Local News

Lake Mary Road Closed Due to Broken Water Main

BISHOP, Calif. — The Inyo National Forest will be closing an approximately one mile long portion of Lake Mary Road from the junction of the road to Pine City Campground (also known as “Around Lake Mary Road”) to Pokonobe Marina for up to four hours during the day on Wednesday July 3rd and from 8:00 a.m. on July 4th until emergency repairs to the water main and the road are complete.

“All of the Lakes Basin can still be accessed by taking the road Around Lake Mary,” stated Mammoth and Mono Lake District Ranger Gordon Martin. “We are hoping the repairs will be completed quickly but delays may extend beyond the Fourth of July depending on the extent of the problem.”

The water main below the road is broken and emergency repairs will require the road to be closed. Crews are working hard to make those repairs and reopen the road for the busy Fourth of July weekend, but schedules will be dependent on the extent of the damage, which is yet to be determined.

Please contact the Mammoth Lakes Welcome Center at (760) 924-5500 for the most updated information on road status or other needs this holiday weekend.

BLM Bishop Field Office Issues Seasonal Fire Restrictions

BISHOP, Calif. – The Bureau of Land Management Bishop Field Office has issued seasonal fire restrictions for BLM-managed public lands in the Eastern Sierra effective Monday, July 1, due to increased wildland fire danger in the region. The restrictions will remain in effect until November 1, or until wildland fire conditions on public lands in the region improve.

Fire officials estimate that nearly 90 percent of wildland fires affecting BLM-managed public lands in California during the last decade have been human caused. Individuals who spark wildfires, intentionally or unintentionally, may be held responsible for fire suppression and property damage costs. Officials encourage the public to be extremely careful when recreating outdoors, to carry a shovel and water at all times, and to check weather forecasts and fire danger conditions before leaving home.

The following restrictions will remain in place until the risk of wildland fire in the Eastern Sierra subsides:

  • No campfires, charcoal or wood barbeques, or similar open flame fires, except within a designated campsite with a fire ring or fire pit specifically provided for such use in the following developed campgrounds: Tuttle Creek Campground, Goodale Creek Campground, Horton Creek Campground, Crowley Lake Campground and Pleasant Valley Pit Campground. Portable stoves burning gas, jelled petroleum or pressurized liquid fuel are allowed outside of developed campgrounds when used in accordance with a valid California Campfire Permit, available free at all BLM, Forest Service and Cal Fire offices or at www.preventwildfireca.org/Permits.
  • No tools powered by internal combustion engines off established roads, trails or parking areas (such as chainsaws or lawn mowers).
  • No smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, or within the developed campgrounds listed above, or while stopped within an area at least five feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials.
  • No motorized vehicles off established roads, trails or parking areas.
  • Target shooters may not use incendiary, exploding, tracer, steel core or armor piercing ammunition. Shooting at steel or exploding targets that could emit sparks is not allowed. Target shooters must have a shovel or fire extinguisher on hand. Hunters may use steel shot and other non-lead ammunition as required by California State Law.
  • No fireworks, including “safe and sane” fireworks.
  • No welding or operating an acetylene or other torch with open flame, except by special permit.
  •  No use of explosives, except by special permit.

BLM-managed public lands subject to these fire restrictions extend from the southern Owens Valley in Inyo County, north to Topaz Lake and the Nevada border in Mono County. These fire restrictions also apply to popular BLM-managed recreational areas in the region including the Alabama Hills National Scenic Area, Inyo Mountains Wilderness, Volcanic Tableland, Long Valley, Adobe Valley, Mono Basin, Bodie Hills and Slinkard Valley. BLM seasonal fire restrictions for the Eastern Sierra Region are being implemented in close coordination with Cal Fire (https://www.facebook.com/1663811310523258/posts/2419842918253423?sfns=mo).

