Local News

  • Raw: Thousands of Sharks Swim Down Fla. Coast

    WPTV in Florida reports beaches in the Palm Beach area are closed, because thousands of sharks are swimming off the coast. NOTE: Video is silent.

  • Y opens second facility

    In support of expanding health opportunities to the community, The Family YMCA will celebrate the grand opening of a second facility, the YMCA Express, 140 Central Park Square, March 11.
    Community members are invited to try classes for free throughout the day, from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. The day includes equipment and new class demonstrations, an open house lunch from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and a ribbon cutting at 12:30 p.m.
    “The new facility allows the Y to meet the increased demands for class space and equipment,” YMCA CEO Linda Daly said. “More individuals are turning to the Y for support in their quest for a healthier lifestyle and the YMCA Express helps us meet their needs, from the first time exerciser to elite athletes.”
    In support of new classes and parents working out at the main facility, the Y has also expanded the free child watch hours for member parents.
    Child watch now runs from 8:30 a.m.-noon Monday-Friday and from 5-7:45 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
    Fitness director Melanie Chapman said the new space will allow the Y to offer many new, cutting-edge opportunities, including the TRX Suspension Training System that uses a participant’s body weight and gravity to create a challenging workout.
    Free TRX intro classes are being offered the week of March 4-8 and require advance registration.

  • Charter committee created

    It is back to the drawing board for review of Los Alamos County Charter sections that relate to the Department of Public Utilities.
    Tuesday, the county council approved a new five person committee to review DPU’s oversight and accountability to council, whether it would be possible and advisable for profits to be returned to DPU, possibly for use by other utilities, and whether to incorporate additional utilities into DPU’s responsibilities.
    The previous council rejected the Charter Review Committee’s recommendation for oversight and accountability, which would have allowed council to remove any or all board members without cause by a supermajority of 5-2. The previous council agreed that councilors must have more oversight, since they bear ultimate liability for DPU’s actions, and proposed appointing an ad hoc committee to study the issue.
    The CRC made no recommendations regarding the issue of returning profits to the DPU. Those profits are currently directed to the general fund. In view of its recent approval of a significant sewer rate increase to pay for infrastructure, council wants to explore other alternatives, such as using profits from one utility to subsidize costs in another. The current charter prohibits that.

  • Update 03-06-13

    DWI meeting

    The Los Alamos County DWI Planning Council meeting will be at 8:30 a.m. March 14 in the Los Alamos Police Department Training Room, 2500 Trinity Dr., Suite A.

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    Grace Brill, who specializes in market intelligence (market research for small businesses and entrepreneurs) and Springboard (expert coaching for companies facing a strategic decision), will present the various services that Los Alamos Connect provides to growth-oriented businesses at the Thursday brown bag lunch at The Hive. The brown-bag lunch will start at 11:30 a.m. and the presentation will start at noon.  There is never a charge for the brown bag lunches.

    Assets in Action

    Assets In Action will cure culinary sparks at the Teen Center at 3:15 p.m., Thursday making desserts with students to promote community partners as spring nears.

    Master Gardeners

    The March meeting of the Los Alamos Master Gardeners will be at 7 p.m. Thursday at the White Rock Town Hall. Discussion will be plans for the Hope Garden. 

  • President appoints Valles Caldera trustee

    Catherine Allen was officially appointed as the newest member of the Valles Caldera Trust, board of trustees.
    She is the fifth trustee appointed by President Barack Obama and joins Kent Salazar and Karyn Stockdale, who were also appointed by the Obama administration.
    “The Valles Caldera is a national treasure and must be respected as such,” said Allen, who served on President Obama’s Economic Development and Small Business Committee during the first Administration. “I am honored and excited to become a part of the effort to ensure the preserve’s well-being for generations to come.”
    By statute, each board of trustee position is assigned with a specific expertise needed to guide the management of the Valles Caldera National Preserve (preserve). Allen assumes the board position, which requires a trustee active and experienced in financial management. She succeeds Ed Tinsley whose board position remained vacant since his term expired in January 2011.
    “I am impressed with what has been accomplished in such a relatively short period of time with limited resources,” added Allen, who recently toured the preserve. “I see so much potential to enhance the Valles Caldera experience for all who visit the preserve.”

  • Flowers to power hospice care

    The Los Alamos Visiting Nurse Association ordered 2,500 daffodils recently in preparation for their upcoming three-day sale that starts Thursday and runs through Saturday.

    The sale will take place at 183 Central Park Square, next to Origami. Those who already pre-ordered their daffodils will have them delivered on Saturday.
    The sale is an annual fundraiser for the hospice care the Visiting Nurses provide. March is the month that many medical care organizations buy and sell daffodils, making it a symbol of renewal and hope for hospitals and hospices across the country.
    “It’s a national initiative, but each hospital or hospice purchases their own flowers,” LAVNA’s Executive Director Sarah Rochester, said.
    Funds raised through the sale will go toward supporting their patients in hospice care.
    “We have between 12 and 15 hospice patients, but our overall census of patients includes about 70,” Rochester added.
    A “bunch” of daffodils will sell for $5, two bunches in a vase will cost $15 and one bunch in a small vase will cost $10. 

  • Council OKs LAFD office lease

    Los Alamos County Council voted 6-0 to approve an office lease for the Los Alamos Fire Department administration staff at 999 Central Ave. during its meeting Tuesday night.

    Councilor Rick Reiss recused himself, since he has an ownership interest and is the managing member of the business that owns the building. The motion included a waiver of conflict of interest.

    Recognizing that conflict of interest may arise, particularly in small communities, the County Procurement Code and the New Mexico Governmental Conduct Act both allow for the waiver under certain conditions. Those are:

    • Reiss’ financial interest in the subject property was publicly disclosed prior to solicitation for the subject property.
    • Reiss, by abstaining from any participation in the approval of the proposed lease, shall not exercise any apparent bias or favoritism.
    • The approval of the lease will be in the best interests of the county.
    • The lease was competitively procured.

    LAPD administration has occupied offices at 195 East Road, Suite 101, since 1994. The current space has several issues that needed to be addressed. Those are:

  • Office manager confesses to embezzlement

    Celina Barela-Benavidez, 41, of Rio Rancho, was arrested Feb. 24 by Los Alamos Police after she confessed to using more than $18,000 of company funds to purchase computers and computer accessories for her family and friends.

    Tracy Maddox, the owner of Southwest Office Solutions, reported the crime and was not available for comment. Maddox told police that she began to experience an increasing number of incidents of merchandise missing from the store.

    An inventory and account check revealed that numerous items were purchased by the business account that weren’t supposed to be purchased. She told police that Barela-Benavidez, as office manager, was the only one who was allowed to make purchases on behalf of the store. She also told police that when she did the inventory check, Barela-Benavidez called in sick. A closer check also revealed that none of the computers were the type she would purchase to supply her clients with.

    Maddox was finally convinced it was Barela-Benavidez when she noticed a May 2012 order for two HP laptops and one Microsoft Office home and student key, shipped to an address in Las Cruces, where Barela-Benavidez’s son lives.

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