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Narvaiza running for sheriff

ELKO — Aitor Narvaiza filed for election on March 12 to run for Elko County sheriff.

“Why do I want to be Sheriff? I made a promise to my father before he passed away; I will work relentlessly for the citizens of Elko County to protect, serve and make them feel safe,” Narvaiza wrote in a statement.

Narvaiza serves as a sergeant for the Elko County Sheriff’s department and has worked in law enforcement for 23 years.

“I am at a point in my career that I would really like to run,” he said, explaining that he recently sat down with his boss, Sheriff Jim Pitts, to discuss Narvaiza’s career goals. “It’s nothing he has ever done wrong. He has been a great boss and a great friend. I’m just at that point.””

Pitts has served as sheriff for two terms, totaling eight years this summer. He could not be reached immediately for comment and has not announced whether he is running for a third term.

Narvaiza was born in Spain and emigrated to the U.S. when he was 8 years old. Two of his sisters also pursued law enforcement careers.

“It’s in our blood, I think,” he said, explaining that his Basque heritage instilled values that will help him get the job done. “I’m living the American dream. It’s only here in the U.S. that a guy like me can actually run for sheriff. That’s amazing. Just an old-style emigrant: Work hard and take care of business.”

If elected, Narvaiza said he would address school safety, domestic violence and child abuse, illegal drug use and abuse and mental health issues. Of these concerns, he said keeping schools safe from active shooters is a top priority.

“It’s just sickening because it can happen anywhere, here or Florida,” he said. “It is a sad thing to just lose lives for no reason.”

To protect lives, the candidate said he would increase surveillance and increase training of deputies and school employees. He said he would listen to parents’ concerns and implement the best solutions.

He plans to work with the district attorney to help prosecute domestic violence offenders and child abusers. Narvaiza said he would add another detective to the team to help handle cases.

Stopping the influx of drugs that enter the community and investing more manpower into the narcotics task force are some of the ways that Narvaiza wants to address illegal drugs and drug abuse.

“These issues tear at my heart,” he said, adding that he would work with other jurisdictions to help solve problems.

Narvaiza said he has “witnessed so many individuals who need help” with mental health issues over the course of his career. He pledged to work with mental health professionals, the state and county, and to create a program to help Elko County Jail inmates.

“I’m trustworthy. I’m old-school,” Narvaiza said. "They can call on me anytime. I have an open-door policy.”

STEM fair begins a new tradition

ELKO – Traditional science fair projects are being joined by technical, engineering and math poster boards at this year’s renamed Elko County STEM Fair.

A group of more than 20 teachers and staff from schools in the Elko County School District set up approximately 600 STEM project boards throughout the Elko Convention Center Monday in preparation for judging which takes place March 12 and 13.

Winners are announced March 14, with public viewing available 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday.

The name change reflects the impact of STEM-related classes and clubs at schools and includes more categories for students to enter.

The Elko County Science Fair was established in 1983. According to the fair’s website, winners over the years have gone on to careers in medicine, pharmacy and higher education, with one former grand prize winner accepted to NASA.

Students from kindergarten through 12th grade in the district, along with homeschoolers and those from the Elko Institute for Academic Achievement and Spring Creek Christian Academy, are participating in this year’s fair.

Organizer Sandi Braunstadter said the amount of exhibits increased by about 200 this year because of the additional options.

“This is the first year for the extra categories,” said Braunstadter, science teacher at Spring Creek Middle School. “There are quite a few technical and engineering projects and a few math ones.”

Braunstadter and Mountain View Elementary third-grade teacher Jennifer Andersen organized this year’s event.

Each school has a site fair that narrows down the amount of entries per school, allowing the winners to move forward to the district-wide fair, which reduces the amount of projects displayed at the Convention Center.

High school student projects are eligible for the grand prize, which is a chance to compete at the International Science and Engineering Fair this summer in Pittsburg.

Winners of the poster contest and the STEM fair from kindergarten through eighth grade will receive cash prizes, special awards, ribbons and certificates.

Awards are presented at the Convention Center 5:30-6:30 p.m. March 15.

