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Today's News

  • Bandelier garners partnership award

    Under the cliffs of Frijoles Canyon in Bandelier National Monument, 15 immigrants were sworn in as U.S. citizens during a naturalization ceremony on the Fourth of July. 
    This past month, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services awarded the Bandelier incident command team the USCIS Directors Award for Partnerships to recognize their work and collaboration with the USCIS in making this event a very special ceremony. 
    “It was an honor to represent not only Bandelier and the park team that facilitated the Citizenship Ceremony, but also to represent the National Park Service at the USCIS Director’s Award presentation,” said Chief Ranger Tom Betts, after receiving the award on behalf of the team in Washington D.C. 
    More than 100 people attended the citizenship ceremony including a representative from Sen. Jeff Bingaman’s office. The National Park Service worked with the Boy Scouts, the local opera guild, the Rotary Club, county officials and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to provide a once in a lifetime experience for the new U.S. citizens.

  • State health officials say flu off to early start

    SANTA FE (AP) — State officials say the influenza season is off to an early start and are warning that it may be more severe than in recent years.
    The New Mexico Department of Health says flu is circulating throughout the state. Health officials say anyone six months of age and older, particularly pregnant women and those with underlying health conditions, should get vaccinated.
    The department says many of the influenza cases seen so far are a more severe type that has led to higher number of hospitalizations and deaths in previous flu seasons than other types.
    Symptoms can include a fever, body aches, tiredness and cough.
    The Health Department doesn’t track every case of flu in New Mexico. However, it does track influenza-like illness at several locations statewide to estimate the amount of flu activity.

  • LAHS swim team hosts invitational

    Simona Martin competes in the preseason meet for the Los Alamos Hilltopper girls last month. Los Alamos girls and boys teams will host an invitational meet this weekend. The diving portion is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. and Saturday’s swimming events will start at 10:30 a.m. at the Larry R. Walkup Aquatic Center.

  • LANL hosts nuclear deterrence exercise

    U.S. and South Korean defense and diplomatic experts will conduct a tabletop exercise examining nuclear deterrence on the Korean Peninsula, a Pentagon official told reporters Wednesday.
    Los Alamos National Laboratory is playing host to 40 U.S. and South Korean officials for the extended exercise, which will look at deterrence methods in response to a nuclear threat scenario, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said.
    Lab officials were unavailable for comment on how long the joint exercises will be taking place or who the representatives are from each participating country.
    This is the second exercise of its type. The first was at U.S. Strategic Command in 2011. It is conducted under the auspices of a bilateral committee formed in late 2010 to discuss alliance response in the event of a nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula, Little said.
    Exercise participants will look at concepts, crisis decision-making and the requirements of employing extended deterrence assets in response to a nuclear threat scenario, he said.
    “The exercise demonstrates that extended deterrence for the ROK is credible, capable, and enduring, by fostering the joint study of deterrence challenges and by identifying opportunities for cooperation and collaboration,” Little said.

  • Outside political groups spent nearly $4M in New Mexico

    SANTA FE (AP) — Two outside political groups free from New Mexico’s campaign contribution limits spent nearly $4 million to influence legislative races, which ended up with Democrats retaining control of the House and Senate.

    According to a campaign finance report filed on Thursday, a political committee with ties to Republican Gov. Susana Martinez spent $2.4 million in the primary and general election campaigns. The group — Reform New Mexico Now — paid for advertising and mailings in 31 House and Senate races, including several Democratic primary contests, according to Jay McCleskey, the governor’s political adviser.

    A Democratic-leaning political group called Patriot Majority New Mexico dumped almost $1.4 million into general election contests. The group was formed in August and received most of its money from labor unions. It backed about 20 House and Senate candidates, according to Craig Varoga, the PAC’s president and a Washington, D.C.-based Democratic strategist.

    The two political committees were the biggest spenders in legislative contests, and were free to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money because they didn’t coordinate their campaign strategy with candidates.

  • Update 12-07-12

    Swearing in

    The public is invited to attend the official “swearing in” ceremony for newly elected officials at 10 a.m. Dec. 21. in the Municipal Courtroom of the Justice Center. A reception with light refreshments will follow in the lobby of the Justice Center.

    Calendar

    To kick off its 50th anniversary celebration next year, the Los Alamos Monitor will distribute a commemorative 2013 calendar Sunday Dec. 9. Look for it inside your newspaper.

