It’s been a year to remember! Click the link below to view The Sheet’s annual Year in Review issue, and we’ll see ya next year!
Posted on 30 December 2011.
It’s been a year to remember! Click the link below to view The Sheet’s annual Year in Review issue, and we’ll see ya next year!
Posted on 13 November 2011.
Mammoth’s Thai’d Up still hot after a decade
What’s a guy from Philadelphia doing cooking Asian cuisine at 8,000 feet in the Eastern Sierra? Good question, but for Thai’d Up owner Mike Coco, the answer’s simple: living the life and serving authentic, exotic food with a little bite to it. And this year, he and wife Jen have a few things to celebrate: one, the birth of his son, Miles, and two, 10 years in business.
The first incarnation of what we now know as Thai’d Up opened for business on Nov. 14, 2001, but its story dates back to the City of Brotherly Love when Coco was 14 and scrubbing big stock pots in a restaurant owned by a friend of his mom’s. “The chef gave me an opportunity to learn prep, running the line and so on,” Coco recalled. “By the time I was a high school senior, I was doing orders.”
During his college years at Temple University, Coco waited tables and learned the ropes in the front of the house. As fate would have it, he had been a skilled, avid skier, and his mom’s half-brother, a fellow by the name of Skip Harvey, said he could land a job back in Mammoth Lakes. “I didn’t have a next move in life, and came out here to ski and teach.” Coco came out here in 1993 for a season as a ski instructor and that, he said, has lasted to the present.
During the late ‘90s, he met his now wife Jen. “She and I knew each other from working at Sierra Star, and we dated off and on, but she always came to town and later left for Los Angeles or other points on the globe,” Coco reminisced. In 2003, something different happened: she didn’t leave. “I’d planned on moving back to Los Angeles, but fate kept pushing us back together,” Jen added. They were engaged in 2006 and married in 2008. And this past summer, Jen gave birth to their first child, Miles.
Coco, meanwhile, got a job offer at the original Alpenrose. “Matt and Miriam Thilde were very supportive of me,” Coco remembered. “I vowed I’d never work in another restaurant after college, but I liked the Alpenrose … it was a family business, and they really needed a cook who could basically do it all. I said, ‘I can do that.’ We started doing Thai specials and that kind of set things in motion.”
He would later set out on his own, and his first-ever location was a space he shared with a deli that was located where Jalapeños is now. Coco served up Thai food at night, and credits that arrangement as a key point in his career. “I would never have been able to do a startup on a ski instructor’s shoestring budget,” he noted.
By this point, Mammoth was into its boom cycle. The Village had just opened, and good spaces were getting harder to find. Ian Algerøen at Restaurant Skadi told Coco of a hair salon below his restaurant that was moving. Coco is quick to thank his “friends, ardent supporters and mentors, Ron and Annette Larson, whom he said were “integral in getting the salon deal done.” Perhaps as a sort of homage, Coco has retained some of the salon’s mirrored shelving, which can still be seen behind the front counter.
“I thought about it and a couple of things became clear to me,” he explained. First, Thai is one of my all-time favorite foods. It was also one of those ethnic cuisines that didn’t really exist much in the area. Locals used to go out to this place in Hawthorne, Nev., and they’d get really excited to eat there. After 9 years of teaching skiing, that was my light bulb moment.”
Making the move to the new building, however, wasn’t easy or fast. “It was an arduous conversion,” Coco said. “Our 2-month, $9,000 remodel took 9 months and a lot more money.”
When he finally opened in December 2004, a mega-tsunami hit Thailand, and Coco felt the karmic shockwave here on the other side of the Pacific Ocean. “We got hit with electrical issues, venting problems, blackouts, you name it. I kept wondering if there wasn’t a connection.” His advice to prospective eatery entrepreneurs: “Don’t open during Christmas week!”
What did work from the outset, however, was the restaurant’s catchy name. “It was a humorous play on words … when you’re ‘tied up’ with work, family, Eastern Sierra life. We originally intended it for our to-go ad campaign, but we kept coming back to it.”
He credits Jen, who’s now Thai’d Up’s CFO, with keeping the business end of things focused and on track. “I paint with a wide brush. I come in like a tank, and Jen comes in like a sniper,” Coco quipped. Jen, he says, took Thai’d Up to the next level, adding beer and wine and expanding the dine-in experience, while keeping to-go a staple part of the operation. “We have a great local core base, but we’re picking up more vacationers who are attracted to us and want a break from their usual routine.”
And if you’re going to attract new customers, Coco is convinced that authenticity is the key. He and chef Rich Leonin make trips to Thailand for continuing education and research. “It’s very refreshing to see ingredients used there in fresh from that you typically only find here in dried form,” Leonin said. Both are quite taken by the culture, of which food is an integral part. “Eastern culture and mysticism is a big part of my life,” Coco acknowledges.
“We get along great, we’ve been friends for years,” Leonin observed. “We’ve got more than 40 years of combined experience, and we both are knowledgeable and skilled at working the front and back of house.” Leonin and Coco were both ski instructors and roommates at one point. Leonin started his culinary career with Chart House in college, and after travelling for the company, he returned to Mammoth, where he worked in many of the area’s fine-dining establishments.
“I started with Mike at the new location, and it was a perfect fit,” Leonin said. “My background is Chinese and Filipino, and I learned a lot just watching my family cook.” Thai cuisine, he points out, involves a lot of basic chemistry. “It has certain techniques to develop flavors … acids, bases, salt, sugar, savory, sweet. And presentation counts for a lot.”
Leonin and Coco maintain that making everything from scratch gives them a broader flavor palate. “It’s not in your face,” Coco described. “It’s spicy, but we can tailor it to you. You don’t have to be intimidated.” A good word to describe the menu: “approachable.”
And one fun feature on the menu is Thai’d Up’s Chinese items. Only available at certain times of the year, the limited edition dishes are fairly traditional, but over the past 2-3 years have become pretty popular.
To celebrate 10 years as part of that community, look for expansion of the Thai menu. Much beyond that, Coco isn’t speculating about the future, except to say that he knows it won’t be static. “We see the business as dynamic, and continually moving forward,” he assessed. “There’s a philosophy in Buddhism: nothing is permanent; change is all.”
Thai’d Up is located at 587 Old Mammoth Road. 760.934.7355.
Posted on 10 October 2011.
Posted on 31 December 2010.
Recessions hit Mammoth a little later than the rest of the country. Recessions also tend to hit the public sector last of all. Perhaps this is why Mammoth finally made some serious staffing cuts (as opposed to early retirements, furloughs, et. al.) 15 months after the recession was supposed to have ended. Ah well. In Mammoth, things take time. After all, it only took 57 public meetings to approve Old Mammoth Place.
In the end, it appears Mammoth Lakes Town Council lost faith in the Town’s administrative leadership.
At its regular meeting Wednesday, Council unanimously approved $902,146 in job cuts, much of this excised from upper management.
This new round of layoffs was made before Council adopted its 2010-11 budget.
The job eliminations will be staggered over the next several months.
The positions chopped, with the major, senior staff names in parentheses, were a Principal Planner (Steve Spiedel) at $156,251, an Engineering Assistant at $107,543, a Building Official (Alex Ramos) at $155,875, the Assistant Town Manager (Karen Johnston) at $218,381, a Police Officer position that is currently vacant at $139,121, an Accounting Assistant II at $81,565, the Human Resources Director (Michael Grossblatt) at $181,005, and the Finance Director (Brad Koehn) at $198,863.
These figures are what the above employees would cost in wages and benefits if employed for a full year.
The contract with the Town Attorney was also chopped by $50,000, but Town Attorney Peter Tracy is set to retire in December, anyway.
The Town will balance some of these layoffs by adding a new position, that of Administrative Services Director. This position will ultimately combine the duties of the Human Resources Director and Finance Director.
$94,967. The delayed implementation of these layoffs has already cost the Town $281,491 and the consolidation study that was outsourced to help come to this conclusion cost $10,000. These costs bring the total savings to the $902,146, nearly $200,000 more than Council actually needed to save. The overage will be put into the Council’s discretionary “wait and see” fund for future use with any unforeseen expenses in the Town’s future.
