Tag Archives: inyo county news

Deceased Male Found at Big Pine Creek

BIG PINE CREEK, CA. June 9, 2019 – Yesterday evening at approximately 8:30pm, Inyo County Sheriff’s Office, California Highway Patrol, Big Pine Fire Department, Inyo County Coroner’s Office, and a MINT (Major Investigation and Narcotics Team) Investigator responded to Big Pine Creek and the Big Pine Canal for a report of a possible deceased male in the waterway of Big Pine Creek.
Due to the swift current, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power was dispatched to assist.  Once water flow was temporarily stopped, personnel from Big Pine Fire Department recovered the deceased male subject who was later identified as Jimmy Williams a 67 year old man from Big Pine, CA.
Foul play is not suspected. Please contact the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office at (760) 878-0383 if you have any information that can assist investigators

Get Ready for Higher Water Rates in Inyo County

Water rates are changing for Lone Pine, Independence, and Laws.

County Administrative Officer, Clint Quilter, 1st District Supervisor Dan Totheroh, 4th District Supervisor Mark Tilemans, and 5th District Supervisor Matt Kingsley were in attendance at Wednesday’s water rates workshop along with Mike Errante and Chris Cash from the Public Works Department to field questions on the proposed rate changes.

“The water system needs attention.” Public Works Director, Mike Errante told a concerned group of citizens on Wednesday night. “We are falling way behind on improvements, and this is a way to catch up.”

County officials stated that the rate increase will reflect costs of delivery of water rather than the actual water itself.

Deputy Director of Public Works, Chris Cash discussed how getting water from the source to homes and businesses is not as simple as one may be led to believe, noting issues with pressure, purification, equipment, delivery methods, staffing, and adequate quality.

After Errante and Cash were finished answering questions, they introduced Vice President of public utility consulting firm, Raftelis, Sanjay Gaur. Gaur began the PowerPoint presentation highlighting the nature of water systems, fees and taxes, the current financial plan, and proposed rates and billing.

Gaur discussed how the Inyo County water system does not pay for its water, however, they pay for the ability to use water to 24/7. Additionally, water is not taxed in California, but is treated as a service from the county to the public.

According to Gaur’s presentation, Inyo County’s revenue from water systems equates to an average of $370,164 per year. While their total operating budget for fiscal year 2018 is $436,588 which equates to a loss of -$66,424 for that year. Gaur argued that each year the system is not renovated using the aforementioned numbers, the net loss over five years is projected to reach -$176,229.

However, with the increased water rates, the county’s total capital improvement plan would be increased by $150,000 each year after 2021. Having a capital improvement plan will allow Inyo to build up a budget for necessary projects such as renovating the water system.

Two scenarios were proposed at the meeting to assuage the county’s lack of funds, with both equating to the same amount of money being added to the water system. The first scenario would have an up-front water bill increase of 30%, with the rest of the increase going up 10% each year until 2024. Scenario two, which is the one the county promoted more to the audience has a 50% increase in rates starting in 2020, then in 2021 it would increase by 10%, and afterward the bill would increase by 5% each year until 2024.

Scenario one would increase most residential water bills from the current quoted rate of $28.38 then move up to $38.45 in 2020. At the end of this rate increase cycle, most residential units will be paying $56.31 by 2024.

Scenario two would see an extreme jump of $44.36 per month for most residential properties during the first year. After the initial hike, the rates would moderately increase until they reach $56.51 per month in 2024.

On top of the already high bills residents will be paying, those who live in Independence can expect a surcharge of $6.34 per month to help make up the difference of an emergency water line that was installed. The cost of that line was $150,000 and the proposed rates will help pay off the county’s loan.

According to the PowerPoint regarding excess water usage, “Independence, Lone Pine, and Laws each have a water use threshold.If water is pumped above the threshold, there is an additional cost from LADWP.”

The water rate alteration is the first significant change for this utility since 2004. After the five year span of raising the rates, don’t expect them to go down. When asked by an individual in the crowd about a potential decrease in utility payments, Sanjay Gaur was quick to shoot the notion down saying, “No, the rates will stay the same after 2024 but they will not go down. The Golden Gate Bridge is constantly being painted. A water system is just like that in the sense that there is constant maintenance and upkeep.”

