Community News

Starry Nights Arts Festival-Town of Tonopah August 26th beginning at 5pm.

DECEASED INMATE NAMED

District Attorney releases identity of Inyo County Jail inmate who passed away on Christmas Eve.

By Seth Conners

According to Inyo County District Attorney Tom Hardy, the inmate who passed away at the Inyo County Jail on December 24th, was 46 year old Theresa Hooper of Bishop.  Ms. Hooper had been serving a sentence for misdemeanor offenses at the time of her death.

An autopsy was conducted on December 30th, by a medical examiner from the office of the Orange County Coroner in Santa Ana, California.  The cause of death has not been established, pending the completion of toxicological tests.  Results from these tests may not be received for several weeks.  The medical examiner verbally reported to the District Attorney Investigator that there were no signs of physical trauma.

While the investigation remains ongoing, it still appears that no foul play was involved in MS. Hoopers tragic death.

Further updates will be provided when additional information is available.

FLOOD PREVENTION

Flood prevention tips from the Inyo Sheriffs Office.

Residents and business owners in Inyo County are encouraged to be proactive with respect to flood prevention.  Here are some helpful tips to prevent flooding:
Remove obstructions from waterways.
Clear ditches of all plants, rocks, and debris.
Clear overhanging vegetation from your waterways to ensure maximum flow.
Open pond outflow channels, and remove decorative rocks.
Clean all water screens, gutters, and drains…. And keep them clean.
Consider draining ponds or lowering levels.
Sand and sandbags locations:
Bishop Fire Station 1 (downtown Bishop) has sandbags available. Sand is available at the following Bishop locations:
Bishop City Park near the Senior Center,
Bishop Fire Station 3, See Vee Lane and Hwy 395,
Bishop Fire Station 2, West Line Street just north of Manor Market.

Also in the Owens Valley:
Big Pine Fire Station has bags and sand available,
Independence Fire Station has sandbags available; sand is located on Clay Street near the Sheriff’s Office,
Lone Pine Fire Station has sandbags available; sand is available at the Sand Trap on Whitney Portal Road, and
Olancha Fire Station also has bags and sand available.
Please note, bag and sand distribution are determined by weather. Additional sandbags can be purchased from local merchants (i.e. hardware stores).

To report flooding please contact the Sheriff’s Department at 760-878-0383. Be prepared to tell the Sheriff’s Dispatcher the exact location of the flooding and if the water threatens structures, animals, land or roadways. If water threatens human life dial 911! And always remember – if you see water crossing a roadway Turn Around, Don’t Drown!

LOCAL CONTROLLED BURNS

Pile burning continues in Inyo National Forest.

By Seth Conners

Photo courtesy of Inyo National Forest

Fire crews continued pile burning near Smokey Bear Flat on Tuesday.  According to Deb Sweizer at Inyo National Forest, crews were working with the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District to take advantage of favorable wind dispersal.  Crews were expected to complete up to 51 acres.  Since this burn unit is close to Highway 395, motorist should plan to see smoke in the area and should slow down for firefighters along the road corridor.

Also, weather and air quality conditions permitting, fire crews plan pile burning near June Lake and Mammoth Lakes today and tomorrow.

In June Lake crews will burn up to 5 acres between Fern Lake Trailhead and over to the Double Eagle Lodge.  If condition remain favorable, crews will also be looking to complete 4 acres of piles near the Peterson Tract.

In Mammoth Lakes crews will burn up to 164 acres of piles over the next 2 days along Sherwin Creek Road near the Sherwin Creek Campground.  Expect to see smoke from both June Lake and Mammoth Lakes, as well as along major roadways including Highways 395, 158, and 203.

The piles were created as part of a fuels reduction plan to remove ladder fuels that could carry fire from the forest floor up to the canopy.  The main focus is community protection from wild fires.

DANGEROUS WINDS

Big rigs blown over on highway 395.

By Seth Conners

High winds in the Owens Valley wreaked havoc Monday night for traffic on the 395.  Some time early Monday evening CHP reported, not one but, TWO big rigs blown over between Lone Pine and Olancha.  The accidents were caused by winds that were reported to have been up to 75 miles per hour.

