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Elko police release photos of Dotty's robbers

ELKO – Police are following up on leads in Friday’s robbery at Dotty’s Casino, and have released surveillance photos of the two masked robbers.

The Dotty’s in the Smith’s shopping center on Mountain City Highway was robbed at about 6:50 a.m. Friday when employees and patrons were sprayed with what might have been bear spray.

Elko police Lt. Mike Palhegyi said the robbers “used a chemical agent, possibly bear mace, to disable the employees and patrons, and got away with an undisclosed amount of money.”

They fled the casino in a vehicle, and a few minutes later police and firefighters were called to Dotta Drive on a report of a car fire. The robbers are believed to have set fire to the vehicle to conceal evidence, possibly fleeing from there in another vehicle.

The vehicle was destroyed by the fire. Palhegyi said police identified the owner and are investigating whether they might have been involved. Anyone with information related to the crime is asked to contact the Elko Police Department at 777-7310.

It was the fifth local robbery or attempted robbery in the past five months.

An Elko man allegedly robbed a customer at knifepoint at a gas station convenience store on Feb. 13. Timothy Longhurst, 26, was arrested that night following a high-speed chase. He was booked on $246,085 bail.

On Jan. 15, a scruffy-bearded man in a sweatshirt attempted to rob a Subway at knifepoint. Police said the man entered the restaurant on Thomas Gallagher Way near the airport, pulled out a large knife and demanded money. The employees fled out the back door and called 9-1-1, and the unidentified man left.

On Dec. 8, a man pointed a knife at a cashier at the Sinclair gas station at 1790 Idaho St. and fled with an undisclosed amount of cash. The robber was wearing a white cloth over his face.

And on Oct. 3, two people entered the Port of Subs in the Elko Junction Shopping Center, robbing the store at gunpoint. One of the suspects was identified at Erika M. Lozano, She was arrested in December and her bail was set at $152,500.

TONI R. MILANO, Elko Daily Free Press 

Businessman Chip Stone signs paperwork to file for one of two open Elko City Council seats in top photo as City Clerk Shanell Owen looks on. At lower right is Bill Hance, owner of Ruby Mountain Lock and Safe, who also announced his candidacy for Elko City Council on March 5. 

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Two file for city council

ELKO – Two Elko residents – Chip Stone and Bill Hance — threw their hats into the race for Elko City Council on the first day for candidates to file for city election.

Stone was the first one to file, signing paperwork with Elko City Clerk Shanell Owen on Monday.

He explained that he will campaign on a multi-faceted platform of growth for new and existing businesses, family recreation and becoming “a voice” for all Elkoans by providing an open-door policy to “listen to everyone’s desires and needs.”

“We get to listen to not just the minority groups, but to everyone so everyone can be heard and have an opinion and I can share that opinion with the public,” Stone said, pointing to issues the city council has dealt with recently.

“The council has had some huge decisions to make in the past months, even this past week,” Stone said, explaining his thoughts on developing more family-friendly activities.

“I’m a family guy,” Stone said. “I’m all about building recreation for kids as well as the young adults and adults with wholesome activities; things that are not all about the hardcore over 21 world, but the family units.”

“It’s time for some change,” Stone said.

Stone is the owner of Stonecraft Jewelers, Diamondchippers “Rockin’ Sodas and Rolled Ice Cream,” and Stonerock Sound and Lighting. He has also been involved with several civic organizations including the Lions Club, Elks Lodge, Civic Club, Elko Area Chamber and Elko County Sheriff’s Posse.

“I’m a busy guy, but I’ll make time,” Stone said.

He said his wife, Kim, and three children were supportive of his decision to run for city council.

“They are very, very supportive of this,” Stone said. “They are 100 percent behind it all.”

Bill Hance

Hance, the owner of Ruby Mountain Lock and Safe, filed Monday afternoon.

A native Nevadan and resident of Elko for 27 years, Hance said he has given a lot back to the community, “and I’d like to give a little bit more back to the community.”

Hance ran for city council four years ago, and said that this year he felt he has “a pretty good chance” at being elected because there are no incumbents who are running for re-election.

Councilman Reece Keener relinquished his seat to run for mayor, filing as a candidate on March 5. John Patrick Rice stated last week he would not seek another term on the council.

Hance said that his prior experience in both government and the private sector allowed him to bring a “different perspective” to the city.

“I have 20 plus years working for the Department of Information Technologies and the Department of Transportation,” Hance said. He currently sits on the E-911 Board and on the Elko Central Dispatch Administrative Authority Executive board. A former member of the TV District board, he now serves as a consultant.

He also said he has followed the city council and explained his thoughts on the “ongoing saga” regarding the marijuana dispensary recently tackled by the city council.

“I feel I can bring both sides of the fence in the business market and from the government side and lend my insight to that,” Hance said.

