Tag Archives: Inyo County

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 CALPERS DEBT

Twenty year payment plan selected to pay off massive debt

Posted by Seth Conners

According to a press release from the county, The Inyo County Board of Supervisors took proactive steps at a board meeting on Tuesday March 28th to address major, unavoidable employee cost increases that will confront the County in coming years.

The Board voted to select a 20-year amortization plan offered by CalPERS, the State of California’s manager of its employee pension and health benefits, in order to pay down $59 million in unfunded accrued liability for both miscellaneous and safety employees’ retirement plans. The Board also decided to make a lump-sum payment of nearly 4.5 million dollars on what is owed next Fiscal Year, rather than make monthly payments over the course of 12 months.

The decision to select the 20-year payment plan instead of the minimally required 30-year plan will save Inyo County taxpayers an estimated 14.5 million dollars in interest costs. The decision to make a lump sum payment instead of monthly payments will save the County $118,594  in next year’s budget.

Because of the way in which CalPERS structured the County’s payment options, the annual cost of the 20-year plan is only higher than the 30-year plan for the first five years; after five years, the 30-year plan would actually cost the County more each year.

Inyo County is one of hundreds of counties and cities throughout California that CalPERS will be billing for their estimated share of growing pension debt resulting from investment earnings falling short of forecasts. Estimates from January placed the unfunded liability at 139 billion dollars.

CARNIVAL AT BISHOP HIGH

Cancer awareness fundraiser is part “Students Supporting Cancer Awareness” campaign

Posted by Seth Conners

According to a press release from Bishop Union High School, students of Bishop Union High School are hosting a fundraising carnival to support the ESCA (Eastern Sierra Cancer Alliance).  The community is invited to the family, fun event that will take place tonight from 5:30pm to 7:00pm in the mall at Bishop Union High School.

 

The Bishop Unified School District is running a district wide “Students Supporting Cancer Awareness” campaign from March 27th to April 7th.  During this 2 week period, students will have many fun and creative activities on each campus to help raise money and awareness for cancer.  All funds raised at the carnival will go towards Bishop Union High School’s contribution to the Eastern Sierra Cancer Alliance.  The ESCA is a grassroots, non-profit organization that helps many Inyo and Mono county residents by providing resources, financial aid, and gives moral support for those battling cancer.  

 

The carnival will feature a variety of classic games such as mini golf, frisbee toss, Nerf Gun shooting range, hoop shoot, ring toss, and football toss.  Prizes will include a photo-shoot with Mike McDermott, a photo-shoot with Steve Dutcher,  and Toys donated by J. Rousek Toy Company; a food booth will be hosted by the Bronco Booster Club.  

 

COUNTY LIBRARY

Inyo County Free Library closed for automation

Posted by Seth Conners

Inyo County Free Library will be temporarily closing the branches in Big Pine, Bishop, Independence and Lone Pine from Thursday, March 23 through Thursday, March 30, 2017 in order to apply about 13,000 barcodes to books. Librarians will be moving from branch to branch to complete this work.

We regret the inconvenience to our Library patrons, and appreciate your patience during this necessary closure. Big Pine, Bishop and Lone Pine Branches will resume normal operating hours on Friday, March 31, 2017. The Central Library in Independence will reopen on Saturday, April 1, 2017.

HISTORY DAY CONTEST

ICSOS announces results for Inyo County History Day Contest

Posted by Seth Conners

Inyo County’s History Day Contest was held on Monday, March 13th, 2017. Students from Bishop Elementary, Home Street Middle School, Owens Valley Unified, and Round Valley Elementary participated. Thirteen individual posters, one website, and two group exhibits covering a variety of topics captured this year’s contest theme of Taking a Stand in History.

Students were judged on the historical quality, relation to theme, clarity of presentation, and compliance with rules. They also participated in interviews, explaining the process they used to create their projects. The following students will be advancing to the state competition in May:
Steve Mather, Fight against Railroad Monopolies (website)
Naiya Warren and Kylee Mullen, First Two Women in Space (exhibit)
Cora Vannest and Kaki Saulque, Alice Piper (exhibit)
Shealyn Ludwick, Dietrich Bonhoeffer (poster)
Blake Winzenread, Wangari Maathai (poster)
Luke Winzenread, John Muir (poster)

The following students were also recognized for their hard work on their poster presentations: Elias Downard with Wright Brothers, Brooklyn Garnder with Fannie Lou Hamer, Elizabeth Ellsworth with Annie Bidwell, Malaya Milazzo with Clara Shortridge Foltz, Alyssa Buchholz with Annie Oakley, Jodie Bedore with Malala’s Stand, Ty Arcularius with Don Haskins, Elan Boehme with Charles Darwin, Emma Dutton with Susan B. Anthony, and Claire Vetter with Elizabeth Blackwell.

