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County leaders continue look back at 2012

January 4, 2013

In offering recent year-end reviews of 2012 county operations, more than a dozen department heads and elected officials spotlighted accomplishments that ranged from seemingly small victories to major realignments to simply continuing to deliver a high level of services and programs in the face of tight budgets.
Their reports were delivered during the last Board of Supervisors meeting of 2012, when they discussed what they said were the “highlights” of the year in their departments.
The following is a continued, brief summation of those comments (note: not all department heads or elected officials made an end-of-the-year presentation).
The county’s Public Works Department had “a pretty good year,” as it took care of routine tasks and chores and completed several large paving projects, said Interim Public Works Director Doug Wilson. The biggest accomplishment of the year, however, was hiring a permanent Deputy Public Works Director (Jim Tatum). Having that position filled full-time will be “critical to operations” of the entire department moving forward, he said.
Happy he “survived the year” and did not land “on the front page of the newspaper” was Environmental Health Director Marvin Moskowitz. The department’s biggest accomplishment was getting all of the county’s solid waste sites properly permitted and in compliance with all state regulations, Moskowitz said, which is something that hasn’t been done since 2003.
A new website for the Environmental Health Department is providing public information on a variety of topics, and contains forms and applications that are helping to streamline some permit applications made by the public, he said. The department has been working to get the county prepared for the recently passed state law that allows “cottage food production,” Moskowitz said, and has been working to inform the public and community groups about the details of the law, which could open up opportunities for small-scale, local food production.
The Inyo County Free Library System was able to keep all its libraries open and serving the public and also made progress expanding its online book catalog, said Director Nancy Masters. The system, which has six libraries, makes about 100,000 books available to the public, Masters noted. In 2012, more than 9,000 titles were added to the online catalog, which brought the total number of titles in the online catalog to about 70,000. The library website also features new additions to the library collection.
In the coming year, automation efforts will get a substantial boost, thanks to a $100,000 donation (passed through the Friends of the Library), with 75 percent of the funds going to various, ongoing automation projects. “It’s like a dream come true,” said Masters, since the funding will allow the library to dedicate current staff, volunteers and part-time staff solely to automation tasks. The rest of the behest will be used to provide a facelift and upgrades to the courtyard at the Bishop Branch Library, which will tie in nicely with the city’s work to improve Warren Street.
The Eastern California Museum installed the successful exhibit, “Personal Responsibility: The Camp Photography of Toyo Miyatake,” which was featured in stories in the Los Angeles Times, Rafu Shimpo and other publications, noted Museum Director Jon Klusmire. A grant from the Metabolic Studio, a direct charitable activity of the Annenberg Foundation, allowed the museum to digitize and document about 9,000 photos from its collection of 29,000 images. A grant from the U.S. Forest Service allowed the museum to digitize about 1,300 photos and duplicate about 15 linear feet of documents that make up the Inyo National Forest Supervisor’s historic archives, he added. Both projects made a wider selection of the museum’s photos and documents more accessible to the public, he noted. The non-profit Friends of the Eastern California Museum once again supplied critical financial support to the museum, in addition to hosting numerous events and activities, he added.
The Planning Department worked on a wide variety of projects and issues in 2012, said Planning Director Josh Hart. The department took the lead in the county’s role on work to revise the U.S. National Forest’s National Planning Rule by working with the Inyo National Forest, which is one of the first forests in the nation to take up the task of updating the Planning Rule, Hart said. The department also represented the county’s interests in the process that lead to a new Death Valley National Park Backcountry Wilderness Plan. The department also worked with Crystal Geyser to complete a draft and final Environmental Impact Report on the company’s planned expansion on its Cabin Bar Ranch property.
Working with Southern California Edison, the department completed an Energy Action Plan, which outlines potential for saving energy and cutting costs in county buildings and operations. “The cost savings should be felt for years,” Hart said. Planners also completed a set of guidelines that could be used to guide large-scale solar developments, and completed a preliminary draft of updates to the county Zoning Code and General Plan, Hart said.
Inyo/Mono Farm Advisor Dustin Blakey said 2012 was a “fantastic” year for Inyo County’s 4-H programs. About 220 youth and 38 volunteer adults participated in 4-H in 2012, with highlights being the Junior Livestock Auction and entries in the Tri-County Fair. A Science Day was also quite successful, he added. The Master Gardener Program continues to grow, Blakey said, and the gardeners held 20 workshops in 2012, and worked with the community gardens and gardeners throughout the county, he noted.
County Counsel Randy Keller had a simple summation of how his office helped all the county departments that rely on it for legal advice. He said there were times when the County Counsel’s Office helped by getting involved, but sometimes it helped by staying away.
The three outgoing Inyo County Supervisors took the opportunity to thank the county’s staff.
Second District Supervisor Susan Cash, addressing department heads and staff, said, “It’s been a privilege – I’m proud of every one of you. Thank you.”
Fourth District Supervisor Marty Fortney said county staff does “a remarkably good job,” and is “dedicated to the folks of Inyo County. You care … thank you.”
Fifth District Supervisor Richard Cervantes said that “the public is well-served by department heads and staff … you do a great job … thanks.”

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