April 22nd, 2011
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 Wednesdayâs Town Council meeting, trying to put into harsh perspective the effects the $30 million judgment against the town in the Hot Creek litigation case.
âNever again,â he intoned.
âNever again should we put ourselves in a situation where we donât explore all the opportunities.â
Not that long ago, the town government was split on Steve Searles.
Not any more.
Searles, who is Mammothâs wildlife specialist (and sudden television star, with âThe Bear Whispererâ) won a $74,315-a-year contract for three years on Wednesday when the Town Council approved it.
âEveryone needs a hero,â said councilman John Eastman, âand every community needs a hero. Steve Searles is a hero for the Town of Mammoth Lakes.
âWe need him as our wildlife specialist in Mammoth Lakes.â
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 townâs financials.
Her conclusion was dire.
âWeâre in stable shape right now,â she said, âand 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.
âWhile weâre stable, weâre not in good shape.
âNext year is going to be bad.â
Weâre 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 wasnât.
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 isnât 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 âwhoopsâ moment for the Mammoth Lakes Town Council, which was all set to finalize incoming Town Manager Dave Wilbrechtâs $180,000-a-year contract.
It didnât happen.
In what Mayor Skip Harvey called an âembarrassingâ situation, the terms of Wilbrechtâs retirement benefits ran contrary to a November council resolution, which councilwoman Jo Bacon said she canât even remember making.
Not much action at Police Chief Dan Watsonâs Hispanic Outreach meeting this past week. No community members at all and just three committee members, out of more than 20 who signed up. âThis meeting gets smaller all the time,â Watson said. ...
In the âEr, what?â Department, Councilman John Eastman described his presence at the reception for our new Assemblywoman (Modesto) in Suite Z on Tuesday. âI was able to attend a reception for Kristin (pause) whatâs Kristinâs last name?â (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 morningâs rain and snow, reached 99.8 miles an hour at 4 a.m., according to ski patrol data.
It didnât 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.
Ryan Hall, one of Mammothâs great distance runners, on Monday set a new American record for the Boston Marathon.
Hall, formerly a member of the Mammoth Track Club but who still trains here, ran the 26 miles in 2:04:55.
It is not a formally recognized record because the Boston Marathon is a kind of an odd duck in marathon circles, not quite conforming to world or national standards.
He led for much of the race before being overtaken near the end.
More to come as details roll in.
Mammoth is good at fund-raising. Weâve got a million of âem, it seems.
But at the top of the heap right now is the Mammoth Invitational, a race-filled weekend featuring pro skiers and boarders that went off last weekend on behalf of the Mammoth Community Foundation.
Foundation executive director John Armstrong said the event on Mammoth Mountain raised nearly $500,000 on behalf of the townâs kids.
The foundation is committed to raising funds to provide an added margin of excellence for academic and athletic programs for youth in our community.
Finally, the call that Mammoth High Shool had been waiting for came.
Word arrived late Tuesday afternoon that the school has been awarded the prestigious California Distinguished School award, one of 97 schools in the state to get the coveted award this year.
A product of rising test scores across all the students in the school â whether English Language Learners, English speakers, Caucasian or Hispanic, the award is a testament to several hard years of work by students, parents and staff alike, said school superintendent Rich Boccia.
Itâs probably inevitable.
Garbage disposal rates are going to go up sometime soon and some hours or days are going to get cut at most of the countyâs landfills, in an attempt to plug a funding hole that is leaking as much as $2,000-$3,000 a day from the countyâs coffers.
The proposed increase, which goes to the public for a hearing on April 19, will increase residentsâ garbage disposal fees by about 11 percent, if the plan laid out by county staff and approved in theory by the county supervisors passes a final vote on April 19 at a meeting in Mammoth Lakes.
âOne manâs loss is another manâs gain.â
That might be the most appropriate sentiment regarding losing Mono County Administrative Officer Dave Wilbrecht to the Town of Mammoth Lakes as its newest Town manager.
After eight years at the helm of Mono County, Wilbrecht leaves behind a county in enviable shape compared to almost every other county in the state: in the black, solvent, with a small but still present reserve for emergencies and economic hard times.