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Bids sought on new school for Spring Creek

ELKO – The school board is seeking bids for a new Spring Creek elementary school, which is estimated at $33 million.

Trustees voted unanimously Monday to advertise for bids for the school on Parkchester Drive in Spring Creek’s Marina Hill’s tract 100.

Bids will be opened March 15 and the school board will approve at the March 27 meeting.

In 2017, Spring Creek was chosen as the site of the new elementary school in the district to alleviate overcrowding at Spring Creek Elementary. The Spring Creek Association sold an 11-acre parcel of land to the district for $240,000 to construct the new school.

The school’s design mirrors West Wendover Elementary School, said Superintendent Jeff Zander, adding it also saved about three percent of the architectural and engineering fees from Design West Architects.

“We saved some money there,” Zander said. “Design West charges seven percent for the design fee, but the cost was only four percent.”

Zander said the plans were intended not to “underbuild” the school, and it includes two alternate additions for six additional classrooms and/or a locker room off of the gymnasium.

If approved in the final bid, the six classrooms could raise the capacity of the school, which starts at 713 students, Zander said.

“The capacity is variable, but is based on 23 students per classroom,” Zander said. “If they approve the alternate, it would increase the capacity by 138 students to a total of 851 student capacity.”

The second alternate, an additional locker room, could be used to provide a facility for tournaments or for other local needs, Zander said, but one or both of the alternates could be removed if the actual bid is in excess of the proposed amount.

Those alternates were part of West Wendover’s school, Zander said, but were removed after the final bid came in, which was $5 million in excess. Completed in 2016, the school’s final cost was about $26.9 million, including the land acquisition.

“We were fortunate as a result of the timing of the bid, this project did not require the payment of prevailing wages,” Zander said, adding that for this project, prevailing wage came to about 25 percent of the total.

It is expected that if everything runs smoothly, construction of the Spring Creek school could start in the spring, Zander said.

“Optimistically, we could break ground this spring if there’s some healthy competition and the bid comes in at a reasonable price,” Zander said.

Once the school is completed, the Spring Creek boundaries will be “readjusted” by the district for each of the three elementary schools, which includes Sage Elementary and Spring Creek Elementary.

“We’d have approximately 500 elementary students per school,” Zander said, adding that the school is being called the Parkchester School for now, but it will change.

“A naming committee will be formed and it’s the general policy to name the school after the nearby locality,” Zander said.

Because of scheduling issues among board members and Zander who is attending a conference that starts on Tuesday, the regular meeting was set for Monday, Feb. 12. The next regular meeting is set for Feb. 27.

Republican candidates keep it all business at the Lincoln Day Dinner

ELKO – Business growth and employment were the main talking points of Republican candidates attending the Lincoln Day Dinner, including U.S. Sen. Dean Heller.

About 215 ticket holders arrived at the Boys and Girls Club on Feb. 9 to meet candidates running for state and local offices. The fundraising event for the Elko County Republican Party included dinner followed by a candidate forum and an auction.

Most candidates pointed to bolstering the economy through job creation as part of their goals for rural Nevada, while voters said they were anxious to hear what their local officials had to say.

Running for re-election, Heller pointed to the 3 percent unemployment rate in Elko County compared with the state’s 5 percent unemployment rate as a result of the tax package approved in the Senate, crediting President Donald Trump for the passage of the bill.

“That’s the number one thing Trump has done for Nevada,” Heller said. “We’re second to none in job growth.”

Candidate for lieutenant governor “Scott “ Anthony Lafata said he saw Trump’s effectiveness in the economy in the state, and said it had “improved” but now it was up to the state to keep the momentum going.

“It’s our role now to attract, retain and grow new business,” he said.

Lafata said as lieutenant governor he would bring new companies into rural Nevada and support small business owners because of his career as a business management consultant for 35 years.

“I would eliminate the Commerce Tax and simplify regulations and fees for small business,” Lafata said.

