Community News

Tonopah Man Murdered by Son-In-Law

In January 2019, Nye County Sherriff’s department issued a press release seeking information on James Dean Remster, who was reported missing on December 19, 2018.

As part of investigation, detectives went to Remster’s son in law’s residence, Jeremy Burch age 46 of Tonopah. Remster would frequently stay with his daughter and son-in-law at their residence.

Burch told detectives he had last seen Remster on December 3, 2018. He stated that he believed that Mr. Remster could be catching a bus to Tennessee.

On December 21, 2018 detectives received information that after detectives interviewed Burch, he and his wife had hastily left Tonopah and travelled to Amarillo, TX.

After numerous interviews, detectives identified early in January 2019 that Burch had told people he killed Mr. Remster and threw him in a mine shaft. Burch Allegedly told people that after killing Remster, he went to the bank and withdrew cash from Mr. Remster’s bank account. He was allegedly also in possession of Mr. Remster’s identification card and foodstamp card.

Through investigation and interviews, detectives were able to identify the mine shaft where Remster was.

On March 16, 2019 Nye County Sheriff’s Office Deputies and Detectives assisted by Washoe County Sheriff’s Office’s Rescue Mine Recovery Team located several blood-stained items of clothing in the mine and the body of Mr. Remster.

Burch was subsequently charged with open murder, burglary, obtain money under false pretense, use of credit card without consent, and destruction of evidence.

On March 17, 2019 Jeremy Burch was arrested in Amarillo, TX and booked into the Potter County Detention Center. He will be extradited to Pahrump in the coming days.

Tri-County Fairgrounds Win Bid to Continue Hosting High School Rodeo Finals

Last week, a trio consisting of Tri-County Fairgound’s CEO, Jen McGuire, Bishop City Mayor Jim Ellis, and Toggery Manager Justin Snyder ventured out to Plymouth, California to secure the rights to host the California High School State Rodeo Finals.

The group attended the annual Challenge of Champions Rodeo, where they subsequently plead their case to decision makers as to why Bishop is the perfect town to host the event.

At the event, Jen McGuire explained why she believes the city in the Eastern Sierra is the right place to host the contest. “Bishop is not only the best possible area for the event to take place, it’s the best possible experience.” Said the newly appointed CEO. “This town also provides visitors with an opportunity to go on a vacation.”

Decision-makers voted unanimously to approve Bishop as host of the High School Rodeo Finals until the year 2022.

The challenging city who also bid to host the event was Red Bluff, CA.

Red Bluff is a town in Tehama County with a population of 14,076. Before Bishop became the host of the contest, Red Bluff was the host city approximately ten years ago.

Death Valley National Park Gains Land and More

DEATH VALLEY, CA – The largest national park outside of Alaska just got bigger.  On March 12, President Trump signed public lands legislation that included several changes to Death Valley National Park.

The John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act (Public Law 116-9) transferred approximately 35,000 acres of land from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to the National Park Service. Already nearly the size of Connecticut, Death Valley National Park increased by about 1% to 3,422,024 acres.

One part of the transfer is a 6,369-acre lollipop-shaped section of land adjacent to the Big Pine – Death Valley Road in the northern part of the park. It includes the Crater Mine, a colorful former sulfur mine.

The 28,923-acre “Bowling Alley” is a long, narrow swath of land on the northern border of Fort Irwin National Training Center. This area includes a portion of the Quail Mountains.

About 93% of the park is designated as the Death Valley National Park Wilderness, which is the sixth-largest wilderness area in the nation and the largest outside of Alaska. The Dingell Act added 87,999 acres of wilderness in North Eureka Valley, Panamint Valley, Warm Springs, Ibex, Bowling Alley, and Axe Head.

The Act designated 5.3 miles of Surprise Canyon Creek as a Wild River. The wild river designation provides further protection to this rare desert creek and adjacent Panamint City, a 1870s silver mining ghost town.

The Dingell Act authorizes the operation and maintenance of the existing microwave telecommunications infrastructure on Mormon Peak. AT&T owns this facility, which has been in legal limbo since the land it sits on was designated as wilderness in 1994. With the exception of satellite connections, the Mormon Peak facility relays all land-line telephone, cell phone, and internet connections for Death Valley residents and visitors.

www.nps.gov/deva-

History Day a Huge Success in Inyo County

Inyo County’s History Day Contest was held on March 14th, 2019. Ten posters, four websites, one research paper and eleven exhibits covering a variety of topics captured this year’s contest theme of Triumph and Tragedy.

