Today's News

  • Food contractor reports to school board

    The company that feeds your children while they’re at school made an in depth presentation at a recent school board meeting.
    Some of the details of their operation may surprise you.  
    Southwest Food Excellence LLC took over from Summit Food Service about a year ago.
    Based out of Scottsdale Arizona, the company has recently been setting up accounts in New Mexico. Los Alamos was one of the first.
    On hand for the presentation were Ian Tillotson, associate director of regional operations, Chris Odom, regional manager, Sarah Worden, director of compliance, Diane Catlin, vice president of finance and Joe Palmer, director of sales.
    According to Palmer, the company does not specialize in supplying food to any other institution except schools.
    “There are some other companies that work in higher education, there are some that work in prisons and health care, all we do is K through 12,” Parker said, adding that SFE also specializes in providing a fresher and healthier line of food, preferring to go through local distributors whenever possible. He also said they also like to work with school principals on creating special menus for holidays as well as recycling and composting programs.

  • Trinity Capital to pay 1.5 million in federal penalties

    The Los Alamos National Bank and its parent company, Trinity Capital Corporation, have agreed to pay $1.5 million in fines. In exchange, the Securities and Exchange Commissio will drop the charges it levied against the bank and Trinity for accounting fraud.

    “Without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings, Trinity agreed to provide ongoing cooperation and to pay a $1.5 million penalty, which takes into account the company’s significant remedial measures and cooperation during the investigation, The SEC said in a written statement.

    According to the SEC, Trinity underreported the net losses to its shareholders by $30.5 million. SEC officials said the company reported its 2011 income as $4.9 million, when actually the bank suffered a $25.6 million loss.

    In its investigation of the bank and Trinity Capital, the SEC directly blamed William Enloe, Trinity Capital’s CEO at the time, former chief credit officer Jill Cook and former lending officer Mark Pierce.

    The SEC’s complaint also blames Trinity’s former CFO Daniel Bartholomew and vice president of internal audit Karl Hjelvik for not installing proper internal auditing controls and failing “to ensure the bank’s books and records were reasonably accurate.” 

  • Police hire animal control officer

    Though Alysha Lenderman, the Los Alamos Police Department’s public service aide, was just sworn in to the Los Alamos Police Department, she certainly isn’t new to helping our animal friends. In fact, according to LAPD Deputy Chief Jason Wardlow-Herrera, it was her past experience and passion for helping the animals that secured her the job.
    “Her education, passion, dedication and experience all showed during her interview. It was a hands down decision to bring her on board. She will be a great asset to this community and our organization,” Wardlow-Herrera said.
    At the swearing in, Wardlow-Herrera also mentioned the testimonies of others who worked with her, including Chuck Hodges, a certified trainer of rescue dogs and president of the East Mountain Search and Rescue in Moriarity who said her training skills were “the best he’d ever seen” according to Wardlow-Herrera.

  • County asks residents to support property clean up efforts

    Staff in Los Alamos County’s Building Safety Division, in partnership with the Los Alamos Fire Department, are urgently asking citizens to help address property-related issues such as weed overgrowth, excessive rubbish, and rodent issues being found on private properties around the county.
    With plentiful summer rainfall, weed growth on private property — especially along sidewalks — is at an all-time high.
    County crews are busy addressing excessive vegetation along county right-of-ways as expeditiously as possible.
    Property owners can help the county ensure a safe, continuous sidewalk path for school children and other pedestrians by trimming back their own vegetation growing onto or overhanging the sidewalks adjacent to their private property.
    In past years, trimming vegetation, while desirable, was not enforced. Due to changes in the County code last year, specifically chapter 18, section18-42 parts (a), (b), and (d), it is no longer optional for a property owner to fail to address excessive vegetation growth onto or above a public right of way.
    In summary, the county code states that all weeds, brush piles, refuse and rubbish on a property are a nuisance, weeds are not to exceed 18 inches, and that sidewalks must be kept clear of encroaching vegetation and overhanging branches.

  • Bandelier raising park fees in January

    Starting on Jan. 1, Bandelier National Monument will increase entrance fees for visitors in order to fund maintenance and improvement projects within the park, park officials announced Tuesday. The fees have not been updated since 2006, according to Bandelier Superintendent Jason Lott.
    The cost for a seven-day vehicle pass will be $20, a seven-day individual or bike pass will be $10, a seven-day motorcycle pass will be $15. An annual pass will be $40.   
    Camping fees at Bandelier will still cost $12 per night. The park will continue to honor all interagency passes for seniors, military, “access,” “Every Kid In A Park,” and volunteers. The cost of interagency senior and annual passes will not change.
    Entrance fees support a wide range of projects that maintain park facilities, preserve park resources, and improve visitor experience and safety. At Bandelier, these include improvements in the campgrounds, communications and signage, maintaining, supporting, and improving the shuttle bus program, continuing and improving existing park programs and events.
    —Staff Report

