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Today's News

  • Pongratz takes seat on council

    Los Alamos County Councilors appointed veteran councilor and active community member Morris “Morrie” Pongratz to fill a vacant council seat Monday.

    The seat was vacated in early May by Councilor James Chrobocinski, who left his position due to illness.

    Starting in the 1980s, Pongratz served six terms on Los Alamos Council and one term on the Los Alamos School Board.

    According to Pongratz’ letter of intent to the Los Alamos County Council, Pongratz last held public office in 2007.
    Recently, Pongratz has worked with the youth of Los Alamos as a member of the Los Alamos Kiwanis Club, The Los Alamos Health Council, the Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation and other organizations.

    Some of Pongratz’s testimony to council Monday involved the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s recent management and operations contract, awarded to the nonprofit group Triad National Security LLC, and how the change would affect Los Alamos County.

    The council candidates were asked by councilors about which issue or issues the candidates would like to see county council focus on in the next six months.

    “I think the answer is pretty clear, the budget and the impact of the new LANL contract,” Pongratz answered.

  • ‘Hoping for a breakthrough’

    BY DAVE MENICUCCI
    Special to the Monitor

    A two-year agreement has been reached for the improvement and use of a pond in the Jemez Mountains for fishing events dedicated to mobility limited anglers.

    The anglers who will participate include disabled and infirm people, wounded veterans, many seniors and anyone who has limited ability to walk.

    The agreement was signed June 8 between Dennis Trujillo, a land and pond owner in La Cueva, and Dustin Berg, chief executive officer of Global Opportunities Unlimited, a non-profit corporation in Bernalillo that is dedicated to helping mobility limited people enjoy outdoor activities.

    The pond is on the west side of Highway126, about six-tenths of a mile north of NM 4. The deal paves the way for

    Trujillo and Global to share equally the costs to improve access to the pond, especially for anglers in wheelchairs or who use walkers.

    According to the terms of the deal, made public at the signing ceremony, Global will be allowed to exclusively use the pond on a regular basis for both youth and adult mobility fishing events.

  • New Mexico medical marijuana board short of members to meet

    SANTA FE (AP) — New Mexico's medical marijuana advisory board had to cancel a May meeting to consider recommending program changes because it lacked enough members.

    The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board hasn't had a full roster of members for years and that its membership recently dropped to two members, one short of the three needed for a quorum.

    The canceled May meeting was one of two the panel holds annually to consider possible changes such as adding new health conditions that allow patients to qualify to use medical marijuana.

    The Health Department said it was working with the New Mexico Medical Society to recruit new members and reviewing applications for three vacancies.

    The department said it anticipates the board will meet again in early summer.
     

  • New Mexico feels the heat as June temperatures rise

    ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — National weather forecasters have issued a heat advisory for parts of southern New Mexico, saying more triple-digit temperatures were expected across the region.

    New Mexico is coming off of its third warmest May on record as climate predictions for June show greater than average chances that the state will see above average temperatures again this month.

    In Las Cruces, officials on Monday closed Municipal Court early because of a lack of air conditioning. They reported that temperatures inside the building were between 85 and 90 degrees and were expected to rise as the day progressed.

    All hearings set for the afternoon were being rescheduled.
     

  • Police Beat 6-10-18

    Police Beat items are compiled from public information contained in Los Alamos Police Department records. Charges or citations listed in Police Beat do not imply innocence or guilt. The Los Alamos Police Department uses the term “arrest” to define anyone who has been physically arrested, served a court summons, or issued a citation.

    May 24
    11:32 a.m. – Rebecca Renee Ward, 18 was booked into L.A. County jail for careless driving and property damage. She was later released.

    12:17 a.m. – Los Alamos police issued a citation/summons for simple domestic battery.

    May 26
    3:56 p.m. – Paul Joseph Springfield, 44, was booked into the L.A. County jail on a misdemeanor warrant from another jurisdiction. He was later released on an $819 bond.

    May 30
    2:02 p.m. – Los Alamos police responded to a domestic violence call of an argument between a parent and child that was reported by a third party after the fact. No charges were filed and the case is inactive.
    10:34 p.m. – Los Alamos police responded to an aggravated assault charge. The case is still active.

    May 31

  • Triad’s non-profit status leaves county with questions

    Questions still remain following the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Friday announcement of the new management and operations contract for the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

    One of the biggest questions for Los Alamos County officials was Triad National Security LLC’s tax status.

