Today's News

  • Funding, experience improve outlook for fire season

    Driving across the high plains recently, we spotted a fire stretched out across a field and thought somebody was burning weeds until we saw the fire truck speeding down the road from Fort Sumner.
    It’s that time of year when we scan the horizon, a little anxiously. Recent rains have spared us the usual bad news. As I write this, there was a small fire in the Gila National Forest and a larger fire across the line in Arizona.
    So we have the luxury of thinking about readiness, which means spending.
    In the much anticipated appropriations bill, Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich helped snag $4.2 billion for wildland fire management by the U. S. Forest Service and U. S. Interior Department. This includes $2.05 billion the agencies can use to respond to forest fires; with carryover balances, they should have enough money for expected firefighting.
    Udall got $407 million in emergency funding so the agencies don’t have to borrow from non-fire accounts. This is significant. What’s happened in the last few years is that Congress cut the Forest Service and Interior to the nub at the same time severe wildfires increased. Then the agencies had to tap funding they would have used for restoration and forest health, so preventive work didn’t get done. And that in turn leads to charges of mismanagement by the agencies.

  • Vote against the Rec Bond: There’s a Better Way

    President of A Better Way for LA PAC

    A Better Way for LA PAC was formed by concerned citizens who propose that we expand and improve recreation in ways that are fiscally responsible and sustainable. I do not question the quality of life benefits our community would receive from the Recreation Bond. Personally, I would love to see an indoor ice-skating rink and expanded recreational facilities.
    However, I question whether this bond represents the highest and best use of our tax dollars, when there are so many competing needs. There is a better way. 

    I am talking about robust and diverse funding models which have been adopted nationwide to build and operate state-of-the-art facilities. An entrepreneurial, business-minded approach to generating revenues. Strong engagement with the private sector. Philanthropy from private citizens, businesses and charitable foundations.

    Consider the city of Hobbs, which spent four years to “stand together and redefine the term ‘public-private partnership’ where six public and private institutions came together to collaborate on a true center of recreational excellence.” The CORE is set to open in the spring of 2018.

  • National Guard Museum to host WWII Living History Camps, reenactment

    The New Mexico National Guard Museum will host its second annual World War II Living History Camp and Reenactment from noon-5 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday at the museum located at 1050 Old Pecos Trail.  Admission is free.
    Visitors will be able to view World War II vehicles, equipment and weapons; discuss life during World War II with the reenactors portraying both sides; view a World War I replica airplane and a trench line.
    Margaret Garcia, author and daughter of World War II Bataan hero Evans Garcia, will give a presentation about her recent trip to the Philippines and the 75th Anniversary Commemoration of surrender of Bataan on May 13, 10 a.m.
    The Museum of the American Military Family, one of the NMNG’s Museum partners, will host a new exhibit dedication at 1 p.m. Saturday.
    The New Mexico National Guard Museum has also partnered with the Center for Contemporary Arts (CCA) who will be showing period cartoons and newsreels and the Santa Fe Children’s Museum who will conduct recycling and victory garden activities.
    The public and the media are invited to attend. Visit bataanmuseum.com for more information.

  • Regional Coalition to get insights Friday from LANL Foundation

    The Regional Coalition of LANL Communities (RCLC) is hosting its regular Board Meeting Friday in the Town of Taos Council Chambers, Coronado Hall, open to the public. The meeting will focus its discussion on the educational investments and work of the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) Foundation, and take an in-depth look at hiring and other investments the LANL Community Partnerships Office has managed. The RCLC will also hear updates on the state legislative efforts in preserving National Laboratory GRT in state and local communities, and will be briefed on a nuclear waste storage increase at LANL’s Technical Area 55 (TA-55).

  • County to host information table Thursday at Farmer’s Market for Rec Bond

    The County’s project team will host an information table this Thursday during the Farmer’s Market regarding the five proposed recreation bond projects currently being considered in an all mail-out election. Market-goers are encouraged to stop by and pick up the Voter Information Booklet or ask questions. The team will be at the market from 9- 11 a.m.
    Ballots for the special election were mailed out to registered voters last week and must be returned to the Clerk’s office by 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 23.
    For voter or election information, call the Clerk’s office at 662-8010.
    Two members of the County Council will host a booth at the Farmer’s Market on
    May 18, June 15, July 20, Sept. 14 and Oct. 19.
    This is an informal setting open to residents who would like to stop by with comments, concerns or questions from 9-11 a.m.
    The Council also hosts a booth during the County Fair, which will be held Aug. 12.

