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Features

  • I write my column this week as just a mom, just a parent or caregiver like many of you.
    If you don’t really keep up with the news, last week our teachers, kind of got a punch in the gut. I dare to say two rounds of it, to be honest.
    Round one was the data release of teacher evaluations. The snippets that we hear about here and there are not really enough to allow the average bear to really understand what all of the fuss is about. It may even come across as people just not wanting to be evaluated, but if you could hear some of the tales, it is a slap in the face to good educators.
    There is not enough column space for me to explain what is involved in a teacher evaluation, how wrong they can be and how illogical it all sounds when talking about an educational system. As a town that thrives on data, the hypothesis is clearly not supported by the experiment, as the analysis of the data does not allow one to draw conclusions possibly allowing results that may not align partially or at all with the data.
    How’s that for the layman’s explanation?
    Now for round two of the fight. Last week, staff heard they were not allowed to miss more than three days during the school year without suffering more related to evaluations.

  • The Los Alamos County Clerk’s Office performed the certification and preparation process for the Absentee and Election Day voting machines to be used in the Nov. 8 General Election.
    The testing passed with a perfect match between the test votes cast and the test results. Every voting machine underwent functional testing, according to the clerk’s office.
    Functional testing ensures the proper operation of the buttons, connections and other components of the voting machines, such as the audio-visual ballot marking interface.
    “Testing is absolutely fundamental in the preparation of any election, and provides an added level of confidence in the accuracy of the election results,” said County Clerk Sharon Stover.
    With the certification preparation process complete, the ICE voting machines are ready for deployment to the three vote centers, which are: Los Alamos County Municipal Building - Council Chambers, Los Alamos County Golf Course Community Building, multi-purpose room, and the White Rock Library’s  multi-purpose room.

  • THURSDAY
    League of Women Voters of Los Alamos nonpartisan candidate forum at 7 p.m. in the Lecture Room in Building 2 of UNM-LA. Come at 6:30 for refreshments and to meet the candidates. Candidates will be U.S. House of Representatives candidates Michael H. Romero (R) and Ben R. Lujan (D); County Council candidates Patrick Monroe Brenner (R), Jaret J. McDonald (R), Steven P. Girrens (R), Peter T. Sheehey (D), Chris Chandler (D), and Antonio L. Maggiore (D); and County Clerk candidates Naomi D. Maestas (R) and Amy Woods (D).

    The Knights of Columbus Sacred Heart Council 3137 invite the public to a Taco Fest from 5-8 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus Hall on D.P Road. Cost is $10 for adults and $7 for kids under 12 years.

    Los Alamos Genealogical Association meeting 7 p.m. at the Mesa Public Library. The presentation will be “Genealogical Praxis – Recent Experiences and Lessons in My Research,” by D. Kent Parsons. The traditional no-host social dinner will convene before the meeting at 5:30 p.m. at the China Moon Restaurant.

    Nature Yoga at 5:15 p.m. at the Nature Center. Practice yoga with Christa Tyson at the nature center, where you have a great view of nature. Cost is $15 for non-members, $12 for members.
    FRIDAY

  • Would you like to learn more about wildflowers on the Pajarito Plateau? Pajarito Environmental Education Center’s Jemez Mountain Herbarium curator Chick Keller will lead the last wildflower walk of the season at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 17.
    This will be an easy walk to identify some of the wildflower beauties found in and around Los Alamos. Keller picks the trail based on what is blooming at the time. The outing is free, and no advance registration is required.
    Participants will receive a plant list that, along with instruction from Keller, will help them learn how to identify fall wildflowers found on the Pajarito Plateau.
    The group meets at 5:30 p.m. at the Los Alamos Nature Center, located at 2600 Canyon Road, before carpooling to the trailhead.
    For more information about this, visit peecnature.org, email programs@peecnature.org, or call 662-0460.

  • Ever wonder how homesteaders enjoyed and relied on nature? What did nature mean to the Los Alamos Ranch School? Find out from 7-8 p.m. Oct. 18 at the Los Alamos Nature Center.
    Enjoy photos and conversations with experts from Los Alamos History Museum about the history of our connection to the Pajarito Plateau.
    Kids and adults can churn butter, create a paper homestead cabin, and enjoy stories of the past. Judith Machen, co-author of Homesteading on the Pajarito Plateau, will be on hand to discuss how homesteaders made a living in our natural environment.
    The evening will include stories like this one from Michael Marchi: “I remember my grandfather talking about many difficult times they had in those days. There were no machines to help them plant or weed or harvest. It was all done by hand or with the help of horses.” Bring stories to share about what being outdoors in Los Alamos means to you!
    This historical evening will take place at the Los Alamos Nature Center at 2600 Canyon Road.
    The program is free to attend, and no registration is required. For more information about this and other PEEC programs, visit peecnature.org, email programs@peecnature.org or call 662-0460.

