Today's News

  • SF National Forest gets new deputy supervisor

    Joe Norrell is the new deputy forest supervisor for the Santa Fe National Forest. Norrell brings 14 years of federal service experience to the Forest Service and the local community.
    He chose Santa Fe due to the challenges of working on complex issues with people that have a rich history and strong connection to the land.
    Norrell, who grew up in Alaska, attributes his career and passion for the outdoors to his parents. His father was a professor at the University of Alaska-Anchorage, which helped afford the time to take him and his sisters on many camping, hiking and fishing trips during the summer months.
    He listened to his mother who worked for the Alaska State Legislature talk about politics and how the decisions made by the legislature would impact people, which influenced him to consider a career in public service.
    He attended Montana State University, receiving his bachelor’s degree in political science and master’s degree in public administration. Beginning in 1998, Norrell worked for the Alaska Department of Natural Resources as a temporary research assistant and three years for Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens in Washington, D.C. as a staff assistant on the Committee on Appropriations. Two of those years he spent working on the Interior and Natural Resources Subcommittee.

  • Update 12-26-12

    Monitor closed

    The Los Alamos Monitor office will be closed on New Year’s Day.

    No blue bus service

    The NCRTD blue buses will not be in service New Year’s day. For more information call toll free 1-866-206-0754, or visit ridethebluebus.com.

    Holiday dance

    The Los Alamos Big Band will present its annual Christmas Dance from 7:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m. Thursday at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church Parish Hall, 3700 Canyon Road. Admission is free.

    Christmas photos

    Send us your best photo from Christmas Day to be published later in the week for a Christmas in LA feature. Email your digital photos to info@lamonitor.com along with a brief description, names and ages of those pictured. Submit only one photo per household, please.

    Have a news tip?

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

  • Drought, fires dominate state headlines in 2012

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — From dry river beds to dusty pastures and raging wildfires, extreme drought dominated New Mexico headlines in 2012.

    Farmers, ranchers and water managers started 2012 hoping against all predictions that this would be the year the La Nina weather pattern responsible for pushing moisture from the state would finally subside. No luck. Just more hand-wringing as the first 11 months of the year marked the second driest on record, according to the National Weather Service

    With little late winter snow and no spring rain, New Mexico’s reservoirs were reduced to just a fraction of their normal levels heading into what proved to be another hot summer.

    Farmers in southern New Mexico were forced for a second consecutive year to pump groundwater to irrigate their crops, and stretches of the mighty Rio Grande and Pecos River dried up, prompting fish rescue missions. The toll on grazing land and hay prices pushed some ranchers to cut neighbors’ fences or leave gates open so their cattle could graze on greener pastures.

  • Officials dedicate Memorial Garden

    There was a ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday for the Los Alamos High School Memorial Garden. The formal dedication presented the newly completed garden to the high school students and the families, who had lost loved ones at much too early an age.  

    Los Alamos Public Schools Superintendent Gene Schmidt said the memorial garden is intended to be a quiet place for students, family and friends to gather in remembrance of the students, whose names are listed on a wall.

    In his remarks, Schmidt thanked the Rotary Club of Los Alamos for making the garden possible.  He said the place is for families to walk and remember, as well as sit and reflect on the memory of their loved ones.

    Rotary Club President Linda Hull spoke of the three years of fundraising and preparation that made the garden possible. She mourned the passing of all of the students named there and expressed the hope that no more names would be added.

    High school principal Sandy Warnock said, “This garden reminds us of how precious life is. This is a garden that will forever be a place to remember those who left us too early.”

  • Girrens brings new priorities to council

    First of a series

    Municipal Judge Alan Kirk swore in new county councilors Steve Girrens, Kristin Henderson, and Pete Sheehey, along with new county clerk Sharon Stover last week.
    The priorities each of the new councilors has established as they prepare to take up the reins may signal a shift in alliances and also shed some light on how they will govern the next four years.

    Steve Girrens
    “If I have one thing I’m worrying about, it’s gaining an understanding of the systemic picture,” Girrens said.
    “I do not have anything in particular that I want to see, any burning one thing that I’m pushing forward this next year. I think it would be more appropriate for me, as one of the seven and as one of the three new, to try to get a handle on what’s happening systemically,” he said. “From my point of view, the last thing that we need is to confuse the issue by coming in with one particular thing over weighted more than worrying about the systemic picture, and even understanding the systemic picture.

    “In the next six to eight months I want to become as smart on the overall picture as possible, as fast as possible.”

  • Lab gets 80 percent of possible fee

    Los Alamos National Lab Director Charlie McMillan sent out a memo to employees Friday that detailed the National Nuclear Security Administration’s evaluation of the lab.