The BLM is committed to keeping public landscapes healthy and productive by working closely with cooperating agencies, neighboring communities, and public land visitors to prevent wildland fires. To learn how you can do your part to prevent wildland fires visit www.readyforwildfire.org. A listing of fire restrictions throughout BLM California is available at https://go.usa.gov/xmUEG. For specific questions, please contact the Bishop Field Office at 760-872-5000.

NIH Auxiliary continues to invest in healthcare community

For more than 56 years, the Northern Inyo Hospital Auxiliary members have invested their time, talent, and treasure in the health and well-being of the residents of the Northern Inyo Healthcare District. As the Auxiliary recently gathered to install its slate of officers for the 2019-2020 year, President Judy Fratella was pleased to share just how committed the small but mighty group is to the communities NIHD serves.

In the last year, the Auxiliary raised almost $14,000 for NIHD healthcare services. The group raises funds through its popular Holiday Craft Boutiques, community donations, and the operation of the hospital’s Gift Shop. These sales of handmade quilts, baby clothing, flower bouquets, and See’s Candy often make the difference between a good and great fiscal year for the group.

Leading the organization for the next year will be President Judy Fratella, Vice President Vivian Mitchel, Treasurer Sharon Moore, recording secretary Judy Speed Castleberry and corresponding secretary Carole Sample.

In the past year, the Auxiliary members gave 11,990 hours of their time to NIHD. That’s 3,937 hours more than the previous year. In all, the additional 11,990 brings the group’s official recorded hours since 1982 to a grand total of 215,406 hours.

President Fratella awarded service pins to those members who reached a milestone in their hours of service. Those members included:

Sharon Moore with a Lifetime Hours of Service total of 16,366

Nona Jones with 11,500 hours

Judy Fratella with 7,500 hours

Vivian Mitchell and Shirley Stone, each with 3,500 hours

Diane Remick with 3,000 hours

Betty Dickey and Cheryl Underhill, each with 2,500 hours

Jacque Johnston with 1,500 hours

Betty Buckle and June Shaw, each with 1,000 hours

Newer members Darla Cummings, Pat Flanagan, and Vicky Spear, each with their first 100 hours.

The purpose of the NIH Auxiliary is to render service to the hospital and its patients through ways approved or proposed by the Northern Inyo Healthcare District Board of Directors. Founded in the early 1960s, the Auxiliary has raised and donated more than $600,000 toward equipment purchases for the hospital.

This year the group purchased a $12,000 bladder scanner for the Perioperative Department. The Auxiliary also put $25,000 toward the STERIS Clarity System, a digital imaging system that enhances the clarity of photos and videos captured during surgery, allowing for improved post-operation reviews and follow-ups. In recent years, the Auxiliary has helped provide the Automated Breast Ultrasound machine for early breast cancer detection in women with dense breast tissue; and, a Mini Immunoassay Analyzer for the Laboratory which increased the ability to diagnose and treat bacterial infections. The group also purchased an electrocautery machine for the surgical suites; and, five bedside bassinettes which keep newborns within the mother’s natural reach after delivery.

Membership in the Auxiliary is open to men and women. President Fratella reminds everyone that all help is welcome and appreciated and that there are no prerequisites for membership. General meetings of the Auxiliary are held the third Wednesday of each month at 10 a.m. at the Birch Street Annex, 2957 Birch St., Bishop.

Anyone interested in making a financial donation, or interested in joining the Auxiliary, may call Sharon Moore at (760) 872-4198.

Inyo County Sheriff’s Office Recover Body in Panamint Valley

PANAMINT VALLEY/ DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK, June 25, 2019 – On June 18 at 2:40pm the Lone Pine Sheriff’s Substation had a walk-in report of an overdue hiker. According to the reporting party and camping companion, 85-year old Neil Malloch of San Francisco, CA hiked to the Defense Mine from their camp location near the Minietta Mine on June 17 around 2:30pm and had not returned.

 

The reporting party said that he strongly advised Malloch not to hike in triple digit weather; however, Malloch did not listen. Malloch did not return from the hike. The reporting party attempted to search along the trail the morning of June 18, but could not locate Malloch.