 

Students were judged on the historical quality, relation to theme, clarity of presentation, and compliance with NHD rules. They also participated in interviews, explaining the process they used to create their projects. The following students will be advancing to the state competition in May:

  • Ruby Randall, Bishop Elementary
  • Cora Van Nest, Kaki Saulque and Haiden Mull (group project), Home Street Middle School
  •   Mylee Patton, Lo Inyo Elementary School
  • Sierra Kingsford and Princess Luna (group project), Lo Inyo Elementary School
  • Stephanie Valdez and Jaciel Isidro (group project), Lo Inyo Elementary School
  • Garrett WIlkinson, Damian Kingsford and Noe Rivera (group project), Lone Pine High School

Thank you to coaches Dustin Ryan, Meghan Fuchs, Nadine Harry, Bob Heist, Megan Wilkinson, Sarah Civitano and Sarah Fogarty for working with their students to prepare them for the competition. In addition, ICOE would like to thank Ilissa Twomey, Lo Lyness, Mini Doonan and Kathy Zach for judging the event.

Congratulations to all student participants!

Search for Missing US Marine in Sierra Nevada Moves to Limited Continuous Mode

CENTRAL SIERRA NEVADA, Calif. March 16, 2019 – A massive multiagency search in the Sierra Nevada has been underway for more than a week to locate missing U.S. Marine Corps 1st Lt. Matthew Kraft, a 24-year-old man from Washington, Conn. Kraft set out on a solo ski and hike trip on Feb. 24 with an itinerary to complete the 195-mile Sierra High Route on March 4 or 5. Beginning today the search operation will transition into a limited continuous search status until Kraft is found.
On March 4, Kraft’s father contacted Mono County Sheriff after not hearing from his son. Mono County Sheriff’s Office began checking trail heads in the Bridgeport area that day. Cell phone forensics initiated by Mono County Sheriff showed that his last phone activity was in the Independence area, in Inyo County. Inyo County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue began a search on March 5. The evening of March 8, Kraft’s vehicle was located at the Grays Meadows campground above Independence, Calif.
Backcountry snow instability and weather issues, including high winds, have been a significant challenge for search crews. Both aerial and ground searches have identified avalanche activity, cornices, and snow bridges throughout the wilderness, including along the Sierra High Route. The search zone has been determined to be larger than the state of Rhode Island and consists of the 195-mile Sierra High Route as well as multiple points of potential exit.
Aerial reconnaissance and ground teams have been deployed to the search area; however to date there have been no substantiated clues that link Kraft to any particular search area.
Additionally, aircraft with thermal and night vision imagery capabilities have been flying the route and while several points of interest have been identified – all have been investigated and determined to be animal related. Search crews also employed RECCO technology, an electronic device to find people buried in an avalanche.
Search and rescue authorities have been unable to locate evidence of Kraft’s location along his planned route.
The Marine Corps, along with the other assisting agencies, will continue to stand by and support Kraft’s family, friends, and Marines during this difficult time.
Agencies assisting throughout this search include U.S. Marine Corps, Mono County Sheriff, Mono County Search and Rescue, Inyo County Sheriff, Inyo County Search and Rescue, Madera County Sheriff, Fresno County Sheriff, Tulare County Sheriff, Los Angeles County Sheriff, Sequoia and Kings National Parks, Yosemite National Park, CHP H-80, CHP H-40, Air National Guard, Sierra Madre Search and Rescue Team, Bay Area Mountain Rescue Unit, China Lake Naval Weapons Base, and California Office of Emergency Services.
This is the final news release about this search and rescue operation, unless new information becomes available.
Beginning Monday, March 18, InciWeb, the Incident Information System being used to relay regular updates will go into inactive status, meaning updates will no longer be posted, but the page will remain accessible to anyone wanting information about this search.
For more information about this search please visit: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6272/
If you were in the search area on or around Feb. 23, and you think you might have seen Kraft, please call 559-565-4286.

Diane Chonto’s Wild Burro Sanctuary Owner Charged With Felony Animal Cruelty

OLANCHA, CA. March 14, 2019 – Inyo County Animal Services conducted an inspection of Diane Chonto’s Wild Burro Sanctuary on Tuesday March 5. Animal Services officers witnessed approximately 160 burros, mules, horses and other livestock suffering from varying degrees of long-term neglect. Several animals had hooves so overgrown that they curled under and continued to grow backwards toward the hind legs; many were unable to stand, and reaching food and water was difficult.
On Tuesday March 11 Inyo County Sheriff’s Investigators and Deputies executed a search and seizure warrant at the Burro Sanctuary. An arrest warrant was served on Chonto and she was taken into custody and booked for felony animal cruelty.
Workers from the Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue from Texas assisted in relocating the animals to a regional care facility. Prior to transport all animals were checked by a veterinarian. The total number of relocated animals includes: nine horses, seven mules, and 150 donkeys. Additionally one cow, two mini donkeys, and one dog were relocated locally. Six burros needed to be euthanized.

