All posts by Team

James Whitlock

James  Whitlock 1942 – 2016

Jim passed away on Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at Renown Hospital in Reno, NV. Jim was 73 yrs. old. Jim resided in Owens valley for over 35 years. The past 32 years with his wife Marilee.

Jim is preceded in death by his brother Larry Whitlock.
Jim is survived by his wife, Marilee Whitlock; brother and sister in law, Terry and Candace Whitlock; son and daughter-in-law Jim and Kimberly Whitlock; daughter and son-in- law Erin and Frank Lullo; daughter and daughter-in-law, Amy and Kerri Whitlock; daughter April Whitlock; step daughter and son-in-law Kimberly and Billy Pejsa; step daughter Melisa Whiting; grandsons, Keaton Lullo, Timothy Pejsa, Ryan Whitlock, and Jake Whitlock; granddaughters, Chelsea Lullo, Courtney Pejsa, Camryn Whitlock and Samantha Whitlock.

Graveside service will be May 31, 2016, @ 11:00am. Luncheon gathering @ Legion Hall, Directly following.

Whitlock Obit

Janna Owens

Janna Harnett (Cezon) Owens 1960-2016

Janna Harnett (Cezon) Owens, age 55, passed away on Saturday, May 21, 2016, in Reno, Nevada due to organ failure. Janna lived in the community of Paradise near Bishop, California.  Janna was born to Erin (Harnett) Cezon and Dan Mummert on September 28, 1960, in Hollywood, California. She moved to Mammoth Lakes at the age of eighteen, and later married the love of her life, Michael Owens, on April 29, 1983, in Sherman Oaks.

Janna was preceded in death by her mother, Erin Cezon; father, Dan Mummert; step-father, Rick Cezon; and brother, John Russel Swindells.  She is survived by her husband, Michael Owens of the community of Paradise; son and daughter-in-law, Jason and Genifer Owens of Big Pine; brother, Mark Cezon of Val Verde, California; and an aunt.

The family will have a private interment. Janna loved animals.  The family requests donations be made to the Whitmore Animal Shelter in lieu of flowers.


Inyo 150 Geologic Field Trip

Wagner leading Geologic Field Trip

May 31, 2016
submitted by David Woodruff

Friends of the Eastern California/Inyo 150 Geologic Field Trip
In collaboration with Inyo County’s Sesquicentennial celebration, the Friends of the Eastern California Museum (FECM) will be offering a special Field Trip, “Geologic Features of the Owens Valley.” The field trip will be conducted by Independence resident and noted geologist Dave Wagner on Saturday June 11th.

Dave Wagner is a retired field geologist for the California Geological Survey, where he worked for 38 years. He lives in Independence with his wife Lynn Johnson (a retired archaeologist). Dave & Lynn are both members of the FECM Board of Trustees.

The field trip will visit some of the major geologic features in the Owens Valley including the Alabama Hills, the Big Pine Volcanic Field, Owens Lake and alluvial fans. Participants will meet at the Lone Pine Interagency Visitor Center parking lot at 8:30 a.m. The cost is $25 per person, and $20 for members of the FECM. Bottled water will be available and bring hats and sunscreen. Car-pooling is encouraged.

The lunch stop will be at the Eastern California Museum. Box lunches will be available for purchase from the Owens Valley Growers Cooperative for $10. They’ll even deliver them to the museum.

The trip is limited to 35 people and is expected to sell out quickly. To sign up for the trip or for more information, please call the Eastern California Museum at (760) 878-0364.

Dave Wagner HR
Photo by David Woodruff

Family Emergency forces Michael Martin Murphey to cancel Mule Days Show

Martin Murphey out, Dave Stamey and others step in

May 26, 2016

Mule Days scrambles to fill void.
Comedian Frankie “Punkintown” Smith will open.
Fiddlin’ Pete Watercott, Neil Gelvin and Pete Charles will perform.
Dave Stamey will close tonight’s show.

Statement from Mule Days:

Michael Martin Murphey, country music headliner for Bishop Mule Days Celebration, has had to cancel his appearance tonight due to an unexpected and possibly devastating family emergency.

