ACCENTUR-ATE THE POSITIVE
The two front page stories bring a sense of deja vu this week.
The “Keep Squaw True” film … reminds me of the “Lost People of Mountain Village” film from about 15 years ago – a mockumentary about trying to find signs of actual life in Mountain Village – the posh development which sits above and neighbors Telluride.
The joke being there were no actual residents of Mountain Village – just second homeowners who were never around.
This was during the “Downhill Slide” era – Downhill Slide being Hal Clifford’s 2004 book about ski towns being systematically devoured by opportunistic real estate interests – amid Clifford’s general fretting about the loss of community and character.
And, of course, we’re still talking about the same things 15 years later; about locals being priced out of housing, about environmental degradation, etc.
The same way we will stop talking about them as soon as the next economic downturn hits and we’re all too busy bailing our own boats to worry too much about the more philosophical issues we otherwise debate in the free time we no longer have.
As to renaming the MUF in honor of Wreck-It Ralph, well, renaming or rebranding things that carry a negative connotation is fairly commonplace. Get found guilty of peddling cancer? Change your name from Philip Morris to Altria. Get caught up in the Enron scandal? Change your name from Arthur Andersen to Accenture.
Locally, Jim Demetriades initially pitched his proposed development along Old Mammoth Road as “Clearwater.”
Which I always thought was a lousy name – too evocative of Whitewater, the Clintons debacle in Arkansas which nearly derailed their political careers. Sure enough, the name Clearwater was ultimately scrapped in favor of “Old Mammoth Place.”
I don’t understand why Town staffers ever get it in their heads to name anything. This is not what they’re good at. Mammoth Lakes Tourism isn’t good at it, either, but at least MLT is smart enough to contract the creative out.
And from Charles’s desk, dovetailing with the letter from Ms. Snoderly which appears on page four:
“Don’t Fence Me In” is a popular American song written in 1934, with music by Cole Porter and lyrics by Porter and Robert Fletcher. It’s considered one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time. It’s also an apt description of the past default policy of the Big Pine Saddle Club boards, which have for many years ignored the terrible condition of the perimeter fencing along the Baker Creek Road side of the facility. Fortunately, for the horses, the saddle club is finally getting some much-needed and long-overdue improvements in new street lighting and perimeter fencing, both courtesy of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and its ratepayers.
The terribly disturbing incident at the Saddle Club back in early July in which several horses were slashed and stabbed, created an understandable uproar, resulting in offers of help. Donations were made to pay for veterinarian treatment of the injured horses, a substantial reward of $18,000 was established to find the person or persons responsible, and a GoFundMe.com account collected $7,965. Other donations, according to the club’s treasurer, have increased the total to $8,500 to be used for facility improvements.
Three weeks ago, The Sheet reported on another incident, far less disturbing than the horse ripping in July, but notable, nonetheless. Someone had cut the tail off a horse boarded at the facility. Saddle Club President, Shelly Snoderly, and the owner of the horse in the most recent tail cutting incident, objected to the story. There was an attempt to speak with both prior to publication of the article. They did not respond to the voicemails left for them.
There are literally thousands of news articles online about the topic horse hair/tail theft coupled with information “why?” It is a well-documented problem in midwestern and western states. The story at the saddle club was news, especially on the heels of the prior July incident, and the interest shown by the public. It is also of interest to people who donated money to the saddle club who want to know what the club has or has not done in the past 5 months since the incident in July to immediately improve the safety of the horses and its future plans.
According to several saddle club members, the issue of the terrible condition of the perimeter fencing has been known for years—even discussed—but no action was ever taken, even after the July incident; well, that is, until now. LADWP, which owns and leases the property to the saddle club, made improvements to the property a top priority and it is a welcome community service project. In just the past couple of weeks, the department has replaced some sections of the barbed-wire fencing and added a new street light across from the main gate to the saddle club. They also installed several poles on the property for the addition of lighting and surveillance cameras to be installed by the club, using donations. All these measures are long overdue.
All these improvements represent a considerable investment by LADWP, especially considering the very favorable lease terms given to the saddle club, so much so that a few club members are worried the cost of the lease might be considerably raised in the future. There is a one-time member fee of $100. The corral rental fee is only $15 a month. That is an incredible bargain. It’s a great incentive to move to Big Pine if you are a horse owner.
Added to the saddle club’s monthly rental fee are costs borne by the horse owners. Water costs, feed, veterinary care, and all the equipment and supply costs that come with owning and upkeep to maintain a healthy horse. It can add up to thousands of dollars a year. While owning a horse can be expensive, horse owners will tell you, it’s worth it. The relationship and companionship that horse owners have with their horses are very special. As the late-President Ronald Reagan is famously noted for saying, “…there’s nothing better for the inside of a man (or a woman) than the outside of a horse.”
While the new four-foot-high, 5-line-barbed-wire fencing installed along a part of the property is a welcome improvement and make it at least nominally more difficult to access the property illegally with bad intent, it is not security fencing, which would be prohibitively expensive even for LADWP. The newly added sections of fencing, added to other measures such as providing electrical power to the property, added lighting and security cameras, will all add to the security and safety of the horses. Even so, with all these changes, there are no guarantees that incidents will not occur again. The club should talk to other equestrian facilities for more ideas, which might include, for example, a neighborhood watch program. If you’d like to donate to the club’s improvement fund or find out more information on the Big Pine Saddle Club, visit their website at: http://www.bpsaddleclub.com/.