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Letters

  • Grateful for many Great Conversations

    Do great conversations matter? How about civility? Does having the best possible local schools matter? I say, “You betcha!”
    Sunday marked the fourth annual Great Conversations fundraiser hosted by the Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation; a delicious afternoon of sharing ideas with a diverse group of Los Alamos-ites, who enjoy critical thinking, problem-solving, listening intently with an open mind to new ideas and worldly experiences of some neighbors we hadn’t had a chance to know until Sunday’s “meeting of the minds.” I loved every minute of our round-table exploration of the future of higher education led by Cindy Rooney, associate dean and chair of business at UNM-LA.
    Other fully engaged round tables discussed a wide variety of topics on fire science, resilient children, earthquakes, fashion, “Curiosity” on Mars, health care, school shootings, auroras, basketball, aging mightily, the environment and iPhones, all led by an expert in the field. We have many experts in Los Alamos, fortunately.

  • Give credit where it's due

    Imagine my surprise when returning from out of town I find a brand new (huge) trail sign behind my neighborhood proclaiming The Satch Cowan Trail. And all this time I thought that Joe Devaney had built this trail, although it had almost disappeared after the Cerro Grande fire and Joe’s subsequent death. And then I thought that I had never seen Satch Cowan on this trail or on any other near the Quemazon trailhead in more than 30 years of hiking here.
    And then I remembered the spectacular trail that Jim Billen built single-handedly in Pueblo Canyon, possibly the most scenic in the county — a great wide path 1.2 miles long cut into the Bandelier Tuff below the rim.
    I even attended his trail completion party where he bought donuts and coffee for the hiking community.
    And then I did a little asking and found out that trails are not named after living people in this community and I thought about the Mitchell and Knapp trails that bore the names of the young men who built them and the Devaney Trail in Los Alamos Canyon named after Joe while he was still alive.
    What does it take to get the county to name the Jim Billen Trail after him while he is still alive? Why can’t credit be given where credit is due?
    Andi Kron
    Los Alamos 

  • Special thanks to run volunteers

    What a wonderful community we live in! On behalf of the Los Alamos Chapter of Hadassah, we want to thank all the runners, walkers, sponsors and volunteers who supported our Third Annual Run For Her Life To Fight Breast Cancer 5K and 10K Run Fundraiser on April 14 in Los Alamos.
     Although it was a very cold and windy morning, we had
    70 participants and made $4,100 that will be sent directly to Hadassah for breast cancer research. Every dollar counts when we are helping Hadassah help everyone in the world.
    We want to acknowledge our gratitude to the following individuals, organizations and volunteers for their generous support:
    Los Alamos Monitor
    Ruby K’s in Los Alamos
    Dr. Phillip and Jeri Hertzman, Los Alamos/Santa Fe
    Sam’s Club of Santa Fe
    Chalmers Capitol Ford and Lincoln in Santa Fe
    Santa Claran Hotel and Casino in Española
    Los Alamos Medical Center
    Pearl V. White with Real Estate Associates, Los Alamos
    Los Alamos Jewish Center
    Kendra L. Henning with ReMax of Los Alamos
    Delaney Rieke with White Rock Sewing, LLC
    Mary Anne Beard with Mary Deal Realty
    Whole Foods Store in Santa Fe
    C B Fox Department Store
    KRSN Kommunity Radio
    Desert Tees and Sporting Goods, Santa Fe

  • Aspen teachers support principal

    The April 21 story reporting a lawsuit filed by Zeynep Unal against Los Alamos Public Schools and Kathryn Vandenkieboom, principal at Aspen Elementary, was incredibly disheartening.

    The article, particularly the wording in the lawsuit, portrayed Kathryn much differently than the child and family advocate we know. We would like readers to know that Kathryn.

    Five years ago, when it was announced that Kathryn would lead Aspen as our principal, cheers of joy rang out. We were thrilled to be working with a woman fresh from the classroom and one we all respected to make decisions, ultimately leading Aspen in a positive direction for the children and families in attendance. We have not been disappointed. 

    The first striking quality of Kathryn is her diplomatic approach to leadership. 

  • Make L.A. desirable

    While the leaders of the county profess a desire to make Los Alamos a more desirable “destination,” it strikes me that none of the places to stay have any ambience to make anyone want to spend even a single night.
     So I wondered: without any constraints about something already being there, what and where would I put something that I thought would provide the desired asset.
    Only one location in the entire town would do in my opinion — the east side of Ashley Pond.
    So the current community building would need to go “boom” and be replaced with a curved 4-story hotel with a 2-story restaurant (ground level on the east side) that has a balcony for overlooking the pond and viewing the Jemez Mountains.
    Hotel rooms would have west-facing balconies, too. Such a facility would provide peaceful ambience, a chance to relax with a margarita or wine and soak in the natural surroundings of Los Alamos, a central location to amble through the historic region of town, and a place to think about exploring Mother Nature.
    Ah, some would say, but it is county land. So is Trinity Site where a 75-year lease has been granted.
    If the old Muni building was deemed dispensable on the pond, what is so sacred about the community center?

