Basketball legend Bill Walton rode the High Sierra Fall Century and so can you!
Posted on 26 August 2012.
Basketball legend Bill Walton rode the High Sierra Fall Century and so can you!
Posted on 27 July 2012.
Fellow UCLA sports alums, Olympic medal-winning marathoner Meb Keflezighi and basketball legend Bill Walton, had an impromptu summit meeting during a reception for Eastern Sierra Land Trust’s Lands & Legacy Weekend last Friday at the home of Steve Marenberg and Alison Whalen. When told Meb weighed just 122 pounds, Walton quipped, “I was bigger than that when I was born.” (Photo: Geisel)
There was one point during Wednesday’s Keep June Mountain Open Coalition meeting where the commercial air subsidy for Mammoth Yosemite Airport was being discussed, and resident Ann Dozier said, “The County needs to subsidize June Mountain, not air service.”
This met with general applause.
So of course, I’m thinking to myself, if Mono County actually followed this advice, Mammoth Mountain, on behalf of June Mountain, would politely pocket the money … and then funnel it to air service.
But this is not another story about Measure U and “supplanting,” so let’s move on.
In response to general curiosity from the public, what follows is a compilation of the annual fee that Mammoth Mountain has paid the Inyo National Forest over the past seven winters:
Mammoth Mountain’s Director of Government Relations and Environmental Affairs Ron Cohen said he has not given up on June Mountain and still believes that Mammoth Mountain is June’s best hope. “The bottom line is, we’re the best chance for the place,” he said.
Carl Williams would agree, noting that the synergy of having Mammoth and June owned by the same company allowed June to save on overhead costs by not having to employ a human resources person, an information technology person or pay for separate liability insurance.
This, said Williams, saves June between $500,000 and $1 million a year.
Connie Black, however, would not agree. At the conclusion of Wednesday’s meeting, she said, “We don’t want our destiny in Mammoth Mountain’s hands any longer.”
When Meb met Bill …
The one potential nickname that always runs through my mind when I see Meb Keflezighi: The Smiling Assassin.
What I love about Meb is that he doesn’t worry about the times that his competitors have run. On Friday night at the kickoff party for the Eastern Sierra Lands and Legacy weekend, he noted that when he won the Olympic silver medal in Athens, his best marathon time was approximately five minutes slower than the world record – about the same discrepancy as there is now. It’s not about times. It’s about winning.
To make a baseball analogy, would you rather trade for a winning pitcher or a pitcher with a lower ERA? I want the winner. That’s the only stat people remember.
Which leads into Walton. One of the most memorable moments of the evening came when he was trying to recall which teams played in the NBA Finals this past season. “It was Lebron, it was Lebron’s team versus … if it’s not the Celtics versus the Lakers, who cares?”
Walton, who had a speech impediment as a youth, said he was introverted and driven as a result; he let his basketball do the talking.
He eventually overcame his speech impediment … and it’s apparent that he’s been making up for lost time ever since – but when you’re as engaging and opinionated as Bill Walton, talk all you want.
For a man who’s had 36 lifetime knee surgeries, the fact that he’s willing to get on a bike to support Eastern Sierra Land Trust, volunteer at a basketball clinic at the local high school, and finally head over to the Booky Joint after his commitments for the weekend were fulfilled just so he could make an impromptu appearance in support of independent bookstores … thank you, Bill Walton. Come back any time.
Posted on 08 June 2012.
Mammoth finally eliminates embattled Airport Director
Mammoth Lakes Town Manager Dave Wilbrecht said Thursday that the latest two positions to be eliminated or otherwise left unfilled in the Town’s Fiscal Year 2012-2013 proposed budget are the Airport Director position, currently held by Bill Manning, and a Maintenance Supervisor position in Public Works.
“As soon as we made the determination, we immediately notified the employees,” Wilbrecht said, adding that both have been given severance packages.
He said it’s anticipated that both will leave their positions prior to the budget being adopted, and that the salaries will be directed to various other pressing needs and budget balancing. Manning’s position was an “at will” situation, and the Maintenance position has already been discussed with union officials.
Wilbrecht went on to say that the current plan is to consolidate Mammoth Yosemite Airport operations with Public Works, under Ray Jarvis. Fine-tuning is still ongoing in terms of how to best allocate personnel for both town and airport services positions. Expect to hear more details presented during Town Council’s budget hearings on June 20.
Posted on 04 May 2012.
