Today's News

  • Sparks fly with discussion of charter school

    A Los Alamos Schools board member who urged the district’s superintendent to support a charter school initiative during a private meeting drew criticism from fellow board members on Tuesday.

    Board chair Jenny McCumber and other board members told board member Bill Hargraves that his activities with a committee organizing to establish Polaris Public Charter School – including a meeting with Superintendent Kent Steinhaus – could appear as a conflict of interest.

    The board met Tuesday night for a regularly scheduled meeting, and nearly 90 minutes of the four-hour meeting was taken up with discussion regarding Hargraves’ interactions with Steinhaus.

    Hargraves defended his actions, saying that his presence on the charter school’s organizing committee was as a private citizen.

    He added that he had been a long-time supporter of allowing “student families” to have option in Los Alamos.
    However, fellow board members tried to convince him that as a publicly elected member of a board overseeing Steinhaus, and his employment, he shouldn’t be meeting privately with the superintendent regarding a matter of his personal preference.

  • Lab, county assure safety of drinking water

    Los Alamos County officials and the Department of Energy’s Environmental Management office issued a statement Monday assuring residents of the safety of the county’s drinking water.

    Public concern was raised over early November press reports stating that Los Alamos National Laboratory officials weren’t sure of the extent of a decades-old toxic chemical spill in Mortandad Canyon.

    The revelation was reportedly made at a hearing held between state lawmakers and LANL officials about the status of a toxic chemical cleanup operation in Mortandad Canyon. The spill is decades old and involves hexavalent chromium, an anti-corrosive agent that was flushed regularly into the canyon from the cooling towers of a LANL power plant from the early 1950s into the mid 1970s.

    The chemical is known to cause cancer in humans.

    LANL has been working to contain the spill, which is thousands of feet underground and threatens a regional aquifer, from reaching drinking water wells in Los Alamos County and the San Ildefonso Pueblo.

  • Scouts, letter carriers celebrate food drive’s 20th year Saturday

    This year, the Boy Scouts, Cubs Scouts and the Venture Scouts will team up Saturday with the Atomic City Letter Carriers to help collect food for people who are struggling in Los Alamos.

    Started nearly 20 years ago, the food drive has become an institution that thousands of residents participate in every year.

    Cub Scouts will be on hand outside of the Smith’s stores in Los Alamos and White Rock with a list of items if customers would like to donate a can of food or some other non-perishable item to the cause.

    Most of the donations go to LA Cares, the local food pantry. But it doesn’t stop there.

    Residents have already received a blue card from the Atomic City Letter Carriers, the Los Alamos mail carriers union, in the mail, asking to set out donations out by their mailboxes between 10 a.m.-2 p.m. tomorrow for the Boy Scouts to pick up. All goods collected Saturday day from Smith’s and participating neighborhood will be processed and repackaged at the Crossroads Bible Church.

    This year, LA Cares hopes to feed just over 200 people with the donations.

    The drive helps the scouts, too. By giving to others, the scouts learn how to help those who are going through hard times. It also teaches them civil responsibility.

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  • Citizens oppose LAPS immigrant student policy at board meeting

    The Los Alamos Public Schools board heard from more people opposed to its proposals to protect immigrant students’ privacy this week.

    Opponents called the measures political posturing and attempts to turn the district into a “sanctuary” school district where children will flock for a good education, during a board meeting on Tuesday.

    Two people also spoke in favor of the measures.

    Board members took up a second reading of a draft policy and regulations that among other measures, prohibits Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, unless they have a warrant, from entering school property without the permission of the superintendent.

    “When did ICE last come to the school? I’m sure the liberal media would have blown it up,” said Greg White, a resident of Los Alamos, during a public comment period.

    The board met at its monthly meeting on Tuesday, and also took up first readings of other policies and regulations that would be impacted by the proposal, such as student records and non-discrimination.

    Board members also disagreed among themselves.

  • Young Hilltopper basketball team ready to roll

    This season, the Los Alamos High School girls’ basketball team is out to prove that the phrase “practice makes perfect” really is true.

    After finishing with a disappointing 6-21 record last year under first-year head coach Josh Archuleta, the team instituted an entirely new offseason training regimen.

    It was aimed at improving the chemistry of the team and bringing out all of the players’ best qualities on the court.

