Tag Archives: kibs news

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.

 

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.

Salt Creek Boardwalk and All Campgrounds Open

DEATH VALLEY, CA – Salt Creek Boardwalk and all campgrounds are now open in Death Valley National Park. However, visitors should be aware of severe winter weather forecasted for Thanksgiving week.

Salt Creek Boardwalk, which has been closed for months due to safety hazards, recently reopened. Park employees and volunteers from Apple replaced over one hundred broken or sagging boards.
Death Valley generally welcomes a large number of visitors during the week of Thanksgiving. However, travelers this year should be cautious of winter storms that might bring snow as low as 3,200 feet in the park.

All park campgrounds are now open. However, Mahogany Flat Campground (elevation 8,200’) and Thorndike Campground (elevation 7,400’) will close if snow makes them inaccessible.

Bishop Win a Thriller to Advance to the CIF Championship Game

Photos by Gary Young Photography

Resilience is a word that comes to mind when describing Bishop’s effort Friday night.

The first half belonged to the Cardinals. Lindsay controlled the tempo on their first possession, with a methodical march down the field that lasted nearly seven minutes. Star running back, Danny Trujillo, who came into the game with more than 2,100 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns, was dragging Bishop’s front seven forward on what appeared to be nearly every play.

Nearly every time the standout halfback was hit, he would fall forward, or break a tackle, until Lindsay found themselves on Bishop’s doorstep. Lindsay scored on a one yard run, but it was Danny’s brother, Israel who punched it in.

Down 7-0, the Broncos quickly responded. Lindsay put all of their eggs into one basket by trying to stop the run the subsequent drive. With 2:40 to go in the first quarter, Luke McClean threw a strike down the middle of the field to Jaydan Braithwaite for a 55 yard touchdown.

After tying the game up at seven a piece, Bishop didn’t do much else in the first half. The Trujillo brothers were running rampant on the Bronco’s front seven. It seemed like every time a linebacker or defensive lineman had a good angle for a tackle, the Trujillo brothers were able to slip by the defense.The ground and pound formula paid dividends yet again for Lindsay, when Danny Trujillo scored a six yard touchdown to make it 16-7 Cardinals. Bishop looked tired, beaten, and battered.

Bishop got the ball to start the second half. The waters did not calm for the Broncos during the first drive. Star quarterback, Luke McClean threw an interception on the near sideline, giving the ball back to the Cardinals in Bishop territory. The interception could have been the moment where head coach, Arnie Palu’s team folded, but it wasn’t.

Instead, the turnover was a moment which appeared to galvanize the team. Bishop forced a three and out after the turnover, and for the rest of the game defensive coordinator, Rick Beall had his defense dialed in.

Those Grand Canyon sized holes Danny Trujillo was running through in the first half turned into narrow crevices. All of those missed tackles in the first half were a thing of the past. The Broncos were able to get to Trujillo before he had any steam and nullified most of his rushing attempts.

The offense followed the defense’s example, playing inspired football. In the third quarter, the Luke McClean found wide receiver, Johnny Torres for a thirty yard touchdown to pull within two.

In the fourth and final quarter, McClean went back to Torres, who was wide open for a fifteen yard touchdown. The crowd erupted as Bishop had finally taken the lead. McClean then scored the two-point conversion on a direct snap. Bishop were up 22-16.

After the score, it was time for the Bronco defense to hold the line. On a crucial third down, Sophomore, Kennedy Bachelder sacked quarterback, Randon Gomez resulting in a fourth down and long for Lindsay. The Cardinals were bailed out on what would have been Lindsay’s final play, when Sophomore, Luis Cruz got called for pass interference.

With about two minutes left in the game, Gomez threw up a prayer with hopes of trying to convert a first down. That prayer was not answered. The ball was thrown near Steven Paco, who came up with the game-winning interception.

The final score in this one was 22-16. Bishop will now match up against Orosi in the CIF Championship Game for Division Six.

Bishop City Council Vote to Protect Renters with Emergency Ordinance

The Bishop City Council voted 5-0 in favor of adopting an emergency ordinance that will prohibit landlords from dramatically increasing rent on tenants and evicting residents without just cause. The city ordinance is in response to a loophole created by AB 1482, which is designed to protect tenants from egregious hikes in an individual’s monthly rent. However, from now until January 1, 2020, landlords had the option to dramatically increase rent before the ordinance was made official.

Mayor Pro Tempore, Laura Smith spoke about the possible rental hikes saying, “We are not looking to handcuff landlords by passing this ordinance. There is a drastic shortage of housing in the area, and people are probably not going to find a place to live. We don’t want people kicked out of their homes with the cold weather and no place to go.”

Councilman, Stephen Muchovej expressed similar feelings, indicating that the council’s job is to help its citizens. “We are here to help people out in town. We should prevent these sort of scenarios [subjecting tenants to rental hikes] from happening.”

Bishop resident Steve Seats, who was previously evicted from his home at the Primrose Lane Apartments in town due to a rent increase, spoke to the city council and expressed his feelings on the matter.