 

An aerial search was initiated on June 18 by the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office and was provided by the Civil Air Patrol. On June 19 search efforts were provided by Bureau of Land Management Desert District Rangers (out of Ridgecrest), and the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office. Aerial support on June 19 was provided by CHP-Inland Division Air Operations. Ground search efforts were difficult due to extreme heat.

 

On June 20, China Lake Naval Weapons Center helicopter VX-31 joined in the search operation. At about 5:30pm, China Lake VX-31 located the subject deceased in Thompson Canyon. Due to the terrain and time of day the VX-31 was unable to recover Malloch.

 

The morning of June 21 CHP- Inland Division Air Operation and Inyo County Sheriff’s personnel conducted a hoist operation and recovered Malloch. He was flown to the Lone Pine airport where the Lone Pine Coroner took custody of his remains.

 

Death Valley National Park has summer temperatures that are well over 100°F (38°C), and often exceed 120°F (49°C).

 

Mono County Seek to Mitigate Wildlife Deaths With Grant Money

The Mono County Board of Supervisors expressed support in their letter to Caltrans District 9, and encourage the transportation organization to apply for funding which would help mitigate wildlife deaths from vehicles.

Proposition 68 is an ordinance that provides organizations with funding to help reduce the amount vehicle collisions with animals across the state.

Currently, Caltrans District 9 is requesting $2,000,000 from the state to complete the environmental planning report. In total, the cost of completing the entire project is estimated to cost between $50,000,000-$70,000,000.

Most of the funding would go toward the seven mile stretch from Crowley Lake and the Mammoth Lakes turnoff. “The seven mile stretch of US Highway 395 from Crowley Lake Dr. to the Junction with state route 203 accounts for more than double the number of deceased deer removed by Caltrans Maintenance forces compared to any other seven mile stretch of US 395 within District 9. The letter from the supervisors went on to say “This [area] accounts for 43% of reported collisions for this area of US 395, the stretch of highway also contains the largest hotspot of deer collisions within the district.”

Not only did the supervisors express concern for deer crossing the corridor, they also noted the presence of other species including the Bi-State sage grouse. The letter says, “The areas along these roadways host significant wildlife habitat, supporting populations of resident and migratory species, including the Bi-State sage grouse which is proposed to be listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, and play a critical role for migrating mule deer in the spring and fall.”

In order to obtain the rest of the necessary funding, Mono County will seek money from other state and federal agencies. “If awarded, funding will also allow Caltrans District 9 and their partners to seek additional state and Federal Funding to support the completion of subsequent project development phases.”

Saline Valley Warm Springs Management Plan Update

Record of Decision for the Saline Valley Warm Springs Plan

DEATH VALLEY, CA – The National Park Service announces the availability of the Record of Decision (ROD) for the Saline Valley Warm Springs Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (plan/EIS). The Record of Decision outlines the agency’s actions for managing visitor use, natural resources, cultural resources, and facilities at this backcountry site.

The selected alternative will allow for the continued recreational use of the warm springs, while balancing the protection of natural resources and historic and ethnographic values. The selected alternative incorporates community engagement through Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with interested organized groups.

Saline Valley Warm Springs are located in a remote northwest corner of Death Valley National Park, 35 miles from the closest paved road. The springs have been important to the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe since time immemorial. Recreational users developed soaking tubs and art installations starting in the 1950s. The site was managed by the Bureau of Land Management until it was transferred to NPS with the California Desert Protection Act in 1994.

The NPS started working on a management plan for the site in 2012. Inyo County, the BLM, and the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe participated in the plan as cooperating agencies. Several organizations were heavily involved in providing comments, including the Saline Preservation Association and Recreation Aviation Foundation.

The National Park Service posted the completed Saline Valley Warm Springs plan/EIS on May 10. The Record of Decision is the formal approval of the plan and makes it effective as of June 14.

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 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