  • Schools in search of public input

    The Los Alamos School Board is in the midst of making a decision that could have a major impact on area children’s future, and parents’ input is invited. The school board is seeking feedback on how it should spend the public’s money when it comes to improving infrastructure.
    The school board is seeking input now in preparation for an $11 million bond election, scheduled for February 2017. Because three of the district’s schools are prime candidates for 43 percent in matching funds from the state that can be used toward infrastructure, the Los Alamos Public Schools Administration also plans on applying for those funds in 2016.
    However, the district, due to the limitations of the bond election and state funding, can only take care of one school at a time, so the district is holding public hearings as well as seeking the public’s input through other means to determine which school it should be.
    The schools in question are Barranca Mesa Elementary School, Piñon Elementary School and Chamisa Elementary School. The next public meetings will be Oct. 15 at Pinon Elementary and Oct. 19 at Chamisa Elementary. The meetings will be from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

  • Senate vote propels stopgap spending bill; more votes loom

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate is on track to pass a spending bill to prevent the government from shutting down this week over the opposition of the most hardline conservative Republicans.

    Tuesday's expected vote comes after a 77-19 tally on Monday easily beat a token filibuster threat. The House is then expected to approve the measure — stripped of a tea party-backed measure to take taxpayer funding away from Planned Parenthood in exchange for keeping the government open — before Wednesday's midnight deadline.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is under fire from tea party conservatives who demand that he fight harder against Planned Parenthood even at the risk of a government shutdown, but McConnell is more concerned with protecting his 2016 re-election class.

    Last week, Democrats led a filibuster of a Senate stopgap measure that would have "defunded" Planned Parenthood. Eight Republicans did not support that measure, leaving it short of a simple majority, much less the 60 votes required to overcome the filibuster.

    "This bill hardly represents my preferred method for funding the government, but it's now the most viable way forward after Democrats' extreme actions forced our country into this situation," McConnell said Tuesday.

  • Minor fixes vs. bond issue

    According to the Los Alamos School Board and the state’s Public School Facilities Authority, there are many reasons why three of the Los Alamos Public Schools’ Elementary Schools may qualify for 43 percent in matching construction funds from the Public School Facilities Authority. All three schools are more than 50 years old, and are deteriorating in many areas.
    Schools that are candidates for reconstruction or redesign include: Barranca Mesa Elementary School, Piñon Elementary School and Chamisa Elementary School.
    According to the PSFA’s  funding priorities list, Barranca Elementary School is ranked 37th, Chamisa Elementary School is ranked 70th and Pinon Elementary is ranked 75th.
    Here’s what needs to be done to each school just to keep them open, according to a fact sheet published by the school board:

    Barranca  PSFA Rank 37
    Roofing replacement (Sections 100-200-300, kindergarten)         $1.3 million

  • ABCs of recycling – Los Alamos ‘doing it right’

    Did you know that if you can fit it in your recycling bin and close the lid, you can recycle your vacuum? Hair blowers, broken toys, cereal boxes and those cardboard six-pack cases can all be recycled in Los Alamos.
    That is thanks to Friedman Recycling in Albuquerque, the company that processes the county’s recycled materials.
    Citizens and board members learned some of the ins and outs of recycling from Friedman Sales Associate Mike Smith at the Sept. 17 Environmental Sustainability Board meeting.
    Friedman, which also has facilities in Phoenix, Tucson and El Paso, has a state-of-the art, 90,000-square-foot facility with enough capacity to “literally recycle anything the State of New Mexico can generate.” According to Smith, it is the only recycling center of its kind in the state.
    Friedman is processing approximately 5,000 tons of recycling a month. Under normal conditions, operators can run 30 tons an hour through that facility.
    The company employs between 45 and 75 people – depending on demand – who operate the machines and also hand sort the recycling at various stages.
    Smith illustrated the workings of the recycling apparatus and explained how the wrong material can literally clog the machinery.

  • LA. wine patron arrested on charge of indecent exposure

    On Sept. 9, police responded to a disturbance call at Unquarked, a wine tasting establishment in Central Park Square. There, they observed Ryan Barnes, 37, outside the business. A talk with the owner revealed that Barnes had allegedly been disruptive while inside Unquarked, and was asked several times to leave.
    When he did leave, he allegedly dropped his pants in full view of the window, exposing his genitals to the store’s owner and the patrons inside the store. Upon making contact with Barnes, police said he was extremely intoxicated.
    Barnes was charged with indecent exposure and disorderly conduct. He was also trespassed from the business, though Barnes allegedly refused to sign the trespass order.