Tag Archives: lone pine news

Bureau of Land Management to Discuss Management Plan for the Alabama Hills

BISHOP, California. – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Bishop Field Office is seeking public input for the future management of the Alabama Hills near Lone Pine in Inyo County. Today’s release of an environmental assessment lays out three proposed alternatives and begins a 30-day public review period that ends on August 7, 2020.

 

Set between the jagged peaks of the Sierra Nevada and the Owens Valley, the Alabama Hills are a unique formation of rounded rocks and eroded hills that encompass more than 29,000 acres of public land that is well known for its mix of scenic, cultural, geological, educational, biological, historical, recreational, cinematographic, and scientific values. In March 2019, President Trump signed Public Law 116-9 (P.L. 116-9), also known as the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, which designated 18,745 acres within the Alabama Hills as a National Scenic Area. The BLM is currently preparing a management plan for the Scenic Area and adjacent public lands in the Alabama Hills Special Recreation Management Area.

 

Implementing P.L. 116-9 is a top priority for the Department of the Interior as we work to strike a proper balance for land and resource management, increase access for hunting, fishing, and recreation, and create economic prosperity, while protecting and preserving America’s treasures.

 

“We welcome continued public engagement in our effort to develop a comprehensive plan for management of the area,” says Bishop Field Manager Steve Nelson. “We also look forward to completing the plan and working with the Alabama Hills Stewardship Group, the local tribe, and the Lone Pine community to implement management strategies that will ensure the long-term protection, conservation, public access, and responsible use of this magnificent landscape.”

 

To facilitate public review and encourage public participation in the Alabama Hills planning effort, the BLM will host two virtual meetings in late July. Public meeting materials will be available on the project website: https://eplanning.blm.gov/eplanning-ui/project/1502669/570. Virtual meetings will be conducted on the following dates and times:

  • Wednesday, July 22, from 2:00-4:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, July 23, from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

 

To register for one of the virtual meetings, go to the project website. Once registered, you will receive an email with instructions on how to join the meeting. These instructions will also include an option to call into the meeting using a traditional phone line.

 

Written comments on the proposed alternatives in the environmental assessment can be submitted via email to: blm_ca_alabama_hills_planning@blm.gov; by fax: 760-872-5055; or by mail to: BLM Bishop Field Office, Attn: Alabama Hills Management Plan, 351 Pacu Lane, Suite 100, Bishop, CA  93514.

 

Before including addresses, phone numbers, email addresses or other personal identifying information in a comment, commenters should be aware that the entire comment, including personal identifying information, could be made publicly available at any time. While the public may ask the BLM to withhold personal identifying information from public review, the BLM cannot guarantee that it will be able to do so.

 

For specific questions, please call Project Manager Monica Buhler at 760-872-5000.

Southern Inyo Hospital Reaches Payment Plan With Creditors

The Board of Directors of the Southern Inyo Healthcare District is pleased to announce the United States Bankruptcy Court – Eastern District of California -Sacramento Division approved the District’s plan for paying its creditors and bringing resolution to the bankruptcy case on July 6, 2020. The Board of Directors and the entire hospital and clinic staff want to thank all of the community partners and friends of Southern Inyo Hospital who faithfully, tirelessly gave their time, energy and resources to the hospital during this nearly 5 year journey. Without their support and that of our 5th district county supervisor Matt Kingsley this outcome would not have been possible.

A copy of the Disclosure State and Plan may be accessed on the District’s website: www.sihd.org.

Please contact hospital administration at 760-876-5501 ext.2210 or email Peter Spiers, CEO at pspiers@sihd.org if you have any questions or comments.

Lone Pine Traffic Stop Leads to Four Arrests

LONE PINE, CA, June 10, 2020 – Shortly after midnight on June 9, Inyo County Sheriff’s Deputies conducted a traffic stop in Lone Pine on a vehicle with no tail lights. During the traffic stop Deputies detected a strong smell of marijuana emitting from the vehicle. While temporarily detaining the four occupants of the vehicle, Deputies observed a loaded handgun under the driver’s side seat.

Due to improper storage of a loaded handgun, and the strong smell of marijuana, a canine search of the vehicle was conducted. The vehicle search revealed two additional loaded handguns, narcotics, and $100,665 in cash packaged in shrink wrapped plastic.

All four suspects were arrested for weapon and narcotics charges and are being held at the Inyo County Jail; bail has been set at $75,000 for each. The suspects have been identified as: Martin Perez (32 years old from Reno and Las Vegas NV), Alberto Caro Torres (32 years old from Reno NV), Jose Caro Torres (23 years old from Reno NV), and Cristian Torres (23 years old from Reno NV). Martin Perez and Alberto Torres were later identified as registered Sureños gang members and convicted felons.

Ryan Dermody Appointed as Caltrans District 9 Director

BISHOP – Caltrans is pleased to announce that Mr. Ryan Dermody has been appointed to the position of District 9 Director effective May 4, 2020. Mr. Dermody previously served as the Deputy District Director of Planning and Environmental Analysis for District 9, a role he’s filled since 2013. In this position, he led a team that articulated a long-term transportation vision while fostering local, regional, state, and federal partnerships.

