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Today's News

  • SFNF says no to geothermal drilling

    BY SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN
    Associated Press

    ALBUQUERQUE — Underground pockets of boiling water and steam that could have been tapped to produce electricity are now off limits as one national forest in northern New Mexico has said no to the prospect of geothermal development.

    The decision by the Santa Fe National Forest follows years of study and public testimony after a Nevada-based company and others had shown interest in leasing areas with geothermal resources within the Jemez Mountains – a tourist draw that includes a national preserve and a neighboring monument.

    Santa Fe National Forest wrote in a decision made public Thursday that the area also includes places held sacred by Native American tribes.

    Forest Supervisor James Melonas’ decision covers more than 300 square miles of the mountainous terrain even though the companies had interest in only a fraction of that.

    Melonas said geothermal energy development could have potential effects on forest resources, recreational opportunities and tribal cultural and spiritual interests. His office consulted with more than 30 tribes from around the American Southwest and held two listening sessions with tribal leaders.

  • Kiddie pool decision postponed

    Los Alamos County Council decided to postpone consideration of a $500,000 contract to design a kiddie pool for the Larry R. Walkup Aquatic Center.

    The council decided Tuesday to delay approval until it knows more about the new management and operations contract that was awarded to the Los Alamos National Laboratory on June 8.

    The council decided to delay the project until they county knows one way or the other whether the new lab contractor,

    Triad National Security LLC, will file for New Mexico’s gross receipts tax exemption.

    County officials say the corporation appears to be organized as a non-profit and it can file with the state to pay gross receipts taxes under New Mexico’s non-profit tax laws.

    Los Alamos County receives about $21 million annually from proceeds from the gross receipts tax on some of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s activities.

    “I would like feedback from my fellow councilors, but I think we should table this until we have an outcome on the taxable status of the lab,” Councilor Antonio Maggiore said after a presentation on the design contract given by Los

    Alamos County Public Works Department officials.

    Maggiore said it was “painful” to postpone the decision.

  • Trump announces plans for Pentagon to create 'Space Force'

    By MARCIA DUNN, AP Aerospace Writer

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Vowing to reclaim U.S. leadership in space, President Donald Trump announced Monday he is directing the Pentagon to create a new "Space Force" as an independent service branch aimed at ensuring American supremacy in space.

    Trump envisioned a bright future for the U.S. space program, pledging to revive the country's flagging efforts, return to the moon and eventually send a manned mission that would reach Mars. The president framed space as a national security issue, saying he does not want "China and Russia and other countries leading us."

    "My administration is reclaiming America's heritage as the world's greatest spacefaring nation," Trump said in the East Room, joined by members of his space council. "The essence of the American character is to explore new horizons and to tame new frontiers."

  • Police Beat 6-17-18

    Police Beat items are compiled from public information contained in Los Alamos Police Department records. Charges or citations listed in Police Beat do not imply innocence or guilt. The Los Alamos Police Department uses the term “arrest” to define anyone who has been physically arrested, served a court summons, or issued a citation.

    June 6
    8:20 a.m. – Los Alamos police investigated an auto burglary. Investigation is currently inactive.

    10 a.m. – Los Alamos police investigated the larceny of a wheel and a tire in White Rock.

    1:10 p.m. – Los Alamos police investigated damage to property. The investigation is inactive. 

    June 6
    2:17 p.m. – Los Alamos police responded to a call where syringes were found in a patient’s room at the Los Alamos Medical Center.

    4:32 p.m. – Los Alamos police responded to a report of a stolen mailbox statue, investigation is inactive.

    June 10
    8:46 a.m. – Los Alamos police responded to a report of stolen mailbox statue. Investigation is inactive.

    9:24 a.m. – Los Alamos police responded to a report of a stolen motorcycle helmet. Investigation inactive.
     
    June 11

  • LA hosts first Pride Fest

    Los Alamos’ first Pride Festival drew a crowd Friday afternoon at Fuller Lodge.

    While a karaoke party was in full swing inside the lodge, outside, people from all over the region came to take part in help build a float, blow bubbles and learn to live together in peace and harmony.

    The festivals featured many booths, including Voices of Los Alamos, the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board and a booth where people could write what they wanted and let the world know they were “coming out” on a t-shirt. The idea came from

    Quinn Fontaine, the Santa Fe Pride King, and author of a biography about his journey about transitioning from female to male.

    “My work is about being transparent and helping people to be who they are,” Fontaine said at the event.

    “The fact that this is the first is huge. I have chills talking to you right now,” Fontaine said. “It’s so important. Some of these kids I’ve overheard here thinking they were alone, and here they are at this t-shirt booth thinking about starting their own support group.”

    The Pride Fest also sponsored the Red Elvises Concert at Ashley Pond Park later that night.

  • County seeks $20,000 more for Regional LANL Coalition ethics investigation

    Los Alamos County Council was asked to consider spending an additional $20,000 on an ethics investigation into the county’s role in a funding controversy regarding the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities Tuesday.

