Today's News

  • Next DOE chief faces dilemmas

    YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) — Underground tanks that hold a stew of toxic, radioactive waste at the nation’s most contaminated nuclear site pose a possible risk of explosion, a nuclear safety board said in advance of confirmation hearings for the next leader of the Energy Department.
    State and federal officials have long known that hydrogen gas could build up inside the tanks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, leading to an explosion that would release radioactive material. The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board recommended additional monitoring and ventilation of the tanks last fall, and federal officials were working to develop a plan to implement the recommendation.
    The board expressed those concerns again Monday to U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who is chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and had sought the board’s perspective about cleanup at Hanford.
    The federal government created Hanford in the 1940s as part of the secret Manhattan Project to build the atomic bomb. It spends billions of dollars to clean up the 586-square-mile site neighboring the Columbia River, the southern border between Washington and Oregon and the Pacific Northwest’s largest waterway.

  • New nurse aims for healthy community

    Los Alamos County’s new community health nurse has been looking for this job for several years.

    “I think public health has always been in my heart since learning about it in college,” Felicia Branch said. “I have a little bit of education in community health, and I just love the fact that we get to work so much with the community and the public health nurse gets to play a really important role in the community. So it drew me in immediately. I always knew that this was something I wanted to do.”

    Branch took 12 hours of community health classes while pursuing her B.S. in nursing from the University of New Mexico. After graduating, Branch took a job in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Presbyterian Hospital in Santa Fe.

    A little over three years ago she accepted a position in the Intensive Care Unit at the Los Alamos Medical Center, later transferring to LAMC’s Endoscopy Center.

    But Branch kept her radar out for a community health-related position.

    “I’ve always had my eye out for this,” Branch said. “And I really got lucky, because it’s a small office. The opportunity opened up and I jumped, I really did.”

    Branch started on Dec. 31. Much of her first three months was devoted to training.

  • Valles Caldera unveils report

    The Valles Caldera Trust 2012 State of the Preserve Report details the journey of an overused, exhausted landscape to its improved condition and provides a peek at the road ahead.
    The report, released Thursday, is required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) procedures unique to the trust, and provides baseline data, which aids the strategic management of the preserve. However, the report also points out that some of the resources Congress believed would contribute to financial self-sufficiency were either overestimated or emerged as liabilities for the “Experiment in Public Land Management”.
    “The land was over grazed, heavily logged and the streams were severely compromised when we took over in 2002,” notes Valles Caldera Trust Executive Director, Dennis Trujillo. “The preserve was incapable of supporting the livestock numbers and timber production it did under private ownership. We had to adapt, and adapt quickly.”
    The 2012 report recounts how the trust employed science-based adaptive management from 2002-2012 to restore the landscape, establish land use policies and expand opportunities for public access and revenue generation. Adaptive management allows the trust to institute a new program, monitor the implemented changes, and adjust the program, based on the assessment data.

  • Fire season right around the corner

    At the “Wildfire 2013” event held at Fuller Lodge last Saturday, videos of the Cerro Grande and Las Conchas fires played on TV screens. They served as a visible reminder to everyone attending the event that knowledge is power when these unpredictable and deadly acts of nature come calling.

    Luckily, there was plenty of information for Los Alamos residents to go around at the event, as representatives from the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, Valles Caldera National Preserve, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos County Emergency Management, National Weather Service all showed up to pass out pamphlets, toys and general advice to inquiring residents.

    The event is organized every year through the “Interagency Wildfire Management Team,” which is mainly comprised of representatives from Los Alamos County, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Bandelier National Monument, Santa Fe National Forest, State of New Mexico, and others.

    Gary Kemp, fire management officer for Bandelier National Monument, was on hand with Bandelier National Monument Ranger Chris Judson to answer resident’s questions.

  • The wonder of Rio Grande del Norte

    Almost 30 million years ago, in what is now Northern New Mexico, two of our planet’s ever-shifting plates, the North American and the Pacific, crunched up against one another, causing a dramatic separation in the earth’s crust through which in time a great river would flow.
    Today that separation in the earth’s crust remains spectacular, and we know it as the Rio Grande Gorge, named for the river that runs through it, sometimes ferociously, sometimes serenely.
    To drive through that canyon is to drive through one of this continent’s beautiful and breathtaking wonders.
    Last week President Barack Obama used the powers vested in him by the Antiquities Act of 1906 to make it the “Rio Grande del Norte National Monument.”
    Corks were popping and hands were clapping from Taos to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., as the President signed a proclamation adding some 240,000 acres of Northern New Mexico, all the way up to Ute Mountain near the Colorado border, to the roster of national monuments.
    It was an especially poignant moment for New Mexico’s recently retired U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, who was present for the White House signing ceremony.
    Bingaman has long championed national park or monument status for the area. “This is a great day for New Mexico,” the former senator said.

