Archive | August, 2016

Mormon Church Opposes Plan For Futuristic Green Communities

Posted on 31 August 2016 by Howard Copelan


The utopian communities envisioned by a wealthy Mormon businessman near religious landmarks in Utah and Vermont would feature small homes clustered around community gardens and focus on walkability to reduce the need for cars.

Green dream

David Hall’s effort to build sustainable communities is years away from reality but took a hit this week when the Mormon church denounced his plans, modeled after church founder Joseph Smith’s vision from 1833. Hall is unfazed, vowing to press ahead with the developments that will welcome non-Mormons and urge people to consume less.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Christ of Latter-day Saints has concerns about the communities affecting existing neighborhoods and the longstanding relationships the religion has with those residents, spokesman Eric Hawkins said in a statement. The project is not associated with the church in any way, he said.

“The church makes no judgment about the scientific, environmental or social merits of the proposed developments,” Hawkins said. “However, for a variety of reasons, we are not in favor of the proposal.”

Hall said he’s not surprised because he believes church leaders are not forward-thinking and worry about their image. Their stance allows him to tout that his communities are not influenced by the church and not designed to be Mormon enclaves, he said.

“I’m not running for office and I’m not trying to be a missionary, so I don’t care what people think,” Hall said. “I’m looking for long-term good.”

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And long term it is — Hall’s plans are years away from reaching fruition in Utah and decades in Vermont. But neighbors in both states already have expressed concerns about the communities causing drastic changes.

The “Utopia in Vermont” plan calls for housing for 20,000 people, offices, gardens, 48 basketball courts and 48 Olympic-size swimming pools. It’s planned near a monument at the birthplace of Smith, the founder and first president of a religion that now counts 15 million members worldwide.

A community near church-owned Brigham Young University and the Missionary Training Center in Provo, south of Salt Lake City, would be much smaller. Hall owns some of the land already.

The project closest to happening is in a neighborhood in south Provo, where Hall has a warehouse and owns many homes. He plans to build a hotel and several hundred houses to test some of his concepts.

Hall’s foundation’s website shows conceptual designs for the communities he envisions. Narrow, three-story homes with rooftop gardens would be built wall to wall around large, community gardens. People could get around by electric public transit. Energy-efficient multiuse buildings would provide space for meetings and business.

He ultimately hopes to create an entire town with 50 diamond-shaped communities of 15,000 to 20,000 people each near an economic hub so residents could walk or take public transportation to work.

Hall said he has committed much of his own money to the venture, spending $100 million on engineering and other research over the last 50 years. He sold a company last year specializing in synthetic diamond technology and is putting most of the proceeds toward engineering studies.

Hall said Mormon officials have reached out to him, but he does not call back. He says he’s in good standing as a church member but does not want faith leaders telling him what to do.

Besides, he believes those who would be interested in his green living effort will be non-Mormons.

“It’s all getting to one-tenth of consumption we’re at now,” Hall said. “That’s not going to go over well with LDS people, because they’re consumers. They’re free enterprise and right wing, that’s what they’re at.”

Hall is a fourth-generation Mormon. “Joseph Smith was just the wildest guy out there,” he says. “Lots of things he did were stupid, but in my view, he was a sage or a seer and didn’t even understand what came to him.” As the story goes, the plat plan appeared to Smith while he was studying Enoch, an Old Testament prophet who designed a city so perfect it was whisked off to heaven. The text accompanying the blueprint, written out by Smith and his comrades, says each plat should house 15,000 to 20,000 people within one square mile (though the definition of a mile has changed slightly), and that the design should be replicated worldwide. Written in the style of 15th century English, it reads: “When this square is thus laid off and supplied, lay off another in the same way, and so fill up the world in these last days, and let every man live in the city, for this is the city of Zion.”


Hall stumbled upon the document in the 1980s while researching Mormon history in a Salt Lake City library. “I’m the only one who’s really studied this scroll, to this day,” he says, “the only one who knows every word.” Hall had always been interested in architecture and planned communities, and quickly became obsessed with the plat, eventually using Smith’s vision to calculate every aspect of his NewVistas communities. “Other people might say, ‘You’re trapped in this box,’ but it actually helps me solve problems,” he says. “I’ve used it to triangulate right down to the itty-bitty details, like what type of wood to use.” (It’s pressboard.)

