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Local News

  • Management shift begins at US nuclear weapons lab

    LOS ALAMOS (AP) — The U.S. government on Monday cleared the way for a new management team to begin taking over one of the nation's top nuclear weapons laboratories as it looks to rebuild its reputation.

    The National Nuclear Security Administration issued an official notice to proceed to Triad National Security LLC , marking the beginning of a transition at Los Alamos National Laboratory that will take about four months.

    Made up of Ohio-based Battelle Memorial Institute, Texas A&M University and the University of California, the management team was announced as the winning bidder in June of a coveted $2.5 billion-a-year contract to manage the northern New Mexico lab.

    The University of California has played a key management role at the lab since it was created as part of a top-secret effort during World War II to build the atomic bomb. The federal government opted to put the contract up for bid following missed goals and a string of safety lapses involving the handling of plutonium and radioactive waste.

    The new contract also comes as the U.S. has tasked the lab with building at least 30 plutonium cores a year. The cores are used to trigger nuclear weapons, and the work is complex.

  • Santa Fe National Forest opening Monday

    The Santa Fe National Forest is opening Monday at 8 a.m., according to Santa Fe National Forest Public Affairs Officer Bruce Hill.  Cibola and Carson National Forests remain closed. Officials also asked for the public's patience  "as it will take some time to remove barriers and open gates for forest access Monday," Hill said.

    “We noticed conditions starting to improve two weeks ago when moisture levels increased due to higher humidity,” Forest Supervisor James Melonas said. “The recent rain is the beginning of what we can expect to be a good monsoon season. The Carson and Cibola National Forests are closely monitoring local conditions to determine the safe timing for the lifting of any closures and restrictions.”  

    Fire restrictions have been downgraded to stage 2. Stage 2 restrictions include no building, maintaining, attending or using a camp, charcoal, coal, or stove fire. Use of fireworks, explosives or smoking is also prohibited. Offroading on federal lands is also prohibited, as is use of a chainsaw.    Penalties include a maximum fine of $5,000 for an individual, $10,000 for an organization. A maximum sentence of six months in jail could also be considered.   

  • Kieltyka named principal at Mountain Elementary

    Los Alamos native Jennifer Kieltyka will take over the helm as the new principal of Mountain Elementary.
    Kieltyka grew up in Los Alamos, attending and graduating from Los Alamos High School. She has a bachelor of science degree from Eastern New Mexico University in elementary education and special education with an early childhood endorsement.

    Kieltyka taught at Salazar Elementary in Santa Fe for two years and at Chamisa Elementary for 24 years.

    She obtained her master’s degree in educational leadership from New Mexico Highlands University in 2016. She has worked the past two years as part of the Los Alamos High School administration team as the Dean of Students and Special Education Contact person.

    Kieltyka has been married for 28 years and is the mother of three children. Her oldest daughter just graduated from New Mexico State University and is working at the National Institute of Health in Maryland. Her middle daughter just graduated from LAHS and is planning on attending NMSU in the fall. Her youngest, a son, is currently attending LAMS as an eighth-grader.

    Kieltyka said she is excited to begin a new chapter in her career with Mountain Elementary and looks forward to building new relationships with staff, students, families and community members.

  • Fourth of July celebration brings thoughts of thankfulness, patriotism

    It was red, white and blue everywhere Wednesday as more than a hundred residents gathered on Grand Canyon Drive around 10 a.m. to welcome a group of veterans bringing a special American flag with them to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in White Rock.

    Since 2017, the flag has flew over Arlington National Cemetery, the state capitol, Santa Fe National Cemetery, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

    This July 4 celebration was the flag’s return trip to the church.

    The flag transport kicked off a half-day celebration organized by the church that included guest speakers, a children’s parade and a festival complete with games, food and good times.

    The guest speaker was Ben Bateman, a U.S. Army Special Forces veteran.

    “Of all the holidays of the year, today’s my favorite,” Bateman said. “It’s when we can come together for parades, for barbecues for bounce houses. A day when we can truly celebrate our freedoms, the sacrifice and the genius of our founding fathers, and the continual sacrifices that are armed forces and patriots make every day.”

    Bateman also reminded the audience that freedom is more than a feel-good word.

  • 15 become U.S. citizens on Independence Day

    When Charlie and Emma Starrett came to the United States from Northern Ireland in the United Kingdom eight and a half years ago it was supposed to be for a quick stint working with the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

    But over the years America became their home and Wednesday they celebrated the Fourth of July by becoming United States citizens together.

    “It’s been a long journey. It’s been eight and a half years,” said Charlie Starrett after Wednesday’s ceremony at Bandelier National Monument. “We came here originally for a short-term contract with the lab, so with the transition over the years this slowly became our home. So it was a natural thing that we wanted to become citizens. It means a lot to us.”

    The fact they both became citizens on the same day was a coincidence.

    “It’s nice. We didn’t arrange that,” Charlie Starrett said. “We were kind of lucky because we applied at the same time but there were different paths we had to take. We got lucky.”

