Tag Archives: eastern sierra news

City of Bishop Appoints New City Administrator

After conducting a comprehensive recruitment facilitated by an executive search firm, the Bishop City Council voted unanimously to appoint Ron Phillips as its next City Administrator at the City Council meeting on January 13, 2020.

The recruitment process yielded 14 applicants, which were put through a rigorous screening. The field was eventually reduced to 4 highly qualified candidates for final interviews. Candidates interviewed before two panels comprised of staff and the City Council.

Mr. Phillips holds a Master’s degree in Regional and City Planning and has a diverse career as a City Manager, Planning Director, Engineering General Manager, Transportation Planner and Past President of the Colorado Municipal League. Ron attended the Program for Senior Executives in State & Local Government as a Gates Foundation Fellow in the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Ron has served as Town Manager in Vail, Colorado, Transportation Services Director for Fort Collins, Colorado, principal in his own consulting firm, and most recently as General Manager for six water utility special districts in Wasatch County, Utah.

The Bishop City Council welcomes Mr. Phillips to the City! He is expected to start on February 1st, and we are excited to have him join the City team.

County to Discuss Indian Wells Groundwater Authority Groundwater Sustainability

The Inyo County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to discuss the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority (IWVGA) draft Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) at its regular meeting Tuesday, January 14. Specifically, the Board will receive a presentation by staff and an update from Supervisor Kingsley, Inyo
County’s representative on the IWVGA. The GSP is scheduled for consideration by the IWVGA on Thursday, January 16, 2020. One of the components of the GSP is inclusion of a project seeking to import water into the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Basin via the Los Angeles Aqueduct.

Inyo County is one of five members of the IWVGA, which also includes Kern and San Bernardino counties, the City of Ridgecrest, and the Indian Wells Valley Water District. The joint powers authority was created for the purpose of implementing the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) within the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Basin, which the state determined is in “critical overdraft” due to decades of over- pumping. SGMA is requiring development of a GSP as part of the mandate to halt the overdraft and bring the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Basin into balanced levels of pumping and recharge by 2040. The GSP is
due this month.

“Although Inyo County’s constituency is a relatively small portion of the groundwater users in that basin (i.e., Pearsonville), Inyo County has outsized concerns regarding the future of the basin’s water use due to the intention of our fellow JPA members to import water into the basin via the LADWP Aqueduct,” said Assistant County Counsel John-Carl Vallejo, who serves as Inyo County’s alternate on the IWVGA board.

The Inyo County Board of Supervisors hear the update Tuesday shortly after reconvening from closed session at 10 a.m.

The meeting will be held in the Board of Supervisors Chambers, County Administrative Center, 224 N. Edwards St., Independence.

Local Man Shoots and Kills Attempted Robbery Suspect

An attempted robbery was foiled by an Eastern Sierra resident Monday evening.

The Bishop Police Department received multiple 911 calls regarding a shooting involving several people at the Shell Gas Station on Wye Road in Bishop, CA.

When officers arrived on the scene, they discovered an adult male on the ground in the parking lot with multiple gunshots wounds. According to a press release from the Bishop Police Department, the individual died on the scene. “He [The male] was unable to speak. A handgun was nearby, and medics began life saving measures, but he died shortly thereafter.”

At this time, the Bishop Police Department is not releasing the identity of the male until next of kin is notified. However, Police Chief Ted Stec told KIBS/KBOV News that the deceased individual was a non-local.

It appears as though the perpetrator was a suspect in an attempted robbery. “The investigation thus far tends to show the decedent attempted to rob one of our local residents shortly after he parked and exited his vehicle at the Shell,” the Bishop Police Department press release says. “It is likely the decedent had been looking to target someone in the parking lot. The decedent shot the victim more than once. The victim, who had a concealed carry permit and was armed, returned fire. He then managed to enter his vehicle and move to a better location. The victim received serious wounds but was able to provide BPD with good details.”

The victim is currently undergoing treatment for multiple gunshot wounds. He was transferred to a hospital in Reno, Nevada, for further evaluation.

After discovering the deceased suspect, Bishop Police issued a BOLO for a white Ford Escape being driven by a female wearing a beanie after a witness described the car in which the deceased male attempted to get away.

Police Chief Stec told KIBS/KBOV News, “This is a tragic event that has unfolded in Bishop. However, there’s been a tremendous response from Bishop PD, and all of its law enforcement partners including Inyo County Sheriff’s Department, Mono County Sheriff’s Department, Mammoth Lakes PD, CHP, Bishop Fire Department, and Symons Ambulance. This is an active investigation, and we are working to find the at large suspect.”

