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Today's News

  • Veterans post honors those who honored them

    The Los Alamos Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8874 awarded two essay writers and a retired teacher Thursday for honoring their commitment to veterans and the country.

    Teacher Andrea Determan, who taught in the Los Alamos Public Schools for many years, was honored for educating her fourth-grade Barranca Elementary School students about the American flag, proper flag etiquette and how to show respect for the country.

    Determan was awarded Teacher of the Year by the post and the VFW District 6 office.

    “I appreciate everything you do for our country, what you’ve done before and I appreciate those who are coming up,” Determan said to the veteran’s who honored her.

    At the ceremony, Determan received certificates from the post and the district office. She also received $100 from the post, the district office and the VFW Post 8874 Auxiliary.

    Kaya Loy, a sixth-grade student at Barranca Elementary School nominated Determan for the award. Loy was a student in Determan’s class when she was in the fourth grade.

    “She really inspired me to show more respect for my country, she completely deserves this,” Loy said.

  • LAPS begins public budget meetings

    The Los Alamos School District held the first of four state-mandated public meetings Thursday night as part of the process geared to solidifying its 2018-19 budget.

    Lisa Montoya, Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations, introduced those in attendance at the high school’s speech theater to what goes into the early stages of the budget process.

    “I always start with a Budget 101,” she said, “just to let everyone know some of the basic terminology and steps we go through.”

    This is the fifth time Montoya has gone through this procedure with the district.

    “As we go through the process I will bring forth what my expenses have been year to date and what I have projected them out to be for the end of the year,” she said. “For example, this year we spent this amount on gas, we spent this amount on salaries and benefits, teacher development, whatever it is. Whatever the category is for expenses, just how much we have spent in that category.”

    The administration monitored the outcomes of the state’s recent legislative session and continues to analyze the impact those measures will have on next year’s budget. It will continue to develop and review potential budget savings options through March, as well as starting school and department budget reviews.

  • Not just yet, gardeners

    It may feel like spring out there with the warm weather and the absence of snow, but gardeners out there should hold off for a bit longer, according to local experts.

    In northern New Mexico, Mother Nature is fickle, and it’s not a good idea to count your perennials before they hatch.

    According to New Mexico State University,  Los Alamos County Program Director Carlos Valdez, gardeners should stick to their regular February schedule. That is if there is no snow on the ground, continue with regular cleanup chores, and perhaps some watering, especially if temps have gone past 50 degrees for longer than a few days in a row.

    “Anything that’s been newly planted ought to be getting a good shot of water,” Valdez said.

    Newly planted means plants planted in the last planting season. Don’t try to plant anything now, even though it may feel like spring.

    “Invariably, in April, we will have a hard freeze,” Valdez said. “Stick to the usual routine with the exception of hard watering.”

    Master gardener and Summit Garden Club member Doris Thieleman suggests waiting until mid-May to plant.

  • A peaceful end

    There were no threats of a government shutdown this time.

    Instead, a sort of political peace reigned as the 30-day legislative session ended Thursday with a $6.3 billion budget headed to the governor’s desk along with a bipartisan slate of crime legislation and pay raises for teachers and state police.

    The bombast and sense of crisis that marked the 2017 session seemed to evaporate as Gov. Susana Martinez sought to strike a conciliatory tone on her way out of office.

    But gone, too, were any major initiatives or innovative policy changes.

    With Martinez nearing the end of her term and the state’s financial outlook brightening but not totally sunny, the session ended anticlimactically, with lawmakers eager to avoid another partisan showdown as they also wait to see what direction the state’s economy – and the governor’s yet-to-be-elected successor – might take.

    More than any new laws or programs, perhaps the biggest thing legislators gave New Mexicans during this session was a sense that their state government is no longer lurching from one financial crisis to another.

  • Who won, who lost in 2018 legislative session

    Winners

    College students: The New Mexico Lottery’s staff and various legislators wanted to rewrite state law to eliminate the requirement that 30 percent of gross revenue from the lottery go for college scholarships.

    Lottery employees and their lobbyists said the proposed change, combined with more prizes, would someday funnel even more money to the scholarship fund. Opponents of the measure countered that students would be shortchanged for years and maybe forever.

    House members heavily amended the bill to guarantee students at least $40 million a year for scholarships. That bill died, but the 30 percent requirement for scholarships remains intact – a good outcome for students trying to get a degree without accumulating debt from loans.

    Think New Mexico: The Santa Fe-based policy organization fought the lottery staff’s proposal all through the session.

