Category Archives: Local News

Inyo County Spelling Bee Results

Inyo County Spelling Bee Results

Submitted by Ilissa Twomey, Spelling Bee Coordinator
January, 28, 2016

Superintendent of Schools Terry McAteer is pleased to announce that Rose Bracken from Bishop Elementary School won first place in the Inyo County Spelling Bee, sponsored by Altrusa. Twenty-five students from local elementary and middle schools participated in the 2015-16 countywide Spelling Bee last week at Jill Kinmont Boothe School. Sixteen students made it to the final rounds. The winners of the competition were: 1st Place Rose Bracken Bishop Elementary 2nd Place Mahdi Ayman Home Street 3rd Place Lyndsey Rowan Home Street After much fierce competition with words like desuetude, obeisance and exuviae, the winning word was: punchy. The spelling contestants included: Rainah Dewey, Ashley Fitt, Rocko Moore and Bodie Steinwand from Big Pine; Dev Bhakta, Graciela Gutierrez, Korina Isidro, and Jenna McGuire of Lone Pine; Sarah Faircloth, Erik Martinez, Mark McAlister and Orion Nash of Owens Valley; Branden Gardea from Bishop schools; Rylee Arcularius, Jilly Maurice, Braeden McGrale and Alex Morales from Round Valley. Several students also joined the preliminary competition as alternates to get practice for next year: Paul Rodriguez from LoInyo, Carlos Roriguez-Gonzales from Bishop, Dante Allen and Julian Carter from Owens Valley, and Greg Tordoff from Round Valley. Thank you to coaches Melinda Dardenne-Ankringa, Megan Fuchs, Carmen London, Victoria Hamilton, Rory Winzenread, Bryan Mack, Gemma Arana and Lidia Rubio for working with their students to prepare them for the bee. The local Altrusa chapter sponsored the competition. Margee Neer, Sarah Sheehan and Vi Tripp were on hand to distribute awards to students and judge the competition. Lynne Almeida of Spellbinder Books graciously accepted the position as the Pronouncer for this year’s competition. The Round Valley PTO donated $5 to the “last person standing” from each of the five districts competing. The recipients of those awards were: Clarissa Castro – Owens Valley Hana Hogan – Round Valley Tyler Mahlum-Hambleton – Big Pine Angelica Mendoza – Lo-Inyo Ace Selters – Bishop Representing Inyo County at the Elementary State Bee in April will be Lyndsey Rowan and Rose Bracken. Ace Selters and Mahdi Ayman will represent Inyo county at the Junior High State Bee in May. Congratulations to all the student participants.

Last Person Standing from each school district (left to right): Margee Neer of Altrusa, Angelica Mendoza of Lo-Inyo, Clarissa Castro of Owens Valley, Tyler Mahlum-Hambleton of Big Pine, Hana Hogan of Round Valley and Ace Selters of Home Street. Photo Submitted
Spelling Bee Winners (left to right): Rose Bracken (1st Place from Bishop Elementary), Mahdi Ayman (2nd Place from Home Street) and Lyndsey Rowan (3rd place from Home Street). Photo submitted
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Open House for OHV Grants

Open House for USFS and BLM 2016 Off-Highway Vehicle Grants Scheduled for February 11

submitted by the Inyo National Forest

BISHOP, Calif. – The Inyo National Forest and the Bishop Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management will hold an open house February 11 to gather public ideas for requesting off-highway vehicle grant funds.

The informal open house will run from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Forest Service/BLM office, 351 Pacu Lane, Bishop. 

The agencies plan to request grant funds from the State of California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division to enhance and manage motorized recreation in the area. Other non-profit organizations that partner with Forest Service and BLM may also have their representatives present to discuss their proposals for future grants.

Interested citizens are invited to drop in at any time during the open house.  Representatives from the two agencies will be available to answer questions about potential grants and to receive ideas about the types of projects and other opportunities to be funded through the grants. 