Prior to taking its vote the Council opened the podium to members of the public. Former Town Clerk Anita Hatter explained that she was disturbed by the thought of these drastic cuts not because she was worried about her friends who were on the list but because she was worried about what it would do to the Town and its services.
“You have stopped cutting the fat and are cutting into the muscle and bone now,” she said. “An action like this will have consequences that will last for years.” Hattar added that the last time Council made rash decisions the interim Town Manager ended up granting the largest pensions plans available for employees, which is why she was able to retire at 53.
/from The Sheet Sept. 4/
Not from Melmac
We are not alone. Felisa Wolfe-Simon from Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration may not have found ALF or E.T., but believes a small, gnocchi-shaped microbe found in local Mono Lake waters is just as important. She announced her discovery on Thursday during a NASA press conference.
Bacterium GFAJ-1 was pulled from the bottom of Mono Lake and taken to Wolfe-Simon’s lab. The microbes were transported from the lake along with some mud and placed into artificial water that simulated the water of Mono. They were not given any phosphorous, an essential building block of life, but instead were doused with arsenic.
“Something grew where it should not have,” Wolfe-Simon explained during the press conference. “The fact that this microbe did something different than what we expected cracks open the door to life elsewhere.”
Why? According to Wolfe-Simon, the thought that an organism can survive without phosphorous opens the doors to exploration that life forms may be able to survive in completely different forms than were previously believed. Until now, it has been thought that every life form must contain phosphorous.
“We don’t know what makes a habitable environment on other planets,” said Pam Conrad, an astrobiologist for NASA. “Knowing that organisms can tolerate arsenic means that they might be able to tolerate other things as well. Things we may not have thought of yet.”
/from The Sheet Dec. 4/
During his first term as a Mammoth Lakes Town Councilmember, I gave Skip Harvey the nickname ‘41.’ It wasn’t a reference to any similarities Skip may have to our nation’s 41st President George H.W. Bush. Rather, it was because Skip often found himself on the wrong side of every Council decision made by a 4-1 vote.
On Wednesday night, Harvey returned to his roots. This time, however, he only lost 3-1 because Jo Bacon couldn’t participate due to a conflict of interest.
Does that make him Herbert Hoover?
The vote in question was over a district zoning amendment (DZA) for Old Mammoth Place.
Council voted to uphold a 4-1 Planning Commission decision to grant the DZA.
The most controversial part of the DZA was the part about measurement of height.
Though Council had initially approved (in June of last year) a maximum height for the site of 55’, site considerations and an architectural “oversight” prompted the developer, Jim Demetriades, to request an additional 9.5’ of height for some proposed buildings.
Mayor McCarroll and Councilmembers Sugimura and Eastman accepted the oversight. “The applicant’s already made plenty of sacrifices,” said Eastman.
MMSA CEO Rusty Gregory added that the plan is and has always been for five stories and a parking structure. Without a change in the height calculation, you’d have a project whose first floor would literally be underground.
Harvey didn’t care for the rationalizations. “This is about a manmade structure dominating the landscape,” he said. “This project will be 30 to 40 feet higher than surrounding properties … I need to show the people of this community I take our General Plan seriously.”
/from The Sheet April 10/
Mammoth moves in doobie-ous direction
Scott Calvert got the year rolling (ha ha!) by opening up his 420 Medicard Mammoth Lakes office on the 2nd floor of the Mammoth Luxury Outlet Mall (next to Body Works and down the hall from The Sheet) in January, even though the medical marijuana co-operative situation in Mammoth was on hold. That meant Mammothites could go through the process of obtaining their medical marijuana cards, but didn’t have anywhere to legally buy marijuana in Mammoth. Yet.
At the continued urging of Steve Klassen and other supporters of co-ops, Mammoth’s Town Council put Measure M on the June ballot. Measure M was a zoning code amendment that would, according to Town staff, “allow medical marijuana cooperatives within the Commercial General and Industrial zoning.” The measure calls for a maximum of two cooperatives in town, and requires a distance between them of not less than 500 feet.
Applying for a use permit involved first passing a Mammoth Lakes Police Department background check. If MLPD approved, the application went to the Community Development Department for use permit processing.
Measure M was approved by Mono County voters, 861 yes votes to 683 no votes. Those interested in running a co-op began filling out their applications. In October, Mammoth Lakes Planning Commission heard from three applicants vying for two available co-op spots. Robert Calvert and Steve Klassen ultimately walked away with the goods. Calvert’s co-op will be called Mammoth Lakes Wellness and Klassen’s is Green Mammoth.
Calvert opened his co-op in the Luxury Outlet Mall on Nov. 27, just a few short weeks after California voters voted down Proposition 19, which would have legalized pot in California and potentially disposed of the need for co-ops.
Klassen opened his doors in early December.
Deficits dizzy ESUSD
It started with an announcement from Eastern Sierra Unified School District (ESUSD) Superintendent Don Clark in March that called for the closure of 30 percent of schools in the Mono County’s rural school district due to a $2.2 million deficit in the District’s budget that staff had not anticipated. By the end of the month, 17 teachers had been notified that they may receive pink slips and the community was at each other’s throats.
Mono County Deputy Superintendent Colleen Wright warned the ESUSD Board in January that “because of the large deficit spending projected by the District along with the projected reduction in local property taxes, the county office encourages the district to carefully review property tax revenue projections to ensure future interim and budget reports are fiscally credible and able to be certified as positive.”
Another big factor in the deficit was the District’s disqualification from receiving a $301,500 class size reduction grant because of missing the Jan. 31, 2009 deadline. Former ESUSD Fiscal Director Jessica Denison took the blame for this mistake.
At first it seemed this grant was lost to the District for good since a statute had been added to the grant language stating that those schools which failed to meet the 2009 deadline were locked out of the program indefinitely. However, Mono County Superintendent of Schools Catherine Hiatt stepped in and convinced the State of the dire straits the District was in. The State eventually allowed ESUSD to fill out the grant form and the money was reinstated retroactively and was to be received for the 2010/11 school year as well.
The reinstatement of the grant, however, was not enough to save jobs and 15 teachers, plus 21 classified positions were officially let go in May even after the community had come together to try to find alternative ways of saving money. The loss of 15 teachers was the largest layoff the Board had ever initiated in its history.
By June, however, ESUSD was able to reinstate 3 of the teaching positions that had been pink slipped, plus it took action to consolidate fiscal management responsibilities with the Mono County Office of Education in order to save several hundred thousand dollars for 2010/11. On the down side, the Eastern Sierra Academy was forced to close its doors.
By the end of July, the community and the Board seemed ready to begin healing. Colleen Wright, Mono County Office of Education’s Deputy Superintendent started the meeting with a report on the 09/10 property tax receipts. In essence, the receipts had come in approximately $324,000 above what had been budgeted. When broken down, secure taxes were $203,000 over budget, prior year taxes were $83,000 higher, supplemental taxes were $56,000, and unsecured taxes were $18,000 under what had been budgeted. Wright recommended the District put the spare money in a contingency rather than spend it on bringing staff back that still may not be maintainable.
The community was able to have its say in the whole fiasco during the election for new Board members in November. Gabe Segura, who had taken over for Tad Roberts when Roberts stepped down from the Board several months before his term was up, was re-elected for a full term, while the other two seats up for grabs were filled with new faces. The community was clearly ready for change.
At the end of the year, the first interim report for the new budget was delivered by MCOE, but was full of uncertainty until the property tax projections arrived in January. The openness of how the Board functioned at the end of the year versus the beginning put the community at ease.
Rich McAteer is appointed interim superintendent of the Mammoth Unified School District following the dismissal of Frank Romero. He is succeeded six months later by Rich Boccia. Boccia, a native New Yorker, came to MUSD from the Pasadena Unified School District.
Mammoth High School Principal Mike Agnitch announces he will retire effective June 30. Middle School Principal Gabe Solorio is announced as his successor in March.
