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NBC to pull KENV affiliation

ELKO — KENV loses its NBC affiliation Dec. 31. Starting in 2018, the station will offer entertainment shows instead of syndicated programs and local news.

The station on channel 10 is licensed by Las Vegas-based Intermountain West Communications Co. and has been operated by Sinclair Broadcast Group since 2013. KENV had been receiving its NBC broadcast through the Sinclair-owned Reno affiliate KRNV. Local news produced by a small local staff supplemented the national programs.

KENV will stay on air with “Comet,” a sci-fi network that Sinclair created with MGM. Local news, however, will be unavailable on KENV, as the loss of the NBC affiliation makes it cost-prohibitive to generate programming unique to Elko.

“Losing our NBC affiliation makes our local news operation financially infeasible,” said KENV General Manager Amie Chapman. “We are proud of the news coverage that our station has provided the Elko community over the years and hope that the NBC in Salt Lake City, or other Salt Lake stations for that matter, will continue that tradition.”

Chapman said the local employees including two reporters are employees of Intermountain West, and “we are still assessing the staffing needs of the station post-NBC, but they would be welcome at our other Nevada stations or our Salt Lake City station.”

The fate of the studio, located on the Great Basin College Campus, is undecided.

“We are still assessing this,” Chapman said.

After the cutoff date, Elko-area viewers wanting to watch national NBC programs must tune into the Salt Lake City NBC affiliate, KSL-TV on channel 5, via satellite or cable. That’s because Elko falls into Salt Lake City’s designated market area, a geographical region in which local TV viewing is measured and audiences are shared, according to The Nielson Co.

Audiences will also be able watch the KRNV channel out of Reno, which the Elko Television District plans to rebroadcast, as long as legally allowed.

“The TV district has plans to continue to broadcast NBC here in Elko until we know for sure what the plans of KSL are,” said Dale Lotspeich of Eagle Communications, the TV district’s contract employee and former Elko County Sheriff. “[We] would need something from the station or feds … some type of official notification that we are not authorized to translate that.”

The Elko Television District Board of Directors, led by Chairman Paul Gardner of Elko Broadcasting, will discuss which NBC affiliate to share at its regular monthly meeting 6 p.m., Dec. 14 at the Elko County Nannini Administration Building.

“We do want to continue NBC network service to the community because we think that is important,” Gardner said. “We do a survey every couple of years. Our constituents have voiced very strongly that they would like Nevada news, and we all are Nevada taxpayers, so why would we not follow up with Nevada content?”

Sinclair stated that the Federal Communications Commission’s Oct. 24 decision to eliminate the broadcast main studio rule is not related to KENV losing its NBC affiliation. The commissioners voted 3-2 to reverse an 80-year-old rule that required radio and TV broadcast stations to have a main studio located in or near its local community, saying that the change would produce cost-saving benefits.

“The main studio rule had nothing to do with the changes at KENV,” Chapman said. “They are the result of losing our NBC affiliation.”

KENV, Elko’s first TV station, went on air in March 1997 after Sunbelt Broadcasting (now Intermountain West) invested more than $1 million for equipment and a building it leased at Great Basin College, according to Elko Daily Free Press archives. At that time, the station was managed by Jim Elliott and staffed by a full –time anchor and Lori Gilbert, who started as a part-time reporter and anchor.

Representatives of GBC could not be reached for comment about the future of the studio by press time.

Toni Milano / Toni R. Milano 

Recipients of the 2017 Mayor's Arts Awards hold bighorn sheep created by Barry Crawford. From left: Lori Gilbert, Sandy Beeler, Jennifer Anderson, Jacques Errecart, Joan Anderson, Patty Fox and Paul Gardner. 

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Mayor's Arts Awards recognize community artists, businesses

ELKO – Theater arts, education and businesses synonymous with the local art scene were recognized at the third annual Mayor’s Arts Awards presented Tuesday at City Hall.

Receiving the honors were Sandy Beeler as Individual Artist; Patty Fox for Art Education; Duncan Littlecreek Gallery for Arts Organization; and Elko Broadcasting Co. for Service to the Arts. The awards were presented by Mayor Chris Johnson and the City of Elko Arts and Cultural Advisory Board.

Johnson gave each honoree a Nevada desert bighorn sheep sculpture made with found materials by artist Barry Crawford.

Beeler, an on-air personality with Ruby Radio, was recognized for her work as an “actress, director, painter, film producer and radio personality,” Johnson said, noting that she is known for her improvisation skills and for serving as a master of ceremonies at annual events.

She also sits on the board of directors for Ghost Light Productions and has participated in more than 20 productions by Ghost Light, Silver Stage Players and Great Basin College, recently directing for Play Festival.