  • Dawn nears for smart regulation

    Regulation, government-style, begs for modern methods of limiting bad side effects.
    Yet a new concept cannot spread far unless it has a name. To urge change, this column introduces the new terms “integral regulation,” “built-in inspection” and “smart regulation.”
    Of necessity, regulation and civilization grew up together. Early societies expanded slowly, from isolated bands to tribes to city-states. Methods of regulating evolved as slowly as civilization.
    Regulation began with simple peer pressure, which evolved to tribal traditions and later into early religious themes.
    As time crept on, the need for regulation led to governments and politically-set rules.
    Technology enters the story. Technologies first were used as they came. The unwanted side effects is that a technology can have become more evident to more people as the technology gains more usage in more places.
    In our time, the side effects have come to be examined and judged in a set forum, such as an agency hearing with lawyers, technologists, interested spokesmen of all kinds and the government that is in office.
    By such means, a regulation is shaped to limit the harmful side effects. Meanwhile, the pace of technical innovation quickens. Quicker tools emerge quicker.

  • Be There 04-04-13

    The Underground of Enchantment Traveling Exhibit, “Lechuguilla Cave of Carlsbad Caverns National Park,” will host an opening reception from 4-5:30 p.m. at Mesa Public Library Art Gallery; and from 5-6:30 p.m. at Pajarito Environmental Education Center.
    Mapping Lechuguilla Cave. Local caver John Lyles will present highlights of his involvement in the Lechuguilla Cave mapping project. Hear about the history of discovery in one of the most beautiful caves in the world. 6:30 p.m. Free, no registration required. For more information, visit PajaritoEEC.org, call 662-0460, or email Programs@PajaritoEEC.org.
    First Friday Forts. 3:30 to 5 p.m. Come to PEEC and get building. Join other kids and parents who like fort building to construct, play and hang out. Also, check out the mud pie kitchen. Visit pajaritoEEC.org for more information. Free.
    The American Legion Riders of Los Alamos is having a fund-raising ride in memory of a dear friend, Carol, who passed away unexpectedly from heart failure. The ride departs at 11 a.m., at the American Legion Hall (in front of the Fabulous 50’s restaurant). Proceeds from the $20 entry fee per person go to the American Heart Association; all are welcome. For more information call Montana at 406-240-8112.

  • Shelter to participate in microchip clinic

    A great opportunity is available April 27 at the 2013 Los Alamos Dog Jog, a $20 reduced fee microchip clinic.
    Veterinarians from Animal Clinic of Los Alamos have donated their time and expertise to implant the microchips and Friends of the Shelter is very appreciative of their participation. 
    The fee includes the registration of the microchip to a database that can be read by shelters and veterinary clinics throughout the United States.
    No sign up is required ahead of time, just stop by Chamisa School in White Rock from 9-10:30 a.m. The clinic is open to the public, even if you aren’t registered for the Dog Jog.
     The best reason to have your animal microchipped is the improved chance that you’ll get your animal back if it becomes lost or stolen. Disasters where animals become displaced, you leave your pet with a sitter and the animal escapes, dogs that run away during thunderstorms or 4th of July fireworks, auto accidents, these are all times when your animal can become lost.
     A microchip is a small, electronic chip enclosed in a glass cylinder that is about the same size as a grain of rice.

  • Local EMT recognized for services

    The Board of Directors of the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) recently recognized William F. Purtymun, a National Ski Patroller with the Pajarito Mountain Ski Patrol, for achieving 30 consecutive years as a Nationally Registered EMT.
    This distinction is an honor held by few EMTs.
    To maintain his status as a Nationally Registered EMT, Purtymun completed, on a biennial basis, the most comprehensive recertification program for Emergency Medical Technicians in America.
    He not only completed courses to refresh his fundamental knowledge and skills but also attended a minimum of two hours per month of additional continuing education courses to advance his knowledge on new lifesaving skills. This includes recently completing the National Association of EMT Tactical Combat Casualty Care course.
    By maintaining his Nationally Registered status and completing regular continuing education courses, Purtymun is among the few elite EMTs with the most training in pre-hospital emergency medical care in the nation.

  • Off The Hill 04-04-13

    Art openings

    Zane Bennett Contemporary Art announces an exhibition and paintings by Michael Freitas Wood, titled, “Presentiment.” The exhibit will be up Friday-April 29 at 435 S. Guadalupe St.


    Bill Cosby performs at the Route 66 Legends Theater at 8 p.m. May 3. Tickets, $35-$75, are available at holdmyticket.com.


    Serenata of Santa Fe presents chamber music entitled “Gate Into Infinity.” on Sunday, May 5, 6 p.m. at St. John’s College, Jr. Commons Room. Featured performances by Robert Schumann, Somei Satoh and Heirtor Villa-Lobos; with Guillermo Figueroa, violin; Sally Guenther, cello; Pamela Epple, oboe; Jeff Sussman, percussion and Debra Ayers, piano. Reception to follow. Tickets available online at serenataofsantafe.org and at the Lensic Box Office, 988-1234. Tickets also available at the door. $25 general public; $20 seniors; $10 youth; $5 students, $1 children under 6. For more information call 989-7988.

    Sleeping With Sirens, Conditions, Dangerkids and Lions Lions, will bring their Take It Or Leave It Tour to the Sunshine Theater at 8 p.m. today. Tickets, $15, are available at sunshinetheaterlive.com.