The Mammoth Community Water District warns the Town of Mammoth Lakes to stop approving projects at densities greater than anticipated by the General Plan.
“The big thing,” said MCWD Board member Gordon Alper, “is that the sewer system won’t be able to handle it [the increased density] … we’ve been told that the sewer main on Main Street won’t be able to handle the volume of effluent if the Village builds out to approved density … and the Dempsey corner (at Main and Minaret) hasn’t even been added to the mix yet.”
The Sheet launches its website, www.thesheetnews.com.
Town Attorney Peter Tracy announces that the League of California Cities and California State Association of Counties have submitted an amicus curiae brief to the Appeals Court on the Town’s behalf, which he believes will be a great benefit to the Town’s appeal in the Hot Creek litigation case.
Mammoth Lakes Land Acquisition won a $30 million judgement against the Town in 2008 for breach of a development agreement.
By year’s end, a decision has still not been rendered by California’s 3rd Court of Appeals.
The Mammoth Value Pass broke the $600 mark. Single year passes were priced at $639.
Mono County Board of Supervisors learn that Digital 395, the Internet superhighway broadband infrastructure project designed to bring cutting edge data transmission to a large portion of U.S. 395 and surrounding communities was denied funding from part of the $787 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) stimulus package but is invited to apply.
The new application wins approval for an $81.1 million grant in August and will fund the construction of the D395 middle-mile fiberoptic network between Barstow, Calif., and Carson City, Nev.
Mammoth ties DiMaggio! At the 56th public meeting held regarding the proposed development since 2005, the Mammoth Lakes Planning Commission approved, with conditions, a use-permit and tentative tract map for Old Mammoth Place. The formerly named Clearwater project is planned for a six-acre site bordered by Old Mammoth Road on the east and Laurel Mountain Road on the west. It currently houses the Sierra Nevada Lodge, Rafters Restaurant and Frosty’s Mini-Golf.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appoints Robert Peters to the Mono County Board of Supervisors, representing District IV. Peters fills the seat left vacant by the death of Bill Reid in 2009 until elections allow the spot to be filled by the voters. The seat ends up going to Tim Hansen, who beats Tim Fesko in a runoff election in November.
Roy Flores, the Southern California man who shot and killed a four-year old bear on the shores of Lake Mary last fall (and also winner The Sheet’s Darwin award in 2009) was sentenced by Presiding Judge Stan Eller to 100 hours of community service and a $395 fine. The 30-day jail time was suspended so long as Flores obeys the terms of his probation. Flores must also complete a hunter’s safety course.
Work continues in the Town of Mammoth to develop a Destination Marketing Organization which will ultimately come to be known as Mammoth Lakes Tourism. The arrival of MLT means that the Town drops its Tourism and Recreation Department and simply retains a Recreation Department. Measure A dollars are steered toward MLT. The organization hires John Urdi as its Executive Director in July.
Michael Harris, the local Eastern Sierra man who was convicted by a jury in December of several sexual crimes against minors, was sentenced by Judge David DeVore to 285 years to life in a state prison. The number was based on the maximum punishment of 15 years to life, consecutive, for each of the 19 counts.
Mammoth Lakes Police Chief Randy Schienle announces his retirement with an effective date of Aug. 11. Chief Schienle worked in law enforcement for 29 years, 22 of them in Mammoth Lakes. The Town appoints interim Police Chief Dan Watson in July. Watson had spent the past eight years as Pasadena’s Police Chief.
The new South County Courthouse breaks ground. Local contractors are peeved that they were not given a chance to bid on the project. Mammoth Lakes Contractors Association President Troy Rowan said that no area firms were eligible to bid for the general contract, because one of the bid requirements was a $7 million bond, a figure out of reach for locals.
The Mammoth Lakes Planning Commission votes in favor of changing the General Plan zoning designation of the so-called “Bell-Shaped Parcel” from resort to “open space.”
During the final debate over the change in zoning designation for the Bell Parcel on June 2, Mammoth Lakes Town Councilmember John Eastman insinuated that outgoing Councilmember Wendy Sugimura and Mayor Neil McCarroll wanted to change the designation for reasons of legacy as opposed to logic. Council voted 4-1 to change the Bell’s zoning from “resort” to “open space.” Eastman was the lone dissenter.
Mammoth Town Council approves recommendations for a revised Development Impact Fee schedule. Modest hikes still leave fees about half of what they were in 2008-2009.
Mammoth’s Wildlife Specialist and acclaimed “Bear Whisperer” Steve Searles told The Sheet contracts with LMNO and Discovery Channel, which owns Animal Planet, were officially signed, meaning the Bear Whisperer had an encore this summer. There will be at least three more one-hour episodes of the show with the possibility of six if the ratings are good.
Mammoth Lakes Town Council votes 4-0 to end staff furloughs for FY 2010-2011, effectively approving approximately $1 million in new spending on staff salaries. Councilmember John Eastman realized the next day that he had not been fully aware of what he had voted on and tried to re-agendize the item, telling The Sheet, “We can’t afford a million bucks.” He was then informed by Town Attorney Peter Tracy that an item cannot be re-agendized if there has been no dissent. As the vote was 4-0, well, game over … for Staff. Eastman was reelected the next month and pushed for deep staff cuts.
Early reports saying that Mono County Public Works Director Evan Nikirk was “dismissed” from his position by Mono County officials are disputed. Sources tell The Sheet that the decision was due to differing opinions in management styles and called the move a “mutual” separation.
Nikirk had been with Mono County for roughly 10 years, first brought on as Solid Waste Director.
Measures M and U pass while Matthew Lehman, Rick Wood and John Eastman win Mammoth Town Council seats. Larry Johnston barely squeezes out the win for Mono County District 1 Supervisor. Sheriff Rick Scholl retains his position by a landslide.
The District 4 Supervisor’s race and the tightly contested Mono County Superior Court judicial race are thrown into December runoffs. Mark Magit ultimately bests Randy Gephart to replace the retiring Judge Ed Forstenzer.
Mammoth Lakes Town Council approves the Snowcreek Development Agreement despite Councilmember Jo Bacon’s futile attempt to filibuster the whole decision clear into the next millennium.
The Mammoth Scenic Loop is closed to traffic through November for reconstruction. The reconstruction project includes plans for road-widening and bike lanes.
Locals rejoiced as Sierra Sundance Whole Foods expanded its store. Owners and sisters, Tanya and Silena Mandich wanted to satisfy the local market yearning for greater health and organic food selection. As Silena puts it, “the community has really been begging for a change. Not only to expand what we were carrying, but people just wanted another option than Vons.”
Mammoth Town Attorney Peter Tracy resigns from his position effective at the end of the year. Tracy’s tenure with the Town began in 1985 and has extended for 23 years. During that time he has worked for 22 council members. He is ultimately replaced by Andrew Morris of the law firm Best, Best and Krieger.
The Mammoth Lakes Ice Rink is labeled “toxic.” Mammoth Lakes Town Councilmembers, Rick Wood and Jo Bacon, made it clear at Council’s regular meeting Wednesday that they were not on Council at the time and had nothing to do with the deal struck in 2007 to place the rink on property leased from the Mammoth Unified School District. The reason they are distancing themselves is simple. The Town’s spent well over $1 million on the project so far, and yet, would need to spend an additional $3 million to complete it. The estimated cost to abandon the project is over $1 million. Neither option is attractive.
While the Town determines what to do, the rink is shelved for operation this winter.
Two Turner Propane tanks were delivered to the new tank farm at the borrow pit on Sherwin Creek Road. The 30,000 gallon tanks were delivered empty, but once filled and tied into the propane line system, will double the amount of available propane in Mammoth Lakes.
The Hilton Creek Community Services District raises its fees 15% annually for the next three years. That adds up to roughly an extra $5 per month for Hilton Creek customers.
Mono County’s Board of Supervisors scuttle a move to enact rent controls in the Crowley Lake Mobile Home Park.
Inyo National Forest Supervisor Jim Upchurch, Mammoth Lakes Mayor Skip Harvey and Town Recreation Manager Stu Brown cut the ribbon to officially open the lower section of the Lake Mary Bike Path.
