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Life out of chaos: A story of bravery in face of disaster

November 26, 2010

It was the fireball above the dark highway that first caught John Williamson’s eye that hot summer night of Aug. 9. A veteran Bishop Fire Department volunteer, he was off duty, headed from his girlfriend Amy Steinwand’s home in Big Pine to his home in Bishop.

He stared in horror at the seething red mass and turned to Steinwand, who was driving. “Go,” he said. “Go, go, go.”

They shot up the highway, flying past cars and trucks, headed toward the inferno.

Difference Makers: Mammoth, Eastside

November 26, 2010

In the lap of constantly moving tectonic plates, amid volcanic, pine strewn mountains, Mammoth is a singular place.

Its people match the granite that rises high above the town. Strong, generally selfless souls who think nothing of moving mountains to help someone who has been injured, has an illness or has lost their home.

Mammoth and the Eastern Sierra are peopled by individuals with outsized hearts.

Look at the Search and Rescue team: Its members will drop whatever they’re doing to head out into difficult terrain in all kinds of weather to rescue those who are lost or injured.

Bishop man spends night in ravine after hiking companions leave him alone

November 26, 2010

In an incident that easily could have turned tragic, a 47-year-old Bishop man spent Saturday night alone and without a sleeping bag, in a steep ravine below White Mountain, after two hiking companions abandoned him there.

The hiking companions then continued their hike up to the old, restored cabins at the Champion Sparkplug Mine, where they spent the night – with sleeping bags and under a roof.

Bishop resident Patrick Toon was hiking in on the trail to the mine Saturday when he became separated from his group, according to Mono County Sheriff’s Deputy Pete De George.

Everything is open. Give Thanks

November 26, 2010

Welcome. Everything’s open.

For the first Thanksgiving weekend since 2004, Mammoth Mountain Ski Area is open from Eagle Express and Cloud Nine Express, all the way over to Outpost 14.

“This,” said ski area spokesman Dan Hansen, “is huge for us.”

“It’s been an amazing early-season snowfall. Mother Nature has been very good to us.”

Summerland man dies in Bluffs area accident

November 24, 2010

The Mammoth Lakes Police Department is investigating the circumstances of a single vehicle, roll-over traffic collision resulting in the death of a 30-year-old resident of Summerland, Calif.

On Tuesday, November 23, the police were notified of a vehicle that was off the roadway in the vicinity of Le Verne and Fir Streets in the Bluffs area of Mammoth Lakes. Officers located a Toyota Tacoma on its side approximately 100 feet down an embankment.

Fatality in Mammoth

November 24, 2010

Law enforcement officials confirmed a fatality in Mammoth Tuesday, but did not release any other information, pending notification of kin and an on-going investigation.

Updates will be posted as soon as they are available.

The fatality was storm related, other sources said.

A rescue, another storm, record cold coming; what a week!

November 22, 2010

The storms of this past weekend came with some drama, when a Bishop man in his forties had to be rescued from a ravine where he had been injured during a fall, below the Campion Sparkplug Mine/ Jeffrey Canyon area in the White Mountains Sunday.

According to a Mono County Search and Rescue Team member, who wished to remain anonymous, the rescue took nine hours due to the steep and snow-slippery and terrain. A break in the weather did cooperate with the rescuers, however, and the man was eventually transported to Northern Inyo Hospital will non-life-threatening injuries.

An appreciation of a Mammoth snowy Sunday

November 21, 2010

The snowplows plowed. The tow trucks towed. Police investigators investigated. The skiers skied, the snowboarders rode, the sledders sledded, the snowshoers showeshoed and it was a perfect day.

Last Sunday, it was good to hear the familiar voice of Doug Howell and his snow removal team from Mammoth Firewood come crackling across the scanner. It was like an old shoe.

"Careful coming around that bend, it's a blind corner."

"There's a car parked in the middle of the road!"

"Just about got Canyon cleaned up. Headed to Lakeview."

Part II of big storm in full swing! Wind hits 107 mph

November 19, 2010

(Updated 9 a.m. Sunday) The other shoe of the Big Storm dropped on Mammoth Saturday night and Sunday.

After a lull in the action on Saturday afternoon, the second wave of the storm kicked into high gear overnight, starting at about 10 p.m. Saturday and running into Sunday. At the top of Mammoth Mountain, a wind gust of 107 miles an hour was recorded at 4 a.m. Sunday

By 8 a.m. Sunday, the wind had calmed to an average wind speed of 32 miles an hour and a foot and a half of new snow was on the ground at the Sesame Snow Study Site, near the Main Lodge at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area.

(Corrected) What's Up, Up Here for Nov. 19

November 19, 2010

Note: The What's Up item about the Thompsons that ran in Friday's paper has been corrected in this version.

