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Today's News

  • Food waste is money down the drain

    BY NATHANIEL SILLIN
    Practical Money Matters

  • Southwest Conservation Corps branches out in New Mexico

    On a fine April weekday we stopped outside Grants at El Malpais National Monument visitor center, one of our standard travel breaks. A group was lunching at the concrete tables under the ramada. Several wore bright jumpsuits. Their hardhats had a dark, rectangular insignia resembling, from a distance, the Caterpillar Inc. logo.
    Curious, I ambled over to visit.
    The logo was “SWCC” for Southwest Conservation Corps (sccorps.org), which turns out to have five offices around the region. The New Mexico locations are Acomita Lake, serving the Pueblo of Acoma, the Pueblo of Zuni and Gallup. The Colorado offices are the headquarters in Durango and in Salida.
    SWCC’s website lists 10 programs. In general the programs involve crews going to areas and doing all sorts of conservation work. The programs serve rural areas with one exception, the Barrio Corps in Albuquerque, a partnership with La Plazita Institute (laplazitainstitute.org).
    The Ancestral Lands program, based at the Pueblo of Acoma, has proven popular. Using the Acoma template, a Gallup office opened three years ago with a Zuni Pueblo office last year. A Hopi office is planned for this year.

  • LANL teams get DOE Secretary appreciation awards

    Three teams at Los Alamos National Laboratory were the recent recipients of the Department of Energy’s Secretary Appreciation Awards for their exceptional contributions to the agency’s mission.
    The laboratory’s Ebola Task Force, Cancer Moonshot team, and Technology Convergence Working Group were all recognized in January by then-Secretary Moniz and again in April during a ceremony hosted by Lab Director Charlie McMillan and Dimitri Kusnezov, NNSA’s chief scientist and senior advisor to the Secretary.
    The laboratory’s Ebola task force was part of a multiple-lab effort to use computer modeling to predict the spread of the 2014 Ebola outbreak. Whenever a disease outbreak occurs, the overall level and spread of disease is determined by a complex interplay of variables, including policy decisions. The U.S. government’s response to the Ebola outbreak reflected the importance of using the computer models to project the potential spread of the disease resulting from distinct policy choices  – which is what the modeling led by the Los Alamos team did.

  • Lawmakers urge gov. to reinstate funding

    SANTA FE — New Mexico lawmakers sought new ways Thursday to increase state tax revenues and shore up state finances, urging Republican Gov. Susana Martinez to reinstate vetoed funding to state universities and the Legislature.
    On the second day of a special session, lawmakers in the Democrat-dominated Legislature approved two bills to increase state tax revenue and help restore $765 million in funding that was vetoed by the governor.
    Without a budget agreement, all general-fund expenditures for the Legislature plus state colleges, universities and schools for the deaf and blind are scheduled to run out July 1.
    The Legislature sent bills to the governor Wednesday to reinstate a $6.1 billion state spending plan for the fiscal year starting July 1 and ending June 2018.
    Gov. Susana Martinez praised the efforts by lawmakers to balance the state budget for the coming fiscal year, though she intends to veto outright tax increases.
    The Republican governor issued a statement by email Thursday saying that she is “pleased that we were able to come to an agreement on the budget.”
    The Legislature is recessing for the long weekend after delivering a collection of tax proposals and other measures aimed at filling a budget shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year.

  • Rec bond vote fails

    The $20 million recreation bond did not pass muster with the those that voted in the mail-in ballot election.
    The final tally was 3,446 for and 3,932 against the recreation bond.
    A large turnout – 7,378 – voted in the election, making the total  slightly over 50 percent of the county, with the county getting back 7,383 ballots returned out of the 13,480 that were sent.
    The election began in early May and continued through May 23.
    Those for and against the $20 million bond came out in force, as the public carefully considered wether they wanted their property taxes to go toward funding five projects. The issue became so heated that the vote caused a shake up in the Los Alamos County Republican Party.
    To some county Republican Party officials, the people, did the right thing.
    “The people rejected the leadership of both parties in this case,” LARP Acting Chairman Lisa Shin said. “They voted consistently with the principle of fiscal responsibility.”
    She thought that going forward, the county and its council should do a reality check about what the bond vote means.
    “The county should focus on managing our existing facilities first,” Shin said. “The county needs to better manage the resources and the funds it already has,” Shin said

  • Local woman recounts brutal robbery, attack

    On the evening of May 12, an elderly woman in her 80s, who asked to remain anonymous, was robbed and beaten in the garage of her home.

    The incident began in the Smith’s parking lot in Los Alamos where an unknown woman came up to the victim, offered unsolicited help and then asked for some change.

