Today's News

  • ‘A window of joy’

    For the seventh year, the window of Village Arts on DP Road offers a touch of old-fashioned whimsy of the season, direct from the imagination of Diana Norwood.

    “I hope I give people a moment of joy,” she said.

    Norwood’s brainchild this year is inspired by “Jingle Bells” with a wintry scene – well-dressed dolls, teddy bears and other stuffed animals cavort through a snowy forest lit by holiday lights and cheerily decorated trees.

    Norwood of Los Alamos approached Ken Nebel, owner of Village Arts, shortly after the arts and crafts supply and custom-framing store moved from downtown Los Alamos to the eastside road, the home of a collection of stores, auto shops, the Los Alamos Monitor, and other commercial endeavors.

    “I said `you have a great, deep window and I’ve got goodies that might make a pretty decoration. If I can use the window, maybe we can bring people to the store,’” Norwood said.

    The tradition has taken on a life of it’s own.

  • Panel: Safety concerns remain at nuclear waste storage site

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A federal nuclear review panel still has some safety concerns about Los Alamos National Laboratory's new multimillion-dollar storage facility for radioactive waste.

    The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board said in a recent report that more reviews will be needed as operations ramp up but that limits placed on the amount of material and the types of containers allowed at the facility will provide adequate protection of public health and safety at least for the near term.

    The board noted in the report made public last week that eliminating or downgrading safety protocols at the lab's

    Transuranic Waste Facility "could result in a potential exposure" to the public or workers.

    The buildings that make up the $97.5 million facility were completed in early 2017 after several years of construction. Officials said the project came in under budget and they consider the report as positive.

    The facility was designed to store and prepare for shipping newly generated waste from nuclear weapons research as a means of meeting state-mandated cleanup requirements. The waste includes tools, clothing, gloves and other items that have come in contact with radioactive elements such as plutonium.

  • Utilities investigate cause of power outage


  • Calderon leads LAHS to victory

    Through two games, it appears the best word to describe the Los Alamos High School girls’ basketball team is resilient.

    Tuesday evening, in the team’s home opener, nothing came easy for the Hilltoppers. Yet for the second game in a row, the team found a way to get it done, defeating St. Michael’s High School 53-42.

    “It was an ugly win, but it was a win,” LAHS head coach Josh Archuleta said. “But we will take an ugly win over a loss any day.”

    Early on, it appeared that the Hilltoppers would have no issue defeating the Lady Horsemen as LAHS jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead on baskets by Becca Green and Susana Gallegos.

    But after that quick burst, the Horsemen climbed right back into the game, outscoring the Hilltoppers 10-2 the rest of the quarter and heading into the break with a 10-9 lead.

    “We came out hot initially, but after that we just let St. Michael’s hang around,” Archuleta said.

    The Hilltoppers responded well in the second quarter, as the rebounding and shooting improved. All game long, the inside presence of the Hilltoppers, led by Green and Natalie Gallegos, made the game difficult for St. Michael’s as every rebound was contested on both ends of the floor.

  • Businesses unsettled by DACA uncertainty


    Barring congressional intervention, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is ending, and DACA recipients — or “Dreamers” — are subject to deportation when their work permits expire if they didn’t get an extension before the Oct. 5 deadline.

    The demise of the program has created uncertainty among employers who are required to fire DACA recipients the day after their permits expire but risk discrimination charges if they act too soon to terminate — or even identify — DACA recipients on their payrolls.

    Companies risk fines for employing ineligible workers. They’re also advised to prepare carefully for this sudden change in circumstances for up to 800,000 young people whose parents brought them into the United States without proper documentation when they were children.

    A delicate question

    All employees, regardless of their citizenship status, must fill out an I-9 form and provide multiple forms of identification to verify their eligibility to work in the United States. Noncitizen workers carry papers that authorize them to work here temporarily; the paperwork includes a code that specifies the basis for the permit, but employers are discouraged from using the code to identify DACA recipients.