That was the crew of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” up on Mammoth Mountain Saturday, which took marketing whiz Joani Lynch a bit by surprise, but she (Joani) is fast on her feet. Ellen didn’t show, but “Amy” (the dorky on-camera cohort in the blue biz suit) came up for 15 hours of taping. The bit aired Wednesday. For two minutes. “Hollywood’s rough,” said Joani. ...

Specter of bankruptcy: The lights won't go out

November 19, 2010

If and when the Town of Mammoth Lakes loses its appeal of the $30 million Hot Creek litigation against it, Mammoth could be thrown into a Chapter 9 bankruptcy whose effects could last many years.

But citizens who are anticipating the immediate effects of such a predicament are unlikely to notice anything different at all.

“The notion that the town would be shut down because of bankruptcy is a layman’s misunderstanding of how it actually works,” said one of the participants in the court battle, who preferred anonymity over concerns in interfering with the ruling.

Daycare provider arraigned on more counts of child sexual abuse

November 17, 2010

Mammoth daycare provider Lupe Almaguer, who was arrested in early October on child sexual abuse allegations, was arraigned Nov. 16 in Bridgeport on two additional "criminal complaints" of child sexual abuse, bringing the total number to four complaints, according to Wade McCammond, Mono County District Attorney's chief investigator.

Almageur was present for the arraignment, McCammond said.

First big winter storm heads to Mammoth this weekend

November 16, 2010

The first big storm of the winter is expected to hit Mammoth and Mono County late this week, according to the Reno office of the National Weather Service.

As much as several feet of snow could fall on the Sierra crest with several inches on valley floors, beginning Friday and intensifying over the course of the weekend.

Battle lines drawn between cattle, grouse, in Bodie Hills

November 16, 2010

Numbers don't lie. Mammoth Mountain had a big Opening Weekend

November 16, 2010

All it took was decent snow cover, blue skies, a federal holiday and ... Voila! Mammoth Mountain recorded nearly 10,000 skier visits onto Mammoth Mountain Ski Area last weekend in its 2010-11 season opening.

According to ski hill officials, 2,152 there were 2,152 visits on Thursday, Opening Day. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, those numbers hit 2,293, 3,101 and 2,154.

The ski visits ran 1,367 ahead of last season's Opening Weekend.

Arrested daycare provider goes to court Nov. 16

November 13, 2010

Daycare provider Lupe Almaguer, arrested for alleged child sexual abuse Oct. 5, is scheduled to appear in court in Bridgeport at 10:30 a.m, Nov. 16 for a pre-trial status conference, according to court documents.

The 56-year-old Almaguer was arrested on several charges of sexual abuse against children once in his care who are now adults, with bail set at $500,000.

He has been in the Mono County Jail ever since, and has been prohibited from contact with any alleged victims.

Public defender Dave Hammond will represent Almaguer.

What's Up, Up Here for Nov. 12

November 12, 2010

Over in the Minaret Village Mall, they’ve got a resident squirrel, looking to score some feed from Tailwaggers and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. So enticing are the scents that the squirrel, caught in a wildlife trap and carted many, many miles away to a deep woods, found its way back in one day to forage again. ...

Hey is that Tess Adler with Brian Schuldt of the Felici Trio on the February page from the Friends of the Library 2011 calendar? Do you recognize anyone else? Maybe Edyth Irvine and Stella Anderson at a tea party. ...

Mammoth Mountain has a grand opening

November 12, 2010

Woolly wore a tuxedo. Everyone else wore smiles.

Mammoth Mountain Ski Area opened its 2010 season on Thursday and, as a bonus, the ski area unzipped the top at Cornice Bowl, as well as Center Bowl under Facelift Express/Chair 3.

You could hear the woo-hoos, hollers, whistles and oh-yeahs all over, from the bottom at Broadway Express to the top at Cornice Bowl.

At liftoff, skiers and boarders had bluebird skies with a temperature of 21 degrees at Main Lodge and 15 degrees at the top of the 11,059 ski hill.

Mammoth Mountain to open Cornice Bowl on Thursday

November 10, 2010

It's shaping up to be a terrific Opening Day at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, with plenty of snow, four lifts and ... the gondola to the top!

With last Sunday's blanket of snow, along with a dusting on Tuesday night, the ski area announced it would open Cornice Bowl on Thursday's opening day – a bonus that practically no one anticipated.

Fatal accident on U.S. 395 claims young man

November 9, 2010

A 20-year-old Long Beach man died in a fluke accident just south of the the Mill Creek exit on U.S. 395 when his car hit a tree this past Saturday, Nov.6, at about 10:45 a.m.

According to the California Highway Patrol, Rafael Contreras was headed south on 395 in the easternmost lane, when for an unknown reason, his 1994 Honda veered onto the shoulder. He then overcorrected, travelled across both lanes to the west and travelled down the west shoulder embankment where he hit a large cottonwood tree on the side of the road.

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