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Keener and Rice to participate in marijuana forum

ELKO – Elko City Councilmen Reece Keener and John Patrick Rice will discuss their positions on a proposed ordinance to prohibit a marijuana dispensary from setting up inside the city limits Friday night at Sierra Java.

The event, hosted by the Elko Libertarian Party, starts at 6 p.m. and is open to the public. Questions for both councilmen will be fielded from the audience.

Libertarian Party coordinator Sean Fericks said he hoped the forum would allow both sides to be heard in the debate over whether to allow a business selling medical or recreational marijuana in Elko.

“The Elko Libertarian Party promotes honest and respectful political discourse,” Fericks said. “The party also recognizes the toxic political environment that we live in.”

“People tend to shoot and reload rather than think about things,” Fericks continued. “For Libertarian, Republican and Democrat, the forum is to try to have a respectful, honest and thoughtful discussion.”

“We are very thankful that councilmen Keener and Rice have volunteered their time to such a cause,” Fericks said.

Keener, who intends to run for mayor, said the forum was a good opportunity for the public to hear the thought process of an elected official, who doesn’t have the time to explain their reasons under the time constraints of a public meeting.

“I’ve never had the opportunity to do something like this, and particularly when it’s a controversial issue,” Keener said. “As you know, there are two sides to every issue.”

“It will drill down on our philosophies and opinions on marijuana,” Keener said, adding that he hopes Libertarians will attend the discussion because of their platform to legalize marijuana.

Rice said he was happy to “have good civil discourse” and present both sides of the issue, calling the forum “valuable.”

“We’re not there to debate, just talk about our opinions on this matter,” Rice said.

The question of whether to permit a cannabis dispensary in the city has gone back and forth between the Elko Planning Commission and city council in the last couple of months.

In December, the planning commission narrowly rejected a proposed ordinance to ban marijuana sales. The city council voted 4-1 in October to pursue the ordinance, with Rice dissenting.

When the city council met Jan. 9, it again voted to put the ordinance back on the agenda for a first reading, but not after some discussion between the council, Mayor Chris Johnson, Elko City Police Chief Ben Reed and the public.

Keener said at the meeting he supported law enforcement’s efforts to oppose marijuana sales in Elko and said he believed allowing a marijuana dispensary in Elko would be “very mining negative.”

In a commentary published in the Elko Daily Free Press, Rice proposed a moratorium on the sale of both medical and recreational marijuana until 2022, and requested public support for it at the upcoming city council meeting on Jan. 23.

Fericks encourages the public to RSVP on the Elko County Libertarian Party’s Facebook page because of the small size of the venue at 1657 Mountain City Highway.


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Revising the old rules in the new year: Spring Creek tackles gray areas

SPRING CREEK – The top property violation for Spring Creek residents is inoperable vehicles, according to Committee of Architecture records, but what if homeowners have unregistered show cars or racing cars stored on their property? Could that be considered a violation?

During the COA’s regular meeting this month, the committee looked at tightening up rules on vehicles, livestock, metal storage containers and fencing materials.

The panel is looking to clarify gray areas and other rules from the master Declaration of Reservations that are unclear, and in some instances, seem to contradict their own wording.

“The wording in the DORs at times are vague, and the reason [for] the Committee of Architecture,” said chair Diane Parker.

Because of problems created by the gray areas in the master DORs written in 1971, the COA wrote the Rules and Regulations that make each rule clearer for less confusion, Parker said.

A change in the DORs can occur only by a vote of 75 percent of property owners. As of November, 4,848 Spring Creek properties out of 5,420, or 89 percent, were occupied, according the COA’s report to the association board of directors.

“At this point it is pretty unlikely that the DORs will change,” Parker said.

One example was highlighted at the Jan. 9 meeting. According to the last line of rule No. 15 in the DOR, “Storage of junk, old inoperative un-licensed cars and other unsightly objects on any lot or parcel is expressly prohibited.”

Currently, the COA specifies that vehicles that do not have a license plate, registration, and are not in a condition for highway use, must be out of public view or covered with a heavy-duty vehicle cover.

The COA plans to vote on a new rule in February that would permit storage of race cars, heavy equipment and semi trailers because they are likely not to be licensed or registered.

Jim Jefferies, Tract 200 Vista Grande director, attended the COA’s meeting and posed a question: What in particular was considered an old vehicle in the eyes of the COA?

