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Today's News

  • LAPS teachers do own survey for exit info

    Concerned by the fact that some of Los Alamos County’s better teachers were thinking of leaving the profession, teachers Megan Lee and Amy Bartlett-Gaunt decided to take a survey of the district’s teachers.
    They later presented the survey to the school board at a Jan. 26 work session at Chamisa Elementary School.
    “What if we did a survey, where we asked real questions to teachers, and collected data to show what the situation is?” Lee told the board at the work session.
    With the approval of Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus, they set to work, and came up with some interesting data. Lee said 193 out of the 247 teachers in the district participated.
    What the two teachers found was that about 67 percent of the teachers were seriously thinking about leaving the profession.
    “We think that this is a very sad but valuable piece of information as we go forward looking for a new evaluation system,” Bartlett-Gaunt said to the board.
    They also found that many of them thought the survey system the state uses to rate their effectiveness as teachers was seriously flawed, and was one of the main reasons teachers were thinking about quitting teaching.

  • Lab responds to critical report of safety practices

    The Los Alamos National Laboratory responded to an annual report the National Nuclear Security Administration sent to the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board Feb. 2. The report was critical of the lab’s design and manufacture of nuclear components.
    The report measures the lab’s nuclear criticality safety programs and how well LANL is doing in implementing safety measures in the manufacture and design of nuclear components.
    The purpose of the report is to prevent accidents that could lead to the discharge of radiation and other toxic materials related to the components and their manufacture into the environment.
    “Along with the National Nuclear Security Administration, the Laboratory continues its effort to improve in the area of criticality safety,” LANL Spokesman Kevin Roark said. “As noted in the metric report, compensatory measures are in place to ensure safe operations. The Laboratory has taken a series of actions that include: implementing new and rigorous criticality safety controls; providing enhanced training to management and staff; evaluating and improving operating procedures which implement criticality controls; validating procedures can be used exactly as written; ensuring criticality safety documents and procedures are readily available to operators and increasing staffing levels.”​

  • Gardeners get a start with seed exchange

    It was obvious from the number of people walking around town in short sleeved shirts during the early February “heat wave” that spring fever had set in. In some people, that brings on the urge to get their garden going.
    Although it is far too early for that, Master Gardener KokHeong McNaughton says it is the perfect time of year to start the seeds for that garden.
    “This is about the time of year to start seeds, right after Groundhog Day,” McNaughton said. “According to the agricultural calendar, this is when most farmers would start thinking about planting seeds.”
    To help facilitate that, the church’s gardening group began hosting the Community Seed Swap three years ago.
    The idea grew out of the local permaculture group’s annual seed exchange. The group meets for breakfast on the second Friday each month to talk about permaculture. Every year they gather to trade the seeds they saved the previous year for others.
    Since most of the group’s members belong to the Unitarian Church, they decided to turn their annual swap into a church project open to other members of the congregation.
    “And then we decided, why don’t we involve the community,” McNaughton said, and the Community Seed Swap was born.

  • Shipments to nation's only nuclear dump will resume in April

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — The U.S. Energy Department said Tuesday that shipments to the nation's only underground nuclear waste repository are expected to resume in April, more than three years after they were halted in response to a radiation release that contaminated part of the facility.
    Officials released plans for nearly 130 shipments from federal laboratories and other national defense sites over the next year. Those sites must demonstrate that they're ready to load the radioactive waste and that it meets new safety requirements.
    The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant was forced to close in February 2014 after an inappropriately packed drum of waste ruptured. Some operations resumed in December after an expensive recovery effort that has yet to be fully completed.
    Over the last three years, tons of waste left over from decades of nuclear weapons research and development has been stacking up at sites around the country, hampering the government's multibillion-dollar cleanup program.
    Todd Shrader, manager of the DOE's Carlsbad Field Office, acknowledged that the suspension of disposal work posed challenges for the agency and the sites where waste has been building up.

  • New Mexico's only GOP congressman has no town halls slated

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — The only Republican in New Mexico's congressional delegation has not scheduled any traditional town hall meetings amid anger and general fears about the Trump administration in some parts of the nation.
    Instead, Rep. Steve Pearce, R-Hobbs, is asking constituents to sign up for a "telephone town hall" on Wednesday.
    Pearce spokesman Keeley Christensen declined to say if the Republican would hold any traditional town halls in the future and whether tense gatherings elsewhere led him to hold the telephone town hall.
    Christensen said the telephone town hall had been scheduled for "around a month" because it would reach more constituents than any rural gathering. She declined to say why Pearce hasn't scheduled a traditional town hall meeting now that other Republican congress members are getting high attendance at theirs.
    A reporter was invited to attend the telephone town hall but told he couldn't ask Pearce any questions.
    Republicans who want to repeal the Affordable Care Act are facing angry pushback at constituent meetings in Utah, Michigan, Tennessee and elsewhere, even in some solidly Republican districts.

