Tag Archives: lone pine ca

Inyo County Potentially “Sitting Ducks” for Next Wave of COVID-19

Northern Inyo Healthcare District has good and bad news pertaining to COVID-19. The hospital has conducted 279 antibody tests for its employees, and discovered that only two individuals out of the 279 tested had antibodies to the coronavirus.

Interim Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Will Timbers talked about the widespread testing saying. “279 employees have been tested and only two people have tested positive so far, which suggests we are somewhat of a naive community.”

The lack of exposure is a double edged sword. Though it is positive that coronavirus has not had a large presence in Inyo County, it could be problematic down the line since the community cannot rely on “herd immunity.”

The employee antibody test that has been distributed to nearly three-quarters of the healthcare district’s employees is likely a safe measurement when it comes to assuming that the general population does not have a large amount of immunity. “This is a warning sign as we reopen and recirculate. We shouldn’t kid ourselves that we have herd immunity in the community.” Chief of Staff, Dr. Stacey Brown said. “We are sitting ducks for another wave of infection just like we were in February and March with the lack of herd immunity.”

Both Dr. Brown and Dr. Timbers both acknowledged that the community cannot be shut down for forever. However, Dr. Timbers believes that a fine line must be walked when it comes to reopening. Timbers said, “We are going to need to find a steady state between opening things up and living our lives.”

Inyo County to Discuss Reopening With Business Owners

Local Business Task Force Presents a Business to Business Webinar to Discuss Reopening

 
INYO COUNTY, CA, May 11, 2020: The County of Inyo has teamed up with area business leaders to form a Local Business Task Force.  The group consists of one representative from each of the following sectors: 

  • Lodging
  • Food & beverage
  • Retail
  • Childcare
  • Personal services
  • Non-profit
  • Events and entertainment
  • Inyo County Administration / Information Technology
  • Public Health

 
The purpose of this group is to assist all local businesses by ensuring they have the most up to date information regarding rules and best practices as prescribed by state and county officials.  It is important to note the Task Force is not creating rules, rather providing technical assistance, and acting as a liaison between businesses and government health officials.

A menu item on the Inyo County COVID-19 webpage is now available for the public to receive email notifications that are specific to Reopening Businesses in Inyo County. If you are interested in receiving updates, please go to the following link:

https://www.inyocounty.us/covid-19  – click “Reopening Inyo Businesses” and sign up.

The Task Force will host a Zoom webinar on Wednesday, May 13th at 3pm and all local businesses are invited and encouraged to tune-in

https://zoom.us/j/96234465375?pwd=bkJ6MHhObVA3enNGTS9SOStGb2ZPQT09
Prior to the webinar, questions may be submitted to the panel by email at
businessinfo@inyocounty.us   In order for the questions to be addressed during the presentation, please submit no later than 5pm, Tuesday, May 12th.

Caltrans Set to Improve Main Street in Lone Pine

Lone Pine – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) District 9 is looking for input from the public to create an overall visioning concept for the town of Lone Pine. The goal is to assemble a comprehensive list of community concerns in order to identify and prioritize potential improvements to develop an overall vision for Main Street in Lone Pine.

The area of interest is along US Highway 395 from the intersection of SR 136 to Pangborn Lane in the town of Lone Pine.

Some of the potential improvements that could be included in this concept plan are:

  • Pedestrian Improvements such as enhanced pedestrian signals, or artistic elements.
  • Bicycle Improvements such as a buffered bicycle lane or bicycle racks.
  • Vehicle Improvements such as driver signage or parking.
  • Streetscaping, public art, lighting, or wayfinding.

To be a part of this visioning process, take the online survey to help identify which improvements are most important to you.  Click on this link to access the survey directly at: https://survey.catplan.org/Home?sid=9, or you can find the link on the Caltrans District 9 webpage under Current Projects. The survey link will be available until May 31, 2020.

This survey is one part of the overall engagement plan for the Lone Pine community. When it is safe to do so, Caltrans will hold public meetings and various other outreach opportunities. Your involvement and ideas are essential to the success of this project!

If you have any questions, please contact Mark Heckman at Mark.Heckman@dot.ca.gov or Florene Trainor, Caltrans Public Information Officer at: Florene.Trainor@dot.ca.gov or 760-872-0603.

Eastern Sierra Families Need Your Help Getting Food

Inyo Mono Advocates for Community Action (IMACA), has been busy over the past few of weeks. The organization has been delivering food to over 750 families. The amount of families in need of assistance has nearly doubled since the COVID-19 pandemic started.

IMACA Executive Director, Bob Hughes, told KIBS/KBOV News that before the pandemic hit, about 300 families across the Eastern Sierra relied on the organization to receive their food.

With over 750 families relying on food deliveries from IMACA, a demand for volunteers who are willing to drop off food to families has become paramount.

Hughes says so far the community has stepped up when it comes to volunteers, but there is always a need for more.