Bill Anderson (Photos courtesy MLFD)
On Monday, April 30, just shy of 40 years of service, Mammoth Lakes Fire Department’s Division Chief of Training and Safety Bill Anderson took one for the team and retired.
Not immune to the bad economy, the Mammoth Lakes Fire Protection District has been experiencing some financial issues and looking to make changes. Anderson chose to step up to the plate and retire early so that others on the department wouldn’t have to suffer.
“I just turned 65, and I had wanted to retire in three years anyway so I volunteered to take a severance package,” Anderson explained.
Anderson first joined MLFD with his brother Tom in 1973 as a volunteer, but his ties to Mammoth go back even further.
“I worked at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area in 1967 as a seasonal employee,” he remembered.
Then it was off to Vietnam and college for a while. He returned to Mammoth in 1971 and went back to work for MMSA year-round where he remained until 2005 when he took the full-time Division Chief position with MLFD.
“I just loved it,” he said of the reason behind his dedication to the department over the years. “And my family was great about putting up with it.” He described many a night when dinner was just about to be placed on the table, the kids, Scotty and Shelby would be a handful and suddenly the pager would go off and he would have to leave his wife, Val in the midst of it all.
MMSA was also very supportive of the fire department and would let him go on calls, he added.
The scariest memory he can recall while on the department was being on a structure fire (he doesn’t recall precisely which one) where the smoke was to the floor.
“I remember crawling on the floor thinking, ‘where am I’, and ‘do I want to be here?’”
But he remembers that the training he had been given prepared him and made him comfortable in situations such as these, which is why he was extremely proud of his Division Chief position.
“I’ll miss the trainings and teaching the rookie class,” Anderson said. “The training always made me comfortable and I like to think it’s the same now. I have to thank the guys and gals that show up to those Thursday night trainings. We have to be ready for the few fires that we get so we train, train, train as realistically as we can. I am mostly going to miss all of these very committed people.”
The department will not be refilling Anderson’s position in order to save the salary. Instead, Captains Robert Williams and Natalie Morrow will fill in the gaps. Ales Tomaier and Dusty Renner will also pitch in, as will the remaining Fire Marshal Thom Heller and Operations Chief Bob Rooks, Anderson said.
“We’re going to miss Billy a lot,” said MLFD Fire Chief Brent Harper. “He’s been a great help to me and the whole department. He really loved the department and the people.”
Harper is the third Fire Chief that Anderson worked for. He came on under Jon Sweeny in 1973 and then served under Chief Harold Ritter when Sweeny retired in 1992. Anderson credits Sweeny with getting MLFD going, Ritter with getting the new station on Main Street built, and Harper with turning the corner in bringing full-time paid staff to the department.
Anderson’s last day was Monday and a retirement party was held in his honor on Thursday night. Friday morning he and Val took off for their trailer in Encinitas where they plan to spend the summer. They’ll return to Mammoth for the winters and Anderson plans to work part-time for MMSA as a ski and snowboard instructor.
“I love Mammoth and won’t ever leave for good,” he said. Anderson also plans to return for the annual Fireman’s Picnic and Canoe Races the last weekend in July to celebrate his retirement with two colleagues who have Mammoth ties and also retired this year.
Posted on 30 March 2012.
When it comes to transportation funding, Mono County, much like the rest of the country, is waiting for the other shoe to drop, and they could be waiting for another three months.
At press time, the U.S. House of Representatives had still failed to pass a transportation measure that was approved by the Senate on March 14. Current federal transportation funding expires March 31.
According to most news outlets, including www.washingtonpost.com, the House is expected to pass a 90-day temporary extension of federal transportation funding. Without either a passage of a transportation bill or a stop-gap extension many transportation programs would be suspended and jobs put at risk.
According to Florene Trainor, Public Information Officer for Caltrans District 9, the Eastern Sierra’s local district, “with a three-month extension everything will remain status quo. We don’t know how it [the transportation bill] will affect Mono County because nothing has passed.”
This seems to be the consensus across the nation. Leaders don’t know what non-passage means exactly for their areas, but passage provides the long-term assurance of funding that they seek.
According to the Sacramento Bee, “Lawmakers generally pass a transportation bill lasting five or six years – because states and localities need certainty to plan for multiyear projects. The last transportation bill passed in 2005 and expired in 2009.”
Congress has extended that 2005 law eight times. The latest extension expires March 31.
*Breaking news. Congress passed a 9th extension Thursday, which will be good for 90 days, or through June 30.
While the Senate was unable to pass a five or six year bill, it was able to agree upon a two-year bill called MAP-21, or Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century.
