Today's News

  • Fee increases planned for Bandelier National Monument

    LOS ALAMOS (AP) — Bandelier National Monument is raising its vehicle and entrance fees.

    The National Park Service says starting June 1 that entrance fees will be $15 per person. The new vehicle fee is $25, while the Bandelier annual park pass will be $45.

    Each fee change represents a $5 increase in cost.

    Bandelier is among more than 100 National Park Service sites that charge an entrance fee. Three hundred have no entrance fee.

    Bandelier National Monument features canyon trails, wooded hikes and ancient dwellings that are embedded into rocky cliffs.

    The fee changes at Bandelier is set to go into effect the same day that access to backcountry at the monument and two other National Park Service sites in the state will be suspended amid severe drought and heightened concerns over potential fire dangers.

  • Bandelier National Park, Valles Caldera to close for fire restrictions

    Fire danger in the region has prompted park officials to close all backcountry areas of Bandelier National Monument and Valles Caldera National Preserve starting after midnight Thursday.

    The area is now under stage 3 fire restrictions.

    The main public areas of each national park will remain open, officials said Thursday.

    Fire officials said the restrictions are being put in place to help the National Park Service provide for public safety and reduce fire risk.

    Bandelier National Monument will close all wilderness and backcountry areas. Areas that will remain open include the Bandelier Visitor Center in Frijoles Canyon, Ponderosa and Juniper Campgrounds, Frijoles Canyon from Alcove House to the Upper Falls, Tsankawi, Frey Trail, Tyuonyi Overlook Trail and Burnt Mesa Trail.

    Valles Caldera National Preserve will close access to its backcountry and suspend all fishing, equestrian, hiking and biking activities. The Valle Grande entrance station and bookstore will remain open to the public, and ranger-led tours and hikes will be offered in the park’s cabin district.

    Several criteria are used to determine when to implement fire restrictions, including fire activity levels, current and predicted weather, fuel moisture, and the availability of firefighting resources.

  • DOE Under Secretary Dabbar tours LA legacy waste cleanup

    Department of Energy Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar toured legacy waste cleanup sites in Los Alamos last week and met with the employees at Los Alamos National Laboratory last week, according to lab officials Tuesday.

    Accompanied by Environmental Management Los Alamos Field Office Manager Doug Hintze, Dabbar stopped at Technical Area 54, where legacy waste is stored and remediated prior to shipment offsite, and Mortandad Canyon, where a temporary measure is underway to stop the migration of a chromium plume until a permanent remediation strategy is found.

    Representatives from EM-LA’s cleanup contractor N3B explained waste storage configurations at Technical Area 54’s Area G and plans to recover domes where waste containers are stored.

    At Mortandad Canyon, Dabbar was briefed on the origin of the chromium plume and progress toward implementing the interim measure, which is in place along the plume’s southern boundary.

    At the EM-LA field office, Dabbar participated in talks about the recent contract transition for the Los Alamos Legacy Cleanup Contract and spoke to employees at an all-hands meeting.

  • Dems outnumber Republicans in early voting

    Early and absentee voting counts released by the Secretary of State’s office Tuesday show Democrat voters facing several competitive primary choices on their ballots outnumbered Republicans in Los Alamos County and the state.

    In Los Alamos, 710 Democratic voters had cast ballots, compared to 304 Republicans and 6 Libertarians.

    Of those 710 Democrats, 25 were absentee voters and 685 were early voters.

    Of the Republicans, nine were absentee voters and 295 were early voters.

    All six Libertarians were early voters.

    Statewide, Democratic voters were outpacing Republicans by a fair margin. As of Tuesday, 33,856 Democrats had cast a ballot, compared to 18,299 Republicans and 118 Libertarians.

    In Los Alamos County, Democrats have several races to decide, including governor, lieutenant governor, state auditor, commissioner of public lands, state representative for District 43, district court judge for the First Judicial divisions 2 and 5, and county council.

    Local candidate Stephanie Garcia Richard is running against candidates Garrett O. VeneKlasen and George K. Muñoz for commissioner of public lands. County councilors Christine Chandler and Pete Sheehey are in a contentious race for the Democratic ticket for District 43.

  • Community honors fallen on ‘sacred, special day’

    Los Alamos’ Memorial Day celebration began Monday with the Los Alamos High School’s Navy Junior RTOC rifle salute, and ended with John Fox, from the Son’s of the American Legion Squadron 90 playing taps under a shade tree at Guaje Pines Cemetery.

    Between the two events much reflection and remembrance was given to veterans of present and past wars by Los Alamos County’s community service organizations, including the Veterans of Foreign Wards Post 8874, American Legion Post 90, The Daughters of the American Revolution, Elks Lodge 2083, the Knights of Columbus 0688 and the Military Order of the World Wars.

    Father Glenn Jones, of Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church gave the benediction this year.

    “We honor, remember and pray for those courageous and brave souls who placed themselves in harm’s way for those ideals in which they believed, for those freedoms which we so often take for granted,” Jones said to the audience.

