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Today's News

  • Sign code change inches closer

    Attempts to update and simplify the county’s sign code began in 2005. After years of contention and delays, Community and Economic Development Department (CEDD) Principal Planner Gary Leikness is optimistic about the possibility of having a new code by the end of the year.

    Leikness presented his draft revision to a group of business and retail owners Monday night and to the Los Alamos County Council at Tuesday’s work session. The county attorney’s office is also reviewing the draft. Although specific elements of the code were debated, reaction overall was positive.

    Two core changes to the code garnered support.

    “The heart of it is a matrix that explains what’s allowed and what’s not. In the current code it’s broken out into three or four different tables, and it gets confusing,” Leikness said.  “What we’re shooting for there is to dramatically simplify the permitting process. I think this draft will help staff understand the code better when they apply it and, hopefully, it will be easier for the general public and the property owner when they apply for a sign permit.”

  • Last-minute moves cause concerns

    For many parents that have kids attending the middle school this year, it was worry enough knowing their kids were going to be getting an education in a virtual construction zone as the middle school undergoes a multi-million dollar, year-long renovation.

    As the summer wore on and the first day of school loomed closer and closer, worry turned to frustration as the portable classrooms meant for the middle school students just sat in a lot outside Los Alamos High School, with no plans to move them in sight.

    Add to that the decision to move the portable classrooms was delayed by two more weeks due to a complaint from one of the project’s losing bidders. The uncertainty and delays brought many parents to their breaking point.

    Even School Board President Kevin Honnell was frustrated.

    “There was a lot of concern about this. I had to watch, like the rest of the residents driving back and forth on Diamond Drive, the calendar days peel by with nothing being done,” Honnell said.

    But at Tuesday’s  Los Alamos Public Schools Board of Education meeting, he and others finally got their answers from McCarthy spokesman David Wharram.

  • First day of school

    Wednesday marked the first day of school for Los Alamos Public School students.

  • Secret thoughts from the jury

    Forty people shuffle into the courtroom. They take assigned seats, which correspond to their names on a diagram. They look serious and a little intimidated.
    Voir dire begins – the question-and-answer process by which the biases and beliefs of these potential jurors will be disclosed, and a jury of 12 members and two alternates will be selected to decide the fate of another human being.
    The judge introduces himself, the attorneys, and the defendant. This is a criminal trial, he says. The defendant is accused of possession of heroin.
    The defendant is a small, middle-aged man whose blank facial expression does not change. He looks slightly shabby in nondescript slacks and a flannel shirt.  
    The judge asks questions first.  Do any of you know the defendant, he says, or me, or any of the attorneys, or the District Attorney for whom the prosecuting attorneys work?
     I’m the first to raise a hand. I know someone with the District Attorney, not well. Well enough to influence my decision?
    No, Your Honor. The judge asks about the jurors’ schedules and potential time conflicts.
    The prosecutor asks questions. How do you feel about the drug laws? Are they too strict or not strict enough? Marijuana should be legalized, someone says. Another says the drug laws should be stricter.

  • Depreciation prevents expense spikes

    The Internal Revenue Service stipulates that businesses must capitalize expenditures for big-ticket items and recover that cost over several years – a practice known as depreciation – to avoid dramatic changes in the financial statements of a business from one year to the next. Knowing when to depreciate and when to claim a special one-time expense deduction is critical for entrepreneurs.
    Capital expenditures offer businesses an opportunity to expand operations — to modernize and grow — by buying the equipment and capital they need and deducting these costs on their income tax return. This fuels economic expansion.
    Depreciation makes sense when a business makes a major capital investment that offers long-term benefits, but is purchased upfront or over the short-term. Typical candidates for depreciation include vehicles, buildings, furniture, equipment, and computer systems. Rather than frighten investors by recording the whole impact of a purchase in one financial period, where it can create a loss, a company can spread it out over many financial periods effectively matching the deduction to the period of benefit. It matters not how the loan is repaid; what matters is how long the investment is expected to provide an economic benefit.

  • Tree trimming begins Monday in LA, WR

     Preventing power outages and unsafe fire hazards by trimming trees too close to power lines is a safety and reliability priority for the Los Alamos Dept. of Public Utilities (DPU). The DPU has engaged Allied Tree Service to trim around the overhead power lines in White Rock and Los Alamos starting Monday.

    The tree trimming project is anticipated to last 2‐3 months with work beginning at the Ski Hill, then moving to White Rock, then the Los Alamos town site. The tree trimming is necessary to prevent trees from coming into contact with power lines and touching un‐insulated wires which can lead to power outages.

    The DPU will make every attempt to notify nearby affected residents and businesses one week in advance of tree trimming work in their area. Trimming will occur within designated utility easements and the DPU asks the public to allow the trimming crews to access these areas.

     For more information contact Deputy Utility Manager for Electric Distribution Rafael De La Torre (rafael.delatorre@lacnm.us) or Michael Salazar (Michael.salazar@lacnm.us) or call the 311 Customer Care Center at 662‐8333.    

  • Topes Notes 08-15-12

    Colorado Springs wins series opener

  • Back to Business

    Monday was the first official day of preseason for several prep fall sports around the state, including girls soccer. The Los Alamos High School girls soccer participants got together twice Monday, including Monday night’s workout at the Pueblo Complex. The Hilltopper girls soccer team opens the season Aug. 25 at Farmington.

  • Tripp turns in resignation letter, will leave on Friday

    The New Mexico Activities Association announced Tuesday that executive director Gary Tripp will resign his post effective Friday.
    Tripp, who has headed the NMAA since 2004, is leaving to assume the role of principal at Zia Pueblo Day School.
    The NMAA said a team of three officers, commissioner of officials Dana Sanchez, deputy director Bill Cleland and assistant executive director Sally Marquez, will take over the association’s day-to-day operations until a new executive director is hired.
    This is not the first time Tripp, who was the athletic director at Rio Rancho before taking over the state’s top high school interscholastic sports job, has made plans to resign. Tripp turned in a resignation letter to the NMAA board of directors in summer 2011 that he would retire following the 2011-12 academic year.
    However, Tripp rescinded his letter and remained the executive director. But an emergency meeting of the board was called Tuesday morning where Tripp announced his intentions to step down.
    Los Alamos athletic director Vicki Nelms, who said she was caught off-guard with Tripp’s announcement last year, said she was again surprised by Tuesday’s announcement of his resignation.

  • US government launches new immigration program

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Young illegal aliens are scrambling to get passports and other records in order as the Homeland Security Department starts accepting applications to allow them to avoid deportation and get work permits.

    Homeland Security announced the details Tuesday of what documents illegal aliens would need to prove that they are eligible for the Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The announcement came a day before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services was set to begin letting people apply for the program.

    Hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens potentially could benefit from the program, which President Barack Obama announced in June. The program is beginning just months before what promises to be a tight contest for the White House in which the Hispanic vote may play an important role.

    Obama has come under fire from Hispanic voters and others who say he hasn't fulfilled a previous campaign promise to overhaul the nation's immigration laws. The policy change could stop deportations for more than 1 million young illegal aliens who would have qualified for the failed DREAM Act, formally the Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act, which Obama has supported in the past.