BY CORY STYRON
Community Services Department Director
Los Alamos County
When considering the various integral county departments contributing to the quality of life we enjoy in Los Alamos County, the Community Services Department (CSD) might not be the first department that pops into your head. However, once you understand CSD’s full scope of services and programs, it is hard to imagine life here without it. We want to take this opportunity to share with you a brief introduction and overview of the divisions that make up CSD, as well as the broad range of resources available. Our mission is to enrich the lives of all our community members with a focus on art, history, culture, and recreation through the following divisions:
- Parks & Open Spaces;
- Social Services; and
- Centralized Services (administrative support and cultural programs and contracts).
Under our new Social Services director Jessica Strong, this team seeks to connect resources to those who may need assistance. Whether facing life challenges, basic food needs, family concerns, or companionship, Jessica’s employees can help. Staff collaborates closely with multiple partners in the community to provide an extensive and robust list of resources. Please ask for help. You can reach the Social Services team at 505-663-1875 for assistance and referral to additional services.
As guessed, the Recreation Division promotes, aids, and encourages public recreation. Recreation Superintendent Katherine Hudspeth and her team are gearing up for a busy spring and summer event season. The fan-favorite Los Alamos County Summer Concert Series, produced by Sancre Productions under contract with the County, kicks off with Billy Bob Thornton and the Boxsters on May 26. We are still looking for food vendors for the season. If you are interested, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Brendan Tuning at email@example.com, or call 505-663-1782 for more details. Our free Movies in the Park series starts shortly after on June 14, and will feature Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Be on the lookout for an exciting upgrade. And, of course, Los Alamos’ main event that bring science and history together, ScienceFest, is scheduled for July 7-18.
This Division also manages our three main recreational assets in the County: Los Alamos Golf Course, Los Alamos County Ice Rink, and the Aquatic Center with its new Leisure Lagoon. Take a few minutes to visit the websites for each facility and find out how to book your tee time or check the Leisure Lagoon schedule. Although the Ice Rink is closed for the season, the facility hosts Roller Skate Nights and Roller Derby events throughout the summer. Check out the Summer Activity Guide for programs and events for the whole family all season long. You can find Recreation online at www.lacnm.com/rec.
The Parks & Open Spaces Division, led by Parks Superintendent Wendy Parker, oversees, and maintains 45 parks and over 120 miles of developed trails, with a total of 6,175 acres of parks and open space throughout the county. Wendy’s Parks team is looking forward to the tennis season. Beginning June 1, 2023, they will begin renovation of the courts at Barranca Mesa, Myrtle, Piñon, and Rover parks. Did someone say pickleball? I am pleased to announce that the Myrtle Courts will be renovated for pickleball. Players can check the website for availability and call the Aquatics Center for reservations at (505)662-8170. Players will need their own pickleball rackets and balls at this time. Open Space Specialist, Eric Peterson is currently looking for volunteers to assist him in restoring trails throughout the county. You can sign up for the next event scheduled for May 20 to remove graffiti and restore the White Rock Canyon Rim Trail at the Kimberly Lane trailhead – www.volunteerlosalamos.org. Additional trails and events are added each month.
We are proud of the Los Alamos County Public Library System, and so is our community! In the most recent community survey, 96% rated our library services as good or excellent. Library Manager Gwen Kalavaza and her team of librarians aim to continue this momentum and are working to develop some great programs. Everyone who has lived in Los Alamos County for more than one month is encouraged to get a free Library Card. One card gives you access to both the Mesa Public Library and White Rock Branch Library, as well as wide variety of online resources. New self-service hold lockers are available at Mesa Public Library for cardholders to check out items placed on hold in a convenient, contact free method, with 24/7 access.
All community members are invited to participate in ongoing and special Public Library System programming for audiences of all ages and interests. Don’t miss the Wonders on Wheels mobile museum program August 2 or Atomicon 2023 August 5! Simply need a quiet place to work or study, with the bonus of being inspired by talented artists? Visit the Step Up Gallery on the third floor in Mesa Public Library. Don’t forget each library has meeting rooms available to reserve as well – call (505)662-8405. Behind the scenes, the library staff is also working on its biennial Strategic Plan. The team is seeking feedback from the community with several opportunities for input. Visit www.losalamoslibrary.org to learn more!
Last but not least is our Centralized Services Division. Led by Senior Management Analyst Tessa Jo Mascarenas, this division provides administrative support to the Community Services Department and oversees our cultural contracts. These contracts provide us with some of our favorite services, events, and attractions within Los Alamos County, such as the Los Alamos Nature Center, Los Alamos History Museum, Fuller Lodge Art Center, Teen Center, the Community Art Tunnel, Step Up Gallery, Cooperative Extension program, Pumpkin Glow, Arts & Crafts Fairs, Summer Concert Series, and more. Our cultural services provide diversity, opportunity and education to the community, while also supporting local non-profit organizations and programs. Learn more on the County website at www.losalamosnm.us – click on “cultural services” under “Services.”
Discover all the ways your quality of life is impacted by the divisions above and find new ways to get to know Los Alamos County and CSD more this summer. Try something new! Visit a facility you have not been to before. Attend a Friday night concert, hike a new-to-you trail with friends, or have a picnic in the park. Ask Social Services for help, refer a friend, or donate to a local food bank! The Los Alamos community is full of life and thriving, and CSD will continue to our mission to keep our quality of life high.
CSD is hiring! Find out how you can become a Lifeguard, start a career in our Public Library System, or join Parks or Recreation and spend the warmer months working outside. There are many exciting opportunities available now! Visit www.losalamosnm.us/jobs to see our current job openings.
Editor’s note: Cory Styron has been the Community Services Director for Los Alamos County for 2 1/2 years. Prior to that he served as the Director of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts for Hollywood, Florida. He also spent more than six years working on outdoor recreation for the City of Farmington.