Local News

  • Police Beat 3-17-19

    Police Beat items are compiled from public information contained in Los Alamos Police Department records. Charges or citations listed in Police Beat do not imply innocence or guilt. The Los Alamos Police Department uses the term “arrest” to define anyone who has been physically arrested, served a court summons, or issued a citation.

  • Pi Day raises funds for good cause

    The concept was simple enough: Buy a ticket, claim victims.

    Jordan Redmond, executive director of the Los Alamos and White Rock Activity Centers came up with the idea for “The First Perfect Pi Day Celebration.”

    Pi Day alludes to March 14, which, when spelled out numerically, 314, resembles the first three digits of the mathematical constant, pi.

    The event was a fund raiser. Anyone who came down to Ashley Pond Park Thursday at 5 p.m. could raise some money and have a little fun mashing a cream pie in a victim of their selection.

    The event also sold real pies that came from local restaurants and bakeries. Those were only for eating, however.

    The event was something Redmond thought would be a great tie in with the county’s spontaneous pop up programming events.

    “We try to cooperate with as many of the pop up programs as we can, since we’re a county contractor, and said hmm… let’s do something big,” Redmond said.

    “Victims” included George Marsden of the Family YMCA, Superintendent of Schools Kurt Steinhaus, Los Alamos County Councilors Katrina Schmidt, James Robinson, Los Alamos Police Department Commander Oliver Morris and others.

    The victims fell fast and hard all afternoon as people put their money down.

    James Lott bought a cream pie intended Robinson. He said he didn’t really know Robinson, but “he seemed like a nice enough guy.”

  • Chandler reflects on exciting session

    Long after most people have turned in for the night, New Mexico State Rep. Christine Chandler (D-Los Alamos) and many of her fellow legislators were still at work on the House of Representatives Floor Thursday, debating and voting on a raft of bills.

    Since January, legislators have spent 12-hour days doing the people’s business.

    The session was the first one for Chandler. Even though she worked as a legislative analyst for the state Legislature before becoming elected, being the one to actually write and usher a bill through a committee, and through the Legislature to the governor’s desk has been a different experience, she said.

    “Getting the bill through committee has been an interesting experience for me,” Chandler said.

    “You learn a lot. I guess I wasn’t as appreciative of the committee process as I have become,” Chandler said. “People bring a different perspective to a bill when you’re presenting it to committee. As a consequence there are often suggestions that make the bills better. … It’s a process, a process of negotiation, which certainly as an analyst, I wasn’t directly involved with.”

  • Cone zone 3-17-19

    The following information includes road construction projects expected to take place in the county in the next week. The information is provided by Los Alamos County.

    NM502 Roundabout and road reconstruction:
    New Mexico Department of Transportation and Star Paving Company will begin roadway reconstruction on NM 502 from mile post 1.257 to mile post 2.053 in Los Alamos.  The contractor will begin construction and preparation for detour paving.

    Starting this week: NM 502 will be reduced to one lane in each direction.  Motorists can expect minor delays from 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and short duration temporary closures during non-peak hours at the east end of the project in the existing two-lane section of the roadway using flagging operation.   
    Traffic Advisories and updates on this project will be posted on the New Mexico Department of Transportation’s road conditions website nmroads.com.

    Diamond Drive asphalt repair (Public Works/Traffic Division):
    Work is suspended for the next two weeks; the contractor is not available. Watch for an update in future Cone Zone reports.

  • University of New Mexico to partner in moon rock studies

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Researchers at New Mexico's flagship university are among nine teams selected by NASA to study pieces of the moon that have been carefully stored and have remained untouched for decades.

    The University of New Mexico says it will share in a total of $8 million that has been awarded to the teams.

    Thomas Zurbuchen is with NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C. He says studying the lunar samples will help a new generation of scientists advance the understanding of the moon and prepare for the next era of lunar exploration.

    One of the samples that will be studied has never been exposed to Earth's atmosphere. It was collected and vacuum-sealed by Apollo 17 astronauts Harrison Schmitt and Gene Cernan in 1972 from a landslide deposit on the moon.

  • Bill raising film tax rebate cap goes to governor

    By Robert Nott
    The New Mexican

    Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said she was going to take the "shackles" off the state's film industry by removing an annual $50 million cap on tax rebate payouts to eligible production companies that film in the state.

    While she didn't exactly get her wish, Senate Bill 2 comes close. It increases that cap from $50 million to $110 million, appropriates $225 million to pay off a backlog of film tax credits owed to production entities and, to sweeten the deal, offers another 5 percent in tax rebates for productions that shoot in rural areas.

