Community News

MAMMOTH SOLD

Mammoth Resorts to be acquired by affiliates of Aspen Skiing Company and KSL Capital Partners

Posted by Seth Conners

According to a press release from Lauren Burke in Mammoth, Mammoth Resorts, the owner of Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, Snow Summit, Bear Mountain and June Mountain, today announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by a newly formed entity controlled by affiliates of the Aspen Skiing Company, L.L.C. (“Aspen”) and KSL Capital Partners, LLC (“KSL”).  A Starwood Capital Group controlled affiliate owns a majority interest in Mammoth Resorts.  The transaction is expected to close by the end of the third quarter of 2017, and is subject to certain closing conditions, including regulatory approvals.  Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.  KSL and Aspen previously announced plans to acquire Intrawest Resorts Holdings, Inc. through this new entity.

 

“Mammoth has been Southern California’s mountain home since 1948,” said Rusty Gregory, Chairman and CEO of Mammoth Resorts. “After doubling down on our offerings to Southern California with the purchase of Snow Summit and Bear Mountain in 2014, joining this new venture led by Aspen and KSL is the next logical chapter in the story of Mammoth Resorts. This new platform, built around a collective passion for the mountains and our commitment to the people who visit, work and live there, is exactly what the ski resort business needs.  I am excited about the future prospects for Mammoth Resorts, our people and this new enterprise.” 

 

 

“We have taken great pride in our ownership of Mammoth over the last 12 years.  We invested in the mountains, our people, and planning for the long term future.  Together with Mammoth’s talented management team, we successfully navigated a very tumultuous period. We implemented state-of-the-art marketing programs, installed modern RFID technology to improve traffic flow, and we added significant new lift capacity.  By also acquiring and integrating Bear Mountain and Snow Summit into Mammoth we cemented Mammoth Resorts’ position as the leading provider of ski and summer mountain experiences for all of Southern California,” said Barry Sternlicht, Chairman and CEO of Starwood Capital Group. “We had greater plans for Mammoth but the Great Recession and then some less favorable weather, interfered with our strategic aspirations in a finite life investment vehicle.  We know Aspen and KSL have the experience, commitment, and balance sheet to help make our vision a reality.”

 

“If you live in Southern California and want to ski, Mammoth, June, Bear and Snow Summit universally come to mind first,” said Eric Resnick, CEO of KSL.  “This transaction will allow the combined company to better serve Mammoth’s loyal customers while at the same time exposing these world-class resorts to a broader audience.  Mammoth Resorts does so many things well.  We are excited to learn from their talented team.”

 

“Mammoth is a special place.  The landscape is spectacular, the mountain is phenomenal and the place is in constant motion.  Whether it’s the vibrant park and pipe scene, the high quality alpine racing programs, or excellent mountain biking, Mammoth has it all,” said Mike Kaplan, CEO of Aspen.  “At the same time, Bear and Snow Summit serve local skiers perhaps better than anyone in the industry with high quality skiing and riding right on the doorstep of Southern California.  We couldn’t be more pleased to work with these extraordinary properties.”

 

Season Passes

 

For the full 2017-18 winter season, Mammoth will continue to honor the resort’s existing pass products that are currently on sale, including the Mountain Collective.

 

Advisors

 

Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC is serving as financial advisor to Mammoth Resorts.  Goldman, Sachs & Co. is serving as financial advisor to the new entity formed by Aspen and KSL.

 

Kirkland & Ellis LLP is serving as legal advisor to Mammoth. Hogan Lovells US LLP, Latham and Watkins LLP and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP are serving as legal advisors to Aspen and KSL. 

 

About Mammoth

 

Mammoth Resorts is the leading four-season mountain resort operator in California. The company owns and operates a variety of recreation, hospitality, real estate development, food and beverage and retail enterprises.  This includes Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, Snow Summit, Bear Mountain and June Mountain, which collectively host over two million annual skier/snowboarder visits.  Mammoth Resorts is also the owner-operator of Tamarack Lodge and Resort, Mammoth Mountain Inn, Juniper Springs Resort, the Village Lodge, Mammoth Mountain Bike Park, Snow Summit Bike Park, Mammoth Snowmobile Adventures, Sierra Star Golf Course, and Bear Mountain Golf Course. For more information visit www.mammothresorts.com.

