Tag Archives: kibs news

No School Postponement Planned for Inyo County

Inyo County Superintendent of Schools, Barry Simpson discussed the possibility of closing school Friday morning.

“This is a real fluid situation. We are getting multiple updates from the state and local levels. There are no school closures, but that is subject to change.”

Simpson says Inyo County Schools will make its decision to close school depending on what the department of public health says. “Yesterday, superintendents met with Public health Director, James Richardson, and will follow the guidance the departments put out when it comes to closing school.” Simpson expressed.

The superintendent made it clear that his office is in constant contact with health officials, as well as all superintendents from Lone Pine, Owens Valley, Big Pine, and Bishop Unified School Districts to make sure everyone has the most up-to-date information.

“We have a conference line, and superintendents are having daily check-ins right now. We will be in regular communication.” he said.

Simpson expressed his frustration with having to possibly close school. One reason he does not like it, is because underprivileged youth will be affected.

“We don’t like the closures because of the effect it has on socioeconomically challenged students who rely on meals they may not get at home. We are attempting to keep our schools open as long as we can, but we will close them if circumstances arise.”

More updates will follow as this story progresses.

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.

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.

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.

 

Bye-Bye Airbnb? County Moves to Regulate Non-Host Rentals

The Inyo County Board of Supervisors discussed short-term rental regulations at Tuesday’s meeting in Independence, CA.

A major talking point among the board pertained to problems with non-host short-term rentals, which supervisors identified as a major problem in an area already severely limited on available housing. Fifth District Supervisor, Matt Kingsley voiced his concerns about how non-host rentals can cause harm to neighborhoods. “The main issue we are dealing with today is making sure neighborhoods do not change too much. We have Amsterdam, Venice, and Darwin all struggling with the same issue [of eliminating affordable housing.]”

District Supervisor, Jeff Griffiths expressed similar concerns saying, “The number one concern should be affordable housing.”

Though the board appeared to disapprove of non-host rentals, short-term rentals with a host on the premise did not cause much ire. All of the supervisors were in favor of allowing what the county calls “R2” rentals, which require a host be on site.

One important component in the regulations discussed pertained to the definition of exactly what a host is defined as. Under the proposed ordinance, there must be a “designated representative which means a person or persons designated by the owner to represent them as a ‘host’ during the duration of a renters stay.” This means that host rentals must have either the owner of the property on site or a manager while travelers use the property.

While the Board of Supervisors appear close to making a final decision on the rental ordinance, Matt Kingsley spoke about the importance of issuing a moratorium, which would prohibit any new applications for non-host short-term rentals being filed. The south county area supervisor said, “A moratorium on new permits is important until we can come to a decision on this matter.”

Issuing a moratorium may be a bit more difficult than the supervisors envision. According to the Board of Supervisor’s legal counsel, the county must identify an “current or immediate threat” to surrounding areas. Lawyers for Inyo County said they were unable to identify a problem that would allow for a moratorium.

Eastern Sierra Resident Dies From Hantavirus

In late November, a resident living in Mono County died of a hantavirus infection. This is the first death that is a result of hantavirus in California this year, and the third confirmed case in Mono County in 2019.

The victim of the virus received treatment in Reno, Nevada where the individual succumbed to the viral strand of hantavirus known as sin nombre. According to medical research website, UpToDate, there are eleven pathogenic species that have been identified throughout the world, and they differ depending on which species of rodent is infected.

In this case, the sin nombre strand is common among deer mice, a wide spread rodent in both Inyo and Mono Counties. Dr. Tom Boo, the Mono County Public Health Officer said, “In Mono County, about 25% of all deer mice carry sin nombre, which is significantly higher than the average rate in the state.”

After it was determined that the Mono County resident died as a result of hantavirus, both state and county health department experts investigated the individual’s residence and place of employment, evidence was found that suggested mice were in and around the home. As for the victim’s place of work which is a school in Inyo County, investigators determined exposure at the location to be “unlikely because minimal signs of mice were found.” according to an official press release from the Mono County Health Department and Inyo County Health and Human Services Department.