Later in the evening, authorities located a crashed and unoccupied vehicle that matched the wittiness’s description on Jean Blanc Road near the Laws area. A CHP helicopter and a K9 unit from Ridgecrest PD assisted in locating the female suspect.

Around 2:00 am, the wanted suspect called 911 to turn herself in due to cold weather. “It’s too cold, I am going to freeze to death.” the suspect told the dispatcher during the call. The temperature at that time was 19 degrees.

The female has been identified as Brandee Sue Trujillo, age 46 of Oildale, CA. She was booked into the Inyo County Jail on charges relating to a fugitive running from justice.

The investigation is still ongoing. If anyone has relevant information about this incident, you are encouraged to contact the Bishop Police Department as soon as possible at 760-873-5866.

 

New Year’s DUI Arrests Decrease Across State, but Increase in Bishop Area

The California Highway Patrol conducted its Maximum Enforcement Period (MEP) for the New Year in response one of the biggest binge-drinking holidays in the United States.

“For this New Year’s Day Maximum Enforcement Period (MEP), the CHP will be deploying all available personnel from 6:01 p.m. on Tuesday, December 31, 2019, to 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, January 1, 2020.  The CHP will focus on impaired drivers.” CHP said in a press release.

On a state-wide level, DUI arrest numbers drastically decreased, with a total of 491 people arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances. Last year, there were 1,140 arrests during the CHP MEP.

One major factor as to why there were far less arrests, is because the Maximum Enforcement Period lasted a much shorter duration. The 2019-2020 MEP went on for just thirty hours compared to the 2018-2019 period, which lasted for 102 hours.

DUI arrests this year for the Inland Division of the California Highway Patrol followed the trend of decreased arrests throughout the state. Last year, the CHP Inland Division arrested ninety-six people on suspicion of impaired driving, with three fatal traffic collisions occurring As for this MEP, there were a total of forty-one arrests with no fatal accidents occurring.

Although arrests were down state-wide for driving under the influence, that was not the case in the Bishop area. Bishop CHP arrested three people, whereas during the last New Year’s MEP, there were no drivers charged with operating a vehicle while impaired.

As for the Bridgeport Area CHP, two people were charged with DUI. During the previous year, three people were arrested for drinking and driving.

Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra Prepares for Operation Mountain Freedom

Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra (DSES), in partnership with Mammoth Mountain Ski Area and the Inyo National Forest Service will welcome more than 50 active and veteran military personnel and their families. Participants have a myriad of disabilities, including Post Traumatic Stress, Traumatic Brain Injuries, Major Depressive Disorder, and amputations.

Beginning with a welcome dinner hosted by Mammoth Lakes Fire Department, the community of Mammoth Lakes will gather together to support our wounded warriors for a week of therapeutic recreation as part of Operation Mountain Freedom.

This event, which has been growing each year since 2007, was created in an effort to help our wounded warriors reintegrate into civilian life within the beauty, safety, and joy of the Sierra Nevada mountains. New this year, athletes will participate in sessions geared toward assimilating to civilian life including goal setting, successful transition and caregiver support.

Like all of DSES’s programs for military athletes, Operation Mountain Freedom often changes the lives of participants. For example, Julius, a retired Army Ranger who first came to Operation Mountain Freedom in 2016 learned to Alpine and Nordic ski as part of the program. Julius has since returned to several events to improve his skills and now competes across the country in Nordic and biathlon races. He and his fiancée, Katie, continue to support the program in many capacities like fundraising and mentoring both military and civilian athletes new to the world of adaptive sports. Julius and Katie are now so entwined in the DSES family that they are making the organization as part of their wedding celebrations which include a ceremony at the summit of Mammoth Mountain coinciding with Operation Mountain Freedom.

On Thursday, January 16, the Mammoth Lakes community is invited to come together to recognize all participants with a ceremonial Arch of Honor at 8:45am at the Gondola Building at Main Lodge.

Operation Mountain Freedom is supported by generous grants and contributions from The Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF), National Football League (NFL), Disabled Sports USA (DSUSA), Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, and Steve and Dana Garcia.

For a complete schedule of events and more information about Operation Mountain Freedom, please contact Amanda Carlson at 760.934.0791 or email acarlson@disabledsportseasternsierra.org.

State Representatives Recognize NIHD’s District of Year Designation

Inyo County’s representatives, State Senator Andreas Borgeas and Assemblyman Devon Mathis, recently recognized Northern Inyo Healthcare District for its designation as the Healthcare District of the Year by the Association of California Healthcare Districts.

