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Today's News

  • People in the News 01-27-13

    Ealey ranked 32nd in nation at OSU

    Former Los Alamos High School star track and field athlete Chase Ealey, one of the most dominant performers in school history, is starting her collegiate career off with a bang.
    Ealey, a freshman at Oklahoma State University, has won three consecutive shot put events for the OSU Cowboys as they are starting their indoor season.
    In the Jan. 19 Wildcat Invitational, hosted by Kansas State (Manhattan, Kan.), Ealey eclipsed her personal best throw in the shot put with a mark of 51 feet, 10 inches. That throw, which was not only one of the top 25 in the country at that point, placed her second in OSU school history for women’s shot put.
    Currently, Ealey is the 32nd-ranked thrower among Division-I competitors. She is one of eight members of the Cowboys program with a national ranking.
    Ealey graduated LAHS in 2012 as one of the most decorated athletes in school history. Individually, she won four consecutive 100 meter titles, along with two state championships in shot put and javelin. She was the Class 4A high-point athlete in both 2011 and 2012.

    Paige named region’s Coach of Year

  • Council assesses budget crisis at Tuesday meeting

    Los Alamos County Council’s mid-year budget review will be anything but normal. Staff has estimated a $9.5 million shortfall in projected revenues for FY2013, and further contractions for ensuing budget years.

    Staff had noted decreasing revenues during the yearly audit, estimating a $6.5 million shortfall based on revenues through August 2012. But Los Alamos National Laboratory spending dropped dramatically in September compared to previous years, resulting in a $3 million reduction in gross receipts tax flowing into county coffers. The county received that report in November, along with the news that the state was refunding part of LANL’s 2011 GRT, with the county’s share set at $3.5 million.

    “It is a moving target. Any budget is our best guess. So we’re projecting revenues based on history, based on information we receive from news media as well as directly from the lab,” County Administrator Harry Burgess said. In this case, LANL’s expenditures were far lower than the amount budgeted for the year, which is what the county’s early projections were based on.

  • Officials may mull tax hike

    The possibility of raising taxes is also likely to be a controversial issue. The agenda documentation for Tuesday's council session includes a comparison of the Los Alamos County’s taxes with the rest of the state.

    The comparison shows that the county’s rates are considerably below average. The summary includes:

    • Los Alamos ranks 23rd lowest GRT rate of the 33 counties. (7.3125 percent — this is .2519 percent or more than a ¼ cent less than the average of 7.5644 percent)

    • Los Alamos has the lowest (ranked 33rd) imposed Property Tax rate of all 33 counties. (10.598 mils; next lowest is 2.477 mils higher at 13.075 mils; Los Alamos is 5.515 or 34 percent below the average of 16.1133 mils)
    • Los Alamos ranks 32nd and 33rd lowest for residential and non-residential, respectively, levied mil rates.

    • If adjusted by adding two mils of property tax, Los Alamos would still have the lowest imposed Property Tax rate.

    • If adjusted by adding a new 1/16th cent GRT increment, Los Alamos would rank 22nd lowest GRT rate.

    Find more on this and other agenda documentation at losalamosnm.us.
     

  • Police detain suspected armed man

    On Friday afternoon, around 2:30 p.m. suspect Jesse Velasco, while walking at Ashley Pond, called police and told them he had a gun, according to officials. After a brief conversation with Velasco, police arrested him and brought him in, even though it turns out he did not have a gun. As of press time it is not known whether Velasco was charged.

  • Aviation industry might take off with tax relief

    Pilots in New Mexico may have a fantastic views to look at when they are airborne and no doubt, the arid climate is a plus when it comes to preserving a plane’s condition. However, that’s just about all most pilots — and anyone else connected to the aviation industry in New Mexico — believes it has going for them.

    According to some, the tax structure really comes down hard on a type of business that has yet to blossom in the state. Many of those in the aviation business find the state’s seven percent gross receipts tax on aviation supplies and services oppressive, especially when it comes to maintenance.

    When the hail storm hit Los Alamos last October, all of the pilots affected had to ship their damaged planes out of state to a facility in Colorado because there is no aviation repair facility in New Mexico equipped to handle it — or at least one that would repair the hail damage for the right price, which is typically dictated by what an insurance company is willing to pay.