  • Respect the vets

    My father, Raphael Alonzo Montaño, is a decorated World War II vet and followed General George S. Patton his whole military career. He landed in Normandy on the USS Omaha and was the radio operator for the D-Day invasion. He helped free England, Italy and other countries Hitler ran over. He was at the Battle of the Bulge, where the United States Army did not send winter gear to our troops — especially socks and boots. My father has had foot problems since then, but never complained.
    At the time of his departure from the U.S. Army, he was promised $45 from U.S. General Patton to help with coming home. He has never received it.
    Since October 2010, we have been trying to get help from the Albuquerque Veterans Administration — but to no avail.
    Thanks to Senator Tom Udall — we have seen more progress. Did you know that the Veterans Administration and Medicare will not talk to each other and will not help one another — even if a U.S. vet’s life is on the line?
    This is a U.S. law passed by our Congress. One other tidbit of information — did you know that all WWII vets paperwork was lost to a fire in St. Louis, Mo.?
    The VA will not help a vet unless the VA Administration has a current picture of the vet taken at any VA facility.

  • Pancake breakfast a sweet success

    On Sunday, more than 300 members of our community shared their morning at the Posse Lodge for an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast to benefit Friends of the Shelter.
    They were also treated to a doggy-kissing booth for smooches and handshakes.
    Many thanks to Peggy Sullivan and her husband for providing the booth and such an enthusiastic crew of canines!
    Thanks also go to Sylvia Hush who coordinated a mobile adoption, which showcased some of our shelter dogs, who were able to enjoy a gorgeous spring morning outside getting lots of attention and head pats.
    We had several donated Silent Auction items; two pet-themed gift baskets donated by Zena Thomas, a personalized and hand-painted pet bowl donated by Josephine Boyer of Sonshine Art, two tote bags donated by Mike Luna of Custom Cruisers Embroidery.
    Always a friend and supporter of our shelter, Don Taylor’s Photography raffled off a16X20 pet portrait, which raised $400 for FOS.
    Josephine Boyer provided kids and kids-at-heart, with glitter tattoos and face-painting. (At least two cats were spotted running around amongst all the canines at the Lodge).
    A big thank you to all the shelter volunteers who worked during the breakfast to help make this a successful endeavor for the second year in a row.

  • Use slant drilling in White Rock parks

    A current public issue is whether county water wells should be drilled in county park lands on the edge of White Rock Canyon.
    The public discussion has dealt little, if any, with alternative drilling technology, namely, directional drilling, also called slant drilling.
    Directional drilling goes back 50 years, but major advances came as computers became commonplace.
    Directional drilling is the technique of drilling wells at a slant, instead of always boring straight down.
    Not only can holes be drilled at an angle, their paths can curve and bend to reach more places under ground from fewer work sites.
    A well can easily bend enough to reach places up to 1,200 feet off to any side of a drill site and thousands of feet down.
    Lateral wells can extend much farther to the side — out four miles and more — at still greater cost.
    Up to four wells can be drilled from a single drilling pad.
    The other side of the story is always cost. Directional drilling is more complex, which may add $30,000 to $100,000 to the cost of a well within the easier 1,200-foot distance from the pad.
    At more cost, the range can go out the four miles and more. These dollars have meaning only when compared with the typical cost of a vertical well: about $1 million.

  • Thanks for the support

    What a wonderful community we live and work in.
    As we waited for spring to come, the community was filled with vases of daffodils and bunches of daffodils were delivered to homes by wonderful volunteers.
    Each bunch of daffodils (2,500 this year) supports our hospice program and all profits from the sale go to direct patient care.
    We thank you all for your wonderful support. Your daffodils became a gift to many.
    Special thanks for the generous support we receive each year from BlueCross/Blue Shield and Walmart in Española, and how wonderful to have the great volunteers from RSVP and Key Club.
    We are so lucky to have you all in the lives of those we are privileged to care for.

    Sarah G. Rochester
    executive director
    Los Alamos Visiting Nurse Service 

  • In remembrance

    Sixty-nine years ago, the SS Paul Hamilton — carrying 7,000 tons of explosives — was torpedoed, resulting in the loss of the ship and all 580 men aboard. 
    The ship left Hampton Roads, Virginia, on April 2, 1944, and was headed with munitions and fresh troops to the theater of operations in North Africa.
    Near sunset, on April 20, the Hamilton was attacked by German Ju 88 bombers, 30 miles off the Coast of Cape Bengut, Algiers, in the Mediterranean Sea. 
    The attacking aircraft launched its torpedo less than 150 feet from the Hamilton.
    Immediately after the torpedo hit, a violent explosion threw debris and black smoke high in the air, and when the smoke cleared, there was no sign of the ship. 
    During the attack on that convoy, the USS Lansdale also was sunk, with the loss of its
    47 crew members.
    In a Veterans Today article, Jim W. Dean noted that, “details [surrounding the Hamilton] were classified for 50 years ... only two bodies were recovered and are buried at the Allied cemetery in Algiers.
    They were identified through fingerprints, so those two families had some closure.”