Local News


The Caltrans annual litter pickup day is this week.

Posted by Seth Conners

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is joining forces with California Highway Patrol, City of Bishop, County of Inyo and volunteers Thursday, April 13th for the annual California Statewide Litter Collection, Enforcement and Beautification Day in an effort to increase public awareness on the volume and cost associated with removing trash along state highways.

According to Florene Trainor at Caltrans, litter in California is an ongoing problem, which results in significant economic, social, and environmental costs.  Litter is aesthetically displeasing, presents a range of threats to human and ecologic health, and affects the quality of life for the citizens throughout California.  Litter increases the risk of personal injury to our employees, the threat of fire by discarded cigarettes along the State Highway System, the spread of diseases in our communities, and can threaten wildlife and pollute California’s waterways.  These impacts are real.

Last year, Caltrans spent $76.5 million on litter removal throughout the State Highway System.  Almost 153,000 cubic yards of litter (about 9,562 garbage trucks) were collected and disposed.

Maintenance crews will be picking up litter in counties serviced by Caltrans District 9 on Thursday, April 13th and also on Thursday, April 20th.  Residents in Inyo, Mono and eastern Kern counties will see crews working on highways and freeways throughout the day removing litter and debris discarded by the public. Highway message boards will remind motorists “Don’t Trash California.”  Please be attentive of extra workers on the highway picking up trash and remember to “Slow for the Cone Zone.”

The public can help by participating in the Caltrans Adopt-A-Highway (AAH) Program.   The Adopt-A-Highway Program provides an avenue for individuals, organizations, or businesses to help maintain sections of roadside within California’s State Highway System.  More than 120,000 Californians have cleaned and enhanced over 15,000 shoulder-miles of roadside.  Participation allows the public to adopt sections of highway for beautification projects, such as litter removal, vegetation control, graffiti removal, and tree and shrub planting. 

For more information on the Caltrans Adopt-A-Highway Program, please visit www.adopt-a-highway.dot.ca.gov or call Tom Scott, District 9 Adopt-A-Highway coordinator, at (760) 872-5202.


Toiyabe Bishop Clinic grand opening to be held this afternoon

Posted by Seth Conners

According to a press release from Sarena Johnson, the physicians and staff of Toiyabe Indian Health Project (TIHP) are pleased to announce the grand opening of their new clinic in Bishop, located at 250 See Vee Lane.
All community members are welcome to attend the ribbon cutting and open house which begins today at 2pm. Attendees can tour the clinic, meet the staff, and enjoy refreshments and entertainment.
“We are pleased to be able to expand the primary care services our communities need to stay healthy with this new facility,” says David Lent, CEO of TIHP. “We would like to thank the United States Department of Agriculture for our long-term low interest loan; and the Bishop Paiute Tribe for the lease of the land we will now occupy.”
The $17.5 million facility totals 55,000 square feet, offering medical, dental, optometry, pharmacy, behavioral health, public health, and preventive medicine services.
For more information about TIHP or to make an appointment, call 760-873-8464 or visit www.toiyabe.us.


Mono County on storm watch and urges public to be ready

Posted by Seth Conners

According to a press release from Ingrid Braun in Mono County, the predicted storm for Friday into Saturday is anticipated to bring an unusual late season “Atmospheric River” severe storm with the potential for significant flooding. Rivers, creeks, streams and poor drainages are of greatest concern.

The National Weather Service has issued both a Winter Storm Watch and a Flood Watch for Mono County. Current updates can always be found online at: http://mammothweather.com

Please take the time to prepare for the storm. Secure loose outdoor items, clear poor drainages and sandbag where necessary. If you need sandbags, they will be available at these Mono County locations: 

  • Tom’s Place (behind asphalt piles)
  • Long Valley Fire Department (behind station)
  • Benton Road Shop
  • Chalfant Fire Department
  • Lee Vining Road Shop
  • June Lake Community Center
  • Bridgeport Road Shop
  • Walker Road Shop

Sandbags will also be available at the Town of Mammoth Lakes yard at 299 Commerce.


Inyo County is losing a top employee

Posted by Seth Conners

According to a press release from the county, Jean Turner, longtime Director of Inyo County Health and Human Services, has announced she will be retiring in June after three decades with the department. She has served as HHS Director for the past 14 years.

