Tag Archives: mammoth lakes news

Mono County Has its First Death Due to COVID-19

The death occurred on Tuesday, March 31, 2020. The patient was a male in his 60’s. In addition to being infected with COVID-19, he was known to have other chronic medical conditions. He presented to Mammoth Hospital in critical condition. He was then transferred to another facility for further management, but his condition continued to deteriorate, and he ultimately died due to multiple complications related to COVID-19.

“We extend our deepest sympathies to the patient’s family and loved ones during this time of loss,” said Tom Parker, CEO of Mammoth Hospital. “This loss is deeply felt by our entire community. Now more than ever, each of us must do our part to prevent the spread of this virus.”

Both Mono County Director of Public Health Tom Boo, MD, and Mammoth Hospital Chief Medical Officer Craig Burrows, MD, said the death underscores the importance of protecting our community members during this ongoing pandemic.

Dr. Boo and Dr. Burrows emphasized the importance of all Mono and Inyo County residents in doing their part to slow the spread of the virus by continuing with all social distancing efforts and to adhere to the Stay At Home Order issued by Governor Newsom on Thursday, March 19, 2020.

Steps that everyone can take to slow the spread of the virus include: Being mindful of the critical importance for social / physical distance, wash your hands frequently, and cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough.

 

Mammoth Hospital Seeking Medical Equipment Donations

Mammoth Hospital is asking for donations of medical personal protective equipment (PPE) and other equipment to help with its treatment of COVID-19 cases.

The hospital is requesting donations of N95 or surgical masks, unopened boxes of nitrate gloves, oxygen tanks and oxygen concentrators that plug into the wall and unused vacuum cleaner bags.

Hospital employees will be at the Cast Off to collect donations on the following dates:

  • Monday, March 30 between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
  • Wednesday, April 1 between 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.
  • Friday, April 3 between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Mammoth Hospital is also looking for volunteers to sew masks. Anyone wishing to volunteer should send a private message to the hospital here.

Mammoth Hospital Encouraging Social Distance After First Coronavirus Case

Mammoth Hospital received confirmation today of the first case of COVID-19 in our community.  For anyone who is wanting to know who that person is and “did I come in contact with him/her?” the answer is that nearly everyone has a high likelihood of having been exposed in some way to someone with COVID-19.  This is only the first confirmed test in Mammoth Lakes, and not the first case.  And there is a BIG difference.  Everyone in the community must assume that the virus has spread worldwide at this point: in Mammoth, Bishop, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, the West Coast, the East Coast, the United States, North America, South America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Africa, Australia. EVERYWHERE. And with that assumption, everyone must act accordingly.  It does not matter if the person was a local, a tourist, or what nationality he/she was.  We have to act as if everyone may have it.

The physicians, nurses, and administrators serving on the Hospital Incident Management Team reviewed new projections today showing the growth rate of spread under different conditions. The single most impactful condition is the degree to which the community engages in Social Distancing.

Consider what we know about COVID-19, and how it spreads.  Our current best guess is that if we do nothing to change our behavior, the number people infected will double every 4 days.  That means today with one patient.  In four days, there will be 2 patients.  And what follows is this:

Today on 3/21/2020 1 patient
3/25/2020 2 new patients
3/29/2020 4  new patients
4/2/2020 8 new patients
4/6/2020 16 new patients
4/10/2020 32 new patients
4/14/2020 64 new patients
4/18/2020 132 new patients
4/22/2020 264 new patients
4/26/2020 512 new patients

 

So assuming no one dies, in just one month, we will have over 1,000 patients with COVID-19. The challenge is we do not know precisely how many of these patients will actually be sick, how many will need to be hospitalized, how many will need to be in the intensive care unit on a ventilator.  That said, our projection at this point is that 5% of infected patients will need to be hospitalized, which means of those 1,000 people, 50 will need to be admitted to the hospital in the next month, and that is when we start with JUST ONE patient! The reality is that we likely have many more people in Mono County who are already infected. So, the numbers are almost certainly much higher than the above example.  It is of critical importance to note that Mammoth Hospital is a small hospital with only 17 beds!

So what can you do to prevent this from becoming a situation we cannot possibly handle?

SOCIAL DISTANCE!

