Archive | January, 2015

Trophy Photos Doom Montello Child Rapist

Posted on 30 January 2015 by Howard Copelan



“A lot of perverts take trophies from their victims, it is fitting that these helped get him incarcerated”

anonymous prosecutor

centracom1501A Montello man will probably die in prison for raping a 13 year old mentally challenged girl.

Elko District Judge Nancy Porter sentenced John McReynolds to a minimum of 15 years in prison for the rape of a 13 year old girl at his Montello home last year. Porter specifically said she chose the sentence so that McReynolds now aged 72 would spend the rest of his life in prison.

“It’s this court’s hope and intent that you spend the rest of your life in prison,” Judge Porter said in McReynolds’ sentencing hearing Monday. Earlier McReynolds plead no contest to one charge of child rape and one charge of producing child pornography.

Porter chose the harshest sentence available to her ten years for the rape and five years for the pornography.

Although the pornography penalty was half that of the rape charge the fact that McReynolds took pictures while he was assaulting the girl proved to be the lynch pin of the case.

In fact according to an attorney close to the case McReynolds may not have even been charged at all if the photos had not been found.

“The victim was 13 at the time but with the mental age of a seven year old,” he said. “The is not what you call a reliable witness. And if it was only her word against his a prosecutor  may have been reluctant to put her through the trauma of testifying.”

However according to sources copse to the case during the very initial interview with her by deputies from the elko Sheriff’s department the victim mentioned something about a cel phone and how he pointed it at her. When the deputies went to interview him they saw the phone on the table, they asked McReynolds to take a look at it and they discovered over 20 photos of the assault.


“It really turned every one’s stomach,” said one veteran detective. “Nothing gets you used to something like that.”

The photos were enough to convince McReynolds to take the guilty plea being offered by the district attorney and forgo a trial. The photos may have also influenced Judge Porter to go with the harshest sentence and could be enough to ensure McReynolds never get parole before he dies.

“It is one thing to read the description of a crime,” said one attorney. “It is another to see the horror and fear that girl was living through.”ldaydinner

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School Board Bids Out Wendover Elem Again

Posted on 30 January 2015 by Howard Copelan



The Elko County School Board once again voted to put the new estimated $30,000 million  West Wendover Elementary school project out to bid in Tuesday’s meeting.

the often delayed and postponed project is still not out of the woods yet however.

Last year the project was also approved to be bid and was postponed when all the bids came in too high.

Background Information: The West Wendover Elementary School Project consists of construction of a new elementary school, including both on-site and off-site improvements. The bid will be structured with “Bid Alternates” to maximize the $30,000,000.00 set aside in the five-year Capital Improvement Plan for this project. The “Bid Alternates” need to be prioritized prior to going to bid. The bid alternates are as follows:

newtaxad1. Select Classroom Millwork $365,180.00

2. Mat Lifter in Gymnasium $7,500.00

3. Playground Equipment $200,000.00

4. Grass Play Field $211,200.00

5. Chain Link Fence East of Site Along Florence Way $30,800.00

6. Select Kitchen Equipment $115,000.00

The Board approved these bid alternates, and if the bids come in as projected we will be able to afford all of the alternates.  The kitchen equipment is the last alternate, as a result of the RFP we have out for outsourcing food service.  Once that decision is finalized this March we will then re-prioritize if necessary.

Some of the cutting included slightly shrinking classroom size from 960 square feet to 900 square feet, relocating the main campus thus shortening the access road and cutting out lockers in the new gymnasium.

centracom1501The new elementary was part of a $33 million project that also included a retro fit of the current elementary school into a middle school and a new road to alleviate traffic congestion and a ball field.

The school board had put the project at the top of the “pay as you go” agenda in which means construction on the new school could start in 2015 and be completed in 2016.

Pay-as-you-go school tax revenue through the end of fiscal year 2013 is estimated at just over $39 million, according to the five-year plan.