    Make a craft

    Make holiday crafts during WinterFest at Mesa Public Library. Just drop in and make a free seasonal craft project. Kids and parents are welcome. Go to Youth Services downstairs from 10 a.m.-noon Saturday, Call 662-8258 for more info., email ysweb@lacnm.us or visit the calendar at losalamosnm.us/library.

    DWI council

    The Los Alamos County DWI Planning Council will meet at 8:30 a.m. Dec. 11 at the Los Alamos Police Department Training Room, 2500 Trinity Dr., Suite A.

    Have a news tip?

    Send press releases, photos and videos to laeditor@lamonitor.com or contact the newsroom at 662-4185.

  • N.M. 502 plan to get revisions

    The Los Alamos County Public Works department will present a revised plan for N.M. 502 improvements to council at 7 p.m. Dec. 11 in council chambers.

    A plan approved by council last February was bounced by the New Mexico Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration after traffic studies determined that the Level of Service for side streets Arroyo Lane and Sombrillo Court would not meet minimum standards.

    The NMDOT and FHWA are requiring that N.M. 502 be increased to four lanes through that area to address the issue.

    Staff has been negotiating with the agencies to find alternatives, since area residents argued against widening the road. The county’s argument that a “context sensitive solution” was needed has been rejected.

    If the county does not revise the design to meet NMDOT and FHWA requirements, the county risks losing nearly $4 million in federal funds earmarked for the project.

    Staff is also proposing a two-phase project for the area.

  • Police seek suspects in $20K coin heist

    Police are currently looking for two suspects in connection to a Los Alamos man’s missing gold coin collection.

    The coins are reportedly valued at more than $20,000, according to the owner of the collection.

    The owner told police he suspects his sister-in-law and her male companion may have taken them when they stayed at his house without his knowledge on May 8.

    According to the collection’s owner, who was identified only as a 57-year-old male living in the 500 block of Camino Cereza, the couple was staying at his house without his knowledge, and when he drove up to his house that day, the couple had a U-Haul out front and soon left without saying goodbye.

    Police are currently trying to contact the couple, who live in Austin, according to the police report.

    So far though, the police have not tracked down the 18 gold coins that are missing, even though the owner has turned over the serial numbers to police.

    “We are following up on a couple of leads, and we’re also trying to determine where the coins have gone at this point,” Los Alamos Police Department Acting Chief Randy Foster said.

  • Grieving Family Receives Shock on 'The Rock'

    It’s been just a little more than two weeks since an auto accident on N.M. 4 claimed the life of high school freshman Nikolas Ventura-Arencon.

    Friends and relatives of the young man received a bit of a shock recently when they drove by “The Rock” in White Rock.

    A message they wrote on the rock to their departed friend was gone. In place of the big “Goodbye Nik” message on the rock’s front face, was an even bigger “Marty makes 40 look sporty.”

    Also gone were the flowers and other items that friends and family brought to Nik’s makeshift memorial. It’s not clear whether whoever painted over it moved everything to the site of the accident on N.M. 4, but the red booster chair that was part of the memorial at the rock, has been moved to the roadside tribute.

    A passerby who saw the memorial wasn’t surprised.

    “That’s just the nature of the rock,” the passersby said. “It gets painted over all the time.”

    Ventura’s uncle Bernie Herrera, had a different take. He said his sister-in-law, Jennifer Ventura-Trujillo, (Ventura’s mom) is devastated that someone would do that so soon, and that the entire family is really hurt.

  • DPU structure gets scrutiny

    The Charter Review Committee’s intensive examination of the county charter revealed a major flaw in charter sections addressing the Department of Public Utilities and its board.

    At Tuesday’s council meeting, County Attorney Rebecca Ehler summarized the problem.

    “State law prescribes responsibility and liability for municipalities; and H class counties, of which Los Alamos is the only one, is included in that definition of municipalities.

    “The responsibility for what goes on in a municipality rests solely with this council. And by law you can’t delegate your liability that way to any other organization. We don’t want our government passing on its responsibility to organizations we can’t hold accountable as voters.

    “Under the current system of our charter, you’ve not been given oversight. So if there is an operational infirmity, you can be held liable ultimately, but you don’t have the ability to direct the operations to correct whatever that infirmity might be.”

    Under the current charter, the DPU is virtually autonomous. The manager reports to the Board of Public Utilities, not the county administrator. Council’s only oversight is its ability to appoint board members and approve all budgetary issues.