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A century in the making: Gene Farwell celebrates her 100th birthday on New Year's Day

ELKO – The New Year’s baby of 1918 celebrated her 100th birthday on Monday with family and friends at Highland Village.

Imogene “Gene” C. Farwell received a red rose from family members and was greeted with applause by more than 70 people as she entered her birthday party.

“I can’t believe it,” Farwell said, when asked about turning 100. “It’s awesome!”

Farwell was born shortly after midnight Jan. 1, 1918 in Lucien, Oklahoma. She attended business college in Enid and met and married her husband of more than 50 years, John Farwell, when she was working in a bank.

Throughout Farwell’s life, she ran a motel with her husband, owned her own western and sportswear store, took up painting, and learned belly dancing in her 70s. She lived in Colorado and Arizona before moving to Elko to be close to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Farwell said three things helped her get to be 100 years old.

“I’m blessed by God. I know I am,” Farwell said. “I’ve always tried to take care of my body … and I keep a positive attitude.”

Farwell walks 15 minutes three times a week, she said, and regularly participates in Sit and Fit at Highland Village.

Mary Allen is the manager at Highland Village and has known Farwell for three years.

“She’s healthy. She walks and keeps herself in great shape,” Allen said. “She’s a wonderful person.”

Farwell is also a master bridge player and teaches others the game. For 10 years, she’s played bridge at the Elko’s Senior and Active Lifestyles Center with Dick Harris.

“She’s sharp as a tack,” Harris said. “She’s jovial and likes to win – a good competitor.”

“When I grow up, I want to be just like her,” said friend Joelene Holmes. “She has all this spunk. She’s spry … very witty and creative.”

When Farwell was born, the United States was engaged in World War I, Woodrow Wilson was president, and the average price of a Model T Ford touring car was $360.

Looking back, the most “drastic change” Farwell has seen in her lifetime is the rise of the internet, adding that the “saddest” change is the quality of education for children.

“It’s gone downhill,” Farwell said.

Farwell’s family traveled to Elko from Arizona, Michigan, California and Las Vegas for the party. Her great-granddaughter, Sam Nyberg, made her birthday cake and said her great-grandmother’s achievement is “amazing.”

“I’m happy she can be with me and I can be with her,” Nyberg said. “We’ve had good conversations, and she taught me how to make pie crusts.”

“When I make them, it’s in honor of her.”

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From new traffic rules to protections for domestic workers, new laws take effect

With a new year comes a new set of laws.

Several dozen bills enacted by the Legislature last year didn’t officially take effect in whole or in part until Jan. 1. They include everything from changes to hunting permits to regulating how mopeds can drive on the road to protections for domestic workers.

State agencies have been hard at work over the last six months developing the regulations needed to put these laws into effect and will continue to do so for the laws yet to officially kick in.

Here’s a rundown of some of the laws.


AB261: Motorcycle learner’s permits

Anyone who is at least 15 ½ but younger than 18 can now apply to the Department of Motor Vehicles for a learner’s permit to ride a motorcycle akin to the learner’s permit to drive cars. Eligible teenagers must pass a vision test and a written examination to obtain the 1-year permit. The permit can be renewed but expires when the individual turns 18.

The new law also allows anyone who is 18 or older to apply for a motorcycle learner’s permit after completing a vision test and written examination, though the permit expires after six months and cannot be renewed more than once. After one renewal, an adult cannot apply for another motorcycle learner’s permit for five years.

Holders of either the teenage or adult permit aren’t allowed to operate a motorcycle between sunset and sunrise, carry passengers or operate the motorcycle on a controlled-access highway. Permits also cannot be issued to anyone who has failed the driving test given by the DMV two or more times.

Teenagers with motorcycle permits are required to complete some of the same requirements as those with permits to drive cars, including completing a driver’s education course and having held a permit for no less than six months before applying for a license. However, their 50 hours of driving experience is not required to be supervised.

AB335: Moped drivers must drive in the right-hand lane on highways

Moped drivers, beware.

This new law requires mopeds to drive in the extreme right-hand land of a highway if there are at least two lanes. The only exceptions are when the driver is preparing to turn left, when driving to the right side of a highway wouldn’t be safe and when complying with the directions of a police officer. Failing to do so is a misdemeanor.

SB339: More cars eligible for vintage plates

Have a 1957 Ford Thunderbird stashed in the garage? You’re in luck.