Preliminary grant applications will be submitted to the OHMVR Division by March 7. The public will be able to comment on the preliminary applications from March 8 to April 4. Final applications must be submitted by May 2. For more information about the state grant process and requirements, visit the OHMVR Division website at

For more information, to submit your ideas through other means, or if you have special needs for accommodation to participate in this open house, call Forest Trails Coordinator Marty Hornick at (760) 873-2461; or BLM Supervisory Resource Manager Jeff Starosta at (760) 872-5046.

Inyo National Forest, BLM Bishop field office, Off Highway Vehicles

NIH awarded Accreditation

Northern Inyo Hospital awarded Hospital Accreditation from The Joint Commission

submitted by Northern Inyo Hospital
January 26, 2016

BISHOP, CA – Northern Inyo Healthcare District (NIHD) today announced that Northern Inyo Hospital (NIH) has earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for Hospital Accreditation by demonstrating continuous compliance with its performance standards.

The Gold Seal of Approval, a registered trademark, is a symbol of quality that reflects an organization’s commitment to providing safe and effective patient care.

“This is a true accolade for our district and the communities it serves,” said NIHD’s Interim Chief Executive Officer Kevin S. Flanigan, MD MBA. “Northern Inyo Hospital is now the only critical access hospital between Carson City and Lancaster to receive this specific accreditation, and that speaks volumes for our staff who continue to work together to develop and implement approaches that have the potential to improve care for the patients in our communities.”

NIH underwent a rigorous, unannounced on-site survey Thursday and Friday, Jan. 14 and 15. During the review, a team of Joint Commission expert surveyors evaluated compliance with hospital standards related to several areas, including emergency management, environment of care, infection prevention and control, medical staff credentialing and privileging, data management, quality assurance and performance improvement, leadership, and medication management. Surveyors also conducted on-site observations and interviews.

The Joint Commission has accredited hospitals for more than 60 years. More than 4,000 general, children’s, long-term acute, psychiatric, rehabilitation and specialty hospitals currently maintain accreditation from The Joint Commission, awarded for a three-year period. In addition, approximately 360 critical access hospitals maintain accreditation through a separate program.

“Joint Commission accreditation provides hospitals with the processes needed to improve in a variety of areas from the enhancement of staff education to the improvement of daily business operations,” said Mark G. Pelletier, RN, M.S., chief operating officer, Division of Accreditation and Certification Operations, The Joint Commission. “In addition, our accreditation helps hospitals enhance their risk management and risk reduction strategies. We commend Northern Inyo Hospital for its efforts to become a quality improvement organization.”

The Joint Commission’s hospital standards are developed in consultation with health care experts and providers, measurement experts, and patients. The standards are informed by scientific literature and expert consensus to help hospitals measure, assess and improve performance.

About The Joint Commission: Founded in 1951, The Joint Commission seeks to continuously improve health care for the public, in collaboration with other stakeholders, by evaluating health care organizations and inspiring them to excel in providing safe and effective care of the highest quality and value. The Joint Commission accredits and certifies nearly 21,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States. An independent, nonprofit organization, The Joint Commission is the nation’s oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care. Learn more about The Joint Commission at

About Northern Inyo Healthcare District: Founded in 1946, Northern Inyo Healthcare District features a 25-bed critical access hospital, a 24-hour emergency department, a primary care rural health clinic, a diagnostic imaging center, and clinics specializing in women’s health, orthopedics and neurology, pediatrics and allergies and general surgery. Continually striving to improve the health outcomes of those who rely on its services, Northern Inyo Healthcare District aims to improve our communities one life at a time. One team, one goal, your health.

Northern Inyo Hospital Bishop California, NIH Bishop, Northern Inyo Health Care District

CHP Testing Dispatchers in Bishop

CHP is offering rare local dispatcher test

submitted by the California Highway Patrol

The California Highway Patrol (CHP) will accept applications until February 19th, 2016, from individuals interested in a career as a CHP dispatcher in Bishop.  This is an opportunity to serve alongside and dispatch for some of California’s finest who provide the highest level of safety, service and security throughout the state.  A career with a law enforcement agency like the CHP offers unlimited opportunities and benefits for someone who is looking for a challenge.

