On August 24 shortly after 2:00pm Inyo County Sheriff’s Deputies were dispatched to the area just north of Pearsonville on Highway 395, regarding a report of a man brandishing a firearm. The reporting party indicated that a white male wearing a straw hat, light colored flannel long sleeve shirt, cargo pants and brown colored hiking boots had approached them on foot out of the desert area near Sterling Road. The man said, “Que pasa,” to the party who had pulled over to change a flat tire. The party explained that they didn’t speak Spanish, and the man walked away. Moments later the man returned and stood on the opposite side Highway 395. The reporting party observed the male lay down on the ground holding a rifle pointed at the vehicle. The reporting party was alarmed and fired a warning shot from a registered handgun in the air to try and scare off the male. The reporting party described being afraid for their lives, and began to slowly drive away southbound without finishing the change of the flat tire.
Further description of the individual with the gun revealed that the suspect was Matthew David Hays, a 35-year old man known to law enforcement. Deputies arrived on scene near Hays’ residence; moments later Hays appeared from his trailer. Deputies observed Hays holding a black colored rifle with a scope. Numerous announcements were made to drop the firearm. At one point, Hays began running towards law enforcement while holding the rifle and continued holding the rifle at the low ready position with the muzzle end of the rifle slightly raised. Hays eventually began walking off north-westerly into the desert.
A CHP helicopter responded and observed Hays in the desert, still with a rifle. However, the helicopter was forced to refuel and lost sight of Hays. Mutual aid was requested with Kern County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team along with Inyo County SED team. After SWAT and SED arrived on scene, a search of the area was conducted but the suspect could not be located. A search of an abandoned building nearby revealed the rifle and the suspect’s clothing. A search of the suspect’s residence was also conducted with a search warrant. The search resulted in the recovery of several pellet gun rifles and one bb handgun from the suspect’s residence.
A search of the vast area was conducted to locate the suspect. Due to the expansive territory and night time conditions, the search did not locate the suspect. An arrest warrant has been issued for the subject. The suspect is described as a white male, 6’2”, 165 pounds, brown hair, blue eyes. The public is strongly encouraged to contact the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office at 760-878-0383, option 4, if anyone has any information that can lead to the arrest of Matthew David Hays
The Inyo County Sheriff’s Office extends its appreciation to the following agencies that assisted last night: Kern County SO, CHP, BLM, Forest Service LEO, Liberty Ambulance, and Olancha Volunteer Fire Department.
The 2020 Tri-County Fair has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
CEO, Jen McGuire discussed how the Inyo County Public Health Department believed it would not be best to host the fair this year due to the State of California not allowing any mass gatherings.
McGurie also says that she has tried to find a solution when it comes to hosting the fair, but it was just not possible.
“We have tried different ideas, and I have laid awake each night to see if we can do a virtual fair, or an open market, or anything possible to try and make work. Unfortunately it is just not going to happen with our numbers continuing to rise, and COVID numbers will continue to rise for the next two to three weeks. I have to tell you cancelling fair was something that we kind of all knew was coming, but it is just sad that it actually is happening. We have tried everything we possibly could to make it happen,” McGuire said.
The Inyo National Forest is extending the closure of all group campgrounds and two remote campgrounds under a forest order closure The closure can be terminated or extended depending in conditions.
Please see Exhibit A (in the link above) for a full list of campgrounds included in this order.
The decision is based upon recommendations from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and state and local health authorities.
Developed recreation group campsites on the Inyo National Forest typically draw large groups of people, creating mass gatherings and concentrated groups of forest visitors. This results in significant management oversight. especially during the high use conditions now being experienced.
Additionally, due to lack of personnel it is necessary to close two developed campgrounds, Grandview Campground and Kennedy Meadows Campground, located in remote areas of the Inyo National Forest. These facilities are located in areas that timely and routine cleaning cannot occur.
This closure is an interim measure. The Inyo National Forest will follow guidelines from the CDC, as well as state and local health departments, to ensure that the safety of our employees and our visitors is a priority.
Visitors are also urged to take the precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) along with local health and safety guidance. For tips from the CDC on preventing illnesses like the coronavirus, go to: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention.html.
Joint Press Release from US Forrest Service and Inyo County
Stating on July 6, and anticipating effective through July 25, the South Lake Road Reconstruction Project will implement no overnight parking in the South Lake area. This will include the Bishop Pass Trailhead Parking, boat trailer parking, and some of the day use parking near South Lake. Additionally, there is no parking permitted along roadside shoulders during the construction project.
This closure will allow the contractor to pulverize and pave these parking lots. The construction schedule remains Monday – Friday, 6:00 am to 8:00 pm. Expect up to 30-minute delays. Flaggers and a pilot car will manage traffic, allowing alternating two-way traffic.
Hikers entering or exiting the Bishop Pass Trail at South Lake should plan their trips in accordance with the construction schedule. Hikers need to plan for travel delays, re-routed trailhead access, understand that that long-term parking is not available, plan to be picked up or dropped off at the trailhead, consider shuttles to/from trailheads, and utilize alternative trails for resupply, if possible.
