KIBS/KBOV Announcements

NIH Auxiliary installs 2023-24 Officers, Seeks New Members

Where there is a will, there is a way – as the saying goes – and that keeps the small but mighty
Northern Inyo Hospital Auxiliary moving forward.

Recently the group installed its 2023-2024 slate of officers, demonstrating a never-ending
commitment to Northern Inyo Hospital and the communities it serves. NIHD Board Chair Mary
Mae Kilpatrick swore in Judy Fratella as President, Karen Benson as Vice President, Sharon Moore
as Treasurer, Carole Sample as Corresponding Secretary, and Betty Dickey as Recording Secretary.

The financially struggling Healthcare District made special provisions for celebrating the Auxiliary.
Hospital employees donated the funds to treat the group to the Bishop County Club luncheon.
Board Chair Kilpatrick personally purchased a corsage for each member. Interim Chief Executive
Officer Stephen DelRossi and Interim Chief Medical Officer Dr. Stefan Schunk took time from their
schedules to speak highly of the Auxiliary’s most recent fundraising efforts.

As always, the installation’s highlight was the recognition of the service hours put in by members.
As a group, the members gave 6,515.5 hours or roughly 271 full days, for the benefit of the
Healthcare District in 2022-2023. These new hours bring the total number worked by the
Auxiliary during 1982-2023 to 301,960.5 hours. President Fratella awarded service pins to those
members who reached milestones in their personal service hours. Fratella herself reached 12,000
cumulative hours. Others honored included:
 Sharon Moore with a Lifetime Hours of Service of 19,500;
 Diane Remick and Judy Speed with 6,500 hours;
 Vivian Mitchel with 6,000 hours;
 Betty Dickey with 5,500 hours;
 Cheryl Underhill and Nan Giddings, each with 2,500;
 Carole Sample with 2,000 hours; and,Karen Benson, Pat Hawley, and Marti Witters had 500 hours.

For more than 60 years, Auxiliary members have invested time, talent, and treasure in the health
and well-being of the Northern Inyo Healthcare District residents. Within the last year, while
getting back on its collective feet after the pandemic, the Auxiliary met a new financial milestone,
putting its lifetime total at $650,000 toward equipment purchases for the hospital.

The group raises funds through its popular Holiday Craft Boutiques, community donations, and
the operation of the hospital’s Gift Shop. The Gift Shop sales of handmade quilts, baby clothing,
flower bouquets, and See’s Candy often make the difference between a good and great fiscal
year for the group.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic presented many challenges for President Fratella and her
volunteers. The Auxiliary shut down for more than a year, unable to work in the Gift Shop or hold
its fundraising boutique due to health and safety mandates.

“We had no revenue stream from our gift shop or boutique, which impacted us financially,”
Fratella explains. “We did manage to get back on our feet, and we’re back operating the gift shop
and preparing for our third boutique since the shutdown.”

However, the pandemic left one lasting effect on the Auxiliary: a decrease in membership.
“Volunteer groups around the country are struggling with this issue, and we know Inyo County
has many volunteer opportunities,” Fratella explains. “We believe that what we do has lasting
value and benefits many people, often in challenging times, like those we just passed through.”

Membership in the Auxiliary is open to men and women. Fratella reminds everyone that all help
is welcome and appreciated and that there are no prerequisites for membership.

“Everyone thinks they have to be a crafter to join, but that’s not true,” Fratella said. “We need
people with all talents to help us reach our goals. The more hands contributing to the collective
goal, the better.”

The Auxiliary meets on the third Wednesday of each month at 10 a.m. at the Birch Street Annex,
2957 Birch St., Bishop. Anyone interested in making a financial donation or joining the Auxiliary
may call Sharon Moore at (760) 872-4198 for details.

NIHD Board Chair Mary Mae Kilpatrick (in yellow) swore in the 2023-24 NIH
Hospital Auxiliary officers during a luncheon at Bishop County Club. From left to right are Corresponding
Secretary Carole Sample, Vice President Karen Benson, President Judy Fratella, Mary Mae Kilpatrick,
Treasurer Sharon Moore and Recording Secretary Betty Dickey. Photo by Barbara Laughon/Northern Inyo
Healthcare District.

