Community News



By Seth Conners

Students from five of our local elementary and middle schools will compete in the 41st Annual Inyo County Spelling Bee on Thursday, January 26, 2017. The competition will be at Jill Kinmont Boothe School. Our local Altrusa chapter sponsors this event. The events will begin with a written Preliminary Elementary/Middle School Competition at 5:30 pm. The public events for Elementary/Middle School Championship Competition begin at 6:00 pm. Altrusa representatives will hand out awards for the first, second and third place winners from the competition.

The top two 4-6 grade elementary and top two 7-9 grade middle school spellers qualify to participate in the Elementary and Junior High State Spelling Championship competitions in the spring.

The public is invited to attend the county Spelling Bee Competitions beginning at 6:00 p.m. at Jill Kinmont Boothe School in the Great Room. For more information, please contact Tiffany Randall at (760) 873-3262 ext. 2111.



By Seth Conners

According to a press release from Richard Johnson at the Mono County Public Health Office,
A few weeks ago we reported all signs pointing to the beginning of a severe influenza season, and evidence continues to confirm that initial impression.
Locally, during the week ending last Saturday, January 14th, almost 21% of visits to Sierra Park Pediatrics were for influenza-like illness. This easily surpasses the previous highest % over the last 10 years for which we have records. Sierra Park Family Medicine recorded 2.2% of visits for influenza-like illness, which is just above the epidemic threshold.
Hospitalizations thus far this winter season include 6 infants with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), 5 adults with pneumonia, and 3 adults with laboratory confirmed influenza. 2 of the pneumonia cases, and all 3 of the influenza cases have been since the first of the year.
The California Department of Public Health calls recent trends “increasingly alarming”, with sharp increases in all measures of influenza activity. There are a large number of outbreaks in long-term care facilities, and a number of hospitals are having trouble finding room for all persons needing hospital care for pneumonia and/or influenza. Reports indicate the highest levels in the last 10 years. The steep increase occurred first in Northern California, but has now spread throughout Southern California. There have been 9 deaths from influenza-related causes in persons <65 years of age, 63 ICU admissions, and 47 outbreaks. These numbers are particularly disturbing given that we have not reached the peak of the influenza season as yet, which is usually the second week of February.
The good news is that the strains in this year’s vaccine are a good match for what is circulating. The bad news is that the main culprit is the Type A H3N2 strain, which tends to be the most severe, especially for those over 65 years of age. Getting a flu vaccine is still the single most important thing you can do to prevent illness, to lessen its severity, and to limit its spread. The supply is plentiful!
In addition, stay home if you are sick, and stay away from people who are sick. This is especially important for those over 65 years of age, or any with chronic medical conditions. Also, remember to cover your cough, wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water, and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth as much as possible.



By Seth Conners

The worlds most famous jet team, The Blue Angels, will headline the 2017 China Lake Air Show.  Several of the team’s aviators met with officials during a visit to China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station on January 9th, in advance of the upcoming air show.  The Blue Angels will be the featured performers at the air show, set to take place on March 18th and 19th.  The much anticipated event will be the first air show at the China Lake base in 23 years.

The Blue Angels are known for their precision formation flying and are a crowd favorite throughout the world.  At the show, they will be flying their six, distinctive, blue and gold FA-18 Hornets.

Details about other show performers, static displays and additional features are being announced soon.  Event general admission and parking are free.  Also, there are a limited amount of premium seating options available, including box seats and a Flight Line Club where spectators enjoy the most exclusive seating, private amenities, and the best view of the show.  High-resolution images and b-roll of the Blue Angels are available from the Blue Angels website.


Regular phone service will be unavailable Tuesday night at NIHD.