Braunstadter, Andersen and the STEM Fair committee wished to thank the multiple donors who made the first year of the fair possible with prize donations and other support:

April and Dirk Danninger; Assemblyman John Ellison; Barrick Gold of North America; Canyon Construction Co.;Carlin Trend Mining Services; Copenhaver and McConnell, P.C.; Darla Lipparelli; Dr. David Hogle and Janice King; Eide Bailly LLP; Elko County School District; ECSD Administration Association; Elko Federal Credit Union; Elko Glass Service; Elko Tool and Fasteners; Epiroc USA LLC; Family Dental Care; Gallagher Ford; Glaser Land and Livestock; Great Basin Pathology; Hughes, Collins, Braunstadter Families; Jess and Denise Lopategui; Julian Tomera Ranches-Stonehouse Div.; Linkan Engineering; Louise Basanez; Maggie Creek Ranch LP; McIntyre Ranch; Nevada Bank and Trust; Newmont Mining Corp.; Picture This!;Pilot Gold; Pizza Barn; Rand Ranch; Read & Powell LLP CPAs; Richard and Lisa Perry; Ruby Mountain Sand and Gravel; SC Ruby Mountain Lion’s Club; Spring Creek Volunteer Fire Dept.; Stephen C. Price, DDS Ltd.; Susan Tomera-Stonehouse Ranch; and Wells Rural Electric.

For more information, visit the STEM Fair website

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Democratic candidate for governor discusses rural education

ELKO – A panel of educators from Elko and Lander County joined Democratic candidate for governor Chris Giunchigliani during her rural tour of northern Nevada.

As part of Giunchigliani’s “Chris in Your Community Rural Tour,” the candidate arrived at Great Basin College in Elko March 10, making stops in West Wendover, Ely and Battle Mountain.

Joining Giunchigliani on the panel was Brian Zeiszler, GBC program supervisor for secondary education; Javier Martinez, president of the GBC Student Education Association; Betsy Brian, president of the Elko County Support Staff Organization; Colene Paradise, Owyhee Combined Schools; David Marz, president of the Lander County Teacher’s Association in Battle Mountain; and Scott Guthrie, UniServe director in northern Nevada.

Giunchigliani said because of her background and three-decade experience as a special education middle school teacher, she felt discussions about education were lacking in the governor’s race.

“I’m the only education person actually running for governor,” Giunchigliani said. “I made the decision to get in this race as a schoolteacher who is tired of all of the talk about let’s fund education.”

Some of the items addressed by the panel included teacher and substitute teacher shortages, pointing to the Elko County School District’s scrambling to recruit teachers to replace those who are retiring.

Others brought up the “lack of preparedness” of teachers entering the classroom without enough experience in education.

“I came through the alternate route,” Marz said, explaining that he had a background in radio and television when he started teaching, but ultimately decided to return to school and earn a degree in education.

Zeiszler said that in 2020 about 25 teachers would be eligible for retirement, and he wasn’t sure “the state was planning ahead” for the upcoming shortage.

Giunchigliani said she was told that some of the reasons behind retirement were pay and stress, and she wondered if the rules set by the Public Employee Retirement System of Nevada were hindering retired employees from reentering the workforce and offering temporary relief to the shortage.

“We’re losing that experience. We don’t have a program for retired to come back for maybe stipend,” Giunchigliani said. “That might be something to look at.”

Giunchigliani served in the Assembly for 16 years and will be completing her 12th term as a Clark County Commissioner in November.

Attended by nine people, the event was organized by the Nevada State Education Association, which is also endorsing her for governor.

Giunchigliani said the purpose of the forum was to find out what “was working and what was not working” in the schools, outlining her priorities if elected to office.

“My number one goal is to fix the structural deficit in the K-12 funding formula,” she said. “If we don’t fix the foundation, then we’ll have other problems with other layers” including administration, art, music and physical education programs.

“I don’t want to tell you what to do. I want you to tell me what you want to see from your government, what you’re experiencing,” Giunchigliani said.

Mayor Chris Johnson, who is running for Assembly against John Ellison, attended the forum and said he was starting to see “what is needed in Nevada,” but believed that party affiliations must be put to one side to accomplish common goals.

“We need to be able to work together from party to party,” Johnson said.

He said he also observed that education was becoming too “micro-managed.”

“I say, let the educators educate,” Johnson said. “I am hearing that over and over again.”

He also praised Giunchigliani for visiting the “smaller communities” in northern Nevada. “I really think that shows dedication,” he said.

“I think the rurals are important, but they can make a difference,” Johnson added.

Martinez said he was encouraged to attend the forum by Zieszler and saw it as an opportunity to learn more about the education issues in the election.

“As a future educator, how can I at least do something to make a difference?” Martinez said. He is studying for a degree in secondary education with an emphasis in mathematics.

Martinez said that as he learns how to manage a classroom and teach a lesson, there’s so much work involved that most legislators do not realize.

“A candidate needs to be aware what happens in education, not just K-12 but also at the college level,” Martinez said. “What teachers experience and the factors they deal with.”

Martinez also pointed to a statement from Giunchigliani, who said that most legislators were “not educated in education.”

“They make a law that affects students, teachers and everyone in the school, but they don’t have that background, so they don’t know how it will benefit them. They just do it because they think that’s what’s best.”