“The Senate’s two-year bill, while not ideal, would provide states stability through the end of 2013. It also would give lawmakers a year to work on long-term funding for national transportation priorities,” added the Sacramento Bee article.
Locally, the funding, according to Trainor, is used for things such as maintenance on highway systems, new construction, bridges, as well as pedestrian and bicycle projects. Jobs attached to these types of projects would therefore also be affected.
According to Trainor, if the House were to approve MAP-21, transportation funding would continue as it has, with adjustments for inflation, for two fiscal years.
Posted on 28 October 2011.
(But sure make things difficult)
This one is not entirely Airport Manager Bill Manning’s fault.
The issue is rental car agreements at Mammoth Yosemite Airport between the Town, Enterprise Rental Cars and Hertz Rental Cars.
In an effort to raise additional airport revenue, Manning proposes a surcharge on both rental car companies if they maintain more than 12 cars at the airport at any one time.
Hertz franchisee Tom Cage has threatened to move his operation off-site if the $3 nightly surcharge per additional vehicle is applied.
Currently, the Town collects 15% of the gross rental fee for any car rented at Mammoth Yosemite.
During peak season (as in March, 2011), this fee nets the Town more than $12,000 rent per month.
The Town’s latest RFP (Request for Proposals) for Rental Car Operators indicated that services rendered by the Town in exchange for the fee include terminal counter space, parking, utilities and snow removal.
The RFP also states, ironically, that “a minimum of 15 vehicles be available on-site.”
Manning maintains that there is limited parking at the airport and that he has to charge for the additional spaces. After all, members of the public pay $8/night.
Cage believes the current parking area can be efficiently managed to create an ample number of spaces.
What complicates things is that Cage has two sites where he rents cars: both at the airport and at Mammoth Chevron in town. The airport rentals are subject to the 15% airport surcharge, whereas the in-Town rentals are merely subject to a flat $10 fee.
In short, it’s cheaper to rent in town, especially if you’re renting a vehicle for more than a few days.
The cynic would believe Cage is using the airport as a cheap storage lot while he tries to funnel rental business to town, where he would theoretically have a price advantage over his competitor, who only rents at the airport.
Cage insists this is not the case and that he generally makes half his rentals out of the airport.
Yes, he does acknowledge, if people really grumble about the price, he will let them know that they can take a shuttle to town and rent for less, but it is not something he broadcasts up front.
The issue he has with the additional parking surcharge appears to be that of a tipping point.
He feels he pays enough taxes already, and if the Town pushes him too far, he will move his airport operation across the highway to the industrial park on the west side of 395.
Then, like they do at most airports, he would shuttle customers from the terminal to the rental car location and pay the flat $10 rental fee to the Town.
Which would, theoretically, drastically reduce Town revenue derived from rentals.
Last month, Cage rented 68 cars out of the airport and paid a total of $2,168 in rent to the Town.
Based off-site, he would pay just $680 in fees to the Town for the same 68 cars.
This year, with added flights, Cage anticipates both rental car companies will need to have a combined 60 to 70 cars available to meet demand.
Adding cars isn’t cheap.
Paying nightly surcharges on added cars could jack Cage’s rent by $600 or $700 a month.
Finally, Cage’s lease is subject to 30-day notice of termination.
So he’s largely disincentivized to invest in his business to meet expected demand.
Effectively capping the Town’s ability to generate revenue from increased rental car business.
I’ve often heard the phrase in discussions about Town development projects that, “We don’t want to build the church for Easter Sunday.”
In other words, we don’t want to build so many units that they are only occupied for a couple of days a year.
The problem you encounter with the airline business is this: you do kind of have to prepare for Easter Sunday, because when one flight is cancelled, generally several flights are cancelled. And you’re left with a lot of folks who need transportation.
To serve these folks, it would be ideal if we had plenty of cars on-site.
As Cage says, imagine a guy taking a cab down to the airport. He’s then told his flight is cancelled. So he inquires about renting a car. “Sorry sir, the rental companies don’t keep enough cars down here because it’s cost-prohibitive, but we’re happy to call you a cab so you can go rent one back in town.”
Conclusion: I guess I’m flummoxed as to why Manning has unilateral latitude to make policy down at the airport. Council or the Town Manager needs to … manage him.
Posted on 23 September 2011.
