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From hardware to weddings: AW Hesson building latest in downtown renovation

ELKO – Something old is becoming new again by using something old.

The 111 year-old, two-story A.W. Hesson Co. Hardware building at 600 Commercial St is being restored to its original condition, repurposing the building materials and sign.

“I wanted to keep it as original as I could, yet modern and new,” said Jeff Dalling, who purchased the building July of 2016.

The project, which has taken a year and-a-half and cost $1.5 million, will open in March for banquet and catering space downstairs and offices and photography studios upstairs.

“We’re available to take bookings now,” Dalling said. The events space can hold 250 people and will have facilities available for catered weddings, corporate events and meetings.

One highlight will be a 27-foot back bar from Deadwood, South Dakota that Dalling purchased with the help of some friends who were visiting Anaconda, Montana.

“It was owned by a guy who had it in his storage container for 30 years,” Dalling said. “He was always going to do something with it.”

Dalling, owner of the Coffee Mug and member of the city planning commission and redevelopment advisory council, said he also wanted to contribute to downtown revitalization by restoring the building to much of its initial design.

“It’s been one step forward and one step back,” Dalling said about the renovation, pointing to reused baseboards from the original construction that caused additional work to fit it into the walls and flooring, but it was something that could be accomplished.

“I knew it had good bones,” Dalling said, explaining that very little had been done to the interior by previous owners.

All of the electrical, gas, plumbing, phone and data wiring and HVAC were concealed within the walls and attic, leaving only exposed duct work in the ceiling of the main room.

Dalling said a lot of hard work went into the renovation, but it could have been worse if previous owners made drastic foundation changes.

“They didn’t hack the building,” Dalling explained, saying he wanted to make sure it retained much of its original style and feel.

“It’s hard to salvage the character,” Dalling said, noting that so-called flaws made over the years were left to retain that “character,” even the antique radiator, which will be put back in its old location within the main room.

Dalling said “what really helped” with the renovation was a commercial loan from the Elko Federal Credit Union. Ormaza Construction served as the general contractor.

The building constructed by Hesson sits on the lot of the first store established in 1896, said Jan Peterson, his great-granddaughter, who remembered when the store sold nearly everything, and included a showroom for Studebaker automobiles.

“It was a one-stop shop, from dishes, to nails to wool bags and guns,” Peterson said.

The Hesson store was sold in 1971, Peterson said, and the building changed hands over the decades with several businesses including Napa Auto Parts, Comforts of Home and the Elko Arts Academy.

The upstairs offices also had several tenants over the decades including the Works Progress Administration, the Forestry Service, the U.S. Land Office, Nevada Department of Wildlife and MSHA.

When the building opens, new tenants will include Allusive Images and Ashley Lortie Photography, along with room for a couple of other offices.

“One office is still for rent,” Dalling said.

Dalling said he was impressed that the Hesson building was strong enough to hold up through the decades, but like most downtown structures, it wasn’t built to last into the 21st century because of the boom-and-bust nature of most towns in Nevada during the late 1800s and early 20th century.

“The buildings in Elko were not meant to be here this long. They were built rough,” Dalling said. “Who would have thought it would still be here?”

However, Hesson did ensure his building was meant to last, with two-and-a-half- feet thick brick walls, Dalling said, explaining that the original brick, hardwood flooring, transom windows, doors, molding and bead board guided him through the renovation. Anything after 1965 was discarded in favor of earlier materials, he said.

Not only was the interior getting repurposed, but the exterior now has the original A.W. Hesson Co. Hardware sign back on the building.

Donated to the Northeastern Nevada Museum after the store closed, the sign ended up in its warehouse. When it was discovered, it was coated in green and white paint – the Hesson Hardware colors – and the soldered lettering was falling off.

Dalling took it to Steve Tenney at Nevada Advertising, who cleaned the paint, revealing black lettering with gold leaf trim. The letters were then welded and LED backlighting was added.

Museum interim director Lauren Roovaart said former registrar Morgan Kaisershot “spearheaded” the sign’s renovation and loan. “It’s a long-term loan as long as Jeff owns the building.”

“I have the only spot in town that’s just right for it,” Dalling said. “It’s back in its original position.”

Peterson said her father, Robert Pierce, the grandson of A.W. Hesson, would “approve of the renovation.”

“It is drastically changed, but the renovation sustains the building … and is still being used in a new life,” Peterson said.

“I can’t admire Jeff enough to sticking to tradition in bringing in the new,” Peterson said.

Sportsman's expo promotes Nevada outdoors

ELKO — Forty vendors join the Nevada Department of Wildlife for a weekend of outdoors education and fundraising at the third annual Elko Sportsman’s Expo at the Elko Conference Center Feb. 24-25.

