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Inmate escapes Elko County Jail

ELKO – A fugitive felon who was being held in Elko County Jail slipped out Wednesday afternoon but only enjoyed about 15 minutes of freedom.

Jeremy Austin Estep, 31, of Elko had been in jail since his Nov. 16 arrest on Interstate 80 for walking intoxicated on a roadway and making false statements to obstruct a public officer.

“Estep was using a telephone in the facility when he was able to take advantage of a brief period of time as officers were exiting a door and was able to leave the facility by exiting the door,” said a statement from the Elko County Sheriff’s Office.

Undersheriff Ron Supp said the phone is located in an area not far from doorways.

“Some guys were coming in and some guys were going out at the same time,” Supp said, “so the doors were open and he just saw the opportunity” to flee.

The deputies began chasing him on foot along the railroad tracks. They were joined by Elko Police Department officers.

The pursuit ended approximately 15 minutes later when Estep was found hiding in a vehicle not owned by him, near the homeless camp on Hot Springs Road.

One city police officer suffered a slight injury during the incident.

Estep was not injured. He was returned to the detention facility and faces additional charges of escape by a prisoner, resisting or obstructing a public officer, and burglary.

Supp said Estep’s felony charges are from Kansas, where he is wanted for possession of a stolen vehicle.

Estep was also arrested in Hamilton, Montana in January 2015 on felony assault charges, after he allegedly tried to throw a shot glass at a bartender.

A female bartender grabbed his arm and other patrons in the bar duct-taped his hands together to hold him until law enforcement arrived, according to a report in the Ravalli Republic.

County gets green light to spend 911 grant money

ELKO — Hundreds of thousands of grant dollars are now available for the county to spend on equipment and related expenses for upgrading to Next Generation 911, and the new technology could go live as early as July 31.

A timeline produced by Winbourne Consulting LLC shows a go-live projected date of July 2019, said Ben Reed, Elko County Enhanced 911 Board chairman and Elko’s police chief. “An aggressive six or seven months. That will be great,” he said.

Enabling the start of the upgrade was the Nov. 20 state approval of a $313,500 Nevada Homeland Security grant to Elko County through the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Nov. 20. The process took about eight months to complete.

“We did receive the approval that we can now move forward and have expenditures and start spending that money,” said Annette Kerr, Elko County emergency manager.

The state approved the grant this summer, but the Elko County sheriff’s office of emergency management had to submit environmental and historical preservation plans to state and federal agencies for the final go-ahead.

Owyhee also applied for and received initial approval for a separate grant of $118,500 but also must submit preservation plans for final review. Kerr said she was not aware if Owyhee had submitted the plans.

The combined grants would total $432,000, which “is a lot of money going toward the 911 project in this county, serving all the citizens in Elko County,” Reed said.

Elko County Enhanced 911 Board member Jessie Bahr expressed her thanks to Kerr and others involved for securing the grant “because $313,500 goes a long way for us,” she said.

With the final approval, the county can proceed with one of the steps to upgrade the county’s basic 911 to Next Generation 911. Elko County was one of about a dozen counties in the nation still using basic 911, and the three-generations-old technology lacks the ability to identify all callers’ locations.

The next steps for the 911 migration project, according to a timeline provided by Winbourne Consulting LLC, include finding a vendor to compile a geographic information system database; procuring an emergency service internet protocol network that allows dispatch centers in Elko, West Wendover and Owyhee to communicate; and procuring and setting up equipment at dispatch centers.

In addition to allowing all dispatch centers to access the same GIS information and facilitate faster response to emergencies, Reed said there are two major advantages of the new technology.

First, dispatchers will be able to identify the locations of people who report emergencies using mobile phones on an X-Y-Z matrix; meaning, if the caller dials 911 on a cellphone from a multistory building, the dispatcher not only knows the address of the building but also what floor the person is on.

Second, as addresses are added to the database, locations can be given the names that the locals use. For instance, if a caller reports an accident at “the roundabout,” dispatchers can know that the emergency is at the intersection of Lamoille Highway and Spring Creek Parkway/Licht Parkway.

“This whole project, almost all of it is hardware and software,” Reed said.

Besides the grant, Elko County is funding the upgrade through a surcharge on telecommunications customers at 25 cents per line, and community donations. As of Nov. 29, the fund totaled $290,017.