“I believe there’s some latitude to changing some things including the city code to mirror more of the other jurisdictions in the state and then letting any business that applies, be it a dispensary or any other business, come in on equal footing and be able to ultimately thrive and help our economy.”

“I feel I have a good ear. I have an open-door policy. You can come see me anytime or call me,” Hance said. “It’s not a one-person show. It’s a voice for your constituents to pass along to everyone else.”

The two-week filing period ends March 16.

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Keener files for mayor

ELKO – City councilman Reece Keener officially filed for mayor on Monday at city hall, two months after announcing his intent to run.

Keener said he was “looking forward” to the campaign, but said he would remain “100 percent committed” to the remainder of his term on the council.

“I’ve worked side-by-side with the mayor and I know what it takes to do the job,” Keener said, minutes after completing his paperwork.

Keener cited “encouragement from trusted friends” as part of his decision to run for mayor, adding that the other part came from his wife, Tami, who is “100 percent on board” with his decision.

“I would not consider pursuing this without her blessing and support,” he said. The Keeners own and operate Print N Copy.

In public office, Keener served eight years on the City Planning Commission before being appointed to the city council in 2013 and being elected in 2014.

Although no other candidates filed for mayor on the first day of the two-week filing period, Keener said he hoped “others would step up.”

“There should be competition for these offices, and having multiple candidates will give voters more of a choice,” Keener said. “The more choices we have, the better city government we’ll have.”

Keener said he would have continued on the council, but made his decision because of Mayor Chris Johnson being termed out of office.

“Mayor Johnson is leaving the city in a very healthy condition at all levels,” Keener said.

Because the Nevada Supreme Court grouped mayors and city council under a 12-year term limit, Johnson was eligible to serve two terms as mayor, something that could happen to Keener should he be elected as mayor in November.

However, Keener called term-limits “a double-edged sword” within city government, explaining that both sides of the argument were valid in the debate.

“We have qualified people like Chris Johnson who had done a terrific job and they’re being pushed out by virtue of term-limits,” Keener said. “But at the same time, 12 years is enough time for anyone. If I go the distance, I’ll be tired and need a break from it.”

Keener said he didn’t see much difference shifting seats from the council to the mayor’s chair because the amount of research involved will not decrease.

“I don’t foresee a lot more than what I’m already doing,” Keener said. “I already spend a lot of time and effort informing myself of differing issues.”

Keener also noted some of the carryovers from the council to the mayor’s position he might be seeing if elected, including overseeing the completion of the Elko Sports Complex, along with the downtown redevelopment project, broadband service, Exit 298 development, and the upcoming airport master plan, that could make the airport “less dependent on the city and more self-sufficient.”

Keener also said he is “very cognizant” of one of the more “sobering aspects” of the job, which is the responsibility that comes with holding the gavel.

“If things really go sideways, it’s the mayor that shoulders the brunt of the blame, not the city council,” Keener said. “I’m entering into this with my eyes wide open.”

Calling the recent marijuana dispensary debate “bruising” Keener said the experience could “invite more candidates for mayor.”

“I look forward to spirited debate and campaigning,” Keener said. “Let the games begin!”

Filing for city offices continues until March 16 at the city clerk’s office at city hall.

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UPDATE: Ruby Mountain Heli-Ski helped rescue snowmobiler in canyon

ELKO – Emergency responders were called to Lamoille Canyon Sunday evening on a report of a snowmobiler injured in an avalanche.

Lamoille volunteer firefighters and Elko County Fire District's Spring Creek Station 1 responded to the accident in the upper part of the canyon between the beaver ponds and Road’s End, according to Matthew Nelson of the Lamoille VFD.

They were assisted by Ruby Mountain Heli-Ski personnel in getting the victim to the road.

Reach Air was called but unable to respond, Nelson said. The snowmobiler was transported to the hospital by ground ambulance.

“Lamoille VFD is very grateful to Joe Royer and Ruby Mountain Heli-Ski for his assistance that night,” he added.

The accident occurred after dark when the snowmobile drove into a prior avalanche, Nelson said.

U.S. Forest Service officials were unavailable for comment about the snow conditions in the Ruby Mountains.

The latest storm system that arrived March 1 delivered about a foot of new snow in some local ranges.

The SNOTEL monitor at the 8,051-foot level in Lamoille Canyon registered an additional 9 inches of snow, for a total of 41 inches.

Robinson Lake in the East Humboldt range picked up 21 inches for a current total of 57 inches. Pole Creek Ranger Station near Jarbidge listed a gain of one foot for a total of 54 inches. Jacks Peak in the Independence range only received about 6 inches, for a current total of 55 inches.

(This article was corrected from an earlier version which said Spring Creek volunteers and Reach Air responded.)