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Today's News

  • Assets In Action: Technology can be a blessing or a curse

    This week, we talk about technology as it relates to adults.
    To me, technology is a blessing and a curse.
    When I know what I’m doing, it is a blessing. When I don’t know what I’m doing, it is a curse.
    I have a cell phone — by no means top of the line, actually a hand-me-down from my son. It is not a Smart phone, but alas, it is probably smarter than I am.
    The other day I was at Smith’s in White Rock, when a young worker named Shane (I think … I’m a bear of very little brain this week), asked to scan the barcode looking emblem on my shirt.
    You see them everywhere now, in advertisements, in stores and more.
    Do you know what happens when you scan them or what they do?
    Well, Shane took the time to show me what happens.
    The shirt I was wearing was for a group called America’s Promise. The emblem on the back of the shirt was able to be scanned by his cell phone and it took him to their website.
    Yes, a cell phone that could take a photo of what looks like a puzzle piece on my shirt, allowed the boy to look up information about a program and our community and have it all at his fingertips.
    Amazing!
    Now, I want to talk about the downside of technology for me.

  • Police Beat 08-21-12

    Police Beat items are compiled from public information contained in Los Alamos Police Department Records. Charges or citations listed in Police Beat do not imply innocence or guilt. The Los Alamos Police Department uses the term “arrest” to define anyone who has been physically arrested; served a court summons, or issued a citation.

    August 9

    9:43 a.m. ­–– Robert Montoya, 29, of Carlsbad, was arrested for driving with a suspended license, no proof of insurance and no registration in the 1200 block of Trinity Drive.

    August 11

    2:59 a.m. ­­–– A 38-year-old Los Alamos woman was the victim of a vehicle burglary in the 3000 block of Orange Street.

    3:56 a.m. –– Kyle Medrick, 20, of Los Alamos was arrested for burglary from a vehicle in the 1400 block of 35th Street.

    11:11 a.m. –– Robert Chavez, 19, of San Juan Pueblo was arrested for possession of a controlled substance, and two counts of drug paraphernalia possession.

    August 12

  • Probe continues into battalion chief's DUI charge

    The Los Alamos Fire Department recently received a key piece of information regarding an investigation into one of its own.

    According to Chief Troy Hughes, the department has received the official arrest report of Battalion Chief Kelly Sterna.

    Now that the department has the report, it can set the wheels of its investigation into motion.

    Sterna was arrested at a sobriety checkpoint in Albuquerque Aug. 4,  just after midnight on Eubank Boulevard. According to police, he failed a sobriety test and had a blood alcohol level of .08. Since the arrest, Sterna has been on administrative leave pending the outcome of an LAFD internal investigation.

    Hughes said he is not sure when the investigation will wrap up, since Sterna’s guilt or innocence has yet to be determined by the courts. “We operate on the premise of innocent until proven guilty,” said Hughes.

    Hughes also said the investigation may be a while because of the department’s relationship with the Los Alamos National Laboratory. “Because there is a security clearance involved, there will be a more extensive investigation, than what you might find in other counties,” Hughes said.

  • Update 08-21-12

    Public hearing

    A public hearing on Draft Surplus Plutonium Disposition Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement  is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. today at the Holiday Inn Express in Los Alamos.

    Authors Speak

    Author Vaunda Nelson will discuss her award-winning book “Bad News for Outlaws: the Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal” at 7 p.m. Thursday at Mesa Library.

    Groundbreaking

    The public is invited to join the county council for the groundbreaking event for the new Golf Course Community Building at 11:30 a.m. Friday, at the building site. Refreshments will be served.

    County Council

    The Los Alamos County Council will hold its regular meeting at 7 p.m. today in council chambers.

    Dedication

    The Arts in Public Places will host a statue dedication at 3 p.m. Wednesday in the Justice Center courtyard.

  • District hikes rent on instruments

    For all those aspiring musicians out there in the Los Alamos Public Schools system, the school board has some good news and some bad news.

    The bad news is, it recently voted to raise the rental fees for school instruments by $20, making the price $100 to rent an instrument from the district per school year and $50 for the summer. Percussionists, who never had to pay a rental fee, will now have to pay $20 a year for the privilege.

    The good news is the rental rates haven’t been raised since the 80s, and the $20 hike should be more than adequate to take care of repairs for quite a while.

    “We decided on $20 because it was a nice round number that would be adequate for repair and maintenance of the instruments,” said Kim Lettellier, the school system’s music staff team leader. “This should prevent us from having to nickel and dime parents every year.”

    During an interview with the school board, Lettellier also noted that $100 a year is still quite a bargain.

    “To rent a violin some place else, it would cost students about $15 a month. That’s a basic fee, anywhere you go,” she said. “ … It is quite a service we are providing to the community.”

