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Today's News

  • New Mexico election regulator seeks US Senate seat in 2020

    SANTA FE (AP) — New Mexico's top election regulator has filed paperwork to run for U.S. Senate in 2020.

    Democratic Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver on Friday registered a campaign account with the Federal Election Commission. Political adviser Heather Brewer confirmed that Toulouse Oliver had filed new paperwork to pursue the seat that Sen. Tom Udall plans to vacate at the end of 2020.

    The Democratic nomination also is being sought by sixth-term U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján.
    Toulouse Oliver previously served as Bernalillo County Clerk and won election as secretary of state in 2016.

    In 2018, she won re-election by handily defeating Republican Gavin Clarkson. Clarkson now is running for U.S. Senate as a Republican.

    Toulouse Oliver has aggressively pursued reforms aimed at expanding ballot access, including election-day voter registration.
     

  • Pantex Plant readies for plutonium shipments

    The Pantex Plant northeast of Amarillo, Texas, has been readying its facility since February to receive and store the weapons-grade plutonium from South Carolina in preparation to send it to Los Alamos National Laboratory, according to a news report that came out Friday.

    The Aiken Standard reports a National Nuclear Security Administration senior spokesperson confirmed Friday the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board began discussing the plan to store the plutonium at the Pantex site in Texas in a Feb. 15 report.

    “In preparation for a new plutonium staging mission, CNS commenced readiness verification activities and submitted a safety basis supplement to NPO for review and approval. These operations will involve the use of a container type that is not currently employed at Pantex,” the Feb. 15 safety board report read.

    The NNSA plans to remove 1 metric ton of weapons-grade plutonium from South Carolina’s Savannah River Site by 2020. The plutonium will ultimately be sent to LANL for the production of plutonium pits, used as triggers for nuclear weapons.

  • Visitor’s Center move hopes to draw tourists

    The Visitor’s Center, at its new digs on 20th Street, officially opened to the public Wednesday to much fanfare and hope for the county’s tourism industry.

    “This represents a lot of planning and work,” Los Alamos County Council Vice Chair Pete Sheehey said. “There has been a tourism task force that has been doing a lot of work to make things like this ready for the influx of visitors that we’re already having and is sure to grow.”  

    Moving the center from its space in the Central Park Square Shopping Center was the idea of the Los Alamos Tourism Task Force.

    The idea is to make the center more visible to tourists, who are already attracted to Fuller Lodge and the statues of Lt. Gen. Leslie Groves and Robert Oppenheimer on Central Avenue.

    Sheehey also gave credit to Los Alamos County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Ryn Herrmann and Patrick Sullivan, executive director of the Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation, and a “huge list of names that have contributed to this.”

    County Manager Harry Burgess looked at the center’s opening as a step in the right direction for Los Alamos County’s tourism industry.

  • LA students win at National History Day competition

    National History Day students from Los Alamos High School and Los Alamos Middle School competed at the University of New Mexico Saturday to determine whose projects will represent the state in the national NHD competition.

    Eleven high school students and two middle school students advanced from the regional NHD competitions in January to compete in the state contest held April 6. 

    Individual students and groups chose their own topics based on this year’s theme “Triumph and Tragedy.”

    After researching primary and secondary sources related to their topic, students presented their research by creating one of five possible projects.

    LAHS junior Abby Beus took second place in the state with her research paper on the decision to drop the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Beus was also honored with a special prize for the best project related to western history.

    She will be representing LAHS at the national competition from June 10-13 at the University of Maryland.

    LAMS students Kaya Loy and Mikalh Adams will join Beus at the national competition.

    Loy produced a website on the forced removal of people of the Cherokee Nation from their homes in the southeastern U.S. Her project earned special recognition from the Western Trails Association.

  • Study: US plutonium plan comes with budget, scheduling risks

    By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN Associated Press

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Every option considered by the U.S. government to ramp up production of a key component for the nation's nuclear arsenal will have cost and scheduling risks, according to a study by a nonprofit research center that specializes in national security issues.

    The findings compiled by the Institute of Defense Analyses were delivered to Congress on Tuesday. The report wasn't made public, but officials acknowledged that it recognized the challenges of restarting production.

