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Local News

  • Bandelier plans to reopen Thursday

    Thursday, unless there is another flood in the meantime, the Frijoles Canyon area of Bandelier National Monument will re-open after being closed for a week. Visitors will be able to once again catch the shuttle bus in White Rock and see the results of the recent record-breaking rains.

    On Monday, the Bandelier staff had their first chance to deal with what happened during flooding over the weekend. It quickly became apparent that it would be some days before it would be safe to welcome visitors into the canyon, the park’s main visitor area.

    Cleanup of mud and debris began, but assessment showed that there would also be long-term effects of the three episodes of high water that had passed through.

    High water had come down the canyon on Thursday evening, Friday morning, and again on Saturday night. Frijoles Creek generally runs about 10 cubic feet per second (cfs), but during the Friday event, the largest of the three, it is estimated that the flow reached between 7,500-9,500 cfs. For comparison, on Sunday the Rio Grande near San Ildefonso Pueblo was carrying between 1,250 and 2,500 cfs.

  • Police chief search enters next phase

    County Administrator Harry Burgess admits the quality of the finalists vying to replace Police Chief Wayne Torpy has made his choice both easier and harder. “Overall, I was very impressed with everybody,” Burgess said. “I think we have a hard decision to make. I think any of them have the skills to be our next police chief. We just have to make the right choice on who that person is.”

    The five candidates who stood out from a field of 26 applicants who met minimum qualifications were Roy Melnick, Donnie Perry, Bill Press, Dino Sgambellone and Philip Smith. The candidates were in Los Alamos for interviews Thursday and Friday of last week.

    “They all came very well prepared and presented themselves well. That was one consistent thing I heard, even from all the various groups that interviewed,” Burgess said.

    Torpy led the candidates on an informal tour of the police department and county facilities on Thursday, followed by a private reception for the county’s police officers. Officers were able to ask the candidates questions during the reception and submit comments on their top choice.

    Members of the public were invited to meet the candidates at a reception Thursday evening.

  • Airlift canceled for NM town isolated by flooding

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An emergency ground delivery of food, water and other supplies was planned Tuesday for a tiny western New Mexico community that remained isolated after weekend flooding damaged the only paved road leading to it.

    New Mexico Department of Homeland Security spokesman Estevan Lujan said state authorities and the National Guard planned to deliver ready-made meals and other supplies by foot to residents of the privately run ghost town of Mogollon.

    Lujan said the original planned airlift was canceled after officials determined there was not enough space to land a helicopter.

    Officials said a creek paralleling the one paved road into town — state Route 159 — surged from its banks after heavy rains and made the road inaccessible from a mile outside the community.

    A spokesman for Gov. Susana Martinez said the governor was scheduled to tour part of the Gila later Tuesday and attempt to visit Mogollon.

    "She will visit as close to Mogollon as she can, likely the spot on the road that is washed out," spokesman Enrique C. Knell said.

    Roughly 15 residents live year-round in Mogollon, a former mining town nestled in the mountains.

  • Raw: Time-Lapse Shows Concordia Operation

    Time-lapse footage shot by an Associated Press photographer shows the wreckage of the Costa Concordia cruise ship being pulled completely upright during a complicated, 19-hour operation.

  • Today in History for September 17th
  • U.N. Secretary General: Sarin Gas Used in Syria
  • Gunman in Navy Yard rampage was hearing voices--Video Extras

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The former Navy reservist who slaughtered 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard had been hearing voices and was being treated for mental problems in the weeks before the shooting rampage, but was not stripped of his security clearance, officials said Tuesday.

    Aaron Alexis, a 34-year-old information technology employee with a defense contractor, used a valid pass to get into the highly secured installation Monday morning and started firing inside a building, the FBI said. He was killed in a gun battle with police.

    The motive for the mass shooting — the deadliest on a military installation in the U.S. since the attack at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009 — was a mystery, investigators said.

    U.S. law enforcement officials told The Associated Press that there was no known connection to international or domestic terrorism and that investigators have found no manifesto or other writings suggesting a political or religious motivation.

    Alexis had been suffering a host of serious mental problems, including paranoia and a sleep disorder, and had been hearing voices in his head, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the criminal investigation was still going on.

  • Anxious waiting for word of missing in CO floods

    LYONS, Colo. (AP) — Gerald Guntle dials his sister's home multiple times a day, desperate to find out if she survived the widespread flooding that shattered the Rocky Mountain foothill town of Lyons, but the phone just rings and rings.

    "If there was no phone service, I wouldn't expect to keep getting ringing. That's what has me scared," said the Tucson, Ariz., man, whose sister is among hundreds of people listed as missing in a disaster that is already confirmed to have killed four people.

    Officials hope the number of missing will drop rapidly as communications are restored and people are evacuated throughout the region, as it did in Larimer and Boulder counties, where some 487 people dropped off missing-persons list over the weekend.

    But faced with a lack of information, friends and relatives are struggling to avoid thoughts of worst-case scenarios.

    In Estes Park, a tourist haven that serves as a first stop for many people entering Rocky Mountain National Park, Tony Bielat was searching for information about an elderly man who lives alone in nearby Glen Haven, where cabins and boulders washed down a swollen river.

    "The problem is no one knows who has been rescued," Bielat said.

  • Today in History for September 16th
  • Parts of NM brace for more rain, clean up begins

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Another round of rainfall moved across New Mexico on Sunday, renewing the threat of heavy runoff from already saturated soils and flooding in low areas as residents faced a major cleanup effort from damage left in the wake of days of relentless rain.

    The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch for much of central and northern New Mexico. In the northeastern corner of the state, where the chance for heavy rain was greatest, residents who live along the Gallinas River were being warned that the waterway could swell again.

    "As long as you get the right thunderstorm right over your area, I wouldn't be surprised if more records are broken as far as one-day rainfall totals because we still have that abundant moisture in the area," said Jason Frazier, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque.

    For a state that has been in the grasp of an unprecedented drought, numerous records have fallen in the past week as flood waters have broken through dams, inundating neighborhoods and leaving behind muddy swaths of debris.

    Some areas received close to 10 inches of rain since the deluge started Tuesday. Parts of Albuquerque have seen more than 4 inches, marking the wettest September on record for the city.