It was like something out of an Irwin Allen disaster movie. Heavy rains hammering the canyon area near Dunmovin’, a small, unincorporated community just north of Coso Junction, sent a wall of mud and debris estimated to be some 200 yards wide and four feet deep oozing over a sizable section of U.S. 395 just south of Olancha on Thursday.
The slide was strong enough to push a semi-tractor trailer off the highway, trap other large trucks and vehicles in the mud and snarl the traffic flow in both directions for hours.
Mammoth Mountain Ski Area officially announced that United Airlines will be offering a non-stop, daily flight from San Francisco International Airport to the Mammoth Yosemite Airport this winter. The flight will be operated by United Express carrier, SkyWest Airlines using 66-seat CRJ700 regional jets. The first flight landed Dec. 16.
In the Mammoth Lakes Basin, a female bear (later identified as the infamous Blondie) broke into at least seven homes within 48 hours. The bear was eventually shot and killed by Sergeant Karen Smart under a homeowner’s depredation permit.
After seven years of housing the Beekley International Collection of Skiing Art and Literature, the Mammoth Lakes Foundation decided to remodel Edison Hall, ditch the Mammoth Ski Museum and relinquish the art collection.
Edison Hall will now be devoted to culinary arts and theatre.
Mono County’s Board of Supervisors voted to take “no action” on a resolution to support HR 6129, the “Mono County Economic Development Act of 2010,” legislation authored and introduced in Washington D.C. by U.S. Congressman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-25th District). The bill essentially calls for release of the Bodie Hills Wilderness Study Area (WSA), which surrounds Bodie State Historic Park.
The contentious agenda item packed the Bridgeport Boardroom with both supporters for and opposition of the release, and drew fire from both sides.
Lupe Almaguer of Mammoth Lakes is arrested on the night of Oct. 5 pursuant to an arrest warrant. Almaguer, a daycare provider, was arrested for crimes of sexual abuse against two children who had previously been under his care but are now adults.
Two more victims came forward and Almaguer pled guilty in December to all counts.
Integration is the key in a draft plan called RECSTRATS that was introduced to the Mammoth Lakes Recreation Commission. RECSTRATS is a vision for recreation in Mammoth and a strategic plan for its implementation. The plan was created by a local steering committee and facilitated by Carl Ribaudo of Strategic Marketing Group based in South Lake Tahoe and Danna Stroud. The Mammoth Lakes Trails and Public Access Foundation helped fund the process.
U.S. Forest Service Regional Forester Randy Moore announces that Kit Mullen will take over as Interim/Acting Forest Supervisor for the Inyo National Forest, in light of the scheduled departure of INF’s previous supervisor, Jim Upchurch.
Amy Cutter asks for an explanation as to why there is no longer a bus stop at Lupin Street.
Cutter, a Lupin Street resident for more than 10 years, pointed to what she said has become a problem since the Eastern Sierra Transit Authority (ESTA) took over the local transit system. “The appearance is that ESTA could easily add the stop back in without much trouble,” Cutter wrote. “For the businesses along the frontage road and homeowners on Mono and Lupin Street this is a hardship.” Apart from other concerns she voiced about the rehabilitation of Frontage Road, and the infrastructure that went into the walkways and related bus stops, she also griped about the unceremonious change in routes, which Cutter said she learned about while on her way home from a Village event.
ESTA Director John Helm said it was determined “unsafe to have that many stops that close together.”
Mono County is one weird place when it comes to politics. As Tom Cage said in June, “We’re a pot-smoking, tax-charging group of conservatives,” he said.
This was proven out in the November election. While the state turned down the pot initiative by a 54-46% margin, in Mono County, the electorate favored the measure by 13 percentage points
In top office races, Mono County also went for Republicans Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina in the Governor’s and Senate races, respectively. Each candidate lost handily statewide.
With the defeat of Democratic Missouri Congressman Ike Skelton, U.S. Congressman Buck McKeon (R-25th District), Mono County’s representative, took over as Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
Brent Peterson nabbed nearly half of the votes for a Mammoth Lakes Fire Commissioner seat. Incumbent Richard Good held on to the other.
And clearly, campaigning from Mexico seems to work around here, at least if you’re Dr. Dennis Crunk, who won a seat on the Southern Mono Healthcare District (SMHD) by a landslide, despite zero advertising of any sort and a pre-election vacation.
Shortly after the election for the, SMHD Board Chairman Dr. Donald Sage abruptly resigned.
Part of the reason for his resignation is that he “did not want to see Lynda [Salcido] lost from the Board.” Salcido had finished 3rd behind Crunk and Jack Copeland.
Mammoth Mountain opened from head to toe on Nov. 11 with approximately 1-3 feet of natural and manmade snow, access to the Cornice Bowl, new park features and a brand new type of pass for individuals in the higher tax brackets.
The Mammoth Black Pass is a premium product that has been under development for several years, according to MMSA Senior Vice President Pam Murphy. The “cheapest” Black Pass costs a cool ten grand.
You know it’s been a big storm when you can call yourself a world champion when it’s over. Mammoth has defied the odds and not only topped the charts for the snowiest December on record (155 inches with still more than one week to go!), but it also made headlines by having the most snow of any ski resort in the world.
Posted on 31 December 2010.
JIM CORE (b. 1936): Jim Core, dubbed the “Bank of Mammoth” by the late Rick Blake and considered by many to be one of Mammoth’s three “icons” of the real estate and business communities (along with Dave McCoy and Tom Dempsey) passed away July 17.
Core, who co-owned the Inyo-Mono Title Company with his son Jerry, is survived by Jo, his wife of 57 years, Jerry, daughter Judy Markham, five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Core was born in Paris, Arkansas in 1936. His family moved to the Ventura, Calif. area in the early 1940s. He was in the title insurance and escrow business for over fifty years, starting out in Ventura with stops in Concord and Merced before settling in the Eastern Sierra in 1983.
Soon after his arrival, son Jerry said that the United States Geological Survey’s (USGS) determination that Mammoth had “volcanic issues” led to a tremendous amount of economic uncertainty and property foreclosures. No banks would lend on Mammoth property. So Core stepped forward with a group of fellow Rotarians to establish a funding source for builders and buyers. “I know we funded a lot of people’s payrolls in the ‘80s,” said Jerry.
As Jerry said, “He gave people a fuzzy feeling.” And he had a wonderful laugh. In a crowded room, you could identify where he was. Jo was her husband’s faithful caregiver from the time he was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) in January, 2009 until his passing.
EDITH BUCHANAN (b. 1920s): Edith Buchanan, ageless wonder and longtime local florist, passed away on Tuesday, July 13. Her exact year of birth is omitted because daughter Marcia says she’d want it that way.
Edith was born in Jackson, Mich.and moved out to California in the late 1930s with her husband Walter, who had just received a PhD in music.
They followed Walter’s parents, who had moved to Santa Barbara after a stint as missionaries in Japan. Ross Mather sold Edith and Walter their first Mammoth condo in 1967. They moved up here permanently about 30 years ago.
Edith was an extremely hard worker, and in fact, worked up to the very minute she died. She was found on the floor of her in-home flower shop, Celebrations. It is believed she may have collapsed in the middle of making a floral arrangement.
In fact, Edith had just done the flowers for a wedding the previous weekend.
“She thought work was good for you, because that’s what you were supposed to do,” Mather said.
“It was typical of Mom not to let a day go by without hard work,” added her daughter Marcia, who credits Edith with passing on her artistic enthusiasm to her daughters.
Edith, who married a man 13 years her senior, was married for more than 60 years. She had both her daughters while she was in her teens.
In addition to her flower shop, during her time in Mammoth, Edith worked as a concierge and arranged flowers at the Mammoth Mountain Inn. She also managed a haberdashery in the Mammoth Mall.
To the end, Edith was tough. In the past year, she’d had a few falls, including one where she broke her pelvis. Did she seek immediate medical treatment? No. She thought she’d stay at home and see if it got better. Her explanation to her daughter as to why she didn’t mention it to her for weeks. “Oh, I didn’t want to bother you.”
