Local News

Get Ready for Higher Water Rates in Inyo County

Water rates are changing for Lone Pine, Independence, and Laws.

County Administrative Officer, Clint Quilter, 1st District Supervisor Dan Totheroh, 4th District Supervisor Mark Tilemans, and 5th District Supervisor Matt Kingsley were in attendance at Wednesday’s water rates workshop along with Mike Errante and Chris Cash from the Public Works Department to field questions on the proposed rate changes.

“The water system needs attention.” Public Works Director, Mike Errante told a concerned group of citizens on Wednesday night. “We are falling way behind on improvements, and this is a way to catch up.”

County officials stated that the rate increase will reflect costs of delivery of water rather than the actual water itself.

Deputy Director of Public Works, Chris Cash discussed how getting water from the source to homes and businesses is not as simple as one may be led to believe, noting issues with pressure, purification, equipment, delivery methods, staffing, and adequate quality.

After Errante and Cash were finished answering questions, they introduced Vice President of public utility consulting firm, Raftelis, Sanjay Gaur. Gaur began the PowerPoint presentation highlighting the nature of water systems, fees and taxes, the current financial plan, and proposed rates and billing.

Gaur discussed how the Inyo County water system does not pay for its water, however, they pay for the ability to use water to 24/7. Additionally, water is not taxed in California, but is treated as a service from the county to the public.

According to Gaur’s presentation, Inyo County’s revenue from water systems equates to an average of $370,164 per year. While their total operating budget for fiscal year 2018 is $436,588 which equates to a loss of -$66,424 for that year. Gaur argued that each year the system is not renovated using the aforementioned numbers, the net loss over five years is projected to reach -$176,229.

However, with the increased water rates, the county’s total capital improvement plan would be increased by $150,000 each year after 2021. Having a capital improvement plan will allow Inyo to build up a budget for necessary projects such as renovating the water system.

Two scenarios were proposed at the meeting to assuage the county’s lack of funds, with both equating to the same amount of money being added to the water system. The first scenario would have an up-front water bill increase of 30%, with the rest of the increase going up 10% each year until 2024. Scenario two, which is the one the county promoted more to the audience has a 50% increase in rates starting in 2020, then in 2021 it would increase by 10%, and afterward the bill would increase by 5% each year until 2024.

Scenario one would increase most residential water bills from the current quoted rate of $28.38 then move up to $38.45 in 2020. At the end of this rate increase cycle, most residential units will be paying $56.31 by 2024.

Scenario two would see an extreme jump of $44.36 per month for most residential properties during the first year. After the initial hike, the rates would moderately increase until they reach $56.51 per month in 2024.

On top of the already high bills residents will be paying, those who live in Independence can expect a surcharge of $6.34 per month to help make up the difference of an emergency water line that was installed. The cost of that line was $150,000 and the proposed rates will help pay off the county’s loan.

According to the PowerPoint regarding excess water usage, “Independence, Lone Pine, and Laws each have a water use threshold.If water is pumped above the threshold, there is an additional cost from LADWP.”

The water rate alteration is the first significant change for this utility since 2004. After the five year span of raising the rates, don’t expect them to go down. When asked by an individual in the crowd about a potential decrease in utility payments, Sanjay Gaur was quick to shoot the notion down saying, “No, the rates will stay the same after 2024 but they will not go down. The Golden Gate Bridge is constantly being painted. A water system is just like that in the sense that there is constant maintenance and upkeep.”

Inyo County Commercial Cannabis Application Window Set to Reopen

Inyo County Agricultural Commissioner Nate Reade announced that the county will again be accepting applications to operate cannabis businesses within the unincorporated portions of Inyo County beginning on June 10, 2019. The license application window will remain open to potential business owners at least until August 9, 2019. Once the application window closes, scoring of applications will occur with a final determination made by the Inyo County Board of Supervisors at a public meeting. Application fees will remain $2,711.89. License fees, which will be charged if an applicant is successful, are set at $8,850.00. A list of available license types by licensing zone is posted on the both the Inyo County and Inyo County Agricultural Commissioner’s websites.

The business license is one component necessary for a cannabis business to be legal in Inyo County, the other being a conditional use permit for the property where the business activities will occur. Interested individuals can find more information at the Inyo County website, www.inyocounty.us, or at the Inyo/Mono Counties Agricultural Commissioner’s site at www.inyomonoagriculture.com

Every Senior for 2019 Class Set to Graduate in KIBS Coverage Area

Graduation season is here in the Eastern Sierra and West and South Central Nevada. With all of the schools saying goodbye to the class of 2019, parents can be proud of the numbers.

Bishop Union High School will be seeing 122 students receiving diplomas, with no seniors ineligible to walk. The valedictorian of of Bishop High School will be Ariana Pope, who is scheduled to study at the University of Nevada, Reno.

