http://www.lamonitor.com/todaysnews/rss.xml en County lobbies Legislature for LEDA expansion http://www.lamonitor.com/content/county-lobbies-legislature-leda-expansion <img src="http://www.lamonitor.com/sites/www.lamonitor.com/files/imagecache/thumb85/stephaniegarciarichard_3.jpg" alt="Stephanie Garcia Richard" title="Stephanie Garcia Richard" align="left" hspace="6" width="61" height="85" /><p class="p1"> <span class="s1">One of the Los Alamos County Council&rsquo;s legislative priorities for the 2016 New Mexico legislative session is an expansion of the Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) that would allow small communities such as Los Alamos to utilize local economic development funds to incentivize retail development.</span></p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s1">As it is currently written, state statute prohibits the use of LEDA funds for retail in any community larger than 10,000.&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s1">&ldquo;The majority of New Mexico communities under 25,000 still lack the retail activity that they want,&rdquo; said Economic Vitality Administrator Greg Fisher, noting that the 10,000-population cap &ldquo;left out a huge number of communities.&rdquo;</span></p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s1">&ldquo;We&rsquo;re certainly interested in seeing that cap rise so we can at least level the playing field for our small community to attract more retail.&rdquo;</span></p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s1">HB 139, cosponsored by Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard (D-43) and Rep. Jason C. Harper (R-57), chair of the Ways and Means Committee, would allow communities up to 25,000 to utilize local economic development funds for retail development.&nbsp;</span></p> Vote for Ona! http://www.lamonitor.com/content/vote-ona-0 <img src="http://www.lamonitor.com/sites/www.lamonitor.com/files/imagecache/thumb85/img_0557.jpg" alt="" title="" align="left" hspace="6" width="128" height="85" />Ona Gartz, an eighth-grader at Los Alamos Middle School, was just like any other middle-school student at a special assembly put on by Google Friday. She was surprised when Google representatives Nicholas Maurette and Tobias Rauscher called her name, telling her that she was the only winner in the state of New Mexico of the company’s “Doodle4Google” logo contest with her entry, “Colors Of My Island (above).” Ona now moves on to the “national finalist” category, where people can vote for her logo to help make her, and Los Alamos Middle School, the national winner. Go to doodle4google.com and follow the links. Look for the story in next week’s Los Alamos Monitor. Investigators ask DA to reopen LANL director’s death case http://www.lamonitor.com/content/investigators-ask-da-reopen-lanl-director%E2%80%99s-death-case <img src="http://www.lamonitor.com/sites/www.lamonitor.com/files/imagecache/thumb85/mystery_death_1.jpg" alt="Former LANL Deputy Director Richard Burick died in January 2003 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. " title="Former LANL Deputy Director Richard Burick died in January 2003 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. " align="left" hspace="6" width="105" height="85" /><p class="p1"> Three people with past connections to the Los Alamos National Laboratory are urging that the U.S. District Attorney&rsquo;s Office reopen an investigation into the death of Richard Burick, a former deputy director at the lab.&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"> Burick died in January 2003 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to Los Alamos County police. He was found near his truck at the Pajarito Mountain Ski Area parking lot.&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"> The three people who have requested the reopening of the case, Charles Monta&ntilde;o, Glenn Walp and Steve Doran, sent a formal letter to Damon Martinez, U.S. Attorney for the New Mexico District. The letter was dated Feb. 2.&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"> &ldquo;Our concern is that a full and complete investigation is needed in order to clean house and help ensure that one of the premier nuclear weapons labs long plagued by scandal is properly managed in the future, free of any possible reoccurrence of fraud and corruption,&rdquo; the letter read.</p> <p class="p1"> The three also mentioned in the letter that the reason why they decided to contact Martinez is because he is also the chairman of the National Lab/Research University Working Group for U.S. Attorneys.