Three of the five Mono County supervisors leave at the end of the year, but not without making changes to the region that will likely be felt for generations
Tuesday, Dec. 18 was the last day at the dais for three of Mono County’s five county supervisors—Vikki Magee Bauer, Duane “Hap” Hazard and Tim Hansen—but it was not the end of their influence on the local region.
Far from it.
Due to Bauer and Hazard in particular, the Eastern Sierra has been pushed and cajoled into a more modern world than it was before the two took office eight years ago.
Largely due to Bauer’s efforts, the area now has a true, regional mass transit system, one that ties the east side of the Sierra to the west and ties the region together in other transit-related ways as well.
Due in large part to Hazard’s efforts, the under-construction Digital 395 project is poised to transform the Eastside in ways as profound—yet little understood—as the Los Angeles aqueduct did more than 100 years ago.
Hansen, while in office only two years, fought for—and won—more economic development for his North County district. Under his care, the county’s relationship with the Marine Warfare Training base near Bridgeport improved, Bridgeport got a new Main Street, and roads and facilities across the area were upgraded.
Vikki Bauer, District 3 (June Lake, Mammoth Lakes, Lee Vining (at times))
As a long time business owner in June Lake, Mono County District 3 Supervisor Vikki Bauer understood better than some how critical it was to the “gateway” communities of June Lake and Lee Vining that the road over Tioga Pass stayed open as late as possible and opened as early in the season as possible.
When she joined the board of supervisors eight years ago, relationships between Yosemite National Park and the Eastern Sierra’s gateway communities and government agencies were frosty at best; icy at worst.
But Bauer helped to change that. Both sides of the Sierra communicate regularly and the park service works hand-in-hand with local communities, attempting to keep the road open as long as safely possible.
Bauer was also instrumental in bringing public transit from the Westside of the Sierra to the more sparsely traveled Eastside, and today, during the summer season, riders can use public transportation between Mammoth Lakes and the park. Public transportation outside of Mammoth Lakes was sparse when Bauer started—when she left, the Eastern Sierra had a robust county and regional public transportation system, due in part to her efforts in this area.
“Vikki has been a tireless advocate for transit and an invaluable member of Eastern Sierra Transit Authority (ESTA) Board of Directors and Yosemite Area Transit System (YART), and helped to coordinate services between the two agencies,” said her fellow board members during last week’s Tuesday meeting as they honored the out-going supervisors.
She was also the board’s Washington, D.C., representative. For six years, she actively lobbied and worked with Senator Barbara Boxer to get more federal funding for transit and roads.
“I knew a new transportation bill was in the works and kept explaining to them that they needed to fund their own stuff better,” Bauer said. “Low and behold, some of my recommendations were the basis for what will be our new funding streams (for local transit). This will be my biggest legacy—the roads and transit in Mono County should be well funded into the future now.”
Bauer also chaired multiple public hearings on the wilderness bill sponsored by Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Santa Clarita) and Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) that were attended by hundreds of citizens. She also served on ESTA, Emergency Services Council, Collaborative Planning Team, Eastern Sierra Community College Committee, Mammoth Lakes Chamber of Commerce, Mammoth Mountain Ski Area Liaison Committee, National Association of Counties, YARTS, and many other committees and organizations. She worked on June Lake land-use policy issues, and she helped form and actively participated in the June Lake Coalition.
Bauer has been a resident of Mono County since graduating from college. She has owned and operated her family’s motel on Gull Lake for 22 years. She first served as Mono County Supervisor for District 3 in 2005 and was re-elected in 2008.
Duane ‘Hap” Hazard, District 2 (Crowley Lake, Swall Meadows Sunny Slopes, Paradise, Chalfant, Benton, Hammil Valley)
Besides his name, Duane “Hap” Hazard is probably best known for his endless energy. Traveling to and from Sacramento multiple times each month for meetings with the state’s association of counties and another state association of small, rural counties, holding endless office hours in every community in his far-flung district, the retired former sheriff’s deputy and paramedic seemed to be everywhere at once.
He was also instrumental—perhaps indispensable—in bringing the Digital 395 project to the Eastern Sierra—a massive high speed broadband fiber project that will link the Eastern Sierra to both Southern California and Nevada. It will transform the Eastside in ways still unforeseen, giving the small rural area the broadband capacity of the world’s greatest cities.
