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Train Wreck Ahead RR Board To Sue Ely City Council

Posted on 21 August 2014 by Howard Copelan

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After almost a year of playing defense the Nevada Northern Railway went on the offense Friday by voting to bring suit against the Ely City council in its role as the Railroad’s board of trustees.

While the details of the suit have not yet been released, indeed as of press time it has not yet been written or filed the suit will specifically name all members of the city council and Ely Mayor Melody Van Camp.

Despite the lack of official information it can be assumed that Ely city councilman Marty Westland long standing grudge against the Northern Nevada rail road should figure prominently in the suit.

Westlund a former employee was fired from the rail road several years ago.

NNRR Board members and Bassett have long accused the Ely City Council and most particularly Westland of using the audit issues to get back at the organization and Bassett, the man who fired Westland several years ago.

elkofair2014To back their up allegations Bassett and board members released a long list of Westland actions both before and after he was elected to the city council in 2011 where he inserted himself into NNRR operations including setting up a rival corporation, using the NNRR logo, writing up unfounded safety violations, and interfering in a grant application that may have cost the rail road over $10 million.

In an interview with the Advocate Westland openly questioned whether some of the expenditures listed in a  $72,000 loan Bassett made to the rail road could be justified and should be paid back.

But while the $72,000 loan and an additional $95,000 from Bassett to the NNRR raised a justifiable red flag to the corporations auditors Westland’s troubled history with Bassett and the NNRR management board begs the question if the brouhaha over the audit is real or an excuse for revenge.

“I think it is odd that no one said anything about the previous year’s audit that had some of the same issues,” Bassett said. “It was only after the last election where Marty got some of his cronies elected to the council that it comes up.”

In the last city election the self described reform movement took the majority on the Ely City council.

“During the election they complained that the so called Good Ol’ Boy network was using the city council to pursue personal vendettas,” said NNRR board chairman John Gianolli. “Now they are doing it.”

centraphoneWhile admitting that he had indeed set up a corporation in 2008 that would seem to be in competition with the NNRR, Westland said that now defunct enterprise existed only to run the northern non-historical part of the rail road.

That plan was abandoned Westland said after plans for two coal fired power plants were quashed by environmentalists and Senator Harry Reid.

While admitting that he used the logo of the NNRR, Westland said that he broke no law since the logo was not copyrighted.

“Does he know how much money we had to spend to defend our logo?” Bassett asked. “Thousands of dollars.”

Bassett and other NNRR board members also alleged that Westland’s “bogus company” using the NNRR logo may have contributed to the denial of the NNRR $12 million grant application for upgrades to the northern line that would have made it able to ship ore from area mines to the Union Pacific line at Shafter about ten miles east of Wendover.

“…Once I requested the money all of a sudden my phone calls started being ignored. You don’t think that this statement from Marty’s website had anything to do with do you?” Bassett wrote in an email. “’The Nevada Northern Railway Company is a transportation company dedicated to bringing safe, affordable transportation of nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain.’ From Marty’s bogus Nevada Northern Railway website.”

Perhaps in response to those attacks the city council approved launching a ‘forensic audit’ of the rail road’s books.

wrecaquaHowever the $10,000 set aside for a forensic audit of the Nevada Northern Rail Road might be a down payment but would in no way cover the total cost, said one of the leading Certified Public accountants of San Francisco Geoffrey Kulik.

“If we were asked to do a forensic audit of a similar sized organization in San Fransisco I would guess the cost would be easy between $35,000 to $45,000 and perhaps double that,” Kulik said. “There is a big difference between a regular audit where you check the books and make sure that the company is running under GAP (General Accounting Practices) and a forensic audit where you are looking for criminal wrong doing like fraud. I don’t know what the cost structure is like in Nevada but it can’t be that much different than California.”

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School Board Okays New W. Wendover Elementary

Posted on 21 August 2014 by Howard Copelan

Architect's drawing of new West Wendover elementary school

Architect’s drawing of new West Wendover elementary school

The long anticipated and often delayed new West Wendover Elementary school finally was approved by the Elko County School board on a 5-2 vote last week.

Both board member Cindy Elquist and board chairman Thad Ballard voted against the new school on the grounds that the project was $400,000 over its original $30 million dollar budget.

This May the board unanimously rejected bids for the new school.

“Every bid came in over the estimated budget,” Zander explained at the time. “We will have to go back to the drawing board and maybe do some cutting.”

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.

elkofair2014The 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 2014 and be completed in 2015.

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.

centraphoneHowever 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.

In 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.

