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Today's News

  • Oil spill clean-up efforts underway

    GOLETA, Calif. (AP) — Cleanup crews fanned out Wednesday along a stretch of scenic California coastline stained by thousands of gallons of crude oil that spilled from a broken pipe and flowed into the Pacific Ocean.
    Workers from an environmental cleanup company strapped on boots and gloves and picked up shovels and rakes to tackle the gobs of goo stuck to sand and rocks along Refugio State Beach on the southern Santa Barbara County coast.
    The accident Tuesday happened on the same stretch of coastline as a 1969 spill, which was the largest ever in U.S. waters at the time and is credited with giving rise to the American environmental movement.
    Members of the International Bird Rescue organization were also on hand Wednesday to clean any birds that become covered with oil, though none were immediately spotted in the calm seas that produced small waves.
    Fan Yang, 26, of Indianapolis, stood on a bluff overlooking the beach, where the stench of petroleum was heavy.
    “It smells like what they use to pave the roads,” said Yang, who was hoping to find cleaner beaches in Santa Barbara. “I’m sad for the birds — if they lose their habitat.”

  • Foundation receives recognition

    The Los Alamos National Laboratory Foundation was the recipient of the 2015 Dennis J. Woywood Compañero Recognition from Quality New Mexico (QNM).
    LANL Foundation was nominated by Gene Schmidt, former Superintendent of Los Alamos Public Schools, for the work of Foundation Board Chair Dr. Bill Wadt in assisting the district with its continuous improvement process and application to the New Mexico Performance Excellence Awards.
    Quality New Mexico provides tools for businesses and organizations to successfully accomplish their mission and vision by driving performance excellence.
    The Dennis J. Woywood Compañero Recognition is awarded by QNM to organizations that partner with others to assist and guide them on their performance improvement journey.
    “We are proud to receive this award from Quality New Mexico. Many have helped the LANL Foundation on its journey towards excellence, and we are happy that Bill Wadt and his technical expertise could guide the Los Alamos Public Schools with their continuous improvement process,” said Jenny Parks, LANL Foundation CEO. “Bill’s volunteer work with the district aligns with the Foundation’s ‘pay it forward’ spirit. We hope to continue to lead by example and assist other organizations in a similar way in the future.”

  • Police release crime report

    The Los Alamos Police Department has released its annual report, which is packed with some revealing statistics that make for a fairly interesting snapshot of Los Alamos in 2014.
    The report is available online to the public through the department’s website, losalamosnm.us/police.
    While property crime continues to rise, and continued to rise into the first quarter of 2014 overall, Los Alamos remains one of the safest communities in the nation, according to the police department’s latest statistics.
    “The community continued to benefit from a relatively low crime rate, making Los Alamos County one of the safest communities in the nation,” said LAPD Chief Dino Sgambellone in the report. “While violent crime fell 37 percent to 28, total Part One crimes, property crime rose 17 percent to 179, largely due to vehicles and homes left unsecured. Our overall investigative clearance rate remained outstanding at 63 percent.”
    The 32-page report is fairly comprehensive, providing a clear window into how the department is working to reduce drug abuse and domestic violence.
    In 2014, the department organized a forum that helped make the public aware of just how extensive the abuse of illegal drugs and trafficking is in the community, especially among young people.

  • Governor to visit Aspen School Friday

    Gov. Susana Martinez and Secretary of Education Hanna Skandera will be at Aspen Elementary School Friday to kick off the governor's Summer Reading Challenge.
    Martinez and Skandera will be at the Aspen library at noon Friday to kick off the challenge.
    The Summer Reading Challenge is for all students ages 5-12.
     

  • Proposal still drawing controversy

    The Los Alamos County Environmental Sustainability Board holds the first of two public hearings on a possible ban on single-use plastic bags Thursday.
    The ESB first considered the issue in November 2014, when they approved a motion to “support a plastic bag ban, beginning with a petition and resulting a draft ordinance and with further discussion from the ESB.”
    A citizen petition with 153 signatures was presented to the Los Alamos County Council April 14.
    After considerable debate, council approved a motion that directed the Environmental Sustainability Board “to conduct two public meetings regarding an ordinance to ban or otherwise reduce the distribution of single use bags in Los Alamos County and to return to Council with options and/or a proposed ordinance.”
    Most of the councilors in favor of the motion argued that considering the number of signatories on the petition, further discussion on the issue was warranted. Councilors James Chrobocinski, Steve Girrens and Rick Reiss voted against the motion.
    The question of whether the county should impose a plastic bag ban was posted on Open Forum (losalamosnm.us/gov/Pages/PublicCommentForum.aspx#peak_democracy) April 23.
    When the forum closed Tuesday, 653 people had visited the site and 411 had responded to four questions posed.

