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Authorities Looking for Suspect on the Loose
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.
Northern Inyo Hospital Appoints New Chief Nursing Officer
PRESS RELEASE FROM NORTHERN INYO HOSPITAL:
Nature’s season of change will serve as the backdrop for change in nursing leadership at Northern Inyo Healthcare District. As veteran nursing leader Tracy Aspel prepares for her October retirement, the District named Allison Partridge as its new Chief Nursing Officer, effective mid-September.
When asked what she hopes to bring to the District, Partridge’s list of aspirations is clear. “I really hope to continue the work that Tracy, and those before her, started. I’m really striving for continuous process improvement, continuous excellence in care, and striving to ensure that we’re meeting the needs of the community.”
That last point – meeting the community’s needs – impacted the new CNO as she said the words. “Meeting those needs is huge,” she said. “We’re rural, we’re far away from any major healthcare facility. We have to work with our community partners to make sure we’re doing the best we can for those who count on us every day. It’s that simple.”
NIHD’s Interim Chief Executive Officer Kelli Davis said Partridge has proven herself to be an inclusive leader who takes into consideration differing viewpoints. “I find her to be a very positive and authentic person who stands by doing what’s best for the whole, whether that’s a single nursing department or the entire District. Allison works hard to help others achieve their goals and meet their aspirations in growth and development. I look forward to seeing what she brings to the District in the next year.”
Partridge currently serves as NIHD’s Director of Nursing for Emergency and Inpatient Services. That has put the 20-plus year nursing veteran at the forefront of the District’s pandemic response, alongside Aspel, Davis, and Drs. Will Timbers and Stacey Brown.
Bolstered by a 16-member incident command and the support of District physicians and employees, Partridge and these leaders find themselves tackling both basic and complicated needs.
“As far as the District’s response to the pandemic, I think we are spot on,” she said. “We’ve got a very structured, organized format that we’re following in addressing this. We assure we stay up-to-date and apprised of the most current information from both Centers for Disease Control and California Department of Public Health. We’re using that information to help drive the decisions we make. It’s been a lot of work and is continuously changing, but we’ve adapted, and we’ve stayed focused.”
Before joining NIHD almost three years ago, Partridge spent most of her career at San Pedro’s Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center. She credits Providence’s in-house leadership development program with preparing her to serve as NIHD’s Chief Nursing Officer.
Partridge holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Nursing. She has extensive training in lean leadership, six sigma, and mission-focused leadership. Of all of her education, Partridge is most proud of her Master’s degree with an emphasis on leadership, and not for a reason most expected. She earned her Master’s as a working adult and mother. “I have a deep respect for anyone trying to juggle all that. It was not easy,” she said.
As for her years with NIHD, Partridge values the time she spent getting to know the District, the communities it serves, and the nursing teams she works with. “I look at our teams, and I see so much potential and such great opportunity, and that’s really exciting,” she said. “Throughout the District, you see this really heightened desire to achieve excellence, and together, I know we can do it.”
Partridge also understands the love the community has for its nurses. “We are a small community, and for the nurses, that brings this deep desire to really provide excellence in care,” she said. “I genuinely think that’s because here, as a nurse, you often know the person you are caring for, or someone who loves them, and people respond to that.”
Dead Body Found Near Manzanar
On August 8, 2020 Inyo County Sheriff’s Dispatch received a report from a hiker of a potentially deceased female in the foothills west of Manzanar National Historic Site. Sheriff’s Deputies arrived and located a deceased female. A search of the area produced a red sweatshirt and multicolored tennis shoes approximately two miles from her body near the base of the Sierra Mountain Range.
Inyo County Search and Rescue were dispatched to the scene to provide additional tracking support on August 8 and August 9. Based on foot impressions it is believed that she walked north along Foothill Road after exiting a vehicle, then east along a smaller dirt road where she eventually sat down and perished. There was no indication of a struggle or initial signs of foul play.
There was no identification located near or around the body; however Bishop Police Department had logged contact with a female matching the description of the decedent on July 30. Based on the information gathered during the contact, a positive identification was confirmed on August 11 and next of kin was notified. The deceased has been identified as Elaine Hartnett, a 48-year old woman from Pioneer, CA. A forensic autopsy has been scheduled to take place in Orange County, CA to determine cause of death. If anyone has had contact with Ms. Hartnett in Inyo County and can provide information please call Sheriff’s Dispatch at 760-878-0383, option 4
The Eastern Sierra Has Never Been Busier, Nor More Trashed
Campgrounds, public lands, and public facilities have never been busier than they are right now in the Eastern Sierra. The large increase in visitation to towns and areas in the Inyo National Forest is likely because visitors from Southern California and other areas of the state and country have been encouraged to stay at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and are looking for a getaway in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Unfortunately with a high amount of visitation, comes a higher chance of seeing vandalism, littering, trash dumping, dispersed camping, and illegal campfires.
