Today's News

  • Council OK’s sewer, water rate hikes Tuesday

    The Los Alamos County Council approved an 8-percent rate increases for sewage rates and potable water rates Tuesday. The rates will take effect in the next billing cycle.

    The rates were already approved by the Board of Public Utilities in June.

    Motivation for both increases included the replacement of the White Rock Wastewater Treatment Plant, which is expected to cost between $13 and $14 million.

    The sewage rate increase will mean an average monthly payment of $47.46 a month, or $569.52 a year.

    For potable water, the rate hike will mean $471.60 a year, or $39.30 a month.

    Council approved the rates based on an agreement that the Department of Public Utilities and the BPU will meet with council throughout the year to discuss possible ways to keep rates from going up on a yearly basis.

    All of the projections DPU officials presented at the meeting showed yearly increases for both rates as the only way to pay for the new plant and to take care of aging infrastructure.

    During the hearing, council members questioned DPU officials on their reasoning behind the rate increases.

  • Atomic City Update: Will LA get a new golf course?

    During Tuesday night’s County Council meeting, councilors approved a plan to spend Capital Improvement Plan funds on three recreation projects, including $4.5 million to be used on improvements at the Los Alamos County Golf Course.
    According to a person familiar with the situation, however, there may be much more going on than installing a new irrigation system and repairing the greens at the existing site.

    The longtime member of the Los Alamos golfing community said there may be internal discussions among the county council and the golfing community about a plan to construct a new course.

    The plan involves selling the existing golf course to a realty company and using the money from that sale to fund a new course in Pueblo Canyon.

    The realty company would build some 350 lots on the 140 acres now occupied by the golf course. The belief among the golfing community is that the land would net the county approximately $18 million.

    That, along with the property taxes that would be collected on the new 350 lots and the $4.5 million awarded from the CIP funds, would give the county around $25 million to build the new course, with no tax increase required.

    The money would allow the county to build a course that would be among the top in the state, and perhaps one of the top 50 courses in the country.

  • N.M. congressional delegation pushes for protection of LANL employees

    New Mexico’s congressional delegation delivered a letter to the undersecretary for Nuclear Security Wednesday, imploring him to do right by the employees of the Los Alamos National Laboratory and to “protect or strengthen” the final request for proposals before it is released.

    The National Nuclear Security Administration released the draft RFP in July. Many northern New Mexico non-profit organizations and Los Alamos County government officials were concerned about the lack of language in the RFP pertaining to community and financial support.

    In their letter, which was signed by U.S. Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM), U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM), U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) and U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

    The delegation made workforce recruitment and retention its top priority and forging partnerships with the community second out of six priorities.

    “We believe it is critical that the contract protect the jobs of the existing workforce, including right of first refusal, hiring preference and protection of benefits and pensions,” the delegation said in the letter.

    The delegation also said highlighted priorities that should prove reassuring to the county government and other partners with LANL.

  • APNewsBreak: Beyond bluster, US, NKorea in regular contact

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Beyond the bluster, the Trump administration has been quietly engaged in back channel diplomacy with North Korea for several months, addressing Americans imprisoned in the communist country and deteriorating relations between the long-time foes, The Associated Press has learned.

    It had been known the two sides had discussions to secure the June release of an American university student. But it wasn't known until now that the contacts have continued, or that they have broached matters other than U.S. detainees.

    People familiar with the contacts say the interactions have done nothing thus far to quell tensions over North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile advances, which are now fueling fears of military confrontation. But they say the behind-the-scenes discussions could still be a foundation for more serious negotiation, including on North Korea's nuclear weapons, should President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un put aside the bellicose rhetoric of recent days and endorse a dialogue.

  • State’s economy may be turning around; indicators remain troubling

    Is it possible that New Mexico’s economy is finally starting to revive? If you follow the numbers in the last couple of months, you could get whiplash.

    Some major indicators are up dramatically, but they’re both heartening and concerning. Bear with me for some statistics.

    We’re finally on a good list. The U. S. Bureau of Economic Analysis recently clocked a healthy surge in gross domestic product for the first three months of 2017. New Mexico’s growth was 2.8 percent, the nation’s third highest. The leading contributor was oil and gas.

    In late July the Legislative Finance Committee brought joy to state bean counters with the news that recurring revenues in May were up 32 percent ($141 million) from May 2016.

    More good news is that gross receipts tax revenue in May was $39.3 million higher than the year before, and year-to-date it was up 6.2 percent. This means, among other things, that people are out spending money. For five months in a row, revenues have surpassed the same months in 2016.

