Local News

  • County buys historic WAC dorm

    Before it slipped too far into the past, Los Alamos County Council voted Tuesday to buy one of the last privately-owned buildings in the county leftover from the days of the Manhattan Project.

    The original building was built in 1943 and was first used as a Women’s Army Corps dormitory.

    Known as the headquarters of the Los Alamos Christian Science Society since the late 1940s, council voted for the county to acquire the building for $600,000.

    Though the county does not yet know what it will use the building for, it was eligible to be a part of the Manhattan Project Historical Park. For the council, the decision to buy the building was easy to make.

    “I’m excited to see that we can move forward with this building. I’ve walked by it several times and knowing it was a part of the actual Manhattan Project itself was exhilarating,” Councilor James Robinson said. “…I’m glad we can preserve it and keep that going.”

    Members of the Los Alamos Historical Society were at the council meeting, and were glad to see the building bought by the county.

    Elizabeth Martineau, executive director of the Los Alamos Historical Society, remembered touring the building some years ago and noting how well preserved it was.

  • Plutonium found in glovebox during cleanup

    Workers cleaning a material management room at Los Alamos National Laboratory discovered plutonium inside a glovebox July 1.

    The plutonium was discovered within a powdery substance beneath a brush inside the glovebox, according to a report by the Nuclear Facilities Safety Board.

    Nuclear Facilities Safety Board inspectors at the site said the box was supposed to already be swept clean of debris after the last activity inside the room.

    A work pause was implemented before resuming activities, according to a LANL spokesman.

    “Laboratory employees are encouraged to pause work if they encounter unexpected conditions or have a concern. In this instance, they rightly did just that,” a laboratory spokesman said.

    Lab officials also said the amount of plutonium found was a small amount and because it was inside a glovebox, workers were not exposed.

    “…Because the material was enclosed in a glovebox, there were no worker exposures or safety concerns,” the lab spokesman said. “The material has since been safely removed under our Material Recovery and Recycling Program and the glovebox is back in use.”

  • Members of electric cooperative suing trustees

    Some members of the Jemez Mountains Cooperative are petitioning the cooperative’s board of trustees to reverse what they say is a misinterpretation of the cooperative’s election bylaws. One of the allegations is the trustees mistakenly removed newly elected trustee Bruce Duran because he did not pay his electric bill on a regular basis.

    “The board… incorrectly determined at a meeting July 3, 2018, after his successful unchallenged reelection to the board, that Mr. Duran did not meet the qualification to be a trustee because he was not a resident of District 6 Ward B on the erroneous contention that he had not paid the electric bill continuously,” a statement in the lawsuit said.

    The lawsuit further stated that even though Duran did not pay the bill sometimes, his wife, whom he lives with, did from a separate account. The lawsuit stated the Durans are both members of the cooperative. Duran was an unchallenged candidate in the board’s June 2019 election and was beginning his second term when he was removed by the board. He represented District 6, Ward B.

    “I am very concerned that this Board under its current leadership is incapable of acting with integrity and following the bylaws,” Duran said.

  • New Mexico Rep. Haaland among 12 sued by Covington teens for defamation

    Congresswoman Deb Haaland (D-New Mexico) is one of 12 individuals being sued by eight Covington Catholic teens for defamation, their lawyers announced Thursday.

    The lawsuit was filed in Kentucky’s Kenton County Circuit Court against lawmakers, journalists/media figures and media personalities, according to a Law & Crime.com report published Thursday.

    Attorneys Robert Barnes and Kevin Murphy began the suit following an incident involving the teens that occurred Jan. 18 in Washington, D.C., when the group was approached by a Native American man, Nathan Phillips, who was banging a drum in the face of one of the boys, Nick Sandmann. Sandmann was wearing a red baseball cap at the time that is often associated with President Trump supporters.

    A video of the incident went viral and sparked widespread reaction.

    The lawsuit claims that the defendants jumped to conclusions about the teens, libeling the minors and publicly painting them as racists.

    The minors are filing the lawsuit through their parents.

    Shortly after the incident, Haaland spoke to the press about the incident.

    "I feel like some of that has truly been lost and that's all condoned by our president," Haaland told The Hill in an interview Jan. 19, following the incident. "You could tell that by the hats they were wearing."

  • Sewage cleanup near Santa Fe hospital sparks probe

    SANTA FE (AP) — Three wastewater workers say the city of Santa Fe failed to protect them from exposure to hazardous waste and needles during a sewer backup near a hospital.

    The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the state Occupational Health and Safety Bureau has launched an investigation into the condition of the cleanup by Santa Fe Wastewater Management Division employees.