The need for a middle school in West Wendover was acknowledged almost since the West Wendover Jr/Sr high school opened in 1996.

However the project was sidelined in the late 1990’s when the price of gold collapsed and tax revenues in Elko County subsequently plunged. Talk of the new middle began again in the mid 2000’s but again the economy turned sour in the Great Recession and all building projects were put on indefinite hold.

refundhrIn the meantime West Wendover made due with stopped gap temporary trailers that now house about 50 percent of its elementary students.

The district had planned for a maximum of about $33 million to be spent for the school, Zander said. Bids came in at nearly $40 million.

Board members said they would not vote to accept the bid if it would mean postponing other projects in the district because of budgetary concerns.

The major cost cutting changes Zander said came not from the building itself but rather its location.

wrecaquaInstead of putting the new school in the middle of the property it was moved closer to the side thus shortening the access road the district committed to build. As any West Wendover parent can attest traffic is a major safety problem at the current elementary school.

According to the conceptual schedule, construction of the new West Wendover elementary school could begin as early as April 2015. The old elementary school building could then be bid for a renovation into a middle school. Construction on that project could begin in 2017.

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Stolen Casino Loot Pays For Tony Vera’s Escape?

Posted on 30 January 2015 by Howard Copelan



Is Tony Vera financing his life on the lam with some of the money he robbed from the Montego Bay last March?

Vera was a no show at his sentencing hearing two weeks ago in Elko and is still on the run from the law. But unlike most other fugitives Vera could be well heeled at least for the time being.

Vera and partner Elbert Woodson stole over $80,000 from the cage of the Montego Bay Casino last March. According to West Wendover Police some $81,000 was taken only $3,400 was actually recovered.

refundhrAccording to Vera most of the $75,000+ loot was taken by Lauren McCartney who was never charged in the robbery and was going to testify against both Vera and Woodson if the two decided to fight their charges in trial.

Vera made his charges in an exclusive interview with the High Desert Advocate shortly before he was captured by US Marshall at his girlfriend’s home in Tuscon. vera according to several of the man’s friendshas only a passing acquaintance with the truth.

“Vera was no good in wendover he was always up to no good n lying to everybody,” wrote a blogger identified as Martino on the High Desert Advocate’s webpage two weeks ago.

Also in the same interview Vera implicated his own mother in the robbery while insisting that he had not even been in Wendover during the crime.

According to police reports the robber was wearing either a mask or face paint during the crime so identification is impossible. However according to Vera’s court appointed attorney Gary Woodbury the body type of the robber is not close match for Vera.

centracom1501“It isn’t a close match because it isn’t me.” Vera said. “Like I said I was in Salt Lake when it went down. As soon as I heard about it me and another guy took off toward Wendover. I was on the overpass right at the road block the cops set up. I was the one who told Elbert about the road block that is why he turned off the freeway. I couldn’t have known about the road block if I was coming from Wendover could I? The only thing they have placing me in the casino at the time of the robbery is Lauren’s testimony. Why they believe her and not charge her I really don’t know.”

According to Woodbury, Vera is correct in the fact that much of the state’s case against his client is based on McCartney’s testimony as Woodson refused to cooperate with police against his alleged accomplice.

While Vera claims he was not at the casino during the robbery he did admit that he had been there a week before during a previous attempt to rob it.

wrecaqua“It didn’t work out,” Vera said. “The original plan was to go to the Bonneville Gardens Apartments but I guess Elbert decided to go to Salt Lake.”

Vera was the first man ever to rob a Wendover casino and make even a half way successful getaway.

Vera was set to be sentenced on January 13 in plea bargain arranged by Woodbury and Elko County District Attorney Mark Torvinen. According to Woodbury, Vera, would have pleaded guilty to one count of burglary and would have a received a six to ten year sentence.

Vera had been looking a life in prison sentence for being an habitual criminal.

“I don’t think anyone was really surprised he did not show up,” said Woodbury. “Frankly  I was surprised when he got such a low bail after showing that he was a flight risk.”