Auxiliary Recording Secretary Betty Dickey samples the fresh potato chips offered
during the NIH Auxiliary Installation lunch. Donations from the Healthcare District’s employees paid for the
luncheon. Photo by Barbara Laughon/Northern Inyo Healthcare District

Park Rangers Respond to Truck Fire Near Death Valley

DEATH VALLEY, Calif. – Firefighters from the National Park Service and Southern Inyo Fire Protection District responded to a truck fire on Highway 190 just outside the east boundary of Death Valley National Park on May 17.

The semi-truck was pulling two dumpster trailers full of brush trimmings. After climbing 3,000 feet out of Death Valley, the truck broke down, then caught on fire.

Firefighters used firefighting foam to contain the fire to the cab and the first trailer. Fortunately, there were no injuries. Highway 190 was temporarily closed.

Illegal Marijuana Grow Site Cleaned Up – Death Valley

DEATH VALLEY, Calif. – The National Park Service (NPS) and partners recently removed trash and dangerous chemicals left behind from an illegal marijuana grow site operation in Jail Canyon in Death Valley National Park.  Jail Canyon has reopened to public visitation now that the safety closure has been lifted. 


An active marijuana grow operation was discovered during a fly-over of Jail Canyon, located in the western slope of the Panamint Mountains. Over 10,000 plants were eradicated with an estimated sale value of over $7million. Upon learning that they were discovered, the growers abandoned the site. They left behind a damaged landscape, trash and hazardous chemicals.  


Jail Canyon is one over 20 illegal grow sites which have been found near springs in remote canyons in the park over the past decade. The growers typically terrace the landscape and install irrigation tubing to divert water to the marijuana plants. Workers have poached wildlife for food. They stockpiled chemicals and applied pesticides to protect their illegal crop, contaminating water sources in the process. The most dangerous chemical found in Jail Canyon was carbofuran, which is very toxic to humans and wildlife. 


On April 27, park rangers and American Conservation Experience (ACE) members hiked through dense vegetation into Jail Canyon, and bagged up tubing, tarps, bedding, and other trash. A few days later, the California Air National Guard used their Pave Hawk helicopter to perform a “longline operation”. This operation consisted of dropping large cargo nets to the park rangers in the canyon who then loaded the garbage into the nets. 35 cubic yards of trash were removed, and the site was returned to a more natural state.  


When hiking in remote areas of the park, visitors are advised to be aware of their surroundings, and pay attention to things which seem unusual such as modern trash, well-used human trails, or tubing. If you discover a grow site, leave the area immediately and report the location to the NPS  at a visitor center or call the NPS tip line at 888-653-0009.  


Due to the rugged, often trailless terrain of Death Valley National Park, the NPS has increased the use of surveillance to detect the presence of new grow operations to protect park resources and improve visitor safety.

Inyo County Sheriff’s Department – Homicide Investigation

On Monday, April 10, 2013, at about 3:11 p.m., Inyo County Sheriff’s deputies responded to Mazourka Canyon Road, east of Independence, CA, for the report of a deceased person. Upon arrival, deputies located a deceased female. Initial investigation identified the decedent as 34-year-old Independence resident Dorothy Erin McQueen.

Further investigation, including a forensic autopsy, has been completed.

This is an ongoing homicide investigation. Anyone with information is urged to call the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office at
(760) 878-0383 option #4.

NIHD Prepares to Make Workforce Reductions

As the financial situation at Northern Inyo Healthcare District reaches dire levels, a planned effort to “right-size” the operation is underway. Regrettably, NIHD anticipates eliminating about 15
positions, or less than 4 percent of its 460-member workforce, no later than April 21.

These nonclinical reductions include roles within support and administration. Severance, and in a few cases, job relocation at a lower pay rate within the District, will be offered to those impacted
by these changes.