  • October is Bullying Prevention Month and Substance Abuse Awareness Month.
    There are many great projects afoot in the community and you will hear about some great youth driven projects soon.
    I find it ironic that Bullying Prevention month proceeds the month in which we vote in national elections. I feel like youth get to see adults at their worst in the month in which we focus on bullying prevention.
    One way adults can support youth projects is by wearing orange on Unity Day. The date is Oct. 19 and the whole nation will wear orange to support the cause.
    If you do snap some photos and text or email them to us, so we can show your support for the youth in and around our community.
    There’s plenty of time to get involved and if you need some ideas to engage some youth in your program, there are many ideas to check out at pacer.org.
    They have spent a decade working on bullying prevention and you can register for webinars on the website.
    There are many great events that surround substance abuse awareness, including Red Ribbon week at the end of the month. To  donate bags of soil, tulip or daffodil bulbs, or even mulch for youth projects, give us a call at 695-9139 for a free pick up and help us spread the word.

  • Third-grade students in the Aspen Elementary class, taught by Nicole Gutierrez, celebrated National Voter Registration Day Friday, along with Los Alamos County Clerk Sharon Stover, who was asked to participate as part of Career Day.
    Gutierrez said her class has learned about past and present U.S. presidents and talking about why it was important to vote.
    “Hands on learning is found to be very successful in school, so I know this opportunity will help our Aspen third-grade class become active voters when they turn 18,” Guitierrez said.
    After having discussions with the students on the importance of registering to vote and exercising the right to vote, Stover and Elections Manager Gloria Maestas conducted a Mock Election, using demonstration ballots, called “ice cream ballots,” and a Dominion ICE voting machine.
    The students voted and inserted their ballots into the voting machine.
    Once everyone had voted, the students anxiously awaited, while Stover and Maestas tallied the results.
    Rainbow Sherbet was the most popular ice cream flavor, and Saturday was the winner for the favorite day of the week, along with Google as the search engine, and winter was their favorite season.

  • TODAY

    Feature Film: Black Holes at 2 p.m. at the Nature Center. Voyage through the galaxies in search of answers to explain the riddles of black holes! Cost is $6 for adults, $4 for child. 

     

    Valles Caldera Field Trip from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Nature Center. Examine volcanology in the Valles Caldra and explore some of the preserve’s geothermal springs with scientists Fraser and Cathy Goff. Cost is $32 for members, $40 for non-members. More information at peecnature.org.

    TUESDAY

    Kiwanis meets from noon to 1 p.m. in Kelly Hall at Trinity-on-the-Hill Episcopal Church, 3900 Trinity Drive. With the assistance of the party chairmen, Kiwanis has invited the County Clerk candidates, Republican Naomi D. Maestas and Democrat Amy Woods, and the Probate Judge candidates, Republican Abraham Dispennette and Independent candidate Anne Nobile, to participate in an election forum during the Kiwanis meeting.

     

    Family Night Sponsored by Kiwanis Club at 6 p.m. at the Nature Center. Enjoy a night of games and songs around the campfire with Melissa Mackey. Free. More information at peecnature.org.

  • The Los Alamos Department of Public Utilities will host the Energy Efficiency Home Tour to highlight real-world applications to reduce energy consumption and improve all-season comfort in the home. 

    Los Alamos County homeowners will open the doors to share their homes and the energy-efficient design features and upgrades that have worked for them between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Oct. 15. 

    Homes featured on the tour in the Los Alamos town site and White Rock neighborhoods incorporate passive solar design, energy-efficient building materials, energy-efficient windows and doors, thermal insulation, water-and-energy-conserving garden designs and irrigation systems, photovoltaic systems, and more.

    Owners have been able to greatly reduce electric and natural gas bills. 

    For more information and to register for the tour, visit the Pajarito Environmental Education Center website at peecnature.org/events/details/?id=15650. 

  • Los Alamos High School student Andy Shen was awarded the high school Community Youth Award from Champions of Youth Ambitions (C’YA) last week.
    The award, sponsored by the Los Alamos Children’s Clinic and the Los Alamos Animal Clinic, was for his efforts to mentor speech and debate students and help the Hilltalkers succeed.