    The House of Representatives voted 41-24 to approve Senate Bill 2 after a nearly three-hour debate around 3 a.m. Friday. One Democrat, Candie Sweetser of Deming crossed party lines to join 23 Republicans in opposing the initiative.

    The Senate had already approved the bill, so it is now on to the governor for approval. Her spokesman, Tripp Stelnicki, said Friday that she will sign it into law.

    "Film is an economic engine like no other," said Sen. Nancy Rodriguez, D-Santa Fe, sponsor of the bill.

  • NM could join states that renamed Columbus Day

    By Andrew Oxford
    The New Mexican

    Goodbye, Christopher Columbus.

    New Mexico may observe Indigenous Peoples' Day instead.

    The Senate voted 22-15 Friday to send Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham a bill that would rename the holiday commemorating the Italian explorer.

    The legislation comes as the holiday that took off in the late 19th century as a celebration of Italian-American heritage has in recent decades spurred debate over the real legacy of a man who represents the beginning of European colonialism in the Americas and how best to tell a fuller story of the continent's history.

    "I see this as a reconciliation process, not only as New Mexicans but as Americans," said Sen. Benny Shendo, D-Jemez Pueblo.

    While cities across the state, including Santa Fe, already have relabeled the annual holiday as Indigenous Peoples' Day, House Bill 11 still stirred plenty of emotional debate on the Senate floor Friday.

    "I think this bill is more about dividing us than bringing us together," said Sen. Mark Moores, R-Albuquerque.

    Sen. Cliff Pirtle, R-Roswell, proposed changing the day to Immigrant and Indigenous Peoples' Day -- an idea the Senate rejected.

  • Senate, House reach deal on $7 billion state budget

    By Andrew Oxford
    The New Mexican

    The New Mexico Senate and House of Representatives appeared to have an agreement on a $7 billion state budget late Friday after ironing out differences over pay for educators, funding for roads and college athletics.

    In the end, the biggest sticking point turned out to be a tiny but politically fraught piece of the spending plan: $700,000 for legislators to hire additional staff.

    The House passed the budget Feb. 21 and the Senate approved a series of changes on Wednesday. But the House did not accept those changes, spurring a round of negotiations between members of the budget committees in both chambers in an effort to reach consensus before the legislative session ends at noon Saturday.

    The disagreements were minor compared to the budget standoffs between Democratic lawmakers and former Republican Gov. Susana Martinez.

    But the differences would still hit the pocketbooks of some New Mexicans.

    Pay raises for teachers were one big sticking point.

    The version of the budget approved by the Senate said districts should ensure an average salary increase of 6 percent. The House plan called for educators as well as other school staff to get an across-the-board 6 percent increase in salary.

  • Park, police investigate green water at Ashley Pond

    Park officials suspect a wee bit ‘o Irish celebrations might have spilled over into Ashley Pond overnight and turned the water green in one section.

    The public is being kept away from part of the pond Monday morning as Los Alamos police investigate what type of material was released into the water that resulted in the color change.

    Police responded at 10 a.m. Monday to reports of a liquid hazardous materials call at Ashley Pond Park.

    Parks Superintendent Jeff Humpton and his crew were already on the scene, taking samples of a green substance that was concentrated in a particular section of the pond.

    Parks officials have blocked off the area and are asking residents to keep their pets away until it is determined what the substance is. Preliminary tests are showing that it is not antifreeze.

    “This is a first for me,” Plumpton said. Some crews speculated that it might be non-toxic green dye, left over from a St. Patrick’s Day celebration.

    Los Alamos County Safety Coordinator Eric Edmonds said more test have to be done to make sure.

    “We are not sure what it is, but a quick check has been encouraging,” Edmonds said. He also said they have not seen an dead fish or other animals in the area.

  • New reactor-liner alloy material offers strength, resilience

    Los Alamos National Laboratory has developed a new tungsten-based alloy that can withstand unprecedented amounts of radiation without damage, the lab announced recently.

    Essential for extreme irradiation environments such as the interiors of magnetic fusion reactors, previously explored materials have so far been hobbled by weakness against fracture, but this new alloy seems to defeat that problem.

    “This material showed outstanding radiation resistance when compared to pure nanocrystalline tungsten materials and other conventional alloys,” said Osman El Atwani, the lead author of the paper and the principal investigator of the “Radiation Effects and Plasma Material Interactions in Tungsten Based Materials” project at Los Alamos. “Our investigations of the material mechanical properties under different stress states and response of the material under plasma exposure are ongoing.”

    The lab may have developed a material with unprecedented radiation resistance, said principal investigator Enrique Martinez Saez, a coauthor of the paper at Los Alamos.