“Our focus steadfastly remains on delivering quality care for the community,” Interim Chief Executive Officer Lionel “Chad” Chadwick says. “To that extent, no positions in direct patient care
are being reduced. However, it should be noted the District has made great efforts to reduce the number of contracted traveling nurses within our operations, providing substantial cost savings.”

Like many healthcare facilities nationwide, NIHD has experienced financial strain from the lasting impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, high inflation, and labor shortages. The most significant
effect continues to be low reimbursement rates for Medi-Cal and Medicare, together a large percentage of NIHD’s revenue. While workforce reductions like this are regretful, uncomfortable,
and distasteful, Chadwick says NIHD must continue examining all opportunities to maintain a sustainable healthcare facility.

Chadwick notes that while 15 positions may seem small to the public, since December, the District froze several positions as those became vacant due to retirements, resignations, or
interdepartmental relocations. Savings from the frozen positions is $1.5 million. Chadwick anticipates the District will save an additional $1.5 million with the 15-member reduction in force.

Still, Chadwick notes, more is needed. “Our Turnaround Group has taken a deep dive into our operations, hoping to find ways to balance our finances and improve our efficiencies,” Chadwick
says. “We’ve acted on many opportunities, large and small, in hopes of not having to undergo this workforce reduction. Unfortunately, the community needs to understand we are facing more
difficult decisions, which may affect service lines, days of operation, hours of operations, and more. Everything is on the table. As I’ve told the team, there are no sacred cows.”

That includes Interim CEO Chadwick himself. At last Wednesday’s special NIHD Board of Directors meeting, he proposed elevating Chief Financial Officer Stephen DelRossi to Interim CEO for at
least six months while DelRossi maintained his permanent role as CFO. The Board immediately entered negotiations with DelRossi.

If an agreement is reached, the move would either eliminate Chadwick’s role or reduce his role to an on-call consultant, saving the District an executive salary. The outcome of DelRossi’s
negotiations will most likely be announced at the Board’s next meeting, Wednesday, April 19.

Chief Nursing Officer Allison Partridge also holds a dual leadership role serving as Interim Chief Operations Officer. The District rounds out its Executive Team with Hospitalist Dr. Stefan Schunk
serving as Interim Chief Medical Officer following the recent departure of Dr. Joy Engblade to be closer to family.

In total, NIHD employs 460 people across its services which include a 25-bed critical access hospital, a 24-hour emergency department, a primary care rural health clinic, a diagnostic
imaging center, a rehabilitation services center, and clinics specializing in women’s health, orthopedics, internal medicine, pediatrics, allergies, general surgery, colorectal surgery, breast
cancer surgery, and urology.

The District was one of the first healthcare districts formed in the state in 1946. Voted into existence by its communities in January 1946, NIHD is one of 54 healthcare districts serving the
state’s rural areas. According to the Association of California Healthcare Districts, facilities like NIHD provide access to essential health services and are directly accountable at the community
level. As a result, tens of millions of Californians can access care that would otherwise


In the continuing effort to combat snow accumulation to our forest facilities, heavy equipment crews have dug out the first 800 feet of Deadman Creek Road from Highway 395 South in Crestview. This presents a major hazard for over-snow travelers who encounter this area, as the depth of snow to the ground is between 12 – 16 feet deep.

Snow poles have been erected with orange flagging tape to outline this area. We are working on improved signage to alert area users to the hazard. The cleared section of road is closed to the public by Mono County.

If you are snowmobiling west of Highway 395 between Mammoth Scenic Loop and Glass Creek Road, be sure to significantly slow your speed and be on the lookout for this area.

Please avoid this area until it no longer presents a hazard; which could be months.


County, City Closer to Bridging EMS Gap

INDEPENDENCE – County of Inyo and City of Bishop officials are optimistic that recent efforts to secure temporary Emergency Medical Services (EMS) for the greater Bishop area will allow for continued coverage after the current EMS provider ceases operations later this month.

It was announced Tuesday that, under the pressure of that looming deadline, the County and City have successfully found a qualified firm to bridge the EMS coverage gap on a temporary basis until a longer-term solution is identified.