Inyo National Forest Public Affairs Specialist, Deb Schweizer, says she cannot remember a time that she has seen campgrounds and hiking trails busier. “I have never seen our public lands busier,” Schweizer said. “I have never seen as much violation of rules as we are seeing right now such as illegal campfires, dispersed fires, trash dumping, and vandalism.”
One such example of the disregard some individuals are showing is near June Lake. Trees and rocks have been vandalized with graffiti on hiking trails, trashcans have been left overflowing with waste, and playgrounds have been riddled with trash.
According to Mono County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer, Sarah Roberts, the department’s June Lake Substation was vandalized, and the door was kicked in. The Mono County Sheriff’s Office says they are investigating the incident.
At this point in time, they are not completely sure if the vandalism occurred this past weekend or beforehand. Luckily the substation is not currently used by the department, so nothing of value was taken.
Another recent example of some of the disregard travelers are showing on public lands is at the Crestview Rest Area just north of Mammoth Lakes. One picture posted on Facebook shows four dumpsters filled to the brim with trash along with litter spewed across the parking lot.
Schweizer says that the Inyo National Forest is not the only place that has seen an uptick in illegal activity on public lands. “The vandalism is not just happening on the Inyo. The National Forest Service has seen an increase in vandalism, littering, and illegal campfires everywhere,” Schweizer said.
CDFW Euthanize Fish at Three Facilities Due to Bacteria Outbreak
Three California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) fish hatchery facilities in the Eastern Sierra and Southern California have been battling a bacterial outbreak that has affected 3.2 million fish. This week, after consultation with fish pathology experts and exhausting all avenues of treatment, CDFW announced that the fish, which are all trout, at the affected facilities must be euthanized in order to stop the spread of the outbreak.
The affected facilities – Mojave River Hatchery, Black Rock Hatchery and Fish Springs Hatchery – usually provide fish for stocking waterways in CDFW’s South Coast Region and Inland Deserts Region. The euthanization of all the fish at these facilities will have a profound effect on CDFW’s ability to stock fish for anglers in those regions in the near future.
“Euthanizing our hatchery stocks was not a decision we came to lightly, but it had to be done,” said Jay Rowan environmental program manager for CDFW hatcheries. “This bacterium is resistant to all the treatment options we have available for fish. The fish losses were getting worse despite our treatments. The best option we have available that will get us back to planting fish from these hatcheries in the shortest timeline is to clear the raceways, thoroughly disinfect the facilities, and start over.”
CDFW has had the three facilities under quarantine for more than a month, while pathologists and hatchery staff treated the affected fish and researched potential options. The outbreak of Lactococcus garvieae, which is similar to streptococcus, has been reported in cattle and poultry farms as well as fresh and salt water fish and shellfish hatcheries around the world, but had never before been detected in fish in California. Research of treatment options employed at trout farms in Europe and other parts of the world show there is almost no chance for successfully eliminating the bacteria from a facility without depopulation and disinfection.
Fish that are infected with can show symptoms including bulging eyes, lethargic or erratic swimming and increased mortality, or be asymptomatic and show no signs of infection depending on a several factors including water temperature and stress. Fish-to-human transmission of this bacteria is rare and unlikely but there are several documented instances associated with immunocompromised people consuming infected raw fish and unpasteurized milk products.
Hot Creek Hatchery in the Eastern Sierra has tested negative for the bacteria and is still planting eight waters in Inyo and Mono counties. CDFW is in the process of developing a modified stocking plan to reallocate fish from central and northern California hatcheries to a small number of high angler use, easily accessible waters in geographically distinct parts of the eastern Sierra and Southern California.
For real-time updates, California anglers can refer to CDFW’s Fish Planting Schedule. This schedule is updated directly by CDFW hatchery staff. Although it contains current information, all fish plants are subject to change depending on road, water, weather and operational conditions.
Mammoth Hospital Sees First COVID-19 Hospitalization Since March
COVID-19 Positive Patient Hospitalized at Mammoth Hospital.
Mammoth Hospital has hospitalized its first patient since late March due to COVID-19. While the Eastern Sierra has seen relatively few infections over the last few months, the pandemic continues to be a threat to Mono County. This patient is now hospitalized and being treated for coronavirus.
“This new hospitalization is a reminder that the pandemic is still a very real crisis, on both a local and global level,” says Mammoth Hospital CEO, Tom Parker. “Many restrictions have been eased and we have seen a reopening of many businesses, giving us a sense of normalcy. Mono County’s ‘Stay Safe to Stay Open‘ campaign speaks to the need to stay vigilant in our efforts to cover, distance and wash. We have seen a significant increase in the last two weeks in the number of people testing positive for COVID-19. This is not the time to let our guard down. Mammoth Hospital has taken great steps to prepare for a surge of COVID patients, and we remain prepared to care for anyone who presents to our facility.”