Samantha Burns Places as a Finalist at State Poetry Out Loud Competition

Bishop, CA — Sophomore Samantha Burns, from Bishop Union High School, received the title of Inyo County Poetry Out Loud Champion, for the second year in a row, at the ninth annual county finals held in Bishop on February 6, 2019. The runner-up was Erik Martinez, from Owens Valley High School. Students from Bishop Union, Palisade Glacier, Owens Valley, and Keith Bright schools not only competed, but wowed the full house with their dramatic interpretations of both well-known and more obscure poetic works. ICA would like to thank these students, and their teachers, for participating in this powerful and popular program.

An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts and The Poetry Foundation, administered statewide by the California Arts Council, and locally by Inyo Council for the Arts, Poetry Out Loud encourages high school students to learn about poetry through memorization, performance, and competition. Participants master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life. Performances are judged on criteria including presence, evidence of understanding, dramatic performance, and accuracy. California’s Poetry Out Loud is the largest event of its kind in the U.S. and has grown steadily since its inception. The 2019 competition series encompasses 53 counties, 305 schools, and 730 teachers, reaching nearly 60,600 students statewide.

Burns proudly represented Inyo County at the California State Finals in Sacramento March 10th and 11th, making it to the final round of competition. She said, “I really loved being at the Poetry Out Loud State Competition. One of my favorite parts was listening to all the poems presented by the 51 other County champions. They were so inspiring and beautiful. I also liked meeting the other competitors and I made some new friends. We all supported each other. The hotel was very nice and so close to the Capital so we walked everyplace. A new activity was the group presentation of a poem we practiced to present to parents and teachers inside the Senate Chambers. We each had a seat in the Senate Chambers which was a rare opportunity. The entire event was so well organized and I was surprised at the amount of details and the amount of people to make this event happen. Dana Gioia, founder of Poetry Out Loud, was there and recited one of his poems, Pity the Beautiful, which I loved. It was wonderful being with such dedicated and talented people. I learned that it is difficult, frightening, and intense to recite poetry in front of judges and so many people but at the same time so thrilling and exciting.”

Lily Bogas of Tamalpais High School in Marin County took the title of California State Champion. Bogas, a devout drama student, explained the connection she feels between Poetry Out Loud and her love of the theater: “I find this opportunity of poetry recitation a really beautiful practice to just come back to yourself,
and speak from your soul, because in the end being sincere and true to yourself is really what people in the theater—and everywhere—crave to see in a performance,” she said.

Penny DellaPelle, a sophomore at San Luis Obispo High School in San Luis Obispo County, was runner-up and will represent California in the national finals in the event Bogas is unable to attend. Jackson Dean, a senior at Palm Valley School and repeat Riverside County champion, took third place.

Sonoma County champion Zoya Ahmed took first place in the newly added creative writing contest portion of the program, Poetry Ourselves. Included in the Poetry Out Loud contest on the national level since 2016, this year marks the first time California offered students the chance to submit original written works at the state level. Ahmed, a 16-year-old sophomore from Maria Carrillo High School in Sonoma County, delivered a rousing recitation of her original poem, “A Concerto of Spice.” County champions Ceiba Cummings of Yreka High School in Siskiyou County and Georgia Schreiner of Villanova Preparatory School in Ventura County tied as runners-up for their original works, “I Was Your World” and “Alphabet Soup.”

Bogas will go on to represent the state of California at the national finals in April in Washington, D.C. For more information about how to follow this exciting national competition, visit www.poetryoutloud.org

 

 

Alabama Hills National Scenic Area Signed Into Law

Lone Pine, CA (March 12, 2019) – The Alabama Hills Stewardship Group, along with dozens of area stakeholders and the community of Lone Pine are celebrating the passage of a congressional measure that will create the first ever “Alabama Hills National Scenic Area”!