The point of Social Distancing is to keep the illness from spreading so quickly that the need for healthcare resources exceeds capacity. Right now, if we put an estimate on how well we are doing our part to Socially Distance, let’s assume our success rate is 25%, meaning on average we have all cut our social interactions by 25%. If we maintain that rate, and look at a population of 25,000 people (Mono County, Inyo County, and visitors) we will have our absolutely worst day in about two months, which means on that day alone, we will have 23 patients requiring life support (ventilator) in the intensive care unit, and 111 patients needing inpatient hospitalization. These projections far exceed the Hospital’s 17 bed capacity and our ability to care for no more than 4 people on life support at one time.

Now imagine if our success rate for Social Distancing is improved to 60%.  So we stay at home, make our own coffee, go for walks by ourselves, and stop going to parties with our friends – a tall order for all of us without question.  Now our absolutely worst day is just over three months out.  On that day, we have nine people in the hospital, and two people on life support in the intensive care unit.  Because of what we all do to Social Distance, our 17-bed hospital now has a much better chance to take care of everyone!

We know this new normal may not be a fun practice or one that is convenient.  It’s not your usual routine, and during times of stress we like to be close to our friends and our family members.  Do not revert to your regular routines.  It is so important to stay the course!

Here are some things you can do to cope.  Stay connected to your friends and family through the use of video conferencing.  Check in on loved ones who just need a call.  Have a Google hangout or FaceTime chat.  Exercise indoors or outdoors while maintaining a safe distance from others. Get outside for a walk and refresh yourself with the cool air. We are lucky to have some of the best views in the world just out our front doors.

If you are a “list person” here are our suggested Do’s and strongly advised Don’ts of Social Distancing:

DO:

  1. Work out on your own.
  2. When you need to go out, do what you need to take care of, and get home.  Be efficient!
  3. Call people to talk.
  4. Get out and walk, either with your dogs or on your own.
  5. Arrange an appointment with Behavioral Health if you need help with coping or anxiety.
  6. Get outside. We could all use some Vitamin D!
  7. Email or use social media to connect with friends and family to let them know how you are and find out how they are.

Don’t:

  1. Go out to get coffee, and then stop and socialize.
  2. Have dinner or parties with friends.
  3. Socialize at the grocery store.
  4. Hug or shake hands when you see a friend.
  5. Linger after getting take-out food.
  6. Socialize on Lake Mary Road, the gorge, or in the backcountry.
  7. Have play dates for your kids.
  8. Loiter at the post office.
  9. Work out in groups.

As always, we are here to help. If you need someone to talk to, call our Behavioral Health team at (760) 924-4333 and we will schedule one of our providers to talk with you via video chat.

So please, keep in mind that what you do (or don’t do) makes an enormous difference in how we are going to get through this!  We are all in this together, literally!

Wash. Cover. DISTANCE

Mono County Civic Center in Mammoth Close to Completion

MAMMOTH LAKES, Calif. – The new Mono County Civic Center office building in Mammoth Lakes is in the final phase of construction and is projected to be ready for occupancy in spring 2020.  Located on Sierra Park Road between Mammoth Hospital and the Mammoth Lakes Police Department, the new Civic Center brings essential County services under one roof, providing easier, centralized access to programs and offices, and a professional setting for public meetings.

 

Construction of the 33,000 square foot building began just ten months ago in April 2019 and followed an ambitious schedule. The projected opening reflects a slight delay from the original projected completion goal of March 2020.

 

Stacy Corless, Chair of the Mono County Board of Supervisors and District 5 Supervisor, applauded the efforts of the entire team: “Everyone involved in this complex and demanding project, including the general contractor, subcontractors, consultants and County staff, has been working tirelessly and the finish line is in sight.”

 

District 1 Supervisor Jennifer Kreitz pointed out that many factors worked in favor of staying on track, including a summer and fall season that was fortuitously warm and dry. “Given the construction challenges faced by any project of this magnitude, particularly at higher elevations, it’s very commendable that we are just shy of the original target.”

Though the construction schedule is approximately two weeks behind at present, County leaders recognize that finishing the project and moving numerous offices will take time, and that the extra time needed for project completion and the move will likely present the need for some County departments to work out of temporary office spaces. Supervisor Corless emphasized that “the most important focus of this move is to maintain vital public services and minimize disruption, as well as to ensure a transition for County employees—and the people they serve—that is efficient, cost-effective and secure.”

 

To that end, County Administrative Officer Steve Barwick said that County staff is finalizing plans to ensure that all public services continue with minimal interruption in a safe, secure and convenient location.  If temporary office space is necessary for the transition, Mono County’s priorities will be to use available space in the Minaret Mall as well as existing office space in Bridgeport.  The County may also temporarily lease additional space as necessary.

