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Mammoth Creek as you've never seen it before

January 14, 2011

There’s a place not far from here where the wind blows quiet and clean, the creek sings softly under its winter blanket and the wide, gold roots of an old juniper shelter the perfect place to sit warm and dry, even in deepest winter.

It’s a sweet place, sometimes warm and calm, sometimes wild and furious. In the daytime, the sharp high country sun turns the white to indigo and that inexpressible aqua color seen only in deep depressions in the snow on a sunlit day.

Build your own snowman to toast December snowfall

January 14, 2011

There’s nothing that can stop a good party on Mammoth Mountain.

This past week, ski area employees were scrambling to put together a “Big Snow Bash” weekend for Jan. 21-23, with events commemorating the 209-inch December snowfall that broke records for the snowiest month on record.

It will start with the construction of 209-inch (17.4 feet) snowmen, situated at Main Lodge, Canyon Lodge, Little Eagle Lodge and at the Mill Café at the base of Chair 2/Stump Alley Express, according the ski area spokesman Dan Hansen.

Mammoth stumbles its way to $30 million loss in Hot Creek lawsuit

January 8, 2011

A travesty of justice?

The California Third Appellate District Court sure didn’t think so.

The three-member panel last week unanimously upheld a $30 million judgment against the Town of Mammoth Lakes in the Hot Creek Aviation litigation.

It wasn’t even close.

Thus ends the litigation in a dispute that began in 1997. Now begin the myriad questions facing the Town and what it’s going to do about them.

What's Up, Up Here? Jan. 7

January 8, 2011

Our weekly roundup of what's what and who's who:

That was a bad week last week for the satellite TV customers, reception dishes filled with snow and signals blocked by snow-laden trees. “Not that was a big sports weekend or anything,” sighed the go-go John Urdi …

Frigid temps kill 8,000 trout at Conway Ranch

January 8, 2011

An attempt to create a viable trout hatchery at Conway Ranch got hit with a big blow at the beginning of the new year, when icy cold killed off 8,000 of the ranch’s rainbow trout, as well as all the fish being raised for the kids’ trout pond.

“The Fish and Wildlife Service was devastated by the news,” said Dan Lyster, Mono County’s development director.

The trout were being raised at Conway under an agreement with the service, whose state trout stocking program has been heavily impacted by budget cuts and other problems in recent years.

Hugelman wins case against Town of Mammoth

January 8, 2011

Former Mammoth Lakes Police Department Sergeant Eric Hugelman won a decisive judgment against the Town last week.

Hearing Officer Roberto Morales ruled that Hugelman’s termination a year and a half ago was unjustified, and ruled that he should be reinstated.

Morales ruled that Hugelman should have been suspended for three weeks, at most.

Now the question is whether Hugelman will, in fact, rejoin the force, and how much back pay he is entitled to.

The Town Council took up the matter in closed session after Wednesday night’s regular meeting, but no decision came out of the session.

The Hot Creek Players, 1997-Present

January 8, 2011

TOWN MANAGERS
1996-PRESENT

1996-1999:
Tracy Fuller – Town Council appointed Fuller on Nov. 11, 1996 and accepted her resignation on 12/1/99.

1999-2003:
Stephen Julian – Town Council approved Julian’s agreement as an interim Town manager on Dec. 15, 1999.
On June 21, 2000, the council approved Julian’s agreement as the Town manager.

2003-2004:

Manning to FAA: Fax it and I'll ignore it

January 8, 2011

It was as bad as communications can get.

In the complicated Hot Creek predicament that turned into the $30 million loss for the town, the California Third Appellate District Court consistently hammered the Town and the Federal Aviation Administration for poor communications.

The three-member panel cited one instance for special consideration.

Early on in the process, after the Mammoth Lakes Town Council agreed on the development project, the FAA sent (by fax) a number of concerns to Bill Manning, the airport manager.

Manning’s response was to simply not respond.

New Town Attorney takes hit on his very first day

January 8, 2011

The bomb dropped on Mammoth Lakes’ incoming Town Attorney as soon as he set foot in the door.

Andrew Morris, who was invited to town last week for a meet-and-greet with the town staff and others, was supposed to have a relaxed couple of days.

Instead, on the day he arrived, the Hot Creek decision came crashing down on the town from the California Appellate Court, sending Morris and everyone else scrambling.

“I took office the day the bomb fell, yeah,” Morris said.

Green light for Hooper's Rock Creek subdivision

January 8, 2011

The much-debated, proposed subdivision in Lower Rock Creek Canyon was approved by the Mono County Board of Supervisors Dec. 21, but only after some extensive changes to the plan.

The subdivision, proposed by longtime Eastern Sierra developer John Hooper, is located at the old Paradise Restaurant and Resort site.

The 29-acre project, with proposed market-rate homes that will mostly replace the old rental cabins there, has been relatively controversial.

