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Today's News

  • Pearce focuses on solving NM’s financial, social problems

    To entrepreneur and gubernatorial candidate Congressman Steve Pearce, the preservation of New Mexico’s core industries – oil, gas, timber and coal – is the key to solving many of the state’s financial and social problems.

    For too long, he said, decision makers have chosen policy over people, and these same decision makers have fallen into a pattern of treating the symptoms of New Mexico’s problems instead of the problems themselves.

    “You aren’t going to solve them independently. Education is not going to be solved until you begin to solve the poverty problem,” Pearce told the Los Alamos Monitor Wednesday.

    “Kids that are going to school hungry are just not going to learn, and kids suffering tremendous abuse at home are not going to learn,” Pearce said. “They’re all interrelated, and we have to address them all at a pretty good depth.”
    The Hobbs Republican has spent the past 20 years serving the people of New Mexico, and is known for his down-to-earth style and for meeting regularly with constituents to hear their concerns throughout the southern district.

  • County hopes for best with MUNIS rollout

    When Los Alamos County rolled out its new, fully integrated computer operating system on July 1, officials were hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.

    Since the rollout, though, it’s been fairly smooth sailing.

    “There have been, as is the case with any implementation, some minor hiccups,” said Los Alamos County Manager Harry Burgess. “But overall, I’d say it’s gone very well and well above any expectations given the amount of issues we’ve had.”

    The county used the Enterprise Resource Planning System (ERPS) for several years before updating to this new system called MUNIS through the vendor Tyler Technologies.

    Burgess said there were initial issues where programs in certain departments, like the Community Development Department, for instance, weren’t communicating with the new system. The problem, however, was fixed before the day was over.

    “Our next real notable activity was the issuance of payroll and, out of over 700 checks that we write, we did initially have about 10 percent that we had some problems with,” he said, adding that those problems were quickly straightened out.

  • Dem New Mexico House speaker defends candidate hit by audit

    By RUSSELL CONTRERAS, Associated Press

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Democratic House Speaker Brian Egolf is defending a Democratic House candidate criticized in a state audit for improper reimbursements as head of an agency that promotes the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

    Egolf told The Associated Press this week that a report released by State Auditor Wayne Johnson showed Andrea Romero acted properly to correct reimbursements as executive director of the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities.

    "I am not calling on Andrea Romero to step aside," Egolf said. "I'm looking forward to serving with her in the House. This audit report clearly shows she took appropriate responsible for reimbursement errors."

    The New Mexico state auditor has said the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities approved improper reimbursement for alcohol, food, travel and baseball tickets.

    The Regional Coalition of LANL Communities is an agency made of nine northern New Mexico cities, counties and pueblos surrounding the Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory. The group promotes the economy in connection with the lab and contracts associated with lab work.

  • New plea hearing to be set for alleged embezzler

    A new plea hearing will be set in the case of Tabatha Jones, 35, a White Rock woman who is accused of embezzling $5,020.69 from the Los Alamos Youth Football and Cheerleading League between January and August 2017.

    First District Court Judge Jason Lidyard rejected the state’s original plea agreement Wednesday because he said it did not include anything that would truly punish Jones for her actions.

    Jones’ original plea agreement called for her to plead guilty to one count of embezzlement of over $2,500, a third-degree felony. In return, she would receive three years of supervised probation and would pay $5,020.69 in restitution to the Los Alamos Youth Football and Cheerleading League.

    Once Jones paid the money, she would be placed on unsupervised probation.

    “Imagine if it was a drug addict who shoplifted 50 to 60 times who came into this courtroom and wanted to handle the case the way you have done, with no supervision, nothing at all,” Lidyard said to First District Assistant Attorney Kent Wahlquist. “Miss Jones was clear of mind the whole time, not like a drug addict who is under the influence to support the act to support that addiction. There was no motivation here other than the decision to add more money, to provide for personal expenses.”

  • Tourism task force looks first at visitors center issue

    Earlier this year, the Los Alamos County Council established a Tourism Implementation Task Force and charged it with developing a strategic plan for improving tourism in the county, a plan that would include short- and long-term options.

    One of the facets of the short-term option was for the task force to evaluate the possibility of relocating the Los Alamos Visitors Center from its location at 109 Central Park Square.

    The center has operated at that location under a lease that expires in December. It is using about one-third of the 3,000 square foot space, sharing the space with the Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation, which is moving into another facility.

    “There are offices and a conference room that the LACDC uses,” said Linda Matteson, who is the assistant to County Manager Harry Burgess and the county’s task force liaison. “They’re able to locate all of their staff to their small business center, which is a different facility near Origami, so they are no longer wanting to have that co-location, that sharing of space. Our assumption is that if we want to stay in that space our cost would increase to take over that other space that we don’t need.”

  • Directors talk of past, future of lab

    In 1942, America’s scientists and military leaders were locked in a race with the Axis Powers to create an atomic weapon, a weapon that in theory would be the most powerful and destructive weapon ever conceived by man.