 

About Aspen Skiing Company

 

Aspen Skiing Company owns and operates the four mountains of Aspen Snowmass Snowmass, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk as well hospitality properties The Little Nell, Residences at The Little Nell, Limelight Aspen and Limelight Ketchum in Ketchum, Idaho, In addition, Aspen Skiing Company owns and operates numerous retail and rental locations through the resort and the Roaring Fork Valley.  For more information, visit www.aspensnowmass.com.

 

About KSL Capital Partners

 

KSL Capital Partners, LLC is a private equity firm specializing in travel and leisure enterprises in five primary sectors: hospitality, recreation, clubs, real estate and travel services. KSL has offices in Denver, Colorado; Stamford, Connecticut; and London. Since 2005, KSL has raised approximately $7.5 billion in equity capital commitments. KSL’s current portfolio includes some of the premier properties in travel and leisure.  For more information, please visit www.kslcapital.com.

 

About Starwood Capital Group

 

Starwood Capital Group is a private alternative investment firm with a core focus on global real estate, energy infrastructure and oil & gas.  The Firm and its affiliates maintain nine offices in three countries around the world, and currently have more than 2,000 employees. Starwood Capital Group has raised over $37 billion of equity capital since its inception in 1991, and currently manages approximately $52 billion in assets.  The Firm has invested in virtually every category of real estate on a global basis, opportunistically shifting asset classes, geographies and positions in the capital stack as it perceives risk/reward dynamics to be evolving.  Over the past 25 years, Starwood Capital Group and its affiliates have successfully executed an investment strategy that involves building enterprises in both the private and public markets.  Additional information can be found at www.starwoodcapital.com.

INYO RUN OFF

Inyo County Agencies unite to battle massive run off projected from record snowpack.

Posted by Seth Conners

According to Amanda Parsons at LADWP, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) is working proactively to prepare for the arrival of anticipated massive runoff water resulting from this year’s near record snowpack in the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains. These efforts are in partnership with Inyo County, the Inyo Sheriff’s Department, Bishop Police Department, Cal-Trans, Southern California Edison and others, as a member of the Inyo County Interagency Emergency Preparation team.

Work to prepare for the anticipated high water flows began in late February. The efforts have been assisted by an Emergency Declaration from the Mayor of the City of Los Angeles to allow LADWP to take immediate steps to protect infrastructure and aid in managing flood waters while also protecting public safety. Inyo County issued a similar declaration.

To maximize the beneficial use of runoff water to the fullest extent, LADWP is spreading water throughout the aqueduct system to replenish local groundwater aquifers. Current spreading is moderate and will increase as runoff occurs in larger quantities later this spring and summer. LADWP is also maximizing flows in the LA Aqueduct by lowering reservoirs to create more storage space for runoff water and supplying the City of Los Angeles with aqueduct water in place of purchased water and groundwater wherever possible to manage excess flows. Further, LADWP crews are hard at work preparing, cleaning, and repairing water conveyance ditches, spreading basins, sand traps, and other facilities located on City of Los Angeles property, areas controlled by LADWP, and along the Los Angeles Aqueduct, in order to manage the anticipated runoff. 

Water that exceeds what can be spread to recharge local aquifers and which does not make it into the LA Aqueduct system will end up on the Owens Lakebed, the natural terminus point for waters flowing down the Owens River. Once there, it will add to the existing 30 sq. miles of saline brine pools and is expected to cause significant flood damage to dust control infrastructure managed and constructed by LADWP over the past 17 years. These measures, spread over nearly 50 sq. miles of dried lake, have effectively reduced dust pollution in the area by 96 percent. Damage to these dust control areas may result in increased air pollution that could threaten the health of the public after the runoff evaporates in 12 to 18 months.

LADWP is also concerned by the potential of water overflow in and around the towns and communities of the Eastern Sierra and is actively providing assistance in preventing and controlling runoff that could impact the public. Emergency assistance will be provided on lands throughout the valley should flooding threaten the property of a partner agency or the public.

“Inyo County is no stranger to emergencies and disasters,” Inyo County Sheriff Bill Lutze said. “Our resilience comes from a strong unified command made up of local, state and federal agencies as well as a public that is proactive in emergency preparedness. We continue to be grateful for our strong working relationships with our allied agencies, including Department of Water and Power, as well as with our residents.”

In order to keep the public informed of the steps being taken to manage runoff to the greatest extent possible and minimize the impact to dust control measures, LADWP will issue regular updates of its runoff management efforts.