Hall’s master plan, laid out in a 26-page single-spaced document, can be found online. The overarching mission is to achieve “global environmental balance by building a network of environmentally and socially sustainable villages, communities, and megalopolises.” The first, he says, will likely be built in Provo, where he’s also in the process of amassing 5,000 acres (and meeting with significant pushback from the community). Once that’s up and running, he’ll move on to Vermont and then across the globe.

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Pair Of Nevada Defendants To Plead Guilty In Bundy Standoff

Posted on 31 August 2016 by Howard Copelan

Gerald “Jerry” DeLemus of Rochester, N.H., sits among a group of militia members camping on Cliven Bundy’s ranch near Bunkerville, Nev., in 2014.(photo the Associated Press)

Gerald “Jerry” DeLemus of Rochester, N.H., sits among a group of militia members camping on Cliven Bundy’s ranch near Bunkerville, Nev., in 2014.(photo the Associated Press)

Two men are expected to plead guilty in Nevada this week to federal charges stemming from an armed confrontation with U.S. land management agents over grazing rights near cattleman Cliven Bundy’s ranch, according to court records and their attorneys.

The charges stem from a tense gunpoint standoff in April 2014 on an Interstate 15 freeway overpass about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas.

No shots were fired, and no one was injured. But U.S. Bureau of Land Management agents retreated at gunpoint and gave up an effort to round up cattle from public land close to Bundy’s ranch near Bunkerville.

Defendant Gerald “Jerry” DeLemus of Rochester, N.H., is scheduled to enter his plea Tuesday before U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro.

Blaine Cooper of Humboldt, Arizona.

Blaine Cooper of Humboldt, Arizona.

Blaine Cooper of Humboldt, Ariz., is due in court last week for his change-of-plea.

DeLemus and Cooper each pleaded not guilty in March to 11 counts including conspiracy, obstruction, weapon possession and use, threatening and assaulting federal officers, and interstate extortion. If convicted of the charges, the men could face decades in prison.

DeLemus and Cooper are each accused of being “mid-level” organizers, recruiters and trainers of armed Bundy backers during and after the confrontation.

The two men will be the first among 19 defendants to enter pleas in Nevada in the case that involves Cliven Bundy, four of his adult sons and 14 other men being held in custody following their arrests earlier this year.

Seven Nevada defendants, including Cooper and Bundy sons Ammon and Ryan Bundy, were also among 26 people charged in Portland, Oregon, with conspiracy, weapon, theft and damaging government property counts in a 41-day occupation of a wildlife refuge earlier this year.

Eleven people have taken plea deals in the Oregon case, including Cooper and three others — Brian Cavalier and Joseph O’Shaughessy of Arizona, and Ryan Payne of Montana — who each also face charges in the Nevada case.


In court filings in Las Vegas, Navarro indicated she has signed plea agreements from DeLemus and Cooper. The documents haven’t been made public.

DeLemus’ attorney, Brian Smith, and Cooper’s lawyer, Matthew Lay, declined to comment about terms of the plea deals until they’re entered in court — including charges and possible sentences.

Smith called his client’s decision to plead guilty “gut-wrenching.”

“He decided it was time to bring this to a close,” Smith said,

DeLemus has been politically active in New Hampshire, where he ran for Strafford County sheriff in 2014. His wife, Susan DeLemus, is a Republican state assemblywoman.

The battle with the federal government made Cliven Bundy and his adult sons well-known as advocates for states’ rights. Bundy maintains that he has homestead rights to let his cows roam freely over arid rangeland around his 160-acre cattle ranch.

The government says the cattle are trespassing and that Bundy owes millions of dollars in unpaid grazing fees and penalties.