“It’s just a great event to expose the community to what we have out here,” said Julie Hughes, NDOW conservation educator. “We’re here to educate anybody and everybody about wildlife and the outdoors.”

For children, the free event features a kids’ room set up with hands-on activities including an archery range, fly-tying, an interactive shooting skills game, and wildlife skins, antlers and horns. Youngsters can also decorate NDOW T-shirts with wildlife-themed stencils and stamps.

“Kids will be able to come through here and experience Nevada,” Hughes said. “They really get to interact with it.”

Adults and children can browse among booths showcasing area businesses’ goods and services related to the outdoors and recreation. Some of the companies and organizations represented include 5th Gear Powersports, DCB Outdoors, Nevada Outdoorsmen in Wheelchairs, Gateway RV, Battle Born Wildlife, Elko Bighorns Unlimited, Rocky Mountain Elko Foundation and the Ruby Mountain Clay Breakers. Vendors feature firearms, trucks, off-highway vehicles, trailers, camouflage, metal art and more.

During the event setup Feb. 23, John Oppio, owner of Sierra Sport & Marine in Sparks, and son Max rolled a Lund boat and trailer into the convention center for their exhibit. This is their second year to participate in the expo.

“We had a good show last year, so we are hoping to see the same this year,” Oppio said.

An NDOW taxidermy exhibit features local wildlife such as a mountain goat, elk skulls, big-horned sheep, quail and sage grouse. The Operation Game Thief trailer displays animals recovered from game violations, including a taxidermy mountain lion and bobcat, and experts are on-hand to talk about the animals and the law.

This year’s expo is hosted by NDOW, assisted by Elko Broadcasting, and all proceeds from vendor booths support eastern Nevada wildlife education programs such as Trout in the Classroom and National Archery in Schools.

Hughes said she hopes visitors come to the event to gain a “love of the outdoors or at least the desire to experience it — a true excitement to experience Nevada and the outdoors.”

Residency program repurposes Elko Clinic to improve rural health care

ELKO – Rural health care options expanded on Thursday with the swing of a sledgehammer when the Nevada Health Center broke through a wall to make way for a residency program based out of the University of Nevada, Reno’s School of Medicine.

In partnership with the school of medicine, Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital and the Health Center will renovate the former Elko Clinic building that will staff two second-year residents and two clinical community physicians in July.

The residency program is intended to jumpstart physician training and retention in the rural areas, populating the Elko center with medical students from UNR. Plans also include two more third-year students to join the team in 2019.

To make room for the program, a ceremonial “wall-breaking” on Feb. 22 kicked off phase one to renovate a section of the former Elko Clinic building now used by Nevada Health’s dental and family medical offices.

Phase 1 of the building renovation is set to start Feb. 26. Architect Catherine Wines of R6 Studio and Schell Creek Construction are the contractors. The estimated cost of the project is $500,000.

The building was donated to Elko County by NNRH, led by outgoing CEO Rick Palagi. In a proclamation dated Feb. 21, County Commissioners thanked LifePoint Health and Palagi for their efforts with the transfer.

Future plans include facilities for x-ray, behavioral health and a procedural room as the funds becomes available, said Stacey Giomi, director of facilities and emergency preparedness for the Health Center.

At the ceremony, Terri Clark, regional director of operations for northern Nevada, said CEO Walter Davis was unable to attend the event because of inclement weather near Fernley, but told Clark to express his apologies and sent a message to those who made the residence program possible.

“The hard work and dedication from a lot of people in this room … It’s remarkable what communities can do when they come together,” Clark said.

When Clark asked Davis why he wanted to have a director of operations based out of Elko, “His answer to me was, ’Rural Nevada is a very important part of our organization and one that we want to strengthen,’ Clark said.

“What they were describing is something I heard of before called a center of strength and every community needs centers of strength. For Nevada Health Centers, that’s our mission,” Clark said, but the center could not establish a residency program alone.

“So what do you do? You find excellent partners to get things done,” Clark said, pointing to the building’s transfer that was completed in late 2017, which originally housed the Elko Clinic and was acquired by LifePoint Health in 2005.

“The transfer of the building is the key that turned in the big lock that unlocked the opportunity,” Clark said.

Palagi explained that the goal for the program is to train physicians suited to a rural community, and that the building’s donation is just a first step with more expansions to come.

“It’s not about the building or facilities,” Palagi said. “It’s just a tool and some square footage where it all happens.”

Palagi thanked Davis and credited Elko County Commissioner Delmo Andreozzi for his vision to help Palagi “push the rock up the hill for four years” which started when the hospital purchased the building from the Elko Clinic.