By Seth Conners

According to a press release from Barbara Laughon, Northern Inyo Healthcare District wants to make the public aware that in the night of Tuesday, Jan. 17 and the early morning hours of Wednesday, Jan. 18, the hospital’s phone system will be upgraded.
As a result, no incoming telephone calls or faxes will be received between 10 p.m. Tuesday and 6 a.m. Wednesday. Those seeking emergency health care may call 911 or come to NIH’s 24-hour Emergency Department.
This eight-hour outage is part of a planned upgrade to Northern Inyo Healthcare District’s telephone system. Those attempting to call NIH or its support services at that time will receive an “all circuits are busy” message.
NIHD will activate its Emergency Command Center during the outage to help coordinate necessary communications between patient care areas and hospital’s services including Cardiopulmonary, Laboratory, Diagnostic Imaging, Dietary, Environmental Services and Security.
NIHD’s Acting Chief Nursing Officer Tracy Aspel said the hospital took all precautions to assure continued life safety measures for those seeking care at NIH during the outage timeframe. “We do not anticipate any serious issues to arise from this outage, but if they do, we are prepared to act on them,” Aspel said. “We appreciate the support of our healthcare partners and, of course, our communities during this time.”
Robin Cassidy, NIHD’s Information Technology Director, noted that this upgrade is an important part of the District’s plan to keep current with technology so that the NIHD team can meet the expectations of our community members.



Untarped loads will now cost a little more at local landfills.

By Seth Conners

At a January 3rd  Inyo County Board of Supervisors meeting, county leaders approved a new rate structure for landfills with scales.  This included a new $10 charge for any load presented at the landfill that was not properly covered.

Starting March 1st, 2017 all vehicles with trash and/or recycleables must secure their loads in a manner that will not allow trash to blow out of vehicles or trailers.

Untarped/unsecured loads means waste that is being transported on any vehicle and is not completely covered or is not secured in a manner to prevent it from falling or blowing away from the transporting vehicle.  An example of loads that are secure but do not need to be tarped would be:  tightly bagged garbage, garbage cans with tight fitting lids, or bulky items such as couches, mattresses, appliances and tires if they are secured in the vehicle or trailer.

It should also be noted that it’s free to recycle at Inyo County landfills.  This includes glass bottles, cardboard, electronics, metal and appliances, and plastics that have contained motor oil.




In light of the snow and rain accumulation that has occurred within the Town of Mammoth Lakes during the last week, the Mammoth Lakes Fire Department wishes to remind residents of several life saving items.  These include the accumulation of large amounts of snow/ice sitting on roofs, the blocking of vents by snow accumulations, maintaining clear emergency egress doors and windows, the maintenance needed to safely use propane in snow country, and request for residents in own to keep hydrants available for use.

With the large accumulations of snow, especially very wet snow, the roofs in the local community are supporting a tremendous load. Occupants need to determine if the weight of the snow that is resting on their roofs should be dealt with. Also, when temperatures increase, roofs are going to experience sliding or icicle buildup. Tremendous amounts of weight can come cascading off of a roof without any warning. The public is advised to avoid areas of roof deposition and falling icicles when walking and carefully chose your parking spots.

Also, with the increasing snowbanks around town, be very careful with where children play, as the snow slides off the steep banks and snow removal equipment will be working the streets and may not see children playing in the banks. Also, intersections are becoming difficult to see approaching vehicles and pedestrians, please proceed with caution at each intersection.

The Fire Department wishes to remind everyone the Fire Code requires all bedrooms to have two means of exiting. If you own a complex or live in a rental/commercial unit, the owner is responsible to keep these exits open. The Fire Department will also be looking for infractions of this code violation. For those homeowners that use propane, keep the top of the tank dug out to allow quick access to the shutoff valve, make sure that vents are clear and able to function properly, and if you should smell propane, immediately evacuate the structure and call 911.

Lastly, there are fire hydrants located throughout town that are used by the fire department in the event of a fire. The fire department is requesting interested individuals to routinely shovel out the hydrant nearest to their homes to help out. If you would like any additional information on these topics, please feel free to call the Fire Station at any time at 934-2300.




Eastern Sierra Visitor Center in Lone Pine switches to solar power.

By Seth Conners

According to Deb Schweizer at INF, The Inyo National forest is pleased to announce that the solar photovoltaic system at The Eastern Sierra Visitor center in Lone Pine was turned on in December.  This system should meet nearly 100% of the facility’s electrical demand.

