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Suzanne Featherston / Suzanne Featherston 

Leo Castillo, an underground miner with Small Mine Development, prepares to drill into a heading at Newmont Mining Corp.’s Twin Creeks mine.

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Year in review: a new school on the horizon

ELKO – A new elementary school coming to Spring Creek was the most read education topic in 2017.

Overcrowding at Spring Creek Elementary led the Elko County School Board to buy an 11-acre parcel from the Spring Creek Association to build a school in the Marina Hills area.

After a study of the sites available in Spring Creek by third-party consultants, land at 250 Parkchester Drive was selected as the best place to build a new elementary school. Groundbreaking is expected next spring and will closely follow the design and plans used for West Wendover Elementary, completed in 2016.

The decision to build another school followed a study by Davis Demographics into projected population growth in Elko County, particularly Elko and Spring Creek.

With some schools at or near capacity, modulars at Sage Elementary School, Spring Creek Elementary and Southside Elementary schools and new classrooms at Sage Elementary were added for breathing room.

Superintendent Jeff Zander and said the district “optimistically” hopes to open the school in 2019.

In other top school stories:

— Elko County School District employees cheered when the school board approved 24 buyouts in April, releasing teachers, administration and staff from their contracts. Buyouts were denied by the board last year, prompting several teachers and staff to attend the meeting and petition for early retirement.

— The discovery of a rabid bat in a classroom ceiling at Grammar No. 2 Elementary School delayed the first week of school. The school district closed the school until the Nevada Department of Wildlife declared it safe. Crevices were caulked and nets were installed to prevent migratory bats from nesting in the buildings.

— Great Basin College’s two-year and four-year nursing program was ranked No. 1 out of 13 nursing programs in the state. In 2017, for the fifth year in a row, 100 percent of graduated nursing students passed the NCLEX-RN exam.

— Lizzy Pritchett showed Great Basin College and Spring Creek High School graduates that anything was possible if you set your mind to it. A quadriplegic since an accident in 2011, Pritchett received her associates of science degree and embarked on a new career as a motivational speaker, giving her first speech at the SCHS commencement ceremony.

Toni Milano / TONI R. MILANO 

Workers caulk and seal a chimney at Grammar No. 2 after a rabid bat was discovered in the school.

Elko to lose Reno NBC station on Jan. 1

ELKO — TV watchers in Elko County will have to view NBC programming from Salt Lake City in the new year instead of from a local or Reno-based affiliate.

The change comes as NBCUniversal plans to discontinue its affiliation with the Elko station KENV effective 5 a.m. Jan. 1. After that, NBC programming and local content will be discontinued, and Elko Television District’s channel 10 will become a sci-fi channel.

Furthermore, NBC requires that the Elko Television District air only NBC programming from Salt Lake City’s KSL-TV because Elko is in The Nielson Co.-assigned designated market area, or DMA. Previously, NBC programming came to Elko through the Reno NBC affiliate, KRNV, which serves as the parent company of KENV.

The Elko Television District had planned to continue rebroadcasting KRNV after the change, but a letter from NBC dated Dec. 21 states that “Station KSL-TV [out of Salt Lake City] will be the only NBC affiliate in Elko County authorized to carry the NBC programming and brand.”

TV district chairman Paul Gardner says that for all intents and purposes, the letter is a cease and desist order. He called the move a “network imposed programming blackout” that takes away Elko County’s free over-the-air NBC broadcasts until a new distribution system can be installed.

“This DMA designation forces Elko, NV residents to receive network programming from Salt Lake City stations, despite a majority of viewer responses requesting news and weather programming from Nevada stations,” Gardner wrote in an email.

However, the TV district does not have the ability to import KSL, channel 5, from Salt Lake City under current conditions, Gardner said. Engineers from Elko, Lander and Eureka counties are working with KSL engineers to come up with a solution.

“We are working closely to make this happen,” he said.

Installing a new distribution system could take three weeks to several months, depending on whether the TV district, a government entity, or the Utah station, a private organization, takes the lead, Gardner said.

“We are moving as quickly as we can, but we are handcuffed by the fact that we are a government entity,” Gardner said, adding that work on mountaintop infrastructure over winter and through the holidays also presents challenges. “NBC has been on the air here for 20 years. They gave us no notice.”

Area subscribers to Dish satellite TV and DIRECTV already receive Salt Lake City stations, including KSL, and they will not be affected by the change.

Gardner said the Elko Television District board members will discuss congressional action at their Jan. 11 meeting to make Elko and Lander counties “dual DMAs” that can receive Salt Lake City and Reno NBC programming.

“Reno is a lot more relevant to Elko than Salt Lake is,” Gardner said, explaining that audience surveys over the past six years indicate that Elko viewers want local news or Nevada news first. “They won’t get that on NBC anymore.”

Sinclair Broadcast Group referred Elko Daily Free Press to comments already provided for a previous article on KENV losing its NBC affiliation.

“Losing our NBC affiliation makes our local news operation financially infeasible,” said KENV General Manager Amie Chapman on Dec. 13. “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 added Dec. 29 in an email that KRNV was "prepared to provide NBC programming to the Elko region, but NBC would not give us the rights to do so." 

“This DMA designation forces Elko, NV residents to receive network programming from Salt Lake City stations, despite a majority of viewer responses requesting news and weather programming from Nevada stations.” — Paul Gardner, Elko Television District