Beeler received the sculpture with her son by her side and said she was happy the Mayor’s Arts Awards honored the performance arts and other non-traditional forms of art, thanking them for the honor.

“Thank you for recognizing performance art as an art, which in its right has its own kind of power,” Beeler said. She later praised the Arts and Cultural Board for being open to accepting all forms of art in their selection process.

“It’s fun to see different art forms recognized,” Beeler said.

For more than 40 years, Fox has taught art in Elko schools, teaching at GBC for more than 20 years. Before retiring this year, Fox developed a permanent collection of previous art instructors at GBC that is currently on exhibit at the Leonard Student Center.

“She is also a full-time artist, working mostly in watercolor, but said she likes to dabble in all mediums,” Johnson said, adding that her award-winning work is part of permanent collections of many museums and galleries.

“I’m really privileged and honored to be chosen for the Art Education award,” Fox said, thanking the board for the honor. “It has been my life and my focus in Elko for many years. It’s been very rewarding. I think I’ve taught most everybody in Elko County how to draw.”

After the presentation, Fox reflected on the relationships the honorees had with each other after living in the community for many years.

“I think it’s a great group that we have together. We’ve all kind of grown up together and it’s fun to see that we’re all being represented here today, so that’s fun for me,” Fox said.

The award for Arts Organization was presented to Duncan Littlecreek Gallery owners Jacques Errecart, Jennifer Anderson and Joan Anderson for their support of art, music, theater, poetry and storytelling based out of their downtown location.

In addition to exhibiting contemporary artwork by local and out-of-town artists, the DLC hosts weekly live music acts and theater productions including Poe and Pints and Bard in the Yard, Johnson said.

“If you’re looking for art in the atmosphere of downtown Elko, the Duncan Littlecreek Gallery and Wine Bar is a sure bet,” Johnson said in his introduction.

“During the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, their open mic night is one of the most popular in town with poets and storytellers.”

The three owners are also involved in art-related organizations including the Elko Parks Foundation, Johnson said, noting that Joan Anderson served on the Arts and Cultural Advisory Board from 2008 to 2016.

Errecart credited his partners for the award, saying they each had the same goal of creating a place for artists in Elko.

“I always tell people that the Duncan Littlecreek is actually kind of a confluence of three very distinct personalities, but we all share a common vision and that is we just want to elevate the value of art in this community,” Errecart said.

“To be recognized for following our vision is quite an honor. Thank you.”

Joan Anderson said after the ceremony the award was meaningful for the years of effort they’ve put into making the DLC a venue for artists in the Elko area.

“We feel really honored to be chosen for the organization,” Anderson said. “We’ve been working hard for a lot of years to bring more art culture to Elko. We’re really grateful getting this.”

The Service to the Arts award was given to Elko Broadcasting Co. for featuring artists and promoting art-based organizations in the community through radio stations KELK and KLKO.

“They give artists and art organizations valuable airtime, entire shows and news features, not just public service announcements,” Johnson said, listing several events including the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, National Basque Festival, Elko County Fair, the Silver State Stampede and Art in the Park.

“Elko Broadcasting will always give airtime to any of our local art and cultural institutions, as well as including the California Trail Center, the Western Folklife Center, the Northeastern Nevada Museum, the Elko County Art Club, the Lamoille Women’s Club and many, many others,” Johnson said.

Paul Gardner accepted the award with on-air personality Lori Gilbert, explaining to the audience that the company “[doesn’t] do things as much as our employees do things. Lori Gilbert has been at the forefront of our microphones and service to our community for a long, long time.”

“We do well by doing good and if we can do good for our community we’ll continue to do well for ourselves,” Gardner said. “Thank you very, very much.”

D. Ray Gardner, who with his wife Ginger Gardner purchased Elko Broadcasting in 1972, was also in attendance, along with Paul’s wife Ketra.

Gilbert said after ceremony that she was “happy to represent a family-owned radio station” and being part of a community radio station that “represents [and] reflects our community through our news and our programming, especially arts and culture.”

Catherine Wines, chairwoman for the Arts and Culture Advisory Board, said this year’s recipients joined “a nice list of the art leaders in the community.”

“We’re just thrilled with everybody. Everybody was so deserving and it’s really becoming a prestigious list.”

NNRH: No connection with Dr. Patel

ELKO – Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital issued a statement Wednesday disavowing any current affiliation with Dr. Devendra Patel, who was arrested Tuesday on federal opioid and fraud charges.

“Dr. Devendra Patel has no connection to Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital. He has not been affiliated in any way with the hospital for a number of years,” said the statement.

A release from the U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday listed Patel’s business name as Northeastern Nevada Cardiology.