From  Michael:

“I have cancelled my show in Bishop, CA for Mule Days on May 26, 2016 because of a family emergency. My precious mother is critically ill and I am rushing to be by her side. I have been looking forward to performing at Mule Days again with great anticipation; I wish I could be there, but I will return to Bishop as soon as possible.

Just so you know, my mother sewed me Western shirts and kept me in jeans, boots and cowboy hats from the time I was a child. My Mom and Dad sent me to family ranches every summer so I could learn cowboy skills, even though we lived in the big city of Dallas, Texas. They encouraged me to work at a Christian youth camp called Sky Ranch in Lewisville, Texas when I was a teen, and there I first had a job singing cowboy songs around a campfire and teaching kids to ride a horse and outdoor skills.  They believed that the Western Way of Life is a great way to bring up kids. I owe my career as a singing cowboy from Texas to my mother and father, who loved the Lone Star State and what it stands for. They loved the cattle ranching culture.  Dad is gone now but Mom still encourages me to “keep it Western.” What America needs now, more than ever, is people like my Mom and Dad- city people who support country people in their stewardship of the world’s grasslands through responsible ranching. I know the show in Bishop is sold out; my deepest thanks to all my supporters. You can count on me to return to Bishop as soon as possible.  As my Dad, who was my business manager used to say, “We’ll make it work, son!” I know my Mom agrees.”

Our hearts and prayers go out to Mr. Murphey and his family in his hour of need.

However, the show must go on!

We have put together an equally entertaining and incredible concert tonight.  Warming up tonight’s concert audience with laughter is stand-up comedian Frankie “Punkintown” Smith, Christian Country Music Association Comedian of the Year.  You may know Frankie as Bishop Mule Days Arena Clown with his trick pony “Turbo” and his mule “Minnie Pearl”.  A highly sought after entertainer Bishop Mule Days is excited to present!

Bishop Local legend Fiddlin’ Pete Watercott, 2014 Best Friend of the Packers, will be performing with fellow local musicians Neil Gelvin and Pete Charles.  They will be playing foot-stomping fiddle-tunes along with heart moving ballads, set to American Poet Curly Fletcher, such as “Strawberry Roan”.  Fiddlin’ Pete is a world-class fiddler who has played along with Michael Martin Murphey and Ian Tyson.  This is sure to be a toe tapping, two-stepping good time!

Dave Stamey, 2015 Western Music Association Entertainer of the Year, will be delighting tonight’s crowd with soulful vocals and guitar strumming to all his famous melodies, as well as more favorites from his newly released album “Western Stories”. Dave Stamey, a past Best Friend of Mule Days recipient, is a phenomenal performer who will entertain tonight’s audience with his upbeat performance of music that transcends all generations of music lovers!

Any questions please visit the front gate ticket booth, thank you!


Bishop Mule Days, Michael Martin Murphey, Dave Stamey, Pete Watercott

Manzanar hosts Citizenship Ceremony

Manzanar Historic Site hosts Naturalization Ceremony

May 25, 2016
by Allie Wilder

Today a Naturalization Ceremony took place at Manzanar National Historic Site in observance of Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The ceremony was part of a partnership between U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the National Park Service to host 100 Naturalization Ceremonies in 100 National Parks and Monuments to celebrate the National Park Service’s Centennial.

Keynote speaker Honorable Paul M. Igasaki congratulated the 14 local new citizens saying that they “Have altered the American Story today by becoming part of it”.

Both Igasaki and longtime Manzanar volunteer, 2016 National Park Service enduring service award winner and former internee Saburo Sasaki noted that until 1952 only those of European ancestry were eligible for naturalization. Sasaki urged the new citizens to exercise their new rights as the privilege of becoming American citizens has not always been available to everyone.

Bernadette Johnson, superintendent of Manzanar National Historic Site noted that the story of Manzanar is “A story of the fragility of our constitutional rights” and that she hopes that this can become an annual event.