When the going gets rough, the cops have a ball

January 8, 2011

When things get all gnarly, you’d think the cops would get all grumpy.

Not so, according to Police Chief Dan Watson, a former officer with Los Angeles Police Department.
Instead, they have a ball.

“I’ve worked some really busy nights in L.A.,” Watson said.

“On a really busy night, with all kinds of crime, with officers going from one call to another. That’s a fun night. It’s what we’re here for.

“We don’t have that kind of activity here in Mammoth. But what I sensed on the radio, everybody was out there.

Adventure Slide Show delivers on promise of breathtaking adventure

January 8, 2011

It had a little bit of the feeling of a come to Jesus meeting, when people of like mind come together to praise their gods.

In this case, it was the gods of rock climbing. And one of the disciples, Peter Croft, gave a slide show and riveting sermon on various rock routes in the Eastern Sierra.

Croft inaugurated the new and already popular Adventure Slide Show Series started by Jim Barnes, Tuesday night, Jan. 4, at the Snowcreek Athletic Club.

Never too many tamales at Mammoth Elementary

January 8, 2011

After reading the book, Too Many Tamales, the third grade students in Mammoth Elementary School’s Dual Immersion classes had their annual Tamale Fest on Dec. 9.

Fifty-eight hardworking chefs almost doubled last year’s number by making a whopping 392 chicken, pork and chile-cheese tamales!

As usual, none of this would have been possible without the support of our dedicated parents.

Ant-bullying films to be shown at Mammoth Schools

January 8, 2011

Bullying in school can make some children’s lives so miserable, they don’t want to even get up in morning, let alone go to school to learn.

It can lead to depression and other serious mental health problems, and even, as a recent string of high-profile suicides across the country, show, the death of young people.

Mammoth Unified School District is hoping to once again step up its anti-bullying efforts, beginning next week with a series of films shown at all the district’s campuses.

The films will be shown:
• Jan. 10 from 6-7 p.m. at Mammoth Elementary School

Mammoth420.com co-owner arrested, others also arrested in drug sting

January 7, 2011

The Mono Narcotic Enforcement Team (MONET) concluded several investigations over the past week resulting in six search warrants in the town of Mammoth Lakes. These search warrant investigations lead to seven arrests.

William Crosby, 63, of Mammoth Lakes, was arrested for the sales of marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale, and cultivation of marijuana. Mr. Crosby was the co-owner/operator of Mammoth420.com and is alleged to have been operating outside the State’s Medical Marijuana laws.

Republican Ted Gaines wins Senate seat

January 4, 2011

Mono County has a new state Senator, Republican Ted Gaines.

Gaines not only won the 1st Senate District election overall, he also won in Mono County, with 54.7 percent of the vote as compared to Democrat Ken Cooley's 45.3 percent.

District-wide, the vote was 81,945 votes (63.2 percent) for Gaines, with Cooley receiving 47,743 votes (36.8 percent).

Town will appeal state Supreme Court over Hot Creek appeal decision

December 31, 2010

The Town of Mammoth Lakes will appeal to the state Supreme Court for another chance to tell its airport lawsuit story, after losing its appeal of the Hot Creek Aviation lawsuit last week, according to Town Councilmember Rick Wood.

"We believe the decision (the appeals court made) will have state-wide impacts as to how municipalities conduct development agreements," he said, noting that all the state's cities and counties supported the Town of Mammoth Lake's position in court, as "friends of the court."

RecStrats: Curious name for a bold document

December 30, 2010

The most powerful document to come out of Mammoth in 2010 came with a curious name.

It is RecStrats, a shortening of “Recreation Vision & Strategies In Mammoth Lakes.”

Created by Carl Ribaudo of the Strategic Marketing Group of South Lake Tahoe and facilitated by former Tourism and Recreation Manager Danna Stroud, the document ultimately may turn out to be as important as the Town’s General Plan.

Not a policy document, it was created to provide all town and area leaders with a way to think in common terms about where the Town is headed in terms of what we do best – having fun.

Town of Mammoth leaves 2010 with a whistle and a prayer

December 30, 2010

Hot Creek Aviation lawsuit still in appeal

There’s nothing quite like whistling past the graveyard.

Except now, with the $30 million Hot Creek Aviation litigation having gone against the Town, Mammoth Lakes is way past the graveyard.

Now it is wandering about in the never-never land of appeal.

Having made its argument in Sacramento in October, town officials came back to the High Country in low spirits.

Wild weather stuns, amazes Eastern Sierra all year long

December 30, 2010

It was a year of extremes.

Right off the bat, Mammoth hit 110 percent of normal snowfall.

Then, spring simply never showed up until it stopped snowing the last week of May. A cool and green May gave way to a gorgeous June and even July, as the massive snow and rain from the previous six months prolonged the arid Eastside’s green and flowing period far into August.

Summer was one of the most beautiful in collective memory.

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