    A complaint says city wastewater employees were assigned to clean up "effluent discharge from waste created" by Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center last month. Documents say the only protective gear they were given to clean the backup were steel-toe shoes, gloves and hard hats.

    City Public Utilities Director Shannon Jones says the Wastewater Management Division and the City Manager's Office are cooperating with state investigators.


  • Candidate's tax returns show 'mountain' of student debt

    By MORGAN LEE Associated Press

    SANTA FE (AP) — Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Maggie Toulouse Oliver released her 2018 state and federal tax returns Wednesday in what her campaign called a good faith effort to be candid with voters, while urging her campaign rivals to do the same ahead of 2020 elections.

    The tax documents for Toulouse Oliver — New Mexico's top campaign finance regulator in her elected role as secretary of state — show that she paid nearly $10,000 in taxes on roughly $75,000 in taxable income last year.

    Campaign spokeswoman Heather Brewer said the release of the tax returns shows Toulouse Oliver, who earns an $85,000 annual state salary, had nothing to hide as a "hard-working, single mom with a mountain of student loan debt."

    Toulouse Oliver reported paying about $2,900 in interest alone in 2018 on at least $60,000 in student loans for her own education at the University of New Mexico and that of her older son, who attends community college. She was able to deduct $650 of the money spent on loan interest. She holds at least $30,000 in credit card debt.

  • Santa Fe startup gets $1M grant for virtual reality tech

    SANTA FE (AP) — A Santa Fe startup has received a $1 million federal Small Business Innovation Research grant to complete its virtual reality data visualization technology.

    The Santa Fe New Mexican reports SciVista is developing a product called Summit VR — a platform to add three-dimensional data into virtual reality.

    Summit VR is being developed in partnership with Intel, Kitware, the Texas Advanced Computing Center, the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy and others.

    SciVista, a builder of data visualization programs, was established in 2018 and is a spinoff from Woodruff Scientific, a Santa Fe research and development company focused on electromagnets.

  • Fed cuts key rate in its first reduction in more than decade

    By MARTIN CRUTSINGER AP Economics Writer

    WASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve cut its key interest rate Wednesday for the first time in a decade to try to counter threats ranging from uncertainties caused by President Donald Trump's trade wars to chronically low inflation and a dim global outlook.

    The Fed also repeated a pledge to "act as appropriate to sustain the expansion" — wording that the financial markets have interpreted as a signal for possible future rate cuts.

    The central bank reduced its benchmark rate — which affects many loans for households and businesses — by a quarter-point to a range of 2% to 2.25%. It's the first rate cut since December 2008 during the depths of the Great

    Recession, when the Fed slashed its rate to a record low near zero and kept it there until 2015.

    The economy is far healthier now despite risks to what's become the longest expansion on record.

    The initial reaction in the financial markets Wednesday was muted. Stocks fell slightly after the Fed issued its statement at 2 p.m. Eastern time.

  • Home flooded by recent rainfall

    At least two homeowners were flooded out of their homes Friday by water flowing down an embankment off of Central Avenue near the roundabout roadway construction on N.M. 502.

    Jane Johnson, a former employee for the Los Alamos Monitor, and David Vasquez the Monitor’s sports reporter were in their separate townhomes on Verde Ridge Street Friday night when rain water seeped into the first floor of both homes.

    According to Johnson, the water was carried down the embankment, through her backyard fence and into the first floor of her home.

    Johnson is now temporarily living  with her daughter in Los Alamos.

    “I’m still walking around in a daze,” she said, adding that this was the worst possible time something like this could happen.

    “My granddaughter’s getting married in two weeks, and I’m not even in my house,” Johnson said.

    Johnson is waiting to see what would happen next. She filed a claim with her insurance company, but isn’t sure that would help.

    “Since it’s floodwater… my insurance probably won’t cover it,” she said.

  • Health clinic to open Thursday

    A partnership between the state and Las Clinicas Del Norte is due to start this Thursday, easing a shortage of healthcare services for teens, the working poor in Los Alamos County and others who have trouble accessing healthcare.

    On Thursday, Las Clinicas Del Norte is set offer its services inside the same building as the branch of the New Mexico Public Health Office located on Diamond Drive. The office is located across from Los Alamos High School on Diamond Drive.

    According to Las Clinicas Del Norte CEO Andrea Sandoval, the clinic will offer teens and others all the services that the public health office took away from Los Alamos when it centralized its services in Española four years ago. When that happened, many agencies and individuals from the community expressed concerns that the teens would not have access to anonymous services they used to, such as free condom distribution and other birth control programs.

    “That’s not the only services we will be offering, we are offering more options and access to primary care,” Sandoval said.

    The services will include immunization updates, family planning services, primary care and mental health counseling services. Patients will also be able to get blood tests at the clinic.