All these years of community input has helped improve and strengthen both our stewardship efforts and this important legislation; as well as our coalition of support” stated Kevin Mazzu, board member of the Alabama Hills Stewardship Group (AHSG). “The heavy lifting was done early in the process; with several final enhancements – based on stakeholder feedback – helping the legislation reach the perfect balance between conservation and access”.

The Inyo County Board of Supervisors have also been enthusiastic in their support behind the bill, voting unanimously to endorse the legislation and traveling repeatedly to Washington DC to lobby for its passage. “We are excited to see the cooperation and
hard work of local stakeholders finally coming to fruition.” Matt Kingsley, 5th District – Inyo County Supervisor said.

The legislation states: “The purpose of the National Scenic Area is to conserve, protect, and enhance for the benefit, use, and enjoyment of present and futures generations the nationally significant scenic, cultural, geological, educational, biological, historical, recreational, cinematographic, and scientific resources”…With current recreational activities in the Alabama Hills allowed to continue: “including hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, sightseeing, horseback riding, hunting, fishing, and appropriate authorized motorized vehicle use”.

Friends of the Inyo, a local public lands advocacy group, has been a critical partner in this legislative journey, beginning with AHSG founding board member and current secretary for the FOI, Mike Prather. Mike wrote the initial legislation before handing it off to federal legislators, with most of his initial draft making it into the final legislation.

Friends of the Inyo worked closely with our local community [Alabama Hills Stewardship Group] to bring protection to the geologic wonder of the Alabama Hills”, said Mike Prather with Friends of the Inyo, “We saw that the future required more effective management in order to head off a slow decline in the area’s beauty.”

The Alabama Hills are the birthplace of the American Western film genre and the Act will also allow the continuation of commercial filming and still photography, as well as grazing on two BLM allotments; and recreational prospecting/rock hounding in the historic mining area. These were all “must haves” expressed by key stakeholders in the designation study process.

In addition, as a part of this Act there will be a corresponding land transfer between the Inyo National Forest, BLM and the local Lone Pine Paiute – Shoshone Reservation of 132 acres of culturally sensitive land, a portion of which will be within the NSA.: “After years of discussions with all interested parties, we are confident that a National Scenic Area is the best way to protect the Alabama Hills. Our Tribe is very excited about the landmark land transfer included in the legislation.” said Kathy Bancroft, AHSG President and Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Lone Pine Paiute – Shoshone Reservation. “This is the first time since 1939 that the Tribe has acquired any land, and we will finally take ownership of our own cemetery.”

Mike Johnston, President of the Eastern Sierra 4WD Club who have participated in several restoration projects in the Alabama Hills, adds: “It is important that the public has access to the many beautiful areas that Mother Nature provides us, such as the Alabama Hills. And it is just as important, that the public knows how to protect the land, as they enjoy it. This new designation should help provide a means to move in that direction, and we look forward to the implementation of this National Scenic Area.

Finally, the development of a comprehensive plan for the long-term management of the National Scenic Area shall be in consultation “with appropriate State, tribal, and local governmental entities, and members of the public” including all our key stakeholders.

The current bill is the culmination of a collaborative 10-year process led by the Alabama Hills Stewardship Group that gathered input from over 30 stakeholder and 40 different user groups. Feedback was received from a diversity of groups ranging from local government, conservation, chambers of commerce, local cattle ranchers, rock climbers and ATV riders.

This input helped direct the effort to explore a federally legislated designation and led to a final recommendation to designate 18,610 acres in the Alabama Hills, a National Scenic Area under the National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS), which will be the first-of-its-kind designation managed by the Bureau of Land Management. National Conservation Lands are the nation’s newest class of protected lands, established in 2000 to “conserve, protect, and restore…nationally significant landscapes that have outstanding cultural, ecological, and scientific values for the benefit of the public”. The BLM has been a supportive partner with the AHSG, the local Tribe and the Lone Pine community throughout their 12-year relationship. This designation will protect both the spectacular landscape and the various user groups’ access to the Alabama Hills.

Chris Langley, past president of the AHSG and current Inyo County Film Commissioner states “The Alabama Hills Stewardship Group appreciates Congressman Cook’s passion and commitment to serving his constituency in Inyo County. He has proven he can listen, learn and lead on issues that are important to conservation and our local economy. In addition, we are thankful that Senator Dianne Feinstein, has been an ardent sponsor of our legislation, since the beginning of our grassroots effort.”

 

Jack Johantgen Obituary

Jack Johantgen was born in Tulsa Oklahoma in 1932. He was the youngest of three sons born to Clara and John Robins Johantgen. Joseph and Robert his older siblings both served in the military and after Jack finished high school he moved with his parents to Prescott Arizona and followed his brother’s example by enlisting in the Navy. Jack served in the navy for three years on an aircraft carrier and went on to receive his degree in engineering from San Diego University.

