Local News

  • Attorneys determined to complete RCLC investigation

     Independent attorneys investigating an ethics complaint involving spending practices of the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities between 2016-2018 said they would finish the investigation whether or not they get paid.

    In February, allegations surfaced that the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities then-executive director, Andrea Romero, made between $1,800-$2,000 in unauthorized travel expenses while coalition members were on a September business trip to Washington D.C. to talk to LANL officials and New Mexico’s Congressional representatives about the community’s interests. 

    The allegations were made by an organization called Northern New Mexico Protects.

    In February, Los Alamos County Council member Susan O’Leary filed an ethics complaint in an effort to see if any county councilors or other county officials also knowingly participated in any expense abuses in connection with their work on the coalition during 2016-18. 

  • Senator visits LANL, talks tech tranfer

    On a campaign stop in Los Alamos Thursday, U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich visited with Los Alamos Laboratory officials to get an update on how the lab’s transition to a new contract is proceeding. 

    The lab’s new contractor, Triad National Security LLC, passed the 30-day protest period Wednesday without any objections raised by the other bidders. 

    “These moments where you transition managing and operating contracts are really important for making sure we maintain the quality of the work force and the talent pool,” Heinrich said. “Everything else is replaceable at our national labs. It’s really the talent that makes them what they are and that needs extra attention every time you transfer from one manager to another.”

    Heinrich also said he believes the lab’s workforce is good hands with LANL Director Terry Wallace.

    “My impression is that Terry has been bending over backwards to make sure that transition is as smooth as possible and that has absolutely been the right approach,” Heinrich said. 

  • Heinrich urges Democrats to get involved

    Democratic Senator Martin Heinrich likes the momentum his party is picking up in Los Alamos County and urged a crowd of supporters to continue the unified fight heading into the November general election. 

    Heinrich spoke at a Democratic Party meet and greet event at UnQuarked, which was also attended by Christine Chandler, the party’s candidate for the District 43 House of Representatives race, and municipal judge candidate Elizabeth Allen, as well as county council candidates Sara Scott, James Robinson and Randall Ryti.

    “The purpose of being here tonight is to urge all of you to become part of a coordinated campaign,” Heinrich said. “I’ve been through too many campaigns in New Mexico where this group was off doing this thing, and this group was doing that thing, and the delegation was doing something else and the governor’s candidate had their own operation … this is the first truly unified effort I’ve ever seen.

    “So we’re here today,” he continued, “to say please sign up and get involved.”

  • 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.