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Spring Creek takes step toward $4.4 million Boys & Girls Club

SPRING CREEK – A proposed Boys & Girls Club recreation center in Spring Creek aims to do more than just offer after school programs and summer camps.

Rusty Bahr, CEO of the Boys & Girls Club, unveiled plans this week for a comprehensive facility to be built on Springfield Parkway next to the existing soccer fields.

The two-story building would include a youth center, gymnasium, fitness center, commercial kitchen, and a recreational center in the first phase. The second phase would add a three-story indoor play land and the third phase an aquatic spray pad.

The club is designed to have the capacity to serve about 2,750 Spring Creek youths with before and after school programs and summer day camps, with busing provided by the Elko County School District, as well as offer multiple-use facilities to the entire Spring Creek community.

The first phase is projected to cost $3,392,500, with the second phase coming in at $415,000 and the third phase at $450,000.

Bahr said the Boys & Girls Club board voted in December to move ahead with the project.

At the presentation, Bahr explained that the association would need to donate 5.3 acres of land to the Boys & Girls Club before the project could move forward because of stipulations from an unnamed donor.

“We have a major donor that is looking at a multi-million dollar contribution to this project,” Bahr said. “We have to have full ownership of the land at the Elko, Wells and Spring Creek locations.”

Barh said the club must meet the stipulation by March 11. So far, the Nevada Department of Transportation and the City of Wells have donated property for clubhouses in Elko and Wells.

Other requirements from the association would be to construct a water rejuvenation system for the spray pad, clear and grade the land in preparation for construction, provide landscaping and snow removal year-round, and donate $35,000 annually to offset the cost of Spring Creek discounted memberships to the facility.

Bahr expects to raise funds throughout the year, with ground breaking set for April 2019 and opening in May 2020.

“We have our initial cost projections now to know that we are on budget,” Bahr said, adding that the initial plans could be toned down to a one-story facility if costs for an elevator exceed adding more square-footage to the building.

Bahr said the facility would not only serve the needs of the youth, but of the Spring Creek sports organizations and the overall community.

“It will be more than just a Boys & Girls Club. Anyone can become a member,” Bahr said.

Day passes and memberships would be offered, with discounts for Spring Creek Association property owners.

The Boys & Girls Club will have ownership, governance and management of the designated land, Bahr said. The organization would oversee the facilities and operations.

Plans also call for adding a football field behind the facility, and Bahr hopes the construction of the Club could lead to paving of the parking area in the Schuckmann’s Sports Complex, making the overall facilities “one of the nicest complexes in America.”

Bahr said enough room was set aside for future expansions, explaining that he expects the facility to outgrow itself in time.

“You never know what the future is going to hold in the next 30 to 40 years,” Bahr said. “We’ll be able to expand almost double the size.”

Spring Creek High School sports and Spring Creek youth football, little league, softball and soccer would be improved by the Club, Bahr said, with an area set aside in the center to accommodate year-round sport team registrations.

Another advantage to the complex is a regulation soccer field, Bahr said, with the potential to host “mini-tournaments to help the soccer program.”

Chairman Josh Park said he was in favor of the plans because of the lack of facilities in Spring Creek for families.

“I think it’s terrific,” Park said. “The donation of the land to me is a slam dunk and the donation of $35,000 is cheap. We spend a lot more on things that get a lot less value.”

Park and director Paddy Legarza each asked Bahr about the possibility of the land and facilities reverting back to the association in the event the Club abandons the property or does not use it as appropriated.

“I wouldn’t want to see it come back to us or be a burden to the association,” Legarza said. “It wouldn’t be right because we can’t upgrade the Horse Palace because we don’t have the funds.”

Bahr said that although the Club would not want anything to happen that would force a default on the club, “It will be just like all of our other projects. If we go bankrupt, or don’t have the ability to sell it ... all of the facilities, you would inherit that.”

“If we ever did default, you would own $5 million in assets that you could turn around and sell at 50 percent,” Bahr said. “We hope that would never happen, but if that were to happen, it would make it financially beneficial to you because you could sell it or run it.”

Bahr explained that the Club could be built because of the “sustainability of this that’s very key to us.”

Before the board unanimously approved a letter of intent to donate 5.3 acres of Spring Creek Association land to the Boys & Girls Club, Park said he did not anticipate any foreseeable problems.

“This is no risk to us,” Park said. “I think we can be patient and do our part.”

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Q&A with Rick Palagi, NNRH retiring CEO

ELKO — Rick Palagi has been the CEO of Northeastern Nevada for four years. He is retiring March 2 after a 40-year career during which he has served 11 communities and hospitals. He and his spouse, Vicki, are relocating to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, to be closer to their grandchildren.

Of what accomplishment during your tenure are you most proud?

We have built a sustainable leadership team that is focused on safe, quality care delivered with compassion. I would never be afraid of putting my life in the hands of our physicians, nurses and technologists.

I am also proud that we have completed the process of donating the medical office building that originally housed the Elko Clinic to Elko County. This gift is intended to support an expansion of services at Nevada Health Center and, most importantly, to provide a platform for UNR’s new family practice residency program. We will see new primary care doctors practicing in our community as a direct result of this donation.

What is the most significant change you have seen at the hospital over the past few years?

Internally, there has been a dramatic culture change where we are now all aligned with the same goals in a consistent, positive and just environment. The result is outstanding care for our patients.