Clint Quilter Appointed Inyo County Administrator

By unanimous vote during closed session at its regular meeting Tuesday, November 6, 2018, the Inyo County Board of Supervisors appointed Clint G. Quilter to serve as the next Inyo County Administrative Officer. A contract outlining the terms of Quilter’s employment as CAO will be developed and brought to the Board of Supervisors for consideration at its November 13 meeting.

Quilter has been serving as Acting CAO since August 11, 2018.

His appointment is effective immediately and follows an exhaustive nationwide search began in July by a professional recruiting firm under contract with the County. The firm recently narrowed the field of applicants to six finalists from across the country. Separating Quilter from the pack were his mix of practical and executive leadership skills, knowledge of and experience with local issues, and a leadership style that emphasizes employee engagement and encourages communication.

“Before selecting the next CAO, the Board of Supervisors devoted resources to an extensive, thorough recruitment process and we took our time to ensure we had the best candidate, and the right fit, for Inyo County,” Board Chairperson Dan Totheroh said. “The recruiting firm presented us with several top-tier candidates to choose from and we believe we have selected the best person for this critical position.

“The Board of Supervisors looks forward to continuing its work with Mr. Quilter as Inyo County CAO, and is confident he will continue to bring innovative and constructive ideas and projects to the table, as well as provide for proactive, strong leadership for the benefit of County departments and employees and the public they serve.”

Quilter comes to the position with 29 years of local-government experience, including 21 years of executive level leadership.

Prior to his appointment as Acting CAO, Quilter served as Public Works Director for the past five years, leading a 58-person department with an $18 million budget and administering and coordinating the Airports, Engineering, Town Water Systems, Facility and Grounds Maintenance, Building & Safety, and Roads divisions. As Public Works Director, he also assumed ultimate responsibility for all County project management, and was a member of the Cannabis Working Group that helped to develop Inyo County’s commercial cannabis regulations.

Quilter relocated to Inyo County in 2013 from the City of Hollister, where he served nearly nine years as City Manager for the community of 38,000 people. Prior to that, he served as Hollister’s Public Works Director.

A native of Tonopah, Nev., Quilter is married and has three stepchildren with wife Sheyanne.

As CAO, Quilter will continue the duties he began as Acting CAO, including overseeing the administrative activities of the 424-employee organization; administering a $100 million budget as Budget Officer; providing professional and technical support to the five-member elected Board of Supervisors and administering and implementation of its policies and objectives; serving as Personnel Director; and advancing such initiatives as the new Consolidated Office Building and development of commercial air service at the Bishop Airport.

“I very much appreciate the Board of Supervisors’ confidence in me and am excited to continue serving the citizens of Inyo County in this new capacity,” Quilter said.

ECS seal - silver outlinesmall

Dedication set for Dick Noles Memorial

Dedication set for Bishop City Park Water Feature

June 3, 2016

The water feature at the Bishop City Park will be dedicated to the late Dick Noles on Saturday, June 18th.  The ceremony will begin at 10am and all are invited to gather and pay tribute to Dick Noles.  The water feature is located on the north side of the Park Pond.

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City Park Water Feature during construction. Photo by Arnie Palu

Noles was a very active member of the community working on various projects including the adventure trails system, the clearing of local ponds, and installing handicap ramps.  Noles passed away on November 4th.   Dick is survived by his wife of 63 years, Pat, two sons, Rick and wife Bonnie of Lee Vining and David and Jeannie of Bishop, five grandchildren, Pete Noles, Garrett Noles, Kari Face and husband Dan, Kristin Noles, Kristi Houston and husband Will. Dick also has 4 great grandchildren, Cameron, Corbin, Riley and Aiden.

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Bishop PD arrests 2

Bishop Police Make Arrests

April 1, 2016
submitted by Jessica Scida, Public Information Officer

On Wednesday, March 30, 2016 at approximately 6:30 PM units from the Bishop Police Department conducted a probation search at a residence located in the 300 block of Clark Street.

