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Today's News

  • ACT going strong

    Public Works Director Philo Shelton had some good news for the county council regarding Atomic City Transit (ACT).
    The Los Alamos County system was ranked number one out of 24 rural New Mexico transit systems in the 2012 New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) Transit and Rail Division annual review.
    Since the system was created in October 2007 it has had more than 2 million one-way passengers. ACT operates 12 fixed routes and is projected to have nearly 600,000 one-way trips by the end of the year, up 100,000 from last year.
    The Bandelier shuttle accounts for most of that bump. In the first three months of operation this year, the shuttle has provided nearly 70,000 one-way passengers.
    The county’s general fund accounts for only 30 percent of ACT’s budget. The North Central Regional Transit District (NCRTD) Regional GRT provides 26 percent, 41 percent comes from grants and the Bandelier National Monument contribution toward the Bandelier shuttle is three percent of the overall budget.

  • DOE awards oversight grant

    The Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded a grant for an estimated $1.6 million to the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED).
    The five-year grant funds an agreement for NMED to conduct non-regulatory environmental oversight and monitoring to evaluate activities conducted at DOE’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad.   
    NMED evaluates DOE activities related to WIPP’s environmental monitoring and cleanup.  This award is made in accordance with the Department of Energy Organization Act, Public Law 95-91.
    The DOE WIPP facility is designed to safely isolate defense-generated transuranic (TRU) waste from people and the environment. Waste temporarily stored at sites around the country is shipped to WIPP and permanently disposed in rooms mined out of an ancient salt formation 2,150 feet below the surface.  
    WIPP began waste disposal operations in 1999.  The facility is located 26 miles outside of Carlsbad.

  • Update 09-20-12

    County Council

    The Los Alamos County Council will hold a special session to discuss the Trinity Site at 7 p.m. Monday in council chambers.

    Court closed

    The Los Alamos Municipal Court Clerk’s Office will be closed Sept. 26-28 for staff to attend training. Payments due during this period may be mailed to Los Alamos Municipal Court, 2500 Trinity Dr., Ste. C, Los Alamos, N.M. 87544 or some payments may be paid online at citepayusa.com.

    No court

    The Los Alamos Magistrate Court will not have a Judge for the week of Sept. 17-21 due to the annual Magistrate Judge’s conference. The court hours will be 8 a.m.-3 p.m. that week.

    P&Z meeting

    The Los Alamos Planning and Zoning Commission will meet at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in council chambers.

    ESB meeting

    The Environmental Sustainability Board will hold its regular monthly meeting at 5:30 p.m. today at the community building training room.

  • Bandelier looking for public input

    The National Park Service at Bandelier National Monument is developing a Transportation Plan/ Environmental Assessment to improve transportation conditions in Bandelier National Monument.
    The public and interested agencies are encouraged to attend one of two open house workshops on Monday or Tuesday to learn about the Plan/EA and comment early in the planning process. Attendees will learn about the current status of this effort, and park staff will be there to answer questions.
    The first will be from 5-7 p.m. Monday at the White Rock Town Hall, 139 Longview, with a second open house from noon-2 p.m. Tuesday at Fuller Lodge.
    The National Park Service is in the scoping phase of the project and needs and encourages public input during this initial comment period.  These comments are crucial to defining the issues and concerns to be addressed.
    The public will have a second opportunity to comment on the plan/EA after it is released, tentatively in the fall of 2013.

  • Driver in truck crash going to recover

    Frank Maes was driving the hairpin turn of N.M. 4 at mile marker 49 when things started going wrong.

    Before he knew it, he and his International flatbed truck, loaded with 2,000 gallons of yellow and white striping paint, were plunging over the side of a steep mountain pass.

    Maes was lucky.

    In fact, soon after his truck, or what was left of it, came to a stop 200 feet below in the Bandelier National Forest, Maes, 51, of Willard, who had been on the job for three months according to his co-workers, got out of his cab and started crawling back up the mountainside.

    “As he was going over, he told me he thought he was going to die,” Maes’ wife Karen said. “But something … I think angels were watching him.”

    According to Karen, Maes suffered no internal injuries or broken bones, just a laceration on his calf, a massive bruise on one of his hips and a sprained ankle.

    Maes was on his way down the mountain Tuesday morning to rendezvous with the rest of his crew when the accident happened. His mission was to deliver the load of paint to the crew.

    “He just ran out of brakes, he said he had no more brakes,” Karen said.

    Soon after he got out of the cab, a passing motorist noticed Maes and called police.

  • State House rivals talk Smart Grid

    House District 43 candidates Stephanie Garcia Richard (D) and Jim Hall (R) weighed in Tuesday on Monday’s Smart House project.

    The $53 million smart grid project was developed by scientists in New Mexico and Japan. Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization is working with Los Alamos County and Los Alamos National Laboratory on the project.