Thank you to all who supported the benefit raffle for Travis Mann, Ashley Hailey, Chris Ricci and Bill Krawisz. The outpouring of support from attendees Wednesday night was equally matched by local businesses and individuals who donated prizes to raise money. Local musicians (such as Lava Moon, pictured) came out in droves to provide entertainment and the event raised about $3,000. The evening’s highlight was a telephone call with Travis Mann. His voice was heard and his message of appreciation was clearly stated. The community of Mammoth Lakes proved once again that it cares. -Chris Camilli (Photos: Vane)
Posted on 06 July 2011.
Sundays, July 10 – Sept. 4*, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. – Hyde Lounge in The Village at Mammoth; join Hyde Lounge Sundays this summer for a sweet and savory brunch buffet. $19.95 per person ($24.95 includes bottomless mimosas, $9.95 for kids 12 and under). *Advance tickets required Aug. 21 in conjunction with Mammoth Festival.
July 15, 6:30 p.m. – Mammoth Mountain Winemaker Dinner w/ Heck Estates at Top of the Sierra; take the gondola to a gourmet five-course dinner, each course pared with a different wine. $125 per person (tip + tax inclusive), please call 1.800.MAMMOTH for tickets.
July 16-17, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. — June Lake Fire Safety Council Chipper Weekend. June Mountain Area Parking Lot. Now is the time to clean up your defensible space. Bring treelimbs, leaves, pine needles, & branches to be chipped free. Chips will be available for your garden if desired. Info: Andy 760.648.7449
July 21, 7 p.m. — Show by Bill Altaffer on Victory Day In Russia, plus Pamir Highway and Aral Sea. Held at the Mammoth Lakes Library. 760.914.1888
Posted on 26 November 2010.
Produce, milk, meat, eggs, nuts, and all manner of processed foods have made people sick in recent years, and Congress has been understandably itching to cook up a big pot of food safety legislation. The result, Senate Bill 510, is likely headed for a vote soon in the current lame-duck session.
On the surface, food safety is an issue most everyone can get behind. But 510’s regulatory details offer plenty of points for contention. Small farmers and their supporters, as could be expected, are pitted against the large food factories. And the factory farmers have an unlikely ally: the food safety crowd, many of whom are motivated by the firsthand experience of losing a loved one to food poisoning.
“It’s ironic that some food safety organizations want to strap small farms with one-size-fits-all regulations – regulations designed for industrial scale producers. Small farms produce our safest food. Why on Earth would anyone interested in food safety want to put them out of business?” says Paul Hubbard of the Missoula County Food and Agriculture Coalition. “Whether those nutrients come from a factory farm via Walmart or the farmers market is inconsequential to these groups, as long as the food isn’t infected with pathogens.”
By aligning themselves with a mechanized, sterilized, and seemingly more scientific ideal for achieving food safety, organizations like Safe Tables are throwing in with factory farms, industrial feedlots and slaughterhouses, as they help throw family farms under the bus.
All of the outbreaks, including the deadly E. coli and salmonella poisonings that have recently affected our nation’s food supply, have been created by the grinding gears of economies of scale. Compounding the safety issue is the difficulty of tracing food that’s processed along with other foods from different farms in different places. Such conditions have been creating perfect storms of food-borne illness that have become disturbingly frequent, and the senate bill directs the FDA to ride herd on the food factories and rein in the many atrocities resulting from big food gone wild.
Since the earliest drafts of S.510 began circulating over a year ago, small farm advocates have worried that the bill, and the agencies that enforce it, primarily the FDA, might hold small farms to the same standard as factory farms. This would mean more paperwork, more fees, and more infrastructure requirements.
Josh Slotnick, a salad grower in Missoula, Mont., estimates the lettuce-washing shed he fears S.510 will require him to build would cost about $100,000. Slotnick sells locally to farmers markets, restaurants, a grower’s cooperative and local grocery stores. He says there hasn’t been a problem with his family farm’s greens, but if there were one it would be identified and addressed quickly. “Why should I have to follow the same rules as the companies that are washing half the nation’s spinach in the same sink?”
It’s often pointed out that when you sell produce locally, directly to the consumer, there are added measures of quality control and accountability built into the system. And while small farms like Slotnick’s would continue to be subject to regulation by local government under S.510, large food factories have been able to skirt local regulations because they aren’t marketing within local jurisdictions.
A recent amendment to S.510 proposed by Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) aims to decouple the push for food safety from the possible regulatory trampling of small farms. The amendment would exempt from regulation farms that market within 275 miles and earn less than $500,000 per year.