  • The League of Women Voters will host the second of two non-partisan candidate forums on Oct. 13 in building 2, room 230 at UNM-LA.  
    This forum features U.S. House of Representatives candidates Michael H. Romero (R) and Ben R. Lujan (D); County Council candidates Patrick Monroe Brenner (R), Jaret J. McDonald (R), Steven P. Girrens (R), Peter T. Sheehey (D), Chris Chandler (D), and Antonio L. Maggiore (D); and County Clerk candidates Naomi D. Maestas (R) and Amy Woods (D).
    Members of the Los Alamos High School Hilltalkers will again assist in running the forum.
    Democracy is not a spectator sport.  To become better informed, join the League Women of Voters Los Alamos.  Membership in the League is open to men as well as women.  For more information, check lwvlosalamos.org.

  • Bandelier National Monument will host a Fall Fiesta and an International Observe the Moon Night Saturday.
    The Fall Fiesta will be from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. in Frijoles Canyon near the Visitor Center, with more than a half dozen local Pueblo artists offering their handmade crafts for sale, including pottery, drums, kachinas and jewelry. There will also be a dance group presenting traditional dances in late morning and early afternoon.
    There is no charge for the event beside the regular park entry fee. Visitors arriving after 9 a.m. and before 3 p.m. will need to take the free shuttle buses from the White Rock Visitor Center.
    That night, rangers and visitors will join sky enthusiasts worldwide in International Observe the Moon Night. There will be a talk on the moon, “Lunacy,” at 7 p.m., followed by telescope viewing, in the shuttle parking area in Juniper Campground.
    Nights are turning chilly, so warm clothing is encouraged, and viewing will depend on cloud cover.
    For more information, contact the Bandelier Visitor Center at 672-3861, ext. 517. 
    The park also has a website, nps.gov/band, and a Facebook page, BandelierNPS.

  • TODAY
    Gentle Walks at 9 a.m. at the Nature Center. A gentle walk for which the emphasis is on discovery, not mileage gained. Free.

    October Night Sky Show at 7 p.m. at the Nature Center. Discover and identify objects visible in our night sky this month, and enjoy their beauty from our planetarium. Cost is $6 for adults, $4 for children.

    Bag Day at the Jemez Thrift Shop from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
    SATURDAY
    Bag Day at the Jemez Thrift Shop from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

    Feature Film: “Black Holes” at 2 p.m. at the Nature Center. Voyage through the galaxies in search of answers to explain the riddles of black holes! Cost is $6 for adults, $4 for children.  

    Fenton Lake Fishing Program at 2 p.m. at the Nature Center. Learn how to fish and what makes a healthy aquatic ecosystem in this fishing adventure for all ages at Fenton Lake. Equipment provided. No previous experience needed. Advance registration required 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. Cost is $5 entry fee for Fenton Lake
    SUNDAY
    Feature Film: Black Holes at 2 p.m. at the Nature Center. Voyage through the galaxies in search of answers to explain the riddles of black holes! Cost is $6 for adults, $4 for child. More information at peecnature.org

  • Unamendable: a law that cannot be changed, no matter how problematic it has become. Think about that.
    An “unamendable” provision of the New Mexico Constitution has finally been amended. This was the provision that required school board elections to be held at a separate time from all other elections. It has resulted in miserably low turnouts at school elections for decades.
    The provision was written in a way that required impossible majorities to change it. So even though solid majorities have voted several times over the years to change this, it was not done until a few weeks ago, when the state Supreme Court found a legally adequate argument to acknowledge the will of the voters.
    It will still take several steps, including new legislation, before the change can be implemented, so that school elections can be held together with municipal and other nonpartisan elections.
    At the same time, however, the voters of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County have just temporarily dodged a bullet of unamendability: a proposed city ordinance to require all employers, with no exclusions, to provide sick leave.

  • The Albuquerque District United Methodist Women are planning a day tour to McCurdy School, 216 S. McCurdy Road in Santa Cruz (near Española) from 10:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Oct. 25. The “McCurdy Mission Day” will start with a short tour and them volunteers will be assigned tasks that will help expedite the programs.
    For information, contact Peggy Blackburn at 884-2412, or email her at yanespeg@swep.com by Oct. 18.
    The group needs to know how many will attend to plan for tasks and reservations for lunch at a local restaurant, to be paid by attendees.

  • TODAY
    Book and Gift Fair at the Los Alamos Medical Center from 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m. in the Doctor’s Lobby. Sale benefits the LAMC Auxiliary. All major credit cards accepted.

