Last Thursday night, new officers were sworn in to serve on the board of the Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce at the annual installation dinner. It was a fun-filled evening with more than 64 local business owners and visitors in attendance, some from as far away as Death Valley, Bishop and Ridgecrest.
The event was hosted by Jaque and Art Hickman at the Boulder Creek RV Park. With a hosted bar, members and guests were treated to a wonderful dinner which included delicious baby back ribs, warm potato salad and beans with bacon, donated and prepared by Dave Haas with the assistance of the Boulder Creek RV Park staff. A shrimp cocktail salad, cheese and bread were provided by Erick Schat’s Bakkerÿ , and delicious bread pudding from the Merry-Go-Round Restaurant were also served. While the dinner and open bar were free, more than $1,000 in donations were collected to support the Chamber.
The guest speaker for the evening was Clifford Beddingfield, the local outreach coordinator with Praxis Associates based in Bishop. Beddingfield is working on the Digital 395 Middle Mile Project under the California Broadband Cooperative. He gave a brief overview of the $101 million project and the timeline for completion, which is expected to bring high-speed broadband to Inyo County by the end of July of 2013. In response to concerns from the audience on whether or not outside contractors will be brought in to do the work, he explained the project is obligated to use local contractors experienced in a number of areas, mostly trenching and excavation. He noted that there is a requirement to use laborers from the local area as well, and that job training will be provided.
According to Beddingfield the new 583-mile, fiber network will provide a 10 gigabyte high capacity fiber optic middle mile and back haul route which will essentially follow the U.S. Route 395 highway and will extend from Barstow to Reno, Nev. The project’s proposed service area encompasses 36 communities (including the Town of Benton off U.S. Route 6), six Indian reservations and two military bases. Unused, high-capacity fiber will be available to the region’s last mile providers such as Lone Pine TV, Suddenlink Communications in Bishop, NPG Cable in Mammoth and others to expand or enhance service to households and businesses.
Dr. Ben Jones was recognized as the Chamber’s Volunteer of the Year for his work over the past 30-plus years making the Wild Wild West Marathon a success. Each year Jones makes sure that the trail the runners use is marked for their safety. He has walked the trail every year for 34 years.
Chamber CEO Kathleen New offered the Chamber’s sincere thanks to David Blacker, executive director of the Death Valley Natural History Association, for serving as the board chairman for the past year. New noted that his dedication was especially noteworthy as he had to drive from Death Valley to Lone Pine for board meetings and to attend Chamber events.
The new Board of Directors are Chairman Chris Ellis, manager of the Coso Geo Thermal Operating Company; Vice-Chairman Matt Kingsley of Rio Tinto; Secretary Jeff Mullenhour of the Mt. Whitney Funeral Home; Treasurer Marian Seiter, manager of Alta One Bank; Directors Kathi Hall, owner of the Mt. Whitney Restaurant, and Paul Payne, former County Supervisor for Lone Pine, and Past President Dave Blacker.