Today's News

  • Most Googled in 2012: Whitney, PSY, Sandy

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — The world's attention wavered between the tragic and the silly in 2012, and along the way, millions of people searched the Web to find out about a royal princess, the latest iPad, and a record-breaking skydiver.

    Whitney Houston was the "top trending" search of the year, according to Google Inc.'s year-end "zeitgeist" report. Google's 12th annual roundup is "an in-depth look at the spirit of the times as seen through the billions of searches on Google over the past year," the company said in a blog post Wednesday.

    People around the globe searched en masse for news about Houston's accidental drowning in a bathtub just before she was to perform at a pre-Grammy Awards party in February.

    Google defines topics as "trending" when they garner a high amount of traffic over a sustained period of time.

    Korean rapper PSY's "Gangnam Style" music video trotted into second spot, a testament to his self-deprecating giddy-up dance move. The video is approaching a billion views on YouTube.

  • Local Courts: On the Docket 12-12-12

    Dec. 4

    Daniel Rodarte was found guilty in Los Alamos Magistrate Court of being under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
    Rodarte was ordered to pay $215 in court costs and another $100 in bench warrant fee and was ordered to undergo a year of supervised probation.
    Conditions of probation include obeying all laws and not be arrested or convicted of any other offense while on probation. Defendant will comply with all conditions of probation. Defendant will also enter and participate in all alcohol and drug screening programs, with at least six sessions recommended. Defendant shall also participate and complete DWI school within 90 days. The defendant shall also enter and successfully complete the Victim Impact program within 90 days.
    The defendant shall also obtain an ignition interlock license and have ignition interlock devices installed on all cars defendant will be driving for one year.  The defendant shall not enter an establishment that buys or sells alcohol. Defendant shall not possess a firearm, destructive device or weapon. Defendant must meet with probation officer within seven days and maintain contact. Defendant must also perform 24 hours of community service within three months.

  • Update 12-12-12

    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.

    'Topper alumni

    The Hilltopper Alumni Society’s holiday social will be from 4-7 p.m. today at Dixie Girl, 1789 Central Ave. This is an opportunity for graduates of Los Alamos High School to mix and mingle. All Hilltopper Alumni are welcome to attend.

    County Council

    County Council will meet at
    7 p.m. Dec. 18 in Council Chambers.

    Film series

    The White Rock Family Friendly Series presents “Brave,” at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the White Rock Town Hall.

    Have a news tip?

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

  • Apple farm dispute goes to hearing

    SANTA FE (AP) — The operators of a historic New Mexico apple orchard that was destroyed by fire and flooding last year are locked in a battle with the state over the future of the land.
    The longtime operators of Dixon’s Apple Orchard began efforts Monday to resurrect a previously rejected plan to lease the farm to San Felipe Pueblo, the Albuquerque Journal reported Tuesday.
    Becky and Jim Mullane appealed State Land Commissioner Ray Powell’s rejection of their $2.8 million lease proposal involving the pueblo and hope ongoing hearings on the issue might bring a reversal.
    Powell, in rejecting the pueblo lease deal, said continuing the 75-year lease agreement reached with the farm by then-Land Commissioner Patrick Lyons in 2007 is not a good deal for the state land trust, which benefits public schools and other entities.
    The leased property includes 8,500 acres adjacent to the orchard for which the Mullanes pay just $100 a year, a rate that would be locked in for decades if the lease assignment with the pueblo is accepted, Powell noted.
    Former state District Judge James Hall is scheduled to hear testimony this week and will make a recommendation in the form of a report to Powell, who can accept or reject the findings.

  • Parents hear school traffic survey results

    Parents who have children attending the Canyoncito Montessori School recently got a briefing by the county’s transportation board on the results of the board’s latest traffic survey.

    The board conducted the survey in response to a Nov. 2 car accident that involved an out-of-control-vehicle that ended up crashing in the school’s parking lot.

    No one was injured in the one-car accident, but to many parents and school officials, the accident was just one incident in a long line of warnings that the school may need the board’s help.

    Sandwiched between Rose Street and Canyon Road, school officials and parents have been complaining for years about drivers ignoring posted speed limits, as well as the fact that many drivers seem to be oblivious that there is a school operating in the area.

    “Drivers using Canyon Road between 15th Street and Central Avenue are likely unaware that the Canyoncito Montessori School is located along this stretch of the road, and many travel at higher speeds,” concerned parent David Clark said through a statement he presented to the board.

    During the meeting, board officials updated the parents on what the traffic survey outside the school revealed and what it means as far as their children’s future safety and welfare is concerned.

  • Speeds reduced next week

    Los Alamos County staff has been working with the New Mexico Department of Transportation to have N.M. 502 speed limits reduced in the Eastern Area. This is the first step in a plan to address residents’ complaints about sound levels.

