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Local News

  • Inaugural pride festival an event for ‘everybody’

    Organizers of the first Los Alamos Pride Festival want their event to reflect the same belief of their community, the ideal that Los Alamos is for everybody.

    “The purpose is to be making a statement in Los Alamos, the statement that we support everybody,” said George Marsden, the assistant director of the Los Alamos Teen Center. “This community is for everybody and this would be a great chance to experience this in Los Alamos.”

    The event will be from 4-7 p.m. Friday at Fuller Lodge.

    “For me, coming from the standpoint of someone who works with youth in the community, the big thing is that this is a chance to let LGBTQ+ youth know that they’re important, that they matter, that they’re amazing just how they are and for just who they are,” Marsden said. “That’s a major issue around the country, but certainly a major issue in our community. Lots of those youth don’t feel valued, they don’t feel OK and that leads to kids having a hard time and higher suicide rates, things like that.”

    The festival will feature a karaoke sing-a-long, lawn games, face/body painting, a coming out door, a story time blanket and an over the rainbow bubble challenge, as well as an education station and information provided by local LGBTQ+ organizations and partners.

  • LANL designates restricted airspace where unauthorized drone flights prohibited, including additional ‘No Drone Zone’

    Los Alamos National Laboratory has deployed a system to counter all unauthorized unmanned aircraft systems over its restricted airspace and an additional Federal Aviation Administration-designated “No Drone Zone.”

    The system is government-authorized and is in a testing phase.

    “All airspace over the laboratory is protected right now against unauthorized drone or UAS flights,” said Michael Lansing, head of the laboratory’s security operations. “We can detect and track a UAS and if it poses a threat we have the ability to disrupt control of the system, seize or exercise control, confiscate, or use reasonable force to disable, damage or destroy the UAS.”

    LANL worked in collaboration with the National Nuclear Security Administration and FAA to implement the system.

    With legal authority granted by Congress through the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the NNSA has the enhanced ability to protect its facilities from any UAS that may pose a threat to the safety or security of assets and personnel, according to LANL.

    The Counter-UAS program at Los Alamos will be the blueprint for future programs at three other NNSA sites.

    Systems are planned for the Pantex Plant in Texas, the Y-12 facility in Tennessee, and the National Nuclear Security Site in Nevada.

  • Pongratz takes seat on council

    Los Alamos County Councilors appointed veteran councilor and active community member Morris “Morrie” Pongratz to fill a vacant council seat Monday.

    The seat was vacated in early May by Councilor James Chrobocinski, who left his position due to illness.

    Starting in the 1980s, Pongratz served six terms on Los Alamos Council and one term on the Los Alamos School Board.

    According to Pongratz’ letter of intent to the Los Alamos County Council, Pongratz last held public office in 2007.
    Recently, Pongratz has worked with the youth of Los Alamos as a member of the Los Alamos Kiwanis Club, The Los Alamos Health Council, the Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation and other organizations.

    Some of Pongratz’s testimony to council Monday involved the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s recent management and operations contract, awarded to the nonprofit group Triad National Security LLC, and how the change would affect Los Alamos County.

    The council candidates were asked by councilors about which issue or issues the candidates would like to see county council focus on in the next six months.

    “I think the answer is pretty clear, the budget and the impact of the new LANL contract,” Pongratz answered.

  • ‘Hoping for a breakthrough’

    BY DAVE MENICUCCI
    Special to the Monitor

    A two-year agreement has been reached for the improvement and use of a pond in the Jemez Mountains for fishing events dedicated to mobility limited anglers.

    The anglers who will participate include disabled and infirm people, wounded veterans, many seniors and anyone who has limited ability to walk.

    The agreement was signed June 8 between Dennis Trujillo, a land and pond owner in La Cueva, and Dustin Berg, chief executive officer of Global Opportunities Unlimited, a non-profit corporation in Bernalillo that is dedicated to helping mobility limited people enjoy outdoor activities.

    The pond is on the west side of Highway126, about six-tenths of a mile north of NM 4. The deal paves the way for

    Trujillo and Global to share equally the costs to improve access to the pond, especially for anglers in wheelchairs or who use walkers.