  • Despite bear concerns, race still on, say wildlife officials

    Environmentalists are criticizing the decision to run a backcountry trail race after a long-distance runner was attacked by a bear last year at a National Park Service preserve in northern New Mexico During a similar event.
    Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility last week said the National Park Service is downplaying the threat of interactions between wildlife and participants in a 50-mile race on Saturday at the Valles Caldera National Preserve.
    “If you read the documents, they probably shouldn’t have approved it,” PEER Director Jeff Ruch said. “They’ve improperly approved it. Some of the activity is not appropriate, it’s a preserve, not space for road races.”
    PEER has released documents on its website it obtained through the Freedom of Information Act that claim to show the runners will be going through an areas that will disrupt the bears’ calving season.
    A mother bear with three cubs was euthanized last year by state wildlife officials after attacking and injuring a marathon runner as she raced through the Valles Caldera.
    A National Park Service evaluation of this year’s race describes a continued threat of human interaction with bears and bear cubs, while noting a positive influence on recreation and public relations at the preserve.

  • Art in the Afternoon
  • Council weighs next move in GRT legislation

    A bill that would have ensured that Los Alamos County continued to receive  gross receipts tax from the laboratory in the event the lab went nonprofit was killed in this year’s Legislative session, as was the bill that eclipsed it.
    County Lobbyist Scott Scanland provided Los Alamos County Council a blow by blow account May 2 on what happened with the key tax bills the county was particularly interested.  
    The gross receipts tax bill, House Bill 332, sponsored by Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard, D-Dist. 43, was popular enough that it garnered the support from the area, Scanland said.
    “We had lots of good support from regional partners from throughout this area, then the bill went over to the house tax committee, and it stayed there,” Scanland said. “We had one good hearing and those regional partners again came in and said how important the bill was to this entire area in case there were some management changes at the lab.”
    But then, Sandland said,  another bill the county had its eye on, a large 350-page, tax reform bill, House Bill 412, eclipsed it and essentially killed it.

  • Tunnel collapse renews safety concerns about nuclear sites

    RICHLAND, Wash. (AP) — The collapse of a tunnel containing radioactive waste at the Hanford nuclear weapons complex underscored what critics have long been saying: that the toxic remnants of the Cold War are being stored in haphazard and unsafe conditions, and time is running out to deal with the problem.
    "Unfortunately, the crisis at Hanford is far from an isolated incident," said Kevin Kamps of the anti-nuclear group Beyond Nuclear.
    For instance, at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, which opened in the 1950s and produced plutonium and tritium, the government is laboring to clean up groundwater contamination along with 40 million gallons of radioactive liquid waste stored in tanks that are decades past their projected lifespan. The job is likely to take decades.
    At Hanford, in addition to the tunnel collapse discovered on Tuesday, dozens of underground storage tanks, some dating to World War II, are leaking highly radioactive materials.
    The problem is that the U.S. government rushed to build nuclear weapons during the Cold War with little thought given to how to permanently dispose of the resulting waste.

  • U.S. Energy Secretary Perry visits LANL

    U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry visited Los Alamos National Laboratory's plutonium facility Wednesday, met with employees and toured the lab’s ordnance range.

    This was Perry’s first visit to the lab following his appointment as secretary of the U.S. Energy Department in March.

    “How honored I am to get to be part of this team. Not just Los Alamos but the 16 other national labs. They truly are an amazing resource for this country,” Perry said during a press conference.

    As for Los Alamos, Perry was very impressed.

    “I would suggest that every country in the world would like to have one that’s like Los Alamos. We’re blessed to have them. I’m excited to continue to be a hopefully potent spokesperson for what they do and a defender for what they do,” Perry said.

    Perry came to Los Alamos at the invitation of Lab Director Charlie McMillan to get to know the men and women who are behind helping to maintain the nation’s nuclear stockpile, LANL’s central mission.