Today's News

  • Water regulators making waves as water grab flows

    When three members of the Interstate Stream Commission resign abruptly, we need to pay attention.

    When they point fingers at the State Engineer, we need to be worried. The two agencies are our water watchdogs.

    The ISC oversees New Mexico’s participation in interstate stream compacts, protects and develops the state’s water and does water planning. The State Engineer regulates water rights and serves as ISC secretary.

    The ISC has withered with an exodus of staffers blamed on both State Engineer Tom Blaine and the administration’s budget cuts. It’s an open secret in the water world that Blaine wants the traditionally independent ISC under his thumb.

    Blaine meanwhile has opened the gate to the state’s biggest water grab.

    The ISC in recent months has lost its director, Colorado River bureau chief, special projects bureau chief, general counsel, acting general counsel, and Middle Rio Grande Basin manager. It has just two senior staffers left.

    When Blaine hired Deborah Dixon in early 2015, she was senior vice president at Bohannan Huston, a major engineering firm. “Ms. Dixon is an outstanding engineer who has valuable experience working in water projects in New Mexico,” Blaine said.

    Blaine fired Dixon in June without a word to commissioners.

  • Volleyball heads to Albuquerque tonight

    The Los Alamos Hilltopper volleyball team got neither the win it needed or the help it needed to move up from the District 2-5A basement to get a home match.

    Los Alamos fell in three sets to Capital Saturday and the Espanola Valley Sundevils defeated the Del Norte Knights, relegating the Hilltoppers to the No. 5 seed in the district tournament, which starts tonight.

    The Hilltoppers will take on Del Norte's Knights in Albuquerque this evening. The winner of tonight's match will meet Espanola Valley, which ended up third in the 2-5A standings, Tuesday night in the valley.

    Los Alamos finished the regular season with a record of 5-15 and won just one regular season district match. Del Norte took both contests between the two teams, winning six of the seven sets they played against each other.

  • Air Force officer says he was disciplined for his beliefs

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — An Air Force colonel said he was wrongly disciplined after refusing to sign a certificate of appreciation to the same-sex spouse of a retiring master sergeant.

    Leland Bohannon, who cited his religious beliefs for not signing the document, was relieved of his command of the inspection agency at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico following his decision in May.

    A superior officer also sent a letter recommending against his promotion after an Equal Opportunity complaint against him was substantiated, the Albuquerque Journal reported.

    The certificate is an unofficial document that’s traditionally given to the spouses of retiring military members, and it’s not legally required to be given.

    The First Liberty Institute, a religious liberties group, is representing Bohannon. The group is demanding that the complaint against Bohannon be reversed and that related unfavorable materials are removed from his service record.

    After Bohannon was asked to sign the certificate, he consulted with others on the base and he filed a religious accommodation request that would excuse him from the signing.

    The request was returned without action six weeks later, according to an appeal letter sent to the Air Force this month by the institute.

  • Science Says: Jack Frost nipping at your nose ever later

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Winter is coming ... later. And it’s leaving ever earlier.

    Across the United States, the year’s first freeze has been arriving further and further into the calendar, according to more than a century of measurements from weather stations nationwide. Scientists say it is yet another sign of the changing climate, and that it has good and bad consequences for the nation. There could be more fruits and vegetables — and also more allergies and pests.

    “I’m happy about it,” said Karen Duncan of Streator, Illinois. Her flowers are in bloom because she’s had no frost this year yet, just as she had none last year at this time either. On the other hand, she said just last week it was too hot and buggy to go out — in late October, near Chicago.

    The trend of ever later first freezes appears to have started around 1980, according to an analysis by The Associated Press of data from 700 weather stations across the U.S. going back to 1895 compiled by Ken Kunkel, a meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information.

  • Police Beat 10-29-17

    Police Beat items are compiled from public information contained in Los Alamos Police Department records.
    Charges or citations listed in the Police Beat do not imply guilt or non-guilt. The Los Alamos Police Department uses the term “arrest” to define anyone who has been physically arrested, served a court summons or issued a citation.

    Oct. 18
    Midnight – Police arrested Thea Medina, 39, Ranchitos, on an allegation that she was driving on a suspended license and had a warrant held by State Police out of Rio Arriba County. Police stopped the vehicle because it was speeding.

    Oct. 19
    12:51 p.m. – Police arrested an individual on an allegation of reckless driving.

    Oct. 20
    10:20 a.m. – Police reported an office observed Jaime Jose Castillo, 20, Los Alamos, driving through a parking lot, allegedly smoking marijuana. When stopped, police reported they found more of the substance in the vehicle.
    10:57 a.m. – Someone turned in a pellet gun for destruction to the Police Department.
    3 p.m. – Someone reported that they had been the victim of fraud when they received notice from a collection service for an overdue bill, for a television service they didn’t order.