    The National Nuclear Security Administration has proposed splitting the work between Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and the Savanna River Site in South Carolina. At stake are jobs and billions of dollars in federal funding that would be needed to revamp existing buildings or construct new factories to support the work.

    Elected leaders in both states have been jockeying for the lucrative mission. Some members of New Mexico's congressional delegation have resisted the nuclear agency's plan, arguing that production should be centered at Los Alamos — the once-secret city in northern New Mexico where the atomic bomb was developed decades ago as part of the Manhattan Project.

  • LANL study of California seismic records reveals clues to earthquake triggers

    A powerful computational study of southern California seismic records has revealed detailed information about a plethora of previously undetected small earthquakes, giving a more precise picture about stress in the earth's crust.

    A catalog of the findings are available to the public and may help seismologists better understand the stresses that trigger larger earthquakes in the region, a LANL scientist involved in the study said Thursday.

    "It's very difficult to unpack what triggers larger earthquakes because they are infrequent, but with this new information about a huge number of small earthquakes, we can see how stress evolves in fault systems," said Daniel Trugman, a post-doctoral fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory and coauthor of a paper published in the journal Science Thursday. "This new information about triggering mechanisms and hidden foreshocks gives us a much better platform for explaining how big quakes get started.”

    Trugman and coauthors from the California Institute of Technology and Scripps Institution of Oceanography performed a massive data mining operation of the Southern California Seismic Network for real quakes buried in the noise.

  • Morales: ‘It’s a new day for education in N.M.’

    At a Lunch with a Leader event Tuesday in Los Alamos, Lt. Gov. Howie Moralez announced a new era for public education in New Mexico, saying the state’s education department is done being the “police department” that punishes teachers and schools for bad performance.

    “They are going to be operating as a service department and assist those districts that need our assistance,” Morales said to the audience. “That’s a huge shift, and that’s part of the energy we see right now.”

    And Morales added that in his recent travels to Chicago and Washington, D.C., the rest of the nation is also taking notice of New Mexico’s new approach to education. When Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham took office, many of the state’s ways of gauging student and teacher performance was removed, including the PARCC tests and the “report card” system it used evaluate teachers and schools.

    “The discussion that’s out there is that there is something happening in the state of New Mexico. There is a different feel, there’s a different energy, something’s taking place that’s being noticed across the nation,” Morales told the crowd.

  • Council starts the budget process

    In its first of four budget hearings Monday, county council tentatively approved several county budgets for fiscal year 2020.

    They also added some additional funding requests that strengthen the county’s regional and economic development initiatives. County Manager Harry Burgess announced earlier this year the county received an $8 million increase in revenues, and added about $10 million in budget requests for many departments.

    At Monday’s budget hearing, the County Manager’s Office had over $1 million of its requests granted, which included $615,000 for a regional development initiatives and $500,000 for buying land for economic development purposes. 
    The council doubled the county manager office’s Progress through Partnering Fund, adding an additional $615,000 to the fund. The fund is a regional fund that Los Alamos County and other counties use to fund mutual services, such as public transportation, the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities, The Regional Economic Initiative and the Española Basin Regional Issues Forum.

    At least one county councilor was against it. Antonio Maggiore said he did not think this is what the county’s partners wanted.

  • Last Day of the Season
  • Public hearing set to rename trail in honor of Jim Billen

    Los Alamos County will host a hearing to rename a segment of the Pueblo Canyon Rim Trail as the “Jim Billen Trail” at a meeting set for 5:30 p.m. April 25 in the Pajarito Room of Fuller Lodge.

    Billen died April 14, 2018.

    Under County Code, a public hearing must be held prior to naming or renaming any county facility – or in this case, a trail – after a dead person, and such a request can only be considered six months or more after the person’s death.

    The public is invited to attend the hearing. During the hearing, the public may speak “for” or “against” the re-naming of a segment of the trail for Jim Billen.

    The county proposes the following is the language in the petition regarding the request for renaming the segment: “In memory of Jim Billen, the man who donated 6 years of his time and effort to build this segment of trail for all to enjoy.”

    Those unable to attend the public hearing may e-mail comments to lacmanager@lacnm.us, or submit comments in writing to the county’s Public Information Officer Julie Habiger at 1000 Central Ave., Ste 350.

    All comments must be received before 5 p.m. April 25.