April 29th, 2011
On the afternoon of April 24, the Mono County Sheriff Search and Rescue (SAR) Team was called out to search for a lost snowboarder.
Tiffany Pridanonda, age 21, of Walnut, CA, was snowboarding on June Mountain with a group of friends when she became separated and went out of bounds from the top of Chair 6. She went downhill to the east but could not climb back up.
She sent cell phone text messages to her friends and attempted to navigate to Highway 395. She went as far as the Hartley Springs campground, called 911, and was advised to stay where she was until the SAR team arrived.
Mono County Superior Court Judge Mark Magit on Tuesday sentenced former Mammoth day care provider Guadalupe "Lupe" Almaguer, 58, to 60 years to life in prison, following Almaguer's arrest in early October of last year on suspicion of child sexual abuse. Since that time, Almaguer has admitted he is guilty of sexually molesting four children, a confession he made after at least one victim and the victim's mother confronted him in person in October. The confrontation was taped under the guidance of the Mono County District Attorney's office and later used as evidence.
Ready for another strike at Vons?
It could happen.
The union representing Vons, as well as Ralphs, Albertsons, Safeway and other Pavilions stores last week voted to authorize a strike
The labor contract between the union and their employers, ratified four years ago, expired on March 6, and workers have continued on a day-to-day basis since then.
While a work stoppage isnâ€™t a foregone conclusion, the threat recalls memories of 2003-2004â€™s protracted strike and lockout, which lasted 142 days and cost the stores roughly $2 billion.
Although the Mono Basin Visitor Center will open this week, Reds Meadow and the Lakes Basin are still under heavy snow and will open later than usual, according to the Inyo National Forest. The Lakes Basin is projected to be open by Memorial Day and Reds is projected to be open in late June, although conditions could change those dates.
Here's a summary of the conditions and opening dates, as projected by the forest service today:
MONO BASIN SCENIC AREA VISITOR CENTER OPEN
There are so many puzzles attached to Meridian Boulevard that Mammothâ€™s town staff and planners hardly know where to start.
There is repaving, for example, and traffic calming.
But one problem is perfectly clear.
School kids using the four-lane street as a route to and from school have nowhere to go except for the street in winter. The snowbanks grow. The traffic gets heavy.
â€śFrom Old Mammoth Road to Azimuth we have a sidewalk, but itâ€™s not wide enough to get snow removal equipment in there,â€ť said Public Works Director Ray Jarvis.
Rick Wood is not exactly carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders, but he certainly is carrying a very heavy heart.
The veteran town councilman and former mayor delivered an emotional speech to the town at Wednesdayâ€™s Town Council meeting, trying to put into harsh perspective the effects the $30 million judgment against the town in the Hot Creek litigation case.
â€śNever again,â€ť he intoned.
â€śNever again should we put ourselves in a situation where we donâ€™t explore all the opportunities.â€ť
Not that long ago, the town government was split on Steve Searles.
Not any more.
Searles, who is Mammothâ€™s wildlife specialist (and sudden television star, with â€śThe Bear Whispererâ€ť) won a $74,315-a-year contract for three years on Wednesday when the Town Council approved it.
â€śEveryone needs a hero,â€ť said councilman John Eastman, â€śand every community needs a hero. Steve Searles is a hero for the Town of Mammoth Lakes.
â€śWe need him as our wildlife specialist in Mammoth Lakes.â€ť
Incoming Town Manager Dave Wilbrecht has a new best friend, and her name is Marianna Marysheva-Martinez.
A numbers wonk and a high-ranking city administrator in Oakland before she became the Mammoth Lakes Interim Town Manager, the first thing Marysheva-Martinez did was look at the townâ€™s financials.
Her conclusion was dire.
â€śWeâ€™re in stable shape right now,â€ť she said, â€śand the reason is that our revenues will be up by the end of June but our expenditures will be up by almost the same amount.
â€śWhile weâ€™re stable, weâ€™re not in good shape.
â€śNext year is going to be bad.â€ť
Weâ€™re talking poop here.
Dog poop, to be specific.
Mammoth has a new unofficial dog park down Sherwin Creek Road â€“ a rather vast expanse on Forest Service land behind Sierra Meadows Ranch, made accessible this winter by the town plowing down to the Turner Propane tanks.
Dog lovers found it right away.
But Suzanne Nottingham, companion of three dogs (Ivan, Fred and Zion), has been horrified by the amount of poop this winter â€“ poop that could easily have been picked up by their human companions but wasnâ€™t.
The big winter has Mammoth celebrating, but Lee Vining residents are getting worried.
The record-breaking winter raises a worrisome question â€“ when will Tioga Pass open?
More snow means more snow to plow, and the cool April so far isnâ€™t helping much, either.
But all is not lost. On Tuesday, April 12, Mono County found out that Mammoth Mountain will be donating some plow equipment to the cause, said county officials.
It was supposed to be a coronation Wednesday night.
Instead, it turned out to be a â€śwhoopsâ€ť moment for the Mammoth Lakes Town Council, which was all set to finalize incoming Town Manager Dave Wilbrechtâ€™s $180,000-a-year contract.
It didnâ€™t happen.
In what Mayor Skip Harvey called an â€śembarrassingâ€ť situation, the terms of Wilbrechtâ€™s retirement benefits ran contrary to a November council resolution, which councilwoman Jo Bacon said she canâ€™t even remember making.
Not much action at Police Chief Dan Watsonâ€™s Hispanic Outreach meeting this past week. No community members at all and just three committee members, out of more than 20 who signed up. â€śThis meeting gets smaller all the time,â€ť Watson said. ...
In the â€śEr, what?â€ť Department, Councilman John Eastman described his presence at the reception for our new Assemblywoman (Modesto) in Suite Z on Tuesday. â€śI was able to attend a reception for Kristin (pause) whatâ€™s Kristinâ€™s last name?â€ť (Olsen, for those wondering) ...
On April 2, Toby Qualls, a sophomore at Mammoth High School, traveled to Lancaster, Calif., to run in the very competitive, Michele Perry Invitational. Many California high schools travel to this invitational, because of the high level of competition.
Qualls began competition in the varsity 1600 meter event. Because of his previous fast times in the 1600, he was then bumped up automatically into the elite championship race.
On Friday, April 15, Mammoth Lakes Police Officers and Paramedics responded to a radio call in the Old Mammoth area and discovered a deceased 21-year-old woman. Evidence at the scene indicated that she had died of a heroin overdose. Agents from the Mono Narcotics Enforcement Team (MONET) followed up and identified the dealer who supplied the heroin to the victim.
Winds of nearly 100 miles an hour slammed into Mammoth Mountain early Monday morning, while rain and snow in the Sierra put water watchers on alert.
The winds, which preceded Monday morningâ€™s rain and snow, reached 99.8 miles an hour at 4 a.m., according to ski patrol data.
It didnâ€™t let up for more than an hour. At 5 a.m., ski patrol measured a wind gust at 99.6 miles an hour.
The average wind speed for the two hours was 70.3 miles an hour.