    Spaceport America: Just a few years ago, some lawmakers were calling it a boondoggle. This year, it got $10 million to build a hangar, a boost in its operating budget and exceptions from the state’s open records law.

    Public employees: State and public school employees get a 2 percent pay raise. Teachers get 2.5 percent and state police officers get 8.5 percent.

  • Legislature OKs $180M in capital outlay projects

    There have been years in which there was much more money for brick-and-mortar projects in the state.

    But thanks to a rebound in gas and oil revenues, New Mexico has far more severance tax funds this year than last. And that means a lot more money for roads, senior centers, sewage plants and government buildings around the state, including a new state vital records bureau building in Santa Fe, as well as an expansion of the municipal airport’s parking facility.

    Lawmakers approved House Bill 306, which authorizes $179.8 million for capital projects.

    This includes $142.4 million from severance tax bonding capacity, about $36.3 million from other state funds and almost $1.1 million from the state general fund.

    More than $20 million is available for Santa Fe-area projects, though nearly $6.2 million of that would go toward a settlement in the decades-old federal Aamodt water rights case.

  • NNSA releases draft assessment of LANL plutonium factory complex

    The National Nuclear Security Administration released a draft environmental assessment for one part of its proposed Plutonium Factory Complex at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

     

    The heads of two environmental and nuclear safety organizations say the assessment shows the plutonium pit program will remain at Los Alamos, and be expanded.

    The NNSA is looking for comments and questions through March 26 on it’s plans to convert the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Radiological Laboratory/Utility/Office Building into a facility capable of handling and testing plutonium slated to be used in the lab’s plutonium pit manufacturing facility at Tech Area 55. 

    The move comes after recent changes related to the health risks of handling plutonium were revised. To reflect the change, the building would be made into a material-at-risk-limited Hazard Category 3 nuclear facility.

    Los Alamos Study Group Executive Director Greg Mello said this is a sign that LANL’s plutonium pit manufacturing program is here to stay in Los Alamos.

  • Letters to the Editor

    Students know better
    than anyone horrors of situation

     

    Dear Editor,

    I admire the stance that students in Florida have taken, after the latest horrific school shooting. These events are largely due to the careless distribution of military weapons to too many people. The students know better than anyone, the horror and absurdity of the current situation.

    These students are not just “kids.”  Many are mature young adults with skills beyond those of many older citizens. They appear to be less childish than many of our country’s leaders.  

    I hope that they will succeed in their passionate quest, including the March 24 national demonstration. It gives me great comfort to know that these bright young people will be voting in upcoming elections, and serving as leaders in the near future.

    John W. Clough

    Los Alamos

     

  • I’m an outsider, proven job creator, running for U.S. Senate

    I’m Mick Rich, and I’m running for the U.S. Senate. I’m not a career politician. I’m an outsider and a proven job creator.

    From the time I was in grade school, I wanted to build big things. I worked my way through college in construction and started my own company here in New Mexico. 

    Along the way, learning Hard Hat Values. 

    What are Hard Hat Values? Always do your best work. Use teamwork for every job. And do what it takes to get the job done. 

    Thirty-five years ago, I chose to start my construction business in New Mexico, because I loved the beauty of this state and the character of its people, and I knew I could make a difference here. This is where my wife, Marion, and I chose to make our home and raise our family.

    With the help of Marion and our four children, along with the efforts of scores of skilled and dedicated employees, I have helped to build communities around our state.

    New Mexico’s strongest resource is you and me, the people. People who work hard, treat one another with respect, and do what it takes to get the job done. We care for others and take pride our in our lives. That’s Hard Hat Values.

  • Legislators: We don’t want to be Congress

     

    Last year was about digging holes. This year’s recently completed legislative session was about filling holes – literally, figuratively and financially.

    It was also about working together. “We don’t want to be Congress,” they said again and again.

    During the 2017 session, budgeters frantically emptied the state’s reserves, school balances and other funds to fill a deficit caused by plunging oil and gas tax revenues. It was an unforgiving process.

    In recent weeks, they’ve talked about “backfilling,” replenishing reserves and fund balances and restoring agency budgets.

    Two of the big issues were crime and the unstable, man-made cavity beneath Carlsbad. Lawmakers finally stopped talking and approved funding to remediate the Carlsbad Brine Well. Even then I heard griping: Why should it be the state’s responsibility? Well, we’ve harvested boatloads of taxes from the industry for decades. We can’t suddenly wash our hands of its impacts. (Footnote: Debates about over-regulation suddenly fall flat when we have a spectacular failure of regulation, and in this case it was a failure of state regulation.)