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Today's News

  • A fine day to be a horse
  • Deadly New Mexico shootings, politics make headlines

    BY SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN
    Associated Press

    ALBUQUERQUE — Two deadly shootings in opposite corners of the state and a crime rampage that left five people dead across northern New Mexico are among the stories that made headlines in 2017.

    It marked another year in which violence spurred as many questions as calls for prayer and change as New Mexicans searched for answers.

    In Clovis, parents, children and others hid as gunfire erupted inside the public library on Aug. 28. The shooting left two dead and four others, including a 10-year-old boy, seriously wounded.

    The suspect, 16-year-old Nathaniel Jouett, pleaded not guilty to numerous charges. According to court records, he told investigators he was angry and initially intended to target his school.

    About three months later in northwestern New Mexico, shots rang out inside Aztec High School. Two 17-year-old students were killed before the 21-year-old gunman killed himself.

    Authorities say evidence left behind by William Atchison, a former student, indicated he carefully planned the attack and complained about work and life.

    In June, police say Damian Herrera killed his mother, stepfather and brother before killing a man who stopped to help him when he ran out of gas and another man he encountered hours later at a gas station.

  • N.M. delegation pushes for ‘modular system’

    U.S. Sens. Tom Udall, Martin Heinrich and Congressman Ben Ray Luján are highly critical of a yet to be released NNSA Analysis of Alternatives study they say gives short shrift to Los Alamos National Laboratory’s plutonium pit manufacturing program. 

    They sent a letter Dec. 18 to Energy Secretary Rick Perry voicing their concerns, saying the study used flawed data that favors moving the plutonium pit manufacturing operations to Savannah River Site.

    Los Alamos is the only nuclear facility in the Department of Energy’s nuclear enterprise that has a plutonium pit manufacturing facility. The pits, which are about the size of a softball, are used in the triggering mechanisms of various types of nuclear weapons in the nation’s nuclear stockpile.

    “The evaluation process undertaken by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) that led to this report was deeply flawed from the start and the results fail to support any reasonable alternative,” their letter said.
    The northern New Mexico delegation said the study’s failure was basing its decision on a building process that fell out of favor years ago.

  • Hermann, Ortega make career changes

    Two prominent Los Alamos community members made some big moves last week.

    Ryn Hermann, who worked as the communications director for the Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation, was hired to be the director of the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce. She will start Jan. 4. The corporation made the announcement Dec. 20.

    United Way of Northern New Mexico Executive Director Kristy Ortega officially announced that she had stepped down as executive director Dec. 5. She also officially announced her decision Dec. 20.

    Patrick Sullivan, executive director of the Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation, said the process to find someone to fill the position was a lengthy one, but when it came right down to it, Hermann was the right fit for the job.

    “Our finalist pool was very strong, but, ultimately we felt Ryn was the top choice,” Sullivan said. “Her knowledge of the organization, the community, and her strong communication skills made a great choice. We’re excited to have her bring her enthusiasm and creativity to the Chamber.”

    Besides being the corporation’s communications director, Hermann also served the chamber as creative district curator.

  • New Mexico still missing out on winter precipitation

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — There has been no measureable rain or snow in New Mexico's most populous city in over 80 straight days, and the National Weather Service says the forecast is calling for another week of dry weather.

    If the trend holds, forecasters say Albuquerque could finish in the top five longest periods without precipitation since record-keeping started more than a century ago.

    The city's record of 109 days was set back in 1902.

    Eastern New Mexico is also dry, as Roswell is not far behind with nearly 70 consecutive days without precipitation. Forecasters say that by Thursday and Friday, most areas of the state will see temperatures 5 to 15 degrees above seasonal averages.
     

  • Mexican spotted owl population holds steady on LANL property

    Los Alamos National Laboratory released it’s annual survey earlier this month of three endangered species that live within the 38-square-mile boundaries of its property.

    The species surveyed included the Mexican spotted owl, the Jemez Mountains salamander and the southwestern willow flycatcher.

    The 2017 survey found that a pair of Mexican spotted owls is living and breeding in Threemile Canyon and there is at least one Mexican spotted owl in Mortandad Canyon. There may also be siblings living in Acid Canyon, according to the survey.

    The 2016 survey showed just the opposite situation, with breeding owls in Mortandad Canyon and non-breeding owls living in Threemile Canyon.

