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Biggest Budget Loser 3: Employees

June 22, 2012

The Town of Mammoth Lakes will cut abut $1 million in salaries in the coming fiscal year, the result of a 10 percent pay cut across the board for civilian staffers and a 24 percent cut in concessions from the police department.

Those cuts put the town in a precarious position, compared to similar-sized communities in California, according to the Assistant Town Manager Marianna Marysheva-Martinez.

The town’s dependance on personnel accounts for less than a third of its budget. Since 2008, town employees have cut their salaries by 17 percent.

Biggest Budget Loser 2: Police

June 22, 2012

Among the biggest losers in the 2012-13 budget are the men and women in blue—the Mammoth Lakes Police Department.

The MLPD will lose its School Resource officer. In a memo to the Town Council, Police Chief Dan Watson said that the effect would be the elimination of the DARE Program, the Every 15 Minutes Presentation, supervision at special events and an increase in juvenile crime and at-risk behavior by youth.

At the same time, Watson sent out a plea for volunteer “reserve” officers to help make up the shortfall.

Biggest Budget Loser 1: Tourism

June 22, 2012

John Urdi has his fingers crossed.

The director of Mammoth Lakes Tourism draws almost his entire budget from Transient Occupancy Taxes. To increase the tax revenue, it is his task to draw visitors to Mammoth.

But when the Town Council approved its balanced budget Wednesday evening, Urdi was left with $215,562 less with which to draw the very tourists who supply the revenue.

“We’re hoping this is a one-time phenomenon,” he said in the corridor outside Suite Z, the town council chambers above the Minaret Cinema. “Obviously we can’t have another year like last year.”

Town Council OKs blowdown budget; town is (painfully) balanced

June 22, 2012

In the end, there was nothing left to cut; there wasn’t much to discuss.

The Mammoth Lakes Town Council passed an extraordinary “bare bones” 2012-13 budget Wednesday evening, leaving anger, heartache and uncertainty in its wake.

It also left Mammoth with a clean start, said councilmember Rick Wood.

“Fundamentally we have changed the approach, and the approach changed after essentially turning over every stone and finding out things that no prior council in the history of Mammoth Lakes had known—about how municipal finance works, how our government works.

June Mountain shuts down; 2012-13 ski season gone

June 22, 2012

June Mountain Ski Area on Thursday suspended its operations for the foreseeable future, Mammoth Mountain Ski Area announced on Thursday.

The resort will shut down immediately. Its summer season, set to open yesterday (Thursday), was cut down.

The 2012-13 winter season will not happen at all, leaving the lifts idle and employees scrambling to find work.

The news came as a “complete surprise” to June Lake’s incoming county supervisor, Tim Alpers. He was in Southern California on business when he found out.

State fire crews, Lee Vining residents work together to make community garden flourish

June 22, 2012

State fire crews and Lee Vining community members created an unusual coalition earlier this month and the result is both historical—and edible.

A community garden and a much needed update to the community Lee Vining museum are now complete after much hard work by members of the Cal Fire Owens Valley Conservation Camp, and kids and adults from Lee Vining.

Risky business; the 2012 fire season is off to a bad start

June 22, 2012

It is the first week of summer and the Eastern Sierra is almost 50 percent drier than average for this time of year.

A bark beetle infestation on June Mountain and in the Sherwin Range above Mammoth stands red and dry as an old bone. It won’t take much to start a fire there.

RAW: Lone Pine man arrested on suspicion of attempted murder

June 20, 2012

A Lone Pine man has been arrested on suspicion of murder, according to Inyo County officials. On June 17, at midnight, deputies from the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to a residence in Lone Pine for a report of a family disturbance which involved the use of a firearm.

Sheriff’s Deputies were advised that the subject, Allen Robert Weston, a 30-year-old man from Lone Pine, had left the residence and was in possession of the firearm.

Deputies located and arrested Weston for attempted murder, assault with a firearm, and criminal threats.

RAW: Tenaya Lake to get summer makeover

June 19, 2012

Yosemite’s Tenaya Lake, once called “Lake of the Shining Rocks,” will
sparkle even more brightly following major restoration efforts this summer
to its east beach and surrounding wetlands and trails with funding provided
by Yosemite Conservancy.

“Tenaya Lake has a captivating natural beauty that charms park visitors
young and old alike. Those coming to the east beach area will have an even
better high country lake experience as a result of the restoration efforts
made possible by our donors,” said Mike Tollefson, president, Yosemite
Conservancy.

Deena Kastor injures back; withdraws from Olympics: 'I have run out of options,' she says

June 17, 2012

Deena Kastor’s bid for her fourth Olympic Games took a tumble this week when she withdrew because of back spasms.

"Of course I’m extremely disappointed, but I have run out of options," she said in an interview with the Mammoth Times. "I am still in pain, unable to run or cross train, and so I’m left with no option but to be a spectator at the Olympic Trials."

If there is a single person who put Mammoth on the running map, it is Kastor, who as Deena Drossin was the first elite runner to actually move here, train here and evangelize the town.