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Oops, Lost Drugs Found

Posted on 30 January 2015 by Howard Copelan



If you lose your bag of drugs and washed currency it is probably not a good idea to report it missing as Brian Lilly of Ogden found out Saturday night.

Lilly was in Wendover presumably for a weekend of fun when he discovered his back pack missing while playing at the Nugget Casino. The 46 year old Ogden man made a report to casino security and returned to the tables for more fun.

refundhrIn the meantime the back pack was discovered and casino staff opened it to find its owner identification. They found it and some other items— Lilly’s stash of illegal drugs. Security called West Wendover Police who upon arriving paged Lilly notifying him that his property had been found.


A happy Lilly did not remain happy when he saw it was police who greeted him and not casino staff. In addition to the drugs police also found a supply of just wash out dollar bills. The bills are used by counter fitters and illegal to even possess. He was booked into the Elko County Jail on combined $20,000 bail.ldaydinner

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Hastings Cutoff Runs Through Long Canyon

Posted on 30 January 2015 by Howard Copelan



The owner of a potash mine site is calling the approval by the BLM and other federal and state agencies unfair.

“One of the main reasons we were denied in Pilot Valley was because of the California Trail (CHT) – Hastings Cutoff,” wrote Foster Wilson in an e-mail to the High Desert Advocate.

“The Hastings Cutoff crosses the Long Canyon project in Elko County Nevada to the west of Pilot Valley and is designated a high-potential segment, just like at Pilot Valley.

H&R2Nevada BLM did not require any changes/amendments to the Resource Management Plan (RMP) however Utah BLM determined amendments were necessary for the RMP plans covering Pilot Valley and that was impossible because they claimed DoD would have to sign off on any amendments and DoD never responds.

Just a red herring to stop development

Attached is a part of the Long Canyon EIS talking about the trail. Elko BLM said they worked around the trail and they did not need a 10 mile (!) no-go-zone like BLM demanded just over the border!”

Last June the  Bureau of Land Management rejected an appeal by Mesa mining for the company’s proposed potash mine 10 miles north of Nevada/Utah border town.

newtaxadThe BLM cited land management concerns stemming from the California Historic Trail, a 168 year old wagon trail that transects the project. The rejection prohibits any development for at least 10 miles on either side of the trail.

“This restriction imposed on this large area by the BLM is unprecedented, unwarranted and, we believe, unlawful.  The BLM is tasked with finding multiple uses for the public land that they administer, the mandate being the best use of the land for the benefit of the most people;

This decision satisfies a narrowly focused special interest group.” said Foster Wilson, CEO of Mesa.

wrecaquaThe decision by the BLM was not unexpected.

Opposition to the project which would have created at least 40 very long term high paying jobs was spearheaded by the Oregon-California Trails Association which began a letter campaign against the proposed mine because of its proximity to the Hastings Cutoff, the “shortcut” taken by the infamous Donner Party as well as four other wagon trains in the mid 1800’s.

centraphoneThe Oregon-California Trails Association is the nation’s largest and most influential organization dedicated to the preservation and protection of overland emigrant trails and the emigrant experience.

“Mesa claims to have Utah Senators Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, along with Congressman Rob Bishop, leaning on the Bureau of Land Management to authorize the project to “reduce dependence on foreign producers,” “provide economic development,” and jobs, jobs, jobs!” Wrote OCTA Utah member Will Bagley, on the Association’s website this June. “Genesis tells the ancient tale of how Esau sold his birthright to his brother Jacob for a bowl of lentil stew. For thousands of years, this “mess of pottage” has represented something worthless that is foolishly traded for an immensely more valuable birthright.

ldaydinnerFor many of us, the playa at Pilot Peak is a national treasure, what the Park Service calls a place that is “fragile, sensitive, rare, irreplaceable, exemplary, unique, and vulnerable to adverse change.” The American past has an almost magical ability to disappear, but beneath the looming majesty of Pilot Peak, silent stretches of the Hastings Cutoff endure. The singular landscape of the Pilot Peak Playa should be a National Monument, not a strip mine.”

