Local News

  • Fourteen bodies recovered, 200 injured in Texas blast


    WEST, Texas (AP) — Buck Uptmor didn't have to go to West Fertilizer Co. when the fire started. He wasn't a firefighter like his brother and cousin, who raced toward the plant. But a ranch of horses next to the flames needed to be moved to safety.

    "He went to help a friend," said Joyce Marek, Uptmor's aunt. "And then it blew."

    Two days after the fertilizer facility exploded in a blinding fireball, authorities announced Friday that they had recovered 14 bodies, confirming for the first time an exact number of people killed. Grieving families quickly started planning burials.

    Ten of the dead were first-responders — including five from the West Volunteer Fire Department and four emergency medics, West Mayor Tommy Muska said.

    The dead included Uptmor and Joey Pustejovsky, the city secretary who doubled as a member of the West Volunteer Fire Department. A captain of the Dallas Fire Department who was off-duty at the time but responded to the fire to help also died.

    The explosion was strong enough to register as a small earthquake and could be heard for many miles across the Texas prairie. It demolished nearly everything for several blocks around the plant. More than 200 people were hurt, and five people remained hospitalized Friday.

  • Background check gun bill fails in Senate


    WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republicans, backed by a small band of rural-state Democrats, turned away legislation Wednesday to tighten restrictions on the sale of firearms, rejecting repeated appeals from President Barack Obama and personal pleas by families of the victims of last winter's mass elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn.

    Attempts to ban assault-style rifles and high capacity ammunition magazines also faced certain defeat in a series of showdown votes four months after a gunman killed 20 elementary school children and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary.

    The background check measure commanded a majority of senators, 54-46, but that was well short of the 60 votes needed to advance. Forty-one Republicans and five Democrats sided to scuttle the plan.

    In the hours before the key vote, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., bluntly accused the National Rifle Association of making false claims about the expansion of background checks that he and Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., were backing.

  • Britain's Iron Lady laid to rest


    LONDON (AP) — Margaret Thatcher was laid to rest Wednesday with prayers and ceremony, plus cheers and occasional jeers, as Britain paused to remember a leader who transformed the country — for the better according to many, but in some eyes for the worse.

    Soaring hymns, Biblical verse and fond remembrances echoed under the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral, as 2,300 relatives, friends, colleagues and dignitaries attended a ceremonial funeral for Britain's only female prime minister.

    Queen Elizabeth II, current and former prime ministers and representatives from 170 countries were among the mourners packing the cathedral, where Bishop of London Richard Chartres spoke of the strong feelings Thatcher still evokes 23 years after leaving office.

    "The storm of conflicting opinions centers on the Mrs. Thatcher who became a symbolic figure — even an -ism," he said. "It must be very difficult for those members of her family and those closely associated with her to recognize the wife, the mother and the grandmother in the mythological figure."

    "There is an important place for debating policies and legacy ... but here and today is neither the time nor the place," he added.

  • FBI releases images of two suspects in Boston bomb case -- photos, video added



    BOSTON (AP) — The FBI released photos and video Thursday of two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing and asked for the public's help in identifying them, zeroing in on the two men on surveillance-camera footage less than three days after the deadly attack.

    The photos depict one man in a dark baseball cap and the other in a white cap worn backward. The men were seen walking one behind the other in the crowd, and the one in the white hat was seen setting down a backpack at the site of the second explosion, said Richard DesLauriers, FBI agent in charge in Boston.

  • Valles Caldera plans photographic excursions

    JEMEZ SPRINGS (AP) — The Valles Caldera National Preserve is offering the public a chance to explore its 89,000 acres in northern New Mexico on three-day photography excursions this spring and in the fall.
    Lotteries will select the winners, 12 for each outing. Each winner can bring one guest.
    The winners can drive their own vehicles to take photographs in most parts of the preserve although some areas will remain closed. Camping will be allowed at a designated location.
    Officials say the lottery closes April 24 for the first photography event, which is scheduled for May 24-26.
    The second outing is Sept. 20-22, and the lottery closes on Aug. 21.
    People can apply by calling the preserve at 1-866-382-5537, or can register online (http://1.usa.gov/XNMK3D ). Each lottery entry costs $10.

  • Update 04-17-13

    Town Hall

    State Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard (D-Los Alamos, Rio Arriba, Sandoval and Santa Fe) will join with the AARP of Los Alamos to hold a Town Hall meeting from 1-3 p.m. on Friday at the Betty Ehart Senior Center.

    Have a news tip?

    Send press releases, photos and videos to laeditor@lamonitor.com or contact the newsroom at 662-4185.

    BPU meeting

    The Board of Public Utilities will meet at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in the DPU Conference Room.

    County Council

    The Los Alamos County Council will continue its budget hearings at 7 p.m. tonight in council chambers. Wednesday’s discussion will conclude outstanding items and possible adoption of the budget.  

  • Locals recount marathon

    All of the runners from Los Alamos that participated in the Boston Marathon seem to be okay. In fact, some of them, like John Erickson, only heard about the explosions on the radio. He was injured, so he couldn’t participate that day. However he did watch the event.

    “I was at the halfway point at Wellesley and I had no idea what happened until I heard it on the radio,” he said in an email to the Los Alamos Monitor.

    However, for some, like the Dreiers, the experience was a little more vivid.

    This was both Matt and Whitney Dreier’s second time running the Boston Marathon, their first time as a couple. Everything went relatively smoothly, with Whitney finishing in 3 hours and 23 minutes and Matt finishing in three hours and 53 minutes. They proceeded through the finishing chute on Boylston Street to receive water, Gatorade, mylar blankets and any clothing they dropped off.

    They were two blocks from the finish line and were just getting ready to leave when they heard the explosions.

  • Councilors to debate 'parking lot' items tonight -- photos added

    Tuesday’s budget hearings were relatively quiet, but Los Alamos County councilors accrued a substantial list of “parking lot” items to be discussed tonight.

    In tandem with the budget, council approved an ordinance authorizing the county to refund $41 million of the existing Gross Receipts Tax Improvement Bonds, which mature on and after June 1, 2019 and are callable as of June 1, 2018. The ordinance authorizes up to $44 million in new refunding bonds and investing $6.7 million from the debt service fund to pay the debt service on the refunded bonds until they are called and paid.

    The current low interest rates and paying the debt off early is projected to save the county approximately $1.7 million.

    The ordinance gives general authorization for staff to proceed with the refunding. Council must give final approval of the actual bond sale agreement when it comes before them on May 21.
    Councilors asked for assurances that the bond sale agreement would not be finalized unless rates remained low enough to provide substantial savings, then passed the ordinance by a 7-0 vote.

  • Today in History for April 17
  • Mississippi man arrested in ricin letters case


    OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi man was arrested Wednesday, accused of sending letters to President Barack Obama and a senator that tested positive for the poisonous ricin and set the nation's capital on edge a day after the Boston Marathon bombings.

    FBI Special Agent in Charge Daniel McMullen said the man was arrested Wednesday. His name wasn't immediately released publicly.

    Authorities still waited for definitive tests on the letters to Obama and Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss. An FBI intelligence bulletin obtained by The Associated Press said those two letters were postmarked Memphis, Tenn.