As for south of KIBS/KBOV studios, Big Pine High School will see their class of five seniors walk, with the top student of the class, Cassandra Meza also attending University of Nevada, Reno.

Owens Valley School will have their two seniors walk on June 6th, with Steven Mather being crowned as Valedictorian.

Lone Pine have sixteen seniors slated to graduate depending on how finals go, with the valedictorian still undecided.

Up north in Mono County, Lee Vining will see six graduates walk with two co-valedictorians. The two girls atop the class are Caelen McQuilkin, and Sophia McKee.

Mammoth High School will see ninety-nine seniors graduate, which is one of their largest classes ever. The valedictorian is Guy Laborde.

Over in Tonopah, Nevada, the senior class has already graduated. Thirty-eight students walked with no seniors ineligible to receive their diplomas. The valedictorian for Tonopah High School is Delaney Friel. Currently, she is undecided as to where she will attend college.

Lastly, Round Mountain High School had thirteen graduates walk last week.

Congratulations to the class of 2019!

Bishop Entrepreneur Arrested on Felony Charges

A prominent figure in the bishop community was arrested Friday night

Forty-four year old entrepreneur, Aaron Schat was arrested on charges of felony stalking, battery on a spouse, and first degree felony robbery.

Schat was arrested and then released the next day after making his $50,000 bail.

Mr. Schat is the owner of two successful restaurants in town as well as an electronics store.

KIBS/KBOV will provide more updates on this story as they are provided.

This information has been confirmed by the Bishop Police Department, and Inyo County Crime Graphics.

Bishop Massacre Foothill to Win the Championship

A Trojan Horse entered through the gates of Troy Tuesday afternoon as the Bishop Broncos slaughtered the Foothill Trojans to take the CIF Division VI Championship.

However, this Trojan war didn’t last nearly as long as the one featured in ancient mythology. Instead of a war which lasted for ten years, it seemed like this one lasted for ten minutes.

Playing the role of the Greeks were the Bishop Broncos, who caught their opposition by surprise when they scored nine runs in the first inning, which ended the game before it had even begun.

Braeden Gillem got a lead-off double, which put him in scoring position. Michael Kubiak was then walked and now Bishop had two on base, setting up the perfect opportunity for the next batter to drive a few runs in.

Senior, Cal Omohundro hit a two RBI double his first time at the plate, giving the Broncos a 2-0 lead early.

The next player to get a piece of the action was Jalen Watterson, who knocked in a few more runs, which made it 4-0 with nobody out.

As the inning dragged on for the Trojans, they finally got two outs, and just when it felt like they were going to find a way to salvage part of the first inning, they loaded the bases for Michael Kubiak.

Uh oh…

Kubiak crushed Sal Peru’s ball to dead center field, which kept traveling until it reached it’s final destination at 350 feet. The senior hit a grand slam, after launching one out of the park in the last week against Lindsay.

The first inning finally came to a close and the Broncos had a 9-0 lead.

Playing the role of Odysseus in this game was Cal Omohundro, who had 7 RBI’s in the championship. When it was the big guy’s turn for his second at-bat, he obliterated a ball to left-center field for a three run home run, which gave the Broncos a 15-0  lead.

The innings continued, and more runs were piled on until the game finally ended 25-2. The margin of victory was the second largest the Broncos had all season, with the first being a 25-1 win against the lowly California City Ravens, who finished second to last in the High Desert League.

As for Foothill, the championship game was the worst defeat they have suffered all year.

Bishop finished their season with an 18-4 overall record and are the 2019 CIF Central Section Division VI Champions.

 

Photos courtesy of Gary Young Photography

Mono County DA Arrest Alleged Child Sexual Predator

On May 16, 2019, Mono County District Attorney Investigators,with the assistance of Mammoth Lakes Police Department,arrested Jorge Romero Espitia for 19 felony charges, including alleged sexual acts with minors and providing methamphetamine to minors. He is currently in custody with bail set at $500,000.

There is reason to believe there may be other victims. If you or someone you know has information concerning Mr. Espitia and potential sexual acts with minors or furnishing illegal drugs to minors please contact Mono County District Attorney Chief Investigator Chris Callinan directly at 760-858-2127.

You may also walk in during normal business hours to the Mammoth Lakes branch of the District Attorney’s office located in the Sierra Center Mall at 452 Old Mammoth Road.

Suspect Wanted by Authorities After Possible Kidnapping in Bishop

Authorities are looking for a possible kidnapping suspect in the Bishop Area. At 12:46 PM on May 16, a 911 call was received to report a dispute between a male and female at the Arco in Bishop on South Main Street.