Turner started her career with Inyo County in 1986 after vacationing in the area and deciding to relocate when the same position she held in another county – child welfare worker – opened up in the Inyo County Health and Human Services Department. She was soon promoted to a supervisor position, and by 1991 was named assistant director of the entire department. The Board of Supervisors appointed Turner as HHS Director in September 2003.

The current Board of Supervisors has enjoyed similar confidence in Turner and her ability to lead the largest and most complex department at the County of Inyo. The Board congratulates Turner on a well-deserved retirement and exceptional career, and also recognizes there will be some big shoes to fill in HHS.

“Jean embodies what a public servant is all about in dedicating her life to helping others improve their own,” Board Chair and Fourth District Supervisor Mark Tillemans said. “A Director who both manages effectively and works in the trenches with staff is someone who is difficult to replace and she will be sorely missed. Her retirement is well earned and we hope she’s able to enjoy it to the fullest.”

The County will undertake a nationwide recruitment for a new Health and Human Services Director beginning later this month.

As HHS Director, Turner currently oversees a staff that hovers at around 135 full- and part-time employees and is responsible for approximately 13 offices, clinics, and senior centers from Tecopa to Bishop, which are operated under the auspices of five separate divisions: Behavioral Health, Public Health and Prevention, Social Services, First 5, and Eastern Sierra Area Agency on Aging.

Through these divisions and numerous local, State and Federal programs, HHS administers a wide array of services throughout the second largest county in California, including but certainly not limited to flu shot clinics and HIV testing, foster care and WIC (Women, Infants and Children), adult and child protective services, senior center lunches and advocacy for the elderly, employment and public assistance, and substance abuse and mental health counseling.

Turner has herself worked in the trenches for almost 31 years to help deliver these services, in addition to overseeing the small army responsible for the social, mental, and physical welfare of thousands of residents – something that has earned her much respect and admiration. She has also earned praise for her ability to navigate the Department through the ever-shifting policies, funding silos, political landscapes, and scientific research that often mean radically adjusting if not altogether changing entire program structures and methods of service delivery.

“There are so many gifts Jean has brought to the County – her knowledge and experience combined with a brainpower matched by few,” said HHS Assistant Director Marilyn Mann. “Jean is a woman of integrity, honesty and intelligence.  Jean has this incredible ability to see the big picture issues on a broad scale and be able to connect the dots as it relates to the impact on our local community. She then takes that information and translates it into local policy and direction that not only helps ensure the highest quality of service to the public, but does so in a manner that is efficient and fiscally sound. These are the qualities I so admire about Jean in the work setting.  However, what means more to me is the gifts Jean has brought to me personally. She has been a caring and supportive friend to many in our workforce including me. I will truly miss working for and with Jean.”

The same admiration and gratitude holds true for many of the supervisors and staff in HHS, for whom Turner has ample praise herself.

“One of the things that eases my mind about retiring is I’m leaving behind a great team. They’re talented, they’ve got integrity, and an appropriate amount of righteous indignation when someone within the organization is not living up to accepted standards. These are people who take seriously the mission of their jobs – people who are passionate about the services they provide – and they want to get it right.”

Come June, Turner will be turning her focus from public service to her family and friends, playing “tour guide” to several visitors already lined up, spending more time with her son and his family, and visiting her 90-year-old mother on the East Coast.

She has no plans to the leave the area.

“These mountains are what drew me here to start with 31 years ago. As long as my body is able, I’ll be enjoying those mountains as long as I can.”



County completes new labor deals with three more employee groups

Posted by Seth Conners

According to a press release from the county, at a meeting on Tuesday April 4th, the Inyo County Board of Supervisors approved new salary and benefit packages with three more employee groups: the Inyo County Correctional Officers Association, Non-Represented Employees, and Management Employees.

The deals are similar to agreements reached over the last year with the County’s Law Enforcement Administrators Association, Deputy Sheriffs Association, and Elected Officials Assistants Association. The packages provide for cost of living adjustments of one-percent, one-percent and two-percent over the next three years, and elimination of a sick-leave buy-back program estimated to save the County tens of thousands of dollars a year while preserving employees’ sick leave benefits for illness.

