Community News

Watercott Ends 20 Years of Service to Northern Inyo Healthcare District

Pete Watercott will step down March 31st from the Northern Inyo Healthcare District’s Board of Directors after 20 years of service; the District announced Thursday morning.

Watercott, who has had a hand in everything from the development of the Rural Health Clinic, to the construction of the main two-story hospital, submitted his letter of resignation to his colleagues at Wednesday’s night regular board meeting.

The move gives the District 60 days to seek letters of interest, assemble a nomination committee, and conduct interviews before appointing a replacement. The person appointed shall hold office until the next general election scheduled 130 days or more after the date of Watercott’s resignation (November 2018). Watercott, whose term would have expired in November, represented Zone III, which consists of a large portion of the downtown Bishop area.

“It’s a good time to pass the baton,” Watercott said in an interview earlier this week. “When I first came on the board, my energy level was high. I had a lot to learn, and that was all part of it, but I think now somebody new could bring a lot of energy to the board and make a positive impact.”

Watercott acknowledges that many people see him as a keeper of NIHD’s institutional knowledge, but the five-term director scoffs at the idea that role is custom-made for him. “The past is important,” he said. “We always have to know where we came from, but the future is the most important direction. We always have to look forward and see where we can go.”

In 1998, Watercott found himself on the campaign trail after being recruited to run for the post by several then-hospital employees. Going door-to-door, he learned that healthcare issues ran deep in the community. “Over and over again, what I heard was there was no access to primary care,” Watercott recalled. “And it was not limited to any one segment of our population. Everyone was seemingly struggling with the same issue.”

Shortly after his election, the hospital and the County had the opportunity to work together to have Bishop designated as a Health Professional Shortage Area. That designation led the way for the creation of the Rural Health Clinic, a facility that now handles 28,000-plus visits per year.

“It was a huge deal for its time,” Watercott said. “Private practice physicians saw it as a way for the hospital to compete with them, and they had to be convinced that it would serve the community well. I do think it’s our biggest achievement in my time here for that reason; it solved an immediate community need.”

Watercott’s fondest memory from his term of service is the 2013 Grand Opening of the new two-story hospital. Having served as Board President throughout the years of construction, Watercott enjoyed the sense of accomplishment and admired the way the employees pulled together to face the challenges that inevitably came with a project of that size and scope.

“And in the end, we finally were able to say we did it – after so many times of trying,” he recalled. “When voters approved the bond issuance, it was like the communities were saying just how important the hospital was to them. There was no feeling quite like that.”

The challenges, as he points out, will continue to come. Physician recruitment will always be an issue. Keeping up with expensive technologies won’t be easy. Change is ever-present in health care.

“But overall when I look at what we’ve done, and think about it meeting-by-meeting, change takes a long time,” Watercott said. “It is incremental, but then when you look at it over the long term, the positive change happens when the leadership stays focused on achieving that.”

Watercott complimented current leadership’s focus on positive efforts. “It’s an exciting time to be involved with the District,” he said. “We’re providing so many services now – the high school clinic, expanded women’s health, infusion therapies, Same Day Care, and the CareShuttle, to name a few. We’ve talked about our involvement in the community, and how we can improve community health. I just feel like the opportunities are going to come up, and the District is going to be a significant player in advancing community health.”

He complimented Chief Executive Officer Kevin S. Flanigan, MD MBA, for the energy he brings to his leadership position. “I just feel that since Kevin came on board, the District is pointed in the right direction. The information and continuing education the board receives are the best they’ve ever been. Our budget planning is no longer simply built on what we spent last year. Now we’re building the budget to achieve our strategic goals for the District. All in all, the big winners in all this are the people we serve.”

While he is stepping down from the Board, Watercott is not stepping away from NIHD. He will continue to serve on the board of the NIHD Foundation, the fundraising arm of the District. He will also continue as a board member with the Inyo Council for the Arts and the Laws Railroad Museum.  The annual summertime Willow Street Neighborhood Party, in its 21st year, will continue to be hosted by Pete and his wife, Kathryn Erickson.  And, of course, you will see Pete just “fiddlin’ around.”