Jack was married to his first wife Helen Lujan in 1955. They lived in Pasadena as well as San Diego while Jack was in the Navy and eventually settled in Ridgecrest California where Jack began a 30-plus year career at China Lake Weapons Center. Together they raised 7 children: Knud, Helen, Marie, Bess, John, Jeannie and Francis. They were blessed with 12 grandchildren Casey, Allison, Daniel, Richie, Stephen, Alexis, Angela, Remington, Marjorie, Amanda, Regan and Ali.

Jack was an electrical engineer and was recognized for his significant contributions to the Sidewinder short-range air-to-air and antiradiation missiles and radar warning receivers over his years of employment at China Lake. Johantgen, a supervisory electronics engineer who headed the Missile Guidance Branch in the Electronic Warfare Department’s RF Development Division was also is the program manager of the Antiradiation Projectile Program (ARP) for more than two decades at NWC. His notable contributions as a design engineer, system engineer, program manager and line manager were considered the forefront of technology, pushing forward the state-of-the-art and contributed to the outstanding recognition for the Naval Weapons Center as a leader in tactical weapons development.

Jack divorced and remarried his second wife Jeannie Smith in 2001. Through this marriage he was given a gift of 3 more children Shawn, Todd and Tracy; 10 grandchildren: Gavin, Chad, Lauren, Elias, Nicole, Amanda, Caleb, Cassandra, Katie, and Alex; 4 great-grandchildren Skylar, Grayson, Elyse, and Reegan.

Jack lived in Ridgecrest for over 30 years, he also lived in Mammoth Lakes and retired in Bishop with his wife Jeannie. Both were avid skiers and bicyclists. Jack traveled cross county on his bike at age 72. They enjoyed traveling throughout Europe, Mexico and Hawaii, many of their trips included bike tours and sailing. They loved opening their homes in the Sierras to family and friends and hosted many family holidays and celebrations.

Jack was long-term parishioner of Ridgecrest’s St. Ann Catholic Church, St Joseph in Mammoth and Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Bishop California and he served as a Catholic youth educator in both Mammoth and Bishop.

Jack Johantgen died peacefully in his home in Bishop California on Sunday March 10 surrounded by family. He was preceded in death by his brother Joseph Johantgen, his parents Clara Agnes and John Robins Johantgen; son Knud Neilson and daughter Marie Anne Johantgen.

Services:
Rosary is scheduled Friday March 15th at 3 PM at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Bishop California,
849 Home St. Bishop
Mass will be held Saturday March 16th at 11 AM at Our Lady of Perpetual Help
Reception immediately following the service at the home of Jack and Jeannie Johantgen at 3561 Majestic Way, Bishop
Graveside Service Monday March 18th at 1:30 in Ridgecrest at the Desert Memorial Park 801 S. San Bernardino County Line Rd.

Robert “Bruce” Cook Obituary

Robert “Bruce” Cook passed away peacefully at home on March 7th, 2019. Bruce was born on October 14, 1935 in Chouteau, Oklahoma and was the second oldest of four children. He was raised in Colton, California and met the love of his life, Nancy (nee Asmus) at UCLA; the two were married in 1958.

Bruce obtained his master’s degree from UCLA in 1961 with a secondary education teaching credential; additionally, he obtained a counseling and administrative credential. He taught in the Anaheim Union High School District for a total of 38 years where he also coached basketball football and track. During the summer months, he worked for the Coca Cola Bottling Company and Pacific Intermountain Express trucking company. He served in the US Army Reserve for over five years.

Bruce and Nancy retired to Bishop, California in September, 1999. Bruce enjoyed being in the outdoors, taking trips into the backcountry and fishing on the Owens river. He was Nancy’s number one fan and a big supporter of her horses. Bruce also enjoyed tracing his family’s European and Cherokee ancestry. Bruce will be missed.

He is preceded in death by his parents Roy and Alma Cook. He is survived by twin sons, Steven and Michael, grandchildren Edward, Yoshiaki, Samantha, Charles, Erika and Rebekah, and great-grandchildren Clark and Yolanda.

Services to be held at Brune Mortuary, Bishop, California at 11:00 am on Friday, March 15th with reception immediately following at Hidden Creeks Ranch. Internment to be determined at a later date. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to ICARE (Inyo County Animal Shelter).