Wilson was more than a little taken aback by the vehement and biblical opposition to his modest project.

“I am all for preserving history,” said Foster Williams. “And I think this country has done a pretty good job. The main trail is marked over 2,000 miles across six states. Locally there is an Oregon Trail Interactive Center in Elko. But the Hastings cutoff was used by just four trains and is only note worthy because of the Donner Party.”

Foster Wilson

Foster Wilson

The Donner Party’s claim to infamy came several weeks after they took the Hasting Cutoff when against advice from experts attempted to cross California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains in late fall, got stuck in an early snow storm and resorted to cannibalism to survive the winter.

In the time leading up to the BLM’s decision, Foster said, the OCTA refused any kind of compromise with the proposed mine.

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Goodbye Brenda

Posted on 30 January 2015 by Howard Copelan

Howard Copelan, Publisher

Howard Copelan, Publisher

One of the perks of this job was getting a letter to the editor from Brenda Draper.

They often were critical but not overly so and they were all sprinkled with a healthy dose of Brenda’s unique sense of humor.

They were a pleasure to read and we felt honored that she not only took the time to read our paper but also to write a well reasoned and very logical response.

They were never too short or too long.

As a newspaper man Brenda knew the value of space and just how much to the pica width she could use.

We could usually count on to or three letters a year but lately they stopped coming.

We had heard Brenda was not well and we had meant to send her a card but we got busy our selves and now it is too late to do anything but miss her.

And miss her we will.

She was as we say in Hebrew an eshet chayalet— a woman of valor.

She was completely loyal to her family and to her home town and woe to those who threatened either.

That kind of devotion is rare and wonderful to behold.

If our children are the final measure of our worth then Brenda’s measure is truly great.

We will miss you Brenda.

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Brenda Draper 1954-2015

Posted on 26 January 2015 by Howard Copelan

DraperBrenda-215x275Our beloved mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister, aunt and friend passed away peacefully at home January 23, 2015.

Born July 10, 1954, in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Daughter of Marion Barnwell, Reed Jensen and step-mother Diane Jensen.  She graduated from George Whittell High School in Zephyr Cove, Nevada.  Studied journalism at the University of Utah.  Married to Russell Draper, October 7, 1984, later solemnized in LDS temple.  As a longtime supporter of community causes, she was former president to the Wendover PTO, Coach of the local Odyssey of the Mind program, and also held various positions in the LDS church.  Lover of black labs and a rescuer of stray cats and stray people, Brenda had a big heart.  Her home was always open to friends and neighborhood kids.

Longtime resident of Wendover.  She was employed by Wells Rural Electric, City of Wendover, Utah, and the Peppermill Corporation.  With her love of journalism, she was the editor in chief of the Wendover Relay in the early 1980’s.

Survived by husband Russell; children Angelina Arrien (Andrew); Gina Gregory (Terrill); Ben Draper (Jenna); Sara Griffin (Josh); Jessica Draper (Frank);  grandchildren Drew Arrien (Maria); Avery Arrien (Ashley); Gaven Arrien; Nolan Gregory; Gracie Arrien; Rion Griffin; Isabelle Draper; Adylynn Griffin; Alayna Draper; Brynlee Draper; great-grandchild Johnny; brother Billy Barnwell (Tina); sister Jan Oelkers (Monty); Mother Marion Barnwell; Father Reed Jensen and step-mother Diane Jensen.

Viewing will be held at Wendover LDS church, 269  2nd Street, Wendover, Utah, Friday, January 30th at 10:00 am, Funeral Services at 12:00 pm.  Interment at Wendover Cemetery.  Luncheon to follow.  Online condolences may be made

Mere words cannot express what this wonderful woman meant to all those who knew her.  She touched the lives of all those she met.  Hers was a heart that shone with the true light of our Savior’s love.  We will all miss her immeasurably.