Instead 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.

wrecaqua

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Nevada Governor Sandoval To Wendover

Posted on 21 August 2014 by Howard Copelan

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Nevada Governor Bryan Sandoval will make a rare appearance in Wendover august 27th as part of the Silver State’s 150th birthday celebrations.

Sandoval’s vista will be part of Anna Smith Day celebrating one of the founders of the Nevada/Utah border community. Anna Smith with husband William built what became the State Line Casino in West Wendover Nevada over 75 years ago. It was one of the first casinos in the Sage Brush State and until it closed in 2003 the Smith family owned the oldest continual gaming licenses in the state.

The casino’s iconic mechanical man Wendover Will also figures prominently on one of the sesquicentennial

Sandoval will be arriving by train.

Nevada’s Sesquicentennial, the 150th anniversary of Nevada’s admission to the Union, will provide opportunities for celebration and reflection. Nevada’s one of a kind and diverse history will be celebrated throughout the state for an entire year in order to promote pride in the shared heritage of all Nevadans. Nevada’s Sesquicentennial celebration commenced on Nevada Day 2013 and concludes with an expanded Nevada Day celebration October, 2014. For more information, please visit www.nevada150.org. wrecaqua

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Ready For V-Ball?

Posted on 21 August 2014 by Howard Copelan

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Lenna Sweat catches some serious air for a spike.

The Wolverine Volleyball team took to the gym last week to begin training for the 2014 season.

“We are young and hungry for success,” said head coach Mike Beardahl. “Last year was a great JV season for this talented group of lady Wolverines. They had a great winning season with an end of the year victory over White Pine.  If they build off of this victory they will be able to make at least the divisional playoffs that will be held here at West Wendover High. Coach Patti Ratliff has done a great job teaching the basics and preparing them for a great season.

Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 12.05.26 AMTeam Roster: Wiktoria Chinz, Lilly Lopez, Isabel Chavez, Naomi Haro, Lenna Sweat, Sydney Reamer, Madison Buxton, Anahi Esparza, Nayda Rodriguez, Yesi Gonzalez, Susie Contrases, Melanie Ramirez, Alyssa Thorn, Sandra Mendoza

centraphone

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Peter Rhodes “Painless Pete” Eldridge 1952-2014

Posted on 21 August 2014 by Howard Copelan

mou0034895-1_20140819“Painless Pete”
Peter Rhodes “Painless Pete” Eldridge, 62, passed away Friday August 15, 2014 at his home in Sandy, Utah. He was born on March 12, 1952 to Harry and Phyllis Eldridge in Buffalo, New York. He was raised alongside his twin brother Paul and his older sister Debbie whom he shared close relationships with throughout his entire life. He attended Redlands High School, completed his undergraduate degree at San Diego State and completed his Doctor of Dental Surgery Degree at The University of Southern California in 1981. He married Julie Anna Brown at SnowBird ski resort in Salt Lake City, Utah on May 4, 1980. Together they settled in Sandy, Utah and raised three children Tyler (29), Zac (26) and Anna (23).
A man who often had few words, but was sometimes good for an unending conversation. A man of infinite love, Peter instantly became friends with all he met. He was always there to lend a hand, a listening ear or just a warm hug. Pete devoted his life to making those he cared about as happy and comfortable as possible. He loved spending time with his family and friends, leaving heart felt voicemails, woodworking, fixing things, being on his boat (mostly in the engine compartment), visiting Lake Powell and playing Fantasy Baseball with his twin brother. Peter and twin brother Paul were more than just brothers, they were the best of friends.
Peter earned his nickname “Painless Pete” after many years of providing comfortable and painless dentistry to his adoring patients in his Wendover, Utah and his Salt Lake area offices. Peter was no stranger to house calls and he often donated dentistry to those in need. 
Peter is survived and greatly missed by his wife Julie, his three children Tyler, Zac(Lynndsey) and Anna(Matt). He is survived by his brother Paul and wife Tami, sister Debbie and husband Dick. He is survived by his father-in-law Lafe Brown and mother-in-law Agnes Brown as well as his sisters in-law Lori Brown and Carol Fitzgerald. His many loving nieces and nephews, Jason(Melissa), Jeremy, Ben(Amy), Lafe(Sally), Kim, Ryan(Ashley), Blair(Nick), Riki(Justin), Riley, and expected nephew Harry also survive him. Pete leaves behind a great many others, too many to mention, who also consider him family. 
He is preceded in death by his parents Harry and Phyllis Eldridge, his sister-in-law Sue Castro, brother-in-law Lafe Brown and his beloved Saint Bernards Griz, KoKo and Bernie. 
There will be an open house memorial at his home 1961 Brady Creek Court in Sandy, Utah on August 30th from 3pm – 6pm. 
There has been a memorial fund set up in Peter’s name at gofundme.com http://www.gofundme.com/painlesspetememorialfund - See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/deseretnews/obituary.aspx?n=peter-rhodes-eldridge&pid=172172669#sthash.ikEH23bw.dpuf