“We did the math and saw the County’s offer was keeping us ahead of inflation since our last contract three years ago,” said Chris Connolly, President of the County’s Deputy Sheriffs Association. “We appreciated being able to get a contract done quickly and keep focused on serving the public.”

Dan Koontz, with Mastagni Holstedt, A.P.C., who represents the Inyo County Correctional Officers Association, as well as the Deputy Sheriff’s Association and the Inyo County Probation Peace Officers Association, said, “Would we have liked more? Sure we would. But the County’s offers were straightforward and fair.”

At a time when most public agencies have severely reduced employee benefit packages and required more cost-sharing, especially for pension and health insurance costs, the County has been able to maintain these benefits while providing wage increases that keep its workforce ahead of inflation.

“It was an easy negotiation” added Connolly. “Our members feel the County showed us respect and appreciation for the job we do serving the public.”

Today’s Board approvals mean the County has now completed labor negotiations with four of the five employee bargaining groups in the last year. The only remaining labor contract is for employees represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

The County’s offer to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees bargaining team includes the same 4 percent raise over three years accepted by the four other County employee groups and accepts nearly two dozen changes to the existing contract at the union’s request. However, to date, the local union leadership refuses to allow their members to vote on the contract.


Health Officer warns that flu season is not quite over

Posted by Seth Conners

According to County Health officer Richard Johnson, levels of flu-like activity continues to decrease both nationally and statewide, but the levels in Mono County, as measured by activity in the Sierra Park Clinics, continue above expected levels for this time of year (as of Saturday April 1st – not an April Fool’s joke!)

While the 2016-2017 influenza season has peaked, flu activity (https://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/index.htm) is still elevated in the U.S. and is expected to continue for several weeks.
We recommend a yearly fly vaccine (https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm) for everyone 6 months and older. This season’s flu vaccines (https://www.cdc.gov/flu/spotlights/flu-vaccine-reducing-risk.htm) are reducing risk of illness by nearly half.
Of note – there have been 61 influenza-associated deaths in children so far this flu season, and most of the deaths have been in unvaccinated kids. We routinely recommend that influenza vaccination continue as long as flu viruses are circulating.
We also recommend prompt treatment with influenza anti-viral drugs (https://www.cdc.gov/flu/antivirals/whatyoushould.htm) for people who are very sick with flu and people who are at high risk of flu complications who get flu.
Therefore, all current policies and orders remain in effect:

1. The masking requirement for healthcare workers who have not received this year’s seasonal influenza vaccine continues. We will re-evaluate this requirement at the beginning of each week.

2. All persons entering a healthcare facility with a cough should wear a mask, and be placed into a private exam room as soon as possible.

3. Staff should stay home if they are sick!

4. All persons with a respiratory illness should:
– cover their cough/sneeze
– wash hands frequently
– stay home from work or school
– seek medical advice early for the very young (less than 6 months of age), have chronic medical conditions, of are >65 years of age.
– begin to have trouble breathing, cannot keep fluids down and stay hydrated, or have fever lasting longer than 3-5 days

In addition, as we enter the season when flu is declining, and people begin spring activities, remember that a severe flu-like illness could be caused by the hantavirus!


Inyo County Sheriffs offer tips regarding recreating near waterways.

Posted by Seth Conners

According to a press release from Carma Roper at the Inyo County Sheriff’s office, Spring and Summer outdoor recreation often includes time spent near rivers and streams. With record high snowpack in the Sierra, and the associated snowmelt, waterways are likely to be at full capacity. There are serious safety concerns associated with swift water.
Consider these precautions for safe and responsible outdoor recreation:
• Stay on established trails or developed areas when you are near waterways
• DO NOT let children or pets in moving water, and keep a close watch on children and pets – even if they are far from water
• River and stream banks can be compromised by extreme erosion – keep a safe distance from these areas
• Wear properly fitting personal floatation for all river activities
• Keep updated on the conditions of your favorite waterways – river and stream condition information may be found at visitor centers and ranger stations
• Avoid slippery rocks and logs near rivers and streams
• Be aware and respectful of posted warning signs – these signs are there for your safety
• Never enter waterways that are upstream from a waterfall
• Stay up to date on local weather conditions
Heavy runoff requires vigilance and extra awareness. Streams and creeks that posed little danger during drought conditions can now be running full and fast. Water may look calm on the surface but heavy currents as well as debris can be a significant risk.
Water Safety is your responsibility, but with some practical preparedness you can enjoy a great season of safe outdoor recreation near local waterways.