  • Open house for professional headshots

    To help the local business community enhance their personal branding in 2017, projectY cowork and Paulina Gwaltney Photography will offer an open house for professional headshots from noon-7 p.m. Wednesday.
    The event will be held at Paulina Gwaltney’s studio at 3500 Trinity Dr., Ste. D1. Gwaltney will take walk-ins for headshot sittings, which will take about 15 minutes. On that day, all people in need of a new professional portrait will receive a $101 credit, which will bring the cost of a headshot to only $99 (normally a $200 value). All clients will be presented with three quality headshots from which to choose.
    Gwaltney is also offering custom packages for small business and corporate teams for individual headshots and group photos. Visit paulinagwaltney.com or contact her at info@paulinagwaltney.com.

  • Bandelier seeks public input on project

    The National Park Service at Bandelier National Monument is soliciting input on an Environmental Assessment for a project that proposes to construct two tri-plex housing units for temporary employees, and two group campsites for work crews, in the park’s Mesa Housing Area.
    The tri-plexes would replace four NPS-owned trailers which were set up in 1982 to be used for office space and housing for temporary employees.  In the intervening years they have deteriorated from age and are subject to rodent infestation; they are now condemned and unusable.  
    The tri-plex houses replacing the trailers would house five to nine NPS employees. The two 20-person campsites will provide facilities for short-term NPS work groups, researchers, and volunteers. Formerly, such crews have had to camp in Juniper Campground, which is intended and designed for family camping by park visitors.
    Detailed information on this project is available online at parkplanning.nps.gov/triplex; look under the “Open for Comment” tab.  Comments can be submitted at that location, online, or by mail to:  Superintendent, Bandelier National Monument, 15 Entrance Road, Los Alamos, NM  87544. Comments are most useful if submitted by March 12.

  • Shelter Report 2-12-17

    The Los Alamos Animal Shelter, 226 East Road, 662-8179, has a great selection of adoptable pets just waiting for their forever home, so come adopt your new best friend today! All adoptable pets are microchipped, spayed or neutered, and up-to-date on vaccinations. Shelter hours are noon – 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Saturday, and noon–3 p.m. Sunday.
    Be sure to check out the website at lafos.org, to get more information about volunteering, adopting and donating. Also check out Petfinder website for pictures of adoptable animals: petfinder.com/shelters/friendsoftheshelter.html.
    CATS
    Mr. Whiskers—A big tabby cat that is about 4 years old. Changes are a bit stressful for him, so he will likely need a little bit of time to adjust to his new home. He can be independent, but he’s also very sweet and likes to snuggle when he’s in the mood! He is okay with mellow cats, but other dominant males sometimes bother him.

  • DeVos confirmation definitely not a victory

    The Detroit News on U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos:

    Betsy DeVos has endured weeks of attacks on her character — and her mission to make schools work for children. But Michigan’s billionaire philanthropist has prevailed, despite the best efforts of Democrats and teachers unions.
    We’re glad for that.
    It was certainly not an easy victory. Following the defection of two Republican senators last week, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski and Maine’s Susan Collins, Vice President Mike Pence needed to cast the tie-breaking vote, which was unprecedented in Cabinet nominations.
    Democrats tried their darnedest to sway one more Republican to defect, spending 24 hours repeating union talking points on the Senate floor.
    The teachers unions have tried to convince politicians, teachers and even parents that DeVos will dismantle public education as it exists. That’s not true, and they know it, but to their credit they launched an effective campaign to discredit DeVos that almost worked.
    The federal Department of Education is in major need of an overhaul — one that will reduce its ever growing bureaucracy, which only causes headaches for districts and isn’t making a dent in academic performance.

  • In final decisions, we’re kinder to our dogs and cats

    I came home from dinner one evening and found my dog lying on the kitchen floor. She couldn’t get up. After I helped her up, she couldn’t walk.
    My dog was old. Her back legs had been weakening for months. She couldn’t see or hear much, was experiencing dementia, and was showing clear evidence of pain.
    I had been preparing myself for the difficult decision I would have to make some day. Did I say difficult? Heart wrenching.
    Our pets are so lucky. When they are too sick or too infirm and their lives are mostly suffering, we can arrange for them to die peacefully, painlessly and almost instantly, with the help of a compassionate veterinarian and some drugs. It’s been said this is the most loving thing we can do for our beloved pets.
    So I’ll point out a truth you might have heard a hundred times. In this most crucial matter, we can be kinder to our dogs and cats than we are allowed to be to our own families. New Mexico law does not allow us to help each other to die in peace.