 

“I am honored and excited for the opportunity to serve as the Director of Caltrans District 9,” Mr. Dermody says. “In this role, I plan to build on the positive partnerships we have created and lead our district in implementing statewide goals that focus on safety and improvements for all users of the transportation system.”

 

Mr. Dermody has been with Caltrans District 9 since 2001, and in more than 19 years with the department, he has completed a variety of impactful acting assignments, including as Chief of the Eastern Sierra Environment Branch and Project Manager, the Office Chief of Local Assistance, and, just last year, the Division Chief for Transportation Planning at Caltrans headquarters in Sacramento.

 

A graduate from Oregon State University, Mr. Dermody holds a Bachelor and Master of Science degree from the school, as well as a certificate in Project Management from California State University, Sacramento. He’s also an Eagle Scout. He currently lives in Bishop with his wife Lori and their two children. In his free time, Mr. Dermody enjoys mountain biking, skiing, paddleboarding, kayaking, and spending time in his backyard with his family.

 

Mr. Dermody takes over the District 9 Director position from Brent Green, who served in the role since March 2015 and retired from State service on May 1, 2020.

 

NIH COVID-19 Update: General Population Testing Not Happening Any Time Soon

Key figures from Northern Inyo Hospital held a conference call to discuss where the healthcare district stands in relation to the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr. Will Timbers took the lead on the conference call and told the media what NIH’s plans are when it comes to testing.

Population testing may be available in the future, meaning that the public will be able to receive testing. However, NIH say they are not remarkably close to that becoming a reality. Timbers said, “Over the next few months we will be trying to keep the virus under control. However, there are a lot of significant barriers we have in relation to widespread testing.”

It is important to eventually implement large scale testing to safely reopen specific aspects of the economy. “The bigger the sample size, the more accurate information will be relating to COVID-19. The better picture you get, the easier it will be to understand the disease’s prevalence,” said Timbers. With a higher data sample, it becomes easier for officials to decide when it is okay to reopen the economy.

Interim Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Will Timbers says he worries that another epidemic could happen in the future. Another outbreak of an illness within the coronavirus family could be a real possibility. There have already been two other coronavirus diseases over the past twenty years. “Within the past twenty years, we have had three outbreaks of different coronaviruses including SARS and MERS. So, it is clearly happening with some regularity. There are thousands of coronaviruses in birds and mammals that could jump to humans,” Dr. Timbers remarked.

It is too early to tell if COVID-19 will turn into something like the flu, which occurs seasonally. However, Timbers says that the idea of the coronavirus evolving like influenza does is not out of the realm of possibility. “We do not know yet, [whether COVID-19 mutates like influenza] but I really hope not. There is something called antigenic drift for influenza. The flu changes rapidly every year, and we are always trying to catch up. It could happen with COVID too, but it is too early to tell. But again, I hope it is not the case, because it would be one of the worst-case scenarios,” Timbers expressed

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.

Northern Inyo Hospital Not Panicking After Five New COVID-19 Cases

Northern Inyo Hospital held a press conference on Thursday, April 16, 2020, in response to the five new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the county. All cases were confirmed at the hospital, bringing the total amount of victims to seventeen.

Dr. Stacey Brown could not comment on whether or not the cases were all connected, but did say that each patient’s tests were confirmed to be in the same batch of testing kits that were sent to LabCorp in Phoenix, Arizona. “Those five positive cases were in a batch of twelve people that we tested last weekend,” Brown said.

The Rural Health Clinic Director added that he is not overly alarmed by the five cases. It is more likely that the test results were confirmed at the same time and less likely that every person tested came down with the virus at the same time. Brown said, “The new confirmed cases is not diagnostic of a surge, but more of a testing glut. Usually five to eight tests per day is what we send out for lab analysis. With just one data point to look at and five tests confirmed, I can’t say we are in a surge.”

Turnaround time for testing results will be faster than the usual two days it takes to receive coronavirus testing outcomes. The in-house testing has been approved for the hospital to use, which will allow for patients to find out whether or not  they have the virus in approximately an hour. “As of today, we have in-house testing via nasal swab available,” Brown remarked.

Interim Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Will Timbers, added that the healthcare district has also implemented antibody testing, which will let patients know whether or not they have built up immunity to COVID-19. “Antibody testing in-house is available as well. However, we are not entirely sure how accurate it is right now,” Timbers said.

California Governor, Gavin Newsom recently said in a press conference that in order to lessen up on societal restrictions and go back to some semblance of normal life, he would need to see a decrease in hospitalizations and ICU admissions. The governor outlined “the six critical indicatiors” the state would need to see in order to consider modifying the Stay-at-Home guidelines.