The clock has been ticking down to the loss of Northern Inyo County ambulance service since January, when Symons Emergency Services announced it would be ceasing Advanced Life Support (ALS) ambulance services in the greater Bishop Exclusive Operating Area (EOA) effective April 22. According to Health & Human Services Director Marilyn Mann, the County is now in the process of contracting with Coast2Coast Public Safety, a private firm headquartered in Lake Havasu, AZ. Coast2Coast was one of two
prospective contractors that responded to the County’s Request for Proposals (RFP) for temporary ambulance service. The RFP was issued on March 9 with a closing date of March 20, after which proposals were reviewed by both City of Bishop and County of Inyo personnel.

Coast2Coast specializes in public safety services ranging from Security, EMS, Fire Rescue, and Emergency Management to K-9 Narcotics and Explosives Detection, Electronics Detection, and Search and Rescue. The firm has thus far demonstrated an eagerness to branch into Inyo County, even if on a temporary basis. Mann said upon notification to Coast2Coast of the contract award, the firm had already secured an agreement with a local ER
physician to serve as its medical director; begun the process to obtain Drug Enforcement Administration approval to administer life-saving drugs; applied for Medi-Cal and Medicare billing numbers; registered their ambulances in California; contacted Bishop Police Department and its dispatch and obtained the correct service channels and frequencies; and negotiated with Symons for the use of its building on West Line Street as a local headquarters.
Coast2Coast has committed to one ALS ambulance and a second providing a minimum of Basic Life Support.

Ensuring continuous access to life-saving EMS has been priority number one for the City of Bishop and County of Inyo since Symons’ January announcement. The contract with Coast2Coast is the culmination of a lot of hard work, collaboration, research, and determination on the part of both agencies, and quite a feat given the short timeframe in which to react.

“We’re committed to ensure there’s not a gap in ambulance service and believe we’ll be able to achieve that,” Inyo County Administrator Nate Greenberg told the Board of Supervisors.

The past four months have also included the County and City collaborating on long-term solutions to the EMS situation with the aid of the Bishop Rural Fire Protection District. To that end, both agencies have engaged the services of Emergency Services Consulting International to assess the state of EMS in the City of Bishop and beyond. Greenberg said the analysis will be a multi-month process expected to produce information critical to re-establishing a long-term provider in the EOA.

Greenberg and the Board of Supervisors expressed their gratitude to Mann and Assistant HHS Director Anna Scott, who were instrumental in drafting the RFP in a short timeframe. Supervisors Scott Marcellin and Trina Orrill, representing Districts 3 and 1 respectively, said the work being done by the County and City is helping to assuage their constituents’ fears about the loss of ambulance service.

Dark Sky Festival was a success – Largest attendance in thirteen-year history of the event

DEATH VALLEY, Calif. – Clear skies, telescopes, and engaging speakers combined for a stellar experience at this year’s Dark Sky Festival in Death Valley National Park. The programs had a total attendance of 5,568. Many people stayed for all three days and enjoyed multiple programs.

The Dark Sky Festival included auditorium talks, field trips, astrophotography workshops, night sky tours and other presentations held from February 10 through 12.  Over 1,500 people looked through telescopes hosted by the Las Vegas Astronomical Society.

“It was exciting to see so many people travel to Death Valley to enjoy the night sky,” said Superintendent Mike Reynolds. “This was a special opportunity for the public to interact directly with top scientists studying the planets and stars. And Death Valley National Park is an ideal place for this, because the park has supported a lot of planetary science research.”

The event’s partners included the Ames Research Center, California Institute of Technology (Caltech), Death Valley Natural History Association, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Las Vegas Astronomical Society, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, and SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence).

The festival is an annual celebration of space and planetary science in one of the darkest locations in the United States. Dates for the 2024 Dark Sky Festival have not been set yet.  

