2015 Top Stories Of The Year

From left, Los Alamos County Council Chair Kristin Henderson, former Councilor Fran Berting, Los Alamos Historical Society Executive Director Heather McClenahan, Dr. Ben Neal, second from right, and at far right, Bandelier Superintendent Jason Lott join U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, and seated, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz at this morning’s signing ceremony, in Washington, D.C., to officially establish the Manhattan Project National Historical Park. Courtesy/NPS

MPNHP Field Team leader Arthur Knox wowed the crowd Tuesday at Fuller Lodge when he said, ‘This is our team’s third stop on the tour of the Manhattan Project National Historic Park sites … it is clear that we saved the best for last.’ Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

Staff Report

The story most likely to have the greatest impact on the Los Alamos community as a whole is the Manhattan Project National Historical Park (MPNHP) designation.

The designation occurred last December and the MPNHP Field Team comprised of representatives from the Department of Energy and National Park Service visited Los Alamos June 2-4. The three-day site visit included tours of historic buildings, as well as high-profile public and stakeholder meetings.

At the public meeting and reception at Fuller Lodge, National Park Service Deputy Regional Director Victor Knox wowed the crowd of some 300 people when he said, “This is our team’s third stop on the tour of the Manhattan Project National Historic Park sites … it is clear that we saved the best for last.”

Knox is the head of park planning, facilities and lands for the National Park Service and the lead on the MPNHP Field Team.

“The development of the atomic bomb by the Manhattan Project changed the history of the US and the world,” Knox said. “The story of the Manhattan Project is a complex story of incredible scientific achievement, unbelievable engineering accomplishments and of men and women who endured multiple hardships in secret to win the war.”

The use of the atomic bomb brought a swift end to WWII and horrific tragedies to the lives of the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Knox said, adding that the legacy of nuclear weapons and atomic energy continues to be debated worldwide to this day, as they are technologies that bring both tremendous benefits and risks to the world.

“The NPS is America’s storyteller. We tell the story of our country’s great triumphs as well as those things we aren’t so proud of such as slavery, Japanese internment in WWII and massacres of American Indians,” Knox said. “We are committed to telling the story in all its complexity and controversy and to each person who visits the park reach their own conclusions about the Manhattan project and the atomic age it started.”

Knox explained that the MPNHP will be a partnership park and in order for it to be successful, it will take the combined efforts of the NPS, DOE, local communities and preservation advocates.


Kurt Steinhaus Is New LAPS Superintendent

In March, the Los Alamos Board of Education selected voted to select Dr. Kurt Steinhaus as its new superintendent of schools.
Steinhaus shared his reaction with the Los Alamos Daily Post by telephone moments after receiving the news, saying “I want to thank the Board for following a very thoughtful and strategic search process … I’m looking forward to serving the Los Alamos Public Schools and the greater Los Alamos community.”
Steinhaus grew up in Los Alamos and was educated, kindergarten through master’s degree in New Mexico. He received his doctorate in computer science in education in Oregon, taking classes during the summers.
“My entire career has led to being superintendent in Los Alamos,” Steinhaus said. “I want to make a commitment to be there for a long time.”

At the awards banquet Thursday in Atlanta from left, CPSE Technical Advisor Gerard Kay, Deputy Chief Justin Grider, Fire Chief Troy Hughes, CFAI Commission Chair Steven Westermann, County Manager Harry Burgess, CPSE Technical Advisor Team Lead Gary Aleshire, IAFF President Bert Quintana and EMS Battalion Chief Ben Stone. Courtesy/LAFD

LAFD Earns International Accredited Agency Status


Affirming its ranking as one of the top fire service organizations in the world, the Los Alamos County Fire Department has earned International Accreditation – for the fourth time in its history.
The Commission on Fire Accreditation International unanimously approved LAFD for International Accreditation.
County Manager Harry Burgess, Fire Chief Troy Hughes, Deputy Fire Chief Justin Grider, LAFD Union President Bert Quintana and EMT Supervisor Ben Stone traveled to Atlanta to accept the award on behalf of the department. They received the award at a special ceremony in the Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel in downtown Atlanta.
Chief Hughes explained that the accreditation is a measure of the department in many ways such as how it treats its people and the service it provides to the community, County and Laboratory. He added that LAFD was one of the original fire departments in 1997 that was a beta site for the accreditation process when Doug MacDonald was fire chief.
“We’ve been able to maintain that excellence but it gets harder every time because they set the bar higher … but we’re up to the challenge and the plan is to continue to get better.”
Accreditation Manager Norma Jean Valdez was unable to attend in person but did participate in the hearing from Los Alamos.
“Norma is a key piece and most important person in this process but it takes everyone to make it happen,” Hughes said.
Technology played a role in the hearing process for the first time, he said, adding that, “staff members were able to get face time during the proceedings … and they cheered and toasted with apple cider when we received the accreditation. ” LAFD’s accreditation will remain in place for five years.

Police detectives confiscate guns, drugs, paraphernalia and cell  phones during Operation Genesis. Courtesy/LAPD

LAPD Makes Eight Arrests And Confiscate Guns, Cash, Drugs During Operation Genesis 

As part of Operation Genesis, Los Alamos Police Department detectives and specialized officers began executing warrants throughout Los Alamos and White Rock in January, arresting eight people and confiscating guns, cash, drugs, paraphernalia and cell phones.