The DMV is now allowed to issue vintage license plates for residents of Nevada for any motor vehicle manufactured no later than 1961. Previously, the cut off was 1942.

The fee for vintage license plates is $35, in addition to other registration fees and applicable taxes. The license plates are renewable with a $10 fee.


AB474: Opioid omnibus bill

Gov. Brian Sandoval’s office has been leading the charge to curb prescription drug abuse, including through this bill meant to prevent over-prescribing of opioids.

The measure sets benchmarks on prescribers: Painkillers can’t be prescribed for more than 14 days for acute pain. After 30 days of consecutive prescriptions, the doctor and patient must enter into a narcotic contract that lays out goals for treatment and gives consent to drug testing if necessary.

At 90 days, a doctor must offer up an “evidence-based diagnosis” — not something generic like a diagnosis of “lower back pain” — and must check the state’s Prescription Monitoring Program database to review whether a patient is “doctor shopping” and getting additional prescriptions elsewhere.

For any prescription exceeding 365 days, doctors must document their rationale for prescribing opioids for so long.

Bill proponents said they’ve fielded concerns at town hall meetings from patients and doctors who think the bill’s provisions will make it impractical for them to get opioids when they need them. But Las Vegas pain doctor and bill supporter Daniel Burkhead told reporters earlier this month that he thinks the measure will strengthen communication between doctors and patients, pushing practitioners to find a diagnosis and develop a plan for addressing the root causes of the pain.

AB249 + SB233: Contraceptive benefits from Affordable Care Act codified in state law

These two new laws codify certain aspects of the Affordable Care Act into state law.

The first, AB249, requires all public and private health insurance plans to provide contraceptive coverage without any copay, coinsurance or higher deductible. It also requires insurance companies to cover up to a 12-month supply of a drug dispensed at once, something not required by the Affordable Care Act.

The second, SB233, includes some of the same language as the first bill, while also requiring private insurance plans and certain public health insurance plans to cover without copay, coinsurance or higher deductible certain vaccinations, mammograms, counseling concerning interpersonal and domestic violence, screenings for certain diseases and well-woman preventative visits. It also includes the requirement that insurers cover and pharmacies distribute a 12-month supply of contraception.

SB482: Ratings for hospitals and other medical facilities

Hospitals and other medical facilities that receive star ratings from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are now required to post their most recent rating in a conspicuous place near the entrance to the facility and on their websites. Surgical centers are also required to similarly post the address for the website for the Ambulatory Surgical Center Quality Reporting Program maintained by CMS.

The state Division of Public and Behavioral Health is also required to post on its website links to the CMS star ratings and the Ambulatory Surgical Center Quality Reporting Program.

Also, the State Board of Health is now required to itself rate health-care facilities based on certain requirements. Those ratings are also required to be posted online and near the entrance of each facility.


AB384: ‘Banning the box’ for state, county and city employees

A new law bars the state, counties, cities and unincorporated towns from considering a job applicant’s criminal history until the final in-person interview or any appointing or hiring authority has made a conditional offer of employment.

The law spells out a number of specific factors that must be considered before the criminal history of an applicant can be used to rescind a conditional offer of employment or to reject the applicant, including whether the criminal offense relates to the person’s prospective job responsibilities, the nature and severity of the offenses, the age of the person at the time of the offense, how long it’s been since the offense was committed and any documentation relating to the person’s rehabilitation.

If someone’s criminal history is used to reject an applicant or rescind a conditional offer, a county, city or town must provide to the applicant a written statement that states the evidence presented and the reason why the person was ultimately not hired.

SB232: Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights

The so-called Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights requires employers of domestic workers, those who work within an employer’s household, to provide the worker with certain written documentation of the conditions of his or her employment and right to work under the law. Domestic workers must be compensated for all the hours they are required to be on duty, under most circumstances, and that workers who are paid less than 1.5 times the minimum hourly wage must be paid overtime under certain circumstances.

The law also requires that domestic workers be allowed at least one day off per week and two consecutive days off at least once a month. Employers are not allowed to limit or monitor a domestic worker’s private communications or take or hold their personal documents.

Children under the age of 16 employed in domestic service are also no longer exempt from the limitations on working hours, as children employed in farm labor or motion picture performances are.


