Inyo County’s hometown newspaper is entering the holiday season, and looking to the future, with a new publisher at its helm.
Dion Agee of Crowley Lake was selected in mid-November by Horizon Publications to take over day-to-day operations of The Inyo Register, one of two newspapers owned in California by the corporation.
Agee replaced Carol Ross, who resigned as publisher in September in order to relocate out of state.
And while Agee may be new to the Register team, he is by no means a stranger to Inyo or Mono counties.
The son of longtime Mammoth natives and Lee Vining High School alums Dennis Agee and Jean Mower (Kopp), Agee was born in Bishop in 1967 – delivered by beloved country doctor and one of the Owens Valley’s newest nonagenarian, Dr. Bob Denton.
Agee grew up and attended schools in Benton and Mammoth, graduating from Mammoth High School in 1985. These formative years, during which time Agee competed on the Mammoth Mountain Ski Team and developed a love for the great outdoors, helped instill in Agee an abiding loyalty to the Eastern Sierra and its people.
“Being born and raised here creates a loyalty and a love for this area that motivates me to do more than just run a business,” Agee said. “I plan to meet with other business owners and leaders in our community to create partnerships and spawn ideas that could ultimately make Bishop an even better place to live and visit. I have traveled extensively, lived in many areas of the U.S. and have been blessed with so many amazing experiences. I bring the combination of these life experiences and my passion for the Eastern Sierra with me to this job and to the communities of Inyo County.”
Agee’s post-high school educational endeavors and career pursuits would take him on a circuitous route back home.
Following high school, Agee attended – and ski-raced for – San Diego State University, graduating with a B.A. in 1990.
For the next 23 years, he built a solid background in business management and customer service, including the seven years he spent with with Rossignol Ski Co., Inc. recruiting future U.S. Olympic athletes onto the Rossignol brand.
Other experiences included owning/operating a family-run sporting goods and furniture venture; six years in property management; three seasons as Mammoth Mountain Ski Area’s general manager of staff accommodations, opening his own retail store in Bend, Ore. which was voted best store in central Oregon in both 2006 and 2007; and working for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, including a memorable experience directing The Olympic Parent Program during the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Most recently, Agee was the Executive Director for the Village at Mammoth where he created and directed the marketing, events and management strategies.
Today, Agee is a newlywed poised for the next big chapter both personally and professionally.
On Nov. 10, 2012, Agee married Dierdre Shelton (owner of Mammoth Mail Delivery, in Mammoth Lakes). They now have a family of five: her son, Josh (20), her daughter, Jessie (18), and his daughter, Ella (5). That family swells when one includes Dierdre’s mother and stepfather, Cynthia and Michael Quinn, who live in Crowley; Agee’s mom, who also lives in Crowley; his brother, Derrick Agee, who owns Eakin’s Locksmith in Mammoth; and his grandfather, Harold Kopp, who lives in Bishop and worked at the Hot Creek Fish Hatchery for more than 30 years.
Agee’s deep roots in the area and his family values have made him a good fit among the staff of The Inyo Register.
According to that staff, it has been easy to place their confidence in Agee as the trusted leader who’s going to guide Inyo County’s 142-year-old newspaper of record into the future.
“Dion shares many of the same hometown values that the rest of us do. It’s reassuring that he knows this area and the people. Dion understands that while we have to operate as a business, because we are, we also provide a community service – a precious one. He’s committed to that, and it’s awesome,” said Editor Darcy Ellis, a 12-year employee of the Register. “And in the short time Dion has been here, he has demonstrated an enthusiasm, commitment and just plain common-sense approach that’s inspiring and engaging,”
Indeed, Agee said his vision for the Register is a paper that never stops striving to “keep our community connected and provide its citizens with local news and information,” while also remaining responsive to change and open to feedback.
“My role is to keep The Inyo Register connected to our community and ensure that our product is what this community wants. I will be out in the community, becoming a part of this community, making sure we are more than just a business. My staff and I are proud to take on the opportunity of serving this community and I am excited to join something with such a long and important tradition of reporting on and keeping tabs on the pulse of such a great community,” he said. “My goal as publisher is to run a successful business, by providing a product that meets the needs of its customers. My customers are the people that make up all the communities in Inyo County. In order to provide this product, my goal is to know my customers and understand what they want. I will be launching a ‘Meet the Publisher’ forum after the first of the year, where I will be inviting folks to come meet me and share your thoughts about what you want from your local paper.”
When not balancing the needs of his family, the Register and the community, Agee said he can be found fishing, hunting ducks or riding his road bike, mountain bike or his KTM 450 for some occasional throttle therapy.