Detectives also worked with undercover detectives from the Espanola Police Department and conducted joint operations within the Espanola city limits related to these cases. They obtained 10 arrest warrants and eight search warrants related to illegal narcotic sales. Additional arrests from this operation followed.

The detectives seized quantities of the following illicit drugs:
  • Methamphetamine;
  • Heroin;
  • Cocaine;
  • Controlled Prescription Medications;
  • Marijuana Wax; and
  • Marijuana. 
The LAPD’s Investigations Division has been investigating illegal narcotics trafficking and distributing cases since October of 2014 throughout Los Alamos County. The detectives and officers conducted hundreds of hours of surveillance and specialized investigations on local drug dealers.
Los Alamos Police Chief Dino Sgambellone stated, “Drugs are in every community. Law enforcement cannot arrest our way out of this problem. It takes a community effort to effectively reduce the demand and availability of illicit drugs. By focusing on awareness, education and prevention, we can make a difference. You will begin to see various meetings and projects in the coming months designed to do just that. I ask that you take the opportunity to get involved so that as a community we can reduce the negative effects of illicit drug use and drug trafficking.”
LANL’s 2015 Top 10 Science Stories
From supercomputers and climate modeling, to cybersecurity and cancer treatments, Los Alamos National Laboratory worked hard in 2015 to advance science that helps address many of the most pressing challenges.
“Our commitment to delivering science and technology for the public good is underscored by the range of this year’s list of top achievements,” said Alan Bishop, LANL’s principal associate director for science, technology and engineering. “We are proud to serve the country with our unique multidisciplinary capabilities, commitment to excellence and remarkable scientific talent.”        
One of the Lab’s top stories was Trinity to Trinity: From the first test of a nuclear weapon to a new supercomputer. In 1945, the first full-scale, real-world test of a nuclear weapon occurred at the Trinity nuclear test site in southern New Mexico, led by scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
 Now, 70 years later, Los Alamos is embarking on a new era of testing—without ever lighting a fuse. The new Trinity supercomputer at Los Alamos aims to do nuclear testing virtually and in 3D—allowing the U.S. to continue its commitment to the ban on nuclear testing while ensuring our nuclear stockpile is safe, secure and reliable.
This is Los Alamos’ newest contribution to a long legacy of supercomputing. Beginning with the Manhattan Project, a constant stream of increasingly significant, complex problems in nuclear weapons science demand timely solutions from larger and faster computers. The new Trinity supercomputer continues that journey.
Zia Realty Group Owner/Broker James Chrobocinski this morning with his sold sign outside the Hilltop House Hotel. Chrobocinski brokered the deal together with Terry Salazar to sell the hotel to Atomic City Investments. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost
Atomic City Investments Buys Hilltop House Hotel  
The Hilltop House Hotel at 400 Trinity Dr., in Los Alamos sold in July to Atomic City Investments. Atomic City Investments is comprised of members of the Sipapu Group, which took over management of Pajarito Mountain Ski Area last fall.
Owner/Broker James Chrobocinski together with Terry Salazar brokered the deal between Atomic City Investments and building owner Los Alamos National Bank (LANB).
“The Hilltop House Hotel is the gateway to our town and I think these are the perfect guys to own it and bring it back to life,” Chrobocinski said. “They are making a significant investment in our community and I’m really looking forward to the exciting results.”
The terms of the sale are undisclosed but Chrobocinski did say that the new owners plan to renovate the building and create a modern new boutique hotel.
The Hilltop House Hotel went into foreclosure in the fall of 2012. During a public auction in March 2013, LANB entered a cash bid of $2.9 million and successfully gained ownership of the hotel and adjacent gas station and convenience store, which have been shut down and up for sale ever since.
LANB CEO John Gulas addressed the hotel sale this afternoon with the Los Alamos Daily Post.
“We are excited that the Hilltop House will have a new future and wish the best to the new owners on their venture,” Gulas said.
The traditional striped legs for State, from left, Elise Koskelo, Sophia Galvez, Emily Mercer, Talia Dreicer, Marin Kelly, Paulina Burnside, Zoe Hemez, Nica Vasquez and Maddy Foley. Photo by Blake Wood

‘Topper Girls Win 7th Straight XC State Championship!

The Alamos High School Girls Cross Country team won their 7th State Championship in a row, putting four in the top-10 to accumulate only 27 points – 40 points less than 2nd place Albuquerque Academy. 

They had the best performance of the day across all classifications. The Toppers were lead by senior Talia Dreicer, who placed second individually in a time of 18:37 – the third fastest time of the day across all classifications.

Close behind Talia were seniors Sophia Galvez and Maddy Foley, and sophomore Zoe Hemez, in 3rd, 4th, and 6th places respectively – each earning All-State honors.

Freshman Marin Kelly rounded out the Topper scorers in 19th place, with Senior Nica Vasquez just one place behind in 20th. Freshman Paulina Burnside completed the Topper lineup in 41st place. Cross Country is scored by adding the places of the first five runners for each team, after taking out individual qualifiers whose teams did not score. Low score wins.