SB19: Dual credit courses for high schoolers

A new law requires school districts and charter schools to enter into cooperative agreements with one or more community colleges, state colleges and universities to offer dual credit courses to high school students. Credits received must be allowed to apply toward the number of credits required for a related credential, certificate or degree.

The State Board of Education is not allowed to “unreasonably” limit the number of dual credit courses in which a high schooler can enroll.

SB189: Training for child care facility employees

Employees of licensed child care facilities are now required to complete 24 hours of training annually, with at least 12 of those training hours devoted to the care, education and safety of children that is specific to the age group the employee is working with and approved by the State Board of Health. It also requires that any independent contractor retained by the child care facility is in the presence of one of the facility’s employees when children are present.

Employees of child care facilities are also required to notify the facility no later than 24 hours after being charged with or convicted of certain crimes, being investigated for child abuse or neglect or after a report of abuse or neglect against him or her has been substantiated. The facility, in turn, is required to notify the Division of Public and Behavioral Health within 24 hours. (The division is responsible for carrying out civil penalties for violations of those requirements.)

Child care facilities will now also be rated with a letter grade by the division, with the letter grade to be posted near the entrance to each facility.


AB420: Telecommunications device access for prisoners

Prisoners will now be allowed to use approved telecommunications devices for conducting certain visits and correspondence, as well as use the devices for purposes related to correctional activities and educational, vocational and legal research.

The director of the Department of Corrections is also now allowed (with the approval of the Board of State Prison Commissioners) to establish a charge on the use of videoconferencing equipment by offenders for conducting visits to help offset the costs of the equipment.

SB194: Ban on purchasing and selling items made from certain animals

It is now illegal to purchase, sell or possess with intent to sell any item that is made in whole or in part from shark fin, lions, elephant, rhinoceros, tiger, leopard, cheetah, jaguar, pangolin, sea turtle, ray, mammoth, narwhal, walrus or hippopotamus.

The first violation is a gross misdemeanor, the second is a category E felony and the third and subsequent offenses are a category D felony. Additionally, those who violate the law must pay a $6,500 penalty or the amount equal to four times the fair market value of the item, whichever is greater.

The new law doesn’t apply to antiques, musical instruments, knives or other items with a small quantity of one of the restricted animal parts or byproducts if certain criteria are met (such as the objects being obtained legally). It also doesn’t apply to sales to a scientific or educational institution or sport-hunted items obtained legally with a small quantity of the animal part or byproduct.

AB204: Name changes on marriage licenses

Marriage licenses in Nevada now can include the name to be used by each spouse after marriage.

The applicants, at the time the license issued, can choose to change their middle name or last name for use after they are married. They can choose to change their middle name to either the current last name of the other applicant, the last name of either applicant given at birth, a hyphenated combination of the current middle name and either current last name of either applicant or the last name of either applicant given at birth.

A last name can be changed to the current last name of the other applicant, the last name of either applicant given at birth or a hyphenated combination of the last names allowed for use as middle names.

SB511: Changes to hunting, fishing and trapping licenses

A host of changes to hunting, fishing and trapping licenses include:

Parents no longer have to sign a separate statement acknowledging they’ve been advised of their responsibility for their child’s negligent or willful misconduct relating to the use of a firearm, they just have to acknowledge their responsibility at the time of the application.

Apprentice hunting licenses, for those 12 or older, now cost $15.

Licenses to hunt, fish or trap during open seasons are valid for one year beginning on the date of purchase of the license.

Additional licenses, known as tags, are now required to hunt any bighorn sheep, moose, mountain lions or mountain goats. (Tags were previously required to hunt deer, elk, antelope, mountain sheep or bear.)

Fees for various licenses have changed.

A certain percentage of general licensing and permitting fees collected by the Department of Wildlife will now be required to be used for certain purposes relating to wildlife.

The Department of Wildlife must consult with Native American residents or tribes when considering making any recommendations relating to their hunting or fishing rights.

No more than two combinations of hook, line and rod can be used by someone while fishing.

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Elko Justice of the Peace Simons files for re-election

ELKO – Judge Mason Simons filed for re-election Tuesday as Department A justice of the peace.

Brian Boatman, Eastline justice of the peace, and Teri Feasel, Carlin justice of the peace, also filed for re-election, said Becky Plunkett, elections deputy county clerk.

Four justice of the peace seats are up for election in 2018 including Elko, Carlin, Eastline and Wells.

