Community News

Mammoth Fire Marshal issues Fireworks warning

Fireworks Prohibited in the Town of Mammoth Lakes

Thom Heller, Fire Marshall for the Mammoth lakes fire protection district,  is passing along the following fireworks information.

All fireworks are prohibited in the Town of Mammoth Lakes, regardless if “safe and sane” or not. In addition, personal use of fireworks is prohibited in the non-incorporated areas of Mono County, on the Inyo National Forest (INF), and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands.

Due to VERY HIGH TO EXTREME FIRE DANGER, both the Mammoth Lakes Fire Protection District and Mammoth Lakes Police Department will enforce a “zero tolerance” policy with respect to the possession and use of fireworks. Fireworks violations will be strictly enforced.

Enjoy and celebrate the holiday in a safe and responsible manner, and feel free to attend the scheduled Fourth of July firework shows. There will be a fireworks show on Saturday, July 4 at Crowley Lake and in The Village at Mammoth on Sunday, July 5.

For additional information on the fireworks restrictions, please contact the Mammoth Lakes Fire Department at (760) 934-2300 or the Mammoth Lakes Police Department at (760) 934-2011. Please enjoy our national holiday in a safe and responsible manner.

mammoth lakes fire protection district, mammoth lakes news, mono county news, fireworks, drought 2015

Hanta Virus update

Health officer rumor control

Inyo and Mono county public heath officer Dr. Richard Johnson is dispelling rumors of a virus circulating in the community of Mammoth.  According to Dr. Johnson there is a unconfirmed rumor that is being circulated that there is “a nasty virus circulating that is killing people in town”. In response, at least one residence has been “tented” to eliminate this risk. Dr. Johnson is presuming – perhaps incorrectly – that the alleged culprit is the hantavirus.

According to Dr. Johnson, “First, there is no nasty virus killing people in town, that I am aware of – hantavirus, or otherwise. We have not had a case of hantavirus this year in the Eastern Sierra, although there have been at least 3 deaths in Colorado so far. We also have not had any unexplained deaths due to a “nasty virus”.

Johnson goes on to say, “Second, ‘tenting’ as one would do for termites, is not an appropriate response to the threat from hantavirus. If you create a void by killing off mice, more will move in to fill the void. Third, yes, we live in an area where we all are always at risk for exposure to the hantavirus. The drought is forcing all animals, including mice, into the human interface where we have chosen to live and visit, in their search for food for survival. So, don’t let down your guard. Do the right thing!”

Although mice carry the hantavirus all year, this is the start of the season when humans typically begin activities that put them at risk of being exposed to the hantavirus. Spring cleaning activities, such as opening up closed buildings that have been unused overwinter, often provide habitats for deer mice and become sites for human exposure to the hantavirus. Although hantavirus infections are relatively rare, it is not unusual for us to have several cases per year in the Eastern Sierra. The risk of death is significant. Individuals cleaning areas where the mice may be present are well advised to heed the recommendations below in order to avoid exposure.

Hantavirus is carried by certain species of rats and mice, and especially the deer mouse, pictured above. Infected rodents shed the virus in their urine, droppings, and saliva. The virus can be transmitted to people when infected mouse urine, saliva, droppings, or nesting materials are stirred
up, temporarily aerosolizing the virus, which can be breathed in by humans.

Inyo/Mono public health recommends the following precautions:

  • seal openings that may allow mice to enter homes and workplaces;
  • remove brush, woodpiles, trash, and other items that may attract mice;
  • tightly close garbage cans, pet food containers, and other food
  • wear protective gloves to handle dead mice or to clean up nesting areas, urine, or droppings;
  • before cleaning up nests or droppings found inside, open windows and doors to ventilate the area for at least 30 minutes;
  • do not stir up nests by sweeping or vacuuming. Dampen areas before clean-up;
  • use a disinfectant or 1-to-10 bleach-water mixture to clean up dead rodents, nests, urine, and droppings.