According to the California Department of Public Health’s hantavirus statistical data base, there have been eighteen cases between 1980-2017, which is higher than all other fifty-seven counties in the state. In an email interview with KIBS, CDPH discussed why they believe there are more incidents in Mono County. “The rural nature of Mono County may contribute to the high number of human cases detected from that county.” the state agency said.

Elevation is another factor that comes into play when discussing hantavirus. The higher the altitude, the higher the chance deer mice carry the disease. “Elevation may play a role in the number of infected deer mice.” the department wrote. “From disease monitoring data collected by CDPH throughout California over many years, we have observed that the percentage of deer mice with antibodies to SNV [sin nombre virus] increases with increasing elevation. For example, the percentage of SNV-antibody positive deer mice may be less than 10% at sea level and as high as 35% above 10,000 feet elevation.”

The sin nombre pathogen of hantavirus can present itself in a number of ways. Transmission of the virus comes after an individual breathes in contaminated air usually found in an enclosed space. “About 1-5 weeks after exposure, symptoms develop. Early symptoms of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) include fever, headache, and muscle aches. Other possible early symptoms include dizziness, chills, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.” the CDPH said.

When these symptoms are identified, respiratory problems develop, which can lead to death. “After 2 to 7 days of these symptoms, patients develop breathing difficulties that range from cough and shortness of breath to severe respiratory failure. Approximately 36 percent of HPS patients die from the disease.”

The hantavirus has no cure, but there are steps that can be taken to prevent contraction of the virus. Exposure to the virus is typically in enclosed spaces and occurs when cleaning out small, confined deer mice-infested spaces where there is little air circulation, so it is important to allow air flow into a potentially contaminated area. “Before entering an enclosed area that may be infested with rodents, allow it to air out for at least 30 minutes. Also, avoid contact with all wild rodents, their droppings, and nesting materials.” The Department of Public Health said.

Edit: The article stated that the resident lived in Chalfant, CA. The article has been edited as the Mono County Department of Public Health say the information reported was inaccurate.

Jorge Romero Espitia Officially Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison

PRESS RELEASE FROM THE MONO COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE:

On December 10, 2019, Mammoth Lakes resident Jorge Espitia was sentenced to 25 years in the state prison after being convicted of 12 felonies. Most of convictions were for sexual abuse of children and providing methamphetamine to children.

The Mono County District Attorney’s Office, in conjunction with the Mammoth Lakes Police Department, had been investigating Mr. Espitia for nearly two years before his arrest. There were rampant rumors that Mr. Espitia would invite children to his home, provide them methamphetamine, and ultimately sexually abuse them. Unfortunately, there was no corroborating evidence available at the time

Early this year, one brave victim came forward to the District Attorney’s Office and detailed the abuse he had suffered for years beginning at the age of 12 by Mr. Espitia. The investigation intensified and ultimately five victims were identified, two of whom were sexually abused, and all five minor victims were provided methamphetamine, most on multiple occasions. The investigation revealed likely additional victims, though there was not enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

Justice could not have been received for these victims without the bravery of the victims and the help of the community. One of the top priorities of the District Attorney is protecting children, especially from sexual abuse. If you know of sexual abuse against children, it is imperative you contact law enforcement immediately.

This case was investigated by the Mono County District Attorney and Mammoth Lakes Police Department and prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney David Anderson.

Laura Smith Elected as Bishop Mayor for Fourth Time

There’s a new mayor in town… sort of. Mayor Pro Tem, Laura Smith, who has previously served as the Bishop Mayor three times was unanimously voted in to the position Monday evening.

Smith has been on the Bishop City Council for nearly ten years. She is currently the longest tenured member of the council.

The retired registered nurse presented outgoing Mayor, Jim Ellis with a commemorative gavel containing the two previous dates he served as the Bishop Mayor.

After receiving the award, Ellis spoke to attendees about how much he enjoyed being the Mayor this past year. “It has been an honor to serve the people of Bishop, and I look forward to continue to serve the citizens of the city.” Ellis said.

As far as the position of mayor pro tem, Councilman, Chris Costello was nominated by his peers for the position. Costello, who is also a pastor in Bishop will serve as mayor pro tem for the first time after being appointed to serve in the city council last year.