Emergency Runoff Management Activities undertaken by LADWP as of April 11, 2017, include:

 

Water Spreading

Pleasant Valley to Tinemaha Reservoir –      23,500 acre feet (AF)

Tinemaha Reservoir to Haiwee Reservoir – 7,600 AF

South of Haiwee Reservoir –                         5,200 AF

 

Total Spreading Water                                    36,300 AF

 

Maintenance and Construction Activities

Mono County

 

·         Crowley Lake will be lowered to 80,000 AF to make room for anticipated runoff. Current level – 107,000 AF

·         Completed Long Valley Dam and spillway inspections (Work will be ongoing)

·         Snow removal to better access Long Valley Reservoir Dam (Complete)

Currently very little work is being conducted in the Mono Basin due to heavy snow. Equipment is planned to be staged at critical structures and areas likely to see high water conditions, such as Lee Vining Intake and Rock Creek sand trap at Toms Place. This will take place once site conditions allow.

 

Pleasant Valley Reservoir to Tinemaha Reservoir

·         Applied for variance from Department of Water Resources Division of Safety of Dams to raise Pleasant Valley Reservoir water level (Complete)

Work to repair and upgrade existing spreading ponds and diversion structures in the Laws/Five bridges area include:

·         Reinforce and increase size of pond berms to increase spreading capacity and durability. Installing additional head walls and diversion pipes and culverts to provide greater flexibility during spreading operations (90% complete)

·         Preparing to raise portions of patrol roads adjacent to the canals to provide additional free board and greater conveyance capacity in both the Upper and Lower McNally Canals. This work will provide the ability to spread over 100 cubic feet per second (cfs) into the nearby spreading ponds or to spreading areas located further downstream (Project starting this week)

·         Preparing portions of the McNally Canals East of Hwy 6 to accept water by mowing and cleaning (Complete)

Work on canals, ditches and ponds in the Bishop area include:

·         Cleaning the George Collins and the A.O. Collins Canals and repairing/replacing diversion and spreading structures (Complete)

·         Cleaning, mowing and repairing diversion structures on the Rawson Canal (Complete)

·         Cleaning, mowing and repairing diversion structures on the Ford Rawson Canal (Complete)

·         Cleaning and mowing Bishop Creek Canal (Complete)

·         Modifying irrigation ditches off Bishop Creek to maximize spreading potential (Complete – Additional work will be needed over the summer months to remove aquatic vegetation to maintain capacity in the canal)

·         Filling Farmers Ponds, located on the West side of Hwy 6, and installing new culvert and diversion structures to convey water to the ponds located on the East side of the highway (Complete)

Round Valley area work includes:

·         Hand crews cleaning all open diversions on Horton Creek and Lower Rock Creek (Complete –  Work will be ongoing in the area with both equipment and hand crews cleaning ditches, installing culverts and diversion structures to maximize spreading potential.)

Big Pine area sand trap and diversion structure work includes:

·         Cleaning the Baker Creek sand traps, diversion structures and ponds (50% complete)

·         Cleaning and mowing the Big Pine Canal (Complete – Further work will be needed throughout the summer to maintain capacity once aquatic growth begins to restrict flows.)

·         Tinemaha Creek and Red Mountain Creek diversions cleaned and marked. (75% complete – Further work will be needed to direct flows into existing catch basins and spreading ponds located in the adjacent areas.)

Tinemaha Reservoir to Haiwee Reservoir

·         Repairing/rebuilding spreading basin infrastructure (70% complete – Able to spread in excess of 200 cubic feet per second at this time)

Work in the Black Rock Ditch area includes:

  • Rebuild/repair/replace culverts, check structures and distribution pipes (Complete)
  • Clean and/or repair distribution channels (70% complete)

Work in the Stevens Ditch area includes:

·         Mowing, cleaning and adding spreading culverts (Complete – Currently at 50% of capacity)

·         Prepare Thibaut area ditches and berms (Complete)

Work to prepare the two canals located east of the Owens River to divert imminent flow into the LORP includes:

·         Clearing McIver Ditch from East of Goose Lake to south of Mazourka Road (100% complete. Currently flowing 15 cfs during Owens River pulse flow. Evaluating additional work for maximum flows and spreading.)

·         Clearing the Eclipse/East Side Ditch from Mazourka Road to south of Owenyo area (100% complete – Currently flowing 13 cfs during Owens River pulse flow. Evaluating additional work for maximum flows and spreading.)

Los Angeles Aqueduct (LAA) work includes:

  • Cleaning the Unlined section of the LAA (75% complete – Cleaning will be needed throughout runoff season)
  • Cleaning the Lined section of the LAA to the Alabama Gates (100% complete – Cleaning will be ongoing as needed)

Equipment Staging

  • All requested heavy equipment has been rented and received based on forecast needs. Equipment is performing preparation tasks, will be staged during spreading and cleaning operations.