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Both Sides Score In Railroad War

Posted on 23 January 2015 by Howard Copelan



Both sides in the fight over the Nevada Northern rail Road could claim victory in last week’s rulings first from the Secretary of State and then from court.

Friday the Secretary of State ruled that a recall effort to throw out every elected city of Ely officer failed to garner the sufficient number of signatures to force an new round of elections.

The recall was sought by some supporters of the Railroad who believed the council’s investigation of the Railroad unfounded and unfair.

ldaydinnerThe recall drive never received official backing of the Raiscan0172lroad management board and was described as unorganized even by those who endorsed the idea in principal.

But while the Ely City Council does not had to face another election the Railroad board directors they sought to dismiss also will sat where they are according to a ruling from Senior District Judge Robert Rose.

In a short eight page ruling money Rose upheld most if not all of the manage board’s assertion that a previous attempts to fire them.

Rose ruled that the attempt by the city council was in fact a violation of the law .

click link for ruling: scan0172

hr2“Justice Rose’s recent supplemental order represents a solid victory for the Management Board Plaintiffs in the ongoing railroad litigation,” wrote the board’s attorney Scott Husbands in an e-mail Monday. “ This is the second time that Justice Rose has ruled in favor of the Management Board. In an earlier ruling, Justice Rose found the City of Ely had violated Nevada’s Open Meeting Law repeatedly and he voided the illegal removal of  Management Board members.  The Management Board Plaintiffs look forward to a time when the Defendants can set aside their personal agendas and vendettas and place the Foundation’s interests ahead of their own.  As always, the Management Board’s sole focus remains on preserving the viability of the Nevada Northern Railway as a historical treasure and its capacity to generate much needed revenue for the City of Ely and White Pine County.”

Husbands appeal for peace will probably fall on deaf ears at least until the ‘forensic audit is completed perhaps later this month or next month.

Indeed having both fought off attempts to remove them from the brouhaha the two contesting sides are more confident than ever that their two contradictory causes are just.

Great basin NEW Year 2015

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Half a Million Bail For Child Beater

Posted on 23 January 2015 by Howard Copelan


An Elko man is in jail on a half a million dollar bond for repeatedly and savagely beating a five year old girl.

Danny E. Miller Jr., 47, of Elko, was arrested Friday night for severely beating a 5-year-old girl.

According to under Sheriff Claire Morris Deputies were called to Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital, where the victim was being treated.

The girl had serious injuries from a beating and was flown to Salt Lake City in critical condition Morris said.

centracom1501According to Morris both doctors and detectives believe that this was not the first beating the child endured.

“I don’t know what a 5-year-old could do to deserve that,” Morris said when describing the injuries. “ Some of them appear to be partly healed.

The girl is still in critical condition.

After Miller was arrested and booked into the Elko County Jail he was put under a Mental Health Hold.

“The detectives thought he (Miller) was exhibiting signs of depression,” Morris explained.


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Long Canyon Go! Mine In Fed Reg

Posted on 23 January 2015 by Howard Copelan



After five years of jumping through the bureaucratic hoops the Long Canyon mine is finally ready to begin construction.

On January 9th the Long Canyon Mine project made is long awaited appearance in the Federal Register (republished on page 3). Its appearance is the last step between the permitting phase and the construction phase of the mine.

hr2Expected to take two years to build the initial project mine construction is expected to employ between 300 and 500 workers. According to Mary Korpi, Newmont’s Director of External Relations by March the project should be in full swing.

Already the mine’s impact has been felt albeit slightly in both Wendover and Wells.

“We have seen some impact already,” said Wells Mayor Layla Walz. “Most of the vacant real estate has been bought. And there has been a noticeable increase of interest by businesses in locating to Wells.”

centracom1501Walz’ observations were echoed by Wells City manager Jolene Supp, West Wendover City Clerk Anna Bartlome and Wendover,Utah Mayor Mike Crawford. All stated that their respective towns had seen an economic bump in the last six to nine months.

