• Federal budget clears the Senate

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump promised tax cuts Friday "which will be the biggest in the history of our country" following Senate passage of a $4 trillion budget that lays the groundwork for Republicans' promised tax legislation.
    Republicans hope to push the first tax overhaul in three decades through Congress by year's end, an ambitious goal that would fulfill multiple campaign promises but could run aground over any number of disputes. Failure could cost the GOP dearly in next year's midterm elections.
    The budget plan, which passed on a near party-line vote late Thursday, includes rules that will allow Republicans to get tax legislation through the Senate without Democratic votes and without fear of a Democratic filibuster. Nonetheless, the GOP's narrow 52-48 majority in the Senate will be difficult for leadership to navigate, as illustrated by the Republicans' multiple failures to pass legislation repealing and replacing "Obamacare."
    The final vote on the budget was 51-49 with deficit hawk Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky the lone opposing GOP vote.
    Trump insisted over Twitter on Friday that Paul would be with him in the end on taxes, even though the senator has been critical of the tax package as it's emerged thus far.

  • Bank lays off 26 as part of realignment

    Los Alamos National Bank CEO John Gulas said the 26 layoffs announced last week were part of the bank’s overall plan for continued financial stability.
    “The biggest goal was to make sure we have a sustainable organization,” Gulas said.
    The layoffs extended throughout the organization, with customer service being the least affected, and all six of LANB’s branches remain open.
    Gulas could not provide an exact figure of how many of those workers worked at the White Rock branch and the main headquarters in Los Alamos, but said due to the fact that the bank’s headquarters were in Los Alamos County, “It would probably be more in Los Alamos County because this is our biggest office.”
    Each worker received severance payment and aid in finding employment.
    Earlier this year, Gulas also eliminated may positions through attrition. Those included the chief operating officer position and the chief wealth officer position.
    “We were very cautious when we were hiring to make sure we were taking this target into consideration. We used a lot of attrition to get where we needed to be,” Gulas said.

  • Brill: start research early

    Los Alamos’ new cowork space, projectY, kicked off a series of entrepreneurial education and targeted seminars the day after it opened with a talk by Grace Brill, principal of Market Intelligence Solutions LLC, a Santa Fe consulting firm.
    Brill specializes in marketing for tech companies, and zeroed in on advice that could benefit those such as Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) employees hoping to take research innovations into commercial development.
    “All the things I’m going to be talking about today I kind of put in the general category of “getting smart:” getting smart about your industry, your customers, your competitors. Because it’s ultimately going to inform your strategy,” Brill said.
    Brill stressed the type of research entrepreneurs should be doing even before product development.
    “To me the key thing is starting early. I’ve worked with companies in technology for nearly 14 years now, and you would not believe the number of times that you’re talking to someone and they’re spending years perfecting the technical whatever, and oh, I just have to build in one more feature, one more feature,” Brill said.

  • Los Alamos Main Street earns national award

    Los Alamos MainStreet was selected as a winner of the 2016 Great American Main Street Awards, chosen by the National Main Street Center, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
     Los Alamos MainStreet was picked as “One to Watch,” for being a neighborhood making progress toward revitalizing its downtown district.
    Suzette Fox, Los Alamos MainStreet executive director stated, “I am so honored and delighted to receive the national designation.”
    “I would like to thank to the National MainStreet Center, New Mexico MainStreet, Los Alamos County and the Los Alamos Commerce & Development Corporation for their support and encouragement. This award would not have been possible without the help of the Los Alamos MainStreet Board, the Los Alamos Historical Society and countless people in our community. ”
    A statement issued by Patrice Frey, president and CEO of the National Main Street Center, reads, “The 2016 GAMSA winners have succeeded in making their towns an exciting place to live, work, play and visit through implementing our historic preservation-based methodology for downtown revitalization.

  • Target: Zero percent adjustment

    At last week’s meeting, the Los Alamos County Council tackled budget guidance for fiscal year 2017. After several different motions, they voted 5–2 to direct staff to develop a budget with a zero percent increase over the FY2016 budget and to provide options for adjustments up to a 3 percent increase.
    Staff’s original recommendation was to follow the biannual budget adopted during last year’s budget hearings, which includes a 3-percent increase in FY2017.
    County Manager Harry Burgess explained the reasons for the recommendation – the main one being the need for inflationary adjustments.
    The proposed budget also included room for salary increases. Recommendations for those would have been based on the results of a salary survey currently underway. County code requires that a salary survey be conducted every four years.
    “Every time we conduct a salary survey, we tend to come up against the issue of what is recommended versus the available funds,” Burgess said.