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Longest-Ever Wrongfully Incarcerated Woman in U.S. History Sues Those Who Put Her In Prison

Posted on 31 August 2016 by Howard Copelan


Cathy Woods, wrongly incarcerated for more than 35 years.(Reno Sheriff office)


Michelle Mitchell, Reno murder victim.(file picture)

Attorneys for Cathy Woods, who according to the National Registry of Exonerations’ database is the longest-ever wrongfully incarcerated woman in U.S. history, filed suit in federal court Monday August 22nd, 2016 against four former Reno, NV and Shreveport, LA cops, a district attorney and a physician who knowingly caused her wrongful imprisonment.

On the evening of February 24, 1976, Michelle Mitchell, a 19-year-old University of Nevada-Reno student, was murdered near the campus. With blanketing media coverage, there was immense public pressure to solve the murder and make the campus and its young charges safe. Ms. Woods was a Reno resident at the time and, like many other Reno residents, saw the many news reports.

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In the days immediately after Ms. Mitchell’s death, numerous witnesses who were near the campus on the night of the murder came forward to the police with information that they had seen a suspicious man near and running away from the scene of the crime at around the time that the crime was believed to have occurred. In fact, the police believed that Michelle’s killer was probably a male serial killer, given similar killings of young women in the region.

One of the hottest “heater cases” on the Reno, NV police docket, it went unsolved for three years, without any arrests and no fresh leads, an embarrassment to the department.

In March 1979, after a lifelong history of severe mental illness and with only a sixth grade education, Ms. Woods had been involuntarily committed to receive psychiatric care in Shreveport, Louisiana. While she was floridly psychotic and hearing voices, Ms. Woods told a counselor at Louisiana State University (LSU) Medical Center a vague story about having killed a girl named Michelle in Reno several years earlier. The counselor contacted Shreveport police, who in turn contacted Reno police.


For the Reno police, this was their big break, their opportunity to solve the case and rehabilitate the department after their three-year long failure to solve the case.

Dr. Douglas Burks of LSU Medical Center violated his professional ethics by participating in the interrogation of Ms. Woods with Shreveport and Reno police when Ms. Woods clearly was not competent to answer questions, let alone truly consent to be interrogated and fully understand her rights. She had been involuntarily detained at the LSU Medical Center, was not free to leave, and was in an inherently coercive environment due to her severe mental illness.

In the days leading up to the interrogation, Ms. Woods had not responded to her psychiatric medication and her condition had gotten worse. It profoundly affected her ability to function properly as she experienced disorganized thoughts, an inability to think in a linear or logical fashion, and auditory hallucinations.

As the suit notes,

“As a result of Ms. Woods’ inability to communicate in a normal manner, as well as her below-average intelligence and limited education, it was immediately obvious to any person who questioned Ms. Woods … that she was suffering from cognitive difficulties and symptoms of mental illness, and that she had little to no education or understanding of the situation…. Rather than take steps to ensure that Ms. Woods was truly and freely agreeing to confess, these Defendants took advantage of her diminished capacity and mental vulnerabilities and continued their interrogations in a manner intended to force Ms. Woods to falsely confess….

Ms. Woods’ false confession during her interrogations was not memorialized or written down in any way. It was not audio recorded, even though the Defendants had the capacity to record statements. Nor did the Defendants ask Ms. Woods to write her confession down. Nor did they write her confession down for her and ask her to review or sign it.

  To make her false confession believable, police improperly fed Woods details of the crime known only to themselves and the murderer.”

How DNA testing

proved Her Innocence


Serial killer Rodney L. Halbower, was identified as the source of the DNA from the cigarette.(file picture)

After 35 Years, Ms. Woods Obtained Freedom.

In 2013, DNA testing was conducted on evidence from the Michelle Mitchell crime scene, including a cigarette butt found next to Michelle’s body. The testing revealed that the DNA did not come from Ms. Woods.

Instead, it matches a male serial rapist and murder named Rodney Halbower, who has been linked through DNA evidence to the murders of three other young women in northern California. Those murders were committed at around the same time as Michelle Mitchell’s murder.