Opening a Cath Lab and launching our Heart Center was also a huge step forward. This involved the recruitment of two extremely talented interventional cardiologists. There are a number of folks walking around Elko today who wouldn’t have made it if our program wasn’t available.

The changing landscape of insurance and the cost of healthcare is a big deal. Most folks are now seeing very high deductibles and increasing out-of-pocket costs. While our contracts with insurance companies in many ways drive what we charge for our services, we have implemented a substantial discount policy. This is crucial for patients who have higher out-of-pocket expenses. Our discount policy keeps patients close to home and not needing to travel out-of-town for care that we can provide here.

What are some of the challenges of running a hospital in a rural area, and how has NNRH striven to overcome them?

We are indeed remote and rural. Not every physician or nurse is comfortable or qualified to practice in this kind of removed setting. They have to be on their game all the time. My experience has been that a good rural nurse could practice in a larger urban center much easier than a nurse coming from a larger hospital where everyone is “specialized” could walk in and carry the water in our facility.

This speaks to the challenges of recruiting to our town. It is imperative to build strong programs with the Great Basin College nursing program and with the [University of Nevada] School of Medicine for the training of physicians and clinical staff. I am pleased that we have strengthened these relationships over the past four years.

Of course, we are always adapting to changes in healthcare policy and payment from the federal level. Sometimes those changes are positive; many times they are difficult to accommodate.

What advice would you offer your successor?

It’s never about “me.” It’s always about “we.” Healthcare is a team sport that requires good coaches and good players working together for the benefit of the patient.

What do you think is in store for the future of medical care in Elko County?

I really see good things happening. We at NNRH have plans for new services. Great Basin College is continuing to expand its healthcare footprint. The new UNR Family Residency Program is critical. Our new partnership with Elko AirOne will continue to blossom.

I think we will need to be more collaborative than we have been in the past, especially with neighboring facilities in Battle Mountain and Winnemucca. I think we can figure out how to support each other better and maybe bring new services to our communities where one hospital alone would not be able to do that.

The commitment and passion that exists in this community by many people will also drive the future of healthcare. I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish in the last four years and I know it will continue. I am excited about moving into a new chapter with Vicki, my wife, to be closer to our grandkids. At the same time, I am sad to leave this community and some of my best friends.

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BLM offers 40 parcels in oil, gas lease sale

RENO — The Bureau of Land Management will offer 40 parcels in Elko, Eureka and Nye counties totaling approximately 69,691 acres at its March quarterly oil and gas lease sale.

The sale includes parcels near Lee and along the west edge of the Ruby Mountains near the White Pine County border.

This sale does not include the 54,000 acres around the Ruby Mountains being analyzed by the U.S. Forest Service after an expression of interest was filed in April 2017. The environmental analysis and draft decision notice for those parcels is expected to be released by mid-March.

Protests have been filed by The Wilderness Society, Friends of Nevada Wilderness and WildEarth Guardians.

Online bidding will begin at 7 a.m. March 13 via Each parcel will have its own unique open bidding period, with start and stop times clearly identified on the auction website.

The open bidding period for each parcel will run for two hours, from start to finish, and bids will only be accepted during a parcel’s open bidding period. The auction website is open to everyone; however, users must register as a bidder on the EnergyNet site before the sale in order to submit bids for any individual parcel.

The lease sale’s environmental assessments, lists and maps of the parcels, and stipulations are online at

The state of Nevada receives 49 percent of the proceeds of each lease sale. In fiscal year 2016, Nevada received approximately $1.4 million from royalties, rentals and bonus bid payments for oil and gas. Statewide, more than 26,000 jobs are tied to mineral and energy development on BLM-managed public lands.

The previous Elko District sale on March 14, 2017, generated $131,245.

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Elko County casinos post highest percentage gain in state

ELKO — Elko County continues to see growth in gambling revenue during 2018.

Casinos here posted double-digit gains in January and the highest percentage gains in the state for the second month in a row.

West Wendover casinos won $14.7 million, an increase of 15.8 percent. Casinos elsewhere in Elko County posted $7.3 million in revenue, an increase of 19.26 percent. The Nevada Gaming Control Board does not provide separate figures for in Elko, Jackpot and Wells.

Statewide, Nevada gambling revenue topped the psychologically important $1 billion threshold in January despite a 2.1 percent year-over-year decline that regulators attributed to the timing of the Chinese New Year and the number of weekend days that month, The Associated Press reported.

Data released Wednesday by the Nevada Gaming Control Board show casinos statewide earned about $1.02 billion from gamblers, a decrease of $21.2 million. The sharpest decline among the markets monitored across the state was the Las Vegas Strip, whose winnings declined 8.9 percent to about $554.8 million.

“We were facing a very difficult comparison,” Mike Lawton, senior analyst with the control board, said of the statewide winnings. “Last January was up 12 percent.”

Lawton attributed the decline to the month having one fewer weekend day compared to January 2017 and the shift of the start of Chinese New Year to February. The timing of the holiday, which traditionally draws crowds of Asian gamblers, in turn, hurt baccarat play — the card game that can be a windfall or whiplash for casinos.

“If you remove baccarat from the equation, total win in the state would have increased by 2.7 percent or $23.6 million,” Lawton said.

Las Vegas saw its eighth consecutive monthly drop in visitation in January. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority on Wednesday reported visitation dropped 3.3 percent to about 3.4 million.