  • N.M. banks too small? Loan opportunities wanted

    Some banks are too small to succeed, suggests Joe Ricketts, founder of TD Ameritrade and presumably someone who knows his way around the financial world. Maybe “too small” means having assets under $10 billion, Ricketts wrote in the Oct. 30 Wall Street Journal.

    Presented with Ricketts’ observation, a senior executive of a New Mexico-based bank chuckled. He’s not talking about New Mexico, the banker said.

    Maybe Ricketts has a point. Consider: Wells Fargo Bank of San Francisco, headquartered near the Union Square shopping mecca, counts $8.5 billion of deposits in New Mexico. For the whole bank, the deposit total is around $1.3 trillion. At less than 1 percent of the company, New Mexico doesn’t make afterthought status.

    Wells’ New Mexico deposit total dropped $450 million between June 30, 2016, and June 30, 2017, according to the deposit market share report from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, a regulator. That loss is more than the total deposits of all but 15 banks doing business in New Mexico. Three of the 14 branches closed across the state during the period were Wells Fargo branches. The state had 473 branches as of June 30.

  • New airport manager finds old home in LA

    For native son and Los Alamos County’s newest airport manager, it’s good to be home.

    Cameron Humphres, who spent two years managing the Santa Fe Municipal Airport started work as the manager of Los Alamos Airport Nov. 6.

    “How awesome is it to serve the very community where you were born and that gave you the impetus to pursue aviation in the first place,” Humphres said.

    Though Humphres’s family moved to Albuquerque when he was just 3 years old, ties to his family kept him coming back to Los Alamos throughout his childhood.

    He has fond memories of going to the airport with his grandfather to watch the planes take off and land, as well as at Kirtland Air Force Base, when Humphres’ father was in the Air Force.  His grandfather pursued aviation as hobby, but came to work at Los Alamos National Laboratory during the early days of the Manhattan Project as an electrician.

    When Humphres was a B-1 pilot in South Dakota, he flew in a training program with Paul Tibbets Jr., the grandson of Paul Tibbets, the 509th Composite Group pilot who dropped the first atomic bomb in combat over Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945.

  • Sprucing Up Central Avenue
  • Regional coalition presses GRT tax issue with state

    The state legislature’s Revenue Stabilization and Tax Policy Committee agreed Tuesday something needed to be done to preserve the approximately $76 million in gross receipts tax paid through the Los Alamos National Laboratory to the state every year – but committee members just aren’t sure what.

    At Tuesday’s hearing, the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities pressed the issue, since it now seems more than likely a non-profit contractor may be the winning bidder for LANL’s management and operations contract.

    The University of California is interested in putting in a bid, and University of Texas System and Texas A & M University are also interested. Many of the contractors listed on the National Nuclear Security Administration’s website are non-profits.

    In New Mexico, non-profit organizations are exempt from paying gross receipts tax.

    The RCLC wants the state legislature to eliminate that exemption.

    According to the latest data provided by the regional coalition, $76 million in gross receipts tax was paid to the state in 2015. Los Alamos County received $34 million of those taxes, and the state received $41 million.

  • LAPD accreditation process to continue Tuesday

    After two years of working to meet the standards of a national accreditation organization, Los Alamos Police Chief Dino Sgambellone said his department is close.

    “We don’t think we’re perfect; we think we’re good overall, though,” the chief said this week.

    The department’s ability to comply with the standards of the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, or CALEA, will be the subject of a public discussion 5 p.m. Tuesday at the Los Alamos County Municipal Building, 1000 Central Ave. Members of the public, as well as department personnel, are invited to attend.

    CALEA assessors are scheduled to arrive at the department on Monday – the hearing is part of their work looking at the department.

    Accreditation to New Mexico standards has lapsed, the chief said.

    The topics addressed by CALEA’s standards, and how agencies go about meeting them, usually include written documentation or directions on best practices of police work. A set of the generic standards, with 484 requirements, is available for review at the Police Department.