February 2012 - Sierra Scoop Column

With the holidays just behind us (I am writing this column in early January) not a lot has happened in Mono County as things do slow up around the holidays. Here’s some of what did occur recently.

Mono County attempting to be proactive, hired Quincy Engineering to look at the condition of all bridges in Mono County and report on their potential repairs and/or replacements. Bridges that are of the highest priority due to their shape are: Topaz Lane, Cunningham Lane, Rock Creek Road and Green Lakes Road. However, after looking at 23 County owned bridges, the findings showed that overall the bridges are in good to fair condition with nothing needing immediate attention.

While several employment contracts for at-will employees have come before the board, and more are on route, all of them seem to be deficient according to Supervisor Johnson. As he has stated before, the contract phrasing “only allows for increases in salary, never a decrease”. Johnson, a former County at-will employee, has brought this up time and time again but it seems that no one, not even the other Board members, are listening. Johnson has voted NO on these contracts, not that he has a problem with the employee, just the fact that the County continually boxes themselves into the same corner. The continual practice of not allowing any decrease in salaries especially in our tough financial times, by our Board of Supervisor’s, raises many questions, all without solid answers. When will our elected officials start taking a fresh look at how government should be run? When will they remember that they are spending The Public’s money and that the way things worked in the past are not how they should be in the future? Times have changed and so should government!

The Board of Supervisors about 10 months ago, voted to hold their 3rd board meeting of the month in the County offices in Mammoth. They agreed at that time to hold a “test period” of one year and see how well the public is served by these meetings in South County.  In December the Board once again discussed on whether they should continue these meetings in Mammoth. Supervisor Hunt (whose district is in Mammoth) clearly stated that while he believes that these meetings should continue, that he is also committed to maintaining the county seat in Bridgeport. Supervisor Hansen stated that he does not agree that Mammoth is not being served if this meeting is not held down there. He further does not think any of the tracking data supports this meeting. In the end, another year was agreed upon by a vote of 3 YES’s (Johnson, Bauer and Hunt) and 2 NO’s (Hansen and Hazard).

To see topics that are being debated in our County, visit www.monocounty.ca.gov and click on “Board of Supervisors Agenda”. Contact your Supervisor, they work for you! District 1, Larry Johnson, ljohnston@mono.ca.gov. District 2, Hap Hazard, hap04@msn.com. District 3, Vikki Bauer, vbauer@mono.ca.gov. District 4, Tim Hansen, thansen@mono.ca.gov. District 5, Bing Hunt, bhunt@mono.ca.gov.


Additional News...

In the Antelope Valley, one recent topic that seems to be getting its fair share of discussion, and at times miss-information, is this year’s construction project on Highway 395 at “High Point”. The purpose of this project is to realign the High Point Curve located on the western side of Topaz Lake in order to make the road safer for everyone.

This project was first brought to the public’s attention a few years ago during the early design stage. It was brought before the Antelope Valley Regional Advisory Committee (RPAC) and other groups such as the Chamber of Commerce. Input was taken over the past couple of years by CalTrans to come up with the current approved design.

This project is expected to begin in April with the installation of construction signs and stormwater protection. The month of May will be the time for major earthwork (which includes night work and night-time highway closure) and the start of constructing retaining walls. June through September will be the construction of retaining walls, installing anchored mesh on slopes to reduce rocks and realigning the highway. The project is expected to be completed in October with the installation of guardrails, paving and final cleanup.

In order to complete the major earthwork as quickly as possible, CalTrans had originally proposed to completely close the highway to all traffic in early May for 24 hours per day for 8 days. However, after receiving input from the local RPACs, Chamber of Commerce’s and Businesses, CalTrans agreed to close the highway only at night from 7 pm to 7 am, including weekends, for up to an estimated 14 days. During these 14 days (7 am – 7 pm) all traffic will be controlled with 20 minute delays.

“Closed at night to all traffic” means that NO vehicles can pass through the project from 7 pm to 7 am during this night time closure period. If possible, but not guaranteed, emergency vehicles will be allowed to pass upon approval of the Resident Engineer.

CalTrans has committed to opening Monitor Pass (Highway 89) to passenger vehicle traffic by May 1, weather permitting, and keeping it open especially during this night time closure period. A detour between Holbrook Junction (395 & 208) and Bridgeport (182) will be available during the night time closures.

Once the “Night Time Closure” is completed (~14 days in May), the highway will be open to all passenger vehicle traffic but subject to 20 minute delays for the remainder of the construction period (May - October). Residents of Antelope Valley should plan on this delay both leaving and returning to the valley. Signs indicating the construction and delays will remain at Holbrook Junction (north of Topaz Lake) and south of Bridgeport for the duration of construction project.

While the economic effects on local businesses of this construction project are unknown at this time, businesses are well advised to contact CalTrans, 760-872-5250, with any and all questions and concerns.

To see topics that are being debated in our County, visit www.monocounty.ca.gov and click on “Board of Supervisors Agenda”. Contact your Supervisor, they work for you! District 1, Larry Johnson, ljohnston@mono.ca.gov. District 2, Hap Hazard, hap04@msn.com. District 3, Vikki Bauer, vbauer@mono.ca.gov. District 4, Tim Hansen, thansen@mono.ca.gov. District 5, Bing Hunt, bhunt@mono.ca.gov.