When asked whether or not there has been an increase or decrease in hospitalizations locally, Dr. Timbers said there has been a moderate increase of admissions to the hospital, but not enough to warrant alarm. “Volumes have been up marginally, but nothing that is coming at all close to taxing our resources,” Timbers expressed.

It has been well documented that the majority of cases of COVID-19 are considered by the medical community to be mild, with eighty-one percent of patients reporting mild symptoms. However, just because it is deemed to be a mild case, does not mean that many of the individuals who come down with the sickness do not experience tremendous pain and discomfort.

Timbers also spoke about the misconception that many people have when it comes to what the word “mild” means relating to coronavirus. “Mild, severe,  and critical are used to classify illness in the medical community. Eighty-one percent of people who have COVID-19 are determined to be a mild case based on if they have mild viral pneumonia or no pneumonia. Mild cases in the medical community is not what the majority of the public would perceive as a mild,” Timbers remarked.

Death Valley Authorities Searching For Vandals

DEATH VALLEY, CA –Death Valley National Park Rangers are investigating repeated incidents of vandalism over the past two years and seek the public’s assistance in identifying a suspect.

Early this year, rock faces, buildings, and other infrastructure were vandalized with graffiti that reads in part “Steve & Lacy.” Similar acts of vandalism occurred during the federal government shutdown in early 2019, possibly by the same person. This individual is suspected to be a male from Grand Forks, British Columbia who traveled with a dog named Lacy on his way to an event called King of the Hammers.

Park Rangers are seeking any information that could aid this investigation. Tips can be submitted anonymously to the National Park Service Investigative Services Branch (ISB). Their tip line can be reached via call or text at: 888-653-0009; online at www.nps.gov/ISB and click “Submit a Tip,” or emailed to nps_isb@nps.gov.

Graffiti and other forms of damage to parks is illegal. The “Steve & Lacy” graffiti was found on rocks and historic structures in Echo Canyon, Butte Valley, Homestake Dry Camp, and Crankshaft Junction. Defacing any part of the national park degrades the experience of other visitors. Repair of vandalized sites is costly and time consuming, and often cannot restore the site to its former condition in some cases permanently defacing unique historic sites or natural features.

“It is heartbreaking to see treasures like Death Valley National Park get damaged by intentional acts such as these,” said Superintendent Mike Reynolds. “We ask park visitors to help us find those who should be held responsible, and thank hard working park rangers for efforts to prevent further damage.”

Park rangers are still patrolling Death Valley National Park during the current temporary closure due to coronavirus. Through traffic is allowed on CA-190 and Daylight Pass Road.

The Tide May Be Turning In Northern Inyo Hospital’s Favor in Fight Against Coronavirus.

There is finally some good news when it comes to Northern Inyo Hospital’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

During Monday’s press conference with Rural Health Clinic Director, Dr. Stacey Brown, the hospital announced that the long-awaited  speedy coronavirus test will be ready for NIHD to use by the end of the week.

Brown said, “We finally got our rapid turnaround testing kits validated. The new testing protocol for coronavirus will take around an hour to complete. We will have this testing up and rolling by the end of the week.”

The rapid testing will mostly be used for critically ill patients and essential healthcare workers.

Dr. Brown also expressed that the hospital is aiming to expand testing capabilities to the general population in the future. The district would essentially move from a “containment” public health strategy, back to a “surveillance” strategy. With a “surveillance” strategy in place, NIHD would resume contact tracing, meaning the hospital would test those who have been in contact with a confirmed COVID-19 victim.

However, the hospital does not plan to test random individuals from the general public. The idea of doing so is simply unrealistic, since Dr. Brown said the hospital has roughly 200 testing kits available.

Brown added, “It would be an epidemiologist’s dream to test everyone in the town, but we don’t have the capacity to do that right now.”

Even better news than the rapid testing, is the notion that there is finally an end in sight when it comes to lessening social distancing measures and reintegrating various parts of society back in to the picture. As Interim Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Will Timbers remarked, “The rational here [when it comes to opening services] is that even if we do see a surge of COVID-19 patients, it is unrealistic that this disease is going to go away after we have one big surge. It will likely be a slow burn for cases, but we have to get some people back to some semblance of normal life. To that end, over the next several weeks, the hospital will provide a wider scope of services. This is going to be more like a marathon opposed to a sprint.”

When it comes to an actual timeline of when some societal functions will return to normal, Inyo County Public Health Officer, Dr. James Richardson, recently said he expects social distancing measures to lessen around May. “I suspect around mid to late May, things will start to lighten up. However, there may be a undercurrent of this virus in our community for a while,” Richardson said at last week’s “Inyo County Virtual Town Hall Meeting.”

Dr. Brown shares similar sentiments when it comes to an expiration date on the intense measures currently being taken. “I would hope that we could start some sort of phased return to normalcy by sometime in May. I will put a caveat on that though. We will be following guidelines from state and the feds before we start to open up.  All kinds of functions of society must be carefully considered, and it has to be a staged and phased rollout to ensure that we don’t have to lock down everyone for another fourteen days.”

 

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.