    Everyone involved in the secret project knew that it was a race America and it’s wartime allies couldn’t lose.

    The problem, however, was that the intellectual power and resources needed to create such a weapon were scattered across the free world.

    In 1943, at the request of U.S. Army General Leslie Groves, scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer and others, the world’s best and brightest assembled in Los Alamos to design, build and test the world’s first atomic weapon. What’s now known as the Los Alamos National Laboratory was created, and it’s been working to solve the most complicated national security problems of our time ever since, whether that’s nuclear proliferation, climate change or terrorism.

    Seventy-five years later, a panel of the lab’s five out of 10 past lab directors and the lab’s 11th Director Dr. Terry Wallace Jr. met for a public discussion at LANL’s campus, at the Pete V. Domenici Auditorium, July 31 to discuss the unique concept of a national laboratory, a once untried concept that has become the norm.

  • Pence outlines plan for new Space Force by 2020

    By LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Pointing to growing threats and competition from Russia and China, the White House on Thursday announced ambitious plans to create the U.S. Space Force as a sixth, separate military warfighting service by 2020.

    The proposal taps into the American public's long fascination with space but with a military focus, and it faces daunting hurdles. It requires congressional approval and has been met with skepticism from military leaders and experts who question the wisdom of launching an expensive, bureaucratic new service branch.

    Vice President Mike Pence announced the new force during a Pentagon speech, fleshing out an idea that President Donald Trump has flagged in recent months as he vowed to ensure American dominance in space. Pence described space as a domain that was once peaceful and uncontested but has now become crowded and adversarial.

    "Now the time has come to write the next great chapter in the history of our armed forces, to prepare for the next battlefield where America's best and bravest will be called to deter and defeat a new generation of threats to our people, to our nation," said Pence.

    Trump marked Pence's announcement with a tweet: "Space Force all the way!"

  • Prosecutor: Man at compound trained kids for school shooting

    By MORGAN LEE and MARY HUDETZ, Associated Press

    TAOS (AP) — The father of a missing Georgia boy was training children at a New Mexico compound to commit school shootings, prosecutors said in court documents obtained Wednesday, as authorities waited to learn if human remains found at the site were those of the boy.

    The documents say Siraj Ibn Wahhaj was conducting weapons training with assault rifles at the compound near the Colorado border where authorities say they found 11 hungry children living in filthy conditions in a raid Friday.

    Prosecutor Timothy Hasson filed the court documents while asking that Wahhaj be held without bail after he was arrested last week with four other adults facing child abuse charges.

    "He poses a great danger to the children found on the property as well as a threat to the community as a whole due to the presence of firearms and his intent to use these firearms in a violent and illegal manner," Hasson wrote.

    Prosecutors did not bring up the school shooting accusation in court on Wednesday during an initial appearance by the abuse suspects.  A judge ordered Wahhaj held without bond pending further proceedings.

  • APNewsBreak: Audit hits Pro-Los Alamos agency on booze, food

    By RUSSELL CONTRERAS, Associated Press

    ALBUQUERQUE — An agency of New Mexico municipalities surrounding Los Alamos National Laboratory approved improper reimbursement for alcohol, food, travel and baseball tickets, the New Mexico state auditor announced Tuesday.

    The released audit especially hits Andrea Romero, former Regional Coalition of LANL Communities executive director, over unlawful reimbursements and found a lack of adequate documentation to support many expenditures "in violation of the published travel policy and state law."

    The scathing audit comes as Romero is seeking to win a seat in New Mexico's House of Representatives after defeating Rep. Carl Trujillo in the Democratic primary in June. Trujillo is facing allegations of sexual harassment.

    State Auditor Wayne Johnson released the final report of a special audit after allegations surfaced of misspent public money by the government coalition also known as RCLC. He said the governing board of the group has conceded to yearly audits overseen by the Office of the State Auditor following his report.

  • Candidates criticize Romero over audit findings

    Andrea Romero, the Democratic candidate for House District 46, drew fire from past and present Dist. 46 candidates Friday after a state audit report found the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities improperly reimbursed RCLC members for travel, food and baseball tickets.

    Romero served as executive director of the coalition from 2015 to February 2018. 

    Romero’s contract as executive director came to a natural end in February. She decided not to rebid for the contract because she was gearing up for her campaign for the Democratic primary.

    In February, just prior to Romero’s decision, allegations of financial mismanagement surfaced in a complaint from Northern New Mexico Protects, a land and water rights group.

    Romero alleged the group had strong ties to her incumbent opponent State Rep. Carl Trujillo (D-46), who Romero was gearing up to run against in the June primary.

    “I don’t plan to (submit a bid) at this point,” Romero said in March in a Los Alamos Monitor article. “It’s been way too politicized with the board, and there are a lot of other decisions to be made.”

    Romero defeated Trujillo in the primary.