Yet, those first few post-resignation meeting nights won’t go unnoticed in Watercott’s heart.

“It’s been such an honor to be a part of the ‘one team’ at NIHD,” he said. “We call it ‘one team’ now, but in reality, it’s always been one team. Everyone from the physicians to the nursing staff, to all the support employees are compassionate and caring, and they want to provide great patient care. It’s been an amazing honor to have served on the board and had a hand in improving healthcare for our community.”


About Northern Inyo Healthcare District: Founded in 1946, Northern Inyo Healthcare District features a 25-bed critical access hospital, a 24-hour emergency department, a primary care rural health clinic, a diagnostic imaging center, and clinics specializing in women’s health, orthopedics, internal medicine, pediatrics and allergies, and general surgery. Continually striving to improve the health outcomes of those who rely on its services, Northern Inyo Healthcare District aims to improve our communities one life at a time. One team, one goal, your health.


2018 Blake Jones Trout Derby-Resounding Success!

The 50th edition of the Blake Jones Trout Derby is “in the books” and by all accounts, it was a resounding success! Nearly 700 anglers of all ages fished Pleasant Valley Reservoir and the Owens River near Bishop on March 17th vying for their share of more than $10,000 in prizes. More than 1,300 fish were weighed-in, with several lunkers over 5 pounds. It’s important to note that the Bishop Chamber of Commerce purchased more than 3,000 pounds of catchable rainbows from Desert Springs Trout Farm prior to the derby to make sure there would be plenty of fish to go around.

Prizes were awarded by a blind bogey raffle and this year’s target weight was 11 ounces. All participants with fish matching that weight were entered into a raffle and Dave Luther of Pilot Point, Texas was the big winner. He received a North Fork Outdoors Float Tube and a big package of fishing supplies. Other Blind Bogey prize recipients were Travis Cano and Albert Cano of Bishop, Isaac Gonzales of Lancaster, David Romano of Rialto and Morgan Causey of Santa Clarita. Cheyenne Yeager of Bishop brought in the biggest fish – a 9lb, 4oz monster. Brodie Banning of Bishop was thrilled to take home 1st place prize package in the kids’ blind bogey. Eric Stone of Bishop won the Dave Scadden Kayak raffle and Paul Garrison of Blue Jay, California won the commemorative quilt made from vintage Blake Jones Derby t-shirts. All in all, loads of anglers took home loads of great prizes!

While the Bishop Chamber is the proud organizer of the beloved annual event, it’s important to note that they rely on a solid group of volunteers to make it all happen. Special thanks to Steve Ivey, Bert Brown and Brown’s Supply for operating the PVR shuttle truck and thanks to ESTA for transporting anglers to and from the fairgrounds. Thanks to Vicki Simpson and Inyo County Community Work Service Program, Dan McElroy and crew from City of Bishop Parks & Recreation for all of the “heavy lifting.” Hal Reuter and his crew did a fantastic job weighing all the fish and the Chamber is ever-grateful for the many volunteers that helped with registration, check-in and raffles.

This year was the first year registration, weigh-in and awards ceremony were held at the Eastern Sierra Tri-County Fairgrounds and that proved to be great idea. “We heard many positive comments about the change,” explained April Leeson of the Bishop Chamber. “Plus, we were able to enhance the derby by including fly-tying demonstrations, informational displays, plus food and beverages provided by Billy Bob’s and the Bishop Lions Club. The fairgrounds staff was so helpful and the venue worked out really well.”