While Mono County has a relatively flexible lease arrangement at the Minaret Mall, the lease at the Sierra Center Mall terminates definitively at the end of March 2020.  Barwick stated, “Despite what is anticipated to be a short delay for move-in to our new building, Mono County is committed to vacating the currently leased space in the Sierra Center Mall by March 31 as the owners are ready to move forward with their plans to redevelop the site into an exciting new hotel property.”

Once open this spring, the Civic Center will be the new home for Social Services, Behavioral Health, Public Health, Environmental Health, District Attorney, Probation, County Counsel, Information Technology, Economic Development, Community Development as well as offices for County Administration and a meeting room for the Board of Supervisors.  Supervisor Corless noted that “the centralized location of the Civic Center, and the fact that all our departments are together in one building, will improve efficiencies in the delivery of County services to the public and will ultimately result in significant cost savings.”

 

The Board of Supervisors will receive an update on the Civic Center project on January 21, and at subsequent public meetings over the next two months. For more information about the Mono County Civic Center, please visit https://www.monocounty.ca.gov/facilities/page/mono-county-civic-center-mammoth-lakes or contact Steve Barwick, Mono County Administrative Officer.

Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra Prepares for Operation Mountain Freedom

Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra (DSES), in partnership with Mammoth Mountain Ski Area and the Inyo National Forest Service will welcome more than 50 active and veteran military personnel and their families. Participants have a myriad of disabilities, including Post Traumatic Stress, Traumatic Brain Injuries, Major Depressive Disorder, and amputations.

Beginning with a welcome dinner hosted by Mammoth Lakes Fire Department, the community of Mammoth Lakes will gather together to support our wounded warriors for a week of therapeutic recreation as part of Operation Mountain Freedom.

This event, which has been growing each year since 2007, was created in an effort to help our wounded warriors reintegrate into civilian life within the beauty, safety, and joy of the Sierra Nevada mountains. New this year, athletes will participate in sessions geared toward assimilating to civilian life including goal setting, successful transition and caregiver support.

Like all of DSES’s programs for military athletes, Operation Mountain Freedom often changes the lives of participants. For example, Julius, a retired Army Ranger who first came to Operation Mountain Freedom in 2016 learned to Alpine and Nordic ski as part of the program. Julius has since returned to several events to improve his skills and now competes across the country in Nordic and biathlon races. He and his fiancée, Katie, continue to support the program in many capacities like fundraising and mentoring both military and civilian athletes new to the world of adaptive sports. Julius and Katie are now so entwined in the DSES family that they are making the organization as part of their wedding celebrations which include a ceremony at the summit of Mammoth Mountain coinciding with Operation Mountain Freedom.

On Thursday, January 16, the Mammoth Lakes community is invited to come together to recognize all participants with a ceremonial Arch of Honor at 8:45am at the Gondola Building at Main Lodge.

Operation Mountain Freedom is supported by generous grants and contributions from The Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF), National Football League (NFL), Disabled Sports USA (DSUSA), Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, and Steve and Dana Garcia.

For a complete schedule of events and more information about Operation Mountain Freedom, please contact Amanda Carlson at 760.934.0791 or email acarlson@disabledsportseasternsierra.org.

Famous Snowboarder Dies in Apparent Suicide

On December 25, 2019, at approximately 6:00 p.m., Mono County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and Mammoth Lakes Police Department (MLPD) were dispatched to a residence in Mammoth Lakes regarding a male who was unresponsive.  Upon arriving, EMS and MLPD determined that the man, later identified as Jaeger Alan Bailey, was deceased.  The Mono County Sheriff’s Office responded to handle the Coroner’s Investigation.

 

The investigation showed no signs of foul play and was an apparent suicide.  Next of kin has been notified of his death.  Jaeger Alan Bailey, 26 years old, was a resident of Mammoth Lakes.  Jaeger was a renowned snowboarder who had competed in the X-Games and been featured in several snowboarding films.

 

If you or anyone you know is in emotional distress or suicidal crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255).

Espitia Accepts Deal with Mono DA for 25 Years in Prison

Alleged sexual predator, Jorge Romero Espitia of Mammoth Lakes has accepted a plea-deal and will be charged with multiple felonies.

The Mammoth Lakes resident will be charged with twelve felonies and one misdemeanor. The felonies range from selling methamphetamine to minors and conducting sexual acts with minors.

