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Council revives pot sales ban

ELKO — Elko City Council will be working again to block marijuana shops in Elko via the zoning path, despite the Elko Planning Commission’s recommendation that the council deny a proposed ordinance amendment in part because regulations on business licenses cover pot prohibition.

After hearing the pros and cons, and Councilman John Patrick Rice’s strong comments against any action to prohibit medical and recreational marijuana businesses, the council voted Tuesday evening to bring the proposed amendment to the city’s zoning ordinance back for first reading.

Rice, who was the only one to vote against coming back with the ordinance, chastised the council, stating that “we aspire to be a non-intrusive government,” rather than regulating citizens’ use of marijuana and worrying about the mining industry’s strong policies against drug use.

“The mines are fully capable of managing cannabis themselves,” Rice said.

Councilman Reece Keener said he was “firm in my position” that allowing marijuana businesses in the city would be “very mining negative,” and the city should do what it can to promote the mining industry. He also said he supports law enforcement’s opposition to marijuana sales in Elko.

The Elko Planning Commission voted 4-3 in December to reject the proposed amendment to the zoning ordinance that would prohibit marijuana shops, partly because the commission felt the city’s regulations for business licenses covers the issue. The council had referred the amendment to the planners.

City Planner Cathy Laughlin said the city can’t issue business licenses to any business that would break federal law, so the commission felt there was “no need” to amend the zoning ordinance. Marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, although legal in Nevada.

Elko Police Chief Ben Reed reiterated what he has said at earlier meetings on marijuana that he opposes allowing marijuana shops in the city, and he urged the council to go ahead with amending the zoning ordinance.

He said the amendment would give the city a “stronger position” besides relying on the provision on business licenses.

Rice said he was concerned about the zoning ordinance targeting specific businesses.

“I think you are hiding behind the ordinance,” he said.

Councilman Robert Schmidtlein proposed bringing back the proposed amendment for consideration to block marijuana shops.

He said Nevada law allows people to grow their own marijuana and smoke it in their own homes so “if people want to use it in their households, so be it.”

Mike Magney of the PACE Coalition reiterated his opposition to businesses in Elko selling marijuana, citing reports about marijuana use hurting tourism and convention growth in Denver, where marijuana is sold.

“We are a tourist state, and Elko relies on tourism as well as other industries,” he told the council.

Sean Fericks said during public comment that Nevada is known for its freedoms, and he opposed the zoning amendment. He also said imposing morality on others means those using medical marijuana have to drive to Ely, Reno or Las Vegas.

“It’s not up to the city council to tell me what to put in my body,” he said.

Mayor Chris Johnson said he has heard from many people opposed to allowing marijuana shops in the city.

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Nevada Health Center brings health care options for rural patients

ELKO – Medical care, pediatrics and dentistry are rolled into one stop at Nevada Health Center in Elko.

Open to the community, Nevada Health Center provides family care, women’s health, and dental to patients of all ages and income levels.

Nevada Health accepts most insurances, including Medicare and Medicaid. Recently, Dr. John Tkach began accepting Medicare.

“We don’t turn anyone away based on their ability to pay. We open our doors to anyone in the community,” said Terri Clark, regional director of operations for Nevada Health Center.

Nevada Health is also a “safety net provider,” offering medical care to patients who need financial support in health care.

“Community health is about providing quality health services to the entire community,” Clark said.

Clark explained that over the years, the idea that Nevada Health Centers was for one segment of the community is slowly going away.

“It’s not pigeonholed to only the underserved or those who can’t afford the care,” Clark said. “It’s quality medicine with quality providers for anyone who needs support,” Clark said.

“We do make a point for being there for those populations that need that extra help.”

One benefit to Nevada Health having multiple providers under one roof is to offer multiple levels of care for one patient, Clark explained, which is a “medical home concept.”

“It’s not a one-size fits all,” Clark said. “Once that patient is assessed, we have a variety of levels of providers and options to offer them to make sure they get the correct skill set.”

Being a federally qualified health center means making sure that the center can provide a full-range of services for a patient either directly or through referrals, said Stacey Giomi, director of facilities and emergency preparedness.

Connecting rural patients to specialists is easier thanks to telemedicine, which is available at the Elko practice, said Giomi. “The best use of telemedicine is with specialists, instead of someone having to drive to either Salt Lake or Reno.”

“It’s relatively new, but it’s where medicine is going to start heading, particularly for rural and frontier communities where you can’t get a doctor out there at all.”

Because of the need for rural physicians, Nevada Health is working with the University of Nevada, Reno’s School of Medicine to bring in four residents in the next two years to work at the center starting in July.

“The hope is that they will fall in love with Elko or Carlin and they’ll stay, put down roots and become long-term community assets,” Giomi said.

The goal of the residency program is to recruit and keep those resident physicians long term, Clark said, adding that about 80 percent of residents stay in the community they do a residency in and about 30 percent return to their home.

“We don’t want to lose them. We need these medical providers in Nevada,” said Clark.


Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen speaks during a meeting with President Donald Trump and lawmakers on immigration policy Tuesday in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington.

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$1,000 reward in Jarbidge moose poaching case

Nevada Department of Wildlife game wardens are seeking information on an adult moose that was illegally killed 20 miles southeast of Jarbidge.

The dead moose was discovered and reported by a concerned citizen on Christmas Day 100 yards west of the intersection of the Sun Creek access road and the O’Neil Basin Road, near the boundary of hunt units 072 and 075.

“The moose was killed sometime in middle to late December in a very visible area,” said NDOW Game Warden Fred Esparza. “It’s very possible someone might have seen something that could be helpful in catching the individuals responsible. Even if you just saw a vehicle parked in that area or a hunter on an ATV or UTV, we would like that information.”

There is a $1,000 reward from Operation Game Thief for information leading to a conviction of this crime. Witnesses may call OGT at 800-992-3030 to report information on this or any other wildlife related crime.

This is the third illegally harvested moose in the last three years. The first two shootings were mistakenly killed during cow elk hunts and self-reported. This incident is not believed to be a misidentification as the head was removed and a large portion of the meat was taken.

At this time, NDOW does not conduct formal surveys to estimate the population of moose. However, the number of observations and their growing frequency suggest 25-40 moose may permanently reside in the Silver State.

“It’s amazing to see the reaction of people when they see a moose for the first time,” said Esparza. “It’s really unfortunate that these poachers just took that special opportunity away from the rest of us.”