“It sickens me when I heard that over forty families were at risk of being evicted from their homes.” Seats said.

Seats, who now says he lives in his car and spends most nights in the parking lot adjacent to the City of Bishop Council Chambers, also told the public about his experience of allegedly being harassed by a member of the Bishop Police Department since being evicted from his apartment.

“Last night an officer threatened to arrest me for sleeping in my car in the parking lot.” Seats said. “The officer became progressively more and more aggravated when I did not comply. The behavior was inappropriate by the police force.”

Shortly after Seats spoke, Mayor Jim Ellis gave his thoughts on the ordinance saying, “This ordinance is to protect our citizens.” Ellis also added that the housing market makes things difficult for low-income individuals. “We have a tough housing market here. I don’t think any of us have a problem with voting in favor of an ordinance.”

A New Regional Dispatch Center Could be Built in Bishop

The Bishop City Council unanimously voted 5-0 to approve funding for a site-study of a new regional dispatch center that would be based in Bishop.

The idea is for the Bishop Police Department, Mammoth Lakes Police Department, Inyo County Sheriff’s Office, and Mono County Sheriff’s Office to have all of their dispatchers working together in the same space.

Bishop Police Chief, Ted Stec argued in favor of the project saying, “A Regional Dispatch Center would save money because it would require less personnel from all agencies in the area in the long run.”

Mammoth Lakes PD and Mono and Inyo County Sheriff’s Offices are requesting that the City of Bishop pay $25,000 to help split the cost of the study of feasibility four ways with the total estimated at approximately $100,000 dollars.

Currently, Bishop has not budgeted for such a study, whereas other agencies have pooled together their resources and approved the funding for the investigation.

Council member Chris Costello of the City of Bishop seemed wary of the cost. “We already have a great dispatch center in place. I think if the system is not broken, then don’t fix it.” the council member stated.

However, Costello also said that he did not want to leave the town’s neighbors hanging out to dry, and brought forth the idea of providing $5,000 dollars of funding toward the study to in order to demonstrate good will.

Mayor Pro-Tempore Laura Smith expressed interest in the project saying, “Yes, we already have a good dispatch center set up, but we can make it even better by adding emergency medical dispatch services to the regional dispatch center.”

Police Chief Stec acknowledged the feasibility of adding medical services to the center but said the dispatchers would need further training in that realm to add it into the center’s repertoire.

During the meeting, it was apparent that most members of the city council were wary of being perceived as being bad neighbors. Karen Schwartz of the city council spoke on the issue saying, “I support the regional dispatch center because it supports the greater good and helps out our entire region.” Mayor Jim Ellis expressed similar feelings on the matter, and seconded Schwartz’s motion.

Rob Patterson, the Finance Director for the Town of Mammoth Lakes was in attendance and told the council he did not believe the project would be as expensive as the estimated price. “I don’t think the cost of the study will be $100,000.” Patterson said. “It may be around that amount, but we just want to ensure that there is enough money available to complete the study. There is also a chance that it could be something the California Office of Emergency Services covers, we have to explore that further.”

Shortly after, the council voted unanimously to approve funding not to exceed $25,000 dollars. Councilmen Costello and Muchovej reluctantly voted in favor of the study, whereas Smith, Schwartz, and Ellis supported the study.

The study is expected to take a few months, with no solid timetable available at the moment.

Affordable Housing Development in Mammoth is Gaining Traction

The Town of Mammoth Lakes is getting ready to issue a request for statements of qualifications for the development of a piece of land known as The Parcel, which consists of twenty-five acres of land near the center of Mammoth Lakes.

A statements of qualification is a process relating to accepting bids for the development of a property.

Mammoth Lakes wishes to, “identify a development team consisting of one or more developers that will be the best fit to partner with the town to develop The Parcel.”

Currently, the Town of Mammoth Lakes has set broad guidelines and objectives for what they wish to see in a possible development for the existing site, which includes the construction of 400-450 properties ranging from studio apartments to entire houses zoned for affordable residences to be completed by 2022.

According to an official document from the Department of Public Works for the Town of Mammoth Lakes, the cheap housing is required to be priced at or below 120 percent of the area’s median income.

Other than creating affordable housing, The Parcel must adhere to the town’s wishes and include a community facility, formal and informal open spaces, vehicle and bicycle parking for residents and guests, and must consider pets in the design of the neighborhood.

Further restrictions include establishing a “livable, integrated, and well-designed community.” For example, the Town of Mammoth Lakes wishes to assure that the structures built connect seamlessly to the neighborhood and its surroundings.

Although 2022 is a long way off, the town council of Mammoth Lakes is taking steps toward turning The Parcel into homes in the future. On November 21, a pre-submittal conference for interested parties is scheduled for those who would like to find out more. After that, the Town Council is expected to accept a preferred conceptual land use plan on December 11, meaning the town desires to regulate property to ensure a more desirable socioeconomic outcome.