Eastern Sierra Transit Authority (ESTA)’s Bishop Creek Shuttle is running twice daily Please see the attached for a list of operators who may provide shuttles on the forest. Hiker Shuttles: https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd586535.pdf.
The contractor is required to provide 40 day-use parking spaces in the area. However, since this is a popular recreation destination for boating, fishing, and hiking, these spaces will fill up quickly. Visitors should plan that parking, which is difficult in a normal year, will be substantially reduced during this project and will likely not be available.
Additionally, overnight parking will be allowed in the dirt lot just north of the Tyee Lakes Trailhead, including bear boxes for food storage (see attached map). It is approximately a three-mile walk to the Bishop Pass Trailhead via the trail behind Willow Campground that continues near Parchers Resort and connects to the trailhead on the east side of South Lake Road.
Motorhomes and trailers are not recommended past Four Jeffreys Campground unless you have a reservation with Creekside Resort, Bishop Creek Lodge, or Parchers Resort during this period since there is no safe turn-around past this point. Local businesses and services along South Lake Road remain open and accessible.
There is no way to complete a project of this nature without it having a significant impact on visitors to the area. Accessing the area may be, at times, difficult and frustrating. If you have any flexibility in your plans, please consider a visit to South Lake/Bishop Pass destinations in another year.
As a reminder, the project’s scope stated that Bishop Pass Trailhead Parking and Tyee Lakes Trailhead Parking and certain campgrounds will be closed at times this summer, although access to the trailheads will be maintained
The Eastern Sierra Foundation would like to congratulate the 76 Cerro Coso Community College 2020 graduates from Inyo and Mono Counties! While we are saddened that due to the pandemic an in-person graduation celebration is not possible this year, we are so impressed by the graduates’ perseverance, resilience, and strength in completing their certificates and degrees during these very challenging times. We know that the Class of 2020 will all go on to make positive contributions to our community and our world.
This year, Cerro Coso Community College’s Eastern Sierra College Center in Bishop and Mammoth graduated students in 26 different certificate and degree fields, including humanities, social sciences, math and sciences, studio arts, administration of justice, business, art history, English, human services, management, nursing, information technology, childhood development, medical assisting, and web development. Half of the graduates earned multiple degrees and/or certificates. Cerro Coso Community College will be hosting a virtual graduation on Saturday, June 13 at 6PM. For more information visit https://www.cerrocoso.edu/studentservices/commencement.
Each year, the Eastern Sierra Foundation offers full scholarships for any and all Inyo County residents who enroll in 12 units per semester on the Bishop Campus. The scholarship covers all enrollment fees. Additionally, in response to economic challenges resulting from the pandemic, the Eastern Sierra Foundation will now also cover up to $500 per semester for books. Scholarship applications and information are available online https://www.cerrocoso.edu/studentservices/financial-aid/eastern-sierra-foundation-scholarship. Due to the uncertainty about whether four-year colleges will offer in-seat courses in the fall, and to support local students who may be changing college plans, the Eastern Sierra Foundation has extended the scholarship deadline for the Fall 2020 semester to Tuesday, June 30 at 5PM.
Dr. Stacey Brown and Dr. Will Timbers of Northern Inyo Healthcare District told KIBS/KBOV News that a patient has tested positive for COVID-19.
The positive result is the twentieth confirmed case of coronavirus in Inyo County.
“We had our first positive case after quite awhile this week. Just this morning, we got a result of a positive swab from the drive through testing line on Wednesday. The fact that we have broken our long streak of negatives, requires a little more consideration that the virus has spread around,” Brown said.
Rural Health Clinic Director, Dr. Stacey Brown, said that at this point, he is not sure if the confirmed case is the beginning of an uptick in cases. “We don’t know if this is the beginning of the second surge or if it is something sporadic.”
Dr. Brown said that it would be alarming if this is the beginning of a second wave of infections due to the lack of herd immunity in the community. “I think it is a huge concern for us. We don’t have any herd immunity, so we are a naive place for this virus to settle in,” Brown remarked.
Though it is too soon to determine if the twentieth confirmed case of COVID-19 is the beginning of a surge in cases, Brown says Northern Inyo Hospital is prepared regardless. “We are doing great on a district level. We are super prepared for whatever hits the door. We have personal protective equipment, staff and resources. We are ready for the community when they need us,” Brown expressed.
Interim Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Will Timbers, believes the community has done an outstanding job when it comes to curtailing the spread of COVID-19 as evident by the forty-one days without a positive case. “The forty-one days we had without a COVID patient was all because of the community taking the proper precautions. I want to give a shout-out to the community for doing such a great job,” Timbers said.
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.”
CDFW Press Release
In response to the delay of in-person California hunter education classes due to COVID-19, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is temporarily allowing new hunters to complete their education requirements entirely online.
Prior to COVID-19, California offered a traditional in-person course or a hybrid online/in-person class with a certified Hunter Education Instructor (HEI). Because all classroom instruction opportunities have been suspended, California will temporarily waive the in-person requirement, allowing students to complete the full course of instruction online.