    According to the memo obtained by the Los Alamos Monitor, McMillan, who said the lab worked through a $400 million shortfall, told employees the lab scored 80 percent and the Los Alamos National Security, LLC, was awarded another year on its contract.

    Out of a possible total of $74.5 million, NNSA awarded LANS a combined total of $59.6 million in fees for executing more than $2.2 billion in work for the nation in FY 2012.

    “To be sure, our performance evaluation is only one measure of our success,” McMillan wrote. “I have always maintained that if we do the right thing for our customers and the nation, the award term and fee will take care of themselves.

    “They are, however, a documented evaluation of how the government values our work. This year, we have very plain evidence of how issues in safety or project execution can overshadow a very successful year when measured in other ways.”

    McMillan said the extra year awarded was significant.

  • Regulators take aim at property rights

    Federal overreach and the unending growth of Washington’s power has been a real problem for decades. That may be a trite sta
    tement these days with Washington now in firm control of Americans’ health care, but a real-world example from right here in New Mexico should give us all pause.
    In 2005, Peter and Frankie Smith purchased 20 acres of property located 19 miles south of Santa Fe.
     The retired couple found much of the land in desperate need of maintenance, stating that when the property was first purchased, truckloads of garbage and debris littered the area.
    During the cleaning process, the Smiths smoothed out a portion of an arroyo in order to safely remove the trash.
    What may seem to be good stewardship of one’s land and an effort to “Keep America Beautiful” has gotten the Smith family into a very big fight with a very powerful, albeit largely-unknown in New Mexico, federal agency called  the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
     The agency, rather than being pleased with the cleanup effort, viewed it as a transgression, stating that the couple had violated the 1972 “Clean Water Act.”
    The letter sent by the federal agency claims that the Smiths had violated the act by “dredging and filling a water of the United States.”

  • LA needs a real start-up incubator

    Efforts last year to create a local facility, termed a workspace “with the convenience and sociability of a neighborhood café” in White Rock may have taken an unusual twist.   I’m referring to that facility there known as “The Hive,” and in the press recently about its continuing challenges.  
    It was originally termed a “live experiment” in converting an underutilized building into a “community of freelancers, entrepreneurs, independent inventors and innovators, startups, small businesses, big company telecommuters, field workers, and other laptop nomads who are tired of working alone at home or in crowded and noisy coffee shops.”
    While that’s one heck of a blue-sky statement, and in my time working with technology startups I’ve seen a lot of “blue-sky,” just maybe … after a year of this “experiment,” what we need is something more focused and deliberate.  

  • Ski Report 12-26-12

    Angel Fire
    29-inch base of packed powder. No new snow reported. 41 trails and 6 lifts open.

    Enchanted Forest
    20-inch base of packed powder. 2 inches of new snow reported. 33 trails open.

    19-inch base of variable conditions. 1 inch of new snow reported. Will open when conditions permit.

    Red River
    35-inch base of packed powder. No new snow reported. 38 trails and 6 trails open.

    28-inch base of machine-groomed snow. One-half inch of new snow reported. 30 trails and 5 lifts open.

    Ski Apache
    14-inch base of machine-groomed snow. No new snow reported. 5 trails and 3 lifts open.

    Ski Santa Fe
    37-inch base of powder. No new snow reported. 25 trails and 7 lifts open.

    31-inch base of packed powder. No new snow reported. 31 trails and 13 lifts open.

    Valles Caldera
    6-inch base of variable conditions. No new snow reported. 9 trails open.

  • LA trips up Grants at home

    The Los Alamos Hilltopper girls basketball team came back from a 33-29 deficit Saturday to defeat the Grants Pirates 55-48 at Griffith Gymnasium.
    Los Alamos held Grants to only 4 points in the third quarter to reclaim a slim lead which it would never relinquish.
    It was a big win for Los Alamos Saturday, coming on the heels of a 44-37 loss to the Piedra Vista Panthers on the road the day before. Los Alamos started at the Goddard Holiday Classic today facing Portales.
    With Saturday’s win, the Hilltoppers improved to 5-5 on the season and 4-2 against Class 4A teams.
    Hayley Each had one of the biggest games of her career. Each, the Hilltoppers’ 6-foot-1 center, had 25 points, 17 in the first half and 11 of Los Alamos’ 13 points in the first quarter. She also finished with 14 rebounds.
    The Hilltoppers had trouble finding support for Each in the first quarter — the only other Los Alamos score came on a breakaway — but Kiana Zerr, coming off the bench, came up big in the second quarter, hitting 8 of 8 from the foul line.
    Zerr had 14 points — a last second bucket of hers was waved off at the buzzer — connecting on a pair of field goals in the fourth quarter to help seal the victory.