“The solar photovoltaic system installation at the visitor center in Lone Pine exemplifies the Forest Service’s commitment to leading by example,” said Nora Gamino, Acting Forest Engineer.  “This is one of several projects underway on the Inyo National Forest that demonstrate our dedication to sustainable practices.”

This project directly supports energy reduction and net zero goals specified in the Energy Policy Act (2005), Energy Independence and Security Act (2007), and Executive Order 13693 (Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade).

The Forest Service has committed to achieving net zero energy, water, or waste at 30 facilities over 5,000 square feet by 2025.  Given that the system will offset nearly 100% of the facility’s electrical demand, the agency is now one facility closer to meeting its goal.

The agency’s Net Zero Network encourages projects at Visitor Centers, which are not only some of our largest energy-consuming facilities, but also provide educational opportunities for those recreating on National Forest System land.

Other notable projects on the Inyo National Forest include the installation of the PV systems at the Mono Basin Scenic Area Visitors Center and Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest Visitor Center, which is completely off the grid and received Gold Certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program.



By Seth Conners

The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard warning in Mono County.  The warning has been issued due to heavy snow and strong winds that are expected to continue through Wednesday.

100 mile an hour winds are expected over the Sierra Ridge.  Snow will continue to fall indefinitely, with snow accumulation expected to be 1 to 3 feet along Highway 395.  Snow totals are expected to be in excess of 6 feet in some parts, West of Highway 395, above 7,500 feet.

This is a dangerous blizzard with conditions near zero visibility, and heavy snow on all Sierra roads.  Many of the areas local highways are being closed when visibility and high winds become a problem.

Local agencies are advising that you do not attempt to travel until the snow and wind have subsided, as first responders may not be able to rescue you in the event of an emergency.  Even a short walk could be a disaster if you become disoriented.





By Seth Conners

City Leaders met Monday night in Bishop. At the meeting, the City Council approved sending a letter to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power Commissioners, outlining some needs and concerns regarding lease agreements in the Owens Valley, and specifically, the town of Bishop. For the last twelve months, the City of Bishop has acted as an informal Liaison between DWP and local lease holders, concerning the lack of lease transfer-ability and a desire from locals to purchase properties owned but not being used by DWP and Los Angeles.  It’s felt by many in the community that longstanding agreement practices between LADWP and locals in Bishop  have worked well in the past, but are now being tossed aside because they’re considered to be at odds with competitive bidding requirements in the Los Angeles City Charter. The letter addresses and outlines several key issues deemed crucial by locals to help develop more comprehensive land use policies that support the people of the Owens Valley and the economy of Inyo County moving forward. To view a draft of the letter, click on the link below.



Local vendors and residents sought for call-when-needed for fire jobs.

According to Deb Schweizer at Inyo National Forest, the Inyo National Forest is conducting outreach to Eastern Sierra vendors, residents, and businesses who are interested in being available for incident response.  Those who are interested will sign up and compete for emergency incident agreements that are open for solicitation in 2017.

Currently, when wildfires or other incidents occur in the Eastern Sierra, vendors who provide support resources are often located up to 5 hours away.  “having local vendors would not only benefit the Inyo National Forest and the timely support of its fire personnel on the line,” said Forest Supervisor Ed Armenta, “but it also has great potential to provide local residents with more business opportunities.”

During fire response, support personnel and equipment play an integral role in a successful outcome.  A locally signed call-when-needed, 4WD pickup with driver to deliver supplies to incident crews can make a big difference in how efficiently an incident can be managed.

“We have engines, crews and aircraft,” said Interagency Fire Management Officer Taro Pusina.  “What we need are the support resources open for solicitation now that can be provided by local vendors on a call-when-needed basis.  This includes vehicles with drivers (passenger vehicles and trucks), fuel tenders, heavy equipment (dozers, excavators, tractor plows and transports), mechanics with service trucks, fallers, and vendors that can supply and set up large tents and canopies.”

Solicitations for these services are only open to vendors for competition every 3 years.  Forest’s ability to use vendors who have not signed up for an agreement is limited.  Duration of assignment varies. Vendors have the option of accepting or declining assignments based on their availability.  Anyone interested in learning more about the opportunities available, is encouraged to contact Andrew Kong at 760 873 2565.