Recently announcing his candidacy for lieutenant governor on the Republican ticket, Eugene Hoover also pointed to Trump’s tax cut bill as a reason for Nevada’s low unemployment numbers, but said there is still a need for affordable housing and work needed to be done with counties to mitigate the issue.

Hoover also said he would look at economic development and tourism, not just for rural Nevada, but for the entire state if elected.

“To prosper in Elko, we all need additional tourism dollars,” Hoover said. “What can we do to work together with Elko to make that happen?”

Jared Fisher of Las Vegas is running for governor. He looked at economic development through additional means, and said one of his goals if elected would be to get rural Nevada “connected to the rest of the world,” such as through tourism and stronger broadband service.

Fisher said one way would be to utilize the public lands as a draw for tourism, pointing to a partnership between Caliente, the BLM and the U.S. Forest Service as an example, but he also said he felt strongly about getting rural areas faster online service.

“If you can connect the world in the rurals, you can run any business you want near the interstate or the highways,” Fisher said. “It opens up all kinds of opportunities.”

Reaching back to his work on the Bicycle and Pedestrian Board through the Nevada Department of Transportation, Fisher said he wants to look at increasing the amount of passing lanes on two-lane highways in rural areas for safer travel.

“We have more money that can be spent on that,” Fisher said. “Those roads are scary.”

Republican candidates for state treasurer Bob Beers and Derek Uehara expressed their desire to improve economic growth in rural Nevada’s different sectors.

Beers said that as treasurer, he would encourage short-term investments by local governments in rural Nevada and pointed to his experience as debt manager for Clark County, a five-time elected state senator, and a certified public accountant, making him a qualified candidate.

Uehara said one of his goals if elected would be to promote the 529 college savings plans that would send more high school students to Nevada colleges and tech schools, preparing the youth of Nevada to be competitive in the workforce with other states.

The topic of business is also a factor that Assemblyman John Ellison said was his motivation for returning to the lower chamber of the Legislature in his bid for re-election.

He and other Republicans are “100 percent pro business. I’ve made sure business stays in business,” said Ellison, who is also the owner of Ellison Electric.

Mayor Chris Johnson is challenging him for the seat in the primary.

At the dinner were people looking to see what the candidates had to say going into the 2018 primaries.

Gratton Miller, who is intending to run for Elko City Council, said he attended the event as an “opportunity to see the local and regional candidates.”

Realtor Lee Gurr called the 2018 election an “interesting” one to watch and said she was “thrilled with the turnout” at this year’s dinner compared with the previous year that was “not as well attended.”

“I wanted to hear what other Republicans in the county are thinking right now,” Gurr said. “Let’s hear what the people are saying.”

State Sen. Pete Goicoechea attended the dinner for similar purposes, although he is not up for election this year. He said he had mixed feelings about Trump’s first year in office.

“He’s trying with immigration and tax cuts. He’s getting something done, more than in the last 20 years,” Goicoechea said. “But I’m concerned for the BLM proposal to have the regional office in Salt Lake City and there’s some stuff in the Interior I’m not tickled with.”

Not in attendance were Attorney General Adam Laxalt, who is running for governor, and U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei who is seeking re-election.

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Public land development to pay for parks upkeep

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration’s infrastructure plan includes $18 billion to create a public lands infrastructure fund for the Interior Department. Most of the money would come from revenue generated by energy development on federal lands.

The money would be used to whittle down an estimated $16 billion backlog in maintenance for national parks, wildlife refuges and other public lands.

The Interior Department has separately proposed $1.3 billion in the next budget year to address the maintenance backlog, which includes more than $11 billion for the National Park Service alone.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said the nation’s parks and wildlife refuges “are being loved to death” and need significant work to keep pace with increased number of visitors.

Trump is urging Congress to pass what he’s calling the “biggest and boldest” infrastructure plan.