RAW: Prescribed burn set for Tuesday near Yosemite's Big Oak Flat

June 15, 2012

Yosemite National Park Fire Managers are planning a prescribed fire in the
northwestern portion of the park near the Big Oak Flat Entrance Station on
Highway 120 (Big Oak Flat Road) on Tuesday, June 19, 2012.

The ignition of the fire is dependent on weather conditions. The total prescribed burn area will include 220 acres and be split into two units. The prescribed
area is at the optimal fuel moisture level to successfully complete the
project. This will be the first prescribed burn of the 2012 fire season.

RAW: Father, son, guided out of backcountry by search and rescue Thursday

June 15, 2012

On June 14, 2012, the Mono County Sheriff Search and Rescue (SAR) Team responded to a call for help of two hikers who had lost their trail.

A father and his 17 year-old son from Ohio went on a day hike over Mammoth Pass to the Devils Postpile National Monument. While returning to their vehicle at Horseshoe Lake, they lost the trail and were not able to find their way back.

Manning out as Airport Manager; Beck gone from Public Works; Jarvis in charge

June 15, 2012

When the axe fell on Bill Manning, it was quiet. When it fell on Dave Beck, it was even more so.

Both longtime Mammoth managers lost their positions this week as part of a town reorganization that eliminated the Airport Manager/Transit Coordinator job (Manning) and the Maintenance Superintendent job (Beck).

Rather than to wait until the July 1 budget took effect, both left immediately, with severance packages in hand.

“It wasn’t about politics,” said Town Manager Dave Wilbrecht. “It happened because our resources are so tight.”

In the aftermath of 'The Devils Windstorm'

June 15, 2012

Last winter’s big windstorm—the one that took down tens of thousands of trees in the Reds Valley/Devils Postpile Area, now has a name.

It is now known by the National Weather Service as “The Devils Windstorm,” and for good reason.

“Can you imagine being in this storm?” said Rhett Milne, a NWS meteorologist who on Monday gave a lecture on the Nov. 30-Dec. 1 event at the Forest Service Auditorium in Mammoth. Milne is the “extreme weather events coordinator” for Southern Nevada and Eastern California.

The Sierra red fox's tell-tale-tail

June 15, 2012

Considering the grand tapestry of life here on this blue-green Earth, the fate of one little animal species might not seem like that big of a deal.

After all, species go extinct every day.

But think of it from the human point of view.

How would you feel if you were a species on the very brink of extinction—only 20 or so remaining individuals in one tiny band in one place in the world— and you suddenly found you were not alone, that there were more of you out there?

Ecstatic, maybe?

Mono Lake Bird Chautauqua still has openings—picnic, concert open to public this weekend

June 15, 2012

For the many bird lovers out there, the biggest bird celebration of the year in the Eastern Sierra kicks off this week, as Lee Vining and the Mono Basin gear up for the 11th annual Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua.

There will be 80 different events offered by 45 different presenters Friday through Sunday, June 15-17.

Mono County's agriculture packs an economic punch

June 15, 2012

Not many people think of cattle and alfalfa as a Mono County thing. Mountains and ski lifts, hiking and snowboarding, biking and running, sure.

But cattle?

Those bovines you see as you drive past the airport on the way to Crowley Lake grazing in the rising sun? They are far more than something iconic and Western and rustic to look at.

Those cattle are worth millions of dollars.

Those green, verdant fields you see up by Bridgeport, back-dropped by the towering Sawtooth ridge that feed them?

More millions.

Down in the valley

June 15, 2012

The moment the road to Reds Meadow opens every summer, it’s like a green light goes on. Mammoth’s economy jumps into hyperdrive and doesn’t slow again until Labor Day.

An average of about 100,000 visitors come through Mammoth just to get to the Reds Meadow valley, many bound for the Devils Postpile National Monument. They spend about $2.8 million every summer in Mammoth and the surrounding communities.

It’s a big number and some might say Reds Meadow is to Mammoth summers what Mammoth Mountain is to Mammoth winters.

Udderly amazing! Cows penned in at Whitmore Ballfields

June 15, 2012

It’s not unusual that Mammoth Parks Superintendent Dennis Rottner has challenges drop in his lap.

But when those droppings are large, round, smelly, cowpies, and they’re blocking the baseball infields and outfields at the Whitmore Ballfields, that’s an udderly different situation.

“We have a cow issue,” Rottner deadpanned in front of the Recreation Commission on Tuesday afternoon.
Said Rec Commssion Commission Chair Bill Sauser, “The cattle kind?”

Yup.

Johnston's effort to drop county fees by 10 percent fails

June 15, 2012

Mono County Supervisor Larry Johnston’s hopes that Mono County would reduce all the fees it charges county residents for services such as building permits by 10 percent fell on deaf ears at Tuesday’s board meeting.

Johnston said the vote, a 4-1 decision that adopted a package of fees, some of which were reduced but not all, was a disappointment.

“I would have liked to have supported some of the reductions that were in the package, but because it was all offered in a package deal, I didn’t have the opportunity,” he said.

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