Early symptoms of hantavirus infection include fatigue, fever, and muscle aches. These symptoms may be accompanied by headaches, dizziness, chills, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Later symptoms include coughing and shortness of breath. If hantavirus is suspected, people should contact their health care provider immediately. Remember, infections with hantavirus may feel like the “flu”; however, it is no longer flu season!

dr richard johnson, hantavirus, eastern sierra news, mammoth lake california

John Schwab field rehab underway

BUHS football field renovation begins

Weeds have been treated and new irrigation infrastructure is being installed.  Bishop Unified School District Superintendent Barry Simpson updated the board of trustees at this weeks regular meeting.  “Its something that needs to be done.  What we found is really two issues with the field.  First it gets a lot of use, following football season we roll right into our soccer season.  By the time the soccer season is done, we have really pounded that field, the grass is pretty much gone, to be quite honest, its almost unsafe.”

To give the main field time to rest the school has been working with the City of Bishop to install a practice field in the rear of the city park.  Due to the ongoing drought, that effort has stalled as the city is holding off seeding the new field.  Simpson is hopeful the new city park field will be planted this fall.

Superintendent Simpson notes the second reason the field is suffering is due to a poor irrigation system.  “The irrigation system was really not meeting the needs of that field, we were not getting the coverage from the sprinklers, and so we were not getting the kind of regrowth that we needed.”

To address the irrigation system, new infrastructure in being installed.  The track and field are currently closes as open trenches exist near the finish line of the track and the length of the 50-yard line.  Following the irrigation upgrade field treatments will continue.

“There are some applications to get rid of the weeds that have taken hold, that is going on now.  Following the irritation system installation  and getting sprinklers up and running, we will do some aeration , over-seeding , and apply fertilizer.  We are working with two local companies, they feel we can defiantly bring that field back and get it ready for the mid august start of football season.”

The first scheduled home game for the Broncos is set for Friday, August 28th.  The Broncos will open at home with Whittier Christian.

50 yard line, south.
50 yard line trench
south side of John Schwab field
south side of John Schwab field
irrigation infrastructure near home street.
irrigation infrastructure near home street.
bishop union high school, barry simpson, bishop union high school football, john schwab field, drought 2015

Inyo-Mono Crop and Livestock report

Annual Report indicates a big drop in production

Inyo and Mono County Agriculture Commissioner Nathan Reade has released the annual crop and livestock report.  Here is Reade’s introducution to the report:
I am pleased to present the 2014 Inyo and Mono Counties’ Annual Crop and Livestock Report. This report is prepared pursuant to California Food and Agriculture Code 2279, and is a statistical compilation of agriculture production in Inyo and Mono Counties. These values reflect gross agricultural production within the two counties, and do not represent net profit or loss.  The gross combined agricultural production values for Inyo and Mono Counties in 2014 totaled $58,606,000, representing a decrease of nearly 21% from 2013 production values. Drought conditions continue to significantly impact area agricultural businesses, and are the reason for the majority of decrease in value over last year. Livestock herd reductions began in 2011 with the drought and have continued each year thereafter. Herd sizes are now so small that rising beef prices no longer mask production losses when viewed in terms of dollars. Feeder cattle gain is also in sharp decline due to unavailability of pasture. Field crops continue to suffer as water supply diminishes. This year does not look to be the end of this downward trend as we enter another year with even lower runoff projections.  This report features both wool production as well as fruit and nut statistics for the first time for Inyo and Mono Counties. Additionally, Inyo county is now reporting nursery stock production.
The link to the report:
inyo mono crop report, inyo county news, mono county news, drought 2015

Bishop Businessman Sentenced

Jiminez Sentenced on Felony Embezzlement Charges

Statement from Inyo County District Attorney Tom Hardy.

At a sentencing hearing on Thursday, June 18, 2015 local businessman Jose “Jay” Jiminez was placed on five years of formal felony probation and ordered to serve 240 days in the Inyo County Jail for embezzling from a now-deceased client who had given him a power of attorney. He must serve an actual 90 days, and may apply for electronic monitoring for the balance of his sentence. The court set restitution in the amount of $79,449.76. He is also forbidden from acting as a fiduciary and from managing money or property on behalf of other individuals during the term of his probation, and may not engage in the tax preparation business.

