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City of Bishop Submits Application to Have Town Featured on TV

The City of Bishop is getting ready to submit an application to host HGTV’s Home Town Takeover, a television show which stars Erin and Ben Napier, who are planning to renovate an entire town.

Elaine Kabala, the City of Bishop’s Associate Planner discussed the proposal to the city in order to see if the council wanted to throw its hat in the ring.

In the last season of the Napier’s show, the couple renovated their hometown of Laurel, Mississippi. The two focused on renovating houses, along with historic architecture in the town’s downtown area.

According to Kabala, there is specific criteria that a town has to have in order to qualify as a hosting location for the show. A city must have architecture that is considered beautiful, but in need or renovation, a narrative of what the city’s story is all about, along with five photos showing different parts of town.

An interested town must also have at the most, 40,000 people.

After hearing a presentation from Ms. Kabala, the city gave her the green light to go ahead and submit an application.

For more information, go to www.hgtvhometowntakeover.com.  Applications will be accepted until Feb. 7, 2020.

NIH Opioid Discussion Helps Families Cope With Addiction

Northern Inyo Rural Health Clinic hosted a discussion about Opioid addiction on Wednesday. The discussion was titled, “How to Help a Family Member With an Opioid Addiction.”

The focus of this discussion was to provide a better understanding of how to better comprehend how addiction manifests itself in a person, and how family and friends can work together to support a loved one who is struggling with a dependency.

About twenty people attended the event. The audience actively participated in the event. Many asked questions and participated in an open dialogue with experts. In total, the event last just over two hours.

Dr. Anne Goshgarian spoke to attendees about the brain chemistry of addiction entails, while Arlene Brown of the Northern Inyo Rural Health Clinic focused on how to support those suffering from addiction. Brown said, “An important topic that we addressed was reducing the stigma around addiction. It was a great community event which empowered friends and family to be better able to help someone struggling with addiction. To me, that was the greatest message on the evening because friends and family can often times feel helpless in those situations.”

Both women answered questions relating to what the warning signs of addiction are, the type of drugs that are in the community, what the difference is in most Opioids, and how to identify if a person is overdosing.

The experts also handed out Opioid Overdose Reversal Kits and discussed treatment options available at Northern Inyo Hospital.

Mono County Civic Center in Mammoth Close to Completion

MAMMOTH LAKES, Calif. – The new Mono County Civic Center office building in Mammoth Lakes is in the final phase of construction and is projected to be ready for occupancy in spring 2020.  Located on Sierra Park Road between Mammoth Hospital and the Mammoth Lakes Police Department, the new Civic Center brings essential County services under one roof, providing easier, centralized access to programs and offices, and a professional setting for public meetings.

 

Construction of the 33,000 square foot building began just ten months ago in April 2019 and followed an ambitious schedule. The projected opening reflects a slight delay from the original projected completion goal of March 2020.

 

Stacy Corless, Chair of the Mono County Board of Supervisors and District 5 Supervisor, applauded the efforts of the entire team: “Everyone involved in this complex and demanding project, including the general contractor, subcontractors, consultants and County staff, has been working tirelessly and the finish line is in sight.”

 

District 1 Supervisor Jennifer Kreitz pointed out that many factors worked in favor of staying on track, including a summer and fall season that was fortuitously warm and dry. “Given the construction challenges faced by any project of this magnitude, particularly at higher elevations, it’s very commendable that we are just shy of the original target.”

Though the construction schedule is approximately two weeks behind at present, County leaders recognize that finishing the project and moving numerous offices will take time, and that the extra time needed for project completion and the move will likely present the need for some County departments to work out of temporary office spaces. Supervisor Corless emphasized that “the most important focus of this move is to maintain vital public services and minimize disruption, as well as to ensure a transition for County employees—and the people they serve—that is efficient, cost-effective and secure.”

 

To that end, County Administrative Officer Steve Barwick said that County staff is finalizing plans to ensure that all public services continue with minimal interruption in a safe, secure and convenient location.  If temporary office space is necessary for the transition, Mono County’s priorities will be to use available space in the Minaret Mall as well as existing office space in Bridgeport.  The County may also temporarily lease additional space as necessary.

While Mono County has a relatively flexible lease arrangement at the Minaret Mall, the lease at the Sierra Center Mall terminates definitively at the end of March 2020.  Barwick stated, “Despite what is anticipated to be a short delay for move-in to our new building, Mono County is committed to vacating the currently leased space in the Sierra Center Mall by March 31 as the owners are ready to move forward with their plans to redevelop the site into an exciting new hotel property.”

Once open this spring, the Civic Center will be the new home for Social Services, Behavioral Health, Public Health, Environmental Health, District Attorney, Probation, County Counsel, Information Technology, Economic Development, Community Development as well as offices for County Administration and a meeting room for the Board of Supervisors.  Supervisor Corless noted that “the centralized location of the Civic Center, and the fact that all our departments are together in one building, will improve efficiencies in the delivery of County services to the public and will ultimately result in significant cost savings.”

 

The Board of Supervisors will receive an update on the Civic Center project on January 21, and at subsequent public meetings over the next two months. For more information about the Mono County Civic Center, please visit https://www.monocounty.ca.gov/facilities/page/mono-county-civic-center-mammoth-lakes or contact Steve Barwick, Mono County Administrative Officer.

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.

Furnace Creek Airport Runway is in Bad Shape

DEATH VALLEY, CA – The National Park Service warns pilots to be careful when landing or taking off at Furnace Creek Airport, due to numerous cracks and bumps in the runway. Repairs will be costly and are not likely to happen soon.

Furnace Creek Airport is located at 210 feet below sea level in Death Valley National Park. The runway pavement is very close to the water table. Ground movement and salt heaving, similar to frost heaving cold environments, have caused damage to the runway.
The airport remains open, but pilots have been warned about the poor condition of the runway by a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) advisory through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Stovepipe Wells Airport is in better condition and is an alternative for pilots flying into the park.

The National Park Service does not have a timeline for full repairs, which would include subsurface work, moisture barriers, and repaving. Repairs are estimated at $3 million.

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.

 

Bishop Man Arrested for Vandalizing Tri-County Fairgrounds

On January 2, 2020, the California Highway Patrol received a call about an individual who was vandalizing property at the Eastern Sierra Tri-County Fairgrounds. CHP Officer, Adam Otten arrived on to the scene, and saw signs of multiple break-ins around the property.

After inspecting the damage to the buildings, Officer Otten located the suspect’s backpack, bicycle, drug paraphernalia, and methamphetamine. The alleged vandal had abandoned his items, and was found hiding in a nearby bathroom at the Tri-County Fair.

At the same time the property crime was occurring, the highway patrolman was called to another emergency in the area, and had to leave the suspect in order to respond. When CHP returned to the scene, officers located the suspect hiding in the RV storage area of the fairgrounds.

After locating the individual, Otten observed signs that the homeless suspect was living in multiple trailers without the consent of the owners.

The suspect was identified as 29 year old male, Thomas Burkins. He was arrested on the charges of felony burglary, vandalism, possession of burglary tools, possession of methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia, and violation of probation.

Burkins was previously arrested on similar charges relating to burglary, vandalism, and possession of drugs in the middle of December 2019.

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.