A Hispanic male and Hispanic female were screaming at each other, and after arguing, the male suspect was seen by witnesses dragging the female into what was reported as a white Ford Pickup truck with two Pitbulls in the back.

The male was also seen reaching into his waistband, but witnesses could not identify a weapon.

A few minutes later, a second report came into dispatch stating that the female jumped out of the car on Barlow and West Line Streets to escape the male. The driver then chased the female with the pickup truck, which was reported this time as a White Chevy Truck.

The California Highway Patrol, Bishop Police Department, and Inyo County Sheriff’s Department are all investigating this matter and looking for the Hispanic male suspect.

High Winds Rip Down Trees and Turnover Semi-Truck

A wind prohibition for trucks was issued at 12:22 PM on May 16 after sustained 40 mile per hour winds with gusts as high as 80 miles per hour.

Originally, the prohibition existed from Bishop to Lone Pine by a CHP Officer in the area, but it was determined necessary to implement the ban all the way down to Pearsonville.

There has been damage to trees along the entire corridor, as well as damage to vehicles.

One vehicle which sustained major damage was a semi-truck driving in the Fort Independence Travel Plaza area. The sixteen-wheeler sustained a large amount of destruction to the front side after it overturned on the shoulder of the road. The vehicle’s hood was torn off after the accident.

According to Bishop Area CHP, no injuries were sustained during the rollover.

Bishop Redeem Themselves and Advance to the Championship

Payback was the meal of the day the Broncos served up to the Lindsay Cardinals in a rematch of last year’s CIF Central Section Division 6 Final on Wednesday. Bishop beat Lindsay 13-3. The team will surely give a big thanks to their star shortstop, Michael Kubiak, who hit a 3 run homer and had 5 total RBI.

Things did not start well for Bishop. Ace Selters walked Julio Godoy to start the game, then hit the next batter. With runners on first and second, Ryan Scheufele for a two-RBI double for the Cardinals, which gave them a two run lead in the top of the first inning.

However, instead of capitulating, the Broncos responded with a fantastic first inning, scoring four runs. Cardinals starting pitcher, Aaron Macias had a nightmare of a game and lasted just one-third inning before he was pulled after surrendering three runs. Up next was Julio Godoy for Lindsay, who walked a run in, making it 4-2 Bishop.

The good times kept rolling for the Bishop, as Michael Kubiak crushed a ball into deep left field for a three run shot to make it 8-3.

Kubiak enthusiastically flexed as he rounded the bases to meet the entire team at home plate.

The next time the senior visited the plate, he nearly hit a grand-slam. Lindsay’s left fielder was tracking the ball all the way to the warning track in nearly the same spot Kubiak hit his home run. Luckily for Lindsay, the Bronco’s meal didn’t turn into a feast.

Ace Selters finished his day after three innings, and Landon Kruse came in to ensure a Bronco victory.

The game ended, and the crowd rose to their feet in applause as they watched the championship-bound Broncos exchange handshakes with the team who stopped them from winning the previous year.

Coach Omohundro will hope that his team’s hunger, which has translated to a 10-game winning streak will carry over into the final against Foothill from Bakersfield, CA on Saturday.

 

Photos by Gary Young Photography

Murder Suspect Arrested in Lone Pine

Sheriff’s detectives arrest man for the murder of his roommate.

At about 9:52 AM on May 12, 2019, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Communication Center received information indicating that  Cameron Lykins had admitted to killing his roommate and discarding the body. This led deputies to respond to a residence in the 1100 block of Meyer Road. Upon arrival, deputies discovered a bloody scene consistent with a homicide, but no victim. Lykins’ roommate, Houston Auer, also could not be found. Further investigation led to
information that Lykins killed Auer during a disturbance that occurred at the residence during the early morning hours. Lykins then removed the victim’s body from the scene.

At about 1:00 PM, law enforcement officers from the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office and the California Highway Patrol located Lykins in the City of Lone Pine. Lykins vehicle was also located and it contained evidence confirming that Lykins had used the vehicle to transport the victim’s body away from the crime scene.

Ventura County Sheriff’s detectives went to Lone Pine and arrested Lykins for murder. Lykins was transported back to Ventura County and booked into custody at the Pre-Trial Detention Facility. Lykins is scheduled to appear in Ventura County Superior Court on May 14, 2019. His bail is set at $2,000,000.00.

Though there is sufficient evidence to conclude the victim did not survive the attack, Lykins has not cooperated in locating the victim’s body. Attached are photographs of Lykins and his vehicle. Anyone with information about this crime, or who believes they may have seen Lykins or his vehicle, described as a silver Nissan Frontier truck bearing the license plate number Ca. 39077S1, between the hours of 1:00 AM and 9:50 AM on May 12, 2019, is asked to contact Sergeant Carlos Macias at (805) 384-4761.