In 2014, Ms. Woods’ post-conviction attorneys moved for a new trial on the basis of this newly discovered evidence. On September 10, 2014, the trial court granted Ms. Woods’s motion for a new trial and vacated her conviction. Charges remained pending against her for an additional six months. In March 2015, the State of Nevada filed a motion to dismiss the charges, and the charges against Ms. Woods were dismissed.

“While Ms. Woods’ case is extraordinary for the extreme length of her wrongful incarceration, it was tragically common in other crucial respects,” said Elizabeth Wang, attorney at Loevy & Loevy. “At the time of her wrongful arrest, Ms. Woods was a poorly educated young woman with diagnosed severe mental illness. The authorities charged with protecting her instead took advantage of her mental illness. In doing so they betrayed their professional ethics and intentionally framed her.”

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The cigarette left in the garage where Mitchell was found matched the DNA profile of sperm gathered in an unsolved homicide in San Mateo, Hicks said. That unsolved death was one of five Gypsy Hill killings in the San Francisco Bay area.

Mitchell disappeared on Feb. 24, 1976, after her Volkswagen Beetle broke down near the UNR campus. Her body was found hours later in a nearby garage with her hands bound behind her back and her throat slashed.

Three years later, while in a Louisiana mental institution, Woods confessed to killing Mitchell, but she was from Reno, and had wach the news like everybodyelse.

That led to Woods’ first trial in Reno.

Last September, Maizie Pusich, Woods’ attorney, said her client only confessed to the murder to get a better room in the institution. Woods had denied killing Mitchell for years, Pusich said.

Woods was granted a new trial in 1985 after an appeal, but was found guilty a second time. In September, Woods was released from prison after authorities found new DNA evidence from a Marlboro cigarette butt obtained at the scene decades earlier.

Rodney L. Halbower, 66, was identified as the source of the DNA from the cigarette, authorities said.

The match was found when Halbower was transferred early last year from the Nevada Department of Corrections to Oregon for crimes there.

Additionally, Halbower is a person of interest in the 1976 Gypsy Hill murders on a DNA link discovered by the San Mateo, Calif., County Crime Lab. He does not face any charges in Washoe County, Hicks said.


Washoe County District Attorney Chris Hicks.

“Rodney Halbower is a suspect in this investigation, so I’m very limited as to what I can say on this,” Hicks said.“I do not fault the law enforcement involved in the original investigation, the prosecution or the two juries that found Cathy Woods guilty,” said Hicks.

“They were faced with a vicious and tragic unsolved murder and were presented with details of intentional confessions from a person who resided in the area at the time of the murder,” he said.

“They did not have the incredible tool of DNA,” Hicks added.

Woods was unavailable for an interview. She is staying with her brother and his wife in Southern California, Pusich said.

Although it was a victory for Woods, it was a decision that should have been made years ago, Pusich said.

“She is delighted,” Pusich said. “She is having probably the best day of her life because she knows that this is all over.”

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Wells Rural Electric Election Results

Posted on 31 August 2016 by Howard Copelan

By Garrett Hylton of Wrec

Wells Rural Electric Company owners took advantage of their ability to set the leadership of their cooperative by voting to return all four incumbents on the ballot to serve on WREC’s Board of Directors in balloting that ended August 17, 2016. Incumbents Jim Whited, Scott Egbert, Jonathan Dahl and Fred Montes de Oca will all resume their Board duties after being elected to three-year terms. Victoria Wright-Bily was also on the ballot.

WREC’s Board elections are part of the cooperative difference that sets the company apart from investor-owned utilities. WREC owners are able to exercise ownership of their cooperative by voting for the men and women who set the direction for the organization. That local, democratic control has helped eliminate the need for additional regulation from the Nevada Public Utilities Commission.

This year, 545 WREC members cast votes. The election report will be presented to the Board at their September 20 meeting and the new directors will start their terms at the October Board meeting.