At the residence, Bishop Police Officers made contact with Alberto Verdugo Flores, a 32 year old Bishop resident. During search of the residence, officers located a large amount of stolen property connected to a series of burglaries in the Bishop area. As a result of the investigation, Flores was placed under arrest and transported to the Inyo County Jail on the following charges: Penal Code Section 496(a) – Possession of Stolen Property over $900.00; Penal Code Section 1203.2 – Violation of Probation; and Health and Safety Code Section 11377(a) – Possession of a Controlled Substance.

Bishop Police Officers also contacted Kevin Douglas Elliott, a 26 year old Big Pine resident inside the house. Elliott was found to be in possession of approximately a half ounce of methamphetamine. Elliott was placed under arrest and transported to the Inyo County Jail on the following charges: Health and Safety Code Section 11378 – Possession of a Controlled Substance for Sales; Health and Safety Code Section 11364 – Possession of Controlled Substance Paraphernalia.

The investigation is continuing at this time, and anyone with additional information is encouraged to contact the Bishop Police Department at (760) 873-5866.

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Inyo County Speech Winners

Inyo County Speech Contest Winners

submitted by Dr. Terry McAteer
March 25, 2016

Inyo County Superintendent of Schools is pleased to announce that Haley Yarborough of Round Valley School won first place at the 64th Annual Inyo County Speech Contest sponsored by Coldwell Banker and held on March 10th at Jill Kinmont Boothe School. The second place winner was Kylee Jorgensen also of Round Valley. Third place went to Bodie Steinwand from Big Pine School.

Each participating school held their own speech contest where one or two winning students in grades 6-8 were selected to compete at the county level. In addition to Steinwand, Joey Huston also represented Big Pine School. Clarissa Castro and Erik Martinez represented Owens Valley School and Mahdi Ayman represented Home Street Middle School. These seven students representing three schools in Inyo County were asked to address the question: “In your opinion, what questions should our presidential candidates address?” Students presented well-reasoned arguments addressing a variety of important issues facing our country today–the two mentioned most being climate control and the cost of higher education. An undercurrent in many of the speeches was a concern over the lack of leadership, action, and problem-solving among many of our nation’s politicians today.

“We should commend these students for their efforts,” said Superintendent Terry McAteer. “Public speaking is among the top fears among Americans, yet it is an important skill. I’m proud to see our students hone their skills and speak out.”

All speeches were evaluated on content and delivery by a panel of three, community judges: retired teacher Sandy Burns; Program Coordinator at Toiyabe Serena Johnson; and retired teacher and ICSOS board member Mary Kemp. Inyo County Superintendent of Schools heartily thanks these judges for their time and expertise.
ICSOS would also like to express gratitude to the school coaches for their time, effort and support for our students. The coaches were Melinda Darndenne-Ankringa of Big Pine School; Vivian Hanson of Owens Valley School; Joslyn Hernandez of Home Street Middle School; and Jennifer Morales from Round Valley School.

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Speech contest participants: Mahdi Ayman (HSMS), Joey Huston (Big Pine), Erik Martinez (OV) and Clarissa Castro (OV)
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Left to right Supt. McAteer, Haley Yarborough (RV – 1st place), Kylee Jorgensen (RV – 2nd place), Bodie Steinwand (Bog Pine – 3rd place) and sponsor Jake Rasmuson of Coldwell Banker
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Haley Yarborough of Round Valley, 1st place
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Inyo SO arrests 4 in Keeler

Inyo County Sheriff Office arrests 4 in Keeler

submitted by Carma Roper, Inyo County Sheriffs Department
February 17, 2017

Stolen Property Recovered

On February 10th members of the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office served a search warrant in Keeler and discovered approximately $5,000 worth of stolen property.  The following arrests were made:

·         Steven Zukaitus, 30-year old man from Keeler, arrested for: felony burglary, felony grand theft, felony possession of stolen property, misdemeanor possession of marijuana and paraphernalia. In addition Mr. Zukaitus is being held on one local warrant and three Kern County warrants.

·         Richard Zukaitus, 75-year old man from Keeler was cited for obstructing an officer.

