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Today's News

  • New process speeds conversion of biomass to fuels

    Scientists took a major step forward recently toward transforming biomass-derived molecules into fuels. The team led by Los Alamos National Laboratory researchers elucidated the chemical mechanism of the critical steps, which can be performed under relatively mild, energy-efficient conditions. The journal Catalysis Science & Technology published the research.
    “Efficient conversion of non-food biomass into fuels and chemical feedstocks could reduce society’s dependence on foreign oil and ensure the long-term availability of renewable materials for consumer products,” said John Gordon, one of the senior Los Alamos scientists on the project.
    “Also, efficient conversion could decrease the production of greenhouse gases. However, current technologies to convert biomass into fuels require extreme conditions of high temperatures and high pressures, both of which make the conversion process prohibitively expensive.”
    The study provides important insight into a critical step in biomass fuels synthesis and it may enable the design of better, non-precious-metal catalysts and processes for large-scale transformation of biomass into fuels and commodity chemicals.
    For more than a century, chemists focused on a “more is better” approach, adding functionality to molecules, not removing it.

  • Self-sufficiency fund has more wins than losses

    When the topic of the Self-Sufficiency Fund (now renamed as the Economic Vitality Fund) comes up, a common perception seems to be that the fund’s investments have been money down the drain. However a closer look at the fund’s successes and failures would appear to contradict that assessment.
    The Self-Sufficiency Fund was created when the United States Congress decided that the Department of Energy should stop making yearly assistance payments to the county to compensate for the loss of property taxes and gross receipts taxes the county would normally receive from an entity the size of Los Alamos National Laboratory.
    Sen. Pete Domenici argued for a one-time payment large enough to help the county invest in projects that would create a revenue base in years to come. Congress approved a transfer of $22.6 million from the DOE to the county for that purpose in the early 1990s.
    Some of the fund was transferred to the Airport, Fire and Water Funds to finance initial improvements associated with assuming operation of those systems from DOE.
    Other expenditures built foundations for economic development, such as preparing the Trinity Site and other land transfer projects for development.
    A large portion of the fund lay dormant and earning interest for several years as the county assessed how to use it most effectively.

  • LAPS' Dean to retire

    After 42 years of helping children as well as her fellow educators rise to their full potential, Los Alamos Public Schools Assistant Superintendent Paula Dean is retiring.

    “It will be very nice to have some time for other things,” she said. “As I told Gene (Dr. Gene Schmidt, LAPS superintendent) it’s like starting in a new life path. In my letter I also said I will be looking over my shoulder to see how the Los Alamos Schools are doing.”

    She said her immediate plans are to take a brief time out before looking for the next opportunity, whatever that may be.

    Dean came to New Mexico in 1998 and started her career with LAPS as the director of Curriculum and Development.

    She then spent a brief stint in Santa Fe as an assistant superintendent. She then became principal of Barranca Mesa Elementary for four years before becoming assistant superintendent for the past three years.

    “I worked in many districts over a very long career (Dean was a teacher and principal in Illinois before coming to Los Alamos) and this is the best functioning district I was ever in,” Dean said of the Los Alamos School District. “I was very happy to get back to Los Alamos.”

  • Angel Fire shovel race winner clocks better than 67 mph

     ANGEL FIRE – Hundreds of spectators and daredevils converged on the slopes of Angel Fire Resort last weekend for the Angel Fire Shovel Race Championships.  

    The annual challenge has competitors sitting on the scoop of a standard aluminum snow shovel, handle pointed downhill and race to the finish line time-trial style. Each rider gets two shots to clock the fastest time down the front of the Angel Fire ski mountain.

    Top speeds regularly exceed 60 miles per hour.
     “Shovel racing began as a simple contest here in the 1970s when our lift operators would ride their shovels down the mountain at the end of their shifts,” said Andy Whitacre of Angel Fire Resort. “It has since grown into a crazy competition on the mountain that includes speed suits, costumes and radar guns. No year is ever the same, as competitors always try and outdo each other every season.”
    The organized competition has been held for more than 30 years at Angel Fire Resort. The event has even been featured by national news outlets including ESPN, ABC Sports, MTV and The Travel Channel.

  • Science Fair Results

    Physical Science
    Elementary Division
    Gus Yeager, Aspen Elementary, American Association of University Women $5, Glencoe/McGraw $25 gift card

    Michael Chigaev, Barranca Elementary, Barranca PTO $5, Superintendent’s Choice Award, CB Fox certificate $10, Kiwanis Club of Los Alamos $25

    Sruthi Garimella, Barranca Elementary, Barranca PTO $5, Los Alamos Schools Credit Union $10

    Nicholas McGrane, Barranca Elementary, Barranca PTO $5, CB Fox $20 gift card, Kiwanis Club of Los Alamos $10

    Emily Moulton, Barranca Elementary, Barranca PTO $5

    Fourth place
    Neha Sadasivan, Barranca Elementary, Barranca PTO $5, Los Alamos Schools Credit Union $10