The case began in August, 2012, when the Ombudsman’s Office received a complaint on behalf of the victim and a criminal investigation was initiated by the Bishop Police Department. The investigation discovered that in November, 2011 Jiminez was granted power of attorney by the victim in the case. This gave Jimenez access to the victim’s bank and credit card accounts. Jimenez used the power of attorney to pay bills for victim; but he also used the accounts to fund his businesses, Jimenez Tax Service and Petite Pantry, as well as pay personal bills. In March, 2012, Jimenez also sold victim’s mobile home for forty thousand dollars ($40,000.00). Jimenez received seventeen thousand dollars cash ($17,000.00) and a 2004 Hummer valued at approximately twenty-three thousand dollars ($23,000.00). Jimenez apparently pocketed the cash – records indicate it was not deposited into any account owned by the victim – and took possession of the Hummer.

Mr. Jiminez had previously entered a “no contest” plea to a felony embezzlement charge.

inyo county news, bishop news, inyo county district attorney tom hardy, jay jiminez, bishop police department

Office of US Attorney Announces Indictment


Statement from the Department of Justice, Office of the United States Attorney, Eastern District of California

FRESNO, Calif. — A federal grand jury returned a four-count indictment today against Antonio Garcia-Villa (Garcia), 46, and Uriel Silva-Garcia (Silva), both Mexican nationals, charging them with conspiring to manufacture, distribute and possess with intent to distribute, manufacturing, and possessing with intent to distribute marijuana in connection with a large-scale cultivation operation in the Sequoia National Forest, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced. The men were also charged with damaging public land and natural resources as a result of cultivating marijuana near Little Poso Creek, which drains into the Kern National Wildlife Refuge.
According to court documents, Garcia and Silva were found at the cultivation site in May 2015. Agents removed 8,596 marijuana plants from the site, along with pesticides, fertilizer, trash, water lines, and equipment. The cultivation activities caused extensive damage to the land and natural resources. Native trees and plants were cut down and steep hillsides were terraced to plant the marijuana.
This case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Forest Service, Kern County Sheriff’s Office, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). Assistant United States Attorney Karen Escobar is prosecuting the case.
Garcia and Silva are in custody and are scheduled for arraignment on the indictment on June 24, 2015, in federal court in Fresno. If convicted of the drug offenses, the men face a statutory penalty of 10 years to life in prison and a $10 million fine. If convicted of the environmental crime, the men face a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

us forest service, sequoia national forest, eastern sierra news

Big Winner in Modesto

Bathroom Break Leads to $5 Million
Win in Modesto

SACRAMENTO – Sometimes when nature calls, you have to stop what you’re doing and answer. That’s what happened to Jennifer Daniel earlier this week and it’s likely the best decision she’s ever made; but not for obvious reasons. You see, that quick bathroom break led to Daniel winning $5 million!

“I stopped to use the restroom because I couldn’t hold it until I got to the office,” explained Daniel. “I walked into the CVS, used the restroom and on my way out I saw the Lottery machine.”

Daniel (pictured below) likes playing Ultimate Riches Scratchers®, so she put a $20 in the machine, grabbed her ticket, scratched off the barcode and scanned it. That’s when everything changed – a message on the screen showed she was a $5 million winner. “I was very calm,” she said of that moment. “I was just smiling, no screaming or anything like that.”

While there wasn’t any hooting or hollering in that moment, there were plenty of tears of joy when Daniel told her family the good news. And it was her family that first came to mind when asked about how she was going to spend her new fortune.

“My number one thing is to pay off my parents’ house and pay off their car so my mom can retire. And then I want to pay off my own house and put some money aside for my son’s school. I want to invest most of it.” But that’s not all. This money is also going to allow her to spend more time with her number one priority. “I’m not going to have to work six days a week and be on the overtime list at work. I can just work eight hours a day and enjoy my days and spend time with my son.”