Thank you to coaches Randee Arcularius, Billy and Shelly Daugherty, and Brian Mack for working with their students to prepare them for the competition. In addition, ICSOS would like to thank the local Altrusa Chapter for sponsoring the event.

Congratulations to all student participants!

OHV GRANT APPLICATIONS

USFS and BLM 2017 OHV Grant Applications are now available for public comment.

Posted by Seth Conners

According to Deb Schweizer, The Inyo National Forest and the Bureau of Land Management Bishop Field Office (BLM) have submitted to the California State Parks Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation (OHMVR) preliminary applications for grant funds to enhance and manage motorized recreation. The agencies invite public comments on the preliminary grant applications.
These and all other applicants’ grant requests, as well as detailed instructions about the process and how to comment, can be viewed on the OHMVR website at www.ohv.parks.ca.gov/. Comments should be submitted directly through the division website and sent to the responsible agency anytime from March 7 to April 3, 2017.
The agencies also invite the public to come out to an informal open house happening from 4 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 16, at the U.S. Forest Service/BLM office, located behind the Department of Motor Vehicles, at 351 Pacu Lane in Bishop. Copies of the preliminary applications will be available at the open house. The public can come by at any time during the open house to review and discuss the grant applications.
Representatives from the two agencies, the Inyo County Public Works Department and others who are submitting grants for activities on USFS and BLM lands, will be on site to answer questions and receive or facilitate comments on changes, concerns and support for final grant applications, which will be submitted before May 1, 2017.

BUILDING PERMITS

Inyo County and The City of Bishop now issuing building permits from the same place.

Posted by Seth Conners

According to Michelle Rhew at the City of Bishop, Earlier this year Inyo County and the City of Bishop consolidated the
building permit staff for each agency at one location at Bishop City Hall.
The consolidation was done to improve service and reduce cost.
Inyo County’s Building and Safety staff are now based in the Public Works
Office at Bishop City Hall, 377 West Line Street. The county staff now
perform building permitting and inspection for the city as well as the county.
Inyo County Building and Safety staff are available during regular City Hall
hours, 8 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday, excluding city holidays.
They can assist with building permitting throughout Inyo County including
the City of Bishop.
Although the county staff has moved to city offices, they can still be
reached at the usual county phone number 760-873-7857. For projects in
the city they can be reached at the city phone number, 760-873-8458. Their
mailing address is the same as City Hall, 377 West Line Street, Bishop,
California 93514.
Inyo County and City of Bishop have appreciated the public’s patience
during the move to City Hall and appreciate patience as details of the
consolidation are worked through in coming months. Comments and
suggestions on building permitting and the consolidation are always
welcome by both agencies.

LOCAL BOOK SIGNING

HISTORY PROGRAM AND BOOK SIGNING AT THE EASTERN CALIFORNIA MUSEUM IN INDEPENDENCE

Posted by Seth Conners

“On Saturday February 25th, The Eastern California Museum in Independence will be hosting a history program and book signing event with local authors and Owens Valley residents David and Gayle Woodruff introducing their new Eastern Sierra history book; Tales Along El Camino Sierra. The Woodruffs have lived, worked and vacationed in the Eastern Sierra for over 50 years. They have compiled historical photographs and documents through extensive research, using a variety of educational and informational resources to publish their 3rd book on Eastern California history.
According to David Woodruff, El Camino Sierra was the name first given to the original Highway 395 in Inyo and Mono Counties. In 1910, intent on getting their share of the first state highway construction bond measure, members of the Inyo Good Roads Club coined the name El Camino Sierra as a marketing tool to help draw the attention of the state decision makers in Sacramento, to this lightly populated area of the state. Their tireless and effective promotional efforts even brought the first sitting governor of the State of California to the land of Inyo and Mono.
Three-ninety-five…this magical ribbon of blacktop has been taking people on a sentimental journey for over 100 years. Rarely does a roadway invoke such nostalgic memories as “The Mountain Highway”. Tales Along El Camino Sierra is a collection of little known stories involving people, places and events that have taken place over the years, in the beautiful lands of the Eastern Sierra. These engaging and often amusing narratives bring to life the area’s rich human history, that has not only helped shape the social and cultural fabric of this cherished region but has often created an enduring impact upon the human psyche as well.
The history program and book-signing event will be held on Saturday February 25th at the Eastern California Museum in Independence from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. In addition to the book signing, the Woodruff will have on display ephemera, photos and memorabilia from their personal collection. Light refreshments will also be served. For more information you can call 760 878-0258.

