Tag Archives: KIBS Radio

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.

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.

NIHD Board Member MC Hubbard Retires, District Seeks to Fill Vacancy

As 2020 nears, Northern Inyo Healthcare District is bidding a fond farewell to its current longest serving Board of Trustees member, MC Hubbard. After almost 14 years, Hubbard is retiring from her service to the residents of the Healthcare District’s Zone 5 region, covering southeast Bishop, Wilkerson, Big Pine, and Aberdeen.

NIHD’s Board of Trustees is in the process of accepting letters of interest from Zone 5 residents interested in being appointed to Hubbard’s position. The Board selected Trustees Robert Sharp and Jody Veenker to conduct interviews of candidates and then make a recommendation to the entire Board for final selection. That person will hold the Zone 5 seat until November 2020. At that point, he or she will need to formally run for election to complete the remaining two years of Hubbard’s term, slated to end in 2022.

NIHD Chief Executive Officer Kevin S. Flanigan, MD MBA, said to date, five people expressed an interest in the position. Of those five, at least two have submitted formal letters of interest to the Board.

For Hubbard, the decision to retire, as she likes to call it, from the NIHD Board is one that she has considered for a while. “Although I have learned a lot about healthcare and have certainly appreciated the time I have served, I have been on the board for more than 13 years,” Hubbard explains. “I decided it was time to allow someone else to serve on this essential Board of Directors.

Appointed to the Board in 2006, she had just retired from a long-term banking career. She says the chance to learn more about the inner workings of healthcare intrigued her. Hubbard quickly realized the size of the learning curve ahead of her, especially as NIHD began its move to construct a new two-story hospital.

The completion of the two-story hospital in 2013 serves as a milestone for all the Board members of the era, and Hubbard is no exception. Following voter approval of a needed bond measure, the Board stood alongside NIHD staff as they faced construction challenges and rigorous state seismic regulations. Hubbard said there were days where she wondered what she had gotten herself into with her appointment. She would go on to win election to her position three times.

“I admit there have been some wonderful accomplishments over the years, but the first thing that comes to mind is the completion of the hospital building,” she smiles. “It was quite an experience going from the construction phase to the final occupancy over the three-year process.”

As for a personal sense of accomplishment, Hubbard notes the Healthcare District is still considered a continually growing entity. “Healthcare is in an endless state of change, and I’m not sure everyone realizes how much change occurs every year. Plus, how much of that change is out of our control at the local level,” she said.

“Being part of the District during both the positive times and the challenging times, I think that where the real accomplishment rests, not just for the Trustees, but for everyone who works at the District. Every day in healthcare gives us another chance to make a difference in the lives of those we serve. We have to enjoy the good times and survive the bad to continue making that difference. If we lose sight of that, then we lose sight of those we serve.”

As for her fellow trustees, Hubbard wishes them well on their journey. “The other four board members are very caring, and certainly a group with diversified backgrounds. I am sure they will rise to the challenges facing healthcare districts going forward,” she said. “Each individual brings their strengths to the Board, and I am confident they will achieve positive things.”

As for her future, Hubbard intends to spend more time with her family, including her four great grandchildren. She will also stay busy as a trustee to the Slager Foundation and as a member of Bishop Sunrise Rotary.

Hubbard notes that through the years, she received a lot of support. “Thinking back, all I can say is what a ride it has been. I want to thank our community members and certainly the wonderful staff at NIHD,” she said. “It’s truly been a pleasure to work with all of them.”

NIHD Prepares for Walk with a Doc Event

The next Walk with a Doc event, sponsored by the Northern Inyo Healthcare District, is set for Sunday, Dec. 22nd from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Walkers of all ages are invited to gather in front of the Rehabilitation Services Building in the Pioneer Lane parking lot on the Northern Inyo Healthcare District campus.

Dr. David Pomeranz, an emergency care provider at NIHD, will lead the 1.2-mile walk in the nearby Bishop Paiute Tribe’s Conservation Open Space Area (COSA). The walking path in the COSA is a dirt path

Participation is free and pre-registration is not required. Walkers will enjoy friendly conversation with Dr. Pomeranz, who will provide support and answer questions during the walk.
All walks are open to the community, so feel free to bring friends and family. Please wear comfortable walking shoes and bring a water bottle.

All walks are held monthly, please watch media for dates and times. For more information, call Barbara Laughon, NIHD Strategic Communications Specialist, at 760-873-5811 ext. 3415.
Walk with a Doc is a national non-profit organization whose mission is to encourage healthy physical activity in people of all ages and reverse the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle in order to improve the health and well-being of the country.

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.

Death Valley Prepares for Annual Bird Count

Death Valley National Park invites the public to a fun day outdoors counting birds on Saturday, December 21. All skill levels are welcome for this opportunity to meet new people and learn about birds while contributing to a citizen-science effort continuing for over a hundred years.

The Christmas Bird Count will begin at 7 a.m. on Saturday, December 21 at Furnace Creek Golf Course parking lot in the Oasis at Death Valley. No experience is necessary! This is a great opportunity to learn about birds, get identification tips, and meet others interested in birding. Participants should dress in layers and wear sturdy shoes. Bring a hat, sunscreen, water, and snacks. Binoculars are recommended. Participants do not need to commit to the entire day, but must be there at 7 a.m. Contact Carol Fields at 760-786-3252 or carol_fields@nps.gov to sign up for the count.

This event is part of the nation-wide National Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count (CBC). This year will be the 120th year of the national Christmas Bird Count, making it one of the longest-running citizen science events in the world. Death Valley National Park has been collecting CBC data since 1957. The data collected helps demonstrate the important role national parks serve for migratory and overwintering bird populations.

The data collected by CBC participants documents the long-term health and status of bird populations across North America. When combined with other bird surveys, it provides a picture of how the continent’s bird populations have changed over the past 120 years. The long-term perspective made possible by the Christmas Bird Count is vital for conservationists. It helps guide strategies to protect birds and their habitat, and helps identify environmental issues with implications for people as well. Each year, the CBC mobilizes more than 70,000 volunteers in more than 2,400 locations. Results from past counts can be viewed at http://birds.audubon.org/christmas-bird-count.