    It includes a solar photovoltaic array at the county’s capped landfill, a battery storage system, and a smart house and energy management system that will serve Los Alamos residents.

    “The Southwest has abundant sunlight and has the potential to generate enough power to meet the nation’s needs; however, storage and distribution are the key elements that will make this source viable,” Garcia Richard said. “Future development using the research capabilities of LANL, applied research demonstrated by the Japanese and production, manufacturing and construction will result in jobs for New Mexicans. We have seen the cost of PV dramatically reduced.

    Now using the information gained from the NEDO project New Mexico could lead the nation in solar energy production, storage and ‘smart grid’ design. The opportunities are enormous. Is the state up to the task?”

  • Staff promotes pilot project

    Transit staff asked the Los Alamos County Council for feedback on two proposals during Tuesday’s work session.

    Transit Manager Mike Davis explained how a proposed Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) System could improve efficiencies and customer experience. CAD would connect computers on transit buses to a computerized system in the dispatch center.

    The system would expedite scheduling shift assignments and daily adjustments to the schedule. It would also facilitate vehicle assignment by tracking which size bus is needed for each route, which vehicles are available, which are undergoing maintenance and also which are due for maintenance.

    Drivers would sign in on the system, so dispatchers would know immediately if someone had not arrived for their shift.

    Drivers would also enter safety inspection results electronically. Inspections are conducted at the beginning and end of each shift and each time a vehicle changes hands. Drivers currently turn in handwritten reports, which other staff  then enters into the computer.

  • Communication and competency

    Janice Arnold-Jones and Michelle Lujan Grisham, candidates for Congress from New Mexico’s 1st District, shared a stage recently to debate the issues. Before taking their places at separate podiums, they hugged each other.
    Both have a record of working on a bipartisan basis.  
    Republican Arnold-Jones worked across the aisle for eight years as a state legislator.  She developed a reputation for mastering the details of issues and insisting on open practices.  At this forum, she said that before she votes on a bill, she will read it – a practice unfortunately not done by all members of Congress.  
    She talks about the advantages of seeing issues from multiple perspectives and building relationships as a way to work on the issues.
    In response to a recent query from me about signing pledges related to taxes or other topics, Arnold-Jones wrote, “I do not sign any pledges because my only obligation is to the people of the First Congressional District …  I will not submit the people of New Mexico to extreme views that have left government in a stalemate.”

  • Off the Hill 09-20-12

    Art openings

    An exhibit featuring photos by Jamey Stillings, Linda Connor, Chris McCaw, David H. Gibson and Sharon Harper will open with a reception from 5-7 p.m. Sept. 28 at photo-eye Gallery, 376-A Garcia St.

    Art exhibits

    The fourth biennial Taos Art Glass Invitational and Walking on Glass Tour will be through Oct. 7. They are both featured events in Taos’ “Grand Fall Arts,” a series of art-related events in September and October. For more information, visit tiganm.org or call Delinda VanneBrightyn at 575-613-6484.
    Benefits

    St. Vincent Hospital Foundation presents Glamour and Gauze, featuring Paula Poundstone, at 6 p.m. Oct. 13 at the Eldorado Hotel and Spa. The event will feature dinner and dancing to the band Soulstice. There will also be silent and live auctions. Tickets are $250 per person. For more information, call 505-913-5209 or visit stvinfoundation.org.2.

    Exhibits

    The Harwood Museum of Art is celebrating the centennial of the birth of artist Bea Mandelman with two exhibitions exploring the Taos Modernist’s body of work. “Bea Mandelman: Collage” remains on view through Oct. 14. The museum is located at 238 Ledoux St., Taos. For more information, call 575-758-9826 or visit harwoodmuseum.org.

  • Learn about New Mexico’s ecoregions Sept. 27

    As part of the Authors Speak Series, William Dunmire will present a free, 45-minute slide-illustrated program that will take listeners on a tour through New Mexico’s six ecoregions and along some of the magnificent state and National Scenic Byways at 7 p.m. Sept. 27 in the upstairs rotunda of Mesa Public Library.
    From grasslands to mountains, deserts to forests, this talk will focus on the wide range of New Mexico’s landscape features. Blue Gramma grass, apache plume, mesquite and yucca, elk, burrowing owls and cranes are just a few of the the plants and wildlife that occur in the ecoregions Dunmire explores.
    His narrative, along with color photography, will provide audiences with an understanding of the elements that define the natural environments and will direct road travelers to many of the state’s best-loved natural features.
    “New Mexico’s Living Landscapes: A Roadside View  by William Dumire,” features photographs by Christine Bauman.
    “New Mexico’s Living Landscapes” is a guide through the ecoregions and down the scenic byways of the state’s natural world, from grasslands to mountains to deserts, focusing on some of  the landscape features and the plants and wildlife found therein.