Many local and national businesses support the Blake Jones Derby by providing co-sponsorship funds and merchandise used for prizes. 2018 sponsors include: 5B Fishing Club, Aerohead Cycles, Alex Printing, Alpine Signs/The 395 Store, Amigo’s Restaurant, Anne Marie’s Home Boutique, Ashley Furniture, Back Alley Bowling Alley, Berkley, Bishop Automotive Center, Bishop Country Club, Bishop Heating & Air, Bishop Twin Theater, Bishop Veterinary Hospital, Blakemore TTI, Body & Soul, BP Distributing, Booya, Brown’s Town Campground, BUHS Ag Mechanics Class, CA Department of Fish & Wildlife, Carl’s Jr., CDF/Owens Valley Camp, City of Bishop, Comfort Inn, Community Printing, Convict Lake Resort, County of Inyo, Crowley Lake Fish Camp, Culver’s Sporting Goods, Dean’s Plumbing, Double Eagle Resort, Doug’s RV Storage, Dr. Slick, Eagle Claw, Eastern Sierra Propane, Eastern Sierra Realty, Eastern Sierra Transit/Dial-A-Ride, El Pollo Loco, Erick Schat’s Bakkery, Fish Taco Chronicles, Gillespie Distributing, Hendrix, High Country Lumber, Holy Smoke Texas BBQ, Home Lumber Company, Imperial Gourmet, Ingraham Trophies, Inyo Mono Title, The Inyo Register, Inyo Shell Y Mart, Keough’s Hot Springs, KIBS/KBOV RADIO, Kmart, KMMT/KRHV Radio, La Casita, Looney Bean, Los Angeles Dept of Water & Power, Robert Lowthorp, DDS, Macs Sporting Goods, Mammoth Mountain, Manor Market, McDonald’s, Meadow Farms Smokehouse, The Meat House, Mr. K Automotive, Mule Days Celebration, Northern Inyo Hospital, North Fork Outdoors, Our Water Works Car Wash, Paiute Palace Casino, Peter Tracy, Attorney At Law, Pintail Imaging, Pizza Factory, Preferred Septic & Disposal, Pure Fishing, Rainbow Meal Worms. Reagan’s Sporting Goods, Shimano, Sierra Maps, Sierra Wave Media, Simplicity Salon, Tom’s Place Resort, Turner’s Outdoors, Vagabond Inn, Vons, Woodruff, David & Gail, Wright & McGill.

The Bishop Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau is already looking forward to next year’s derby – mark your calendar for Saturday, March 16, 2019!


Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau

690 N. Main Street

Bishop, CA 93514


Two Vehicle Accident-CHP

The California Highway Patrol has released information regarding a two vehicle accident that occurred on Wednesday night.  According to the CHP, a 1978 Chevrolet Pickup driven by Benton resident, Elizabeth Copeland, was northbound on Fish Slough at a stated speed of 30 mph.  The road is not paved and was wet from recent rains.

A second pickup truck, driven by Benton resident Harold Race, was traveling southbound on Fish Slough Road at approximately 35 mph.  Elizabeth Copeland lost control of her truck and crossed over into the southbound portion of the roadway.  The front end of Copeland’s truck collided into the front of Harold Race’s truck.

Copeland complained of pain and Harold Race was transported to Northern Inyo Hospital.

The collision remains under investigation.  Alcohol use is suspected, but, it was determined not to be a primary cause of the collision.


Wildcare Eastern Sierra will hold their annual free Volunteer Orientation on Sunday, March 25, 1-3 PM. Wildcare depends on volunteers for help in caring for injured, orphaned and ill wild birds, mammals and reptiles. Every year, people of all ages give of their time and skills.

Some volunteers, like Kevin and Janice, help with rescues; Susie and Trina help with pickup and transport. Others, like Clara and Lynna, work directly with animal patients at the Wildcare Center. They may feed baby birds, clean flight cages, prepare diets. Still others, like Linda, help with WES’s education programs. More than 35 volunteers pitch in every fall for Wildcare’s annual “Wild Spirits” fundraiser. Dow helps with facility improvements and repairs; Elizabeth helps with the WES website and social media. Some long-time volunteers like Bert and Christina help with a wide assortment of tasks.