    The county has already spent $30,000 since March to look into whether councilors were involved in a questionable expenses of coalition funds during a trip to Washington, D.C.

    In February, allegations surfaced that former Executive Director Andrea Romero made between $1,800-$2,000 in unauthorized travel expenses while coalition members and councilor Rick Reiss were on a business trip in Washington, D.C., in September 2017 to talk to LANL officials and New Mexico’s congressional representatives about the community’s interests.

    Romero acted as host to coalition and government officials during meetings with government officials.

    “One of the most important priorities we have as councilors is to make sure tax dollars are spent appropriately,” said Councilor Susan O’Leary Tuesday.

    O’Leary accused the vice chair and chair of the county council Tuesday of not telling county officials or the council about financial mismanagement problems with the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities that surfaced in February.

  • Youth corps to work on trails this summer

    Members of the New Mexico Youth Conservation Corps made an impression Jun. 5, walking single file from the Mari-Mac parking lot on Central Avenue, all the way to Ashley Pond Park.

    Their destination was a tool trailer in the parking lot of the Los Alamos Justice Center, where they would learn about the tools inside and sharpen them.

    The Youth Conservation Corps will be busy this summer.

    “We’re going to be working on a lot of trails this summer. A lot of them will be near Guaje Canyon,” Crew Leader Peter Watson said.

    The crew also plans to finish the connection between Los Alamos Canyon and Quemazon Trail, do some work on Canyon Rim Trail and other trails throughout the county.

    Though the entire county is under strict restrictions they do have permission from Santa Fe National Forest officials to work on trails in the forest, permission from the county is on a day-to-day basis.

    Crew Trainer Jess Morgan said the restriction doesn’t necessarily mean they will have less work to do.

    “We have fewer trails to work on this year and that is partly because of grants,” Morgan said. “We will be paying more attention to the trails we’re on. So I guess we’ll be busier in that regard.”

  • Panel cites more safety issues at New Mexico nuclear lab

    Reports from an independent safety panel show radioactive contamination was found on a worker's hands and other places at a nuclear weapons lab in New Mexico — the latest safety lapse at the facility as it ramps up work with nuclear material.

    All pipefitting work was paused after a crew had to be stripped and decontaminated on May 16 because of the discovery at Los Alamos National Laboratory, the birthplace of the atomic bomb, according to weekly briefings from the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board.

    Contamination also was found on the crew's protective clothing and in a work area, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.

    The briefings also show members of another crew placed plutonium salts in a prohibited area.

    The lapses are the latest in a series of radiation releases and operational mistakes at Los Alamos, which was recently tasked with building at least 30 plutonium cores a year, which are used to trigger nuclear weapons.

    Lab spokesman Matt Nerzig said Monday the workers were thoroughly decontaminated — mostly by washing off the contamination with water. None received any measurable dose of radiation, he said.

    Nerzig also said the incident with the plutonium salts did not result in a significant safety risk to workers or the public.

  • Library preparing for August closing

    Summer has begun at the Mesa Public Library, and even though the staff is busy managing its many programs, it’s also prepping for the shutdown scheduled for August.

    The library will be closed beginning Aug. 20 through the end of November for repairs to its HVAC system as well as some window and elevator work.

    “We won’t have access to the book stacks,” said library manager Eileen Sullivan, “but there will be one small area in the lower level, what we call the Teen Zone, where the youth activity area is, that’s on a different heating and cooling system. Staff will be based out of that area.”

    Sullivan said patrons will be able to place items on reserve and can do that online if they have access to a computer.

    “We’ll pull those items and they can come in and pick them up in the Zone,” she said. “If they don’t have computer access they can come in to the Zone and we will help them place reserves on items.”

    Crews will be replacing lighting in the library, making it more energy efficient and greener.

    “It will also make the building more comfortable for patrons,” she said. “I know that some of the areas in the stacks can sometimes be difficult to see, so the new lighting will help with visibility.”

  • LANL designates restricted airspace where unauthorized drone flights prohibited, including additional ‘No Drone Zone’

    Los Alamos National Laboratory has deployed a system to counter all unauthorized unmanned aircraft systems over its restricted airspace and an additional Federal Aviation Administration-designated “No Drone Zone.”

    The system is government-authorized and is in a testing phase.

    “All airspace over the laboratory is protected right now against unauthorized drone or UAS flights,” said Michael Lansing, head of the laboratory’s security operations. “We can detect and track a UAS and if it poses a threat we have the ability to disrupt control of the system, seize or exercise control, confiscate, or use reasonable force to disable, damage or destroy the UAS.”

    LANL worked in collaboration with the National Nuclear Security Administration and FAA to implement the system.

    With legal authority granted by Congress through the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the NNSA has the enhanced ability to protect its facilities from any UAS that may pose a threat to the safety or security of assets and personnel, according to LANL.

    The Counter-UAS program at Los Alamos will be the blueprint for future programs at three other NNSA sites.

    Systems are planned for the Pantex Plant in Texas, the Y-12 facility in Tennessee, and the National Nuclear Security Site in Nevada.