“There has been some confusion regarding the name Northeastern Nevada Cardiology,” stated NNRH. “Although Dr. Patel apparently labeled his private practice as such, this “dba” is legally licensed by Northeastern Nevada Physician Practices LLC. This group consists of physicians who are, in fact, employed by the hospital. Northeastern Nevada Physician Practices LLC and the cardiologists who are a part of it have no association and no connection with Dr. Patel or his private practice.”

According to U.S. District Court records, Patel filed a civil lawsuit on Oct. 23 claiming employment discrimination and harassment based on race and national origin against NNRH owner PHC-Elko Inc.

The hospital’s response stated that Dr. Patel relocated to Elko in 2004 “and entered into an Agreement Regarding Relocation and Retention of Physician Services with the Hospital.” The corporation denied, however, that the agreement constituted an employment agreement, “and further denies that Plaintiff was ever an employee of the Hospital.”

The hospital stated Patel maintained medical staff privileges following the expiration of that three-year agreement “until the end of 2016,” and during that time he “utilized the equipment and services of the Hospital to provide cardiology service to patients.”

The hospital denied that its management or staff spread “untrue rumors” about his practice and created a hostile working environment.

Patel “was warned that if he was fired by five patients in a one-year period, the MEC would revoke his medical staff privileges,” the hospital stated in its response to the complaint.

“All decisions made and actions taken by Defendant with respect to Plaintiff’s medical staff privilege were privileged, immune and/or justified based on legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons and were in good faith, without malice, and without any intent to injure or harm him; and therefore, were not in violation of any law,” PHC-Elko Inc. stated.

Prior to the lawsuit, Dr. Patel states that on or about March 21, 2016, he filed a complaint against NNRH with the Nevada Equal Rights Commission.

He was scheduled to appear Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Reno, where he faces 36 charges of illegally prescribing opioids such as as oxycodone and hydrocodone; and three counts of health-care fraud.

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Heller, Amodei describe benefits of tax bill

ELKO — A tax reform bill passes about only once every generation, said Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., and members of the U.S. Senate recently passed the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.”

“Franky it’s a pretty good piece of leg for the state of Nevada,” Heller said in a press call with staff from rural Nevada newspapers Dec. 13.

Heller described the bill as an attempt to grow the economy, add jobs and make America competitive in the worldwide economy, but critics say the legislation is a ruse.

The Senate version of the bill includes doubling the standard deduction per couple, doubling the child tax credit and providing tax rate decreases for households and businesses.

For the average middle class family in Nevada — assuming an income of about $55,000 a year with two children — tax relief would total about 35 percent, Heller said.

He added that lack of economic growth over the past 10 years led to a reduction in the average family’s spending power by an estimated $7,000 a year.

“This is truly a middle class tax relief bill,” he said. “I’m thrilled that’s the way it worked out.”

Across the country, small businesses and corporations would also see a tax rate decrease per the version that the Senate passed. The reductions could help these businesses create jobs and keep them in the U.S.

Heller said 5,100 large businesses that have moved abroad over the past 10 years likely would have stayed if the tax system had been more competitive.

“Those businesses would still be located in America,” he said.

The legislation is now in the conference committee, where representatives appointed by House and Senate leaders will attempt to produce a final report from the Senate and House versions of the bill.

When the House version of the tax bill passed, U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., said he examined the effect the legislation would have on District 2.

“After having devoted almost the entire week with everyone in my Washington office to determine how this bill would affect individual taxpayers, joint filing taxpayers, and businesses,” he said in a statement, “I’ve come to the conclusion that for the vast majority of federal taxpayers in CD-2 [Congressional District 2], this bill results in simplified filing and a tax cut for most CD-2 federal taxpayers.”

Amodei also described the impact of the House version on businesses. The maximum tax rate on business would be 25 percent, and federal taxes rates on corporate taxable income would be reduced from up to 35 percent to a flat rate of 20 percent.

“Each of these changes will help businesses and corporations expand, hire new employees, increase wages, and also give them the resources they need to stay competitive in the global marketplace,” Amodei said.

Officials from the Democratic Party decried the tax bill and Heller’s support of the Senate version, saying the legislation would cut taxes for the rich and corporations at the cost of the middle class while raising health insurance premiums.

“Senator Heller promised this year to protect Nevadans’ health care and put forward real middle-class tax relief, and his vote for this Republican tax plan is now the latest in a chain of broken promises,” said U.S. Rep. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev. “Instead of strengthening the ladder of economic opportunity for the next generation, Dean Heller’s tax bill is a deceptive ruse to burden working families with tax hikes and premium spikes.”

Heller said he expects a vote on final passage of the tax bill by early next week before returning it to the House.

U.S. Senate Photographic Studio- Official Senate Photographer