 

INYO COUNTY GRANTS

Inyo County approves grants to local non-profit groups for 2017

Posted by Seth Conners

According to a press release from Inyo County Museum Services Administrater Jon Klusmire, the Inyo County Board of Supervisors recently approved 10 grants to various local, non-profit community groups and organizations, for a total of $20,984.
The grant process is part of the county’s Community Project Sponsorship Program, which awards grants to projects and programs that will help promote the area to visitors, create events that attract local residents and visitors, or enhance the cultural life of residents. For 2017 the Board of Supervisors approved about 20 CPSP grants, with a total allocation of $95,000.
The board approved a new structure and process for the CPSP grants in the fall of 2016. In past years, all grant applications went through a competitive review and ranking process. In addition, the grant cycle was based on the county’s fiscal year, which meant each year a number of events, projects and programs were unable to apply for the CPSP grants due to the timing of the events.
Under the new system, programs and events that had received funds in nine of the past years were allocated funds without having to go through the competitive process. Those events included traditional fishing derbies and other well-known events and projects. Under the new formula, $35,000 was allocated to four fishing derbies and other longstanding fishing promotions, and $39,016 was allocated to other well-established projects and events.
That left $29,984 for the “competitive” grants for 2017.
Nine local non-profit groups submitted grant applications for 12 separate events or programs. The total requested was $57,785. A grant review panel made up of three residents scored each grant application and also worked collaboratively to award the total of $29,984 in available grant funding. The Board of Supervisors approved the grant award recommendations at its Feb. 14 meeting.
The following is a list of the projects, events and programs approved for CPSP grant awards in 2017.
Third Annual Owens Lake Bird Festival (Friends of the Inyo): This well-received event continues to highlight the birding and wildlife viewing opportunities on the Owens Dry Lake, which has become a notable, statewide birding destination. Grant Award: $3,000.
Death Valley ‘49er Encampment (Death Valley ‘49ers ): The ‘49er Encampment is a Death Valley tradition which began in 1949. This is the first year the group has sought CPSP grant funding. The grant funds will be used for expenses related to the event’s musical entertainment. Grant Award: $2,000.
Celebration of the Larry Pecham Engine House (Carson & Colorado Railway): Grant funds will be used for a community celebration to mark the completion of the Larry Pecham Engine House that will house the restored, operational Carson and Colorado #18 locomotive, on the grounds of the Eastern California Museum in Independence. The party is planned for July 3. This is the first CPSP grant awarded to the Carson and Colorado group. Grant Award: $2,500.
Music in the Courtyard (Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce): This popular event brings live music from local bands and musicians to Lone Pine on summer evenings, which is enjoyed by visitors and residents alike. Grant Award: $3,000.
Second Annual Eastern Sierra Music Festival (Eastern Sierra Music Festival): This will be the second year for this ambitious musical event, after a successful debut. After covering costs, funds will be donated to the National Wounded Warrior Center planned for Mammoth Lakes. This is the first CPSP grant for this event. Grant Award: $2,000.
Eastern Sierra Vintage Film Festival (Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Bureau): This is a new event that will feature an assortment of historic films and videos and home movies from various individuals, groups and businesses in Inyo County. Grant Award: $3,000.
Inyo County FAM Tours (Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Bureau): This project helps educate front-line hospitality employees about the numerous attractions and events in Inyo County so they can provide useful, up-to-date information to visitors. Grant Award: $1,000.
Amargosa/Highway 127 Visitor Guide (Amargosa Conservancy): This brochure will highlight the various attractions in Southern Inyo, including the Shoshone Museum, China Ranch, Tecopa Hot Springs and numerous natural attractions. This is the first CPSP grant for the Amargosa Conservancy. Grant Award: $1,000.
Movie Tours Development Program (Museum of Western Film History): This ongoing program will refine and standardize tours of movie sites in Lone Pine and Inyo County. The tours are also enhanced by supporting elements, such as video, photos, etc. Grant Award: $1,000.
Lone Pine Film Festival Buses (Museum of Western Film History): Grant funds will be used to help defray the cost of buses for one of the festival’s most popular components, the nearly 20 unique, two-hour long movie location tours led by enthusiastic volunteers. Grant Award: $2,484.

 

INYO FLOOD TIPS

The county of Inyo wants the public to be prepared in case of flooding.

Posted by Seth Conners

MORE RAIN – CONTINUED FLOOD DANGER
The National Weather Service, Las Vegas, is forecasting another round of Pacific moisture spread across our region beginning Friday, February 9. Light to moderate rainfall amounts are expected across lower elevations. The main concern is that this will be a relatively warm rain event, with snow levels initially above 9,000 feet, when most of the precipitation falls. This may lead to accelerated snow melt concerns in the southern Sierra and flooding throughout the Owens Valley.

In preparation of possible flooding conditions due to heavy rains or snow melt-off, Inyo County residents are reminded that the Inyo County Office of Emergency Services, Inyo County Sheriff’s Office, and Inyo County Road Department have strategically staged sand piles at several locations throughout the Owens Valley. These sand piles are accessible anytime to all Inyo County residents for emergency preparedness and response, and will be replenished whenever possible.