    NMDOT performed a speed study and recommended reducing the speed limit to 40 mph along the airport and to 35 mph at Airport Road.

    The county received notification yesterday that the plan has been approved. New traffic signs should be installed by the end of next week.  

    Once the speed limit changes have been in place a month or so to allow drivers to adjust, staff will check sound levels to determine additional sound mitigation measures.

    At Tuesday’s council meeting, residents expressed concerns that a new study will delay the construction of a sound wall.

    Public Works Director Philo Shelton responded that there could be a small delay in the projected start date, but he anticipates the sound wall will be completed by the end of the 2013 construction season.
    Eastern Area resident Sue Pope asked that construction vehicles for the Trinity Site project be required to use the truck route to reduce noise levels.

  • N.M. 502 slogs forward

    The saga of N.M. 502 continues.

    The Los Alamos County Council voted 6-1 on Tuesday to adopt a new plan for road improvements that meets New Mexico Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration criteria.

    The plan revises one adopted by council in February that failed to meet NMDOT and FHWA approval, risking $3.8 million in State Transportation Improvement Program funds earmarked for the project.
    Councilor Geoff Rodgers made the motion to approve the proposal, which passed 6-1, with Councilor Vincent Chiravalle opposed.

    “We have to achieve a balance and that balance is probably going to satisfy no one. And the balance that’s been presented is the best that we’re going to get within the constraints that we face with the threat of losing the federal funding to at least fix part of this project,” Rodgers said.

    The compromise integrates a plan proposed by NMDOT in 2007 with the option approved in February. Council had rejected the 2007 plan because it failed to adequately address the concerns of residential neighborhoods and the county’s desire for a more community-oriented, multi-modal approach to road design.

  • NASA weighs in on apocalypse debate

    SANTA FE – This is the month the world is supposed to end. Doomsday prophets have been predicting it for centuries – at least since the ancient Sumerians who thought a planet was headed toward Earth. But for some reason December 2012 has become a very popular target.
    So popular, in fact, that NASA has found it necessary to explain that the world as we know it will not end any time soon. It will not end because of the Mayan calendar, a polar shift, a meteor, a solar storm, a super nova, planetary alignment or a reversal in the rotation of the earth.
    The most popular dates for The End are Dec. 21-25. Most popular of all is Dec. 21, possibly because it also is the winter solstice. There likely are predictions for today, 12-12-12; possibly because it is the last time this century that such a duplication of numbers is possible.
    Personally I align with the group that considers such dates lucky. County clerks reported that 11-11-11 was a favorite day for obtaining marriage licenses. We’ll have extra reason to celebrate the beginning of a new year because we will have once again averted The Apocalypse.
    NASA even ventured into dangerous philosophical territory by declaring that the world has been getting along just fine for more than four billion years and that credible scientists see no threat associated with 2012.

  • Pension solutions demand compromise

    We know that New Mexico’s two biggest public retirement systems are sliding toward insolvency. The Educational Retirement Board is looking into a $5.9 billion abyss between its assets and the benefits it will have to pay. The Public Employee Retirement Association faces an even bigger gap of $6.2 billion.
    Those numbers will probably get bigger as new information comes out.
    To find solutions, the Legislature in 2011 created the interim legislative Investments and Pensions Oversight Committee, chaired by Sen. George Muñoz, D-Gallup. It dutifully heard testimony and introduced bills, but there was little consensus. Curiously, the PERA didn’t even offer a plan.
    “I can’t figure out why people don’t want to fix the problem today instead of every single year kicking it down the road because at some point we’re going to be in so much trouble. That’s my biggest fight,” Muñoz said during the last session.
    Lately, we’ve seen a greater sense of urgency and real momentum. The news is that the committee and unions have approved plans from both the ERB and PERA.

  • Be There 12-12-12

    The Hilltopper Alumni Society’s holiday social will be from 4-7 p.m. at Dixie Girl, 1789 Central Ave. This is an opportunity for graduates of Los Alamos High School to mix and mingle. There will be a brief introduction to the Alumni Society’s first project; converting the senior photos that once hung in the halls of Los Alamos High School to digital files. All Hilltopper Alumni are welcome to attend and enjoy complimentary appetizers and drinks available for purchase. The Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation is sponsoring this event.

    The Los Alamos Community of Atheists will host a December discussion from 6:30-8 p.m. at Mesa Public Library, meeting room 3. All are welcome. For more information, send email losalamoscommunityofatheists@gmail.com.

    Post-Las Conchas Trail Rehabilitation Update. Craig Martin will give an update about the status of many trails impacted by post-fire floods in the summer of 2011. Come hear the latest in trail statuses, work that has been done since the fire and plans for 2013. 7 p.m. at PEEC. Free. No registration required. Visit PajaritoEEC.org, call 662-0460 or email Programs@PajaritoEEC.org for more information.
    The holiday Farmers Market will be at Fuller Lodge.