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Zornes named CEO of casino group

SPARKS — Veteran casino executive and Elko resident David Zornes will take the helm as CEO of Northern Star Casinos effective Dec. 18.

In his role, Zornes is charged with chartering the course of operations at five properties: Stockmen’s Casino & Ramada Hotel and Commercial Casino, both in Elko; Scoreboard Casino in Spring Creek; Model T Casino Hotel and RV in Winnemucca; and El Capitan Lodge and Casino in Hawthorne.

“We are delighted to welcome David Zornes as our new chief executive officer to guide our company to even greater success,” said Larry Hill, CEO of Triple Crown Casinos, parent company of Northern Star Casinos. “David brings in-depth knowledge and an exceptional track record of strong leadership in the gaming industry and specifically in the Elko market. He is uniquely qualified to take our properties to the next level of hospitality excellence.”

Zornes has held several key positions while operating hotel and casino properties over the past 37 years in Nevada, the Caribbean and Colorado, starting with the Red Lion Hotel chain in 1980.

“I’m really excited about this, for one because it does keep me in Elko, and I feel that Elko is my home,” Zornes said. “I’ve always enjoyed small towns, prefer small towns.”

The 19-year Elko resident completed 11 years as CEO of the Red Lion Hotel & Casino, Holiday Inn Express, Thunderbird Motel, Gold Country Inn & Casino and High Desert Inn in Elko in September. Over about the past 35 years, Zornes thrice worked for Red Lion in Elko.

While general manager of the Red Lion Inn in Elko in 1983, he launched an air junket program that brought guests to the region throughout the early 1980s. He later started Casino Express, an airline program that serviced 100 cities in the U.S. and Canada during what he called “the good ol’ days.”

Bringing the Northern Nevada properties back to their “old glory,” as Zornes called it, is among his goals. He said he plans to get involved with downtown development.

“There properties are so important to the downtown area,” he said, adding that although he will have to treat all five Northern Nevada locations equally, he wants to give some extra attention to Elko.

“I definitely consider Elko my hometown,” he said.

Zornes also serves on the board of the Elko Convention and Visitors Authority, and plans to continue his service in that role, and is past chairman of the Northeastern Nevada Regional Development Authority.

“I can give them more of a Nevada perspective,” Zornes said of working for the properties’ Colorado-based parent company.

Based in Sparks, Northern Star Casinos offers gaming, dining and hospitality experiences. Two of the properties feature hotel accommodations under the Wyndham Worldwide Corp. brand: Ramada Hotel at Stockmen’s and Travelodge at El Capitan. The Model T features a Quality Inn under the Choice Hotels brand.

The firm’s parent company is Triple Crown Casinos, a gaming operator in Cripple Creek, Colorado, with properties including the Midnight Rose Hotel & Casino, McGills Hotel Casino and The Brass Ass Casino.

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Veteran looks back on life at Highland Estates

ELKO – Service to country and community has defined the life of Joaquin Rosado – and at 92 he has not stopped looking for ways to make a difference.

From serving in England and the Philippines during World War II to running his neighborhood YMCA in the Bronx to encouraging staff and residents at Highland Inn, Rosado continues to make an impact on nearly everyone he meets.

Today, Rosado lives at Highland, many miles – and years – from his native New York City. Although some memories remain powerful, including his desire to encourage teens to stay in school and serve their country.

“He’s very positive about life,” said Dena Anderson, assisted living manager. She said his positive influence at Highland has made a difference with residents and staff.

“He’s the kind of person, he’s going to step up and help affect the change,” Anderson said.

The Bronx to the Philippines

Rosado was born in 1925 and raised in New York City. He said he remembers when he and his sister won a medal for dancing, going to the famed Apollo Theater, and learning to play the violin thanks to a free music school in his neighborhood.

He entered Haaren High School, a school known for its vocational programs, and Rosado took electrician courses before being drafted by the U.S. Army in 1942 during his senior year in high school.

Serving in the 3248th Quartermaster Service Company, Rosado was first stationed in England. It was there he sustained a knee injury when a tank rolled over him, said his son Joaquin Robles Jr.

“The tank tracks were three feet high. It straddled him,” Rosado Jr. said. “It went right over him.”

The memory of that moment is still emotional for Rosado Sr. said his son, adding that his father suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome which prompts him to cry when he tells stories about his experiences during the war.

However, an officer, Capt. Milcross, took Rosado Sr. under his wing and protected him in England and gave him the task of wiring lights with car batteries for a German POW camp, his son said, adding he had received a letter of commendation for his efforts.

“My father went through a lot,” Rosado Jr. said about his father’s time in the service, explaining that because of Rosado Sr.’s dark brown complexion, he was segregated with black troops and soldiers on transport ships.

Rosado Sr. is also haunted by memories of his deployment to the Philippines, where Rosado Jr. said his troop was told to leave the ship at Bantangas and defend the island, but had no communication with his base.

It was several months later that a laundry detail found the troop, which had by that time run out of ammunition and was living among the Filipinos, Rosado Jr. said.