Work to prepare the Lower Owens River Project (LORP) intake includes:

  • Cleaning the Forebay (Complete – Will need to be cleaned throughout the year.)
  • Cleaning the measuring section (Complete)
  • Jetting the Langeman Gate area (Complete)
  • Cleaning the LORP tail bay and 100 Yards downstream (Complete)

Continually preparing the alluvial fan creek diversions west of the LORP:

  • DWP lands:                                          95% complete
  • Bureau of Land Management areas:  70% complete
  • Forest Service areas.                                     100% complete

Owens Lake

 

·         Armoring of berms, northwest area Owens Lake (Work not yet commenced, in purchasing for contract award)

·         Construction of new trenches northwest area of Owens Lake (5% complete)

 

 Lower Owens River Pump-back Station (Pump-back Station) work includes:

·         Placement of temporary barriers, gravels, sandbags and related components around the Pump-back Station to protect it from inundation (Waiting to receive approval from the respective agencies)

·         Widen the path of water within the Lower Owens River across from the Pump-back Station through creating a temporary channel allowing for greater conveyance of water. This temporary measure is intended to prevent ponding of the water in the vicinity of the Pump-back Station and decreasing the potential for water elevation rising in the vicinity of the Pump-back Station (Waiting to receive approval from the respective agencies)

Lower Owens River Temporary Flow Modification work includes:

·         Placement of temporary barriers and related components to redirect the water away from the Corridor 1 Road and the T36 DCA northern berm. This temporary measure is intended to prevent inundation and damage to the existing managed vegetation area in the T36 DCA (Waiting to receive approval from the respective agencies)

·         Modify the east bank of the Owens Lake Delta and tamp down the existing vegetation (tulles) along east side of the Owens Lake Delta to improve water conveyance capability and create a preferred pathway (Waiting to receive approval from the respective agencies)

Western High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) Pipeline work includes:

·         Temporarily securing in place about 825 feet of the irrigation supply lines from T36 dust control area (DCA) to T37 DCA. This measure is intended to prevent the existing three, 18-inch-diamater plastic pipelines from potential floatation and damage (Waiting to receive approval from the respective agencies)   

Zonal Mainline work includes:

·         Placement of temporary plastic lining and related components to protect the Zonal Mainline from damage due to inundation and erosion of the slope of westerly berm road, the Brady Highway, from wave action due to high winds (Waiting to receive approval from the respective agencies)

South of Haiwee Reservoir

·         As of 4/2/17, LADWP has discharged a total of 4,600 from the Los Angeles Aqueduct at three locations: Rose Valley south of Haiwee Reservoir, Freeman Wash west of Ridgecrest, and Cameron Wash north of Mojave.   

·         Working on reestablishing the Maclay Highline, which diverts LAA water to the Pacoima Spreading Grounds (20% complete)

·         Structuring the Power Plant One Slide Gate to place water into San Francisco Creek (Currently pursuing permits for this).

 

To request runoff preparation assistance, please contact Greg Loveland by emailing gregory.loveland@ladwp.com or calling 760–872-1104.

PERSONAL FUELWOOD PERMITS

Staff shortages result in early permit sales.

Posted by Seth Conners
According to Deb Schweizer at Inyo National Forest, the Inyo National Forest is offering early sale of personal use fuelwood permits for the 2017 season. Because of staffing shortages, permit sales will begin earlier than normal to help alleviate lines at the visitor centers. Locals are encouraged to purchase early to avoid crowds in the visitor centers as spring visitation season begins.
The personal use fuelwood season is scheduled to begin on Monday, May 1. Permits will be on sale beginning Monday, April 17 at local U. S. Forest Service visitor centers. Maps showing areas open to cutting are available with a purchased fuelwood permit. New this year, copies of fuelwood maps will be available on Avenza. Fuelwood permits are still $15.00 per cord with a two cord minimum.
The forest requests that fuelwood permits are purchased between the hours of 9:00 a.m-12:00 noon and 1:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m., unless otherwise specified. Fuelwood permits may be obtained at the following locations:
Mono Basin Scenic Area Visitor Center in Lee Vining; (760) 647-3044
Permits on sale, Thursday – Monday only (beginning April 27).
Mammoth Lakes Welcome Center in Mammoth Lakes; (760) 924-5500
Permits on sale 7 days/week.
White Mountain Ranger Station in Bishop; (760) 873-2500
Permits on sale Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m.-11:30a.m, 1:00 p.m.-4:30p.m.
Please call ahead to your local visitor center to confirm hours of operations.
The Fuelwood Strategy, developed with public participation in 1998, remains valid and will be implemented this year. Large ends of all downed logs (those portions greater than 30 inches in diameter) are required to remain on the forest floor for wildlife habitat and recycling of soil nutrients. The majority of funds collected from permit sales are directly returned to the forest for continued implementation of this program. Comments on this strategy and fuelwood program are always welcome. For further information on the fuelwood program, contact your local ranger Station or visitor center.