The WREC Board election is one of several important votes taking place this year. Local, state and federal representatives have a huge influence over rural life and the cost and quality of service WREC members receive. As a result, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) is promoting a nonpartisan voting campaign called Co-ops Vote. Regardless of which parties and candidates you identify with, WREC encourages all members to vote this November. Members can pledge to cast a vote in this year’s General Election by visiting

The WREC Board Election saw a 13.4 percent return of all ballots sent. A total of 4,072 ballots were mailed to WREC owners on the last Wednesday in July. Of that total, 545 were returned to attorney Gary E. DiGrazia’s law office by the election deadline of 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, August 17.

WREC extends a special thanks to the cooperative members who volunteered to serve on the Election Committee and counted the votes: Robert Selby, Jean Spratling, Nancy Livingston, Judy Bradshaw and Patty Whitlock.


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Breaking News: An Earth-Like Planet Was Just Found Orbiting the Nearest Star

Posted on 25 August 2016 by Howard Copelan


The next star over has a planet that’s kinda like ours.

Astronomers just discovered the closest possible Earth-like planet outside our solar system. It orbits our closest neighboring star, Proxima Centauri. The planet is warm enough for liquid water, is almost certainly rocky and terrestrial, and could even have an atmosphere. At just 4.2 light years away, scientists are even wondering if this may be the closest home for life outside our solar system.

The newly discovered planet has been temporarily named Proxima B by its discoverers, an international team led by astronomer Guillem Anglada-Escudé at Queen Mary University in London. Proxima B is roughly 30 percent larger than Earth, and closely orbits a star far cooler and smaller than our own. Following a month of rumors and hints, Proxima B was unveiled today in a paper in the journal Nature.

“What’s amazing is how close it is,” says Jeff Coughlin, a SETI astronomer working with NASA’s Kepler planet-hunting mission, who was not involved in the discovery. “There’s nothing in physics that would keep us from sending a probe to Proxima B within the next few decades, even with just current day technology.”

The Hunt Begins

To appreciate what we know (and don’t know) about Proxima B, it helps to understand how the planet was discovered. Astronomers have not yet directly seen or snapped images of the planet. Rather, Proxima B was detected after roughly 16 years of analyzing telescopic recordings of the planet’s star, Proxima Centauri.

After combining all those recordings, scientists found the planet in a peculiar wobble of the star. They saw that Proxima Centauri wobbles toward and away from Earth in a cycle every 11 days plus a few hours . This movement can be detected in a slight shift in the color of the starlight, via the Doppler effect.

Overall, astronomers combined hundreds of observations. The effort recently ramped up after a tantalizing early whiff of Proxima B. Finally, the scientists determined that this wobbling is due to a delicate, tugging ballet between Proxima Centauri and a planet that orbits the star every 11.2 days. Although they could not see Proxima B, the astronomers could calculate the world’s size and distance from its star by crunching the numbers on Proxima Centauri’s wobble and estimated mass.


This roundabout way of planet-hunting may sound uncertain, “but statistically there is no doubt about this signal,” says Anglada-Escudé. Taking this info Proxima B’s size and orbit, scientists have estimated that it is rocky like Earth and perfectly situated in its stars habitable zone, a place where liquid water should neither entirely boil nor freeze.

Red Dwarf

Proxima Centauri is not like our sun. It’s a cooler, smaller, and far more common type of star called a red dwarf. According to Ansgar Reiners, one of the astronomers behind today’s discovery who’s based at the University of Göttingen in Germany, this fact makes the case for life on Proxima B a more complex calculation.

For one thing, “Proxima Centauri is a relatively active star, so Proxima B receives rough 100 [times more] more high-energy radiation than Earth,” he says. Reiners is talking about stuff like gamma radiation that could be potentially fatal for microbes. But if Proxima B has a protective magnetic field and atmosphere like our own, then life could certainly still exist there—especially in oceans.

Proxima B is also pretty darn close to its star. Where Earth is 93 million miles from the sun on average, Proxmia B and its star are just 4 million miles apart—5 percent as far. Because red dwarfs are so much cooler than our Sun, the planet can be this close without getting charred to a crisp.