JOSH SOKOLOW (b. 1976): “Let’s see, I’m a 33 year old punk from Mammoth Lakes, Calif. originally the San Fernando Valley. I’ve been here for years and I can’t see myself leaving anytime soon. It is a small town but when you lived in Los Angeles for pretty much your whole life, a change of pace is damn nice.”-Josh Sokolow
Josh Sokolow, 33, died in January of complications from pneumonia at his home on Lupin St. He graduated from Trabuco Hills High in Mission Viejo, Calif. and made Mammoth Lakes his home starting in 2004. In town, Sokolow worked at Casa Diablo, A-Frame Liquor and Shell. You may have recognized him as the guy in the red and black hooded sweatshirt walking his Pit-Rottweiler Maggie through the ghetto. -penned by Randy Villarba
RHIANNON LYNN TAYLOR (b. 2009):
Rhiannon Lynn Taylor passed away Saturday morning, March 13, three days short of five months old. She was born on October 27, 2009 at Mammoth Hospital and flown to Renown hospital in Reno with complications. Testing revealed a terminal genetic disorder with severe heart complications. -Gabe Taylor
CARY SHIBLEY (b. 1972): Cary, 38, who passed away on April 6, grew up in Crowley Lake, and loved the outdoors and sports, engaging in cycling and snowboarding, bonding with her dad and brother during all-day fishing excursions, and enjoying long hikes with her mom. Her love for dogs and their owners was immeasurable. She was entirely dedicated to her Spoiled Rotten Pet Grooming business in Mammoth, cared about her customers, could work with any animal’s temperament, and was able to connect with and four-legged friends.
ROGER MORRIS (b. 1934): Roger passed away on April 11 following a lengthy battle with cancer. He grew up in Los Angeles and would make frequent ski trips to Mammoth Mountain during his high school and college years and honeymooned there with his bride, Myra, in 1959. He retired from government service in 1995 and moved from Washington D.C. back to California to enjoy his golden years in Santa Cruz. Roger and Myra made frequent trips to Mammoth visit his son John’s family.
He could be found playing beach volleyball with John at the old Grumpy’s, loved hiking throughout the Eastern Sierra and in Yosemite, and often commented on how much his trips to Mammoth meant to him. -John Morris
KATHY McFEDRIES (b. 1942): Katherine Reed McFedries moved to Mammoth Lakes in the mid-1970s, and for 20 years worked as Supervisor of Field Maintenance with the Mammoth Community Water District. She also served as a member of the Mammoth Lakes Hospital board. An accident in 1995 left Kathy a paraplegic, but she was one of the first participants in the Disabled Sports ski school. She designed and built her first wheelchair-accessible home in Crowley Lake, where she served on the local water board. In 2004, Kathy moved to Bishop, where during the summers she grew prize-winning zephyr squash. In recent years, she designed a series of greeting cards, which won numerous awards at the Bishop Tri-County Fair.
DAVE COX (b. 1938): State Senator Dave Cox, 72, represented the State Senate District 1, which includes the east side of California from the Oregon state border down to Inyo County. He spent two decades in public service and became a member of the legislature in 1998, and served as Assembly Republican Leader before his election to the Senate in 2004. Cox often made trips to the Eastern Sierra to speak one on one with local communities, including Mammoth Lakes. A fiscal conservative with a feisty wit, Cox’s family described him as, “A devoted man, who always found time to serve his community and constituents. He took great pride in public service and making government work for the people.”
PATTI INGLI REA (b. 1933): Patti Ingli was born in River Falls, Wisconsin but moved to California in 1940. She graduated from UCLA and married Ralph Rea the week after graduation. After marriage, Patti and Ralph lived in California. They also had stints in Arlington, Virginia, Tokyo, Japan and Sydney Australia. For the past eight years, they’ve called Mammoth home. Patti passed away the morning of Oct. 20 after the loss of her battle with internal injuries from an automobile accident. Patti was a Mammoth Mountain Lodge Host since the 1996. She was “Lodge Host of the Year” for the 2004/2005 ski season. In 2007 she received a Mammoth Mountain Black Diamond award.
Patti was a board member for Chamber Music Unbound and an ardent supporter of their music program. As a docent for the Valentine Reserve and the Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory (SNARL), she continued to work to educate children.
JOHN NATHAN ADAMS: John Nathan Adams, a training and life coach and one of three SUV passengers who survived a horrific, fiery multiple-vehicle crash just south of Bishop on Aug. 9, died two months to the day of the crash that claimed two other lives in the SUV in which he was riding, as well as the life of another person in a passenger van that was also involved in the collision.
Adams, who lived in the San Diego area, was well known to many in Mammoth’s running and sports community. Mammoth locals Stu and Julie Brown were the last in town to see Adams and the four athletes traveling in the SUV prior to the accident. He was reportedly 39 at the time of the accident.
RICHARD L. JOHNSON: Hantavirus cardiopulmonary infection was responsible for the death of a seasonal state parks worker in Bodie.
According to recent reports from Mono County Public Health Officer Dr. Rick Johnson, the victim, identified as Richard L. Johnson, who was known by his middle name – Laird, 61, had been sick with a flu-like illness for about 4 days, and after an examination at Mammoth Hospital, was quickly flown to Reno, where he died. (Ed. Note: Johnson shared the first and last name of Mono County’s Dr. Johnson, but there is no relation.)
Posted on 31 December 2010.
Memorable quotes from the Eastern Sierra this past year.
“The built environment in Mammoth is as bad as it gets. I spit up blood when I have to travel up Main Street or Old Mammoth Rd.”
- Old Mammoth Place project consultant Dana Severy
“Mere mention of the word ‘process’ can give Councilmember Suginomora a contact high.”
“If someone wants to pay me to hide in the bushes, I’ll hide in the bushes.”
- P.I. Nathan Morgenstein
“Management is more interested in having a good relationship with staff than in taking care of the needs of the community.”
- Mayor Skip Harvey
“There are more babies born when Sade drops another album than at any other time in history.”
- Harold Hartley
“It’s like saying ‘Three’s Company’ became more cutting edge when Norman Fell was replaced by Don Knotts.”
- Lunch on Sheriff candidate Doug Northington’s claim that he was more ‘in touch’ than incumbent Rick Scholl
“I’m so happy I won. It totally made sleeping in my car worth it.”
- Wave Rave employee Mark Reininga upon winning the Gatorade Free Flow Tour Slopestyle competition in January.
“I can deliver [via MLTPA] three times the people and the productivity than the public sector.”
- John Wentworth
“You are performing a lobotomy and you do not have the license to do that.”
-Anita Hatter addressing Mammoth’s Council about staffing cuts
“Ego nidor foetidus nidor ut est usus per quispiam ut nidor foetidus!”
- Mr. Krabs
Posted on 31 December 2010.
As you might expect, sports were huge this past year, with the Olympics in Whistler, a state football title and more. Greg Bretz was one of many athletes that flew high.
JANUARY: Mammoth Mountain hosted the U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix here in Jan. 7-10. The arrival of the Grand Prix was significant … the stop in Mammoth was part of Olympic qualifying for the U.S. Snowboard team. The biggest names were here, including Shaun White, Kelly Clark and … Mammoth local Greg Bretz, who ultimately claimed the final Olympic team berth later in the month at Park City.
We also told you about local Mammoth skier cross athlete Johnny Teller, who finished sixth in skier cross at the X Games and was placed on the non-injured reserve list in case injured Olympic team members Casey Puckett, who was nursing a separated left shoulder, and Daron Rahlves, who was recovering from a dislocated his right hip, couldn’t race.
Teller didn’t get his Olympic shot, but he is now the #1 U.S. skier cross racer and finished 3rd in a World Cup event in Italy last week.
Jan. 17: Deena Kastor, at that time winless for 10 months, wins the Women’s leg of the P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n Roll Arizona Half-Marathon.
In January, Deena and husband Andrew Kastor also formally showed off plans for the Whitmore Track Project, a high-altitude outdoors running and training facility destined for Benton Crossing Road off of U.S. 395. The Kastors and associates had already pulled together $4 million of the facility’s $10 million price tag.
