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Today's News

  • Judge: No law enforcement duties for county sheriff

    A First District Court Judge Wednesday ruled in favor of Los Alamos County, supporting the county’s request to bar Los Alamos County Sheriff Marco Lucero from performing law enforcement duties. 

    Lucero’s attorney said he plans to appeal the decision.

    Lucero filed his lawsuit in August 2017, demanding the New Mexico First District Court decide whether state law take precedence over the Los Alamos County’s Charter, which allows county council to divide duties between the Los Alamos County Sheriff’s Office and Los Alamos County Police Department as it sees fit.

    In 2017, the Los Alamos County Council opted to reduce the sheriff’s operational budget to about $7,000 a year and transfer process serving duties and Lucero’s executive assistant to the Los Alamos Police Department. Lucero’s undersheriff and two deputies were laid off, leaving just Lucero with one duty to perform – maintaining the Los Alamos sex offender registry.

    First District Court Judge Francis Mathew cited a previous, 1976 Los Alamos case where the same issue was discussed.

    In that case, then Los Alamos County Sheriff Larry Vaughn filed a complaint similar to Lucero’s, saying that the county was illegally limiting his duties as sheriff, contrary to state law.

  • Flow trail contract awarded, construction timeline discussed

    The bike flow trail project now has a contractor and a timeline of how it will proceed, but local horse owners still have major concerns about the location.

    At a meeting Thursday, Los Alamos County Community Services Manager Brian Brogan presented a seven-step outline to the Parks and Recreation Board.

    Mountain Capital, of Colorado, the winning bidder of the contract, will first consider options of where to build the flow trail. The contract was approved in February. There is no official timeline for the project.

    In earlier Los Alamos Monitor articles about the flow trail project, the most favored location for the trail was Bayo Canyon, a location that horse owners in Los Alamos County do not agree with.

    At Thursday’s meeting, president of the Los Alamos Stable Owners Association, Amy Rogers, submitted a two-page statement on behalf of the association on why the group think it would be bad to build a trail in that location, which is a primary access point to the horseback riders into the Los Alamos County trail system.

    “We have specific concerns in four major areas, including access for horses, safety, the impact on Bayo Canyon Trail use by Los Alamos County residents, and historic preservation,” Rogers said.  

  • Amazon's Prime Day runs into snags swiftly

    NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon's website ran into some snags quickly Monday on its much-hyped Prime Day, an embarrassment for the tech company on the shopping holiday it created.

    Shoppers clicking on many Prime Day links got only an abashed-looking dog with the words, "Uh-oh. Something went wrong on our end." Many took to social media to complain that they couldn't order items.

    It wasn't clear how widespread the outage was on one of Amazon's busiest days of the year, but the hiccups could surely mute sales and send shoppers elsewhere. A company spokesman didn't immediately respond to an email.

    Amazon, which recently announced that Prime membership would be getting more expensive, was hoping to lure in shoppers by focusing on new products and having Whole Foods be part of the process.

    While Amazon doesn't disclose sales figures for Prime Day, Deborah Weinswig, CEO of Coresight Research, had estimates it will generate $3.4 billion in sales worldwide, up from an estimated $2.4 billion last year. Prime Day also lasts six hours longer than last year.

  • Lujan Grisham claims opioid overdoses fell on her watch

    SANTA FE (AP) — Congresswoman and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham is touting in a new television ad a reduction in drug overdoses during her tenure as New Mexico’s health secretary.

    The Republican Governors Association, an ally of U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce and other GOP gubernatorial candidates, calls the ad misleading and says drug overdose deaths actually increased under Lujan Grisham’s watch.

    Both candidates are pledging to address stubbornly high rates of overdose deaths in New Mexico that exceed the national average.

    A look at how the statement compares to the facts:

    LUJAN GRISHAM: “When I was secretary of health, we lowered overdoses through better treatment.” Lujan Grisham led the department from August 2004 through June 2007.

    THE FACTS: That was only true for illicit drugs such as heroin in some years, and not those counted as dying from a combination of drugs. Lujan Grisham’s campaign cited a 21 percent decline in heroin deaths from 2005-2006.

    But statewide annual drug overdose deaths increased steadily from 304 in 2004 to 439 in 2007, according to the state Department of Health. The rate of opioid-related overdose deaths from illicit drugs and pain-relief medication also increased.

  • PARCC results list LAPS in top 4 in 2 categories

    Los Alamos Public Schools ranked among the top four school districts in the state for both math and English language arts proficiency based on results released Thursday by the New Mexico Public Education Department.

    The results were part of the state’s Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) initiative.

    Los Alamos was third overall in math proficiency with a 50.1 percent rating behind Roy Municipal Schools (63.3 percent) and Des Moines Municipal Schools (57.8).

    Among the 89 school districts (not including state charters), these were the only three to have PARCC math proficiency rates of at least 50 percent.

    The district finished fourth overall in English language arts proficiency with a 57.4 percent ranking behind Des Moines Municipal Schools (64.6); Cloudcroft Municipal Schools (62.0); and Melrose Public Schools (58.4).

