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Today's News

  • Over objections, New Mexico energy chief confirmed

    By Andrew Oxford

    The New Mexican

    After his confirmation hearing turned to discussion of climate change and the Four Corners methane hotspot on Wednesday, environmental groups lambasted Mew Mexico's top oil and gas regulator as echoing politically conservative talking points while one legislator described the conversation as "very troubling."\

    But despite opposition from conservationists and a small group of Democratic lawmakers, the state Senate voted 32-4 to confirm former oil and gas industry executive Kenley McQueen as secretary of the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department.

    While McQueen won praise from some lawmakers as having an expert grasp on the sector he is now in charge of policing, environmental groups have likened his appointment to picking a fox to guard a hen house, prompting some of the harshest opposition that any of Gov. Susana Martinez's appointees have met so far in the current legislative session.

    The secretary's confirmation hearing on Wednesday only seemed to enflame criticism from liberal senators.

    "What I heard today was very troubling," Sen. Cisco McSorley, D-Albuquerque, said later on the Senate floor.

  • New Mexico officials warn of escalating fire danger

    SANTA FE (AP) — State and federal land managers in New Mexico are warning people about escalating fire danger.
    This week, red flag warnings were issued throughout eastern New Mexico due to extreme fire danger, and the dry, windy conditions are likely to remain in the forecast.
    Surrounding states such as Colorado, Oklahoma and Kansas have already been hit with serious wildfires this year due to similar conditions.
    So far this year, officials say New Mexico has seen 55 wildfires burn more than 10 square miles — about half of that being charred in the last two weeks alone.
    Acting State Forester Donald Griego says last year's fire season was very active and destructive. More than 200 square miles burned on public and private lands in 2016.

  • Los Alamos County reports email system attacked by phishing scam

    Los Alamos County reported today its email system was attacked by an apparent phishing scam and has turned the incident over to law enforcement.

    The incident affected at least one public works employee, according to the county spokeswoman.

    “While it is believed that the attack was contained to a single e-mail account in the Public Works Department, the County turned the matter over to the Los Alamos Police Department for investigation. Affected employees have been notified and LAPD Investigations conducted a thorough investigation of this incident,” said Spokeswoman Julie Habiger, in a statement released today.
    The county’s e-mail system is hosted as a cloud-based system. The county uses multiple layers of anti-virus and anti-malware protections, Habiger said in a statement.

    The county Human Resources division issued letters to employees who might have been impacted by the scam and has placed these individuals in a credit monitoring service for one year at no cost to the employee.

    County Manager Harry Burgess has taken it a step further and urges all county residents to be cautious of suspicious emails.

  • Local theater group wins state award

    The Los Alamos Little Theatre’s production of “The Other Place” took home awards for outstanding leading actor, direction and set design at the New Mexico State Theatre Festival held in Las Cruces last weekend.
    The production placed second overall and is the alternate for a regional competition.  
    Cindy Hines was awarded the leading actor award for her portray of Julianna.  
    Director Gwen Lewis received the direction award and Paul Lewis received the set design award.  
    Other LALT participants in the festival included cast members Eric Bjorklund and Andi Bishofberger, cast member and stage manager Iain May, and backstage support Kelli Guider and Kathy Bjorklund.
    The festival is sponsored by Theatre New Mexico, and is a part of AACTFest, a national theatre competition sponsored by the American Association of Community Theatre that is held every two years.  Competition begins at the state level, advances to Regionals, and culminates in a national festival. LALT has participated in AACTFest for many years and has hosted the New Mexico festival on many occasions, most recently in 2013.

  • Bands compete in district competition

    Los Alamos High School Symphonic Band and Band Director Zane Meek gave their all Monday at the North Central New Mexico Music Educators Association Band Music Performance Assessment.  
    The association uses the event to periodically assess high school and middle school bands in the association’s “Southwest District 1” for their musical ability and acumen. The event lasts all day, and includes dozens of schools from around the area. Schools in the association’s district take turns hosting the event.
    The main purpose of the event is to support students in their musical endeavors through feedback and constructive, positive critique.  

  • Film Festival adds coin-op laundry

    Think doing the laundry has to be a boring task that sucks up all of theprecious hours that could be spent relaxing? Say no more. “Film Festival,” Los Alamos’ go-to place for movie rentals and coffee, now offers a coin-op laundry service.
    The store has six washers and six dryers. Drying costs $1.25 a load and $2.75 for a wash, giving folks a $4 bargain that is somewhat less expensive that other laundromats “off the hill.”
    Leisure time-wise, it pays for itself in other ways, too.
    “There’s a TV back there so if you’re in the middle of March Madness you won’t miss anything,” co-owner Abbie Burk said. “We’re making it a quiet place for people, where they can get a coffee and wait it out.”
    For those who want to watch a movie, Film Festival has that aspect covered, as well.
    “We’re going to look at doing specials, where if someone brings in their laptop, they can get a reduced rental DVD for the time they’re in here”, Burk said.
    Burk and her husband Brad have owned and operated the store for 21 years, after taking it over from Gerry Washburn. Washburn went on to become a teacher, then assistant superintendent with the Los Alamos Public Schools. He left Los Alamos in 2015 to become a school superintendent in Roseburg, Oregon.

  • Rental properties can make good investments, but they come with risk

    BY NATHAN SILLIN
    Practical Money Skills

  • Big bipartisan HB 412 seeks fix for gross receipts tax mess

    House Bill 412 is a big one. The title requires 307 words. It begins, “An act relating to taxation…” The second to the last section – that’s section 155 out of 157– requires 1,028 words to list the sections of existing law that would be repealed.
    The sponsors are Rep. Jason Harper, Rio Rancho Republican, and two venerable Democratic senators, John Arthur Smith of Deming and Carlos Cisneros of Questa. Bipartisanship!
    The bill came from the interim Revenue Stabilization & Tax Policy Committee. Harper was the chair and Cisneros the vice chair. Smith was a member.
    A general and understandable (by you and me) summary of what became HB 412 is found in the minutes of the committee’s final meeting, held Dec. 16. It said: “The elimination of most GRT deductions, exemptions and credits is a key part of the legislation and could vastly expand the tax base with a correspondingly lower sales tax rate…  the state sales tax rate would be around 2.5 percent, with an average total local and state rate of around five percent.”

  • N.M. warily studies Republican health overhaul plan

    SANTA FE (AP) — New Mexico’s health care sector and policy makers were warily studying a proposal Tuesday by U.S. House Republicans to replace the Affordable Care Act that has cut the state’s uninsured rate in half since 2013.
    Of particular concern were measures to reduce federal matching funds for newcomers to Medicaid health coverage starting in mid-2019, and link overall federal spending on Medicaid to a limited, per-beneficiary amount.
    Residents of New Mexico have flocked to enroll in Medicaid health care for the poor and disabled since Republican Gov. Susana Martinez agreed to expand the program to more low-income individuals. The uninsured rate in New Mexico has plummeted to 8.9 percent of the population, from 18.6 percent in 2013, according to state insurance regulators.
    Martinez, who cannot run for a third term in 2018, now favors repeal and replacement of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, while declining to comment Tuesday.

  • Lawmakers consider renewable energy tax credits

    BY REBECCA MOSS
    The New Mexican