They were also recently awarded $510,000 of Measure R money earlier this month to continue laying the groundwork for development of the facility.
Deena and Andrew are currently expecting their first child.
The Sheet also profiles Jeremy DeCell, a groomer at Tamarack Cross Country Ski Area, who moved here from Vermont and was tapped to groom trails for all the Nordic cross-country ski competitions in Vancouver, B.C., for the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Mammoth Mountain Snowboard Team member, Garrett Weinert had a huge day at Bear Mountain Resort. The 16 year-old Crowley Lakes resident placed 2nd in the Gatorade Free Flow Tour Slopestyle comp and 2nd in the Burton Am Halfpipe competition.
Weinert was bested only by another local, Wave Rave employee, Mark Reininga, who placed 1st, at the Gatorade Free Flow Tour Slopestyle comp, which earned him an all-expenses paid trip to Mt. Snow Vermont for the final tour stop. “I’m so happy I won. It totally made sleeping in my car worth it,” Reininga said.
MARCH: Mammoth local Tomas Rodriguez ended his 30-year retirement from long-distance running by entering the 2010 L.A. Marathon on March 21. Rodriguez ran as part of a fundraiser to benefit the MHS Boosters running support programs, raising more than $8,000.
He finished the race in 3 hours, 8 minutes and 59 seconds, 36 seconds below the Boston Marathon qualifying standard. Rodriguez was 3rd in the 55-59 age group, and 217th overall out of 21,532 finishers.
APRIL: Lara Kirkner introduced readers to two young randonee racers. Michela Adrian and Jon Crowley, athletes willing to supply the enthusiasm if you’ll try the sport. Adrian, a Mammoth Mountain Ski Patroller, finished third at the U.S. Ski Mountaineering National Championships in Jackson Hole, Wyoming on March 20, missing World Championship qualification by just one place.
April 3: MMSA’s snowboard team riders place well during a seven-day trip to Copper Mountain for the 2010 USASA Nationals. The team finished the week, earning 17 top-10 finishes. Trent Wallentine led the pack with a first place overall Title for the 7-and-under category. The Freeride ski team rounded out the week with a whopping 21 top-10 finishes. Abigail Hansen took first place overall for the 10-12-year old division.
MAY: Mammoth Mountain and Katal Innovations teamed up to bring a Katal Landing Pad to Mammoth for a 10-day stint. The Katal Landing Pad covers the entire surface area of a jump after the takeoff allowing users to attempt new tricks without the consequences of crashing or hard landings.
JUNE: Mono County staff and elected officials cut the ribbon on the newly completed Crowley Lake Ballfield complex.
The Monster Mammoth Motocross revs through its 42nd annual evenmt.
June 19: Mammoth High School football legend Tom Gault announces he’ll return as head coach of the program after a one year hiatus.
June 25: For the first time in more than a decade, June Mountain opened its J1 chairlift for summer use.
June 22-24: The Isner v. Mahut tennis match at Wimbledon lasts 11 hours in all, smashes old records and sets new ones that may never be broken again in our lifetime. And on this side of The Pond, in contrast to the meticulously maintained grass on the All England courts, Mammoth’s community tennis courts are in a sad state of disrepair, and a major source of unhappiness for the Mammoth Lakes Tennis Club. MLTC President Gail Lonne has lamented the poor shape of the facility, calling the courts a “mess” and saying that “band aids” aren’t enough. The poor court conditions forced the cancellation of the 12th Annual Summer Solstice Tennis Tournament. The courts received considerable attention in the weeks following and have been dramatically improved.
JULY: This year’s 5th Annual Footloose Freedom Mile was the biggest yet, with 343 sign ups and 322 actual racers.
July 4: MMSA closes for season.
July 10: George Fowler would have been pleased, as hundreds of runners — including, for the first time this year, KIDS! — swam, biked and ran the June Lake Triathlon.
July 26: The Sierra Cycle Challenge’s 17 riders completed their three-day ride through the Glass Mountains, raising more than $43,000 for Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra programs.
AUGUST: It was wheels up … and down … and lots of hanging 10 at the 11th Annual Wave Rave Skateboard Competition at the Volcom Brothers Skate Park on Aug. 28-29. Pros
SEPTEMBER: After a year’s hiatus, Mammoth High School’s Huskies Football Team took to the field at Gault-McClure stadium in a return of 11-man football. The Huskies beat L.A. Baptist 6-3.
Sept. 5: This year, 93 runners sprinted away from Mammoth Creek Park in the Mammoth Rock Race. High Sierra Striders co-founder Andrew Kastor, who typically puts on these events and is more behind-the-scenes, finished first overall in 39:42.1. Tina Geller was the highest female finisher overall in 22nd place with a 53:36.5.
Sept. 10: Mammoth High School’s 2010 Cross Country team competes in the Whittel Warrior Invitational at Lake Tahoe’s Zephyr Cove. Freshman Hailey Hugelman, who ran her first-ever race in the frosh division took home a second-place finish in a field of 70 runners.
Sept. 12: The Mammoth Lakes Foundation Golf Classic draws 144 players, and raised $35,000 Sept. 12:
The 2010 Tioga Pass Run celebrated its 30th anniversary this year with 106 entrants, and a new course record, courtesy of Olympic runner and Mammoth resident Ryan Hall, who bested the old record by 7:44 with his time of 1:20:57. Bishop local Dan Yarborough was second with a time of 1:33:54. The first female finisher was Lee Vining’s Rebecca Sopp with a time of 1:51:50, and Michael Walecke, also from Lee Vining, was the youngest finisher at age 14.
Sept. 24: Mammoth Elementary School’s PTO Husky Pup Fun Run, now in its 22nd year, raised at least $20,000. Close to 600 students participated.
Sept. 25: The Mammoth High School Cross Country Team traveled to Griffith Park, in Los Angeles, Calif., and brought back four medals from the 37th Annual Bellarmine Cross Country Invitational. Sophomore runner Toby Qualls came in first. More than 80 high schools and 1,823 runners ran in this year’s event.
Sept. 27: Ultimate Fighting Championship legend Royce Gracie makes a promotional appearance at The Bistro at Snowcreek.
NOVEMBER: Mammoth High School Cross Country team members Hailey Hugelman, Kristin King and Toby Qualls raced their way to CIF prelims after success at Silver Valley High School in Yermo, Calif., where they ran in the Desert Mountain League Finals. Qualls ran in the CIF finals on Nov. 20, and finished in 16th place, fast enough to qualify for the State Finals, to be held on Nov. 27, in Fresno, Calif., where he finished 32nd out of 184 runners with a time of 17:00 flat for the 3.1 mile course.
Nov. 7: Defending New York City Marathon Champion Meb Keflezighi, was the top U.S. Men’s finisher, finishing in sixth place in 2:11:38.
For the first time in many years, Coach Megan Guffey and Mammoth High School’s Volleyball squad made it past the first round of playoff competition. The advance came after a win over Nu View Bridge Academy in Nuevo, Calif. Mammoth’s girls’ were ranked higher than Nu View, the Warrior League’s second-place team, in both the division and state.
Nov. 11: Mammoth Mountain Ski Area opens. The ski area would get a huge dump of snow in December, making it the ski resort with the most snow in the entire world.
Also in November, the Coleville Wolves lost a repeat of last year’s Division 1A championship in 8-man football to Pahranagat Valley for the second year in a row. This time, the Wolves fell 40-6, squashing hopes of another bid for an undefeated season.
DECEMBER: Eastern Sierra runners threw down winning hands during this year’s Rock N Roll Half-Marathon and Marathon in Las Vegas. Mammoth Track Club’s Josh Cox won the Men’s Marathon with a 2:25:05, and Jen Rhines won the Women’s Half-Marathon with a 1:14:57.
Dec. 11: The last time it happened, the year was 1957. Dwight D. Eisenhower was in the White House and Elvis Presley was the hottest artist on the pop record charts. But that night the Bishop Broncos players, cheerleaders and fans all left John Schwab Field having been witnesses to history, as the Bishop Broncos put away a win over the visiting Boron Bobcats 30-22 to claim the CIF Division 13 (Southern) state title.
