Local News

  • P&Z green lights subdivision in WR

    A subdivision in White Rock consisting of 161 residential lots and an adjoining commercial lot got the approval of the Los Alamos County Planning and Zoning Commission during its meeting Wednesday night.

    The Mirador subdivision will be located in the northeast corner of the intersection of SR 4 and Sherwood Boulevard, and will continue west to approximately Pajarito Road.

    “We’re happy this was approved and that we can move on to the next phase of planning,” said Los Alamos County Planning Manager Tamara Baer.

    The approval of the Final Subdivision Plat creates 161 new residential lots and one commercial lot over three existing parcels. The parcel designated A-19-A-1 is zoned R-1-5 (single-family residential) and consists of 34.35-plus acres. The second parcel, A-19-A-2A, is zoned (downtown – neighborhood center overlay) and consists of 12.94-plus acres. A third parcel, A-19-A-2B, is also zoned DT-NCO and consists of 12.97-plus acres. Los Alamos County owns that parcel.

    The subdivision will be located on the first two, privately owned tracts of land.

    The majority of the conversation – which started in the public hearing portion of the meeting – surrounding the case dealt with safety issue of pedestrians crossing SR 4 to get to schools and businesses on the other side.

  • Minnow rescue under way as portions of Rio Grande dry up

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Federal water managers will be facing difficult decisions as the worsening drought is significantly affecting flows on one of the country's longest river systems and prompting rescue missions for a tiny endangered fish.

    The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released their operating plan for the Rio Grande on Thursday.

    With some of the lowest snowpack reports on record, officials said they will have little water this season as they decide when and how best to move what is stored in the reservoirs for downstream users and for the Rio Grande silvery minnow.

    The tiny fish, listed as endangered in 1994, was once abundant throughout the Rio Grande Basin from Colorado to Texas and into Mexico. It's now found only in a fraction of its historic habitat as the river system has seen dam building and the straightening of its once meandering channels over the last 150 years.

    The minnow population just five years ago marked one of the lowest levels since surveys began in the mid-1990s. At that point, the fish was showing few signs of reproduction in the wild and that year's fast-moving drought left biologists trying to salvage as many of the minnows from puddles in the drying river.

  • Radioactive sludge barrel ruptures at Idaho nuclear site

    By KEITH RIDLER, Associated Press

    BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A barrel containing radioactive sludge ruptured at an Idaho nuclear facility, federal officials said Thursday, resulting in no injuries and no risk to the public but possibly slowing progress in shipping waste out of the state.

    The U.S. Department of Energy said the 55-gallon (208-liter) barrel ruptured late Wednesday at the 890-square-mile  site that includes the Idaho National Laboratory, one of the nation's top federal nuclear research labs.

    The rupture triggered a fire alarm, and three Idaho National Laboratory firefighters extinguished the smoldering barrel and pulled it away from a dozen other barrels nearby.

    When the firefighters left the building, emergency workers detected a small amount of radioactive material on their skin, said department spokeswoman Danielle Miller.

    The material was washed off the firefighters, who were taken to a nearby medical facility as a precaution, she said.

    Initial assessments showed they did not inhale the radioactive material and were not injured, Miller added.

  • Popular national parks to raise fees to $35, not $70

    By MATTHEW DALY, Associated Press

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Interior Department is increasing fees at the most popular national parks to $35 per vehicle, backing down from an earlier plan that would have forced visitors to pay $70 per vehicle to visit the Grand Canyon, Yosemite and other iconic parks.

    A plan announced Thursday would boost fees at 17 popular parks by $5, up from the current $30 but far below the figure Interior proposed last fall.

    The plan by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke drew widespread opposition from lawmakers and governors of both parties, who said the higher fees could exclude many Americans from enjoying national parks. The agency received more than 109,000 comments on the plan, most of them opposed.

    The $35 fee applies mostly in the West and will affect such popular parks as Yellowstone, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Mount Rainier, Rocky Mountain and Grand Teton parks, among others.

    Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said the fee hikes were needed to help maintain the parks and begin to address an $11.6 billion maintenance backlog.

    "Every dollar spent to rebuild our parks will help bolster the gateway communities that rely on park visitation for economic vitality," Zinke said.

  • West Road is open, fire extinguished

    UPDATE: 4:24 p.m.

    Los Alamos County has restored power to customers in the Ski Hill, Fairway and Trinity areas following a wildfire today, according to the county spokeswoman.

    Los Alamos fire crews extinguished a wildfire that broke out at 12:45 p.m. today on West Road, south of the Los Alamos County Ice Rink.

    There was no damage to the ice rink and no injuries reported. The fire was extinguished within an hour. West Road was reopened about 2:30 p.m.

    Some homes near Fairway Drive and Trinity Drive were without power, according to Los Alamos County Spokeswoman Julie Habiger said.

    “The Department of Public Utilities’ electric linemen anticipate that power will be restored by 4 p.m.,” Habiger said.