If an individual would like to volunteer and help deliver food, he or she can visit IMACA’s website at www.imaca.net.

Those who are in need of food can also fill out a form under the “IMACA’s Food Distribution Delivery Program” tab on the homepage of www.imaca.net.

BLM Bishop Conducting Pile Burns This Week

BISHOP, Calif. – Interagency wildland fire crews from the Bureau of Land Management Bishop Field Office and the Inyo National Forest will be treating up to 70 acres of public lands with prescribed fire at Fish Slough north of Bishop in Inyo and Mono counties to improve wetland habitat. Prescribed fire operations will occur in late February or early March, depending on weather, air quality and staff availability.

The BLM has used prescribed fire as part of a larger strategy to maintain and improve wetland habitats in the Fish Slough Area of Critical Environmental Concern for several decades. Prescribed fire operations, which are scheduled to occur before the spring growing season, will reduce tule accumulations, increase open water habitat for Owens pupfish, and encourage new vegetation growth to support other species dependent on this desert wetland. The BLM is committed to keeping public landscapes healthy and productive.

 

During prescribed fire operations, smoke may be visible from Bishop and nearby communities along U.S. Highway 395 and U.S. Highway 6 corridors, including Mustang Mesa, Round Valley, Swall Meadows, Laws and Chalfant. The BLM requests that the public avoid congregating on or near roadways in the Fish Slough area, which can obstruct fire equipment and emergency vehicles supporting prescribed fire operations. All prescribed fire operations will be conducted in close coordination with the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District.

 

For more information, please call Heather Stone at the Bishop Field Office, 760-872-5000.

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.

Robert James Obituary

Robert “Bobby” Cyril James passed away July 2nd, 2019 in Bishop, California. He was a beloved brother, father, grandfather, uncle and friend to many.

Bobby James was born and raised on a small farm in Mitchell, South Dakota and was a graduate of Mitchell High School. After an honorable discharge from the Navy he met and married Bonnie Redmond where they were married for 28 years while raising their three daughters here in the Owens Valley. Bobby worked as a truck driver for 45 years. Hauling anything from gasoline from Bishop’s local Giggle Springs to all kinds of different freight for Bishops own Night Owl Trucking. Bobby loved to hunt and fish, but also loved his old hot rod cars, owning several over the years. He traveled to numerous old car shows in Deadwood, SD and here in the Owens Valley. He also traveled 3000 miles across the country in his 1968 Oldsmobile Cutlass a few years ago visiting family along the way. Bobby was a life member of the VFW Post 8988, serving as a board trustee, member of the post honor guard, and color guard. Bobby was a wonderful family man, proud Navy Vietnam Veteran and loyal friend.

He is survived by his two sisters, Rita Baumgart of Mitchell, South Dakota, Patti Bisset of Ft. Meyers, Florida. His daughter Jennifer Reese and husband Troy reside in Lexington, South Carolina with two grandchildren Tyler and Raegan. His daughter Jaime Holland and husband Mark reside in Bishop with grandson Conner. His daughter Joni Riggs and husband Mike reside in Bishop with granddaughters McKenzie Rae and Karen Lee. Along with countless nieces and nephews spread out all along the country whom he always made a point to see along his travels.

A Celebration of Life will be held for family and friends at the VFW Post located at 484 Short St. Bishop, California on Saturday August 10, at 1pm. A second celebration will be held mostly by family and close friends in the Black Hills of South Dakota at a later date, to be determined. Donations in his name can be made to VFW Scholarship Fund Post 8988, Bishop California.

Get Ready for Higher Water Rates in Inyo County

Water rates are changing for Lone Pine, Independence, and Laws.

County Administrative Officer, Clint Quilter, 1st District Supervisor Dan Totheroh, 4th District Supervisor Mark Tilemans, and 5th District Supervisor Matt Kingsley were in attendance at Wednesday’s water rates workshop along with Mike Errante and Chris Cash from the Public Works Department to field questions on the proposed rate changes.

“The water system needs attention.” Public Works Director, Mike Errante told a concerned group of citizens on Wednesday night. “We are falling way behind on improvements, and this is a way to catch up.”

County officials stated that the rate increase will reflect costs of delivery of water rather than the actual water itself.

Deputy Director of Public Works, Chris Cash discussed how getting water from the source to homes and businesses is not as simple as one may be led to believe, noting issues with pressure, purification, equipment, delivery methods, staffing, and adequate quality.

After Errante and Cash were finished answering questions, they introduced Vice President of public utility consulting firm, Raftelis, Sanjay Gaur. Gaur began the PowerPoint presentation highlighting the nature of water systems, fees and taxes, the current financial plan, and proposed rates and billing.

Gaur discussed how the Inyo County water system does not pay for its water, however, they pay for the ability to use water to 24/7. Additionally, water is not taxed in California, but is treated as a service from the county to the public.

