County Council To Hold Panel Discussion Tuesday On Mental Health, Substance Abuse and Homelessness In Los Alamos


Los Alamos County Councilor Morrie Pongratz. Photo by Maire O’Neill/


Los Alamos County Councilor Morrie Pongratz was inspired by comments made Nov. 13 at the regular Council meeting by local pastor Paul Jaramillo to ask for a panel discussion on Promoting a Healthy Community to be placed on the agenda for Tuesday’s Council meeting.

Pongratz told the Los Alamos Reporter Monday morning that Jaramillo recommended putting together a plan to address issues of mental health, substance abuse and homelessness in Los Alamos. He said a second trigger for him was when he attended the Youth Resiliency Committee, a subcommittee of the Community Health Council, where the changes in provision of support for youth over the past 20 to 30 years were discussed.

“We are doing a lot in the community but it’s not being touted,” he said. “We need more awareness and recognition of what’s being done. We have had a lot of success but there are still challenges.”

Pongratz said what is particularly depressing to him is the number of suicide attempts for female as outlined in the 2017 Youth Risk and Resiliency Survey for Los Alamos which he said indicated that suicide attempts for females were at 12 percent and that 7 percent of those were injured in the attempts.

Pongratz said that the County and Los Alamos Public Schools (LAPS) do have a plan.

“It is being funded, and it is being executed, but perhaps following a ‘Plan-Do-Study-Act’ sequence, it is time to ‘study’. Is the plan being implemented in an effective and efficient manner?” he said.

Pongratz said one of the Council’s community goals is to support LAPS which the County does by partnering with LAPS to provide funding for school projects as appropriate. He said the access the schools have to young people gives them powerful leverage to address youth health-issues. He mentioned the County’s fostering of the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board and the Teen Center as examples of how the County has been involved.

Panel members for Tuesday’s meeting are:

  • Christine Koblentz – Healthy Schools Initiative and Prevention Program Strategies and Results of the YRRS Survey
  • Los Alamos Police Chief Dino Sgambellone – LAPD Concerns
  • Donna Casados – Los Alamos County Social Services Division Efforts
  • Lisa Zuhn – Review of Juvenile Justice Advisory Board Efforts
  • Sylvan Argo – Los Alamos Teen Center – Impressions from Los Alamos Teen Center Vantage Point

The Council meeting will be in held in Council Chambers at the Los Alamos Municipal Building, 1000 Central Avenue. The community is encouraged to attend and the meeting will be televised.