</p> County clerk releases levy results http://www.lamonitor.com/content/county-clerk-releases-levy-results <p class="p1"> The Los Alamos County Clerk&rsquo;s office completed the required canvass process to certify and finalize the 2016 Special Los Alamos Public Schools All Mail Election results. The Canvass Board consisted of Dr. Kurt Steinhaus, Los Alamos Public Schools Superintendent, and County Clerk Sharon Stover.</p> <p class="p1"> During the canvass process, the board reviewed and verified the accuracy of the results of the all-mail election. The final count of ballots cast in the election totaled 5,806, representing a turnout of 44.5 percent among eligible Los Alamos County registered voters.&nbsp; The canvassing results also included the hand tally totals that the Absentee Board tallied on election night. &nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"> There were a total of 13 ballots that were hand tallied as they were not able to be read through the voting machine.&nbsp; As a result, the board issued a certificate of canvass, which will be sent to the New Mexico Secretary of State and kept on file in the County Clerk&rsquo;s office, and official election results have been made available on the County Clerk webpage at losalamosnm.us/clerk. The projected cost of this election is $30,000, and is paid by Los Alamos Public School District, excluding the cost of the County Clerk staff time.</p> Council tables variable gas rate http://www.lamonitor.com/content/council-tables-variable-gas-rate <img src="http://www.lamonitor.com/sites/www.lamonitor.com/files/imagecache/thumb85/parks_service.jpg" alt="Bandelier National Park staff accepts a gift and a proclamation proclaiming declaring Feb. 11, as “Bandelier National Monument Day,” in honor of the park’s 100-year anniversary. Councilor David Izraelevitz, to the right of the painting, presented the proclamation to Bandelier Superintendent Jason Lott, standing next to him. The gift consisted of four double-metal float photographic prints by Leslie Bucklin, each an aged, black and white image of an iconic location in Bandelier − Alcove House, Long House, Talus House and Tyuonyi Village − floating over a color seasonal photo of general Bandelier scenery. “Our partnership with Los Alamos County is one that we consider one of the most valuable relationships that we have,” Lott said." title="Bandelier National Park staff accepts a gift and a proclamation proclaiming declaring Feb. 11, as “Bandelier National Monument Day,” in honor of the park’s 100-year anniversary. Councilor David Izraelevitz, to the right of the painting, presented the proclamation to Bandelier Superintendent Jason Lott, standing next to him. The gift consisted of four double-metal float photographic prints by Leslie Bucklin, each an aged, black and white image of an iconic location in Bandelier − Alcove House, Long House, Talus House and Tyuonyi Village − floating over a color seasonal photo of general Bandelier scenery. “Our partnership with Los Alamos County is one that we consider one of the most valuable relationships that we have,” Lott said." align="left" hspace="6" width="134" height="85" /><p class="p1"> The Los Alamos County Council voted 6&minus;1 Tuesday to table discussion on the Department of Public Utilities&rsquo; variable gas rate.&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"> The current gas rate is designed with both a fixed-cost recovery and a variable cost of gas component. When council approved the variable rate in 2013, one condition they placed on it was that DPU provide a yearly report.</p> <p class="p1"> Department of Public Utilities Deputy Utilities Manager for Finance and Administration Robert Westervelt presented the report.</p> <p class="p1"> According to Westervelt, the variable gas rate has fluctuated from 20 cents to 51.5 cents per MMBTU since this rate structure was implemented.</p> <p class="p1"> &ldquo;So by having this variable cost of gas, that meant that when the cost of gas in the San Juan Index was high, we were able to pass that cost directly through,&rdquo; Westervelt said. &ldquo;But for all of the months &ndash; there were a lot of months when the rate was considerably lower &ndash; we were able to not collect those funds from the ratepayer and allow them to keep that avoided cost in their bank accounts instead of in our bank account.