The Bishop CHP Communications Center has vacant positions needing to be filled with qualified men and women from diverse backgrounds who are committed to carrying out the CHP’s mission and making a difference in their communities.

Those interested in applying, or seeking additional information, are invited to an informational meet and greet on Thursday, February 4th, 2016, at 6:00 PM at the Bishop CHP Office, 469 S. Main St.  Interested parties may contact Public Safety Dispatch Supervisor Nancy Lauber at 760-872-5909 Monday through Thursday from 12:00 PM to 10:00 PM, or at  Additional information can be obtained by visiting

To be considered, candidates must be a US citizen or meet employment eligibility requirements, have no felony convictions, type no less than 40 words per minute, and meet the minimum work history requirements.  Each applicant will be required to complete a selection process including a written test, background investigation, medical evaluation and psychological evaluation. 

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Nevada Highway Patrol Cracking Down on Impaired Drivers

Nevada Highway Patrol gearing up for Impaired Drivers

Nevada Highway Patrol Joins Forces to Crack Down on Impaired Drivers Over The Super Bowl Weekend

submitted by the Nevada Highway Patrol

Impaired Driving Enforcement Effort Jan 22 – Feb 8, 2016

Over the next two weeks, Northern Nevada residents can expect to see double or even triple the normal law enforcement presence. The Nevada Highway Patrol has joined forces with law enforcement agencies statewide to crack down on impaired driving, and has an important message for the public: if you’ll be drinking, designate a sober driver, and if you drive impaired, you will be arrested.

What seems like a small buzz can have deadly consequences when taking to the roadways. Illegal drugs, prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines and lack of sleep can also impair your ability to drive safely. Law enforcement wants to remind motorists to always drive and ride sober or use a designated driver to reach your destinations safe.
Increasing law enforcement presence during these weeks supports the overall state goal of reaching Zero Fatalities. Northern Nevada residents can help us reach that goal by following these safety guidelines:

designate a sober driver before drinking; use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member or use public transportation if impaired

take advantage of local sober ride programs; call 911 if a drunk driver is spotted on the road

take the keys or assist in making other arrangements for someone who is about to drive or ride while impaired

Joining Forces enforcement is paid for by Nevada-Department of Public Safety, Office of Traffic Safety.

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2 Seats on Mammoth Town Council up for Election

Mammoth Voters will select two Town Council Members

submitted by the Town of Mammoth

Mammoth Voters will decide two town council seats during municipal election on June 7th, 2016

A Municipal Election will be held in the Town of Mammoth Lakes on Tuesday, June 7, 2016 for the purpose of electing two members to the Town Council. The Council members presently occupying these offices are Jo Bacon and Michael Raimondo. The term of office for each seat is four years. Council members are paid $300 per month.
Candidates must be registered voters and reside within the Town. Nomination Papers will be available from the Town Clerk starting on Tuesday, February 16, 2016. The deadline for filing of Nomination Papers is 5:00 p.m. on Friday, March 11, 2016. Citizens interested in running for a seat on the Town Council are encouraged to contact the Town Clerk, Jamie Gray, at (760) 934-8989, extension 267 for further information. The Town Clerk’s Office is located in Minaret Village Shopping Center, Old Mammoth Road, and is open from 8:00 a.m. to noon and from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday, holidays excepted and Fridays by appointment only.

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Sally Symons Pleads Guilty

Sally Ann Symons Pleads Guilty to Misappropriation of Government Funds

submitted by Inyo County District Attorney Tom Hardy

Sally Ann Symons entered a plea of guilty today to a felony violation of Penal Code section 424, misappropriation of government funds. The charge alleged that the misappropriation took place between August, 2014 and September, 2015, while Ms. Symons served as the Chief Executive Officer for the Tri-County Fairgrounds, and followed an investigation conducted by the California Highway Patrol Inland Division Investigative Services Unit.