“Online-only certification is a temporary solution to allow Californians the ability to fulfill their hunter education requirements and obtain a hunting license during these unique times,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division. “We don’t want anyone to miss out on the chance to earn their certification before the fall hunting seasons, so we believe this is a reasonable solution, given the circumstances.”
When deemed safe to do so, CDFW intends to return to the prior system, including a minimum level of in-person instruction with a certified HEI. “We value our 1,000 extremely dedicated volunteer instructors enormously, and we’re anxious to see them back in front of students as soon as possible,” Bess added.
Effective immediately, prospective hunters may earn their hunter education certification online. More information is available at https://wildlife.ca.gov/hunter-education. The cost for the course is $24.95. Successful prospective hunters who complete and pass the online course will be able to immediately print a paper Hunter Education Completion Certificate, which will qualify them to purchase a hunting license. Their CDFW online license profile will automatically be updated with their Hunter Education Certification within two days.
Prospective hunters are advised that the deadline to apply for California’s Big Game draw is June 2, 2020. CDFW advises new hunters to set a goal of completing the online certification by May 31, to allow time for the automatic update of their CDFW license profile. CDFW license profiles can also be updated by presenting the paper certificate to a CDFW License Agent.
Rural Health Clinic Director for Northern Inyo Hospital, Dr. Stacey Brown, spoke to the media on Friday, May 15, 2020, and provided the latest on how hospital is managing in its fight against the COVID-19 crisis.
Brown said that the hospital has the capability to test almost anyone who is feeling symptomatic. “The vast majority of people we test are relatively healthy. However, there are some symptoms people show, and we will test them for coronavirus. If someone has a subjective fever, we will test them. The bar is low for testing,” Brown remarked.
Though there is a low requirement when it comes to a person receiving a COVID-19 test, the bar is still not low enough for an asymptomatic person to be tested. Brown said, “We can’t do testing for asymptomatic individuals; it is just not possible at this time.” The reason it is not possible to test those who do not show symptoms is because there are not enough tests available.
It is no secret that the United States is behind the curve when it comes to administering tests compared to some other countries in the world. Brown gave an explanation as to why acquiring a sufficient number of tests has been so difficult at a federal, state, and local level.
Brown said, “There are so many factors involved when it comes to lack of testing. I think we underestimated the impact that COVID-19 would have. It is what it is though, and we have to deal with what we’ve got.”
With that being said, Dr. Brown believes Northern Inyo Hospital will catch up when it comes to having sufficient testing. “I am a cautiously optimistic person. With the amount of regularity that we are getting relating to antibody testing and nasal swabs, things seem to be much more secure now. We aren’t getting much extra testing, but we are receiving tests, which makes me more comfortable than where things were a month ago.”
The discussion shifted toward the importance of wearing a mask when going into public. On Friday, May 8, 2020, Inyo County Public Health Officer, Dr. James Richardson issued a mandatory face mask order for all Inyo County residents who are out in public. When speaking about the mask order, Brown expressed approval for business owners not allowing individuals to enter their businesses without a mask. “I am happy that a lot of the places that are essential businesses have not been allowing entry to customers who do not have masks on,” Brown remarked.
Though appreciative of the public’s efforts in complying with the mandatory mask order, Brown said he has been seeing a lot of masks with valves on them, which defeats the point of even wearing a mask in the first place. “If you go back to why we are masking in public, it is not about inhaling the virus, it is about spewing virus,” Brown said. “One-way exhale valve masks are not the tool for what we call source control. Folks come into the district wearing these valve masks, and they are still asked to cover up when they come into the district. It is not doing the job,” Brown said.
Brown thinks it is necessary that the county provides a way of enforcing the public health order issued by Dr. Richardson. “There has to be some teeth on it [the facial cover order.] We need to trust people to do right thing, but verify that they actually are. There should be mechanism or hotline that the public can call and report businesses who are not complying with the order. There has to be threat of a shutdown or a fine if people do not listen,” Brown said.
May 7th, 2020 – As the pandemic stabilizes, the Bishop Paiute Tribe has planned a measured and strategic approach to allow employees to return to work safely to prevent a resurgence of the virus. This must be done in the most effective, efficient, and risk-averse way possible to balance the return of governmental and economic stability, while simultaneously continuing to keep employees and tribal members safe by controlling the spread of the disease.
The tribe’s re-opening plans are currently being crafted at the departmental, tribal, and public levels, and will be announced as they are developed and finalized. Updates will be available to the public as they occur on KBPT-LP 96.1fm and on the Tribe’s website and Facebook page.
The Bishop Paiute Tribe is a federally recognized Indian tribe located on its 879 acre Bishop Paiute Reservation in Inyo County, California. The Reservation was formed under Congressional Act 5299, P.L. No. 43 of April 20, 1937. The Tribe is committed to the well being of its people. For more information please contact the Bishop Paiute Tribe at (760) 873-3584.
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.