ELKO – The school year is off to a smooth start around the county except for the students at Grammar No. 2, who are being kept out of classrooms because of a rabid bat.
Last week, a teacher heard a noise coming from the ceiling tiles and called the maintenance staff to see what it was. Staff discovered a bat caught in the ceiling, and its behavior created suspicion that it may be infected with rabies.
The test for rabies came back positive, and now the school district will have to decide what’s next after officially canceling the first week of classes at Grammar No. 2.
Elko County School District Superintendent Jeff Zander said bats at the school are nothing new, but the presence of rabies has created concern from the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services.
“For years, there have been bats at Grammar No. 2, and they caught a live bat on Friday and the test came back positive,” he said. “The health department told us there can’t be any students in that building until all the bats are eradicated.”
Because the bats are migratory, they are protected from being trapped and killed. The school district might have to put a new roof on the building, a project that would keep students out of the school until after Christmas break.
Zander said the district had a similar problem at Owyhee Combined School about 10 years ago.
“We had to build bat motels on the telephone poles out there so that when we displaced them, they had a place to go,” he said. “It was a long process. It took about four or five months to get all the bats out of the attic area so they could seal it up. That being said I think the bats are back in there today.”
If addressing the bat issue keeps students out of Grammar No. 2 on a long-term basis, the district would move students to Mountain View, Adobe or Northside.
There are 23 bats species native to Nevada, and they’re generally harmless to humans. Only 11 reported rabies cases occurred in the county between 1989 and 2005, according to the Nevada Department of Wildlife. Nine of those cases involved bats.
NDOW conservation Educator Joe Doucette said people should exercise caution when approaching a bat that is behaving in any way that is out of the ordinary. Being a vector species, bats can transfer diseases to other species, including humans.
“If an animal is acting abnormally, they should obviously just stay away from it,” he said, explaining that anyone who sees a suspicious bat should contact NDOW. “We’ll make arrangements to try to come remove the animal and have it tested.”
Doucette continued by saying that rabies often disables a bat and its ability to fly before it has a chance to spread it to another bat or human.
When a case of rabies is discovered in an animal, it is reported to NDOW and to the Nevada Department of Agriculture, which keeps track of the data.
Zander said the district is not rushing to make any permanent decision. A specialist is scheduled to visit the elementary school and assess the situation before the end of the week.
“If [the health department] is saying we can’t have kids in there, we have to get the insurance carrier and the authorities together to put together a remediation plan,” he said. “If it’s going to tie that building up for a couple of weeks, we’re going to have to set up some classrooms on some other campuses to facilitate the education of those kids. It’s going to take us a couple of days to do that. It’s not something we can do overnight. We can’t have rabid bats in our schools, so we have to get this figured out.”
ELKO – U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto encouraged Democrats to “keep Nevada blue” in the 2018 election and touched on several party platforms including healthcare and the environment during the keynote address to her constituents at a fundraising dinner.
Masto, D-Nev., spoke to more than 250 on Saturday at the Roosevelt/Kennedy Dinner hosted by the Elko County Democrats, which followed a meeting of the Nevada State Democratic Central Committee.
In her speech, Masto told local and state Democrat leaders the key to winning seats in the 2018 midterm election was to reach out to rural Nevada for votes.
“There is no doubt our party has to make greater effort to engage and listen to the concerns of rural communities,” Masto said. “We have to do a better job of understanding their unique needs and prioritizing their vote in every election.”
Masto criticized President Donald Trump and the Republican Senate for “harming rural families” in repealing the American Healthcare Act, and praised Gov. Brian Sandoval for bringing Centene Corp. to provide insurance to 17 Nevada counties including Elko.
Telling the crowd she felt “energized and ready for 2018,” Masto encouraged the crowd to carry the Democrats’ message of “fighting for those who are struggling … the most vulnerable” in the community.
“We are all fighting for a stronger economy and fairer society that works for everyone, not just the rich and powerful,” Masto said. “Whether you are an immigrant casino worker in Las Vegas or West Wendover, or whether you are a teacher in Reno, or a rancher or miner right here in Elko, those values should resonate, and we must share that message all over the state.”
The dinner concluded Masto’s visit to Elko, part of a tour of rural Nevada that Masto said gave her the opportunity to meet with rural community “government officials, ranchers, miners, individuals and business owners.”
“I’ve really had the opportunity to talk about how I can address the issues through the committees I sit on,” Masto said. “I’ve had some great conversations.”
Masto serves on committees including banking; housing and urban affairs; energy and natural resources; commerce, science and transportation; Indian Affairs; Special Committee on Aging; and Senate Special Rules.
Speaking before Masto, Assemblyman and State Party Chair William McCurdy II, D-Las Vegas, and West Wendover Mayor Daniel Corona reinforced the theme of the evening: “Keep Nevada blue” in the next election and include rural Nevada in the campaigns.
Results of the 2016 general election show that most voters in two out of 17 counties, Washoe and Clark, voted for the Democratic presidential candidate. The remaining more rural counties voted Republican.
“It’s really important that the rural counties aren’t looked over anymore,” Corona said, explaining that the party needs Democrats who are willing to travel to rural areas.
McCurdy said it was important for Democrat candidates running for a state office to not “take rural counties for granted” and to “make a stop or two and lend an ear to folks they are depending on to elect them in office” in rural towns.
Tom Cordoza, committee chair for the Lander County Democrat Party, said Masto “said everything I’ve been thinking.”
“I like what I see, but she has to have more support by the state Democrat Party as a whole by putting others in Congress,” Cordoza said, “otherwise she stands alone.”
Mike Smith, a 30-year member of the Elko Democrat Party, said he liked Masto’s speech and thought she was “doing a great job in Washington, D.C.,” adding that she “keeps her phone line open …. She pays attention to the people.”
Smith said the party was “building all the time. We’re getting more energized, we’re having more people willing to come out and say, ‘I’m a Democrat.’”
Elko Democratic Chair Steve Anderson said there was a “really good turnout for the dinner” and credited Corona and McCurdy’s speeches as “a good lead in” to Masto’s keynote address.
Anderson said he has been following Masto in the capital and said she “is doing a great job for Nevada and the people.”
The fundraiser included the Elko Arinak Basque Dancers and a cake auction.
The price of gold neared $1,310 per ounce as the market closed Monday, marking the highest price since November 2016, according to Kitco Metals Inc.
Market analyst and Kitco contributor Gary Wagner attributed the 1.6 percent gain to the weak American dollar and bidding up by investors and traders.
In most of 2017, gold prices have been between $1,200 and $1,300 per ounce.
The day’s high was $1,312.70, and the low was $1,293.40.