Most small farm advocates approve of the principle if not the numbers. The amendment would spare many small farms financial hardship. But at the same time, many small farm advocates feel that using 275 miles and $500,000 as the cutoffs sets too high a bar, size-wise, and that it could allow operations that amount to small-scale food factories to escape regulation.
Some food safety cheerleaders think any exemption is too much. “Too much paperwork, too many rules, not enough time, and slim profit margins are common complaints that are supposedly fixed by the Tester amendment,” wrote Kathleen Chrismer, a food safety advocate, in a recent S.510 discussion on Grist.com. “However, let me point to approximately 5,000 deaths that occur every year as a result of food borne illness.”
One small farm advocate, who prefers to remain anonymous, voiced his frustration: “They look at the Tester amendment and instead of thinking ‘Oh, small farms already grow safe food’ they’re like ‘why should we exempt small farmers from having to produce safe food?’”
Not all food safety advocates are as willing to brush away the concerns of farmers. Sandra Eskin, director of the Food Safety Campaign for The Pew Charitable Trusts, told Food Safety News that she has concerns about the Tester amendment. Her group wants to further narrow the radius of what qualifies as local under the Tester exemptions. She also believes any food that’s exempt from the law should be disclosed as such.
Whatever numbers are chosen to define “local” and “small,” what’s most important, from the perspective of small farms, is that some form of distinction, however imperfect, between big and small, local and non-local, be factored in.
Late breaking news: The amendment also now gives the FDA authority to revoke its small farm exemption if the farm in question is linked to a disease outbreak.
Ari LeVaux syndicates her food column nationally. You can contact her @ firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted on 28 December 2009.
After Board Chairman and Mono County Supervisor Bill Reid passed away in October, his fellow Supervisors decided to ask Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who according to state law is obliged to fill such openings, to avoid making an appointment and further let the Board know in a timely manner if he does not intend to appoint a replacement to Reid’s seat.
Statewide, eight other counties have open seats from supervisors who have passed in office, but Mono County, it turns out, is the only one asking him not to make an appointment. While no formal decision from the governor has been communicated to the Board, during a recent visit to Sacramento late last week, Supervisor Hap Hazard reported that he did speak with the governor’s office about the open seat.
During the call, Hazard said the governor’s office told him Schwarzenegger is “very sensitive” of having a 2-2 vote on a critical issue, as happened recently in another county with a similar open seat on its board of supervisors.
“The Governor has heard our concerns and positions, but said he’s also looking at the larger statewide concerns,” Hazard said. According to his office, the governor doesn’t want Mono (or any other county) to go through a new budget cycle without a full dais of supervisors.
The governor may well decide to make filling Reid’s seat more of a priority, and is reportedly being lobbied by an unidentified “third party” to make an appointment quickly.
Indications are that five people have either spoken to the governor’s office or whose names have been submitted for consideration, but he added there has been no confirmation as to who those names are or how they were presented to the governor.
Recent word from Sacramento indicates the governor may be leaning toward making an appointment. “Of course, we’d prefer he didn’t,” Board Chair Byng Hunt told fellow Eastern Sierra Council of Government members during its last meeting of the year on Dec. 18. “The Board would rather see the voters decide who they want and hold off until the June election.”
In other news, Supervisors approved roughly $131,000 in “adjusted base compensation,” or salary increases, to existing contracts with several County employee groups, including unions and bargaining entities representing law enforcement, paramedic and public employees.
Those may be viewed as an anomaly, given the state’s economic prognosis next fiscal year, but the increases are not reckless spending, and are in fact accounted for in the County’s current budget. The Board, however, qualified the adjustments with a big BUT, saying it wants to honor both its contractual agreements and County employees, but if things go badly, such increases could be sidelined indefinitely to avoid more drastic actions, such as layoffs and other cuts.
“We’re looking at some potentially dark days ahead,” Hazard said, a warning he’s issued a few times before. “We’re doing the best we can, but we did want to give you a head’s up that things could get difficult in times to come.”
Tom Farnetti agreed. “The state is looking as though it will be $25-35 billion in the hole again next year, and property and sales taxes may be on the decline,” Farnetti reminded County staffers. “We had to take 1.3 million from reserves to balance the budget and we may have to dip into that again next year to help make things equal.”
“I’d rather freeze salaries and benefits than have to lay off people,” Hunt said. “Employees should know that we have a responsibility to be fiscally prudent.” During the final meeting of the Eastern Sierra Council of Governments, Hunt told his fellow Council members that the County may well have to get used to hearing the Board use the word “no” a lot during 2010.