Trump is making his case as he meets with a group of local and state officials, including governors, state legislators, mayors and country commissioners.

Marijuana, sports complex on city agenda

ELKO – Elko City Council will hold a public hearing at 5:30 Tuesday on the proposed ordinance amendment that prohibits medical marijuana and recreational marijuana stores inside city limits.

This will be the second reading of the ordinance that the council passed last month after hearing public comment and nixing a compromise offered by Councilman John Patrick Rice, who said a four-year moratorium “would satisfy every single concern you have for the next four years.”

The council can adopt the ordinance Tuesday after the second reading.

Rice had proposed the moratorium on marijuana sales in lieu of an amended zoning ordinance, and he was the only council member to vote against the proposed ordinance on first reading at the Jan. 23 meeting.

The council originally sent the proposed zoning changes to the Elko Planning Commission, which returned it with a don’t-pass recommendation because the commission felt the city’s regulations for business licenses would prevent marijuana sales.

The requirements for business licenses say that businesses can’t break federal laws, and marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, although legal in Nevada.

The agenda for the council meeting that begins at 4 p.m. Tuesday is packed, with a variety of action items beyond the marijuana ordinance, including consideration of whether to award or reject bids for the Elko Sports Complex Project.

Sports Complex

The council also will consider a proposal to restructure bid specifications and go out for bid again for the sports complex work.

According to the agenda, the council authorized city staff at its Nov. 14, 2017, meeting to solicit bids, and the staff reduced the scope of the project in hopes of having enough funds for a base bid. The base bid included site grading, wetland construction, utility installation, three playing fields, plaza development, parking lot development, construction of a sound wall and landscaping.

The city received three bids for the project, but they are all well above the budget available for the sports complex.

The agenda states that the apparent lowest bidder is Granite Construction with a total bid of a little more than $12 million. Staff-recommended additions to the project would then put the bid proposal at a little more than $12.3 million. The budgeted amount for the work outlined is a little less than $8.79 million.

The proposal for seeking new bids instead would cover site grading, installation of electrical utilities, except omitting a few items, wetland mitigation, water sources to wetlands, storm drainage infrastructure, field lighting and the sound wall, according to the agenda. Left out are playing fields, parking lot and plaza development.

“While the example in the agenda envisions a possible 2018 project, followed by a subsequent 2019 project, that is just one of many options available,” Elko City Manager Curtis Calder said in an email Friday. “We will be discussing the pros and cons of each option during Tuesday’s council meeting.”

He said if a “two-bid concept is pursued, then the initial bid could be awarded this spring, and a second bid package could be solicited in the fall for 2019 construction.”

Calder said even if the council awards the entire project this year, utilities wouldn’t be installed at the site until September because they need to cross the Humboldt River, so the landscaping probably wouldn’t be started until the spring of 2019 and the fields wouldn’t be ready for ball games until the fall of 2019.

The sports complex is to be built on part of an 80-acre city-owned site lined by Bullion Road on the south side of the Humboldt River west of Errecart Boulevard.

Other business

The council also will have first reading on two ordinances to annex property into the city, including one from Surebec Holdings LLC to annex 62.03 acres northeast of Statice Street and Delaware Avenue. The Elko Planning Commission voted Feb. 6 to recommend the annexation and approved rezoning the site from general agriculture to industrial commercial.

City Planner Cathy Laughlin told the planning panel the land in question was part of state-owned property that was traded, and development of the property would be an economic boost to the city.

The other annexation ordinance slated for first reading would cover a three-acre parcel on the north side of West Idaho Street and just east of Interstate 80 exit 298 for Swire Coca-Cola. The planning commission voted Feb. 6 to recommend approval of the annexation.

The planners also approved on Feb. 6 rezoning the three acres from general agriculture to light industrial.

The company plans to expand its warehouse, and it also wants the annexation for a future Sheep Creek Trail water line extension, according to reports at the planning commission meeting.