    State Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard (D-43) thanked the Los Alamos County audience for letting her be their representative for six years and presenting them with the Memorial Day state proclamation. Richard announced in 2017 she would be running for state land commissioner in 2018.

  • Pronghorn hunting rule set in motion

    The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish’s Game Commission recently voted to change the pronghorn hunting rules, rules that some say, for good or bad, will have long lasting consequences on New Mexico’s pronghorn antelope population.

    On June 22, the Game Commission unanimously voted to increase the number of public hunt codes from 60 to 160 public hunt codes.

    That, and other new options the commission approved, will allow for more effective hunts of the pronghorn sheep.

    The commission also voted for the establishment of a pronghorn conservation program.

    NMDGF Wildlife Division Chief Stewart Liley said the changes were made to increase opportunities for pronghorn hunters and came about mainly through suggestions made by the public over many months of public hearings held throughout the state.

    One of the main factors driving the changes was the maturity rates of the pronghorn.

    Liley noted that pronghorns reach trophy weight and size much faster than other game in New Mexico, and then grow out of that trophy size and weight window quicker also.

  • ‘Mimi’ Higgins, owner of Hummingbird Music Camp, dies at 97

    Wanda Higgins, the surviving owner of Hummingbird Music Camp along the banks of the Jemez River, died Monday morning at 97.

    The woman who brought music into the lives of thousands of local children, celebrated the camp’s 60th anniversary at the site Sunday night, according to her granddaughter Amber Higgins.

    “She was always ‘Mimi’ to the campers,” Amber Higgins said Tuesday, as she remembered her grandmother.

    Wanda, along with her husband K.L. Higgins, who died in 1996, had given the gift of love for all things music through the operation of the camp since 1959.

    The camp, which she continued to operate, along with her children Les, Sally and Teena, gave children ages 8 though 14, a chance to experience band, guitar, orchestra, piano and voice. All levels of talent attend.

    The camp drew thousands to the banks of the river to study each year, and Wanda had her own certain chair in the dining room. On Sunday mornings, they would have pancakes, and she would go out and throw pancakes to the kids.

    “She was still participating, always responsible for greeting everybody. She always played five games of double solitaire,” Amber Higgins said.

    Her grandmother drove her own car up until six days ago, she said.

  • Carter excited for new challenge at LAHS

    Lanse Carter, the new head coach of Los Alamos High School’s girls’ basketball team, has a history of revitalizing programs and taking teams to higher levels. Right now, that is exactly what the Hilltoppers need.

    In the 2016-17 season, Carter took over as the interim head coach of Santa Fe High School’s girls’ basketball team just two days before the team’s first game. In the previous year, the team finished with an 8-19 record and did not win a district game. 

    Under Carter, the team improved to an 11-17 record, won four district games and earned a spot in the state tournament. 

    Carter coached as an assistant for the women’s basketball teams at Western State and Adams State, two NCAA Division II schools in Colorado, before coming to northern New Mexico. Since 2002, Carter has coached girls’ basketball at Capital, Pojoaque, Santa Fe Indian School and Santa Fe High.

    Carter said that he has “always liked,” Los Alamos, and that he “always had tons of respect for Gerry Washburn from when I was at Capital and coaching against him.” 

  • Atomic City Update: Keeping active is even more important in the summer

    As the school year comes to a close and high school sports end until August, it is more important now than ever that young kids stay active and in shape during these down months in the sports calendar. 

    I know how tempting it can be for young kids to sit on the couch all summer and watch TV or play video games, especially with how busy the rest of year is. But these months should be used to remain active in some form, because sitting on the couch for two months isn’t productive, and certainly isn’t healthy. 

    This town is full of great things for kids to do over the summer, and there is no excuse for a lack of activity. If kids are looking for something fun to do that will keep them healthy, taking a hike on one of the countless trails around town is a great way to do that, and you could explore a different trail almost every day this summer. 

    Kids can also take advantage of the Larry R. Walkup Aquatic Center and get some laps in at the pool, which is one of the best workouts anyone can get. 

    One of the best summer activities in town, the Splash and Dash series, sponsored by the Los Alamos Triatomics, allows people of all ages to take a swim in the pool, and then go for a run, all for fun. 

  • 7 Hilltopper baseball players named All-District

     Following a season that saw the Los Alamos High School baseball team return to the state tournament, seven Hilltoppers have been named District 2-5A All-District performers. 

    LAHS went 16-12 this season, and 9-3 in district play, finishing as the runners-up behind Albuquerque Academy. The Hilltoppers boasted a balanced, potent offense, and a pitching staff that could compete with any team. 

    Three Hilltoppers have been named First-Team All-District: Vincent Marciano, James Neal and Arthur Steinkamp. 

    Marciano was a fixture in the middle of the LAHS lineup, and showed a great ability to drive in runners in scoring position, driving balls into the gap for doubles with ease. As one of only three seniors on the team, Marciano played an important leadership role as well. 

    Neal was a strong defender for LAHS, and also played a key role at the top of the lineup, often leading off for the Hilltoppers. He did a great job of getting on base all season, and made defenses uncomfortable with his activity on the base paths. He will be returning next season for his senior year, and will play an even bigger role on the team.