Drivers were caution by CHP to be extremely careful on the roads as high winds continued to be a problem in the early week.  The winds were more dangerous today (Tuesday Jan, 3rd) north of Bishop.  A high wind prohibition for large vehicles was issued, starting just North of Bishop and spanned all the way to the Nevada State Line near Lake Topaz.

BISHOP CAR THEFT

Car stolen right off the repair line.

By Seth Conners

Photo courtesy of Bishop Police Department

On Friday night in Bishop, a blue Jeep Liberty was stolen from a local auto repair shop. A surveillance video captured the mans image as he stole the keys from inside the shops office.  Bishop Police were able to determine from the video that the suspect was a white male with dark hair, standing approximately 5 feet 10 inches tall, and weighing approximately 170 pounds.

After remaining at large for several days the suspect was captured and arrested in Lovelock Nevada.  The man was identified as 35 year old Michael Jason Ariola from New Hampshire.  There was some speculation within the community that this incident may have been linked to a recent burglary at High Country Market in Big Pine, but law enforcement does not believe that to be the case.

Friday nights theft was Bishops’ 2nd auto theft in less than a week.  A white Audi A4 was stolen on Christmas Eve.  The 2 incidents are not related.

LEE VINING ROCKFALL SAFETY PROJECT

Caltrans announces the completion of project near Mono Lake.

By Seth Conners

According to Florene Trainor at Caltrans, the Lee Vining Rockfall Safety Project which began two years ago was completed last week at a cost of $5.8 million dollars.

The project will improve safety for the traveling public by minimizing rocks falling from steep adjacent slopes onto US Highway 395 in Mono County, North of Lee Vining near Mono Lake.  The project also includes a plant establishment program on the six slopes involved to reduce erosion, establish healthy soil, and promote successful revegetation.

Stage 1 construction was completed in 2015. Stage 2 construction encompassed the slopes with the installation of anchored wire mesh.

Also completed within the same area is the $2.2 million dollar emergency construction project that was put in place July 12, 2016 due to the Marina Fire that which started on June 24th and burned 654 acres.  The emergency project repaired guardrail and installed a temporary rockfall fence.

The contractor for both projects was Papich Construction Co. Inc. from Pismo Beach California.

COUNTY GRANTS AVAILABLE

Deadline to apply is January 20th.

By Seth Conners

According to Jon Klusmire at Inyo County, the Inyo County Community Sponsorship Program is accepting grant application for the 2017 yearly competitive grant for events and projects sponsored by local non-profit groups that will be taking place in 2017. Just under $21,000 dollars is available in this years grant cycle.  The deadline for submitting applications, either on paper or digitally, is Friday January 20th.

The Inyo County Board of Supervisors revised the CPSP program for 2017 to create three separate types of grants:  Fishing Promotion, which funds four local fishing derbies and other events during the fishing season opener; Line Item Grants which fund well-established, ongoing promotional efforts or events; and Competitive Grants. The Competitive Grants can be used to fund a variety of projects, programs or events.  In general, the CPSP program is focused on helping local organizations promote activities and programs that brings visitors to the area, and also supports events and programs that enhance the cultural and recreational quality of life of the county’s residents.

The program guidelines and grant application forms can be reviewed, or downloaded by going on line at the Inyo County website.  Grant applications will be reviewed for completeness and eligibility. Those deemed complete and eligible will be forwarded to a review panel for evaluation, ranking and suggested funding levels.  The Board of Supervisors is expected to consider the review panels funding recommendations and make a final decision on the specific grant awards at the beginning of February.  For more information call 760 878 0258.

STAFF EXPANSION FOR NIHD CLINICS

Board of directors gives ok to expand local offices.

By Seth Conners

According to Barbara Laughon at NIHD, Northern Inyo Healthcare Districts board of directors unanimously approved additional support staff for the Rural Health an Pediatrics Clinics during its November 16th board meeting.  This expansion will improve efficiency at the clinics and allows NIHD to keep pace with recent growth at the clinics.