·          Nicole Archila, 26-year old woman from Keeler, arrested for: felony burglary, felony grand theft, felony possession of stolen property. Ms. Archila is also being held on one Kern County warrant.

·         Christopher Hansen, 27-year old man from Keeler, arrested for: felony burglary, felony grand theft, felony possession of stolen property, false representation of identity to a Peace Officer, and one Nye County, NV warrant.

Originally Deputies arrived at the Zukaitis residence to serve an active warrant; however items that were recently reported stolen were noticed in the residence which ultimately resulted in the arrests.

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Inyo County Poetry Out Loud

Inyo Council for the Arts announces Shyann Padilla as Poetry Out Loud Champion

Submitted by the Inyo Council for the Arts
February 11, 2016

Bishop, CA — For the second year in a row Shyann Padilla from Owens Valley High School in Independence, received the title of 2016 Inyo County Poetry Out Loud Champion at the county finals held in Bishop on February 3, 2016. The runner-up was Cianni Benson, also from Owens Valley High School.

This was the sixth year that Inyo Council for the Arts has collaborated with the Inyo County Superintendent of Schools office to offer the Poetry Out Loud program, which is sponsored by the California Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. Retired English teacher, Harold McDonald, was the county coordinator in the schools.

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(from left to right) are Heidy Gonzalez, Grace Morriset, Shandy Ratchford, Cianni Benson, and Shyann Padilla. Photo provided
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Cianni Benson, and Shyann Padilla. Photo provided

At the county finals, Poetry Out Loud contestants recited works they selected from an anthology of more than 900 classic and contemporary poems. Poetry Out Loud gives students an opportunity to master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage. Shyann’s readings of “Drowning in Wheat” by John Kinsella and “Domestic Situation” by Ernest Hilbert, wowed the guest judges, who evaluated student performances on criteria including presence, evidence of understanding, and accuracy.

Padilla moves on to compete in Sacramento at the end of this month representing Inyo County in the California State Championship.

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Southern Inyo Hospitals License suspended

Southern Inyo Hospitals License suspended

Submitted by Southern Inyo Hospital

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has temporarily suspended the license of Southern Inyo Hospital (SIH) following a site survey on January 13th, according to Alan Germany, Chief Restructuring Officer at SIH.

SIH staff has readied the facility for the survey and the required staffing for dietary, pharmacy, nursing, physician, radiology and laboratory were all in place. According to a telephone conversation on January 14th, between Dr. Karen Smith, Director of CDPH, and Richard Fedchenko, SIHD Board President, the survey failed for two deficiencies.

The first was regarding physicians. At an earlier meeting of the Southern Inyo Healthcare District held on January 12th, Dr. Parmod Kumar was given hospital privileges and appointed as Medical Director of SIH. He will serve as the hospital physician on call 24/7 for several days or even a week at a time. What was missing in the survey was the second physician to whom Dr. Kumar would pass relevant files and care information on the patients as he turned those responsibilities over at the end of his duty cycle. That is already being addressed by the new management team at SIH, Healthcare Conglomerate Associates (HCCA) with the preparation of contracts with a number of qualified physicians who are available to serve SIH.

The second deficiency was the absence of the nursing and support staff for the Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF). HCCA had not been notified by the CDPH survey team in advance that they expected to see this team in place. That will be easily rectified for the next survey.

Dr. Smith indicated that CDPH has been working hard to save the hospital and that it is the position of the CDPH that the applicable law required suspension of the license because the hospital was not yet in total compliance. She further assured SIH that re-licensing will be easy when the hospital is fully operational and ready to admit patients. There is no fine for being in suspension, and Dr. Smith advised that the suspension of the license will have no effect on the hospital’s standing with Medicare and MediCal. Reimbursements from these governmental payers will continue for bills already submitted and the new billing may resume when the suspension of the license is removed. Dr. Smith also advised that the process will not be made more difficult simply because the license has been suspended. She added that the survey team is quite busy but will be standing by to give SIH high priority once the hospital is ready for another survey to be conducted.

A court action to prevent CDPH from independently suspending or forcing the hospital to voluntarily suspend the license was unsuccessful.

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