    After opening the wallet to retrieve some coins, the woman was able to see the wallet’s contents, which contained cash. The victim was presumably followed home from the grocery store and approached by another woman while in her garage.

    This woman attacked the elderly victim, causing major bruising on her face and cuts within her mouth, and proceeded to run off with the victim’s purse.

    “I was so scared,” the elderly woman recalled. After lying on the ground for about 20 minutes, a good Samaritan happened upon her and offered assistance.

    That good Samaritan was Kiersten Haffey, a student working on artificial organ development at Los Alamos National Laboratory and who recently moved to the area in January.

    While she may be relatively new to Los Alamos, her actions a few weeks ago exemplify the qualities of a compassionate, caring citizen.

  • Pajarito Mountain set for Bike & Hike

    Pajarito Mountain will open its gates this weekend for the summer portion of its schedule, known as Bike & Hike Summer 2017.

    The summer schedule, which runs from the end of May to the end of September, includes 19 dates on which bikers and hikers can hit the slopes for an entirely different experience than they will find during the winter months.

    On Saturday, the mountain will open for the first time since its winter season ended in late March.

    From 1-6 p.m., the lifts usually reserved for skiing will be turning, taking bikers to the top of the mountain for an exhilarating ride.  

    In addition, hikers can take advantage of the lifts and explore the vast system of more than 30 trails set up for cross-country hiking.

    According to the Pajarito Mountain’s official website, this opportunity allows these adrenaline seekers to “discover 1,200 vertical feet of downhill, cross country and free ride trails.”

    While visitors are on site, they can take advantage of the Pajarito Mountain Café, which will be open for lunch from 11 a.m.- 2 p.m.

    Tickets will be available for purchase on-site. They will cost $25 for the day for those wishing to mountain bike, and $10 for those wishing to hike.

  • LA County GOP chair, vice chair resign after bond election

    The chair and vice chair of the Los Alamos County Republican Party abruptly resigned this week immediately after voters rejected the county’s recreation bond Tuesday.

    County Chair James Robinson resigned a few minutes after the polls closed. First vice chair James Chrobocinski resigned Tuesday or Wednesday morning.

    Second vice chair Lisa Shin is now acting chair of the county party.

    Robinson cited personal reasons for his resignation. Chrobocinski cited personal attacks against him and his family over his advocating for the bond funding as his reasons.

    “I believe there is too much hate and vitriol in politics today from both parties,” Chrobocinski said in a written statement to the Monitor Thursday. “Unfortunately, during this rec bond vote I had an incredible amount of personal attacks against me and my family.”

    Robinson said he resigned for more personal reasons.

    “My decision to resign was for personal reasons and had nothing to do with the rec bond,” Robinson said. “I was asked by both those for and against to wait until the bond was finished before resigning.”

  • The Latest: New Mexico Legislature approves gas tax hike

    SANTA FE (AP) —A tax hike on gasoline has been approved by the New Mexico Legislature despite opposition by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez.

    The state House and Senate gave final approval Thursday to tax increase on gasoline and diesel of 5 cents per gallon and a $55 registration fee on interstate freight trucks. Proceeds would help rebuild depleted general fund reserves and pay for road maintenance and construction.

    Martinez vetoed similar tax proposals in April and has vowed to do it again. She has denouncing gasoline taxes in particular as a burden on working families. All Republicans on the Senate committee voted against the tax increases.

    Lawmakers are trying to resolve a budget crisis linked to a downtown in oil prices and a weak local economy, and restore $765 million in state spending that was vetoed by the governor.

    A bill that would impose new taxes on online retail sales and nonprofit hospitals in New Mexico has also been approved by the Legislature for consideration by the governor.

    The state House and Senate gave their final approval Thursday to the budget-balancing measures. It was unclear whether Martinez would sign the bill.

  • Tax reforms sidelined by New Mexico Legislature

    SANTA FE (AP) — A proposal to overhaul New Mexico's sales tax has been blocked by Democratic lawmakers and will not be voted on during a special legislative session.

    A House panel on Thursday voted 6-5 along party lines to end consideration of the Republican-backed bill to do away with a variety of tax breaks and lower overall tax rates.

    Without the reforms, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has indicated she will not approve any other tax revenue increases. Democratic lawmakers say the tax reforms were drawn up hastily and could undermine state revenues without further study.

    Lawmakers are grappling over how to end a budget crisis linked to a downturn in oil prices and a weak local economy.

    Martinez last month rejected a variety of tax hikes, while vetoing $765 million in state spending for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

    The Democratic-led Legislature has approved bills to restore that funding to state universities and the legislative branch, using money from severance tax bonds to fill a budget shortfall. Many lawmakers say additional tax revenue increases are needed.