Dec. 16: June Mountain celebrated 50 years of operation by opening with a $5 lift ticket price.
Dec. 18: Mammoth Mountain Ski Area debuts the “I Am Snowboarding” art exhibit honoring Jeffrey Anderson. The art will literally be in an Unbound Terrain Park on the Mountain, in the jumps, along the rails and in the “jib-able sculptures” and other park features—huge pieces of colorful art right there in the snow.
Posted on 31 December 2010.
The year in arts was about new beginnings, or at least a renewed push to support them. Mammoth (and Bishop) turned to the Arts to keep its sanity during the recession.
If they had to do it again, the only scene that movie lovers and festival promoters Meng King and Andreas Wettstein would probably want to reshoot would probably be their approach to marketing the Mammoth Film Festival. Which they didn’t this year, leading to somewhat diminished attendance. But for their fourth year, the duo added new categories to the lineup of screenings,and for $25, attendees got two full days of films, and the ubiquitous after-parties.
The Mono Lake Committee’s slideshow of the Mono Lake area is ancient history. With Blue-ray DVDs and high definition, the Committee has been diligently working on a new video to represent the efforts and the history at Mono Lake. The Committee hopes to show off the finished project in the first part of 2011. The film is expected to build upon the original slideshow that was put together by the late David Gaines, the founder of the Mono Lake Committee.
Speaking of movies … The Lone Pine Film Festival turned 21 on Oct. 8-10. This year, celebrations included movie locations in the Eastern Sierra, specifically Lone Pine, where many great westerns were filmed. In addition, the festival also honored Republic Pictures, which created the cowboy phenomenon and celebrated its 75th anniversary on Sept. 25.
The Sheet, always interested in artistic diversity, channeled the Viking gods in Wolf’s profile the blackest most heavy/brutal metal band of the Eastern Sierra: Valdur. The band of Mammoth locals, Thor Ryen a Norwegian transplant who plays guitar and growls, Matt Sxuperion on drums and Bill Ganley on bass (or as he calls it, “the chainsaw”), hopes to stage a first-ever Eastern Sierra metal-themed festival.
The Jazz Jubilee just about made its money back and will probably scale back somewhat next year, but is already in the planning stages. Bluesapalooza continued its growth streak and will soon outgrow its current digs at Sam’s Woodsite. Blue Sky bettered its attendance in its second year.
Meanwhile, the Mammoth Festival was a hit with this year’s headliner, Train.
The June Lake Music and Millpond festivals proved that smaller indie shows can pull crowds and top artists, and only the weather hampered attendance at the bigger, better and blow-your-socks-off Mammoth Rocks Festival.
Conductor Bogidar Avramov and the Eastern Sierra Symphony Orchestra had a massive sell-out with “Beethoven: Mammoth,” the theme for this year’s 33rd Sierra Summer Festival. And Chamber Music Unbound turned loose some of the world’s best chamber music players, including the Felici Trio, during the Mammoth Lakes Music Festival, which ran the gamut from Beethoven to the Beatles.
Sierra Classic Theatre celebrated its 10-year anniversary by presenting Shakespeare in the round and outdoors (and for free) at Sam’s Woodsite, with the local debut of the comedy “Merry Wives of Windsor,” directed by Allison McDonell Page. At that same time, Mammoth Lakes Repertory Theatre was back with its second Black Box Theatre Festival. The trio of shows included comedies, “The Bible: The Complete Word of God – abridged” and “Nunsense,” and the drama, “Agnes of God.”
Bishop’s Playhouse 395 added to its hot streak with another sold-out run of its spring musical series, this year taking audiences to the “South Pacific.” Mammoth thespian Chuck Scatolini made his PH395 debut in the March production, which also starred Jessica Burchette and featured a 26-piece orchestra.
Later in the year, Playhouse 395 Youth Theatre’s November production of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast Jr.” was continued the string of hits for the troupe, according to Sheet reviewer Rebecca St. Marie.
And closing the year, “A Christmas Carol,” proved a fitting selection for Mammoth Lakes Repertory Theatre’s first show in its new home, the Edison Theatre in the Mammoth Ski Museum, where it played 5 shows per week from early through mid-December.
The cast included veterans such as Bob Struckman, Shanda Duro as the Ghost of Christmas Past, Scatolini as Jacob Marley and Rick Phelps as the Ghost of Christmas Present, Tim Casey as Fred, along with Indigo Winston Paine making his stage debut as Tiny Tim. Sheryl Saari and Robin Morning joined Lori Ciccarelli as Mrs. Fezziwig, as well as professional snowboarder Desiree Melancon, as the ominous Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come.
The intricate musical was in rehearsals for many weeks, and found its play dates up against many community and holiday fundraising events, but managed to at least break even, according to MLRT Artistic Director Shira Dubrovner.
Posted on 31 December 2010.
As always, it was a rich year to be a local pundit. Like everyone else on the planet, Lunch was dismayed by too much government and an inability to pay for it. As reported in the Mar. 27 edition, The Town’s CalPers retirement obligations have doubled since ‘04. Health obligations have risen sixfold. And yet … we still think local developers are selling Wonka bars as salvation.
In celebration of Kevin Worden’s star turn as Tevye in the Mammoth Lakes Repertory Theater production of Fiddler on the Roof, I will imagine a Mammoth Lakes Town Councilmember “speaking with God” from the Council dais.
Dear God, what am I to do about Old Anatevka Place? On the one hand, we must be favorable to business. Won’t a rising tide lift all milk carts, even my own? Then I won’t have to pull it. Maybe I can just float. But on the other hand, will the rising tide drown my horse? But on the other hand, he’s no use to me now, since he can’t walk, so what does it matter if he drowns?
Ah, I see the Tsar in the audience. He’s a good Rustian. Better than most. I wonder what he thinks of this plan. On the one hand, he must be pleased. He will see that we are prepared to give he and his kind everything they desire so long as they remain fixated upon the capital markets in distant Kiev. But what will happen when the capital markets in Kiev become fixated upon us? Will they let my simple house stand when they can stack 20 in its stead? Will they bring in their milk from the Vons Kiev? Will a simple milkman have a place in Old Anatevka Place? Will the Rustians mind if my new milk cow poops in its parking stall?
What do my fellow Councilmembers think? Ah, I see Lazar is in favor. But he is a butcher. It is no big thing for him to have blood on his hands. But what of the Yenta? Ah, I see she is prepared to roll with the times and make her own match. For herself!?! Maybe she will work for the Big Red Rustian making sandwiches out of processed cheese and Wonder Bread. The wise rabbi. What does he think? What does it matter? He is soon leaving for that lawless region of Renatevka to wrestle with the one-armed bandits.
This may leave just me and you, God, talking as we are now. But we may not be able to see each other quite as clearly as before. I will crane my neck to look at you, but if I am standing too close to Old Anatevka Place, I will see nothing but windows. But craning my neck further, perhaps I will see a few stars … peeking their heads out the top floor windows – like the short bald man and that Jew who used to have that show about nothing. Imagine that, a show about nothing that everyone watched. Ha! Just like the 4th of July parade in Anatevka.
My neck hurts from all this craning.
I wonder if the short, bald man will appear in our humble parade. I wonder if he has any leftover Rold Gold pretzels to toss to the children.
As the good book says, the Babylonians built their Tower with the idea of reaching heaven itself, but were punished by you for their insolence. Do you plan on punishing the Rustians for their 65’ buildings? How will you do it? You used to smite people, but you’ve grown soft.
You know, God, there is this blue pill they talk about.
If you do punish the Rustians and make them all speak in different tongues, just make sure the minimum wage workers know how to take room service orders in Chinese.
But who am I to say? If I were a rich man, wouldn’t I do the same? Wouldn’t I build a big tall house with rooms by the dozen right in the middle of the town? But I’ve changed my mind about building a staircase to nowhere. I’d like to build a gondola to the Village instead.