In short, volunteers play a key role in Wildcare Eastern Sierra’s mission of rescue, rehabilitation and release as well as in teaching the community about our wild neighbors and resolving human-animal conflicts.

Want to learn more about what WES’s volunteers do and how they do it? Think that you

might want to join them? On Sunday, March 25th, from 1-3 PM, our free orientation will be held in the Center at Keough’s Hot Springs. A tour, slide show and visit with Wildcare’s Wildlife Ambassadors (specially-permitted unreleasable animals) is included.

Don’t miss this opportunity to learn about Wildcare Eastern Sierra. Call now at 760-872-1487 and reserve a space for Wildcare’s free Volunteer Orientation.

Meet The Candidates

VFW Post 8988 invites the community to attend the 2018 County of Inyo Candidates Meet & Greet, Sunday, March 25th beginning at 9am.

There is no more important election that the one closest to home!! This is your chance to meet all of the Inyo County Candidates in one location.  Bring your concerns, ask questions and hear directly from the Candidates.  Breakfast will be available for a donation to the VFW Auxillary.

Blue Ribbon Fun Run & Walk/Cancer Awareness

Coming up this Saturday, March 24th, is the Blue Ribbon Fun Run & Walk 3k, 5k, and 10k.  The event will take place at Brown’s Town on South Highway 395.  Funds will benefit Eastern Sierra Cancer Alliance and is a reminder to get screened for Colon Cancer.

Advance registration will take place at the Northern Inyo Healthcare District Administration Breezeway on Wednesday from 11am-1pm.  You can also register online at

Registration will be held the day of the race from 7:30-8:30am. KIBS will be broadcasting live from 7am-9am to get you ready for the morning event. The Blue Ribbon Fun run & Walk is sponsored by Northern Inyo Healthcare District, Brown’s Supply, Eastern Sierra Cancer Alliance and Sage To Summit.

Call 760-873-5811 ext 2153 for more information.

Avalanche at Mammoth Ski Area

March 4, 2018


MAMMOTH MOUNTAIN, CA — At approximately 10:15AM on Saturday, March 3rd, Mammoth Mountain Ski Patrol was performing routine avalanche mitigation work in a closed area when a large avalanche released on the Climax ski run. The avalanche traveled down Upper Dry Creek and terminated at the bottom lift terminal of High Five Express [Chair 5]. The powder cloud from the avalanche extended about 100 meters into an area open to the public, where two guests were partially caught. Both were able to immediately free themselves without serious injury. Additionally, six employees working at the bottom of the closed lift were partially caught, but freed themselves quickly, suffering only minor injuries.


Ski Patrol was on scene with initial rescue efforts within moments, and search operations began immediately. Ski Patrol led a 6-hour search, which included the use of transceivers, RECCO, avalanche rescue dogs, and a manual probe search, all with no results reported. Nearly 200 employees, first responders and guests contributed to the effort on-hill.


Within minutes of the call, Mammoth initiated its emergency response protocols, and multiple agencies and resources responded. Mammoth extends a sincere thank you to all the guests, employees, and other first responders who immediately responded to the scene, as well as to the Mono County Sheriff’s Office, Mammoth Lakes Police Department, Mammoth Lakes Fire Department, Mono County Search and Rescue, Mono County Paramedics, California Highway Patrol, Mammoth Lakes CERT and Inyo County Search and Rescue, all of whom assisted with an overwhelming response.

A full investigation is underway.

Pleasant Fire Grows to 2250 Acres 15% Contained-Evacuations Remain In Place

The Pleasant Fire began around 2pm on Sunday afternoon, in the Pleasant Valley Campground area.

The fire is considered a Wildland fire with the cause still under investigation. Total acreage of the Pleasant Fire is now listed at 2250. The fire acreage has been updated due to more accurate mapping.

According to the latest information from Cal-Fire, there are 500 structures threatened.