  • Workers contaminated upgrading glovebox

    Workers in the plutonium facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory were hit with ariborne radioactive contamination Sept. 23 from a glovebox after they removed a plug in the box that let the contamination out into the room they were working in.
    Three workers were exposed, including one that was exposed to radiation on his chest. According to a report on the incident issued by the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, all the workers were tested.
    “Nasal smears were all determined to be negative and the workers were placed on special bioassay (tested and monitored),” the report read.
    They were unharmed by the accident, according to a LANL spokesperson Friday, who asked for his name not to be used.
    “The worker that received skin contamination was successfully and thoroughly decontaminated -- mostly by washing off the contamination with water,” the spokesperson said. “None of the three workers received any measurable dose, and there was no risk to the public. The facility’s safety systems worked as designed.”

  • Casados announces bid for fifth term

    Long-time Los Alamos Magistrate Pat Casados announced Friday she would be seeking a fifth term to the post.
    A Democrat, Casados said she’s decided to run for another four-year term with a hope that a new governor in the Roundhouse at the end of next year will help stick up for the state’s judiciary.

    “I want to be around to see what the next governor will do for the judiciary. We’ve got to have more support,” she said in an announcement on the pavement outside the Los Alamos Justice Center.

    Casados said she expects opposition – she has bested repeat opponent Greg Ahlers in the past.

    The judiciary, along with the executive branch and the Legislature, has faced budget cuts. Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, a former district attorney in Las Cruces, and lawmakers, have been criticized for their lack of support of the state’s third branch of government.

    Martinez ends her second term next year. The governor is limited to two, four-year terms. Magistrates do not face the same restriction. Casados was first elected in the early 2000s.

    Asked if there was a specific gubernatorial candidate she would support, Casados declined to say. Cuts to the judiciary have weakened programs originally intended to serve the public.

  • Death in a small town

    Ryan Barnes, 39, was someone’s brother, someone’s son.

    But he was an outcast – disfigured and damaged from a severe brain injury, a homeless alcoholic who forgot to take his medications and often had brushes with the law.

    Barnes of Los Alamos died Oct. 18 in Española in a stranger’s front yard. His sister, Christine Byers, 48, said she believes it was heroin that killed him, even though it wasn’t his drug of choice.

    He was her brother, even though they weren’t related by blood – her dad married Ryan’s mom.

    “When Ryan was normal he was a wonderful man, just full of energy and life. I’ll never forget that smile,” she said, speaking through her tears.

    When he was drinking, his behavior was aggressive and violent. He had several run-ins with the law in Los Alamos, faces charges of trespass and burglary. In 2015 he was charged with indecent exposure after allegedly dropping his pants in front of a glass window at a local wine bar, filled with patrons. He pleaded “no contest,” and was sentenced to a treatment facility in Santa Fe, but was seen around town a month later.

    Some people looked at him, as he walked around Los Alamos, as someone to fear because of his appearance and reputation.

  • Man lures underage girl with Neflix login

    A 24-year-old Washington state man waived his right to a preliminary hearing on Friday on allegations that he swapped a login to a Netflix account for pornographic selfies of a 15-year-old Los Alamos girl, then sent a few of his own.

    Charges against Tyson Collins of Centralia, Washington, include solicitation of a child with an electronic device, causing a child to engage in sexual exploitation, criminal sexual communications with a child and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

    The charges will be heard in District Court.

    Collins appeared briefly in Los Alamos Magistrate Court Friday to waive the first hearing on the charges, which are fourth degree felonies.

    The charges stem from a report by the 15-year-old girl and her father, who said the girl came in contact with Collins in mid June on an app called Whispers. The girl had sent a message that she wanted a Netflix login, according to court documents.

    Collins allegedly responded, saying at first that the girl could have access to his Netflix and Hulu accounts for $100, but that he also wanted to see a photo of her.  She sent him a photo, although she wondered why he wanted it, according to the documents.

  • Community Calendar 10-27-17

    Trick–or–Treat on MainStreet will haunt downtown Los Alamos again on from 4-6 p.m. During the event, Main Street and Central Avenue, from 15th to 20th Streets, are closed to auto traffic and become a safe pedestrian area where local businesses and organizations distribute candy to costumed families. At 4 p.m., LAHS Olions will present live statues; 4:30 p.m. performance by High Flyers; 5 p.m. performance by Dance Arts Los Alamos; 5:30 p.m. Pet Costume Parade.

    Knights of Columbus Haunted House from 6-10 p.m. at 104 DP Road. Cost is $6 for adults, $4 for kids, under age 4 are free.

    Pajarito Prewpub and Grill Costume Party with live music by the Bus Tapes from 8 p.m.-midnight. Ages 21 and older.

    Los Alamos Teen Center Halloween Party.

    Sugar Skull Painting Event from 6:30-9 p.m. at UnQuarked Wine Room.

    High Tech Halloween from 4-6 p.m. at the Bradbury Science Museum.

    Gentle Walks
 at 9 a.m. at the Nature Center. A gentle walk for which the emphasis is on discovery, not mileage gained. Free.
    Acid Canyon Clean-up Day
from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Join the County’s Open Space Specialist and other volunteers to clean up the leftover fencing below the nature center in Acid Canyon. Free. More information at peecnature.org.