Community support heading for Walker-Coleville

Register Staff
Staff Writer

A check presentation ceremony of more than $2,800 took place Feb. 17, benefitting those affected by the Nov. 17, 2020, Mountain View Fire, which devastated the area of Walker-Coleville near the Nevada border near Topaz Lake in the Eastern Sierra.
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power provided the Bishop Lions Club with a $1,000 community sponsorship to support victims from the Mountain View Fire.
Under LADWP Aqueduct Manager Adam Perez’s leadership, LADWP employees further supported the small communities by raising an additional $1,800.
The Bishop Lions, spurred by the urgent request from Chief Joe Dell of the Bishop Fire Department for gift cards so the victims of the wildfire could shop in nearby Minden-Gardnerville, Nevada, and Carson City, Nevada, for much-needed paper supplies as well as food and other necessities, began an outreach program to assist.
Meanwhile the Antelope Valley Lions Club from the immediate Walker area, aided by the Carson City Lions Club, put in a request to Lions Club International Foundation at Lions headquarters in Chicago. The request was for immediate monetary support to fund disaster relief for the estimated 800 displaced residents who had to flee in the face of the firestorm.
That fire destroyed an initially estimated 80 structures (later revised by officials to 90 with for of those owned by Antelope-Valley Lions Club members) including the local Toiyabe Indian Health Project Clinic, which served indigenous medical clients as well as the local population. It was the most destructive fire in the history of Mono County.
Lions Club International Foundation responded with a $10,000 grant through the Antelope Valley Lions for much-needed food and supplies. The nearby Mammoth Lakes Lions added $8,700 to the Antelope Valley Lions through its generosity and speedy delivery of cash for locals to purchase what they’d lost in fleeing the fire. From the north the Carson City Lions brought more support.
In mid-January the Bishop Lions purchased and delivered more than $2,500 in paper goods from Grocery Outlet in Bishop, the bulk of which was toilet paper and paper towels, paper plates and plastic utensils, and bottles and containers of anti-bacterial sprays and wipes, along with candy canes and boxes of bandages.
Jen Baker, principal coordinator of collection and distribution through the Walker-Coleville Community Center, and her assistants broke down and cried when the supplies arrived.
Meanwhile the Antelope Valley Lions food distribution program was in full mode adjacent to the community center, enhanced by a truckload of bread from Schat’s Bakkery in Bishop and other donated foodstuffs, part of the ongoing food supply chain provided by businesses in the Eastern Sierra.
Added to that, word went out through the Lions and their District 4-L1 club network that Mammoth Lakes and Carson City and Bishop were helping with what they could afford, such that the Lone Pine Lions Club mailed its check for $500 to the Antelope Valley Lions, and days later the Ridgecrest Lions sent $1,000 for aid.
The Bishop club added some much-needed furniture in one of its deliveries made in late January.
Again, encouraged by the response to the initial cry for gift cards and food and supplies, the Bishop Lions contacted the Community and Public Affairs department of LADWP in Los Angeles.
Jessica Johnson, from LADWP’s Community Affairs, contacted Adam Perez, Aqueduct manager in the Bishop LADWP office, Elsa Jimenez, property manager for the Aqueduct, and Forest “Frosty” Matheiu, Construction and Maintenance supervisor for LADWP, who then coordinated a Bishop-Owens Valley LADWP employee fund drive, which raised more than $1,800. That amount combined with the $1,000 in LADWP community sponsorship was presented this week to the Bishop Lions who will forward the sum to the Antelope Valley Lions.
The giant donation check in the amount of $2,800 to the Bishop Lions Club was made in LADWP’s Independence paint shop and used for the presentation.
“We are happy to partner with the Bishop Lions Club,” Perez said. “As members of the community, our Aqueduct employees immediately stepped up to help their neighbors from the nearby towns who were affected by the Mountain View Fire in November.”
Antelope Valley Lions President Dave Murray indicates a work party to clear and remove some of the destroyed building sites may be on his Lion member and community volunteer workforce schedule after the burned-out buildings and foundations are inspected by the appropriate state and Mono County building and safety departments, which then certify the locations for clearing.
The need remains in Walker-Coleville for more money and supplies even as some of the impacted families are able to move from hotels and motels in the Carson City-Topaz area, and find shelter with friends and neighbors nearby.
Those families lost everything as they rushed to escape the flames fiercely driven by the firestorm. Lucky to escape, they now face the grim task of attempting to recover whatever items they can that didn’t burn, then turn to rebuilding – some without insurance, and many without the resources to demolish and start over.
The plight of the Toiyabe Indian Health Project Clinic and its replacement on site or in Bridgeport is a difficult issue. The majority of clients were from the Walker-Coleville area and Bridgeport has relatively few clients, and is some 40 miles south on U.S. Highway 395, which is frequently closed due to weather or other conditions, making access from the fire zone impossible.