Resources on the fire include 50 Engines, 20 Hand Crews, 4 Dozers and 400 personnel.

According to Cal-Fire, the lead agency working the Fire, significant winds Sunday, and today, have hampered firefighting efforts.

A Unified Command remains in place with Cal-Fire and the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office.

As the fire began to grow in size, Sunday, evacuation orders were initially put in place for the Five Bridges/Fish Slough areas. However, the high winds combined with the dry fuel, caused mandatory evacuations to be put in place for Highlands, Glenwood, Rite Aid Complex, Bear Creek, Meadow Creek, Dixon Lane and Laws.

The Pleasant Fire, quickly, grew from 100 acres        to 900 acres by Sunday evening.

An evacuation center was established at the Eastern Sierra Tri-County Fairgrounds. The number for the fairgrounds is 760-873-3588.

Per Inyo County Sheriff’s Office and Cal-Fire, the evacuation orders remain in place from Brockman lane to Highway 6 including Highlands, Glenwood, Chalkbluff, Meadowcreek areas, Pleasant Valley Campground and Pleasant Valley Reservoir. Officials will reevaluate at 4:00 pm today. 

Evacuees and displaced campers who require accessibility back to their homes or camp area to retrieve critical medications or essential supplies may connect with the Shelter Manager on duty at the Eastern Sierra Tri-County Fairgrounds, and, if law enforcement personnel is available they will be escorted to and from.

Road closures still in effect include Five Bridges, Pleasant valley Road including Pleasant Valley Campground and Reservoir.

Cooperating agencies on the fire include: CAL FIRE, Inyo/US Forest Service, California Highway Patrol, California Department of Corrections, CAL TRANS, Inyo County Sheriff’s Office, Mono County Sheriff’s Office, Bishop, Big Pine Fire, Independence, Lone Pine, Mammoth Lakes, Long Valley, Wheeler Crest, White Mtn, and, Chalfant Fire Departments, the Red Cross, DWP and SCE.



ENVER, CO, February 7, 2018Alterra Mountain Company announced the appointment of Rusty Gregory as Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Gregory is an investor in the company and has been a member of the Board of Directors since the company’s inception in August 2017. Mr. Gregory is an experienced travel industry executive and proven mountain resort innovator. His career in the ski industry spans 40 years starting as a lift operator at Mammoth Mountain in California where he rose through the ranks to become an owner and the company’s Chairman and CEO for over 20 years.

Mr. Gregory will focus on establishing the newly-formed Alterra Mountain Company’s culture and developing the growth, operating and guest service strategies for its platform of mountain destinations across North America, while leading its more than 20,000 employees.

“I’m thrilled to be leading the Alterra Mountain Company team in its formative years at such a pivotal time in the mountain destination industry. This is truly the opportunity of a lifetime: to work with so many highly respected industry leaders and some of the most iconic mountain destinations in North America,” said Rusty Gregory, Chief Executive Officer of Alterra Mountain Company. “Together we will create a highly performing enterprise by focusing on what’s important – our guests, our employees, and our mountain communities. We will build our business by enhancing and enriching the lives and experiences of each.”

“Since the formation of Alterra Mountain Company, Rusty has served as a Senior Strategic Advisor and has been instrumental in creating its vision and direction. He has played a crucial role in the creation and collaboration of the Ikon Pass,” said Eric Resnick, Chief Executive Officer of KSL Capital Partners. “He is a clear leader in the industry and a natural fit to lead Alterra Mountain Company into the future as well as execute on our promise to innovate while enhancing the unique nature of each of our destinations.”

 Last month, Alterra Mountain Company launched the Ikon Pass, a new pass product for the 2018-2019 winter season that combines the company’s 12 destinations with 11 partners from

six industry leaders – Aspen Skiing Company, Alta Ski Area, Boyne Resorts, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, POWDR, and Snowbird.

