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Today's News

  • New Mexico considers rules for dark-money groups in politics

    SANTA FE — A proposal requiring more-detailed financial disclosures from nonprofit advocacy organizations that attempt to influence elections and ballot measures in New Mexico earned both praise and criticism at a public comment hearing Thursday at the state Capitol.

    The campaign finance rules drafted by the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office take aim at so-called dark money groups that can spend unlimited amounts to influence elections and ballot measures when acting independently of campaigns and candidates.

    Affected advocacy groups that spend more than $1,000 on political advertising would have to provide the name and address of each person who made contributions of more than $200 to fund independent political expenditures.

    The rules include similar provisions to a bill with bipartisan support vetoed in April by GOP Gov. Susana Martinez, who argued it would hamper charities and discourage charitable donations. About 50 people attended the first of three public hearings on the rules, developed by Democratic Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver.

    Several conservative-backed groups with a statewide and national presence warned that the measures would have a chilling effect on free speech and may drive away donors to political causes who value their privacy and worry about intimidation.

  • Man arrested for DUI on Independence Day

    Phillip Swazo, 28, of Santa Fe was arrested in White Rock on July 4 for driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs, driving on a suspended license, carrying an open container of alcohol and displaying an invalid registration plate.

    On July 4, at about 10:10 p.m., Los Alamos Police Department Cpl. Jaime Gonzales was conducting patrols on Meadow Lane after the fireworks show when he spotted a driver holding a bottle of whiskey.

    “The driver brought a large bottle of Crown Royal up to his face as if he was going to take a drink,” said Gonzales in his statement of probable cause.

    The LAPD officer conducted a traffic stop and approached the vehicle, making contact with the driver who was identified as Swazo.

    When Gonzales asked the passengers to hand over the alcohol in the car, they gave an opened bottle of tequila and said the Crown Royal was thrown in the back. “While speaking with the driver, I could smell an odor of an alcoholic beverage emanating from the vehicle.”

    Gonzales learned from dispatch that Swazo’s license had been revoked, so he asked Swazo to step out of the car.

    “He stated that he had nothing to drink inside the vehicle but he did drink alcohol at the park during the festivities.”

  • Council OK’s waste fee hike

    Los Alamos County Council voted six to one Tuesday to increase waste disposal and recycling fees by an average of $3.

    The vote was 6-1, with Counselor James Chrobocinski voting against the increase.

    For residents and businesses, the monthly $22 fee will increase to $25. Dumpster collection service will increase from $121.22 to $125.

    The new fee structure was based on recommendations from Environmental Services staff and the Environmental Sustainability Board.

    These fee increase will go into effect immediately.

    The increase will close a projected  $300,000 deficit in the Environmental Services budget, which Environmental Services officials said is mostly due to escalating costs in disposal.

    Another cause is the declining value of oil, which impact the price the county gets for its recyclables.

    The fee increase will bring in $326,000 annually.

    Los Alamos County Council Vice Chair Susan O’Leary approved of the increases, along with five of her colleagues.

  • Residents near Trinity Test Site to hold anniversary vigil

    TULAROSA (AP) — New Mexico residents living near the site of the first atomic bomb test 72 years ago are planning a vigil to remember loved ones who have died from cancer.
    Tularosa Basin Downwinders have scheduled a candlelight vigil Saturday to honor those advocates say died from diseases related to the atomic explosion.
    The group says the Trinity Test on July 16, 1945, irreparably altered the gene pools of residents in surrounding communities such as the historic Hispanic village of Tularosa.
    The Downwinders are currently lobbying for compensation and apologies from the U.S. government.
    The Trinity Test took place as part of the Manhattan Project, a top-secret World War II nuclear development program run out of the then-secret city of Los Alamos, New Mexico.
     

  • 2nd hantavirus death this year reported in New Mexico

    SANTA FE (AP) — New Mexico Department of Health officials have reported the second hantavirus death this year in the state.
    They say a 53-year-old woman from McKinley County died while a 35-year-old woman in Lincoln County was hospitalized with hantavirus but has recovered.
    State health officials say there have been five lab-confirmed cases of hantavirus in New Mexico this year.
    In 2016, there were eight cases in the state with five fatalities.
    Hantavirus is a severe respiratory disease in humans.
    It is passed to humans by infected rodents through urine, droppings or saliva and can be fatal.
    People can contract the disease when they breathe in aerosolized virus.
    Authorities say the deer mouse is the main carrier of the hantavirus strain found in New Mexico.
     