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Brent Eldridge 1942-2014

Posted on 21 August 2014 by Howard Copelan

Clinton Brent Eldridge passed away on Monday, August 18, 2014 at White Pine County Care Center. He was 72. Brent was born in Ely, Nevada on June 5th, 1942 to Delbert and Elva Eldridge. He was the oldest of seven children. He attended grade school in Spring Valley and graduated from White Pine High School, then attended two years of college at Utah State University.
Brent met his first wife, Cozette Lynn, while attending college and they married in Grantsville on May 25, 1963. They moved back to Spring Valley to the family ranch where they raised four children. Brent dedicated the next twenty-two years ranching with his dad and brothers.
In 1981, Brent was appointed to the White Pine County Commission. He spent the majority of the next twenty-four years serving as a Commissioner.
Brent moved to Ely in 1985 and married Linda Sue Jensen in 1992. They spent the next twenty-two years together.
Brent’s lifelong passion was prospecting and mining. This was a passion that was passed down from his father and grandfather.
Brent is preceded in death by his wife, Linda Sue; father, Delbert; sister, Mary Edith; daughter, Sharon; granddaughter, Savannah; sisters-in-law, Janet Eldridge and Nancy Eldridge.
He is survived by his mother, Elva; siblings; Gordon, Robert, Dennis (Mary), Betty
(Bill) Thiessen, Mike (Debbie Underwood), children; Sheila (Jose) Gonzalez, Christine Davy (Daniel Pabon), Allen (Robin) Eldridge, Alicia (Richard) Hankins, Tamena (Derek) Stewart, Jackene Jensen, numerous grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
A Celebration of Life Service will be held at the Bristlecone Convention Center in Ely, Nevada on Sunday, August 31st at 12:30 pm. In lieu of flowers, a donation to The Huntsman Cancer Institute would be greatly appreciated.

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Speed Week Cancelled Wet Years Returning?

Posted on 15 August 2014 by Howard Copelan

SCTA photo of the Salt Flats

SCTA photo of the Salt Flats

Wendover’s premier event Speed Week was canceled for the first time in 20 years by the Southern California Timing Association due to rain.

According to the SCTA web page the amount of water dumped on the famous race way Wednesday night simply was too much to drain or evaporate before the start of the event this week.

The last time rain caused the cancellation of Speed Week was in 1994 but according to what few records were kept and the memory of old time Nevadans this year’s cancellation could be  harbinger of several more in the coming decade.

elkofair2014“Anyone who has been ranching for a long time can tell you that the weather out hear is cyclical,” said Wells Rancher Geoff Dahl back in 2002. “We have wet years and then dry years there really isn’t  typical ‘normal’ year.”

Dahl’s observation could be right while the two decades of a dry track was a boon to racing enthusiasts the previous 10 years were often a disaster. During the late 1980’s to mid 1990’s rain forced the cancellation or the curtailment of Speed Week and other racing events more than a half a dozen times and during one particularly bad stretch it was only held once in five years.

It was the uncertainty caused by those rain storms, that have prompted many of the world’s preeminent speed racers to look for other venues to run their machines, including the Black Rock Desert north of Reno that saw the breaking of the land speed record by a British team in 1997.

centraphoneAnd it didn’t rain just on the Salt Flats. Wet cool summers saw a rapid increase in the Great Salt Lake, so rapid that then Utah Governor Norm Bangerter pushed through the construction of a $100 million pumping project to protect low laying homes and businesses.

But like the blizzard that happens as soon as storm windows come down the wet years anded as soon as the pumping station, now referred to as Bangerter’s folly, was completed apart from maintenance the pumps have never run.

But along with mushy salt flats and swamped lake front homes the Wet also brings good news. This was the first summer in almost a decade that the BLM did not have an emergency mustang round up to save herds from thirst or starvation.

wrecaqua“It really amazing what just  small increase in rain can do for wild horses,” said BLM Public Affairs Specialist Chris Hanefield.”

Gardeners are reporting bumper crops of vegetables and alfalfa growers are reporting yields not seen in a decade and much lower costs in irrigation.

Of course the summer of 2014 could just be one wet year in what could be another string of dry ones. Accurate records date only from the 1970’s for north eastern Nevada and western Utah and even those are spotty.

There are however legends among the Shoshone and the Goshute that long periods of drought were followed by several years of mild weather and summers with substantial rains. petroglyphs in the region often depict a spiral representing Native American beliefs that cycles repeat themselves again and gain and again.