Yet this proximity could cause two problems. First, Proxima B is likely to be tidally locked, meaning the same face of the planet always faces the star. It’s like the way the same side of the moon always faces the Earth. (However, a thick enough atmosphere could keep the world twirling.) Second, depending on how and when Proxima B was formed, early blasts of stellar radiation could have blown away much or most of Proxima B’s hypothetical atmosphere.

That said, “none of this excludes the possibility of an atmosphere and water, it all depends on the history of the stellar system,” Reiners says.


This artist’s impression shows the planet Proxima b orbiting the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the Solar System.

Interstellar History

So just how big of a discovery is Proxima B? “This may be a historical moment,” says SETI’s Coughlin.

“I see this as the third phase of exoplanet discovery. Around 20 years ago, our first phase began as exoplanets first trickled in with one or two finds per year. The second phase was the Kepler era, where for the past 5 or 6 years we’ve been finding thousands and thousands of planets, and learning that even rocky, Earth-sized ones are incredibly common. Now we’re at the third phase. We’re beginning to look closer to home, finding nearby planets that humanity itself may one day be able to visit,” he says.

“I think today marks the start of our ability to map out the local universe around us, identifying the stars and planets in the sky that could be visited and utilized by our species, hundreds or thousands of years from now. I think humans will look back to this time as the very beginning of something,” says Coughlin.

As for the promise of life on Proxima B, Coughlin is cautious but hopeful. “The potential is there. I’d say we haven’t found any reason why life couldn’t be there yet,” he says.

Now that humans have detected Proxima B, Coughlin believes it’ll likely be a top priority for future space telescope missions. Astronomers the world over will seek ways to directly image it, uncovering the planet’s many unknown details such as whether it has an atmosphere.

This picture combines a view of the southern skies over the ESO 3.6-metre telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile with images of the stars Proxima Centauri (lower-right) and the double star Alpha Centauri AB (lower-left) from the NASA/ESA Hubble Sp

This picture combines a view of the southern skies over the ESO 3.6-metre telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile with images of the stars Proxima Centauri (lower-right) and the double star Alpha Centauri AB (lower-left) from the NASA/ESA Hubble Sp

Were it not for Proxima B’s close proximity to us, that would be an enormous challenge. The planet’s star, Proxima Centauri, is fairly dim by stellar standards, and the scientists believe there’s only a 1.5 percent chance that Proxima B actually passes in front of the star from our perspective here on Earth. That’s important, because if Proxima B eclipsed Proxima Centauri, it’d make a detection an easier task than picking it out of the darkness. That “transit” method is how Kepler found a lot of its exoplanets.

However, says Artie Hatzes, an astronomer at the Thuringian State Observatoryin Germany who was not involved in the research, “because Proxima Centauri is relatively close to us, such attempts have a reasonable chance of succeeding,” he writes in a essay in Nature accompanying the research paper. Beyond even ground-based or near-Earth telescopes, “in the distant future, an interstellar space probe might get a close-up look at the planet,” writes Hatzes.

For now, it’ll be fascinating to watch if Proxima B’s discovery jump-starts the search for other new planets around similarly close stars, ushering in Coughlin’s third phase. “We’re just starting to see the distant shores of the planets that may be out there,” says Coughlin.

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Nevada Attorney General Opposing Background Check Measure

Posted on 21 August 2016 by Howard Copelan


Nevada State Attorney General Adam Laxalt.

Nevada State Attorney General Adam Laxalt says he’s opposing a background check initiative supported by gun control advocates on the November ballot.

Laxalt came out Wednesday against Question 1, with a statement saying it would cost Nevada residents “time, money and freedom,” but wouldn’t keep guns out of the hands of criminals. The statement was issued by the National Rifle Association.

It noted that the initiative sponsor, Nevadans for Background Checks, gets funding from a group backed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The billionaire media businessman and politician is a leading national gun-control advocate.

Laxalt joins Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and most Nevada sheriffs opposing to the background check measure.

Initiative supporters point to endorsements from the Nevada Association of Public Safety Officers, Las Vegas Fraternal Order of Police, Nevada State Education Association and others.


