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Local News

  • Budget ax hits Bandelier

    A scenario is unfolding at Bandelier National Monument that Superintendent Jason Lott hoped to avoid.

    A five percent decrease in the park’s budget due to sequestration is cutting deep. Both the park and the campground remain open, but cutbacks to staffing and programming are likely to impact the visitor experience.

    Many subject-to-furlough employees have received full furloughs. Subject-to-furlough employees are guaranteed at least six months of full-time work, with a minimum two-week furlough each year. Lott has done what he can to mitigate the impact.

    “In every case we tried to minimize furloughs by using program funds and other sources,” Lott said.

    The budget reductions have also affected seasonal employment, which usually swells the workforce by approximately 40 jobs, many of which are filled by locals.

    Lott stressed that permanent full-time employees are not being furloughed, although a hiring freeze has left key positions such as a law enforcement ranger and a facilities manager vacant.

    Staff reductions mean that the visitor center will maintain winter hours, operating from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m., restrooms will likely be cleaned once daily instead of two or three times and grounds maintenance and trail work will be reduced.

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  • $338M NJ Powerball winner says he'll help family

    PASSAIC, N.J. (AP) — The winner of a $338 million Powerball jackpot told several media outlets Monday that his first priority will be helping his family.

    Pedro Quezada, 44, entered Eagle Liquors store, where the ticket was sold, late Monday afternoon. The Passaic store owner ran Quezada's ticket through the lottery machine to validate that it was a winner as a newspaper and television outlets recorded the moment.

    The New Jersey Lottery confirmed that the winning ticket was validated at the store at 4:30 p.m. Monday, but officials said they didn't yet know the winner's name.

    Quezada told reporters in Spanish that he was "very happy" and that he intends to help his family.

    His wife, Ines Sanchez, told the Bergen Record that Quezada called her with the news Monday afternoon.

    "I still can't believe it," she said. "We never expected it but thank God."

    The numbers drawn Saturday were 17, 29, 31, 52, 53 and Powerball 31. A lump sum payout would be $221 million, or about $152 million after taxes. It's the fourth-largest jackpot in Powerball history.

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  • LANL's Melton to head W.Va. Capitol agency

    CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — An official at the Los Alamos National Laboratory will oversee the West Virginia Capitol and other state buildings.

    Administration Secretary Ross Taylor announced Gregory Melton as the new director of the General Services Division on Monday. Melton starts April 1.

    A West Virginia native, Melton has been a maintenance manager and group leader at Los Alamos. The New Mexico complex is 36 square miles with more than 1,200 buildings and 8 million square feet of facility space.

    General Services oversees the state Capitol building and its campus as well as other state government buildings around West Virginia.

    Melton is a West Virginia University graduate and a former U.S. Air Force officer. He succeeds David Oliverio, who helped oversee a major turnaround at General Services before his departure earlier this month.

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  • Toenail clippings to measure toxic exposure in NJ

    GARFIELD, N.J. (AP) — The neighborhood looks exceedingly normal: single-family homes and apartment buildings packed together, dogs barking from postage-stamp-size lawns, parents hustling down narrow sidewalks to fetch their children from school. But something with very dangerous potential lies below the surface, officials say.

    The residents' toenails will provide confirmation.

    A plume of hexavalent chromium, a metal used in industrial production that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls a "well-established carcinogen," has spread under Garfield, putting about one-tenth of the city's homes — about 600 structures and 3,600 residents — at risk.

    The Environmental Protection Agency is about to start drilling on the spill site to determine how much chromium is pooled beneath and remove tainted soil. The agency is also testing the broader area to determine how it will be cleaned up. Now a group of scientists from New York University is working to assess how much chromium residents may have been exposed to.

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