FREE ENTRANCE AT YOSEMITE

Yosemite National Park to waive entrance fees on the weekends of National Park Week.

Posted by Seth Conners

According to Jamie Richards from yosemite, Yosemite National Park will waive park entrance fees on the weekends of National Park Week, Saturday and Sunday, April 15 – 16 and April 22-23, 2017. National Park Week is a week-long celebration of our National Parks celebrated at National Park Service sites across the United States.

Fees being waived for the weekends of National Park Week include the park entrance only. All other fees associated with camping, lodging, or activities within the park are not waived.

April is a busy time to visit Yosemite National Park. Visitors are encouraged to plan their trips in advance and arrive to the park before 9:00 am. Parking areas throughout the park are expected to fill early in the day. Visitor parking will be available at the Yosemite Falls Day Parking Area, located near Yosemite Lodge and Camp 4, and at Half Dome Village. Visitors are encouraged to park and utilize the free park shuttle to get to the Yosemite Valley Village and Visitor Center.

Public transportation is a wonderful way to visit Yosemite Valley. YARTS (Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System) buses run multiple times daily and provide visitors with a safe and convenient way to visit the park. For more information and helpful travel tips, visit the following websites:

www.nps.gov/yose

https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/publictransportation.htm.

www.YARTS.com

For updated 24-hour road and weather conditions for Yosemite National Park, please call 209-372-0200, press 1 and press 1 again.

CALTRANS LITTER REMOVAL

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.

SAM DEAN 1933-2017

Sam was born January 19, 1933 in Chilton, Texas at home on the farm, to Ocie and James Dean. He only weighed 2 1/4 lbs. Ocie put him in a shoe box on the wood stove oven door which acted as an incubator. It was that beginning which formed the strong, determined, wonderful man he became.

Sam came to California in his early teens, fell in love with the Eastern Sierra’s and started Dean’s Plumbing and Heating in 1955.

He dedicated his life contributing to the community in many capacities.
He served as Inyo County District 2 Supervisor, he served on the Tri-County Fair Board for over 20 years, he was on the Executive Board of Mule Days for over 40 years, his desire is for the Mule Museum to be completed for future generations. He was heavily involved in both non-profit organizations, Advocates for Access to Public Lands and the Adventure Trails. He has been a very active member in Lion’s Club for many years, dedicating hours and good cheer to any project he was involved in. He received the Highest Recognition for outstanding effort on behalf of Eye Mobile, Inc. He was a Decon of the First Southern Baptist Church.
Sam truly was a giver, always willing to help a friend.

Sam enjoyed Waterskiing, Fishing, Hunting, and Camping with his Wife, Children, Grandchildren, and Great-Grandchildren.

Sam is survived by his wife of 38 years, Pat Dean Son and Daughter-in-law, Mike and Marydawn Dean Daughter and Son-in-law Debbie and Steve Hayward Daughter and Son-in-law Lynda and Mark Sargent Daughter and Son-in-law Susan and Randy Gillespie Son Jim Gidney and friend Robinn
13 Grandchildren and 21 Great-Grandchlidren Sam was preceded in death by his son Rick Dean.

Sam passed peacefully on April 3, 2017 at Carson Tahoe Hospital surrounded by his loving family.

All who came in contact with Sam were blessed with his Generosity and Goodness. He will be Greatly Missed.

In Lieu of Flowers, donations can be made to: Carson Tahoe Health Foundation/Merriner Cottages. P.O. Box 2168, Carson City, NV 89702

A Memorial Service will be held at the Neighborhood Church on April 11, 2017 at 11:00 AM, reception to follow.

TOIYABE CLINIC

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.

ATMOSPHERIC RIVER

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.

COUNTY EMPLOYEE TO RETIRE

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.”

 

INYO COUNTY LABOR AGREEMENTS

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.