Filing for judicial candidates opened Jan. 2 and ends Jan. 12. Primary elections are set for June 12.

Simons was elected to the seat in 2012 and served as family court master for six years prior to his election.

“It has been an honor to serve the public as a judicial officer in this community for the past 11 years,” Simons said in a statement. “I view my service as a sacred trust. I have done everything in my power to honor that trust, and I would ask for your continued support as I continue this important work.”

Simons has been named by the Nevada Supreme Court to serve on various commissions and committees.

Currently, he serves on the Nevada Indigent Defense Commission; is an alternate member of the Nevada commission on judicial discipline; the standing committee on judicial ethics; the committee to study evidence-based pretrial release; chairman of the Supreme Court subcommittee to study bail schedules; and is a former member of the select committee for court improvement.

Additionally, Simons serves on the state-federal judicial council; the board of directors of the Nevada Judges of Limited Jurisdiction; and is a former member of the Judicial Council of the State of Nevada and the board of Governors of the State Bar of Nevada.

Simons has a bachelor of arts degree from Utah State University; a juris doctorate degree from the William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada Las Vegas; and is currently a candidate for a master of judicial studies degree from the National Judicial College at the University of Nevada, Reno.

“During my service on the bench I have dedicated myself to three critically important objectives: First, ensuring that offenders are held accountable for their actions; second, doing everything in my power to protect the safety and security of the community; and third, making sure victims of criminal acts are made whole,” Simons said.

Simons also cited his implementation of an intensive alcohol monitoring program for DUI offenders, as one of his important accomplishments at the court.

“Two years ago I launched a program that requires the use of portable, cellphone enabled, alcohol testing devices by individuals convicted of high BAC or repeat DUI offenses,” Simons said.

“The use of this cutting-edge technology has been a game changer. It has provided much greater accountability for these offenders, it has greatly improved our ability to change the behavior of defendants and has made the streets of Elko safer for our children and families.”

Simons also stated several issues he would like to tackle during his next term in office. “I have long been the proponent of the creation of a Department of Alternative Sentencing to supervise misdemeanor defendants who are subject to suspended sentences out of justice court and which would also be directed to supervise criminal defendants who are out of custody pre-trial,” Simons said.

“This would greatly enhance offender accountability and improve the safety of the community. Once this program is created, I would also like to see a treatment court created at the justice court level to assist individuals struggling with drug and alcohol problems. ”

Overacker faces charges involving eight local businesses

ELKO – A Spring Creek man who was accused of making a bomb threat at the Elko County court complex is facing new charges involving crimes at several local businesses.

Casey D. Overacker, 34, was arrested Friday at Elko County Jail on a felony warrant charging six counts of burglary; nine counts of uttering a fictitious bill, note or check; two counts of possessing a forged instrument; and grand larceny.

One complaint accuses him of cashing or trying to cash stolen checks in February at the Spring Inn, TNT Hair and Nail, Jerman’s and Khoury’s Mini Mart in Spring Creek.

Another complaint accuses Overacker of posing as a man named “Daniel” in August and trying to pass a $1,000 handwritten check at Codale Electric under the account of Comforts of Home.

Also in August, a complaint accuses Overacker of stealing a laptop computer valued at $650 from Aaron’s rental in Elko, after his rental application was denied. He entered the store in a wheelchair and was seen “playing” with the laptop, which was secured to a table by a locked cable, employees told police. Later, they noticed he and the computer were gone.

Yet another complaint accuses Overacker of passing two counterfeit $10 bills at the Red Lion.

Bail on all of the charges totaled $185,000.

In December, Overacker pleaded no contest to attempting to communicate a bomb threat but a visiting judge had to accept his plea because Elko District Judge Al Kacin recused himself from the case, saying he “could not set aside the anger I feel for that type of action.”

According to the Elko County Sheriff’s Office, a deputy determined that Overacker’s girlfriend, Shawna Parker, was scheduled to appear in court on June 19, the day of the bomb threat. Evidence led to his arrest on Oct. 4 but he was offered a plea bargain from a Category B to Category C felony. He could be sentenced to up to five years in prison in that case.

According to Elko Daily Free Press files, Overacker was also arrested in May along with Parker at a local motel after Parker was allegedly observed passing a counterfeit $20 bill. A small amount of heroin and drug paraphernalia were found in the room, along with two additional counterfeit bills on Parker, according to police.