What’s the kiss of death in Mammoth Lakes? Apparently, being named the Fifty Center’s Person of the Year.
Six weeks after being awarded that dubious accolade, Dave Wilbrecht is history, having resigned (or rather, being forced to resign) on Wednesday.
Will we ever know what really happened?
As recently as the Jan. 2 Town Council meeting, Mayor Matthew Lehman told the audience in Suite Z that Wilbrecht’s recognition by the Fifty Center was “well deserved” and from the dais Wilbrecht received praise and congratulations from Councilmembers Bacon, Wood and Eastman.
So … Wilbrecht may be gone, but at least for the next nine months, his salary obligation is not. His severance? $150,000. Not bad for 22 months work.
Billing error raises blood pressure
Earlier this week, several Village merchants were blindsided by a massive rate increase included in their January propane bills from Amerigas.
Gomez’s Restaurant and Tequileria Owner Michael Ledesma calculated it as a 105% increase, and described his mindset as one of “shock” and “confusion.”
It was his understanding that the Old New York Deli and Smokeyard BBQ and Chop Shop had received similar bills.
Smokeyard owner Alon Ravid said on Wednesday, “Yes, our bill has doubled. We don’t know why and no one is giving us any answers. It’s difficult enought to run a business with little margin and now this.”
Alas, Amerigas Regional Manager Lisa Thomas called The Sheet Thursday to explain that it was all a big misunderstanding, a “data entry issue” that affected ~20 or so customers, and that all would be receiving corrected bills.
As to other customers in town who saw ~5% rate increases in January over December, Thomas said there has been a shortage in local refinery production since November, and that three of the four local refineries are currently closed for maintenance.
This has forced Amerigas to hail in 20 rail cars per day from other locations to meet demand.
And from Kirkner’s desk …
The California Public Utilities Commission has denied Verizon’s request (see last week’s “Left in the Dead Zone”) for a 12-week extension to supply Crowley Lake and Swall Meadows with broadband. According to a letter from the CPUC to Verizon, Verizon is in violation of its order to provide the service and may be subject to penalties until service is offered.
June Mountain Ski Area Operating Plan Approved
The US Forest Service (USFS) and Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, (MMSA) have finalized an operating plan for the June Mountain Ski Area that guides management of the area for the remainder of the winter season while the resort is in a non-operational status. The plan considers many complicated factors regarding public access, administrative access to facilities and communication sites, avalanche control, ski patrol duties, and – most importantly – safety concerns.
While the lift-served ski area is not open, the underlying National Forest land will generally remain accessible to the public for backcountry skiing, snowboarding or snowshoeing. Under the plan, ski patrollers are authorized to prohibit access to the area during avalanche control activities. The ski area remains prohibited to entry by snowmobiles and other motorized use by an existing Forest Order, except by special use authorization.
And from Geisel’s desk …
In other Town Council news … Assistant Town Manager Marianna Marysheva-Martinez reported that use of $325,000 from Measure U to shore up air service subsidy guarantees, which Council approved in an emergency meeting last July 4, was not needed after all, and that the funds were never transferred out of the Measure U account.
Mammoth Lakes Police Chief Dan Watson, in an effort to do more with less, said he’s looking into installing an online crime reporting system, which would allow residents to electronically file reports of criminal behavior, freeing up considerable manpower, especially during hours with limited or no officer availability.
A third-party provider would also be used for the public to purchase copies of cleared reports for legal and other insurance related purposes. Watson outlined that both services would cost the Town little or nothing to provide.
Council deferred action on an ordinance establishing standards for new and reconstructed wood stove inserts, wanting Town Attorney Andrew Morris to meet with Fire and other Town official on some language changes, in particular changing the 10 year compliance requirement to 5 years for inspections, and follow up modifications soon thereafter.
With as many as 4,000 such inserts, Clean Sweep owner Scott Voss said it’s unlikely all the stove contractors in town could get the job done in 5 years. Pellet stoves would be less expensive and require minimal fascia work, compared to redoing wood-burning inserts, but wouldn’t save much in the way of time. A state requirement to have all inserts either modified or changed out by 2022 is still in effect, according to Fire Marshal Thom Heller. (For more on this issue, see our story at www.thesheetnews.com.)
Council also voted to hold off a sunset of temporary reductions for plan checks, inspections and archive fees for single-family homes, which was scheduled for August 15, 2010. Showing what they deemed solidarity with the construction industry, most on the Council agreed to revisit the fees along with Developer Impact Fee reductions. Both are to be taken up on or about August 15 this year. Only Jo Bacon dissented. “We need to hire people and don’t have the money, but we keep waiving fees ensuring we definitely won’t have the money,” she said.