  • Los Alamos Co-op copes with setbacks

    Since its inception in 2007, the Los Alamos Co-op Market has been part of the community.
    However, 2015 has been a tough year, which is the consensus from several board members and some employees.
    A slew of administrative changes has plagued the co-op in recent months, including the unexpected death of the newly appointed general manager Scott Brelsford in November. A decline in revenue is evident due to the Smith’s Marketplace moving into town.
    “We knew would see a decline, but it didn’t help having all the internal issues,” said Board President Tracy McFarland.
    She expressed her feelings about Brelsford’s death.
    “He was so young and had such great ideas,” McFarland said.
    The decline in the co-op’s business was brought to the attention of the Los Alamos Monitor from concerned citizen Steve Snapp. In his letter to the editor, Snapp wanted to make the community aware of the issues the co-op has had and how the public can help.
    “People have other choices,” Snapp said. “Please consider eating at the co-op more often and shifting some of your grocery dollars to the co-op,” Snapp wrote. “In our family we’ve tried to double our visits to the co-op vs. shopping Smith’s, or Santa Fe.”

  • Totavi having Customer Appreciation Day

    The Totavi Phillips 66 Station is holding a Customer Appreciation Day, which is scheduled for Wednesday.
    The station will have giveaways, a prize wheel and other events for customers that day.

    It will run from 2:30-7 p.m.

  • Local MainStreet program gets awarded by N.M. for its efforts

    Los Alamos MainStreet announced last week it was the recipient of the Spirit of Preservation Award from the New Mexico MainStreet Program.
    According to New Mexico MainStreet, the award was for Los Alamos’ performance in its advocacy of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, which was established in 2014.
    Earlier this month, representatives of New Mexico MainStreet met in Artesia to celebrate 30 years of the group’s economic, development and revitalization efforts in New Mexico.
    The New Mexico MainStreet’s anniversary awards ceremony recognized the “outstanding achievements and exceptional leadership among the state’s local MainStreet organizations and partners,” according to the group.
    “Los Alamos MainStreet provided support in the advocacy efforts of the Los Alamos Historical Society for the Manhattan Project National Historical Park by mobilizing our citizens via email, mail and phone to contact our legislators to support its creation,” said Suzette Fox, Los Alamos MainStreet executive director of the local MainStreet’s efforts.

  • Stocks slump; Dow ends down 588 after early 1,000-pt. slide

    U.S. stocks slid again Monday, with the Dow Jones industrial average briefly plunging more than 1,000 points in a sell-off that sent a shiver of fear from Wall Street to Main Street.

    Stocks regained some of that ground as the day wore on, but the Dow finished with a loss of 588 points, the eighth-worst single-day point decline and the second straight fall of more than 500.

    The slump — part of a global wave of selling touched off by signs of a slowdown in China — triggered worries among Wall Street professionals and among ordinary Americans who have been saving for retirement or a down payment on a house.

    With the lease on her car up, health insurance worker Deirdre Ralph of Wayne, New Jersey, had planned to get a less pricey vehicle and invest the savings. Now she's having doubts.

    "That money, I wanted to take and put it toward my retirement," said Ralph, 61. "Should I? Or should I just have a great old time?"

    The Standard & Poor's 500 index also fell sharply shortly after the opening bell, entering "correction" territory — Wall Street jargon for a drop of 10 percent or more from a recent peak. The last market correction was nearly four years ago.

  • Descartes Labs is now off and running

    The story of startup tech company Descartes Labs reads like something from the heyday of Silicon Valley.
    A group of Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists strike out on their own. They leap bureaucratic hurdles to acquire licensing for technology developed at the lab and manage to secure venture capital.
    In record time, they are ready to launch a product with the potential to impact Wall Street, major industries and world governments.
    “The fact that a group of scientists from Los Alamos could start their own company and within seven months of opening have a first product to start to sell to industry is an unusual thing,” said co-founder and Chief Technical Officer Steven Brumby.
    The company — which launched December 2014 — is named after philosopher René Descartes, renowned for saying, “I think, therefore I am.”
    “We’re an artificial intelligence company that’s building systems that can look at the world from space and map out all sorts of interesting stuff, starting with all the world’s agriculture,” Brumby said.
    Brumby was at LANL 16-1/2 years, where he led the team that developed some of the licensed technology Descartes is utilizing.