Death Valley National Park is the homeland of the Timbisha Shoshone and preserves natural resources, cultural resources, exceptional wilderness, scenery, and learning experiences within the nation’s largest conserved desert landscape and some of the most extreme climate and topographic conditions on the planet. Learn more at  

(Photo Below: Ralph Lorenz, from the John Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, talks about the exploration of Venus. NPS photo by J. Hallett)

(Photo below: Michael Tuite from NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory leads a guided field program at Mars Hill in Death Valley. NPS photo by J. Hallett )

Mary Booher Returns to Mono County Administrative Office

On February 9, 2023, Mary Booher, a former resident and valued employee of Mono County for more than 24 years, returned to
County service. Ms. Booher’s knowledge of County services, functions, and culture, combined with her lengthy experience in public administration, make her a welcome addition to the Mono
County team.

Ms. Booher worked in various positions during her 24 years with Mono County, gaining experience in administration, budget, finance, and various departmental functions, before moving on to leadership roles with both Sonoma and Napa Counties. She most recently retired as Assistant County Executive Officer from Napa County. After returning to the Eastern Sierra in 2020, she volunteered her time to assist in recovery efforts following the devastating Mountain
View Fire in northern Mono County.

“We are thrilled that Mary has agreed to return to Mono County during this transition period, and know that she will hit the ground running,” said Supervisor Rhonda Duggan, Chair of the Mono County Board of Supervisors. “Her long history with Mono County, and extensive experience in local government, make her an asset to any organization, and we are grateful for her support.”

Ms. Booher will be serving in the capacity of “Retired Annuitant – County Administrative Office, Special Projects.” Ms. Booher received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of
Nevada, Reno, her Bachelor of Science/Business Administration degree from Regis University in Denver, Colorado, and her Master of Public Administration from Golden Gate University in San
Francisco. Ms. Booher will be working part-time to adhere to the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) rules of retired annuitants.


The 2023 Blake Jones Trout Derby is set for Saturday, March 11th in Bishop, California. Since 1968, the event has been a favorite Eastern Sierra tradition. Last year, nearly 400 registered participants weighed in more than 500 fish. The largest was 5 pounds and most were in the 1-pound range. Lucky winners took home about $10K
worth of prizes including float tubes, Yeti coolers, barbecues, rod & reel combos and tons of other great gear provided by the event’s ever-generous co-sponsors.

This year is shaping up to be another great one according to the Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce. The derby is popular with visitors as well as locals. “We want to make sure that it’s sustainable so upcoming generations can enjoy the fishing fun. We’ve added a category for catch & release and a special raffle prize for
those who pick up trash while they are out fishing. And, we always purchase and plant far more fish than are usually caught at the derby,” explains Bishop Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tawni Thomson.

The Blake Jones derby is a blind bogey format with categories for adults and kids of all ages. In addition to the blind bogey awards, there will be prizes for early bird registrations, farthest travel, biggest fish, even prizes for those who don’t catch any fish or choose to catch & release.

Registration, weigh-in, and awards ceremony will be at the Eastern Sierra Tri-County Fairgrounds in downtown Bishop. Fishing locations include Pleasant Valley Reservoir and the Owens River. California Department of Fish and Wildlife plants Rainbow Trout year-round in these locations and the Bishop Chamber will arrange for supplemental stocking of fish purchased from Wright’s Rainbows prior to the derby. “We want to make sure there are plenty of fish for everyone,” explains April Leeson, Event Coordinator at the Bishop Chamber of Commerce.

“The derby is a real family-friendly fishing event. In addition to the fishing contest, we’ll have information booths, educational displays, kids’ casting games, music, activities, food & beverage vendors and more”, Leeson added.

Registration for the derby is now open.  Sign up online at or drop by the Bishop Chamber of Commerce, 690 North Main Street.

The Blake Jones Trout Derby is co-sponsored by Inyo County and the City of Bishop, plus many other generous sponsors.  For more information, contact the Bishop Chamber at (760)873-8405.

Laws Honors Women in Mining History on March 11th

Most readers, if asked for a word association to women in 19th Century mining camps are likely to respond with an association to “working girls” and “red light districts”. But the mines of 19th and early 20th Century’s in California and Nevada had a share of women who were seeking fortunes of their own: roaming the hills in search of riches, prospecting, staking claims, and investing their wealth in townsites and ranches. Some were successful, some died in
poverty. But the ones who made history weren’t about to trade their lifestyle for anything more traditional. In fact, Lillian Malcolm, Broadway actress turned gold miner, wondered why more women didn’t choose the healthier, grander outdoor lifestyle of prospecting.