    University of California spokesman Stephanie Beechem said the consortium would not release further details on the contract until the contractor’s transition period begins.

    “Until the DOE/NNSA issues an official notice to proceed, Triad LLC isn’t sharing any further details about our group’s proposal,” Beechem said.

    Whatever happens, the contract is expected to produce less income to the county, as the NNSA reduced LANL’s 3 percent performance fee to 1 percent in its annual $2.5 billion management and operations contract.

    Los Alamos County Manager Harry Burgess said it was not clear to the county if Triad National Security would be taxed on its gross receipts, even though it appears to be a non-profit.

    New Mexico tax laws exempt non-profits from gross receipts tax. If Triad National Security is structured as a non-profit, Los Alamos County may lose an estimated $21 million a year in gross receipts tax revenue. The state also stands to lose about $23 million in gross receipts taxes.

  • Former LAHS baseball star named Freshman All-American at UNM

    Connor Mang of Los Alamos was certainly the brightest of bright spots among UNM baseball’s freshman class. This week, he was officially recognized as such, as Collegiate Baseball named Mang to its Freshman All-America team.

    He is UNM’s 10th Freshman All-American since the 2008 season, and the fifth since 2015.  He is the first UNM Collegiate Baseball All-American as a first baseman since D.J. Peterson in 2011.

    Overall, Mang hit .326 over 48 games with 10 doubles, three triples, two homers and 27 RBI.  His batting average was second on the team, and he was tied for third in doubles and RBI.  He had 15 multi-hit games including eight three-hit games and he ended the season with an 11-game on-base streak.

    Mang opened the season as UNM’s third baseman before moving to second.  He moved to first base during the fifth weekend of the season and made himself a home there, solidifying UNM’s defense and giving the Lobos some corner pop with his bat.  Despite having not previously played the position, he committed just one error all season at first.

  • Atomic Tumblers compete at Xcel Region 3 Championships

    The Los Alamos Atomic Tumblers traveled to Galveston, Texas during the weekend of May 18 to compete in the Xcel Region 3 USA Gymnastics championships. All seven states (New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, Arkansas, Wyoming, Kansas and Oklahoma) were represented.

    There were 1,076 gymnasts competing in 14 sessions throughout the weekend.  There were 16 judges representing all seven states as well.

    In the Diamond Division competition, there were 77 competitors, and only one session.  Hannah Gram finished seventh in the seniors’ division with 36.725. Gram took sixth place on vault (9.25), bars (9.075), and floor (9.475).  

    She earned the last medal with a tenth place finish on beam (9.475). Brianna Fryer placed ninth in the junior’s division on her half twist on, full twist off vault with 9.25.  Chantel Bibeault also placed ninth on vault in the younger division with a half on, full off, scoring 9.225. Kayli Lincoln qualified but was unable to attend.

  • ‘Gay wedding cake’ ruling won’t resolve religious freedom issues

    The U.S. Supreme Court has issued its long-anticipated ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. In a 7-2 decision, the justices sided with a Denver bakery owner who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. 

    The couple took the case to court in 2012 after the Christian baker turned down their business. A lower court ruled the baker violated Colorado’s public accommodations law, which forbids discrimination by businesses serving the public, including on the basis of sexual orientation.

    In the majority opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that Colorado officials “showed evidence of a clear and impermissible hostility toward the sincere religious beliefs” of the baker. 

  • State program helps businesses clear loan collateral gap

    Joshua Grassham recognized a novel approach to supporting small business financing when he saw one. The vice president of commercial lending at Lea County State Bank in Hobbs was the first New Mexico banker to secure a client’s loan through a new state program to help collateral-poor businesses.

    The New Mexico Economic Development Department (EDD) introduced the Credit Enhancement Program (CEP) earlier this year as a way to help businesses, especially startups, by purchasing short-term certificates of deposit that businesses can use as collateral for larger loans. 

    Grassham closed his first loan in February on behalf of a longtime customer who wanted to start his own business serving the oil and gas industry. The customer had good credit and a sound business plan, but he lacked sufficient collateral to support his startup loan. The CEP loan bridged that gap.

    Grassham has two more CEP loans in the pipeline – one for a new restaurant and the other for a senior care facility.

    Temporary support