Spruce, Yaney, Hanby Sidewalks Projects under review

Posted by Seth Conners

According to Bishop’s Public Works Department, formal public review is underway on the environmental document for the City of Bishop
Spruce, Yaney, Hanby Sidewalks project. Comments on the document are due 24 April
2017 and a public hearing is tentatively planned for the City Council meeting at 6 pm
that evening.
The Spruce, Hanby, Yaney Sidewalks project is proposed to construct sidewalks and bike
lanes on streets in and near the back of the Bishop City Park. The $1.2 million project would
construct sidewalks and bike lanes on Spruce Street, Hanby Avenue, and East Yaney
Street in and adjacent to the City Park. In addition to sidewalks and bike lanes, the project
would extend the existing paved path near the community garden (the Pine to Park Path) to
the new sidewalk proposed for Hanby Avenue. The project is funded through the state with
gas tax funds. The particular funds used for this project are dedicated to bike and
pedestrian improvements and can only be used for those purposes. A more complete
description of the project is included in the environmental document or is available from
city staff.
The environmental document is available at City Hall and on the city website at
http://www.cityofbishop.com/departments/planning/environmental-documents/ The
environmental document for the project identifies and evaluates potential impacts the
project could have on the natural and human environment and proposes mitigations. All
comments are welcome.
For more information contact City of Bishop Public Works at
publicworks@cityofbishop.com or 760-873-8458.


Twenty year payment plan selected to pay off massive debt

Posted by Seth Conners

According to a press release from the county, The Inyo County Board of Supervisors took proactive steps at a board meeting on Tuesday March 28th to address major, unavoidable employee cost increases that will confront the County in coming years.

The Board voted to select a 20-year amortization plan offered by CalPERS, the State of California’s manager of its employee pension and health benefits, in order to pay down $59 million in unfunded accrued liability for both miscellaneous and safety employees’ retirement plans. The Board also decided to make a lump-sum payment of nearly 4.5 million dollars on what is owed next Fiscal Year, rather than make monthly payments over the course of 12 months.

The decision to select the 20-year payment plan instead of the minimally required 30-year plan will save Inyo County taxpayers an estimated 14.5 million dollars in interest costs. The decision to make a lump sum payment instead of monthly payments will save the County $118,594  in next year’s budget.

Because of the way in which CalPERS structured the County’s payment options, the annual cost of the 20-year plan is only higher than the 30-year plan for the first five years; after five years, the 30-year plan would actually cost the County more each year.

Inyo County is one of hundreds of counties and cities throughout California that CalPERS will be billing for their estimated share of growing pension debt resulting from investment earnings falling short of forecasts. Estimates from January placed the unfunded liability at 139 billion dollars.


Cancer awareness fundraiser is part “Students Supporting Cancer Awareness” campaign

Posted by Seth Conners

According to a press release from Bishop Union High School, students of Bishop Union High School are hosting a fundraising carnival to support the ESCA (Eastern Sierra Cancer Alliance).  The community is invited to the family, fun event that will take place tonight from 5:30pm to 7:00pm in the mall at Bishop Union High School.


The Bishop Unified School District is running a district wide “Students Supporting Cancer Awareness” campaign from March 27th to April 7th.  During this 2 week period, students will have many fun and creative activities on each campus to help raise money and awareness for cancer.  All funds raised at the carnival will go towards Bishop Union High School’s contribution to the Eastern Sierra Cancer Alliance.  The ESCA is a grassroots, non-profit organization that helps many Inyo and Mono county residents by providing resources, financial aid, and gives moral support for those battling cancer.  


The carnival will feature a variety of classic games such as mini golf, frisbee toss, Nerf Gun shooting range, hoop shoot, ring toss, and football toss.  Prizes will include a photo-shoot with Mike McDermott, a photo-shoot with Steve Dutcher,  and Toys donated by J. Rousek Toy Company; a food booth will be hosted by the Bronco Booster Club.