God, it is time for me to go now. I hear that Fruma Barrett is returning from the grave and running for office. If Fruma Barrett runs for office, where do I run to? Allen Blumer’s wildlife sanctuary?
God, I have a question about this wildlife sanctuary. When Reb Allen first talked of this sanctuary, he said he was applying for a $1 million grant. Now he says he is applying for a $2.8 million grant. This grant grows like a weed. Reb Allen says weed is good. I am a simple man. How should I know?
These politicians … they talk and talk but yet there is no sign of a savior. There are only taxes and taxeaters and magicians with mullets and ice rinks without ice. Tradition!
from The Sheet April 17
Posted on 31 December 2010.
As Mac said in a recent story “the town (and he may as well have said the Sierra) has only one requirement to really be a true local – you’ve got to have a big heart. What follows are synopses of some of the personal profiles we ran this year.
Chris Hernandez (Jan. 9): Hernandez, a bartender at Nevado’s and one of the Town’s more beloved characters, ultimately recovers from a Dec. 15, 2010 ski accident that left him in an induced coma from Dec. 16-Jan. 4 and required 15 screws, 7 plates and 2 rods to put him back together. According to girlfriend Lisa Dewey, some of Chris’ first words top her upon his reawakening were about making sure his mother was okay, and then, “Hey, you’re pretty hot.”
Alon and Guy Ravid (Jan. 16): The Ravid brothers open The Smokeyard, a barbecue/steakhouse in the Village. The brothers grew up in South Africa. And clearly have the sense of humor necessary to succeed in business in Mammoth Lakes.
“So who’s working for who, today?” asks Alon.
“You’re working for me,” says Guy.
The conversation continues for about another 30 seconds until Guy is interrupted by a text message.
“My brother just called in sick,” he tells me.
Christine Lozoski (Feb. 6): Lozoski works the counter at the Great Basin Bakery in Bishop. “I’m a cookie. Everyone likes a cookie. Not that I’m saying everyone likes Christine, but a cookie is easy, there’s no exterior wrapping, and they usually do their job to make you feel better.”
E.J. Poplawski (Feb. 6): Poplawski, one of the nation’s top telemark skiers circa 2006, lost one of his legs as a result of a horrific ski accident. He has since bounced back and also found a new sport, taking fifth place in Snowmobile at the Winter X Games. A guest speaker at this year’s Disabled Sports Wounded Warrior Camp, Poplawski had this to say about fear: “I like fear. I thrive on it. A little bit of fear is healthy; it lets you know you’re alive.”
Judge Ed Forstenzer (May 15): Judge Forstenzer retires as Mono County Superior Court Judge. As Lunch observed: “The reason Ed Forstenzer lasted 22 years on the judicial bench in Mono County was because he was fair and consistent. As the Judge told The Sheet this week, the keys to the job are an ability to listen, to reason and to treat people courteously. ‘I treated people the way I’d like to be treated,’” he said.
Phyllis Benham (November 13): No person can stop time, but there are a chosen few in this world who appear able to suspend it, or elongate it, people whose vitality remains intact for birthday after birthday until you (and they) lose count of what year, if not what decade, they’re on.
Phyllis Benham is one of these people. And Phyllis still holds her infamous “pick-a-pot” parties. She held her fourth one this year. Benham has been “potting” for about a quarter-century. She became interested in ceramics years ago when she enrolled her children in a summer program and “it looked like fun.”
Phyllis met her husband Herb on a tennis court in Santa Barbara in 1949 and they were married April 15, 1950.
“What’s the secret to a long marriage?”
“Lots of space,” replied Phyllis. Then after a few beats, she added, “Really, it’s a crapshoot.”
Marcus Nobreus (October 2): Late September was made a bittersweet with the knowledge that local thespian/writer/director Nobreus was heading back to his native Sweden, apparently in pursuit of a woman.
Marcus was a man of wisdom and of empathy, the sort of flawed individual you seek out when you’re feeling down because he’s always got an even more embarrassing story about himself, which he’s happy to share with you.
“How’d you break your hand?”
“I knew you’d ask that. I punched a wall.”
“Why do most people punch walls?”
“You seem to have some anger management issues.”
“You think?!” laughed Marcus. “But I’m working on it. I haven’t been in trouble for awhile. But you know, it was a helpful characteristic to have as a bouncer.”
Royce Gracie (October 2):
Mixed Martial Arts legend Royce Gracie visited Snowcreek Athletic Club as part of a promotional tour. A snippet from Wolf’s interview:
The Sheet: Can you be trained to take a punch in the face?
Gracie: Oh, no. No, you never want
to be punched in the face. People say to me things like, “I can take a punch. I don’t care.” I love when people say that. That’s why their careers are so short. People like that are a perfect fit for guys like me because I love hitting people in the face.
Sheet: Hell, no. Do people ever try to test you on the street or in a bar?
Gracie: They might joke about it. [Laughs.] But if they were serious, they would have a big problem. In an organized fight, the round is over and I’m like, “Okay, where’s my prize?” On the street the fight is over when I feel like it’s over.
FATHER ANDY DACHAUER, S.J. (August 7): On the verge of his retirement, Father Andy reflected on the many years he has spent with the people of Mono County, 27 of which he has been the pastor. It was these people he would miss the most as he departs, even though he never wanted to meet them in the first place.
“I didn’t want to come here,” he quips. The Jesuit lifestyle revolves in great part around education and intellectualism. Not only is Father Andy a priest, he is also a scientist specializing in chemistry. He was teaching in San Francisco when he was assigned to the Eastern Sierra for the summer. He wrote a letter to his superiors explaining that they would ruin him as a teacher. They wrote a letter right back saying thanks for your thoughts, but you’re going anyway.
“God sent me here and it’s been the greatest blessing I’ve ever had,” he explained. He credits his science background as the reason why his sermons are well loved. “The science helps color the sermons and make them understandable,” he says.
NATHAN MORGENSTEIN (Dec. 11): Bishop based private investigator Nathan Morgenstein is no stranger to tracking down a good case. There’s probably not one of us who at some point in his/her life hasn’t thought it would be cool to be a private eye, but for Morgenstein, who grew up in Hawaii, it wasn’t a lifelong dream. In fact, he was drawn into it by a television advertisement for a P.I. school. Why? ‘Cause he was home and bored and not working.
“I came from nothing,” said Morgenstein. “We [his family] lived on the beach for a year when I was growing up. I come from the street, which is incredibly useful. I know when people are lying and I know when they’re on dope … I love what I do. Not many people can say that.”
PHIL KIDDOO (June 26): Fredericksen took readers along for a jaunt with this Bishop local, whose one-way commute to work is between 1.9 to 2.1 miles, depending on the route. Driving, it would take under five minutes, yet his travel time averages 18 minutes. The reason? Kiddoo runs, through the heat, rain, snow and wind — from his home on the outskirts of town, home for lunch, back to work, and then home again. Seems he prefers manpower versus horsepower. Forget about hybrids and whatnot, this guy’s 10-year quest for minimal car use tops all of those trends.
In 2009, Kiddoo had driven 3,750.7 miles and biked 524.4 miles. But his running miles trumped both other forms of transportation: 3,770.4 miles. On the other hand, he does acknowledge that, “The world is enormously large without a car.”
TODD UNANGST (Sept. 4): A commercial artist for a little less than two years now, Unangst has been creating art since his high school days in Brookfield, Conn. “My mom gave me an orchid for Christmas,” Unangst said. “It was sitting on a counter in my house and when I went into the room and turned on the light, it hit the orchid and put shadows of it all over the wall.” This array of light immediately inspired him to start working on flower pieces. “I think the flowers come [to me] because our summers here [in Mammoth] are so short,” he explained. “The ones I make can be left out in the snow all winter long.” Unangst cuts all of his art freehand with plasma torches. He does not use anything of, by or relating to a computer, preferring to keep everything, including his process, old school. You can find examples of Unangst’s work all over the town of Mammoth, including outside of Mammoth Liquor, all over Red Lily Floral Design, and in the redesigned railings at 1849.