    Gentle Walks at 8:30 a.m. at the Nature Center. A gentle walk for which the emphasis is on discovery, not mileage gained. Admission: Free.
    SATURDAY
    High Tea at 3 p.m. at Trinity on the Hill Episcopal Church, 3900 Trinity Drive. Tickets are $25 for adults, $10 for children ages 10 and under. Tea served with savory and sweet offerings, piano music by Joe Cox, fashions from Shop on the Corner, and a silent auction. Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance at the church office. All proceeds go to support the “House of Hope” and “Trinity Builders” in their house building mission work in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico November 2016. Call 662-5107 for more information.

    Tales on the Trail at 10 a.m. at the Nature Center.  Join storytellers for a walk around the nature center landscape and Kinnikinnik Park. Free.

    Feature Film: “Exploding Universe” at 2 p.m. at the Nature Center. Voyage through space and discover explosive events that shaped the Universe. Cost is $6 for adults, $4 for children.
    SUNDAY

  • Members of the public are invited to meet the top candidates vying for the position of county attorney at a reception hosted by the County Council at 6 p.m. Oct. 6 in the Community Room at the Golf Course. Refreshments will be served.
    Becky Ehler recently retired as the county attorney.
    The position is appointed by the Council.

  • It will be an “out of this world” Pumpkin Splash & Halloween Carnival at the Walkup Aquatic Center on Oct. 29.  
    Admission is $7 per person and limited to 150 space travelers. Admission includes diving into the pool to collect your pumpkin, flying over to the classroom for pumpkin decorating, then moving from one adventure to the next with space themed carnival games, a photo booth and crafts. The event is from 10 a.m.– 1 p.m. with the pumpkin retrieval beginning at 11 a.m.
    The 2016 Pumpkin Splash is a “Teal Pumpkin” event that offers food and non-food treat options to all participants.
    For more information contact the Parks, Recreation, and Open Space Division at 662-8170 or lacrec@lacnm.us. Registration is also available online at losalamosnm.us/rec. 

  • Bears are incredibly intelligent animals who use vocalizations and body language to communicate.
    Join wildlife biologist Daryl Ratajczak at 7 p.m. Oct. 4 at the Nature Center for an exciting talk about the language of bears.
    Ratajczak will share photos, stories and data that explain how bears communicate in the wild. This is a free talk at the Los Alamos Nature Center.
    Ratajczak is a wildlife biologist for the U.S. Forest Service in the Santa Fe National Forest. Apex (top) predators and other large mega-fauna are his passion and specialty.
    Before he joined the Forest Service, Ratajczak managed a black bear rehabilitation, research and education facility outside Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
    He then went on to work for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and served as the big game program coordinator managing the state’s bear, deer and elk programs.
    He eventually became chief of wildlife for the state of Tennessee but found the “desk-life” didn’t suit him and decided to pursue his lifelong dream of living and working in the west.
    Ratajczak’s talk will be at the Los Alamos Nature Center at 2600 Canyon Road. The talk is free to attend, and no registration is required.

  • TODAY
    The Grammy Award-winning Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, four uniquely accomplished musicians, will perform at the Duane Smith Auditorium at 4 p.m. The quartet brings a new energy to the concert stage with programs ranging from Bluegrass to Bach. Tickets are $30-$35 at losalamosconcert.org, ticketssantafe.com, Smith’s in Los Alamos and White Rock; the Lensic box office in Santa Fe; and at the door. Youth 6 -18 are free; no children under 6. For details and tickets see losalamosconcert.org.

    Feature Film: “Sea Monsters, A Prehistoric Adventure” at 2 p.m. at the Nature Center. See prehistoric sea creatures come to life, and follow fossil hunters to remote locations as they excavate the remains of some of the most awe-inspiring creatures of all time. Cost is $6 for adults, $4 for children. More information at peecnature.org.
    MONDAY
    Nature Playtimes at 10 a.m. at the Nature Center. Join local families for fun in nature. Free.

    Chapter AK, P.E.O. meeting at 7:30 p.m. at the home of Joann Brown, 1722 18th St. Joy Beery is the co-hostess and Ruth Lear will give a program on Manhattan Project Connections to Chapter AK. RSVP to Joann at 662-3501.
    TUESDAY
    Kiwanis meeting from noon-1 p.m. in Kelly Hall at Trinity on the Hill Episcopal Church, 3900 Trinity Drive. Committee day.