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Today's News

  • Dry winter could stress Arizona’s ponderosa pines

    FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Northern Arizona has missed out on a white Christmas, and if the lack of snowfall continues, scientists say there will likely be more far-reaching effects on the region’s pine trees.

    Without enough winter moisture, scientists tell the Arizona Daily Sun, the trees will be more susceptible to bark beetles and disease, all of which lead to tree mortality.

    “This is super dry for us, so if it continues there’s going to be a lot of concerns I’m sure,” said John Anhold, a forest entomologist with the U.S. Forest Service.

    The latest drought maps show drought and abnormally dry conditions have taken hold of significant portions of the Four Corners region of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah. With the exception of Colorado, the other states are worse off now than they were at this same time last year.

    For Flagstaff, the below-normal precipitation expected for this winter will also affect the city’s water sources and supply balance going into next year, while the dry weather has already been a game-changer for prescribed fire operations this fall.

    On the Coconino National Forest alone, it has allowed crews to do low-intensity understory burns on about 50 percent more acreage than normal, said Victor Morfin, the forest’s fuels specialist.

  • Community Calendar 12-27-17

    TODAY
     Los Alamos Big Band “A Christmas Dance” performance at 7:30 p.m. at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church Parish Hall, 3700 Canyon Road. Cost is $15 per adult, $10 per student and $5 for children under 12. Event benefits Immaculate Heart of Mary youth.

    The public is invited to a book talk about “The Decadence of Delphi” by author and Los Alamos High School graduate Kristin Heineman at 7 p.m. in the Upstairs Rotunda at Mesa Public Library, 2400 Central Ave. The talk is part of the monthly Authors Speak series put on by the Los Alamos County Library System.
    SATURDAY
    Feature Film: Incoming!
at 2 p.m. at the Nature Center. Discover what impacts from above can teach us about the history of our planet, the Solar System, and the Universe! Cost is $6 for adults, $4 for children. More information at peecnature.org.
    SUNDAY
    Nature Yoga and Trail Run
at 11:45 a.m. at the Nature Center. Practice yoga with Christa Tyson at the nature center, where you have a great view of nature. Optional: Arrive at 10:30 a.m. to join Christa for a pre-yoga run. Admission: yoga or run for $7/$5 for members; yoga and run for $12/$8 for members. More information at peecnature.org.

  • Nobody gains by hiding the truth

    The Washington Post published this editorial on the Department of Health and Human services instructing some of its divisions to avoid certain words or phrases in official documents that are being drafted for next year’s budget:

    Words are power. Whether used to twist or reveal, language matters, especially that used by the people who govern a nation devoted to free speech. This is why it was such a shock to hear the Department of Health and Human Services instruct some of its divisions, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to avoid using certain words or phrases in official documents being drafted for next year’s budget. It sounds like thought police at work.

    If that judgment seems harsh, consider what happens in China, where thought police really exist. China routinely censors articles containing politically sensitive words such as “Taiwan,” ‘’Tibet” and “cultural revolution” from publications because it does not want its people to think about them. Writing about democracy could lead to trouble in Belarus, Cuba or Vietnam, too. In Russia, words that refer to gays positively can trigger a penalty. In Saudi Arabia, a blogger, Raif Badawi, sits in jail for his online appeal for a more liberal and secular society.

  • WESST wraps banner year; new programs expected in 2018

    BY DAMON SCOTT
    Finance New Mexico

    WESST, the statewide nonprofit best known for consulting and training programs that support entrepreneurs and small businesses, hit a milestone in 2017: It made its largest loan ever.  WESST loaned $150,000 to Dinéland Protection Services Inc. of Fruitland to help the company launch the security services it provides to the Navajo coal mine on the Navajo Nation.

    While the bulk of WESST’s services focus on one-on-one consulting and deep-dive business workshops, WESST also wants to make sure its clients have the funds needed to grow their businesses. Kim Blueher, vice president of lending at WESST, said the loan program is about 10 percent of the overall services they offer, but it makes a significant impact.

    “A lot of people think money is going to fix their problems,” said Blueher. “They come in the door or call thinking they want and need a loan. But we look at their situation and do a more holistic analysis. Many times, they aren’t ready for a loan. We work to prepare them a little better,” she said.

  • NM missile range records nearly 5,500 missions in 2017

    WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE, N.M. (AP) — A southern New Mexico missile testing range has logged nearly 5,500 missions this year.

    Those missions include firing missiles and rockets, laser tests and training in F-16 fighter jets on 3,200 square miles of the White Sands Missile Range.

    Test center commander Col. Eric Rannow says the missions allow the U.S. military to be prepared at all times with cutting-edge technology.

    The U.S. Air Force sponsored almost 1,615 training missions this year, with 458 of those involving the fighter jets.

    One of the biggest jobs at the missile range is ensuring that weapons work in the conditions where the military needs them. That means testing in nuclear environments and in varying temperatures.

    The test center also has taken missions on the road, doing tests in Europe and the Pacific Ocean.
     

  • New Mexico considers new nominating system for regents

    By MORGAN LEE, Associated Press

    SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico would change the selection process for regents who oversee the state's public universities and flagship medical center under a newly proposed constitutional amendment.

    Democratic Sen. Jeff Steinborn of Las Cruces and Republican Sen. Mark Moores of Albuquerque hope to ensure a broader initial search for qualified and energetic candidates to oversee the state's major public universities by creating bipartisan nomination committees. The committees would provide a list of candidates for the governor to choose from when nominating university regents.

    Steinborn said the current nominating system emphasizes loyalty to the governor and the governor's policies over prior experience in higher education and accountability to local communities.

    "We've got a lot of talented people serving on the boards of regents," Steinborn said on Tuesday. "We've also got people who don't necessarily bring a lot to the table other than support for the governor."

    New Mexico's public university system recently has been wrestling with declining overall enrollment, steep cuts in state funding and the erosion of in-state student scholarships linked lottery proceeds.

  • 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.