Gerald Ackerman, assistant dean of rural programs with the UNR School of Medicine, and chairman of the Health Center board of directors, was another person who “had the vision and the tenacity to keep going,” Palagi said, adding that he was another person who put “countless hours into” the project.

Ackerman said his involvement with the Health Center started when the University of Nevada Las Vegas sent dental students to work in the Health Center’s dental office.

“I’m proud to be associated with Nevada Health Centers,” Ackerman said, explaining that a split between UNLV’s and UNR’s medical schools in 2016 allowed the three points of the mission statement of the original charter to be fulfilled.

“One was to provide a medical education for students in Nevada, the next one was for research, and the third said to provide physicians for rural Nevada,” Ackerman said, adding that the dean of the school of medicine said he was interested in investing in Elko “and have a good presence here.”

Before reading the Commissioners’ proclamation, Andreozzi said he recalled visiting the old Elko Clinic growing up and was looking forward to seeing the building be repurposed for another chapter in Elko’s medical legacy.

“I think about the legacy of this building,” Andreozzi said. “It represents this big chunk of the past and it also represents what it’s doing now.”

“I don’t think there’s a better place than this campus to have this journey begin,” Andreozzi said.

According to statistics from the Association of American Medical Colleges, there is a 77 percent chance medical students who complete medical school and residency training in Nevada will remain in the area and start their own practice.

Ackerman said he saw the residency program accomplishing three goals in the Elko and surrounding rural areas, including provide additional health services, increase the workforce, and encourage physicians to move to Elko who could eventually start their own practices and set down roots in the community.

But it couldn’t have been done without physicians who initially devoted time to residents when there was no formal program established.

“It’s because of other people who volunteer their time with our students and residents,” Ackerman said, such as Dr. David Hogle, Dr. Paton Whimple, Dr. Maureen Durkin and NNRH pediatricians

The residency program also seems to bring the University back to its birthplace, Ackerman said, noting that the University of Nevada was originally founded in Elko in 1874.

“It’s kind of bringing UNR back home,” he said.

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Heller to propose VA cemetery in Elko

ELKO — If a veteran living in Elko wants to be buried in a VA national cemetery, the only in-state options are in Boulder City and Fernley.

Sen. Dean Heller hopes to change that by passing a bill through Congress to establish a VA national cemetery in Elko, and he asked for support from the Elko County Board of Commissioners.

“Nevada’s heroes deserve a dignified final resting place close to home, and for too long these veterans and their families have not had the option to bury their loved ones in a national cemetery,” Heller said. “I will continue to push my colleagues in Congress to support the Elko Veterans Cemetery Act so we can get this cemetery started for our veterans and their families.”

The senator drafted a bill that would transfer Bureau of Land Management property in Elko to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs for a VA national cemetery. The 15-acre plot is near Adobe Middle School off of Western Way, and Cattle Drive winds through it.

During their Feb. 21 meeting, the commissioners expressed their support of having a VA national cemetery in Elko County but had questions about the logistics of operation and proposed location.

Commissioner Cliff Eklund asked who would be financially responsible for the operation of the cemetery once established.

“I think it’s a great proposal, and I’m fully in support of it, but I just wanted to get that question [answered],” Eklund said.

The draft bill states that the Secretary of Veterans Affairs would reimburse administrative costs of the land transfer, but the text does not mention operations. The VA’s National Cemetery Administration maintains 135 cemeteries in 40 states, including Puerto Rico, according to the VA.

Greg Deimel, public affairs officer for the BLM Elko office and a veteran, added that every VA cemetery he’d seen in his extensive national travels has been impeccably well-kept.

Commissioner Jon Karr asked why the cemetery was needed, how the location was decided and how many burial plots it would contain. The agenda packet materials did not address those issues.

“By no means does anyone need to hammer me that I don’t support veterans or something because that’s not what I’m asking,” Karr said. “I am not opposed to it. I just think there are some wild questions that need to be answered first.”

In 2012, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced an initiative to provide burial services for veterans in rural areas, specifically Elko. However, the plan to build a national veterans’ burial ground in existing public or private cemeteries did not happen in Elko, according to information provided by Heller’s Washington, D.C., office.

Two years later, a National Cemetery Administration audit revealed that veterans in rural areas — including rural Nevada — still did not have reasonable access to burial options. The VA Office of Inspector General found that as many as 4,600 veterans in five Nevada counties remain unserved.

Deimel explained that Heller sent staffers to Elko in 2015 to investigate potential sites for the cemetery but said he did not know how the team decided on that particular location.

Commissioners’ additional concerns included getting irrigation water to the site, how surrounding city land would be developed, and the position of Cattle Drive, a county road that is traveled by about 400 vehicles a day.

Community development natural resources director John Baldwin offered to contact Heller’s office and ask the questions presented by the board members.