Everyone but Crawford attributed the upswing to the new mine.

“Right now we are seeing the impact of the smaller mining projects to the south,” Crawford said Wednesday. “We will probably see much more of an impact later on when the construction starts. But I believe Wells could benefit first then Wendover.”

If Crawford’s prediction is right Wells would be grateful.wrecaquaWith less than a 1,000 population Wells was hard hit not only economically but also suffered biblical disasters like the earth quaked of 2008 and the range wild fires of 2006. Most of its historic down town was destroyed and even the two local brothel hit hard times.

“It is good to be able to welcome the good times especially after all we have been through,” Walz said.

While not suffering anywhere near Wells, Wendover, Utah and West Wendover Nevada could also use some large scale economic good news too.

West Wendover, Nevada has seen a general decline in the number of small businesses from a high of around 300 in 2003 to about half that a decade later.

From 190 business licenses recorded in 2012 there were 172 at the start of the last fiscal year. Most of the then decline came from ‘non-local’ businesses which do not have a physical presence in the city. According to Bartlome there were 80 such companies at the start of the last fiscal year. As of July 30th 2013 there were just 67.

The number of local businesses also fell albeit not as steeply. From the 110 reported last year there are now 105.

In 2011 there were total of 171 businesses in West Wendover, 100 of which were local and 71 non-local.

In July 2010 there were 93 local business and 87 non-local.

Local businesses are defined by companies that have a physical presence in West Wendover and include everything from home based businesses run part time to apartment complexes and casinos.

With a population less than half of West Wendover, Wendover, Utah boasts about 180 business including 110 locally owned or operated said City Clerk Mariah Murphy.

120 miles to the south the city of Ely has about 300 businesses with a population about two thirds of West Wendover.

The dearth of private enterprise is most acute in the retail industry which apart from Smith’s Food Store is virtually nonexistent in West Wendover.

click link for federal register citation; 2015-00067   

HR BlocK 2015 AdPurchases as simple as a computer printer ink, a telephone or even a coffee maker available literally in a half a dozen locations in communities of similar or even smaller sizes as Wendover, often necessitate a 240 mile round trip to Salt Lake City to the east or Elko to the west.

In the past five years West Wendover has seen a number of relatively large retailers also leave town such as Park Furniture, Bargain Barn Serendipity and Blanchard’s Furniture. Two years ago it saw the closure of one of its two full service banks, Nevada Bank and Trust.

While generally depressing there are some signs of green shoots. A clothing store and a discount general goods store open where the video store once operated.

A dozen years ago that West Wendover earned the title of Nevada’s fastest growing city by more than doubling its population from over 2,000 when the city incorporated in 1991 to well over 4,000 in 2001.

In addition to an almost exponential increase in single family homes West Wendover saw three new apartment complexes and three new mobile homes parks built in less than ten years.

Small retailers also flourished.

Mesa Rent 2015 Regular

But at its peak in 2001 the boom began to bust. Facing financial disaster the StateLine Casino Corporation began to pare down its work force and unknown to many of its employees began to cut payments to the company’s health insurer.

The crisis reach its peak in 2002 when the company declared bankruptcy and was later sold at auction. Hundreds of jobs were lost and even workers who retained employment found their life savings wiped out by medical bills they thought they were insured for but were not.

But while the StateLine bankruptcy can explain the beginning of the bust the stagnation that followed cannot be put on the shoulders of a company that has not existed for ten years.

Instead Wendover’s economic stagnation is probably due to a combination of factors some within and some outside of the city’s control.

ldaydinnerSmall retailers and home based business owners have frequently complained about West Wendover’s over regulation of private enterprise that borders to the point of harassment.

The new mine will not only create jobs but could also swell the population far beyond the current numbers.

And while rapid growth brings its own set of challenges most communities would rather deal with prosperity than stagnation,

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