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McQueary Named Interim District Attorney In Elko County

Posted on 21 August 2016 by Howard Copelan


Elko District Attorney, Mark Torvinen

Elko County’s chief civil attorney has been selected to temporarily fill the vacancy left by the death of District Attorney Mark Torvinen. The county commission voted Wednesday to appoint Chief Civil DA Kristin McQueary to the post on an interim basis.

The county coroner determined after Torvinen’s vehicle crashed into an urgent care clinic in Elko on Monday that he had died of natural causes.

McQueary says Torvinen was a great attorney and a great boss who will be missed by everyone in the DA’s office.

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Centennial Celebration at Great Basin This August 25th

Posted on 21 August 2016 by Howard Copelan

Great Basin National Park is excited to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service and the First Light of the Great Basin Observatory with the telescope donated by the Niggli Family. 

The celebration begins at 1:00pm. Arrive early and park at the Great Basin Visitor Center in Baker, NV and take the free shuttle. There will be no public parking available at the ceremony site. Shuttles begin running at noon.

Come and celebrate with us and enjoy special guest speakers at the ceremony, be a part of the time capsule burial and enjoy lantern light cave tours of Lehman Caves.

After the ceremony we will be having birthday cake at the Great Basin Visitor Center and solar scopes set up for safely viewing the sun. Tyler Nordgren will give an astronomy presentation at 3:30 in the Great Basin Classroom.


On August 25, the National Park Service will celebrate its 100th birthday. Parks, monuments and other sites all over the country will be celebrating and Great Basin National Park is no exception!
Come out and join us for a festive afternoon filled with cake, guest speakers and a ribbon cutting for our new observatory. We’ll also be burying a time capsule and hosting a star party! See the event schedule below.
All Day
Lehman Cave Visitor Center, Great Basin National Park
Make cave tour reservations at or call 1-877-444-6777
1:00pm to 2:00pm
Celebrate the future of the National Park Service and Great Basin National Park with the burial of a time capsule that will be buried on the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service and dug-up for the 50th Anniversary of Great Basin National Park in 2036. You will also be there for the ribbon cutting for the Great Basin Observatory, an outstanding research class observatory.
Park at the Great Basin Visitor Center in Baker, NV and take a free shuttle up to the Ceremony site. There is no parking at the site. Shuttles will begin running at noon.
2:45 until it is gone!
Great Basin Visitor Center, Baker, NV
Join Park Superintendent Steve Mietz, Congressman Cresent Hardy, Governor Brian Sandoval and our Centennial Senior Ranger as they blow out the birthday candles and have a cupcake!
3:30pm – 4:30pm
Great Basin Classroom, Baker, NV
Join Tyler for an out of this world presentation on the night skies and darkness.
3:30pm to 5:00pm
Look safely at the sun through a solar telescope. Astronomy experts, like Cameron Pace from Southern Utah University and Mike Hoffart from Concordia University and Great Basin’s own Dark Rangers will be there to tell you about the prominences and flares you might be seeing.
8:00pm to 10:30pm
Enjoy looking through the telescopes to see the stars and other celestial bodies. Ask Dark Ranger questions about the constellations and the importance of protecting dark night skies.

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New Updates On the Strawberry Fire and The Great Basin National Park

Posted on 21 August 2016 by Howard Copelan


It is currently 4,657 acres and 94% contained. A Type 3 Incident Management Team will assume command of the fire at 6 a.m. on August 19, 2016. Baker Creek, Grey Cliffs and Lower Lehman Campground and the Lehman Caves Visitor Center remain open. Snake Creek Canyon reopened to the public at 3 p.m. on August 19, 2016. Cave tours and other special events will continue as planned.

The Wheeler Peak Drive in Great Basin National Park reopened on August 19th. The road was closed on August 10th, due to the Strawberry Fire.

The Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive, Bristlecone and Glacier Trails, Alpine Lakes Loop Trail and the trail to Wheeler Peak will open at 6:00 am daily and close at dusk each evening.