    The fire was caused by arcing power lines and is moving up the slope behind the ice rink, according to early reports from fire officials.

    ****** Fire crews are battling a wildfire that broke out about 12:45 p.m. south of the Los Alamos County Skating Rink this afternoon.

    West Road is closed to traffic in the area and vehicles are being diverted through Los Alamos National Laboratory property.

    Motorists will be asked to show identification or badges to pass through the property. Gusty winds are adding to the danger level, according to one witness.

  • Drivers urged to watch out for dust in Arizona, New Mexico

    TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Authorities in Arizona and New Mexico are urging drivers to watch out for blowing dust due to strong winds blowing across the region.

    The National Weather Service says visibility is reduced along Interstate 40 between Winslow and the New Mexico border in northern Arizona and that winds are also picking up along Interstate 10 in the Willcox area of southeastern Arizona.

    Meanwhile, the New Mexico Department of Transportation says visibilities may be reduced on highways in Luna and Hidalgo counties in southwestern New Mexico due to blowing dust.

  • New Mexico state and local tax revenues rise

    SANTA FE (AP) — New Mexico tax authorities are collecting more local and state government tax dollars amid an oil industry rebound and some signs of an economic expansion, Gov. Susana Martinez announced Wednesday.

    Martinez said in a statement that state and local revenues for the first seven months of the fiscal year have increased by $672 million from the previous year, or 13 percent. Those revenues include some money from local tax increases.

    State general fund revenue increased by $489 million, or nearly 16 percent, during the same July-January period from the previous year, according figures from the Department of Finance and Administration.

    A rebound in the oil and natural gas sectors is providing a windfall after two years of austere state budgeting.

    Martinez and the Democrat-led Legislature recently approved a $260 million increase in general fund spending for the coming fiscal year, with pay increases for teachers, State Police and prosecutors.

    Martinez is highlighting her 2017 veto of a proposed tax increase as a turning point in state finances.

    Economists with the Legislative Finance Committee warned in January that recent increases in state income are linked almost entirely to the oil and natural gas sector, making the state even more dependent on a volatile industry.

  • Sessions takes fight on border enforcement to New Mexico

    By MARY HUDETZ, Associated Press

    LAS CRUCES(AP) — As thousands of National Guard troops deploy to the Mexico border, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions brought his tough stance on immigration enforcement to New Mexico on Wednesday, telling border sheriffs that cracking down on illegal crossings and drug smuggling is necessary to build a lawful immigration system.

    Sessions ticked off stories about smugglers being caught with opioids and cocaine at the U.S.-Mexico border and legal loopholes that have encouraged more immigrants to make the journey.

    "This is not acceptable. It cannot continue," he said. "No one can defend the way the system is working today."

    Outside, dozens of immigrant rights activists protested Sessions' visit, once again rejecting his previous characterization of the border region as "ground zero" in the Trump administration's fight against cartels and human traffickers.

    "He was wrong then, and he is wrong now." said Fernando Garcia, executive director of the Border Network for Human Rights in El Paso, just south of Las Cruces.

    As Sessions' motorcade arrived, the group chanted in Spanish and waved signs against the proposed border wall and the deployment of National Guard troops to the region

  • The Latest: Sessions says goal is lawful immigration system

    LAS CRUCES (AP) — The Latest on U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions' trip to the border in New Mexico (all times local):

    2:30 p.m.

    U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions says the U.S.-Mexico border must be secured if the nation is going to have a lawful immigration system.

    In a speech Wednesday in New Mexico, Sessions ticked off stories about drugs being smuggled across the border and illegal crossings that have taxed law enforcement, prosecutors and the court system.

    The attorney general spoke in Las Cruces to a group of sheriffs whose departments patrol areas north of the U.S.-Mexico border in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

    Sessions once again called the situation on the border a crisis that has been allowed to fester for decades and suggested those who oppose border security and immigration enforcement are radicals.

    1:40 p.m.

    The Arizona National Guard plans to offer support at the U.S.-Mexico border for maintenance, repairs and surveillance but not law enforcement.

    Maj. Gen. Michael McGuire says some of the 338 guardsmen and women being deployed will be armed for self-defense.

  • University of New Mexico considers eliminating sports

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — The University of New Mexico has authorized its athletic director to eliminate programs in the cash-strapped department.

    University President Garnett S. Stokes addressed the regents Finance and Facilities Committee on Tuesday, saying athletic director Eddie Nunez has been instructed to propose sport eliminations by this summer.

    Stokes says student athletes should be given notice a year before their sport is eliminated.

    Nunez says no decision has been made yet on which sports will be cut. The university sponsors 22 varsity sports programs.

    The action comes as the athletics department entered this year with $4.7 million in accumulated deficits. The department is expecting to overspend this fiscal year's budget by a $2.1 million and is projecting another $2.3 million deficit for the next year.