Mathis, representing California’s 26th Assembly District, visited the District to present the NIHD Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer Kevin S. Flanigan, MD MBA, with a framed Assembly Resolution. Borgeas, representing California’s 8th Senate District, had an approved State Senate Certificate delivered by Field Representative Dana Jorgensen.

In October, Northern Inyo Healthcare District’s success with its Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) program garnered the District top honors from the Association of California Healthcare Districts (ACHD) as it named NIHD California’s Healthcare District of the Year for 2019.

Earlier this year, NIHD began a MAT program with grant and other funding, which the District runs in collaboration with other stakeholders for coordination of care. During the preceding three years, the District and others began to review opioid use. They identified a trend in the escalation of overdoses, deaths, criminal cases, and medical issues associated with opioid use, misuse, and abuse.

NIHD applied for and was one of 31 named recipients for the Bridge Grant. This action allowed for the creation of the MAT program, which is now expanding into other areas of Behavioral Health treatment. Since the implementation of the program:

NIHD has seen more than 92 enrolled patients in eleven months.

Every NIHD Emergency Department physician has earned special certification to prescribe the highly controlled anti-addiction medication; and,

 More than a half dozen patients have been treated with the life-saving medication, Narcan, by police, first responders, or private citizens outside of the hospital.

State Health officials have also asked the program’s coordinators to share their path of success and growing expertise with other healthcare agencies in hopes of launching similar programs in other areas of California.

Senator Borgeas’ certificate noted that the District’s MAT program has “broken barriers to treat patients dealing with behavioral health issues and is improving their quality of life.” It goes on to commend the entire NIHD staff for the program’s “creative efforts (that) will truly save lives.”

Assemblyman Mathis’ resolution, read into the Assembly’s official record on Nov. 14, made note of the “vital and interdependent” relationship between communities and their nonprofit health care organizations, the resulting positive health outcomes, and “the spirit of ongoing community engagement” fostered through charitable activities.

Mathis’ resolution goes on to note that in keeping with the District’s vision, “NIHD has stood firm to its core value of compassion and integrity; aspirational values of quality, excellence, and innovation, and permissive values of safety and team-based partnerships with its professional staff.” Mathis then went on to congratulate the District as ACHD’s Healthcare District of the Year and commended the Board of Trustees, leadership, and staff for continually providing outstanding healthcare services to the residents of Northern Inyo County.

Bishop Union Win Third CIF Championship in School History

Photos by Gary Young

Defense wins championships. However cliché it sounds, the Bishop Bronco’s defense is what won them the championship against the Orosi Cardinals on Saturday night.

Midway through the first quarter, the Broncos forced their first turnover of the game, when Jaydan Braithwaite stole Orosi Quarterback, Evan Lara’s screen pass, which was intended for star running back, Dominic Martinez inside the red zone. Braithwaite knew the ball was going to be thrown to Martinez before Lara could even react.

Later on, Orosi had another opportunity to score inside the red zone. Lara tried to throw a ball off of his back foot. The wayward throw was intercepted in the middle of the field by Darren Dondero, who recorded his fourth interception of the season.

Right before halftime, it appeared as though Orosi would score some much needed points trailing 13-0. Dominic Martinez received the hand off, shifted to the left and headed toward the goal line. That’s when a host of Bronco defenders stormed toward Martinez, who was on the one yard line and fumbled before scoring.

The ball looked like it had a mind of its own, inexplicably shooting out of the hands of the junior tailback toward the touchdown marker as defenders closed in on Martinez. The officials determined the Orosi Cardinal did not cross the goal line, therefore the Broncos would take possession on their 20 yard line.

Later on in the game, Lara would fumble the ball for the team’s fourth turnover on the night near midfield.

Turnovers weren’t the only facet of the game in which Ricky Beal’s defense thrived. Sophomore, Kennedy Bachelder led the team with ten tackles and two sacks. Cornerback, Joe Weaver had five pass breakups along with two tackles, and Tristan Valle recorded seven tackles and one sack.

Although Bishop’s defense is it’s strength, the Broncos offense isn’t too shabby either. Led by Luke McClean and Steven Paco, James Ferrell’s offense has scored fifty-five total touchdowns this season. Five of those touchdowns were scored in the championship.

Going into the second quarter, the game was tied 0-0. Steven Paco turned the tide in favor of Bishop with a one yard scamper into the end zone, making it 7-0. The first score of the game was Paco’s 14th rushing touchdown of the year.

Later on in the second quarter, Luke McClean found Johnny Torres, affectionately known now as “Johnny Playoffs” for his stellar performances in the post season for a twenty yard reception, which put the Broncos at the one yard line. McClean finished off the drive with a one yard rushing touchdown.