In her closing remarks Monica E. Toro from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services stated that making this an annual event will be their pleasure. The ceremony concluded with Voter Registration for the new citizens and a tour of Manzanar National Historic Site led by Saburo Sasaki.

The 14 new citizens taking their Oath of Allegiance. Photo by Allie Wilder
Manzanar national historic site, manzanar hosts citizenship ceremony, owens valley news

State Relaxes Water Restrictions

California removes water reduction requirement

May 25, 2016
submitted by the City of Bishop Public Works Department

The State of California has removed the requirement that City of Bishop water users reduce water use by 25%. While it removed this primary water conservation requirement, the state left other requirements in place. The state had implemented water conservation requirements last year in response to the drought. The state is relaxing some requirements due to more precipitation last winter.

To meet the 25% requirement, Bishop had limited watering to only between 5 pm and 9 am. Since the state has eliminated the 25% requirement and since City of Bishop water sources are relatively unaffected by the drought, City of Bishop water users are free to
water at any time during the day. Watering during cooler times would still be suggested because watering during those times is more efficient and probably better for your plants.
The state left the following water conservation requirements in place:

No outdoor irrigation such that water runs off irrigated area.

No outdoor irrigation during and within 48 hours after precipitation

No washing vehicles unless hose is fitted with a shut-off nozzle

No washing driveways, sidewalks, and parking areas

No decorative water features unless there is recirculation

Landscaping for new homes must follow state requirements

The city has a standing water conservation incentive program available to help its water customers save water. The program provides free hose nozzles, hose timers, and irrigation system timers and provides rebates for some sprinkler systems and water conserving appliances. The incentives are available only to water customers of the City of Bishop and are limited to one per customer account. Also, quantities of the free items are limited.

Also remember that landscaping needs less water now than in the heat of the summer. Tailor your watering to the needs of the plants and lawn to avoid over-watering. Saving water saves money, reduces water rates, protects groundwater, and is the right thing to do. Contact the City of Bishop Department of Public Works at  873-8458 for more information on water conservation and the City’s water system.

city of Bishop public works department, city of bishop, state of california water restrictions, drought 2016

Ernie Blunt

Ernest Blunt, 1931-2016

Ernest “Ernie” Albert Blunt, a resident of Bishop for 60 years, passed away on May 22rd at the age of 84.

Ernie Blunt was born on November 2, 1931 in Lone Pine, California. Ernie split his high school years between Owens Valley High School where he lettered in baseball, Glenns Ferry High School in Idaho, and Bishop High School. Throughout his youth, Ernie worked as a packer for the Parker Blunt Pack Station taking visitors on mule packing adventures into the mountains.

Ernie joined the United States Air Force in 1951 where he served until 1955 in England at the RAF Fairfield air base as a mechanic. He met and developed a courtship with Margaret “Peggy”Rose Price. He proposed to Peggy prior to his return to the United States. Although they planned to get married in England, paperwork held things up. They were married a month later on July 18, 1955, at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Bishop.

Ernie initially joined the California Department of Transportation (CALTRANS) in 1955. He left CALTRANS and went to work for Inyo County in their Engineering Department in 1956, but returned to CALTRANS in 1957 and worked as a Heavy Equipment Mechanic in Bishop. Ernie spent 34 years with CALTRANS and officially retired on December 30, 1991.

Ernie spent his retirement years deer hunting, fishing, camping, attending Mule Days activities and his favorite activity—garage sales. Prior to his wife Peggy’s death one year ago on Mule Days, Peggy and Ernie were “regulars” at every local yard sale. It is weirdly coincidental that both would pass within 24 hours of exactly one year apart. Both Ernie and Peggy were to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary last year.

Ernie is survived by: daughters Helen Waitkus of Bishop; and Mandy McCarthy of Rohnert Park, CA; grand-daughter Kelsey McCarthy of New York City; and grandsons Joseph Blunt of Wasco, Oregon and Jack McCarthy of Orange County, CA.

A funeral and a public celebration of life service are not planned at this time but may be held in the future. Instead of flowers, please consider a tax-deductible memorial donation to the American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).