The project will allow for research, development, telecommuting, digital medicine, and much, much more. It will allow businesses and people that love the mountain lifestyle to relocate and live here. It will allow four-year universities and research centers to work here. It will allow, in fact, almost anything possible that the digital world has to offer—if the political will accompanies such capabilities.
Hazard was also known for his blunt, sometime contentious comments. He didn’t mince words, he rarely backed down, and along the way, he sometimes raised a few eyebrows because of it.
“You’re going to look like Santa Claus when I get done,” he said recently, to another supervisor, during budget hearings that would determine how much money non-government groups like AYSO got. “I’m not going to back off. You need to raise more money.”
But Hazard was effective. When he was presented with a problem, be it cell-service failings in his district or bringing the county into the modern digital world, he threw himself into the effort—and most often, he got results.
Hazard served on the Airport Land Use Commission, California State Association of Counties, Collaborative Planning Team, Emergency Services Council, Inyo Mono Area Agency on Aging, Mono County Senior Citizens Program, Local Transportation Commission, Regional Council of Rural Counties, Solid Waste Task Force, Town-County Liaison Committee, and many others. He was instrumental in the installation of signs at the county line saying that Mono County is “Where We Honor Veterans,” and he worked to provide building permit fee exemptions for veterans.
Like Bauer, he was a key player in the bipartisan wilderness bill sponsored by McKeon and Boxer.
Hazard has been a resident of Mono County since November 1976 and started serving the residents of Mono County as a paramedic in Mammoth Lakes. Hazard left the paramedic unit in 1978 to join the county sheriff’s department, where he worked until 2004 when he retired to run for office.
Hazard first took office in 2005, and was re-elected in 2008.
Tim Hansen, District 4 (Lee Vining, Bridgeport, Walker, Coleville, Antelope Valley)
In his short two years on the board, Hansen grew more comfortable in a suit instead of his work shirt than he probably wished.
Agree with Hansen or not —and many did not—he earned a reputation for integrity and common sense, less concerned with politics than the common man and woman he represented.
He was known for his blunt and quotable comments, his fierce defense of everything North County, and his equally fierce opposition to everything he believed would hurt the quality of life in his district.
“I said before and I’ll say again, if it comes to cutting services to our seniors, or subsidizing air service, I won’t cut our seniors out,” he said during the fight over air service subsidies. “They’ve been lifelong citizens of this country. They don’t deserve to get cut out of what they have earned.”
When another constituent faced a possible loss of a sheep-grazing permit due to fears that nearby endangered Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep might catch fatal diseases from domestic sheep, he had a hard time containing his frustration.
“We’ve got a Rover on Mars and no one can prove who’s carrying the disease,” he said. “And now we’ve got a livelihood and a culture that’s being trashed.”
He was a vocal defender of the United States military and the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center. When there was a complaint of helicopter noise, he would say, in classic Hansen style, “I would rather hear helicopters than barking dogs.” In the end, though, he helped the communities in North County and the county as a whole understand the importance of military training opportunities offered in Mono County, as well as the important roles of the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center.
“Tim could always be counted on to say what he thought,” said Supervisor Byng Hunt at Tuesday’s meeting.
Hansen served on the Central Nevada Regional Water Authority, Conway Ranch Task Force, Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District, Mono County Senior Citizens Program, Local Transportation Commission, Regional Council of Rural Counties, Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System, and was a former member of Mono Basin RPAC.
Hansen was also active in many local road and intersection improvements, transit service extensions, bus stops and regional four-lane improvement projects, and was a proponent for streetscape improvements along the U.S. 395 corridor, including the Bridgeport Main Street Revitalization project.
Hansen grew up on the north shore of Mono Lake, where his grandfather harvested Mono Lake salts on his family property, and where he and his wife have lived for the last 30 years.
He became a full time resident after being discharged from the U.S. Army in 1969, and has owned High Sierra Brine Shrimp Co. for the past 20 years.
Hansen took office on Nov. 23, 2010, filling in the remainder of a four-year term vacated when former Supervisor Bill Reid died early in his term.