Dr. Kevin Flanigan, the districts CEO, said the move is an additional investment to improving patient access to health care.

Within the next six months, NIHD will hire up to four medical assistants, two registered nurses, plus a front office coordinator for the rural health clinic and an office/clinical coordinator for the Northern Inyo Associates Pediatrics Clinic.

Presently the two clinics, with a total of 13 providers, have between 20 to 24 support staff members at any given time, placing the clinics at roughly 60 percent of needed staffing.

Dr. Flanigan said not every position will be filled immediately, but the medical assistants roles are a priority.

The unbudgeted annual cost for the new is estimated to be between $390,000 and $550,00, depending on experience of the new hires.  The move coincides with NIHD’s strategic plan, which calls for a focus on improving both patient and employee experience.

 

MAMMOTH YOSEMITE AIRPORT

Alaska Air flights will be more reliable in the future.

By Seth Conners

Alaska Airlines’ sister carrier, Horizon Air, recieved approval from the Federal Aviation administration to begin using its proprietary Required Navigation Performance (RNP) instrument approach procedure at Mammoth Yosemite Airport.

As of November 10th, the minimum visibility for planes landing at the local airport, which had been previously set at 3 miles of visibility when the plane was 1300 feet above the runway, is now a much improved 3/4 miles of visibility at only 265 feet above the runway required with the RNP procedure in effect.

According to Lara Kaylor at Mammoth Lakes Tourism, the procedure may have already helped when Winter flights began on December 15 during a snowstorm.  The Alaska flights from Los Angeles and San Diego were still able to land even though visibility was less than ideal.

Mammoth Lakes Tourism director John Urdi believes that “the addition of the RNP could reduce weather-related cancellations into the Mammoth Yosemite Airport by some 30 to 50%.”  Urdi went on to say, “While it wont help with wind, the increased visibility for pilots is sure to be a major improvement as seen by the first two flight of the year from Los Angeles and San Diego being able to land when without the RNP they might not have.”

RNP technology allows aircraft to follow precise three dimensional curved flight paths through using a combination of onboard navigation technology and the GPS network.  It allows aircraft to fly safer flight paths, provide more reliable landing, and eliminate reliance on ground based navigation aides.  This enables pilots to navigate aircraft more precisely and efficiently, while also being able to fly lower altitudes into airports where limited visibility upon approach is common due to weather and characteristics of the terrain.

Since 1996, Alaska Airlines has been using similar RNP approach procedures across 65% of the airports it serves.

Additionally, the new service being offered by separate carrier JetSuiteX between Burbank and Mammoth lakes provides an alternative option during inclement weather.  If the plane can’t land in Mammoth Lakes it has the opportunity to land in Bishop.  A complimentary shuttle service up to Mammoth Lakes will then be provided.  This alternative was also successfully implemented on the services inaugural flight on December 15th.

EASTERN SIERRA MUSIC FESTIVAL

EARLY BIRD ESMF TICKET SALES DRAWING TO A CLOSE

 

According to a press release from Barbara Laughon, there’s still time to get tickets for the 2017 Eastern Sierra Music Festival at 2016 prices.  Through the end of this month, ESMF organizers will honor the pre-sale prices announced at its Harvest Hoedown fundraiser last month.  After January 1st ticket prices will increase.  To see specific prices visit wwmusic fest.org.

The two day Eastern Sierra Music Festival veers slightly from the all country lineup of 2016.  This year, chart topping rock band, Blues Traveler will headline the evening of Friday, July 21st, while veteran country artists Lonestar will headline Saturday, July 22nd.

Up and coming country vocalist Steve Moakler will open for Blues Traveler, with country duo Smithfield opening for Lonestar.  Local and regional bands will round out the two day event.

Sponsors and private donors for ESMF are also being Sought.  Please contact MC Hubbard at mc@wwmusicfest.org.

2017 marks the second year for the fledgling music festival.  ESMF benefits the National Wounded Warrior Center, set to be constructed in Mammoth Lakes, in addition to offering two days of non-stop music, vendors, on site RV camping and great camaraderie in the eastern sierra.