With 10:30 to go in the third quarter, McClean hooked up with the player of the game, Joe Weaver for a twenty yard touchdown pass over the middle. Bishop converted the two-point attempt to give them a three score lead against Orosi.

Luke McClean would get his second touchdown of the game when he kept the ball for a three yard touchdown right before the fourth quarter began. The rush was the star quarterback’s eighteenth touchdown on the ground this season.

Bishop’s offense would finish off the night with a twenty yard sweep to “Johnny Playoffs.” Torres went in motion from the right side, took the ball up the left, and blew past the Cardinal defenders. The game would finish 34-7.

The CIF title is the first for Head Coach, Arnie Palu and the third in school history. The team’s last championship came in 2010. Before that, Bishop had to wait fifty-three years to see a title, which happened in 1957.

Laws Museum Appoint New Museum Administrator

The Board of Directors of Laws Museum is pleased to announce the selection of Raven Angeles as our museum Administrator. Since beginning her employment as office manager in May 2019, Ms. Angeles has consistently met the highest professional standards in her position. Her bookkeeping and office management expertise is matched by her problem solving skills and her dedication to do what is best for the museum, staff, volunteers, and visitors. The Board of Directors looks forward to a new and exciting future for Laws Museum with Raven Angeles on the team as our Administrator!

When you visit Laws Museum, what you experience is the result of the many years Howard Holland has dedicated to the museum as our Exhibits Manager. At the October meeting of the board of directors Howard Holland announced his retirement and his intention to “pass the torch” to Katie Olson. We are thrilled to announce Katie Olson has accepted the position of Exhibits Manager. Katie was elected to the Laws Railroad Museum & Historical Site Board of Directors in June after retiring from a thirty eight year career with Walt Disney Imagineering. Katie brings a wealth of experience to the Laws Railroad Museum and we are excited about her new role at the museum.

Please join us in congratulating Katie and Raven on their new positions!

Espitia Accepts Deal with Mono DA for 25 Years in Prison

Alleged sexual predator, Jorge Romero Espitia of Mammoth Lakes has accepted a plea-deal and will be charged with multiple felonies.

The Mammoth Lakes resident will be charged with twelve felonies and one misdemeanor. The felonies range from selling methamphetamine to minors and conducting sexual acts with minors.

A month ago, prosecutors were looking to set up a deal which would put Mr. Espitia away for at least eighty-five percent of a twenty-five year sentence. Mono County Assistant District Attorney, Dave Anderson spoke about the trial in October saying, “We anticipate Mr. Espitia and his attorney will end up accepting the deal the Mono County District Attorney’s office has offered.”

On May 16, 2019, the Mammoth Lakes resident was arrested for nineteen felony charges and had a bail set for $500,000 dollars.

Funds Pour in for Fuel Reduction Projects in Mammoth

In March of 2019, the Mammoth Lakes Fire Safe Council was awarded a $1,000,000 grant from the Sierra Nevada Conservancy (SNC) to complete the Lakes Basin Hazardous Fuels Reduction Project (‘project’). The ‘project’ provides valuable fuel reduction treatment on 630 acres in the Mammoth Lakes Basin to reduce wildfire risk, improve forest health and protect the watershed. The contractor’s proposed cost of the project resulted in an $181,275 deficit. The following agencies recently made significant financial contributions to support the project’s completion:

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power ($60,425) Mono County ($30,425) Town of Mammoth Lakes ($60,425) Edison International – a parent company of Southern California Edison ($30,000)

“I am grateful these agencies and SNC recognized the importance of this project” stated Dave Easterby, MLFSC president. “The success of this project will be recognized by their financial contribution, along with the tireless efforts from volunteer individuals, including our primary grant writer, Matthew Diener, MLFSC Director at Large. We’re fortunate to be working with dedicated like-minded individuals within a community of supportive agencies.”

“This project’s success demonstrates the power in multi-agency collaboration and what volunteer groups can accomplish.” Juliana Jones, Secretary of MLFSC, continued “I am grateful so many entities, who care about the safety of our community, came together to provide financial contributions to this regional support effort.”

The Lakes Basin Hazardous Fuels Reduction Project will be completed in Fall of 2020. 568 acres were completed this season, providing valuable protection to the Mammoth Lakes Community. Inyo National Forest, Mammoth Community Water District and Mammoth Lakes Fire Protection District supported the ‘project’ development and grant administration. The MLFSC is thankful for the overwhelming support received by the community and recent financial contributions from other local agencies.