    Archuleta believes that goal was accomplished.

    “The strengths on this roster have been proven throughout the summer,” Archuleta said. “We played more than 30 games during the summer, and never stopped working preseason.”

    Archuleta believes that the team has a stronger sense of cohesion than last year, and that the results of that have shown on the court in practice this month.

    “We are the type of basketball team that is very unselfish,” Archuleta said. “We aren’t prideful in terms of individual pride. We are prideful in terms of team pride. If the team wins, we all win.”

    The players seem to share that sentiment, with several of them saying they have a different feeling about this season than in previous years.

  • Nuclear oversight included in defense spending bill

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — A measure aimed to bolstering oversight of the nation's nuclear weapons complex has been passed by Congress as part of a $700 billion defense spending plan.
    U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico say their amendment to the massive military budget bill addresses the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board. The independent panel oversees two national laboratories in the state and the federal government's only underground nuclear waste repository.
    The measure requires board members to report to Congress each year about whether the White House's budget request for the board is enough to fund reviews deemed necessary to ensure safe operations at the U.S. Energy Department sites.
    Supporters say the board's role is critical given a series of safety lapses at Los Alamos National Laboratory and a planned uptick in nuclear weapons work.

  • Ex-New Mexico state senator is convicted in corruption trial

    SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A former New Mexico state senator was convicted Thursday on five counts in a corruption trial over accusations he used his position as a lawmaker to profit from the sale of a state-owned building.
    Prosecutors accused Phil Griego of using his elected position and acumen as a real estate broker to guide the sale of the building in downtown Santa Fe through approvals by a state agency, the Legislature and a public buildings commission without properly disclosing his financial interest.
    Griego, 69, resigned from the Legislature in 2015 at the close of a Senate ethics investigation.
    He said he did nothing wrong in earning a $50,000 commission from buyers of the property.
    Defense attorneys emphasized that many high-ranking state government officials backed the transaction — some with knowledge of Griego's involvement.
    Several lawmakers testified that they were left in the dark or mislead by Griego on the matter.
    Prosecutors with the office of Democratic Attorney General Hector Balderas pursued Griego on six felony counts and two misdemeanors.
    Jurors found Griego, a Democrat, guilty of violating ethical principles of public service, bribery and fraud against the state and unlawful interest in a public contract.
    He was acquitted of three charges — defrauding business partner, perjury and violating financial disclosure act.

  • UC Board of Regents approves LANL bid submission

    The University of California regents Thursday approved a plan for the 10-campus system to bid on the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s management and operations contract.
    Board of Regents member and former U.S. Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Ellen Tauscher and UC Vice President for National Laboratories Kimberly Budil, submitted a joint statement on the board’s vote shortly after it was taken.
    “Today’s action by the UC Board of Regents authorizing the University to submit a bid for the management and operating contract of Los Alamos National Laboratory is further evidence of UC’s ongoing commitment to the stewardship of this great scientific and technological enterprise,” they said.
    UC has been involved in the managing the lab for 75 years. Since 2005, it’s latest role is being a partner with Bechtel, BWXT Government Group Inc., and URS.
    The partnership is known as Los Alamos National Security LLC. In 2015, the Department of Energy decided not to extend LANS’ contract, citing several lapses in safety. UC has until Dec. 11 to submit a bid. LANS’ contract expires Sept. 30 of next year.
    According to the National Nuclear Security Administration’s website, 39 other potential contractors may be interested in submitting a bid.
    UC officials made sure to include UC’s management experience with the lab as a selling point in its bid.

  • Jury deliberates in New Mexico corruption trial

    SANTA FE (AP) — A jury in New Mexico is weighing whether to convict a former state senator on corruption charges for his role in the sale of a state-owned building.
    Jury deliberations began Thursday at a state district court in Santa Fe in the trial against ex-Sen. Phil Griego.
    State prosecutors say Griego used his position as a Senator to help authorize the 2014 sale of a State Parks building in downtown Santa Fe without properly disclosing his business relationship with the buyer. Griego earned a $50,000 commission on the sale as a real estate agent for the owners of a luxury inn.
    Griego says he broke no laws. Testifying in court, he expressed regret for not announcing his personal financial involvement in the sale. Prosecutors say he pressured witnesses during the trial.