Weakened trees, loose and rolling material, undetected stump holes, and still burning material from recent fire activity can be pose a threat to public safety . The Wheeler Peak Campground, Osceola Trail, the Strawberry Creek Road at the park boundary, and burned areas of Strawberry Canyon are closed until further notice. Park staff will continue to assess conditions and will reopen these areas when it is safe to do so. Visitors may see smoke within the fire perimeter as unburned islands of vegetation continue to smolder.

Please see for updated information. The lightning-caused Strawberry Fire was detected on August 8, 2016.

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USGS Awards $3.7 Million For ShakeAlert Earthquake Early Warning System

Posted on 21 August 2016 by Howard Copelan

multi-hazard monitoring NLT IMG_1542

The Nevada Seismological Lab maintains a network of seismometers and hazrd monitoring equipment throughout Nevada, and California along the eastern Sierra Nevada and Death Valley. (Photo courtesy of University of Nevada, Reno)

The University of Nevada, Reno is one of six universities working with the U.S.Geological Survey to transition their ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system into a production system that would give communities a precious few seconds to take protective actions before severe shaking waves from an earthquake arrive.

The USGS announced Monday the $3.7 million award to the universities for this latest collaboration to improve the ShakeAlert system’s sensor and telemetry infrastructure across the west coast of the United States.

“Our seismic network covers Nevada, and California along the eastern Sierra Nevada and Death Valley,” Graham Kent, director of the Nevada Seismological Laboratory, said. “We have an unmatched microwave, IP-based communications system that powers our multi-hazard seismic, fire and extreme-weather network. Integrating the earthquake early warning system into our network makes sense, and through this collaboration our partners can better understand the benefits of our communications system as we all work to improve the ShakeAlert program throughout the West.”

The Nevada Seismological Lab, a public service department at the University of Nevada, Reno, will initially focus on the California portion of their seismic monitoring system near Lake Tahoe and looks to expand the early warning system into Nevada, mostly surrounding the urban areas of Las Vegas in the south of the state and, in the north, Reno and Carson City. The eastward expansion into Nevada will require help from both our congressional delegation and at the state level as seen in California, Oregon and Washington.

“As the third most seismically active state in the U.S., Nevada has its share of earthquakes but has not had a large earthquake since 1954. In that year alone, Nevada experienced four large earthquakes: M6.6, M6.8, M6.8 and M7.1,” Kent said. “In Las Vegas, an early warning system could potentially give residents 45 to 60-plus seconds of response time in a damaging earthquake that could originate in Death Valley. In the north it might be as much as 10 to 20 seconds – still valuable time to take protective actions.”


Through cooperative agreements, the USGS has brought together the California Institute of Technology; Central Washington University; University of California, Berkeley; University of Oregon; University of Washington and University of Nevada, Reno for the ShakeAlert program. ShakeAlert is a new product of the USGS Advanced National Seismic System, a federation of national and regional earthquake monitoring networks throughout the country, including networks in southern California, northern California and the Pacific Northwest.

In addition to the University awards, the USGS has purchased about $1.5 million in new sensor equipment, some of it destined for the Tahoe-Truckee corridor, to expand and improve the ShakeAlert system and awarded about $250,000 in supplements to earlier agreements to three universities. These efforts, as well as internal work that the USGS is conducting, are possible because of $8.2 million in funding to the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program for ShakeAlert approved by Congress earlier this year.

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At a White House Earthquake Resilience Summit in February, it was announced that the ShakeAlert system had developed to a stage that was ready to support limited test uses in some areas of California. This next-generation production prototype allows selected users to develop and deploy pilot implementations that take protective actions based on the USGS ShakeAlert warnings in areas with sufficient station coverage.

“The Summit focused on California, Washington and Oregon, who have a game plan to make it happen and $8.2 million of new federal monies to begin implementation of a production prototype earthquake early warning system,” Kent said. “The Summit also identified Nevada, Alaska and Utah – all with high seismic hazards – as areas that would benefit from being prepared and implementing early-warning earthquake systems.”

The panel included U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Director John Holdren, U.S. Geological Survey Director Suzette Kimball, National Institute of Standards and Technology Director Willie May and other federal agency staff, state government representatives and stakeholders.

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