Rosado Sr. left the service as Technician Grade 5 with three medals recorded on his honorable discharge papers: Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal.

Because Rosado Sr. was not presented with the medals in a ceremony before his discharge, Rosado Jr. said he found copies for his father.

“I took it upon myself and I ordered them online and gave them to him.”

The Bronx to Henderson

Rosado returned to the Bronx and married his wife of more than 50 years, Esperanza. They had two children and he took a job collecting payments for local companies.

For a few years, he also took photos of violations in tenement buildings to use as evidence against landlords in court, Rosado Jr. said.

Rosado Sr. eventually moved his family to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in the early 1970s because of an increase in crime. There, he became the resident director of the YMCA for about 30 years, working with at-risk teens.

For some youths in jail, Rosado worked out a program with city officials to release well-behaved prisoners in his custody to work with him on gardening projects, his son said, a project that changed the lives of many youths.

“My father helped over 20 people get into the police force in New York City,” Rosado Jr. said, including one youth he introduced to the fire department.

For other youths in his neighborhood, Rosado said he requested money from President John F. Kennedy to take them to see the White House.

“I got $169,000 a year to take the kids on school buses,” Rosado Sr. said. He was also instrumental in launching the Melrose Association for Community Affairs with additional funding from President Kennedy.

When his wife died in 2005, Rosado moved to Henderson where his son lived and worked.

Rosado Jr. said crime in his neighborhood prompted the move to Elko after his father was approached by a teen brandishing a gun.

Rosado Sr. talked to the teen, who “starts crying, puts the gun in his bag and runs away,” Rosado Jr. said. “That’s the day we decided to move.”

Elko and Highland Inn

Rosado Jr. said he was amazed that after being in Elko for only about 10 years, his father was well-known in the community, something he found out at the recent Veteran’s Day Parade.

“He knows a lot of people,” Rosado Jr. said.

Today, Anderson and Rosado Jr., are hoping to honor the senior Rosado by contacting lawmakers to help him receive the Purple Heart for the knee injury he sustained when he was stationed in England.

Anderson said she is also trying to track down Rosado Sr.’s school records because he did not receive his diploma or return to school after the war, adding that a certificate or diploma would mean a lot to him.

Most veterans had to join the workforce after their discharge, yet some wished they could have finished high school, Anderson said.

Anderson and Mickey Hale, Highland Village marketing manager, said they have tried to locate Rosado Sr.’s records, but have so far been unsuccessful.

Hale said Rosado Sr. still takes time to talk with high school students who come into Highland on school trips.

“He gave them some positive encouragement about staying in school, working hard,” Hale said.

Looking back, Rosado Sr. said his faith in God sustained him throughout his life, advice he has for young men who need direction.

“I would tell [them], ‘Believe in God and He will guide you.”

Rosado also believes that one more thing can make a difference.

“There is one thing we must do. We must love one another,” Rosado said. “Then everything changes.”

The article has been corrected from a previous online version to change the name of the property and marketing manager. 

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E-911 draft to look at 2 options

Enhanced 911 Advisory Board is expecting a draft report from Winbourne Consulting Group “right after the first of the year,” Bill Hance, co-project manager for the effort with Winbourne to improve 911 service in Elko County, said Thursday.

The draft report will be a combination of information gathered from the 911 dispatch centers in Elko, West Wendover and Owyhee and those closely involved in the project, including from surveys and site visits in October by representatives of Winbourne.

“It will provide two options,” Hance said by telephone after the short board meeting Thursday.

Those options will be enhanced 911 with phase two cellular capabilities or the more extensive next-generation service that will work well with cellphones, including providing the ability for texting and receiving photos, he said.

“Once we go into next gen, there would be another whole cost jump,” Hance said.

Not only would going to the next generation be more costly, but services in rural areas of the county don’t include the capacity to handle that level of upgrade, he said.

Hance expects to go over the report with his co-manager, Elko Police Chief Ben Reed, and the draft report will be presented to the advisory board and public at the Feb. 8 meeting, which will be at 1:30 at the Nannini Administration Building. Reed and Hance met with Winbourne earlier in December.

Money for improving 911 service will come from a fee that telephone companies and cellular companies serving Elko County are supposed to collect from their customers.

Assistant Elko County Manager Cash Minor told the board there is $208,000 for 911 that came mainly from donations, and he expects phone companies to be collecting soon. He is contacting them.

Phone companies and cellular services are supposed to be assessing 25 cents per phone line per month to help pay for enhancing 911, and Minor said earlier the surcharge is estimated to bring in $170,000 a year.

“We can expect that to start moving,” Undersheriff Ron Supp said at the Thursday meeting he chaired in the absence of Chariman Reed.

Hance said there are several small phone companies for land-lines to serve smaller communities, as well as the larger Frontier phone company, and at least three cellular carriers serving the county.

Elko County Commissioners approved the selection of Winbourne in July. The company is based in Arlington, Virginia. The seven-member advisory 911 board had recommended Winbourne after looking over proposals. Winbourne’s bid was $161,280.