“Just how old does it have to be? One day or 20 years or 40 years?” Jefferies asked. “How do you know it’s unlicensed? You’re making an assumption there.”

Parker explained to Jefferies that the COA investigates reports of violations and begins the process of resolving the issue.

“It is the COA secretary’s responsibility to contact the property owner and to make arrangements to make sure a car is registered and licensed. It is her job to work with them on this,” Parker said.

“We spent four months working on rewriting rule No. 11 to satisfy everybody,” Parker said, adding that six months after the Rules and Regulations were revised in April, the committee had to go back and review the rule again.

Committee member Brien Park said not much needed to be changed on the rule to define storage of vehicles, which was tabled until the Feb. 13 meeting, pending legal review.

Changes to the rules about livestock buildings on properties, amendments to the wording to prohibit metal storage containers to become makeshift workshops, and types of fencing materials permitted by the COA were all tabled until February.

“At the beginning of our COA packets, it says ‘the job of the COA committee is to make reasonable rules and regulations,’” Parker said.


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A two-person race for Elko justice of the peace

ELKO – A former candidate for Elko Justice of the Peace filed to run against incumbent Mason Simons on Friday.

Antoinette Chiesa submitted her paperwork Jan. 12, the last day for judicial candidates to file at the Elko County Clerk’s office.

Chiesa ran for the office in 2012 amid a four-candidate race that included Diana Hillewaert, Dave Loreman, and Simons, who she endorsed in the final weeks leading to the general election.

“I’m looking forward to running and listening to the people,” Chiesa said. “I feel I can do the job and I know I can.”

“I’ve worked with numerous attorneys for many years and I know how the system works,” Chiesa said, explaining that she does not have a law degree.

“I don’t have a legal education, but it doesn’t mean I can’t do the job,” she said.

Simons filed for re-election Jan. 2.

Chiesa said she also has “the utmost respect for Mason Simons,” and added that she has “a lot of ideas.” Some of them include bringing back the DARE program and the SCRAM alcohol monitoring program.

“I firmly believe in education,” Chiesa said, describing a program she has in mind to educate inmates through a volunteer program of retired teachers.

Chiesa said she also believes in “rehabilitation not incarceration.”

“We can’t save everyone, though I would like to believe I could, but who knows unless you try,” she said.

“I want the citizens of Elko to know that they do have a voice and I will listen,” Chiesa said. “I am very dedicated and will make a difference.”

Carlin Justice Court Judge Teri Feasel and Eastline Justice Court Judge Brian Boatman each filed for re-election and face no challengers, according to Elections Deputy Clerk Becky Plunkett.

In Wells, three candidates filed to run for justice of the peace: Kenneth Calton, Noah Swett and Shaunia Thornal. Judge Patricia Calton currently presides on the bench but did not file for re-election.


Crime-and-courts
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Man attempts to rob Subway with a big knife

ELKO – A scruffy-bearded man in a sweatshirt attempted to rob a Subway at knifepoint Monday evening.

Elko police Lt. Mike Pahlegyi said the man entered the restaurant on Thomas Gallagher Way near the airport as if he were planning to order a sandwich. Instead, he pulled out a large knife and demanded money.

The employees fled out the back door and called 9-1-1.

Meanwhile, the man left the Subway without any money or food.

Palhegyi said the attempted robbery was reported at 6:47 p.m. Anyone with information is asked to contact police detectives at 777-7310.

The suspect is described as a white, male adult about 5 feet, 10 inches tall and weighing about 200 pounds. He could be 25-45 years old.

“The officers are following up on video surveillance trying to determine the identity of this individual,” said Palhegyi.

It was the second armed robbery at knifepoint in the past two months.

At about 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 8, a man with a white cloth over his face pointed a knife at a cashier in the Sinclair gas station at 1790 Idaho St., and fled with an undisclosed amount of money.

He was described as wearing a white jacket with gray horizontal lines across the chest and a gray hoodie underneath it.

The cashier was not harmed in the incident.

In October, police arrested a female suspect in an armed robbery at the Port of Subs in the Elko Junction Shopping Center.

Two people entered the restaurant at closing time and brandished a firearm. They escaped with an undisclosed amount of cash.

Both were wearing masks that covered their faces.

Erika M. Lozano, 30, of Elko was arrested in December on charges of conspiracy to commit robbery and grand larceny; robbery; burglary while in possession of a gun; assault with a deadly weapon; and grand larceny up to $3,500.

Her bail was set at $152,500.