    According to Los Alamos Airport Manager Peter Soderquist, 18 airplanes were damaged in the storm and many of those were considered a total loss. To his knowledge, not one of the aircraft was repaired in-state.

  • Report points to Tritium facility issues

    The Department of Energy Office of Enforcement conducted an independent review of the Los Alamos National Laboratory Weapons Engineering Tritium Facility Safety Significant Tritium Gas Containment System recently.

    The Los Alamos Site Office made the assessment and it evaluated the functionality and operability of the TGCS (a vital safety system) and to ensure that the system complied with DOE orders and standards.

    Tritium is a radioactive form of hydrogen, used in research, fusion reactors and neutron generators. The radioactive properties of tritium can be useful. By mixing tritium with a chemical that emits light in the presence of radiation, a phosphor, a continuous light source is made and it is commonly used in exit signs or gun sights, for instance. However, as with any radioactive substance, limiting exposure is recommended.

    After the two-week assessment, which took place last year, LASO and the Independent Oversight committee came away with nine findings.

  • Update 01-27-13

    Blood drive

    United Blood Services will host a blood drive from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Jan. 29 at Los Alamos High School’s speech theater.

    LALT deadline

    The deadline for receiving proposals for plays to be performed in the 2013-14 Los Alamos Little Theatre season is Jan. 31. Visit lalt.org for instructions.

    County Council

    There will be a County Council meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday in council chambers.

    Have a news tip?

    Send press releases, photos and videos to laeditor@lamonitor.com or contact the newsroom at 662-4185.

    Pancake breakfast

    The Los Alamos Sheriff’s Posse Lodge will hold a pancake breakfast from 7-11 a.m. Feb. 3 at the Posse Lodge, 650 North Mesa Road. The cost is $7 for adults and $4 for children ages 10 and younger.

  • New Mexico gets a D, but not an F

    Michelle Rhee got the Public Broadcasting “Frontline” treatment a couple of weeks ago. Cameras followed Rhee during the three years (2007 to 2010) she was chancellor of the Washington D.C. public schools.
    PBS was sympathetic to Rhee, an interesting notion, given that in D.C. Rhee took names and, gasp, fired people, and PBS is a bastion of liberal media that one ordinarily would think is entirely a creature of the unions controlling schools.
    Rhee now runs the nonprofit StudentsFirst (studentsfirst.org). On the website, the organization says its “mission is to build a national movement to defend the interests of children in public education and pursue transformative reform, so that America has the best education system in the world.”
    On Jan. 7, the day before the “Frontline” broadcast, StudentsFirst released its first “State of Education State Policy Report” (reportcard.studentsfirst.org).
    In the letter grade evaluations, New Mexico got a D, no real surprise there.
    The surprises are not getting an F and being in about the middle of the more detailed rankings. Further surprise is no state getting an A and only Louisiana and Florida getting a B.
    Rhee grades on a tough curve.

  • Papen’s effect on governor, if elected

    The New Mexico Senate is being run by still another coalition. What causes such a thing to happen?
    And how will this coalition work out? Will it provide Gov. Susana Martinez an easier pathway for her prized legislation? Will it make the governor’s 2014 reelection easier?
    The new Senate president pro tem is Sen. Mary Kay Papen. She is from Las Cruces, as is our governor.
    Papen said they are longtime acquaintances and although they have had their differences, they never have been adversarial.
    Papen describes herself as a fiscal conservative but a social moderate. She is a strong supporter of Sen. John Arthur Smith of Deming, a fiscal conservative who chairs the Senate Finance Committee.
    The New Mexico Legislature is not unfamiliar with cross-party coalitions running either the House or the Senate.
    Back in the late 1970s, a group of disenchanted Democrats joined with Republicans, who were the minority party, to form a coalition headed by a Democrat but run by Republicans.
    It was called the Cowboy Coalition because most of the Democrats were from the southern part of the state.
    The atmosphere was not pleasant.
    In the mid-1980s, Republicans in the Senate managed the same sort of coup, headed by Sen. Les Houston, a Democrat turned Republican.

  • Andrew and Mousie 01-27-13