This year, Laws Railroad Museum and Historical Site will honor women in mining during Women’s History Month, on Saturday March 11th. Visitors to Laws will have the opportunity to hear from history docents about the lives and experiences of some of California’s and Nevada’s women gold-panners and prospectors. Some of these unconventional women travelled from the east
coast and even from other countries in response to “Gold Fever”. Others, like Ellen Nay, grew up prospecting alongside family members who hoped to strike it rich.

Some readers may be also be surprised by the historic link between the narrow- gauge railroad that came through Laws Station, and the mining industry. The railroad itself was built primarily to serve the mines. Passengers and produce were also transported, but the productive mines of the eastern Sierra were the real reason for rails through the Owens Valley.

Join us at Laws Railroad Museum and Historical Site on March 11th to learn more! Weather permitting, rides will be given on the Pine Creek tungsten mine’s ore cart, and the first 49 visitors to obtain autographs from six history docents will earn a bag of polished rocks from the gift shop/reception center’s “mine”.

The museum is open 10:00-4:00 p.m. Call (760) 873-5950 for more information.

LADWP Confirms Elevation of Mono Lake Is Rising, No Emergency Conditions Present

Feb. 14, 2023 (LOS ANGELES) — Today, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) announced that recent measurements taken at Mono Lake indicate that the lake level elevation is 6,379.3 feet above sea level, which is over two feet higher than its 2017 low of 6,377.5 feet when no emergency regulatory action was called for or taken.  LADWP has also recently forecasted that recent snowfall in and around the Mono Basin will cause the lake level to rise approximately two more feet before the end of the year, ensuring the continued health of the Mono Basin ecosystem.

“Our hydrographers have confirmed that the Mono Lake level is the highest it has been in years – despite drought – and the snowpack from January will cause the lake level to rise even higher,” said Anselmo Collins, Senior Assistant General Manager, Water Systems at LADWP. “We’re confident and pleased that recent weather, along with LADWP’s responsible environmental stewardship, has assured that the Mono Basin ecosystem remains healthy.”

Mono Lake supports a healthy ecosystem for a variety of species, including brine shrimp and California gulls, both in its waters and on the islands and shores surrounding the lake. Additionally, due to LADWP’s significant investments, Mono Basin creeks have been restored, fish populations are thriving, and waterfowl habitats have been enhanced.

The Mono Lake Committee (MLC) has made false claims that nesting gulls on Negit Island in Mono Lake are at risk of coyote predation and is urging the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) to take emergency action to prohibit LADWP from exercising its water rights. In recent statements and publicity, MLC relied on a lake level measurement from the seasonal low point at the height of drought last year, which does not reflect today’s reality. Mono Lake’s water level is more than four feet above possible land exposure that would allow coyotes to potentially cross to Negit Island.

Thanks to requirements that the SWRCB established in 1994, coyotes would need to travel approximately four football fields’ worth of water four feet deep to reach nesting gull populations – a length and depth that will only increase as snowpack melts and fills into the lake. Furthermore, scientific evidence shows that nesting gull populations are correlated to food availability, not lake levels. LADWP is prepared to collaborate with MLC and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to continue its stewardship in the Mono Basin, but rejects any assertion that stream diversions should be cut on an emergency or other basis.

The City of Los Angeles utilizes its Mono Basin water rights to serve up to 200,000 Angelenos each year. MLC has acknowledged that if the City of Los Angeles were ordered to cease its diversions, it would only raise the lake level by approximately one inch. Intense statewide drought has meant that California’s other water sources – the State Water Project and Colorado River – are under heavy strain. In the last 40 years, Angelenos have reduced water use by 44% despite a population growth of more than one million, but no amount of conservation will make Los Angeles independent of vital imported water supplies that have already been reduced substantially.

LADWP continues to serve as an environmental steward of Mono Basin and the Mono Lake watershed while also protecting the health and well-being of the four million residents LADWP serves.