face. To provide the best care for a pet, you’ll want to be able to afford their needs, including the basics like food and healthcare. With this in mind, think carefully and review your budget before deciding to welcome an animal into your family.

    Choose a pet that you can afford. While the initial cost of adopting or buying a pet is relatively small compared to the long-term expenses, the type of pet you choose does matter.

    Admittedly, you might visit the pound and fall in love with a dog or cat. What can you do? The heart wants what the heart wants. Research is a must if you want to take cost-saving measures, though. For example, larger animal breeds may be more expensive to care for, partially because they simply eat more food. And if you’re taking in a dog you’ll want to consider the cost of training, which could set you back several hundred dollars.

  • Inept management at HSD shows in lawsuits, festering problems

    People remember Brent Earnest as a competent and well-liked legislative analyst. Then he joined the state Human Services Department as deputy secretary under Secretary Sidonie Squier, best known for the behavioral health disaster and her hostility to legislators.

    Squier decimated the state’s behavioral health system by accusing 15 providers of overbilling based on a deeply flawed audit. Then she halted their Medicaid funding, driving many out of business. When Squier departed in 2014, Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino, chairman of the Senate Public Affairs Committee, suggested Earnest as a replacement.

    “A lot of us in the Legislature have confidence in his ability and think he’s a genuinely caring person,” he said.

    Earnest got the nod but declared right off that he would uphold the same muddled agenda. The Senate confirmed him unanimously, probably expecting him to clean up the troubled department. Earnest just leaned into the wind and slogged on.

    Ortiz y Pino in May called for Earnest’s resignation.

    This was because of HSD’s other running disaster – a longstanding lawsuit over the department’s poor handling of SNAP (food stamp) applications. While Sidonie Squier owns the behavioral health mess, Earnest gets credit for the SNAP program’s advanced decay.

  • 3 of 4 University of New Mexico health sciences deans depart

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — The University of New Mexico has some hiring to do after three of its four Health Sciences Center deans have decided to accept jobs at other colleges.

    Deans Lynda Welage and Nancy Ridenour are leaving for the University of Minnesota and Barnes-Jewish College in St. Louis, respectively, and dean Deborah Helitzer is going to Arizona State University, The Albuquerque Journal reported (http://bit.ly/2tjh9sK ).

    The last dean remaining, Health Sciences Chancellor and School of Medicine Dean Paul Roth, said the departures are unlike anything he’s ever seen. Roth conducted an exit interview with each of the three women, and none of them had one specific reason for leaving, he said.

    “This is the first time we’ve had all of this happening at the same time,” said Roth, who first came to the university in the late 1970s as a medical resident. “We kind of categorize when people leave: Is it that they’re being pushed out of the institution? Or are they being pulled places? And I think it would be very easy to say that in all of these cases, it’s a combination of both.”

  • Hearing for Smith’s shoplifter set for Thursday

    Joshua Padilla-Spanarkel, 22, of Santa Fe is scheduled to appear before Judge Pat A. Casados on Thursday for charges of shoplifting over $500 and conspiracy to commit a felony.

    The criminal complaint was filed by Los Alamos Police Department Corporal Sheldon Simpson.

    According to the arrest warrant affidavit written by Oliver Morris, on Feb. 3 around 2:47 p.m., “(A Smith’s employee) called

    LAPD dispatch to advise that two males shoplifted $429.79 worth of meat. Cpl. Simpson of LAPD obtained Smith’s surveillance video and he believed he identified the suspects as Noberto Garcia and Joshua Padilla-Spanarkel.”

    The Smith’s employee gave a vehicle description of a red Chevy truck and a Santa Fe Sheriff’s Deputy stopped the same vehicle about an hour later near the Cities of Gold Casino.

    “Both Joshua Padilla-Spanarkel and Noberto Garcia were in the truck wearing the same clothing Cpl. Simpson viewed in the surveillance video,” stated Morris.

    Padilla-Spanarkel wore a white t-shirt and jeans with a specific logo and Garcia wore jeans and a darker colored shirt.