A month ago, prosecutors were looking to set up a deal which would put Mr. Espitia away for at least eighty-five percent of a twenty-five year sentence. Mono County Assistant District Attorney, Dave Anderson spoke about the trial in October saying, “We anticipate Mr. Espitia and his attorney will end up accepting the deal the Mono County District Attorney’s office has offered.”

On May 16, 2019, the Mammoth Lakes resident was arrested for nineteen felony charges and had a bail set for $500,000 dollars.

Funds Pour in for Fuel Reduction Projects in Mammoth

In March of 2019, the Mammoth Lakes Fire Safe Council was awarded a $1,000,000 grant from the Sierra Nevada Conservancy (SNC) to complete the Lakes Basin Hazardous Fuels Reduction Project (‘project’). The ‘project’ provides valuable fuel reduction treatment on 630 acres in the Mammoth Lakes Basin to reduce wildfire risk, improve forest health and protect the watershed. The contractor’s proposed cost of the project resulted in an $181,275 deficit. The following agencies recently made significant financial contributions to support the project’s completion:

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power ($60,425) Mono County ($30,425) Town of Mammoth Lakes ($60,425) Edison International – a parent company of Southern California Edison ($30,000)

“I am grateful these agencies and SNC recognized the importance of this project” stated Dave Easterby, MLFSC president. “The success of this project will be recognized by their financial contribution, along with the tireless efforts from volunteer individuals, including our primary grant writer, Matthew Diener, MLFSC Director at Large. We’re fortunate to be working with dedicated like-minded individuals within a community of supportive agencies.”

“This project’s success demonstrates the power in multi-agency collaboration and what volunteer groups can accomplish.” Juliana Jones, Secretary of MLFSC, continued “I am grateful so many entities, who care about the safety of our community, came together to provide financial contributions to this regional support effort.”

The Lakes Basin Hazardous Fuels Reduction Project will be completed in Fall of 2020. 568 acres were completed this season, providing valuable protection to the Mammoth Lakes Community. Inyo National Forest, Mammoth Community Water District and Mammoth Lakes Fire Protection District supported the ‘project’ development and grant administration. The MLFSC is thankful for the overwhelming support received by the community and recent financial contributions from other local agencies.

Affordable Housing Development in Mammoth is Gaining Traction

The Town of Mammoth Lakes is getting ready to issue a request for statements of qualifications for the development of a piece of land known as The Parcel, which consists of twenty-five acres of land near the center of Mammoth Lakes.

A statements of qualification is a process relating to accepting bids for the development of a property.

Mammoth Lakes wishes to, “identify a development team consisting of one or more developers that will be the best fit to partner with the town to develop The Parcel.”

Currently, the Town of Mammoth Lakes has set broad guidelines and objectives for what they wish to see in a possible development for the existing site, which includes the construction of 400-450 properties ranging from studio apartments to entire houses zoned for affordable residences to be completed by 2022.

According to an official document from the Department of Public Works for the Town of Mammoth Lakes, the cheap housing is required to be priced at or below 120 percent of the area’s median income.

Other than creating affordable housing, The Parcel must adhere to the town’s wishes and include a community facility, formal and informal open spaces, vehicle and bicycle parking for residents and guests, and must consider pets in the design of the neighborhood.

Further restrictions include establishing a “livable, integrated, and well-designed community.” For example, the Town of Mammoth Lakes wishes to assure that the structures built connect seamlessly to the neighborhood and its surroundings.

Although 2022 is a long way off, the town council of Mammoth Lakes is taking steps toward turning The Parcel into homes in the future. On November 21, a pre-submittal conference for interested parties is scheduled for those who would like to find out more. After that, the Town Council is expected to accept a preferred conceptual land use plan on December 11, meaning the town desires to regulate property to ensure a more desirable socioeconomic outcome.

Photos of Children Found in Alleged Child Predator’s Storage

A Mammoth Lakes resident who was arrested for three counts of sexual acts with a child under the age of 14 is now facing added charges of possession of child pornography and destruction of evidence.

On July 22, 2019, Mammoth Lakes Police Department and Mono County District Attorney Investigators arrested Christopher Adams Libby on alleged sexual activity with children. In their press release, the Mono County DA’s Office stated, “In accordance with the applicable statue of limitations, Mr. Libby is alleged to have had substantial sexual conduct with the minor, and the conduct is supported by independent corroborating evidence.”