Though unanimously approved by the City of Bishop, it appeared as though that was not going to be the case for Costello. Council-member Stephen Muchovej initially nominated Karen Schwartz for the position citing the fact that Costello was up for re-election next year. However, after some discussion between the board, Muchovej decided to change his stance and vote for Mr. Costello.

IMACA Appoint New Executive Director

The IMACA Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Robert (Bob) Hughes has been appointed as IMACA’s new Executive Director beginning December 2, 2019. He will succeed Charles Broten, who is retiring after 5 ½ years with the Agency.

Mr. Hughes has professional experience in banking and was the President/CEO of the Thrift/Pan America Bank and Beneficial State Bank in Porterville CA. One of his key accomplishments there was developing relationships with auto and furniture dealers that required fair treatment of customers in order to participate in lending programs. He also adapted a business model to effectively serve low income and Spanish speaking communities.

Recently, Hughes worked as AmeriCorps Statewide Volunteer Infrastructure Project Leader in Napa Ca. He led a group of 130 + volunteers serving dozens of non-profit agencies in the State. He completed a 1700 hour service year with CalServes/AmeriCorps.

Carolyn Balliet, IMACA Chairperson, says, “IMACA has been extremely fortunate to have had Charlie Broten in recent years, working successfully to implement the goals of our Mission Statement and assist the managers to maximize their talents in serving the low income people in our Counties. We look forward to working with Bob Hughes to continue increasing the impact IMACA has in our community.”

Hiker Missing in Death Valley

HUNTER CANYON, CA. December 4, 2019 – On November 27 (evening), Inyo County Sheriff’s Office received notification by Death Valley National Park of a missing hiker, Rolin Bruno, a 76-year old man from Arrowbear, CA. Bruno planned on hiking up Hunter Canyon out of Saline Valley to cache water for a future hike in the Spring, prior to meeting family members at Saline Valley Hot Springs on November 27. When Bruno did not arrive, family members notified the campground host. Bruno was hiking alone. (It is unclear whether Bruno’s hike occurred on Monday November 25 or Tuesday November 26.)

 

On Thursday November 28 a severe winter storm impeded search efforts. Aerial reconnaissance was requested for Friday November 29; CHP Inland Division Air Operations initially responded, however a fog layer made flying impossible in the morning. China Lake Naval Air Station was requested to provide aerial support once the fog layer lifted; Inyo Search and Rescue (SAR) members were on board providing additional assistance.

 

Saturday November 30, 11 Inyo SAR members conducted extensive search assignments in the area. Aerial searching was provided by CHP Inland Division Air Operations. A drone was deployed in order to reach more remote areas and provide additional search information to the team.  Due to extremely icy conditions on Saline Valley’s “South Pass”, the team was almost unable to drive out of the search area.  Sunday December 1, winter weather disallowed flying or driving into the search area.

 

On Monday Dec 2, as weather cleared, two Inyo SAR members were hoisted from CHP H-80 into more remote areas high in the search zone to check structures and mining ruins. Additional aerial searching was provided by CHP Inland Division Air Operations with Inyo SAR members on board.

 

Tuesday December 3, six Inyo SAR members were inserted into the search area by Kern County Air Operations.  SAR members from China Lake Mountain Rescue Group drove into the search zone and combed lower segments of the area. Inyo Sheriff’s Office deputies also drove to the sight and conducted investigations at the vehicle and searched nearby mining cabins.

 

Today winter weather has hampered search efforts.  Overhead planning teams are working on the next phase of the search operation. If anyone from the public has seen Bruno you are encouraged to contact Inyo Sheriff at 760-878-0383 option 4. Bruno is 5’11”, 170lbs, white male, long grey hair, grey beard, brown eyes, possibly wearing a flannel or denim shirt and blue jeans.

 

Aerial assistance has been provided by: CHP Inland Division Air Operations H-80, China Lake Naval Air Station VX-31, and Kern County Air Operations Air 5. Ground searching has been provided by: Inyo SAR, Kern County SAR, and China Lake Mountain Rescue Group. Additional support has been provided by Death Valley National Park and CalOES.