“With the Ikon Pass, we have created an unrivaled platform that offers one-of-a-kind mountain experiences under one pass, by combining our portfolio of 12 destinations with 11 iconic mountain destination partners across North America,” Gregory continued.

Mr. Gregory has experience in all facets of the ski industry and resort business, including time spent as a lift operator, equipment operator, lift maintenance and construction supervisor, ski instructor, heli-ski guide, Director of Human Resources and Chief Administrative Officer. He founded and operated Mammoth Heli-Ski in the 1980s, Mammoth Land and Development Company in the 1990s, and became an owner of Mammoth Mountain Ski Area in 1996. He engineered three sales of the company, increasing his ownership stake with each transaction.  Sixty percent of Mammoth Mountain was sold to Intrawest in 1996, and the entire enterprise was sold to Barry Sternlicht’s Starwood Capital Group LLC and co-investors David Bonderman of TPG and Jonathan Nelson of Providence Equity in 2005.

In September 2014, Mr. Gregory led the acquisition of Southern California’s largest and most popular ski and snowboard destination, Big Bear Mountain Resort, and created Mammoth Resorts, bringing Mammoth Mountain, June Mountain, Bear Mountain and Snow Summit under one umbrella.  He then led the July 2017 sale of Mammoth Resorts to Alterra Mountain Company.

Mr. Gregory is past Chairman of the National Ski Areas Association, Trustee of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team Foundation, and Trustee and past Vice Chairman of the Yosemite Conservancy. He was appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger as Commissioner of the California Travel and Tourism Commission where he served as CFO and Vice Chairman. He is also the Founder and Chairman of the University of California Santa Barbara’s Valentine Reserve Environmental Research Fund.

“We are happy to welcome Rusty to the helm of Alterra Mountain Company and look forward to our continued collaboration,” said Bill Crown, Alterra Mountain Company Board Member and Partner of Henry Crown and Company. “We thank Bryan Traficanti for his service and leadership as Interim Chief Executive Officer and are pleased to have his continued guidance as a Board Member.”

Gregory will be based out of Alterra Mountain Company’s headquarters in Denver, Co. Bryan Traficanti, interim CEO, will return to KSL Capital Partners, LLC as Head of Asset Management and remain a board member of Alterra Mountain Company.

Inyo / Mono Counties Hunter Education Course

Hunter Education programs have always taught beginning outdoor enthusiast the practice of firearm and hunting safety. Today, the Hunter Education program is more than just safety and is directed at more than just hunters. The program has been expanded to produce responsible, knowledgeable, and involved citizens – young men and women who understand the importance of complying with hunting laws and behaving ethically. The program teaches young outdoor enthusiast about the importance of wildlife management, and differences between preservation vs. conservation in wildlife management practices. Hunter Education strives to instill responsibility, improve skills, and knowledge. Responsible, ethical behavior and personal involvement are both essential to the survival of ethical hunting as well as wildlife conservation.

Inyo / Mono County Fish and Wildlife Officers will be offering a Home Study/Online Hunter Education course for the residents of Inyo / Mono Counties. The Home Study/Online course consists of two stages, the online study portion and a four hour follow-up class. The Home Study course allows you to study at your own pace.

If you are interested, you just need to log on to and take the class. A one time course fee of $24.95 will be charged only when you pass. A voucher showing completion of the online portion of the Hunter Education course will need to be presented to one of the listed Hunter Education follow-up classes which can be found on The California Department of Fish and Wildlife web site, at

The four hour follow-up class consists of two hours of review, one hour gun handling practical, and one hour to take the Hunter Education test. PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED for the four hour follow-up portion, only upon completion of the Online portion of the class. Registration cut off will be one week prior to the class. The follow-up classes offered in Inyo and Mono Counties will be as follows:

Inyo County – Saturday, March 17, 2018 from 1000 AM to 2:00 PM, at the Bishop Fire Training Center 960 Poleta Rd, Bishop CA, contact Warden Shane Dishion at (760) 920-7593