    Surveyors located the owls by playing a recording of the owl’s four-note location call and listening for a response. Surveyors spent at least 20 minutes at each station listening for a call.

    In the last three years, lab employees planted around 150 native plants in four areas in Mortandad Canyon to further protect the owl.

    The last time a Jemez Mountains salamander was spotted on LANL property was 2015, in Los Alamos Canyon, according to the survey. There has not been any sightings of the salamander for two years.

  • Poll: Most say sex misconduct victims are underprotected

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Most Americans say sexual misconduct is a major problem and that too little is being done to protect victims, according to a new poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. But some – particularly Republican men – are concerned about the rights of the accused.

    The sheer speed with which an accusation of sexual misconduct can sink a career rattles some men, and not just Republicans. Bart Cassida, a 40-year-old Democrat from Indiana, said he tends to believe the accusers. But he’s concerned about employers “immediately dismissing people without proper investigation.”

    “People think that men don’t mind being that kind of guy,” someone physically assertive with women, said Dan Lee, 65, a Palm Springs, California, Democrat who retired after a four-decade career in computer science. “I think that’s wrong ... men are concerned with their reputations.”

    The poll shows that nearly 6 in 10 Americans think there is too little protection for the rights of people who have been victims of workplace sexual misconduct. By contrast, just 37 percent think there’s too little protection for people accused of sexual misconduct, 35 percent think there’s the right amount and 26 percent think there’s too much.

  • Power outage strikes LAMC

    The Los Alamos Medical Center lost power at 1 p.m. Friday when an aging underground electrical line connecting two switch boxes on the hospital property failed.

    At the time of the power failure, LAMC immediately switched to a backup generator to supply power to the site.

    A hospital official, who preferred to speak on background and not give a name, said the emergency generators are working and everything that needed to function was functioning.

    Power was restored by 4 p.m. when Department of Public Utilities crews installed  temporary bypass, according to BPU Executive Assistant Jaime Kephart.

    At the site of the line failure, workers created a temporary fix by linking the two switch boxes with an above ground cable. They plan to dig up and replace the underground line sometime next week, Kephart said.

    Areas that were critical for hospital operations were receiving priority.  Areas that weren’t important, like the visitor’s lobby, were not supplied with power during the outage. 

    Customers visiting LAMC didn’t seem to mind, or notice.

    When asked about the power outage, one customer said it was no problem.

  • Businesses irked over Deacon St. delay

    Representatives of the Los Alamos County Commerce Development Corporation expressed their disapproval over what they said is a crucial component to the county’s plans to revitalize downtown Los Alamos.

    Known as the Deacon Street Improvement Project, the plan was to create an open, European-style market center on the street. The street is located between 15th and 20th Street in downtown Los Alamos. Businesses on the street include CB Fox Department Store and el Parasol Restaurant.

    It was delayed when County Council opted Dec. 5 to put the funding for that project into funding a $6.4 million multi-generational pool at the Larry R. Walkup Center. Council had allocated $2 million for the Deacon Street project. It was scheduled for 2019.

    The project passed with the caveat that the Deacon Street project would be funded in 2020.

    To LACDC Executive Director Patrick Sullivan said that was not good enough.
    He said if he and other members of the business community would have known, they would have been at the meeting to discuss it.

  • Council gets look at draft tourist plan

    Los Alamos County Council had some hard questions for a consultancy firm Tuesday charged with creating a tourism plan for the county. 

    At Tuesday’s county council meeting, Design Workshop Chief Executive Officer Becky Zimmerman presented a draft of the plan.

    Goals of the plan include marketing Los Alamos County to the community. 

    Councilor Antonio Maggiore told Zimmerman and council that parts of the marketing plan will be difficult to implement.

    “In your PowerPoint presentation you say enhance the opportunity to make a good impression. Fundamentally that has to be the people that tourists bump into on the streets,” Maggiore said.

    Maggiore said he didn’t think that would work out too well. He wanted to see more on how the general mindset of the community could be changed.

    “A lot of our citizens feel we don’t want to be known about, we like being a secret, and the easiest way to be a secret is to be rude to people on the street,” Maggiore said.

    Zimmerman said that change in mindset would eventually come through “leadership, accomplishments and messaging.”

    She talked about a real estate transfer fee buyers pay to the town of Breckenridge, Colorado. The town uses the fees to invest in recreation and art projects.