BISHOP
Site 1: Back of the Bishop City Park near the Senior Center
Site 2: Bishop Fire Station 2 at West Line Street, west of Manor Market
Site 3: Bishop Fire Station 3 at SeeVee and U.S. Highway 395.
Site 4: Starlite Community Park
Site 5: Mustang Mesa-Mill Creek Road

BIG PINE
Big Pine Fire Station.

INDEPENDENCE
Inyo County Sheriff’s Facility on Clay Street
Inyo County Road Department on Mazourka Road

LONE PINE
Sand trap located on Whitney Portal Road West of the LA Aqueduct.

OLANCHA
Olancha Fire Department.
Sand bags for flood preparedness are available from many Inyo County merchants, including but is not limited to the following: Manor True Value, High Country Lumber, Home Lumber and Brown’s Supply in Bishop; Hi-Country Market in Big Pine; Gardner’s True Value in Lone Pine; and Home Depot in Pahrump.

Emergency sand bags are available from the following fire departments: Bishop Fire Station 1-Downtown Bishop, Big Pine Fire Station, Independence Fire Station, Lone Pine Fire Station, and Olancha Fire Station. Emergency sand bags will be distributed at the discretion of each fire department, and may be limited based on weather conditions, need and demand. Residents and businesses in known flood areas are urged to prepare ahead of time, utilizing the sand stockpiles listed above and sand bags purchased from local businesses.

To report flooding, please contact the Sheriff’s Office at (760) 878-0383. Be prepared to tell the Sheriff’s Dispatcher the exact location of the flooding and if the water threatens structures, animals, land, or roadways. If water threatens human life – dial 911. And always remember: If you see water crossing a roadway – Turn Around, Don’t Drown!

Flooding is one of the many dangers of hazardous weather conditions that can compound in a hurry for those who find themselves unprepared, which sadly, can lead to emotional and/or financial devastation. Fortunately, there are some simple steps to take to better protect you, your family, your pets, and your property from the dangers of flooding:

1. Clean gutters before the first storm hits, and again afterwards.

2. Check all drainage devices and remove accumulated silt and debris. This will need to be done repeatedly throughout the rainy season.

3. Check all areas of your property to ensure that all drainage is directed away from your house.

4. Do not park in front, or on top of, storm drain inlets when parking along the street.

5. On trash pick-up days, set trash cans on the curb in your parkway instead of in the street gutter. This will prevent back-up of flowing debris as well as prevent your trash cans from being swept away by swift-moving storm water.

6. Purchase tools and emergency supply materials such as shovels, sandbags and plastic sheeting and keep them handy and accessible.

7. Does your family have a Disaster Plan and a Disaster Supply Kit for your home and each of your vehicles? Form an evacuation plan. The key to surviving a flood, or any disaster, is learning the safest route away from your home to a safe area, in case you need to evacuate in a hurry. Prepare a cache of emergency supplies including food, water, fresh batteries, flashlights and portable radios in good working order, matches, firewood, fuel, prescriptions and a first aid kit. Advice on what your Disaster Plan should look like and what to include in your Disaster Supply Kits can be found on the Inyo County-Office of Emergency Services webpage. Visit http://www.inyocounty.us/OES/emergency_planning_and_disaster_supplies.htm for more tips and information on Emergency Planning and Disaster Supplies.

8. Do you know what the flood risk is for your property? Visit the following California Department of Water Resources (CDWR) webpage at
a. http://www.water.ca.gov/floodsafe/ca-flood-preparedness/fpw_home.cfm. Click on the link to enter your address location and find out what your risk level is.

9. Review your home insurance policy. Does it include flood insurance? Flood insurance is not always required, or typically included, in home policies. Read the fine print! Don’t wait until the last minute and the storm is bearing down on you. Most insurance companies have a 30 day waiting period before the flood policy will go into effect. Californians living in areas with any risk of flooding should purchase flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) immediately. Learn more at https://www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/.

10. Make an itemized list of personal property which includes clothing, furnishings and valuables. Take photographs of your home, both inside and out, and store them in a safe place. This will help an insurance adjuster to settle any claims and to help prove uninsured losses. Don’t rely on federal disaster assistance to pay for damages. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) typically provides assistance in the form of low interest loans, not as compensation for losses. For more information on flood-related resources, please visit the National Flood Insurance Program website at https://www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program.

11. And finally…..BE PROACTIVE AND BE INFORMED! Track predicted storms on the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) website at http://www.noaa.gov/ and plan your travel and outdoor activities accordingly.

Remember, during emergency events such as severe storms and flooding, emergency workers may be responding to incidents all over the 10,000 square miles that make up Inyo County. It’s important that all residents and businesses take steps to be prepared and self-sufficient in the event of an emergency.

For more information on flooding risks and preparedness, check out the following link: http://www.ready.gov/floods.