Or as the French would say: plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, the more things change the more they stay the same.

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Check Forger Nabbed At Montego Bay

Posted on 15 August 2014 by Howard Copelan

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A Salt Lake City woman is in jail on a $25,000 bond for allegedly trying to pass a forged check Monday at the Montego By Casino.

On August 11 2014 Officers of the West Wendover police department were summoned to the Montego Bay casino to investigate a female that was attempting to cash a possible forged check, said West Wendover Police Lieutenant Donald Lininger

Casino security had detained the female who was later identified as Amber Zinda. Officer’s learned that Amber had attempted to cash a check using an identification card with a different name upon it. After interviews were completed with casino cashiers and Amber, she was taken into custody for forgery of conveyances and possession of false identification.

centraphone

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Ready For Football

Posted on 15 August 2014 by Howard Copelan

Coming off one of their best season in years the 2014 West Wendover Wolverines began full practices this week training on the grid iron in the gym and in the classroom studying plays. The team’s first game is a home opener against traditional rival White Pine August 29.

Coming off one of their best season in years the 2014 West Wendover Wolverines began full practices this week training on the grid iron in the gym and in the classroom studying plays. The team’s first game is a home opener against traditional rival White Pine August 29.

 

wrecaqua

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Ely City Council & NNRY To Collide?

Posted on 15 August 2014 by Howard Copelan

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The Ely City Council and the Nevada Northern Railroad board are headed for a collision that could end in the courts or possibly the ballot box.

This week in a heated meeting the council voted to remove Chairman John Gianoli and the Vice-Chairman Steve Leith of the Management Board. The removals are just the latest shots in a power struggle between the council and the board over the management of the Rail Road.

The specific reason for the removal of the long serving chairman and vice chair was the board’s failure to answer question about the group’s finances particularly a deal between the railroad and a railroad stock company to store cars on the organizations track.

PLEIN AIR POSTER 2014 msb1“The White Pine Historical Railroad Foundation Management Board has tried to be both proactive and continually responsive to all requests from the City Council, so we were surprised by the Council’s actions to remove the Chairman and the Vice-Chairman of the Management Board.” wrote Railroad attorney Scott Husband in a press release. “The Management Board’s sole focus remains on preserving the viability of the Nevada Northern Railway as a historical treasure. Since 1987, the railroad has generated over $68,000,000 in needed revenue for the businesses and citizens of the City of Ely and White Pine County. We appreciate the continued support of our community and the members of the railroad.”

The board’s reaction may not however be limited to surprise. On its next agenda the board will first appoint two new members and then take on the question of whether to sue the Ely City Council. According to sources that vote is almost a forgone conclusion the Railroad will vote yes.

The Ely City council is currently involved in what can be described as a power struggle with the NNRR.

The struggle began over irregularities in the NNRR audit and the council has run what critics call a full court press for more extended over sight of the Nevada Northern Rail Road operations.

According to both sides last year’s audit of the NNRR revealed a $72,000 loan by NNRR director Mark Bassett to the NNRR comprised of uncompensated business expenses to the railroad.

While it is against general accounting practices for an employee of a company to “loan” money to the same company NNRR supporters claim that the so called red flag raised in the audit is but an excuse in a long grudge match against Bassett and Ely city councilman Marty Westland.

elkofair2014To back their up allegations Bassett and board members released a long list of Westland actions both before and after he was elected to the city council in 2011 where he inserted himself into NNRR operations including setting up a rival corporation, using the NNRR logo, writing up unfounded safety violations, and interfering in a grant application that may have cost the rail road over $10 million.

“I think it is odd that no one said anything about the previous year’s audit that had some of the same issues,” Bassett said at the time. “It was only after the last election where Marty got some of his cronies elected to the council that it comes up.”

In the last city election the self described reform movement took the majority on the Ely City Council.

wrecaqua“During the election they complained that the so called Good Ol’ Boy network was using the city council to pursue personal vendettas,” said now former NNRR board chairman John Gianoli. “Now they are doing it.”

While admitting that he had indeed set up a corporation in 2008 that would seem to be in competition with the NNRR, Westland said that now defunct enterprise existed only to run the northern non-historical part of the rail road.

While some in Ely were almost gleeful that the city council had moved from Bassett an employee albeit a very important employee to attack board members Gianoli and Leith others expressed not a small amount of trepidation.

Both men are highly respected and very powerful life long residents of Ely whose reputations are virtually above reproach.

While their support of Bassett is strong and perhaps considered a mater of honor by attacking that honor the reformers on the city council may have raised this confrontation to a whole new level.

centraphone

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