  • 9-year-old wants to be ‘planetary protection officer’

    TRENTON, N.J. — A 9-year-old New Jersey boy who described himself as a “Guardian of the Galaxy” is hoping to add the real-life NASA title “Planetary Protection Officer” to his resume.

    NASA received an application for the position from fourth-grader Jack Davis, who asked to apply for the job. In a letter the agency posted online , Jack acknowledged his youth, but said that will make it easier for him to learn how to think like an alien. He said he has seen all the space and alien movies he can see, and he is great at video games.

    “My sister says I am an alien also,” Jack wrote in the hand-written letter dated Aug. 3.

    Jack received a letter from NASA Planetary Science Director James Green encouraging him to study hard so he can one day join them at the agency.

    “We are always looking for bright future scientists and engineers to help us,” Green wrote his response, which was also posted online. Green told Jack the job is about protecting other planets and moons “from our germs” as the agency explores the Solar System.

    Jack also received a phone call from NASA Planetary Research Director Jonathan Rall thanking him for his interest.

  • What’s a total solar eclipse and why this one is so unusual

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Total solar eclipses occur every year or two or three, often in the middle of nowhere like the South Pacific or Antarctic. What makes the Aug. 21 eclipse so special is that it will cut diagonally across the entire United States.

    The path of totality — where day briefly becomes night — will pass over Oregon, continuing through the heartland all the way to Charleston, South Carolina. Those on the outskirts — well into Canada, Central America and even the top of South America — will be treated to a partial eclipse.

    The last time a total solar eclipse swept the whole width of the U.S. was in 1918.

    No tickets are required for this Monday show, just special eclipse glasses so you don’t ruin your eyes.
    Some eclipse tidbits:

    What’s a total solar eclipse?

  • US in rare bull’s-eye for total solar eclipse on Aug. 21

    AP AErospace Writer

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — It will be tough eclipsing this eclipse.

    The sun, moon and Earth will line up perfectly in the cosmos on Aug. 21, turning day into night for a few wondrous minutes, its path crossing the U.S. from sea to shining sea for the first time in nearly a century.

    Never will a total solar eclipse be so heavily viewed and studied — or celebrated.

    “We’re going to be looking at this event with unprecedented eyes,” promises Alex Young, a solar physicist who is coordinating NASA’s education and public outreach.

    And the party planning is at full tilt from Oregon to South Carolina.

    Eclipse Fests, StarFests, SolarFests, SolFests, Darkening of the SunFests, MoonshadowFests, EclipseCons, Eclipse Encounters and Star Parties are planned along the long but narrow path of totality, where the moon completely blots out the sun.

    Vineyards, breweries, museums, parks, universities, stadiums — just about everybody is getting into the act.

  • A Mountaineer’s Story: Big wall climbing

    Come to the Los Alamos Mountaineers meeting on Aug. 22 at the Nature Center to hear from adventurer Forest Altherr about his rock climbing experiences in Yosemite.

    The presentation will begin at 7:15 p.m. The Los Alamos Mountaineers meeting will start at 7 p.m. and cover information about upcoming outings.

    Forest Altherr has explored the cracks, crevasses and faces of Yosemite’s largest granite slabs since 2008. Inspired by the valley’s iconic monoliths, Altherr initially dedicated himself to the craft of honing the intellectual, psychological, and physical skills necessary to climb many of the classic routes on El Capitan. While primarily a rock climber with a taste for big routes,

    Altherr enjoys all aspects of climbing. Not only is the sport thrilling, but it also provides a sense of connection among dedicated climbers worldwide.

    Altherr will explore the contrast between dichotomous styles of big wall climbing: vertical camping and speed climbing.
    The Los Alamos Mountaineers meetings are always free to the public, and no registration is required.

  • Malone garners $2,500 scholarship

    The money they gave Jamy Malone was very important, but even more important to her was the belief members of the White Rock Presbyterian Church had in her.

    That’s what one of the recipients of a $2,500 “Julie’s Helpers” scholarship told the crowd at the Helpers annual picnic July 30.

    “The check was not the most beautiful thing. Don’t get me wrong, I was excited when I got it… but the most beautiful thing was that you saw value in me and that made the biggest difference,” Malone said to the crowd. “I will carry that with me forever. You guys could have given me $100, but it was the words that really touched my heart and gave me more strength to keep going and be an inspiration for my children, to be the rock they need, because sometimes, they’re my rock.”

    A single mother of three, Malone has traveled a tough road.

    She wasn’t expecting the scholarship, she told church members. She applied with the hope that she would get it.

    “So, when I got the phone call saying that I got it, I almost started crying,” she said.

    Malone’s parents divorced when she was in the first grade, and then her education suffered.