    “We are pleased that LAPS students are showing progress in math and reading and can see there is still room for improvement,” said Los Alamos Superintendent Dr. Kurt Steinhaus. “Our next step is to analyze the data, set student achievement goals for the year and develop plans for continuous improvement.”

  • DisrupTech brings dreams to light

    Scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory brought their ideas out into the light – some for the first time – at the laboratory’s fourth DisrupTech conference Thursday.

    “DisrupTech is about staff members being able to translate their technology to investors, entrepreneurs and industry,” Mariann Johnston, the communications director for the Richard P. Feynman Center said. 

    The Feynman Center, New Mexico Startup Factor, and New Mexico Angels hosted the event.

    In a small conference room at the Cottonwood on the Green, 11 scientists presented ideas on how to get rid of antimicrobial agents, how to grow living muscle and neurons on chip, a way to accurately and quickly test food for pathogens, and other interesting ideas.

    In the audience were the entrepreneurs, corporate sponsors, leaders and investors who might be able to help them get their ideas off the ground.

    Vi Schweiker was at the conference to see if there was an idea she would like to invest in.

    “One thing I like about living in Los Alamos is all the interesting scientific presentations we get to go to, and I also thought I might be interested in getting to venture capital, and this seemed like a good starting point,” Schweiker said.

  • Judge: Lawsuit over federal nuke lab cleanup can go forward

    SANTA FE (AP) — A federal judge is allowing part of a watchdog group's lawsuit over cleanup efforts by Los Alamos National Laboratory to move ahead.

    The court has denied a motion by Los Alamos National Security LLC and U.S. Energy Department, a co-defendant, to dismiss Nuclear Watch New Mexico's claims for civil penalties.

    In court documents filed Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Judith Herrera said both agencies failed to prove violations won't happen again.

    Herrera did, however, drop part of the complaint asking for injunctive relief.

    A spokesman for the laboratory declined to comment Friday.

    NukeWatch first filed a complaint in May 2016.

    The group says the defendants committed 13 violations when fulfilling a 2005 cleanup agreement with state officials.

    The New Mexico Environment Department had argued a new agreement made in 2016 invalidated the 2005 one, making the lawsuit moot.
     

  • Engelking gets probation for assault charge

    Trenton Engelking, 20, accused of pointing a knife at his mother’s boyfriend during an argument and stealing $3,000 from a man, accepted a plea agreement Wednesday in Los Alamos First Judicial Court.

    Engelking, of Cave Creek, Arizona, pleaded guilty to both counts and was released into a drug treatment program and four-and-a-half years of probation.

    The two charges were the result of two cases against Engelking. The larceny charge stemmed from a June 2016 incident and the aggravated battery charge stemmed from an incident that happened in April.

    In the April incident, the boyfriend called police and when they arrived, told the responding officers Engelking pulled a knife on him. Engelking had already run away into a nearby canyon by the time officers arrived. When officers went looking for the knife, they also found a shotgun with a five-inch barrel in his bedroom. The boyfriend was trying to stop Engelking from arguing with his mother about problems he was having at work, according to the police report.

    In court Wednesday, Engelking’s lawyer, Tyr Loranger, told First District Court Judge Jason Lidyard that the aggravated battery charge was something that happened because Engelking wasn’t on his medication.

  • Schneider celebrated as dynamic leader at LARSO dinner

    BY BERNADETTE LAURITZEN
    Special to the Monitor

    Pauline Powell Schneider celebrated almost 18 years with the Los Alamos Retired and Senior Organization July 6.

    The dynamic leader shared her time, her craft, her wisdom and her kindness throughout that time and her next phase is bittersweet, as she heads to Canada to spend time with her parents and family.

    Mihaela Popa-Simil, a former LARSO employee and current employee of the Los Alamos National Laboratory Foundation, looked back on her time with Schneider, with whom she had created a lifetime bond.

    “Pauline breathes and lives the mission of the organization she works for,” said Popa-Simil. “You don’t need to work there to see this is true, but I was lucky enough to have worked for Pauline and there are many things why I loved working for her.”

    “She cared about me as a person, and I know she cared as much about each and everyone who worked for her and always had everyone’s back,” she said. She knew it was in Pauline’s nature, “a natural responsibility,” and one she knew you can depend on her and that she would not let you down.” 

  • County responds to civil rights suit

    Los Alamos County attorneys filed a motion in federal court June 29 to dismiss a civil rights suit filed by a former resident and political candidate in May.

    Attorneys for the county claimed the plaintiffs in the suit do not have enough evidence to back up their claims against the county that the county violated their civil and First Amendment rights.

    Plaintiff Patrick Brenner, a candidate for county council in 2016, claims in the lawsuit that he was harassed by some members of county council for not supporting a county-wide bond election. His mother, Lisa Brenner is also a plaintiff in the suit.

    In the suit, Brenners’ lawyer, A. Blair Dunn,  said  former Councilor James Chrobocinski pressured Patrick Brenner, allegedly saying he would undermine his candidacy for council if he didn’t support the bond, which Chrobocinski and another council member, Susan O’Leary, were promoting through their political action committee, Los Alamos Futures.

    Patrick Brenner said things came to a head when he learned from the media that an email he sent to council expressing his dissent to council over the recreation bond issue was going to be made public.