  • Laser shoots first Martian target

    NASA’s Curiosity rover has zapped its first Martian rock, aiming its laser for the sake of science.

    During the target practice on Sunday. Curiosity fired 30 pulses at a nearby rock over a 10-second window, burning a small hole.

    Since landing in Gale Crater two weeks ago, the six-wheel rover has been checking out its instruments including the laser. During its two-year mission, Curiosity was expected to point the laser at various rocks as it drives toward Mount Sharp, a 3-mile-high mountain rising from the crater floor.

    Its goal is to determine whether the Martian environment was habitable.

    In several days, flight controllers will command Curiosity to move its wheels side-to-side and take its first short drive.

    Members of the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover ChemCam team have received the first photos from the instrument’s remote micro imager. The successful capture of ChemCam’s first 10 photos sets the stage for the first test bursts of the instrument’s rock-zapping laser in the near future.

  • Preparation will spur economic growth

    When Economic Vitality Administrator Greg Fisher asked for council’s approval of his Economic Development Fund program priorities and budget two weeks ago, he painted a grim picture of the current situation.

    Although some needs — such as replacing an aging county infrastructure — are being addressed, critical pieces of a sound foundation are missing.

    A shortage of desirable commercial sites and blight are two issues that have been identified.

    “We had a national retailer that we met at the International Conference of Shopping Centers who came into town last week looking for 4,000 square feet for a national sporting goods store. He couldn’t find anything that suited him,” Fisher said. “We’re pushing real hard to get him into something now, but the point is, having a good quality commercial product available is half the battle of getting economic development in the community.”

    “We have a lot of aging commercial properties. It comes with the territory when you have a community that was built about the same time. Many of the buildings are 50 and 60 and 70 years old now, and that’s just the time when they either get renovated or fall apart,” Fisher said.

    Fisher acknowledged the county’s limitations in cleaning up blight.

  • Gas line leak causes school evacuation

    Los Alamos Middle School was evacuated Monday afternoon when a gas line was inadvertently punctured by construction crews at approximately 1:10 p.m.  

    According to LAMS Principal Rex Kilburn, procedures for emergencies such as this were followed and there was a two-hour delay today for students and staff.

    “The gas is off to the site, and I have directed McCarthy ( the construction contractor) to search for any other potential leaks,” Kilburn said.

    School Utilities Facilitator Jeff Sargent, said the gas line is owned by the school and supplies the kitchen area. It also heats water for rest of the school. Sargent said they shut off the gas yesterday and have started a 24-hour pressure check on the pipe. As of 8 a.m. Tuesday morning, Sargent said they are still working on the problem.

    “We are still concerned, because we are still registering a slight drop in pressure,” Sargent said. As for the kitchen being inoperable, he said that’s been taken care of too. “We’ve already negotiated with our food service to bring hot food from offsite,” he said.

    The LAMS website stated there will be no gas pressurization tests while students are on campus. Food service will not be affected Tuesday.

  • Rahn is all about practical design

    Pete Rahn’s path has taken him from Farmington to Santa Fe, where he was Highway and Transportation Department secretary for Gov. Gary Johnson, to Missouri, where he had the same job, to Kansas City, where he joined HNTB Corp., and back to New Mexico, where he lives while working with HNTB and is a member of the Transportation Commission.
    HNTB, Rahn says, does large complex transportation projects but does not work in New Mexico, which means his commission post poses no conflict.
    One modest insight into Rahn is his subscription to at least one car magazine. We visited at the Rahn dining table.
    Practical Design provided an overview for consideration of the big picture of transportation (really, roads) in New Mexico. Practical Design is a conceptual road design and construction framework that Rahn started in New Mexico. The approach was fully developed in Missouri and has been adopted by other states. The word “practical” explains much.
    “Practical design is about a lot of little things that add up to a lot,” Rahn says.
    Some realities overlay New Mexico’s roads.

  • When you should file an amended tax return

    Not every interaction with the IRS must necessarily induce flop sweat.
    Case in point: A few years ago a friend of mine decided his income taxes had become sufficiently complicated to merit hiring an accountant. After examining previous tax returns, the accountant discovered my friend had claimed the standard deduction for two years when he should have itemized expenses. He filed a couple of amended tax returns and voila – the IRS wrote him checks totaling more than $1,200.
    Of course, not all tax-filing mistakes end on such a happy note. Sometimes people find out after submitting a return that their employer had sent an incorrect W-2 form, or they forgot to report self-employment income, or they incorrectly claimed someone as a dependent.
    Although it’s tempting to let such mistakes slide, chances are the IRS will discover the error eventually, and when they do you could be liable for interest and penalties going back to the due date of the original tax return. Worst case: You could even face criminal charges for filing a fraudulent return.
    Here’s a guide to when – and how – you should file an amended tax return: