Saved by the bell
Mono County school districts entered 2012 under the serious threat of severe state budget cuts.
Both of the county’s school districts—Mammoth Unified and Eastern Sierra Unified—made cuts early in the year, trimming hundreds of thousands of dollars from budgets that could ill afford it.
In June, Mammoth Unified got a break when district voters agreed to renew a property tax measure.
Bourne, Walker child sex abuse case divides Mammoth
Few Mammoth locals will ever forget Jan. 4, the day Mammoth Hospital surgeon and school board member Andrew Bourne and longtime Mammoth resident Joe Walker, were arrested on suspicion of various counts of child sexual abuse against a young Santa Barbara girl, whose family had long been friends with both men.
New cooperation emerges
It used to be, back in the not-so-old days, it was every man for himself when it came to fishing in the Eastern Sierra.
But when spring arrived early in 2012, the result of a near-disastrous low-snow season, the fishermen and their related businesses found a bond in the new Eastern Sierra Fishing Coalition.
‘Devils Windstorm’ wreaks havoc in the forest
A freak windstorm that took out tens of thousands of mature pine in the Reds Meadow area on the night of Nov. 30, 2011 might seem like last year’s story and not fit for this anthology.
But the repercussion from that night’s windstorm could well come back to haunt Mammoth and other affected parts of the Eastern Sierra for decades to come.
In London, the World Cup and here at home
It seemed like every time a sports fan turned around, there was something to catch his or her attention.
If it wasn’t John Teller on the World Cup Ski Cross tour, it was Stacey Cook, climbing to 10th in the world in women’s World Cup downhill racing, then nabbing her first two World Cup podium finishes on back-to-back days in Lake Louise in early December.
Cancer silences a joyful, obstreperous voice
Skip Harvey died on July 16, leaving an empty spot in Mammoth that nearly everyone felt.
A two-term Mammoth Lakes town councilman and mayor, ski instructor at Mammoth Mountain, and owner of the Base Camp Café, Harvey died at home after a long battle with throat cancer.
He took on just about everyone at one point or another with his iconoclastic points of view, but no one ever questioned his love of the mountains and of Mammoth in particular.
No one dared care
While Mono County blessed the electorate with a genuine dogfight, in Mammoth, voters in the municipal contest were treated (as it were) to the Election That Wasn’t.
In spite of a town aswirl in controversy, finger-pointing, blame-gaming, layoffs and general overall mayhem, two seats opened on the Town Council.
Incumbent Jo Bacon signed up for re-election, while political neophyte Michael Raimondo brought his bagel-bagging electorate to the show.
After that, no one.
‘Um, what bankruptcy?’
Even before it started, town leaders pushed forward with a “Best Summer Ever” marketing campaign, with more hope than actual promise.
And yet when it was over, no one could argue with it.
From the Fourth of July and Jazz Jubilee all the way to the end, Mammoth’s festival season was vibrant, well-attended, and loads of fun.
We recall one evening at the four-day Bluesapalooza and Festival of Beers event at Sam’s Wood Site on Minaret Boulevard.
Parks, tracks, you-name it
A distant observer might have thought poor ol’ Mammoth was just going to dry up and call it quits, what with all the national, state and local press about the town’s tightrope-walk along the brink of financial ruin.
But with a combination of Measure R and Measure U funds, coupled with careful planning, political willpower and the force of volunteerism, Mammoth just kept chugging ahead.
The ski area’s CEO pledges new cooperation
Long held as lord of its own separate fiefdom, Mammoth Mountain Ski Area CEO Rusty Gregory began a new era of involvement with the town when he said he’s had a change of heart.
In a move that left many Mammothites utterly baffled, Gregory startled the Town Council on Nov. 7 with a jaw-dropping speech.
“I am an impediment to the growth and prosperity of our resort community,” he began.
Musicals, complex drama highlighted the season
In 2012, theater audiences were entertained by several diverse productions, from Sierra Classic Theatre’s emotionally complex “Proof” to Mammoth Lakes Repertory Theatre’s musical sensation “The Marvelous Wonderettes.”
Earlier this year when the lack of snow and holiday-withdrawals started to kick in, MLRT’s “Lend Me A Tenor” written by Ken Ludwig kept spirits high with risqué double-entendre and cartoonish physical comedy.
The biggest news (that no one quite knows what to think about yet) was the groundbreaking of the massive, 500-mile-plus long high-speed digital fiber optics project called Digital 395.
The project, which includes laying the high-speed fiber alongside much of U.S. 395, will link the Eastern Sierra to both Southern California and the Reno/Carson area.
It was funded through a $101 million federal American Reinvestment and Recovery Act project that promises to transform the Eastern Sierra in ways no one can accurately foresee.
A victim of a dismal snow year
In June Lake, the repercussions from the crummy snow season continued well into spring.
Partly due to the poor winter, Rusty Gregory, Mammoth Mountain Ski Area CEO, announced in late June that June Mountain Ski Area would not open for the 2012-13 season, pending reorganization and remodeling.
That was nasty businessat Alpine Meadowslast week when longtime ski patroller Bill Foster, 53, a veteran member of the Alpine ski patrol teamwas killed in an avalanche. He died on Christmas Day at Renown Regional Medical Centerin Reno after being caught in an intentionally triggered slidethe day before. Our advice: Don’t ever, ever, ever take the patrollers for granted. Bill had logged 28 years at Alpine. …
Leeward side, ridgelines especially hazardous
The latest rounds of new storms were welcome for many people in the Eastern Sierra, but the Mono County Search and Rescue teams are on high alert for avalanches, a spokesman for the county’s Sheriff’s Department said.
“During the last series of storms to arrive in Mono County, a substantial amount of snow has fallen in the backcountry of Mono County,” the spokesperson said in a news release.