According to Gaur’s presentation, Inyo County’s revenue from water systems equates to an average of $370,164 per year. While their total operating budget for fiscal year 2018 is $436,588 which equates to a loss of -$66,424 for that year. Gaur argued that each year the system is not renovated using the aforementioned numbers, the net loss over five years is projected to reach -$176,229.

However, with the increased water rates, the county’s total capital improvement plan would be increased by $150,000 each year after 2021. Having a capital improvement plan will allow Inyo to build up a budget for necessary projects such as renovating the water system.

Two scenarios were proposed at the meeting to assuage the county’s lack of funds, with both equating to the same amount of money being added to the water system. The first scenario would have an up-front water bill increase of 30%, with the rest of the increase going up 10% each year until 2024. Scenario two, which is the one the county promoted more to the audience has a 50% increase in rates starting in 2020, then in 2021 it would increase by 10%, and afterward the bill would increase by 5% each year until 2024.

Scenario one would increase most residential water bills from the current quoted rate of $28.38 then move up to $38.45 in 2020. At the end of this rate increase cycle, most residential units will be paying $56.31 by 2024.

Scenario two would see an extreme jump of $44.36 per month for most residential properties during the first year. After the initial hike, the rates would moderately increase until they reach $56.51 per month in 2024.

On top of the already high bills residents will be paying, those who live in Independence can expect a surcharge of $6.34 per month to help make up the difference of an emergency water line that was installed. The cost of that line was $150,000 and the proposed rates will help pay off the county’s loan.

According to the PowerPoint regarding excess water usage, “Independence, Lone Pine, and Laws each have a water use threshold.If water is pumped above the threshold, there is an additional cost from LADWP.”

The water rate alteration is the first significant change for this utility since 2004. After the five year span of raising the rates, don’t expect them to go down. When asked by an individual in the crowd about a potential decrease in utility payments, Sanjay Gaur was quick to shoot the notion down saying, “No, the rates will stay the same after 2024 but they will not go down. The Golden Gate Bridge is constantly being painted. A water system is just like that in the sense that there is constant maintenance and upkeep.”

Murder Suspect Arrested in Lone Pine

Sheriff’s detectives arrest man for the murder of his roommate.

At about 9:52 AM on May 12, 2019, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Communication Center received information indicating that  Cameron Lykins had admitted to killing his roommate and discarding the body. This led deputies to respond to a residence in the 1100 block of Meyer Road. Upon arrival, deputies discovered a bloody scene consistent with a homicide, but no victim. Lykins’ roommate, Houston Auer, also could not be found. Further investigation led to
information that Lykins killed Auer during a disturbance that occurred at the residence during the early morning hours. Lykins then removed the victim’s body from the scene.

At about 1:00 PM, law enforcement officers from the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office and the California Highway Patrol located Lykins in the City of Lone Pine. Lykins vehicle was also located and it contained evidence confirming that Lykins had used the vehicle to transport the victim’s body away from the crime scene.

Ventura County Sheriff’s detectives went to Lone Pine and arrested Lykins for murder. Lykins was transported back to Ventura County and booked into custody at the Pre-Trial Detention Facility. Lykins is scheduled to appear in Ventura County Superior Court on May 14, 2019. His bail is set at $2,000,000.00.

Though there is sufficient evidence to conclude the victim did not survive the attack, Lykins has not cooperated in locating the victim’s body. Attached are photographs of Lykins and his vehicle. Anyone with information about this crime, or who believes they may have seen Lykins or his vehicle, described as a silver Nissan Frontier truck bearing the license plate number Ca. 39077S1, between the hours of 1:00 AM and 9:50 AM on May 12, 2019, is asked to contact Sergeant Carlos Macias at (805) 384-4761.

History Day a Huge Success in Inyo County

Inyo County’s History Day Contest was held on March 14th, 2019. Ten posters, four websites, one research paper and eleven exhibits covering a variety of topics captured this year’s contest theme of Triumph and Tragedy.

 

Students were judged on the historical quality, relation to theme, clarity of presentation, and compliance with NHD 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:

  • Ruby Randall, Bishop Elementary
  • Cora Van Nest, Kaki Saulque and Haiden Mull (group project), Home Street Middle School
  •   Mylee Patton, Lo Inyo Elementary School
  • Sierra Kingsford and Princess Luna (group project), Lo Inyo Elementary School
  • Stephanie Valdez and Jaciel Isidro (group project), Lo Inyo Elementary School
  • Garrett WIlkinson, Damian Kingsford and Noe Rivera (group project), Lone Pine High School

Thank you to coaches Dustin Ryan, Meghan Fuchs, Nadine Harry, Bob Heist, Megan Wilkinson, Sarah Civitano and Sarah Fogarty for working with their students to prepare them for the competition. In addition, ICOE would like to thank Ilissa Twomey, Lo Lyness, Mini Doonan and Kathy Zach for judging the event.

Congratulations to all student participants!