    According to the terms of the deal, made public at the signing ceremony, Global will be allowed to exclusively use the pond on a regular basis for both youth and adult mobility fishing events.

  • New Mexico medical marijuana board short of members to meet

    SANTA FE (AP) — New Mexico's medical marijuana advisory board had to cancel a May meeting to consider recommending program changes because it lacked enough members.

    The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board hasn't had a full roster of members for years and that its membership recently dropped to two members, one short of the three needed for a quorum.

    The canceled May meeting was one of two the panel holds annually to consider possible changes such as adding new health conditions that allow patients to qualify to use medical marijuana.

    The Health Department said it was working with the New Mexico Medical Society to recruit new members and reviewing applications for three vacancies.

    The department said it anticipates the board will meet again in early summer.
     

  • New Mexico feels the heat as June temperatures rise

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — National weather forecasters have issued a heat advisory for parts of southern New Mexico, saying more triple-digit temperatures were expected across the region.

    New Mexico is coming off of its third warmest May on record as climate predictions for June show greater than average chances that the state will see above average temperatures again this month.

    In Las Cruces, officials on Monday closed Municipal Court early because of a lack of air conditioning. They reported that temperatures inside the building were between 85 and 90 degrees and were expected to rise as the day progressed.

    All hearings set for the afternoon were being rescheduled.
     

  • Police Beat 6-10-18

    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.

    May 24
    11:32 a.m. – Rebecca Renee Ward, 18 was booked into L.A. County jail for careless driving and property damage. She was later released.

    12:17 a.m. – Los Alamos police issued a citation/summons for simple domestic battery.

    May 26
    3:56 p.m. – Paul Joseph Springfield, 44, was booked into the L.A. County jail on a misdemeanor warrant from another jurisdiction. He was later released on an $819 bond.

    May 30
    2:02 p.m. – Los Alamos police responded to a domestic violence call of an argument between a parent and child that was reported by a third party after the fact. No charges were filed and the case is inactive.
    10:34 p.m. – Los Alamos police responded to an aggravated assault charge. The case is still active.

    May 31

  • Overpasses on Diamond Drive closing for repairs

    The pedestrian overpasses on Diamond Drive will be closed beginning Monday while crews resurface the steps and bridges.
    Preparation began early Friday morning ahead of the project, which is expected to finish June 25.

    “We anticipate the sandblasting will be done in the first week,” Los Alamos County Public Works Department Senior Traffic Manager Alipio Mondragon said Thursday night. “The resurfacing’s going to follow right behind and that’s going to take a couple of days. The material they’re using will then need a couple of days to dry before we can let anybody on the overpasses.”

    The project will not affect vehicle traffic, however, it will affect foot traffic.

    Pedestrians who usually use the north overpass to cross Diamond Drive are advised to use the crosswalks at Sandia Drive and pedestrians who regularly use the south overpass are advised to use the crosswalk at Canyon Road.

    Because of the closures motorists are encouraged to be on the lookout for increased pedestrian traffic on that stretch of Diamond Drive.

    Mondragon said one of the determining factors in the pace of the project will be the ease in which the current surface can be pulled up.

  • Supporting the local Farmer’s Market
  • Triad’s non-profit status leaves county with questions

    Questions still remain following the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Friday announcement of the new management and operations contract for the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

    One of the biggest questions for Los Alamos County officials was Triad National Security LLC’s tax status.

    University of California spokesman Stephanie Beechem said the consortium would not release further details on the contract until the contractor’s transition period begins.

    “Until the DOE/NNSA issues an official notice to proceed, Triad LLC isn’t sharing any further details about our group’s proposal,” Beechem said.

    Whatever happens, the contract is expected to produce less income to the county, as the NNSA reduced LANL’s 3 percent performance fee to 1 percent in its annual $2.5 billion management and operations contract.

    Los Alamos County Manager Harry Burgess said it was not clear to the county if Triad National Security would be taxed on its gross receipts, even though it appears to be a non-profit.

    New Mexico tax laws exempt non-profits from gross receipts tax. If Triad National Security is structured as a non-profit, Los Alamos County may lose an estimated $21 million a year in gross receipts tax revenue. The state also stands to lose about $23 million in gross receipts taxes.