    Hanna Stidham, Barranca Elementary, Barranca PTO $5, Chamisa PTO $5

    Kent Teshima, Barranca Elementary, Barranca PTO $5, Chamisa PTO $5

    Elementary Life Science Grand Award
    Rebecca Brug, Chamisa Elementary, Los Alamos Garden Club $15, Pajarito Environmental Education Center $20, Los Alamos Master Gardeners $10, Los Alamos Credit Union $10

    Amelia Duffy, Chamisa Elementary, Los Alamos Garden Club $10

    Second place

  • Be There 02-12-13

     Today
    Trinity on the Hill Episcopal Church, 3900 Trinity Dr., invites the community to a Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras) pancake supper, from 5:30-7 p.m. There will be beads, masks and Dixieland music. The menu includes ham, pancakes, a variety of syrups, fruit, eggs cooked to order and orange juice. Tickets can be purchased at the door and are $4 for children, $8 for adults and $20 for a family. All proceeds benefit the Juaréz house build mission trips, which will take place in the fall.

  • Celebrate with the Cheetahs

    After flood, fire and the constant rumor of zombies or locusts, Chamisa Elementary turns 45-years-old today.
    Festivities have been set for Wednesday, with a school board meeting and the science fair dinner for regional qualifiers planned for tonight.
    Wednesday will host a short celebration at 11:30 a.m., complete with cupcakes, song and a salute to retiring teacher Kathy Kelly.
    A few surprise guests are slated for the events, which have been kept under wraps.
    The evening event takes place at 6 p.m. with a special color guard from the Los Alamos High School NJROTC program. The program will send Cheetah alumni to parade the colors, signaling the official event start.
    A community potluck is the fare for the evening, or special arrangements to order dinner can be done by calling Brian at the Bandelier Grill. The Apells, a Chamisa family, recently bought the grill.
    Sixth grade students will host a jewelry sale, thanks to the help of Chamisa art teacher, Renee Mitsunaga. Mitsunaga has worked with a variety of students during the lunch hour to have hand made gifts available. A veritable plethora of baked goods will be sold for those additional last-minute Valentine’s Day gifts.

  • Must-have insurance plans

    Many people adopt a “penny wise, pound foolish” mentality when it comes to buying insurance. When trying to lower expenses, some will drop or reduce needed coverage, gambling that they won’t become seriously ill, suffer a car accident or fall victim to a fire or other catastrophe. But all it takes is one serious uncovered (or under-covered) incident to potentially wipe you out financially.
    Here are insurance policies no household should be without:
    Medical. This is the most critical – and unfortunately, the most expensive – coverage you need. When comparing plans, consider:
    Are your doctors in their provider networks? If not, can you afford out-of-network charges – or are you willing to find new doctors?
    Are your medications covered under the plan’s drug formularies?
    Do they restrict specialized services you might need like maternity, mental health or weight reduction treatments?
    If you choose catastrophic coverage to lower premiums, can you afford the high deductible in case of an accident or major illness?
    Homeowner/renter. Faulty plumbing, theft and home-accident lawsuits are only a few catastrophes that could leave you without possessions or homeless. A few tips:

  • NM likes its permanent funds

     SANTA FE – New Mexico is very fortunate to have two large permanent funds socked away for a rainy day. In the eastern states most land is privately held. By the time the Western states were settled, the government was keeping large chunks for federal, state, county and municipal purposes.
    Much is desert land but much is good for grazing or has oil and minerals under it.The revenue from those lands goes into what is sommonly called the State Land Grant Permanent Fund. Each entity gets its share. Public schools get the revenue from sections 2 and 32 of each 36-acre township. Part of that money is then transferred to the aappropriation amounts for the various governmental units.
    These funds were helpful in getting schools started as the School for the Visually Handicapped and the Deaf Shool.
    Back in the early 1970s, New Mexico was experiencing a very healthy economic boom. Severance taxes from oil and gas companies were flowing in at record rates. The mines near towns such as Santa Rita, Carlsbad and Questa also were doing well.
    So the Legislature and Gov. Bruce King created a second permanent fund, which they named the Severance Tax Permanent Fund. Previously severance taxes were used to finance the budget. That fund began growing to a size approaching the original Land Grant Permanent Fund.

  • 'Topper Notes 02-12-13

    LA girls have tough contests this week

    To make a run at the regular season District 2-4A championship, the Los Alamos Hilltopper girls basketball team will need a sweep this week against a pair of tough customers.
    Los Alamos will travel to Santa Fe, the former No. 1 team in the state, Wednesday night, then host the Española Valley Sundevils Saturday.
    The Hilltoppers (13-10) trail both Santa Fe (20-2) and Española Valley (19-4) in the 2-4A standings, but can erase those deficits in a hurry with a pair of wins. The Hilltoppers lost to both teams in the first round of district play.

    LA boys still seeking first 2-4A win

    Following its loss Saturday night at Bernalillo, Los Alamos’ boys basketball team has just three games remaining to break into the District 2-4A win column.
    Los Alamos fell at Bernalillo 65-49 Saturday night to drop to 0-5 in 2-4A play.
    Its best chance for a win this district season might come tonight, however, when it hosts Santa Fe. Santa Fe (10-13) has won just one 2-4A game, that coming Jan. 26 when it topped Los Alamos in a rout, 70-47 at Toby Roybal Memorial Gymnasium.