  • County expands free public wifi to downtown area

    Los Alamos County has expanded its free public wifi system in time for this weekend’s ScienceFest.

    Residents and visitors can now access free wifi at Ashley Pond Park, Fuller Lodge, including the eastern Fuller Lodge Lawn area, and the library overflow lot, used by the weekly Farmers Market on Thursdays.

    “As we begin to enhance the visitor experience with more digital technology or apps for our historic district, having free WiFi was given a high priority in our immediate goals to promote the new park,” said Linda Matteson, assistant to the county manager and project manager for the new Manhattan Project National Historical Park. “By using this public WiFi and the Los Alamos: Secret City of the Manhattan Project app, visitors should be able to take a virtual tour of this area in downtown Los Alamos that will allow them to step back in time and experience Los Alamos as it appeared during the days of the Manhattan Project.”

    The permanent service will remain in place after ScienceFest, and is an expansion of the county-provided wifi service at the library and Municipal Building.

    The cost to design and install the service was about $150,000 and was approved by County Council in May 2016 as part of the Fiscal Year 2017 budget.

  • NNSA releases LANL contract bid details

    The National Nuclear Security Administration released a draft request for proposals late Wednesday for the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s management and operations contract.

    Main criteria includes past performance, the resumes of key personnel and small business participation.

    "The contractor shall, with the highest degree of vision, quality, integrity, efficiency, and technical excellence, maintain a strong, multi-disciplinary scientific and engineering capability and technical depth that is responsive to scientific issues of national importance in addition to national security responsibilities, including broadly based programs in such areas as the environment, national infrastructure, health, energy, economic and industrial competitiveness, and science education to achieve the mission,”  a statement in the RFP said.

    Los Alamos National Security, the group that currently manages the lab, has a $2.2 billion management and operations contract that ends in 2018. LANS LLC is made up of a consortium of private and public companies, including Bechtel National, INC., BWXT Government Group, Inc., the University of California and URS.

    The Department of Energy decided in 2015 to put the contract out to bid after LANS failed to meet performance goals set by the DOE.

  • Council OK's waste fee hike

    Los Alamos County Council voted six to one Tuesday night to increase waste disposal and recycling fees by an average of $3 for some of the services the county offers.

    For residents and businesses, the monthly $22 fee will increase to $25. Dumpster collection service will increase from $121.22 to $125.

    The new fee structure was based on recommendations from Environmental Services staff and the Environmental Sustainability Board.

    The fee increase will go into effect immediately.

    The increase will close a chronic $300,000 average deficit in the Environmental Services budget, which Environmental Services officials said is due to escalating disposal and recycling costs. The fee increase will total $326,000.

    Read Friday’s Los Alamos Monitor for more on this story.

     

  • Jemez Pueblo ready for Bear Paw Quilt Show

    The Jemez Mountains Bear Paw Quilt Guild invites the community to their annual Quilt Show.
    Come see a dazzling display of quilts, including the Patriotic Fallen Warrior Quilts given to New Mexico families that have lost a soldier in the Middle East.
    A selection of quilts and handmade items will also be available for sale (cash only).
    Admission is free. The event takes place July 21-23. Friday and Saturday the show will run 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. On Sunday, the show will run 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. It takes place at the Walatowa Visitor Center, 7413 Hwy 4.
     

  • PEEC offers drawing class with local artist Lisa Coddington

    Artist and instructor Lisa Coddington is returning to teach a one-day workshop on drawing using botanical and natural subjects at the Los Alamos Nature Center on July 20. This class, made possible by Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC), is great for all skill levels. The workshop will run from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Register to learn techniques for creating realistic, still life, and nature-inspired art.

    Participants will explore pencil techniques that portray plants and animals. With easy to understand demonstrations and master artist examples, Lisa will work to reinforce confidence in creating dimensional, summer-themed subjects. Her next class will take place on July 27th and will feature painting and watercolor techniques.

    Coddington earned her Master of Art in Illustration at Syracuse University. She has illustrated a children’s book and has received commissions by regional and national firms for her artwork and art instruction. Her whimsical characters have been licensed for ornaments and are also featured on greeting cards.