Under the terms of an agreed disposition, Ms. Symons will be placed on five years of formal probation, and required to serve up to 270 days in the Inyo County jail as a term of that probation. The court will set the exact length of the jail term when she appears for sentencing on March 14, 2016 in Bishop. She will be ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $9,860.00 and will not be allowed to work in any positions allowing her to handle the money of third parties without the permission of her probation officer. She will also be required to stay off of the premises of the Tri-County Fair during the term of her probation. The Court will also have discretion to set fines and fees. By law, she will be forbidden from holding any public office in the future. Under the terms of the disposition, Ms. Symons will not be allowed to participate in electronic monitoring.

Sentencing will take place on March 14, 2016 at 1:00 p.m. at the Bishop Branch of the Inyo County Superior Court.

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Help Plan Mammoth Creek Park

Plan Mammoth Creek Park

The Town of Mammoth wants to hear from you!

submitted by the Town of Mammoth

Mammoth Lakes, CA – The Town of Mammoth Lakes has begun the process to plan, design and construct complementary Community Multi-Use Facilities at Mammoth Creek Park. The project includes three major components: a multi-use facility, complementary community center, and a playground with accessible components. The anticipated opening date of the multi-use facility is October 2017.

It is the intent of the Town to create a recreation destination that the entire community of Mammoth Lakes will actively enjoy, value and ultimately be proud to call their park. The guiding principle builds from the “A Town within a Park” concept that will deliver local residents and visitors high-quality complementary recreation facilities at Mammoth Creek Park. The proposed improvements will be designed to work with the existing play areas and parking. Complementary programming will promote a degree of excitement, individual expression, exploration, pleasure, challenge and accomplishment that can lead to an improved quality of life.

The Town is seeking broad public input regarding the initial planning and design effort and invites you to a Public Workshop on Friday, January 29, 2016 from 4:00-6:00pm at Suite Z in the Minaret Village Mall (above Starbucks). The date and time were selected to elicit as much community participation as possible. If you cannot attend in person, you may watch the workshop on Granicus, accessible online via the Town’s website (

The Mammoth Creek Park project includes three major components:

1.         A Multi-use Facility, which is an upgrade of our existing facility adjacent to the Mammoth Lakes Library located at 416 Sierra Park Road.
2.         A Community Center, intended to replace the existing community center located on Forest Trail near The Village, and;
3.         A playground with accessible components.

This project has been the subject of numerous meetings, some solely for this purpose, such as a previous site walk and open design charrette conducted on April 30, 2015 by the Town. It has also been on the agendas of the Recreation Commission, Mammoth Lakes Recreation and Town Council. In accordance with Town Council direction to staff to proceed with preliminary design in support of a future environmental review process, we have scheduled this dedicated public meeting on Friday, January 29, 2016 to consider design alternatives for the Community Multi-Use Facilities at Mammoth Creek Park West. This action followed extensive due diligence conducted by Town staff along with representatives from Mammoth Lakes Recreation and the Recreation Commission regarding the proposed relocation of the recreation facilities. On January 6, 2016 Town Council authorized the Town Manager to execute agreements with the consultants to provide preliminary design services and to prepare an environmental review document.

What the Town will present: The consultants will prepare and present three site plan alternatives for community review and discussion. Information will also be presented regarding initial conceptions of building size (dimensions, height, massing) and use. The Recreation Commission is the Town Council’s designated lead advisory body for this project and will be actively engaging the community in assessing the programming needs and space alternatives of the facilities. These programming-specific workshops are scheduled to commence on February 22, 2016.

What we are looking for: We are seeking input, based on the three alternatives, on the proposed locations for buildings and appurtenances and how various parts of the project can best work together. Additionally, with a parcel size of approximately 4.9 acres, 2.9 acres of which is undeveloped, we would like to hear ideas you may have regarding amenities or other uses for the remainder of the site. We welcome your creative and productive suggestions as well as any concerns you may have regarding the project. Please begin with the assumption that the final design will include the Multi-use Facility, Community Center and a playground with accessible components.