The case against Libby indicates the alleged acts occurred during 2002 and 2003. However, the District Attorney’s Office believes there are potentially other victims.

Last week, Libby was released from jail after paying his $100,000 bail. After being released, Libby requested that his niece destroy further evidence at a storage locker in Mammoth Lakes. Upon arriving at the alleged child predator’s locker, Mr. Libby’s niece discovered child pornography in the form of Polaroid pictures along with a camera, and 2017-2019 newspaper clippings containing photographs of local Mammoth Lakes’ children in the newspaper The Sheet.

The 61 year-old male’s niece subsequently turned the evidence over to investigators. After receiving the child pornography and newspaper clippings, authorities arrested Mr. Libby a second time only a day and a half after posting bail.

Mono County Assistant District Attorney, David Anderson, said the photographs taken “appear to be of a personal nature.”

As for the newspaper clippings discovered in Libby’s locker, Anderson said the district attorney’s office cannot determine at this moment if the pictures of children in the newspaper were targets of the alleged predator.

Anderson also made it clear, “The parents of the children identified in the newspaper have been notified that Mr. Libby possessed photographs of their kids.”

Libby is scheduled to appear back in court on September 17, 2019, and is being held on $1,000,000 bail. Prosecutors are aiming to assure that there is no possible way for the defendant to be released inasmuch as the district attorney’s office believes he is a flight risk and danger to the public.

 

Mono County Seek to Mitigate Wildlife Deaths With Grant Money

The Mono County Board of Supervisors expressed support in their letter to Caltrans District 9, and encourage the transportation organization to apply for funding which would help mitigate wildlife deaths from vehicles.

Proposition 68 is an ordinance that provides organizations with funding to help reduce the amount vehicle collisions with animals across the state.

Currently, Caltrans District 9 is requesting $2,000,000 from the state to complete the environmental planning report. In total, the cost of completing the entire project is estimated to cost between $50,000,000-$70,000,000.

Most of the funding would go toward the seven mile stretch from Crowley Lake and the Mammoth Lakes turnoff. “The seven mile stretch of US Highway 395 from Crowley Lake Dr. to the Junction with state route 203 accounts for more than double the number of deceased deer removed by Caltrans Maintenance forces compared to any other seven mile stretch of US 395 within District 9. The letter from the supervisors went on to say “This [area] accounts for 43% of reported collisions for this area of US 395, the stretch of highway also contains the largest hotspot of deer collisions within the district.”

Not only did the supervisors express concern for deer crossing the corridor, they also noted the presence of other species including the Bi-State sage grouse. The letter says, “The areas along these roadways host significant wildlife habitat, supporting populations of resident and migratory species, including the Bi-State sage grouse which is proposed to be listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, and play a critical role for migrating mule deer in the spring and fall.”

In order to obtain the rest of the necessary funding, Mono County will seek money from other state and federal agencies. “If awarded, funding will also allow Caltrans District 9 and their partners to seek additional state and Federal Funding to support the completion of subsequent project development phases.”

Mammoth water board appoints a new member

Mammoth Community Water District Board of Directors Appoint New Member

Local architect and 14-year community member, Robert Creasy fills vacant Board of Director seat

submitted by the Mammoth Community Water District

At a special board meeting on October 15, the Mammoth Community Water District’s Board of Directors appointed Robert Creasy to fill the vacant board position following the passing of Director Gordon Alper.  Mr. Creasy is an architect and has in lived in Mammoth the past 14 years.

Mr. Creasy is a graduate of Stanford University with an undergraduate degree in Environmental Science and Policy after which he received a Master of Architecture degree from Yale University. His education focused on the principles of water and energy sustainability, their economic influences, their engineering solutions, and their architectural applications. Mr. Creasy is excited to serve the community by applying his knowledge and experiences as an MCWD board member.

The MCWD welcomes Mr. Creasy to the board and is confident his skills will help to represent the community of Mammoth Lakes and to benefit the Mammoth Community Water District.

rcreasy
Robert Creasy, photo submitted

About Mammoth Community Water District
MCWD provides water and wastewater utility service to the Town of Mammoth Lakes and surrounding areas. MCWD strives to provide reliable, affordable utility service to our customers and to conduct our operations in a manner reflecting our stewardship role. We encourage our customers to practice responsible use of our limited water resources, and to take advantage of the information and services available to support this goal.

mammoth community water district, robert creasy, mammoth lakes news, mcwd