  • Community briefs 5-20-15

    Bradbury part of Blue Star program

    The Bradbury is again partnering with the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families Foundation and the Department of Defense in the Blue Star Museums program to host active duty military personnel and their families from Memorial Day, May 25 through Labor Day Sept. 7.
    “We are excited and proud to be a part of the 2,000 museums throughout the United States participating in the Blue Star Museum program to thank our nation’s military personnel — and their families — for their service. The museum already has a free-admission policy, but we’re participating in this program to raise awareness of the importance of honoring members of the U.S. armed services, as we share our collective history,” said Bradbury Science Museum Director Linda Deck.
    Blue Star Museums are more than 2,000 museums nationwide that offer free admission to active duty military personnel, including National Guard and Reserve, as well as their families, from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
    For a full list of participating museums nationwide, visit arts.gov/bluestarmuseums.

    Puppy adoption set for this weekend

  • Memberships now avaiable for White Rock pool

    Piñon Park Pool has memberships available for the 2015 season. The pool, located at 104 Bryce Ave., has been a part of the White Rock community for 49 years.
    The pool offers three types of memberships based upon number of swimmers. A one-person membership cost $200 and includes five guest passes. A two-person membership is $325 plus 10 guest passes. A family membership is $450 guest packages and includes 20 guest passes.
    Current members who refer a new member will receive a $50 credit toward his or her 2016 assessment for each referral.
    The pool features a covered lounge area, tables and grill for picnic, a shaded kiddy pool area, play area and snack bar.
    It offers lane swimming, water aerobics and late night swims every Wednesday, as well as special theme night and other activities throughout the summer.
    On July 4, the pool will host a members-only party, including games and prizes for the kids, a diving contest and the famous greased watermelon contest between members and staff.
    Swim lessons are being held the weeks of June 8-12, June 22-26, July 6-10 and July 20-24 for all levels for both members and non-members.
    The cost is $30 per swimmer for members and $40 per swimmer for non-members. Private lessons are available upon request.

  • Music award recipients named

    The Rotary Deborah Beene Music Awards auditions last week at Fuller Lodge.  
    The committee of judges included Cindy Little, Charlene Cox-Clifton, Rotarians Brian Newnam, Mandy Marksteiner and Ed Van Eeckhout.  
    Nine students participated, with performances ranging from voice to strings, woodwinds to percussion.
    The winners were: First place, $1,200 — Michelle Yang, violin (teacher Kay Newnam). Second place, $800 — Caitlin Dahl, cello (teacher Dana Winograd). Third place tie, $300 each — Jennifer Necker, oboe (teacher Aaron Lewis). Catherine Runnels, soprano (teacher Nathan Salazar).
    The Deborah Beene account provided $1,000.
    Another $1,000 was given by the Rotary Club of Los Alamos and the remaining funds were provided through private donation.
    The Rotary Deborah Beene Music Awards program was established in the memory of Deborah Beene, daughter of Donald and Sara Beene, a violin and piano student who died in December 1973 while enrolled in school here. The awards are intended to assist students in their musical growth.
    The 9th-12th grade LAHS students may compete.

  • Capital outlay: Just another political football

    Odds were always slim that we’d see a special session to resuscitate the $264 million capital outlay bill.
    It’s just too close to 2016 elections, and the lost spending bill is too big an opportunity for political missiles.
    Every county had a stake in the game, and the business community made its wishes clear. The parties and the governor apparently had reached some meeting of the minds on capital outlay. Had they left it at that, we’d have a special session and the desired public spending. But the governor wanted a package of tax breaks.
    There are three rules about special sessions: Have an agreement ahead of time, keep it simple, and keep it short.
    Everyone wants capital outlay. The tax breaks are another matter.
    They passed the House but probably would have run into resistance in the Senate. In the last two sessions, I’ve seen a rising bipartisan awareness that continuing to scatter tax breaks like seeds in the wind is not necessarily in the state’s best interest.
    We don’t even know if the last batch of tax breaks worked.
    Even so, I don’t think the governor ever intended to call a special session. The Democrats divined that and both played the hands they held. You could see it in the scripted statements and equally scripted responses.

  • The cost of the war on coal

    About 60 demonstrators were waving signs in front of PNM headquarters the morning of the company’s 2015 Annual Meeting.
    Inside, behind a security cordon of nervous rent-a-cops, CEO Pat Collawn delivered the obligatory bland speech to a handful of local stockholders, while the bullhorn-led protestors four floors below chanted, “No nukes, no coal! Solar is the way to go!” and “Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho! Dirty coal has to GO!”
    A disclaimer to reveal my bias: I’m thrice-related to PNM.
    First, I’m a shareholder. If that conjures up visions of Rich Uncle Pennybags off the Monopoly box, think again. PNM is almost entirely owned by conservative mutual funds that pool the savings of millions of small investors.
    If your nest egg is tucked away with Fidelity or Vanguard, you may be a PNM owner, too.
    Second, I used to work there.
    Looking back over my long and checkered career, I can honestly say it was the best job I ever had. The company demanded a full day’s work for a day’s pay, but the money was good, at least by New Mexico standards, helping me put two kids through college.
    Finally, I’m a PNM customer. The monthly bill is higher than I’d like, and it’s going to be even stiffer if the company’s current request for a 12 percent rate hike is approved.