&rdquo;</p> Debate team denied entry in competition http://www.lamonitor.com/content/debate-team-denied-entry-competition <img src="http://www.lamonitor.com/sites/www.lamonitor.com/files/imagecache/thumb85/edited_speech1.jpg" alt="The Jemez Mountain School Speech and Debate Team meets on the University of New Mexico, Los Alamos campus, and the Mesa Public Library in Los Alamos. In this picture, they have voluntarily put tape of their mouths to demonstrate that they have been silenced by the governing associations over recently changed rules dissallowing them to participate in competitions. " title="The Jemez Mountain School Speech and Debate Team meets on the University of New Mexico, Los Alamos campus, and the Mesa Public Library in Los Alamos. In this picture, they have voluntarily put tape of their mouths to demonstrate that they have been silenced by the governing associations over recently changed rules dissallowing them to participate in competitions. " align="left" hspace="6" width="125" height="85" /><p class="p1"> The Jemez Mountain Home School Speech and Debate Team was denied a spot in the New Mexico Speech and Debate Association Congressional Debate Championship last week, and according to the coaches on the team, they will likely get shut out of many more future competitions.</p> <p class="p1"> The highly ranked team, made up of Jemez and Los Alamos County students, was denied entry because of recently changed rules that govern how home-schooled children participate in extracurricular activities.&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"> The associations that govern the competitions, the New Mexico Activities Association (NMAA) and the New Mexico Speech and Debate Association (NMSDA) have recently changed how they interpreted the rules allowing the teams to participate to better match state legislation passed in 2007.</p> <p class="p1"> New Mexico Legislature passed a set of laws that kept parents from pulling their kids out a school that might not have a stellar sports program, home-school them, and then enroll them in a &ldquo;winning&rdquo; school.&nbsp;</p> 'Longmire': Film industry supports local communities http://www.lamonitor.com/content/longmire-film-industry-supports-local-communities <p class="p1"> Saturday&rsquo;s &ldquo;Longmire&rdquo; casting call in Espa&ntilde;ola was co-sponsored by the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States, Local 480, and doubled as a &ldquo;thank you&rdquo; to Sen. Richard Martinez (D-District 5), whom the union called a &ldquo;champion of workers.&rdquo;</p> <p class="p1"> Martinez was held up on Senate business and was unable to attend, but Jon Henry, business agent for the local IATSE, spoke with the<span class="s1"><i> Los Alamos Monitor</i></span> about the film industry&rsquo;s role in boosting local economies.&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"> &ldquo;Basically, what we&rsquo;re doing is coming into the communities where &lsquo;Longmire&rsquo; shoots and making sure there&rsquo;s economic activity in these communities,&rdquo; Henry said. &ldquo;The picture business can&rsquo;t just be about Santa Fe and Albuquerque, it&rsquo;s got to be about everywhere.&rdquo;</p> <p class="p1"> The casting call had a dual purpose, not only giving local people a chance to work as background actors on Longmire but reaching out to potential vendors in the local business community.&nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"> &ldquo;That&rsquo;s really our goal, is to get as many local people making money from these movies as we can,&rdquo; Henry said.&nbsp;</p> Arizona regulators approve SunZia project http://www.lamonitor.com/content/arizona-regulators-approve-sunzia-project <p class="p1"> <span class="s1">PHOENIX (AP) &mdash; Arizona utility regulators have authorized construction of a controversial planned $2 billion transmission line between Arizona and New Mexico.</span></p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s1">The Arizona Corporation Commission voted 3-2 Wednesday to approve the 515-mile-long SunZia Southwest Transmission Project. The certificate is one of the last major permits the project needs.</span></p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s1">The SunZia project aims to tap into wind resources in New Mexico as well as solar and geothermal potential in New Mexico and Arizona. The line will export electricity to markets in the West.</span></p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p class="p1"> <span class="s1">Commissioners Andy Tobin, Bob Stump and Bob Burns voted for approval, while Commissioners Tom Forese and Doug Little voted no.</span></p>