What we will not be doing: We will not debate whether or not the facilities should be located at Mammoth Creek Park West. Town Council has provided direction regarding the preferred location along with the major complementary components and it is our task as a community to work together to recommend the best possible project that provides significant community benefits while minimizing potential impacts. Only then, after appropriate environmental review, can a final decision be made.

The Town has created a dedicated website to provide project background and to keep you informed of the Plan Mammoth Creek Park project:  This website is the source for all information pertaining to this project. You may also subscribe to receive project emails or text notifications via the Town’s ‘Notify Me’ list ( or send an email with comments or recommendations regarding the project to

Be part of your Town’s recreation future by participating in the Plan Mammoth Creek Park project. We hope to see you on Friday, January 29, 2016 in Suite Z at 4:00pm.

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Mammoth PD is a Safe Trade Station

Mammoth PD Safe Trade Station Initiative

Submitted by Mammoth Police Department

Mammoth Lakes, CA The Mammoth Lakes Police Department announced today that it has joined the SafeTrade initiative for safer completion of online transactions. SafeTrade is a simple program for police departments to encourage transactions at their facilities, for classified sites to strengthen their safety and security initiatives, and for users to insist on “SafeTrade” by conducting their transactions at a local police office.          

Citizens may use the Mammoth Lakes Police Department’s lobby during business hours (Monday through Thursday from 8 AM to 5 PM) and the parking lot directly in front of the building to conduct transactions under camera surveillance. Mammoth Lakes Police Department officers and personnel do not get involved in, enforce, guarantee, or become a party in any way to the transactions of the individuals trading. Under no circumstances may someone conduct a transaction involving the sale of any weapon, medications, or any illegal items at the police department.

There are a few ways you can ensure your transaction is a positive one:

–      Ask for and accept cash only. Never accept checks, money orders or money wires as these are commonly associated with fraud.

–      Be cautious when buying or selling high value items.

–      Ask questions. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

–      Never give out your address or invite a buyer to your home.

–      Meet in a well-lit public place and let someone know where you are going. Buyers or sellers should reconsider conducting business with anyone who refuses to meet near a police station.

A SafeTrade sign has been placed in the front window of the Mammoth Lakes Police Department to be a reminder of the emphasis on providing the station as a safe environment for citizens involved in online transactions.

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VA Making Changes to Veterans Choice Program

VA Makes Changes to Veterans Choice Program

submitted by Yvette Mason, Veteran Service Representative

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has announced a number of changes to make participation in the Veterans Choice Program easier and more convenient for Veterans who need to use it. The move, which streamlines eligibility requirements, follows feedback from Veterans along with organizations working on their behalf.
Under the updated eligibility requirements, a Veteran is eligible for the Veterans Choice Program if he or she is enrolled in the VA health care system and meets at least one of the following criteria:
• Told by his or her local VA medical facility that they will not be able to schedule an appointment for care within 30 days of the date the Veteran’s physician determines he/she needs to be seen or within 30 days of the date the Veteran wishes to be seen if there is no specific date from his or her physician;

• Lives more than 40 miles driving distance from the closest VA medical facility with a full-time primary care physician;

• Needs to travel by air, boat or ferry to the VA medical facility closest to his/her home;

• Faces an unusual or excessive burden in traveling to the closest VA medical facility based on geographic challenges, environmental factors, a medical condition, the nature or simplicity or frequency of the care needed and whether an attendant is needed. Staff at the Veteran’s local VA medical facility will work with him or her to determine if the Veteran is eligible for any of these reasons; or

• Lives in a State or Territory without a full-service VA medical facility which includes: Alaska, Hawaii, New Hampshire (Note: this excludes New Hampshire Veterans who live within 20 miles of the White River Junction VAMC) and the United States Territories (excluding Puerto Rico, which has a full service VA medical facility).

Veterans seeking to use the Veterans Choice Program or wanting to know more about it, can call1-866-6068198 to confirm their eligibility and to schedule an appointment. For more information, you can contact your local Veteran Service Office at 760-873-7850 or

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