Lone Pine Baseball falls to Santa Paula

Lone Pine High School Baseball drops 2nd round CIF Game

by Arnie Palu
May 25, 2016

The highly decorated Lone Pine senior class wrapped up their high school careers Tuesday with a 3-0 loss to Santa Paula in the CIF Southern Section division 6 baseball championships.  Lone Pine senior right pitcher Ryan Cappello went the distance on the hill limiting the Cardinals to 3 runs, but the Golden Eagle bats were silenced.  Coach Mike Button says the Lone Pine nine had a case of the at-em’s, noting the Golden Eagles put the ball in play, they just simply found it hard to locate gaps in the Santa Paula defense.

Coach Button thanked his assistant coaches Joe Cappello and Lamont Dawson and score keepers Krista Sullivan and Alicia Brice.  Coach also wants to thank team Mom Malissa Cappello for her efforts along with all the parents and fans for their support.

Lone Pine finishes the season runners up in the Desert Mountain League with a DML record of 10-4.  Desert Mountain League Champion Desert Christian (Lancaster) advanced in the Division 6 tournament.  The Knights will now battle Crean Lutheran in the round of 8.

Santa Paula is now the lone public school remaining in the Division 6 bracket.  Santa Paula has a total enrollment of approximately 1,600 students.  Lone Pine currently has 93 students enrolled.

cover photo by Lorenzo Parra.  Photo of Senior Ryan Cappello

lone pine high school, desert mountain league baseball, cif southern section, santa paula baseball

Citizenship Ceremony at Manzanar

USCIS Officers Travel to Manzanar To Swear in 14 Local People as U.S. Citizens

Submitted by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services

This is the First Naturalization Ceremony Held at Manzanar

FRESNO, Calif. – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will hold a swearing-in for 14 local people at Manzanar National Historic Site on May 25. Manzanar War Relocation Center was one of ten camps used during World War II to detain Japanese-Americans. USCIS chose this site in honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander month, observed during May. The ceremony also observes the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, which oversees the site, which is located six miles south of Independence.

Speaking on that day is the Honorable Paul M. Igasaki, Chair and Chief Judge of the Administrative Review Board at the U.S. Department of Labor. He came to the DOL in 2010 after stints with Equal Justice Works and the Rights Working Group. At the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for six years, he participated in the development of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Earlier, he’d been the executive director of the Asian Law Caucus.

USCIS invites new citizens and their families and friends to share the experience via Twitter using the hashtag #newUScitizen.

For information about USCIS and its programs, please visit or follow us on Twitter (@uscis), YouTube (/uscis) and the USCIS blog The Beacon.

WHEN: May 25, 11 a.m.

WHERE: Manzanar National Historic Site, NPS

5001 Highway 395

Independence, CA 93526

cover photo by Gary Young

Lecture on Hubble Telescope Set

Lecture on the Hubble Space Telescope

On Thursday June 9th at 5:30pm, Professor Daniel McIntosh will be giving a talk about the Hubble Space Telescope at the Bishop Campus of Cerro Coso Community College. The title of his talk will be “Hubble’s Legacy: Reflections on the Past, Present & Future of U.S. Astronomy”.

In April 1990, NASA launched the most well-known scientific instrument in history. As an astronomer and educator, Dr. McIntosh will discuss the scientific legacy of this great space observatory, describe who Edwin Hubble was and why the telescope was named after him. He will finish by examining the questions “how much did it cost to build the space observatory and was it worth it?”. The answers to these questions relate to the future of science in the U.S.

Dr. McIntosh is an Associate Professor of Physics & Astronomy at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He is an award-winning educator and an expert on the physical processes underlying the origins and growth of galaxies – a central feature of cosmic history. Dr. McIntosh has been involved with Hubble Space Telescope projects for over 15 years. He is Co-investigator of several major programs including CANDELS, the largest ever Hubble survey of distant galaxies. Professor McIntosh has co-authored over 60 publications based on Hubble Space Telescope data.