Mammoth Lakes Tourism Welcomes New Board Member
Mammoth Lakes, Calif. (July 13, 2020) —At its July 1 meeting the Mammoth Lakes Tourism Board of Directors appointed Pat Foster to the At-Large seat available on the board.
Born in Bridgeport, Foster has been a lifelong resident of the Eastern Sierra,having lived in June Lake and Bishop for most of his life. He is the President of Hot Creek Aviation at the Mammoth Yosemite Airport where he has spent the last 21 years providing General Aviation Services and working alongside the town’s air service partners.
Mammoth Lakes Tourism has done some amazing work over the last several years and I am excited to join its efforts,” Foster said.“We find ourselves in unprecedented and challenging times right now -I am hoping I can contribute to a responsible recovery.”
The role of the At-Large Board seat is to provide guidance from the larger business community in Mammoth Lakes. It is meant to bring a perspective beyond the other represented groups of lodging, restaurant and retail.
“As a lifelong Eastern Sierra resident, and President of Hot Creek Aviation, Pat Foster brings a unique perspective on our community to the MLT Board of Directors,” said Board President, John Morris.“We look forward to his input and wisdom regarding the pending expansion of air service to Bishop Airport and other key strategic initiatives.”
Mammoth Food Bank Ends After Serving over 37,000 Meals
Press Release from Mammoth Lakes Tourism
Mammoth Lakes, Calif. (July 13, 2020) —On June 26, 2020, after 14 weeks of operation, Mammoth Lakes Tourism wrapped up its community food bank amid the reopening of many business segments in town.In total the food bank served 10,312 households containing 37,054 persons with 25,000 bags of food during its time of operation.
Additionally, 196 volunteers gave their time at the food bank, donating nearly 3,500 hours to keep things running smoothly.
“It was so gratifying to see how the community pulled together to help each other,” said MLT Board Treasurer Rhonda Duggan. “With so much uncertainty about how COVID-19 would impact our residents and visitors, relieving the stress of how to feed our families seemed like the right thing to do. It started as a two-week commitment and grew into 14 weeks, through rain, snow, wind, and finally sunshine. Through all that time, the donations from locals, businesses, second homeowners, friends, and strangers kept coming.”
The food bank initiative began when the Mammoth Lakes Tourism Board of Directors decided it wanted to do something to support the local tourism industry as things were shutting down in town due to coronavirus. The organization wanted to make sure it helped keep tourism workers taken care of so they could remain in town. The food bank opened on March 23.
“When our MLT board looked at how we could best serve our business community, the food bank was almost instantly the best option,” said MLT Executive Director John Urdi. “In order for our workforce to survive, food would be a critical resource that would be difficult for many to afford. Within days we were able to formulate a plan, US Foods stepped up to provide food at cost, Paul and Kathleen Rudder offered what turned out to be the perfect location in the Promenade at Main Street, the volunteers immediately signed up to help, and cash donations from around the state poured in to assist our efforts to help sustain our workforce. To say the effort was well received by our community is an understatement.”
A huge thanks goes out to everyone involved in the food bank whether through donation, volunteer time, support, and everything else.
Northern Inyo Hospital is Running Low on COVID-19 Tests
Interim Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Will Timbers and Chief of Staff, Dr. Stacey Brown held a press conference Friday afternoon to discuss the current situation relating to the COVID-19 pandemic at Northern Inyo Healthcare District.
Nothing major has happened this week according to Dr. Brown, which is something he is relieved about. “I am super happy that we don’t have anything earth shattering to report on today, which shows that we are doing what we can to put a lid on this thing,” Brown remarked.
The discussion shifted toward antibody testing, which is being offered to essential workers throughout the community. “I think we are getting some traction finally on the testing front. I believe we will expand our net of antibody testing before these tests expire on the twenty-fifth of this month. Personally, I have signed off on eight to ten tests for my patients in the past few days. We will hear from our Director of Diagnostics, Larry Weber on how many tests have been administered by next Wednesday,” Brown said
Though antibody testing is available for many in the community, the same can not be said for the hospital’s supply of nasal swabs that detect active COVID-19 infection.
Northern Inyo Hospital has a short supply of PCR nasal swabs due to the rise in cases throughout the United States.
Dr. Timbers remarked that the supply chains are starting to waver, which has made it more difficult for the hospital to acquire testing kits. The Chief Medical Officer said, “We are down to twelve tests, so we will likely run out of them in the next few days. We will be receiving more of them in the next 5-7 days. The reason for a lack of tests goes back to the conversation at beginning of pandemic. We need to have systems in place, so when we do have a crisis situation we can respond accordingly.”
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/
- 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@
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.
Inyo National Closes Group Camps Under Forest Order
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.