Daniel isn’t the only winner here. The CVS store, located at 901 N. Carpenter Road in Modesto (Stanislaus County), will receive a retailer bonus of $25,000 just for selling the winning ticket!

california lottery, cvs

Concerns Voiced at NIH Board Meeting

NIH board meeting draws large crowd

The Northern Inyo Healthcare District board of Directors meeting Wednesday night opened with a nearly one hour public comment period.  Anticipating a large crowd, NIH officials moved the meeting location to Cerro Coso Community College.  A large crowd did indeed turn out Wednesday evening. Hospital board president M.C. Hubbard required those in attendance to keep their comments to two minutes. Laurie Archer, a nurse at NIH and a member of the Nurses Union Bargaining team opened the public comment period speaking of serious concerns with negotiations, including the claim that hospital administration is not accurately relaying information to the board.

Union support during public comment was voiced by Chris Wickam, president of the Inyo County Employees Association as well as union members from the Town of Mammoth Lakes.

Dr. Eric Richman, member of the Bishop Unified School District Board, told the hospital board the current administration has created a “atmosphere of intimidation and fear”.

Bishop resident Randy Short, member of the California Boating and Waterways Commission, voiced concern that NIH may be exposing itself to potential litigation by not bargaining in good faith with the nurses union.

John Atkens, a resident of Bishop, questioned the hospitals policy on removing employees during serious illness. Atkens, founder and a member of the board of advisers for Proaxis Therapy, spoke passionately of a friend who was released after 15 years of service at NIH. Atkens noting that his friend was let go while battling cancer.

Following the public comment period the board did respond to a request that they introduce themselves to the audience. Board members noted their geographic districts with board president M.C. Hubbard quickly addressing the district’s medical leave policy. Hubbard said the hospital policy was changed in 2012 to approve 16 weeks of leave which is a month longer than the legal requirement of 12 weeks. Hubbard also indicated that NIH employees may use any Paid Time Off (PTO) they have coming, and also have the opportunity to have co-workers donate PTO hours.

cover photo and story by Arnie Palu

nih, northern inyo hospital, bishop california news, mc hubbard

Delays on state route 168

State Route 168 will have intermittent closures

Delays will continue through Friday July 10, 2015. 

Caltrans statement.

BISHOP – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) would like to inform the traveling public that State Route 168 will have intermittent two hour closures, up to four times a day due to the Cal Tech telescope relocation project.

The highway will be closed due to accommodate the oversized load of the telescopes that are being moved from Cedar Flat to Big Pine.  The closures will be intermittent and will last approximately 20 minutes starting at 6:00 am until 3:30 pm.

The traveling public should expect up to two hour delays while traveling along State Route 168.  Use an alternate route if possible.

For the latest in highway information please visit Caltrans QuickMap site at or call our Road Condition Hotline at 1-800-427-ROAD (7623).

cover photo courtesy of Caltrans district 9

caltrans, big pine california, highway 168 east

CHSRA State Finals Rodeo

Wednesday Night at the CHSRA
State Finals

Just two nights remain.  The California High School Rodeo Association State Finals Rodeo in Bishop wraps up with evening rodeos in the Mike Boothe Memorial Arena tonight (Thursday, 7pm) and Friday (6pm queen coronation followed by the Rodeo).  Admission is just $6 for adults, kids under the age of 10 get in free.  There is a rodeo tonight at 5pm for children with  special needs.  That event will take place on the front lawn of the Home Economics Building at the Tri-County Fairgrounds.  All are welcome to attend.

Photos by Gary Young.

District 9 rookie Ali Inderbieten of Bishop.
District 6, Karson Montijo.
District 7, Tucker Allen
District 3, Mason Mardesich
District 9 Amanda Bauerle and Hannah Waldvogel.
District 3 Enrique Sanchez
District 2, rookie Junior Liufau
District 7 rookie Gage White
District 3, Vinny Shroyer
District 8, Denny Ritarita.
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