Today's News

  • County halts work on proposed wells

    County Council Chair Geoff Rodgers and Utilities Board Vice Chair Tim Neal jointly announced Friday all activity will cease on the proposed test wells in White Rock Canyon to develop the County’s San Juan/Chama water rights.  

    The hiatus is intended to give councilors time to better understand issues surrounding the San Juan/Chama water rights, determine appropriate policy steps, and provide direction to the Board of Public Utilities, according to a statement released by the county.  

    Public concerns over the test wells were voiced during a May 23 Special Board of Public Utilities meeting and on the county’s “Open Forum” page.   Rodgers emphasized that the community as a whole owns the water rights and therefore, it is important for the council to weigh in on this issue.

    “The Councilors are committed to thoroughly examining and evaluating the 40-year Water Plan, the County’s San Juan/Chama water rights, and previous council policy direction to the Board of Public Utilities,” he said.

  • Thompson Ridge firefighters go on the offensive

    The Monday morning update from the Central West Incident Management Team indicated progress in stopping forward momentum in the wildfire.

    "Following a full day of preparations on the ground and continuous attack from the air with heavy helicopters, firefighters were prepared to go on the offensive," fire officials said in a statement.

    "Firefighters worked through the night taking advantage of the favorable window of opportunity. The night shift crews conducted an aggressive direct attack on the fire on southeastern side at South Mountain. Their calculated risk paid off, and the forward progress of the fire has been stopped.

    "With the southeastern fire perimeters being held at nearly a mile from N.M. 4, fire officials have reopened the highway. As a safety reminder, all are advised to take extra caution in the area due to the continued heavy volume of fire-related traffic."

  • Today in History for June 7th
  • Crews race to build bigger buffers around NM fires

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — With changes in the weather fast approaching, firefighters raced Thursday to build bigger buffers around a pair of wildfires that have charred more than 35 square miles of tinder-dry forest in northern New Mexico.

    Forecasters are predicting hot, dry and windy weather to move into New Mexico by the end of the week. The conditions are expected to last a few days, meaning fire behavior will be intense.

    On the Valles Caldera National Preserve, crews battling the Thompson Ridge Fire were focusing on getting ahead of the blaze to burn vegetation and other forest debris in hopes of creating a break that would serve to starve the flames as they advance.

    "We want to get that work done before it starts to rage again," said fire information officer Peter D'Aquanni.

    The Thompson Ridge Fire has charred more than 20 square miles north of Jemez Springs since being sparked last Friday by a downed power line. It forced the evacuation of homes in the Thompson Ridge, Rancho de la Cueva and Elk Valley areas.

    As of Thursday evening, crews had contained only 10 percent of the fire. D'Aquanni said firefighters were completing a line around the fire and they planned to spend the next two days bolstering that line.

  • Holder Sidesteps Questions on Phone Records

    Attorney General Eric Holder sidestepped questions about the government's collection of Verizon phone records when asked in a hearing if any phones on Capitol Hill were monitored. Holder and senators agreed to a classified session.

  • From Hawk to Hilltopper
  • N.M. village runs out of water

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — The village of Magdalena is scrambling now that its sole drinking water well has gone dry.
    The water table has dropped almost 20 feet since January due to the persistent drought that has plagued nearly all of New Mexico for the last three years. That combined with infrastructure problems that caused the well to collapse left about 1,000 residents and several businesses without water Wednesday.
    Magdalena officials have put in a request with the state engineer’s office to drill a new well, but that could take a week or two. For now, the community will have to rely on water tenders from Socorro and White Sands Missile Range.
    “We’re delivering potable water to residents, especially the elderly and small children we’re concerned about,” village Marshal Larry Cearley said. “We can only deliver so much water for so long.”
    The village is also ordering cases of water from stores in nearby Socorro.
    Gov. Susana Martinez said Wednesday that state officials are monitoring the situation.
    “We’re hopeful we can find more water there and we certainly are going to send the National Guard with potable water so that residents can use it for cooking and drinking,” Martinez said.

  • Lecture to detail U.S., Russian scientists

    The differences and similarities between Manhattan Project-era scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and scientists working at the former Soviet Union’s secret Arzamas-16 installation will be discussed by Professor Istvan Hargittai at 5:30 p.m., June 12 at the Bradbury Science Museum. The talk is part of the laboratory’s 70th anniversary lecture series.
    According to Hargittai, Los Alamos’ first director, Julius Robert (J. Robert) Oppenheimer and Arzamas-16 leader Yulii B. Khariton had the same first names, were born the same year and were of similar Jewish backgrounds. Oppenheimer led the Los Alamos effort to build the first atomic bomb, while Khariton directed the Soviet effort for nearly a half-century. The similarities even extended to how Arzamas-16 was informally referred to as “Los Arzamas.”
    “The first group of stellar physicists at Los Alamos had many similarities to the group of stellar physicists at Arzamas-16, but the differences separated them a world apart,” said Hargittai, professor of chemistry and professor emeritus at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics.

  • LANL nuke waste to be buried at Texas fed site

    The portion of a West Texas radioactive waste disposal site built to handle waste from U.S. Energy Department locations nationwide is set to open.
    Waste from New Mexico’s Los Alamos National Laboratory on Thursday will be the first low-level radioactive waste to be buried in the 90-acre federal dump on a site operated by Dallas-based Waste Control Specialists.
    Company spokesman Chuck McDonald says the Los Alamos waste is derived from nuclear materials research and development stored at the laboratory for decades.
    “I am proud to be here today to celebrate this historic event. We appreciate the state of Texas, the local communities and Waste Control Specialists for their support of our important national cleanup mission and look forward to a continued, collaborative relationship to ensure the safe disposal and long-term management of this nation’s low-level and mixed low-level (LLW/MLLW) radioactive waste,” EM Senior Advisor David Huizenga said.
    The DOE Los Alamos Field Office is the first to dispose of waste in this new facility.

  • State gets reinforcements to battle wildfires

    RIO RANCHO (AP) — Some residents were allowed to return home Wednesday as firefighters shored up lines around one of two wildfires that have raced across thousands of acres of dry forest in northern New Mexico.
    The Tres Lagunas blaze has charred more than 14 square miles north of Pecos since being sparked last Thursday by a downed power line. Fire officials said the fire is now 15 percent contained and they’re assessing the evacuation area to determine when more evacuees can return.
    With fire season in full swing in drought-stricken New Mexico, Gov. Susana Martinez planned to announce the arrival of three out-of-state strike teams to help if new fires break out.
    The teams will be positioned in Rio Rancho, Socorro and Las Vegas.
    “They will be available to go anywhere,” said Dan Ware, spokesman for the New Mexico State Forestry division. “Because we have a lot of resources dedicated to the two fires, having these strike teams will really be a benefit.”
    A crew from Wyoming is arriving Wednesday, while teams from North Dakota and Oregon will be in New Mexico by Thursday. In all, 38 crew members and 13 engines make up the teams.
    Ware said State Forestry also boosted the number of its seasonal firefighters this year, adding nearly 50 to the 250 that are hired during a typical season.