  • Hundreds turn out for county family event

    Hundreds of people refused to let “no fireworks” translate into “no fun” Wednesday, turning out for a last-minute family event put together by Los Alamos County at Overlook Park in White Rock.

    The county organizers ran out of food and drink at the event when more than double the number of people showed up at the park, even without the yearly show of fireworks.

    Following the decision by Los Alamos County Fire Chief Troy Hughes to cancel the Kiwanis Club’s annual fireworks display due to extremely dry conditions, the club announced it would be canceling all of the Fourth of July activities it annually hosts at the park.

    Monday the county stepped in with an event put on by the Community Services Department, which featured free hot dogs and drinks, inflatable toys and games for all ages.

    “We prepared food and drink for about 200 people because we weren’t really sure what we were expecting, more or less,” said Eric Hill, a recreation leader with the Parks, Recreation and Open Space Division. “But we went through all the food and drink and I’d say we probably had anywhere between 400 to 500 people total come out today.“The wonderful weather helped,” he added, “and everyone was looking for something to do.”

  • Police find Mesa Library flasher suspect

    Police on Saturday picked up a man suspected of exposing himself to two female patrons at the Mesa Public Library June 28.

    Police picked Gustavio Salaiz up in the area of 20th Street and Central Avenue, according to the police report. Information about Slalaiz’s age and address in the report was redacted by the Los Alamos County Municipal Court.

    Officers issued him a summons to appear in Los Alamos County Municipal Court for indecent exposure. A court date has not yet been set. Police were able to identify Salaiz through a photograph the victim took of the suspect on her phone shortly after the incident happened, according to the report.

    “The male from the victim’s picture still wearing dark shorts and red socks and red shoes,” LAPD Cpl. Robert Larsen said in a police report.

    The victim told police that while sitting in the southeastern corner of the library, Salaiz stood next to her, appearing to look for a book. He then walked away, only to come back a short time later and exposed himself to her, according to the report.

    As he walked away, the suspect looked over his shoulder, and the victim took his picture.

    The incident happened at 4:30 p.m. on the first floor of the Mesa Public Library.

  • Owners hope Bob’s Bodacious BBQ takes off

    Bob’s Bodacious BBQ may be under new ownership, but that ownership wants to assure its customers it plans on continuing to serve the same barbecue that’s made it such a popular Los Alamos eatery.

    “We may make some changes over time, but if it’s a successful model why break it?” said Lyle Cunningham. “We have no intention of doing anything drastic. If we start getting negative feedback then guess what? It goes back the other way. Your goal is to improve and not fall behind.”

    Cunningham and his wife, Gayle, purchased the restaurant from Frank Good and Pamela Hushman and celebrated its grand re-opening Monday evening.

    “Frank and Pam were ready to step away and they wanted to go play some golf and enjoy Florida,” Lyle Cunningham said. “They gave us the option to take a look at it. We liked what we saw and were able to negotiate a good transfer.”

    The Cunninghams also own Papa Murphy’s, which is located in the Hilltop Center on Arkansas Avenue at the opposite end from their new restaurant.

    After purchasing Papa Murphy’s about four years ago, they entered into discussions with Good and Hushman to purchase the barbecue restaurant earlier this year.

  • Special sessions meeting set for July 11

    County Council will meet for a special session to discuss options and preparations needed to address a potential shortfall in gross receipts taxes resulting from the recent contract award by the National Nuclear Security Administration of the Los Alamos National Security operations and management contract to Trial National Security, LLC.

    The meeting is set for at 6 p.m. July 11 in Council Chambers.

    The county expects it might be without about $20 million in annual gross receipts taxes if Triad files as a nonprofit entity with the state.

    The county council will consider options at the special session meeting, possibly including revenue enhancements or reductions in service, beginning later in 2018.

    Los Alamos County has already approved a flat budget for the next fiscal year given the currently unknown impact of a change in the laboratory’s management contract, and anticipated the need to develop a revised budget once the details of the new contractor’s tax status became known. The contract is expected to be in place Nov.1, and the county would need to be prepared to implement changes in the fall.

    The meeting is open to the public and will be given an opportunity to provide comment. The meeting will also be televised on PAC-8 and streamed at losalamosnm.us/government/county_council.

  • LANL marks 75 years of discovery

    When J. Robert Oppenheimer invited the world’s top scientists, physicists, engineers and technicians to Los Alamos in 1943 to build the world’s first nuclear weapon, no one really knew what the results were going to be.

    What they did know however, was that they had to succeed at all costs, as intelligence reports told them the Axis Powers were working toward the same goal. 

    Seventy five years later, just yards away from where plans for the first nuclear bomb were developed, the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s 11th director, Terry Wallace, talked about what Oppenheimer’s plans meant to the world, and New Mexico’s future.

    “Over a series of lectures, they came up with a plan, and that plan was to do something they had never done before,” Wallace said. “… They weren’t going to be just physicists, they weren’t going to be just chemists, they weren’t going to be just engineers they had to be able to have the world’s best technicians, they had to be able to have the world’s best craft to be able to build the facilities around us.”

    Wallace said that blueprint of hiring the best people to work on the world’s most difficult problems has been serving the nation and the world ever since.