The initial cost of the upgrade is estimated at more than $200,000, with annual recurring fees of at least $150,000, the consultant reported earlier this year.

To meet the ongoing costs, the board this summer recommended Elko County Commissioners increase the phone line franchise fee to the state maximum of $1 per line.

The commissioners took no action on the fee increase at the time, but Reed said he plans to broach the topic again in the near future with a more detailed report on expected expenses to justify the increase.

“The NextGen 911 migration project is but one project of many having to do with technology related to the three public safety dispatch centers in the county,” Reed said. “There will be many others that follow, and the ongoing funding mechanism is the surcharge fee connected to the phone lines. The discussion in the future will be what projects are applicable, what do they cost, and how much should the surcharge be?”

Subdivision developers now have options

ELKO – A new subdivision code that meets the needs of developers is official.

Elko City Council approved on second reading the code that repeals and replaces the city’s long-time subdivision regulations after a public hearing at the Nov. 27 council meeting.

Councilman and Mayor-elect Reece Keener said he couldn’t imagine a public hearing without protests over the subdivision code, but that was the case. No one spoke in the hearing.

City Planner Cathy Laughlin said there were three developers waiting to develop under the new code.

“The proposed draft is really the culmination of a lot of people’s efforts,” said Elko City Manager Curtis Calder, who thanked the city’s staff for their “heavy lifting.”

City staff, including Calder, developers, contractors and real estate agents worked together on a task force to put together a subdivision code that provides two options for developers instead of forcing them all to post bonds for total development costs.

One of the options will allow developers to obtain preliminary map approval and develop the subdivision with their own funding, without posting a performance guarantee with the city. However, developers under this option can’t sell lots or obtain building permits until final approval of work.

The second option will let developers receive map approval and sell lots while development is under way, after they post bond for an engineer’s estimate of development costs. They can also obtain building permits to start houses.

The performance agreements with developers also will state that those who bond can withdraw portions of the bond as portions of the subdivision work are completed.

Another change is that the new code is in chronological order to make it easier for all to read and understand. Timelines are detailed for projects, and the code requires the city to submit the subdivision maps to the state for approval.

State treasurer-elect devises alternate payment plan for pot

LAS VEGAS (AP) — State Treasurer-elect Zach Conine has devised an alternate payment for marijuana outside of cash.

KLAS-TV reports both medical and recreational pot use are legal in Nevada. But because marijuana remains illegal under federal law, no marijuana business can use federally chartered banks.

Since marijuana is still illegal at a federal level, all transactions must be conducted in cash.

Since an all-cash business can lead to fraud, theft and even encourage robberies, Conine, Lieutenant Governor-elect Kate Marshall and others helped devise a solution.

Businesses and customers would be able to go to the state and exchange cash for tokens, otherwise known as chits. The chits would be powered by blockchain technology and would be fully trackable, to avoid money laundering.

Conine will get to work on this idea after he’s sworn in Jan. 7.


Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., speaks with reporters on the farm bill following a closed door luncheon June 26 on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Tougher gun laws among new Nevada governor's top priorities

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Nevada Gov.-elect Steve Sisolak, who will be the first Democrat in the post in two decades, said tougher gun laws are among his top priorities as he takes office in January.

Sisolak said in an interview with The Associated Press that he wants to see the state ban assault weapons, silencers and bump stocks, which the gunman used in the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting to modify his guns to mimic the firing of a fully automatic weapon.

“This is something that’s extremely important to me,” the 64-year-old said. “I’ve already been in discussion with some law enforcement and intend to get going on that very, very quickly.”

Fifty-eight people died and hundreds were wounded after a gambler-turned-gunman rained down bullets late Oct. 1, 2017, from the Mandalay Bay casino-resort into an outdoor concert crowd on the Las Vegas Strip.

After the shooting, Sisolak started a fundraiser for the victims that amassed millions and cited the shooting on the campaign trail as a reason for change.

He said he doesn’t have specifics of his gun-related proposals but said he isn’t advocating a buyback of those weapons and devices.

Sisolak has said he wants to find a way to enact a 2016-voter-approved background check initiative that Republican Attorney General Adam Laxalt and GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval say was flawed and can’t be enforced.

Sisolak, who defeated Laxalt for governor by capturing 49 percent of the vote, is expected to find a smooth path for his agenda in the state Legislature, where Democrats increased their numbers and achieved a supermajority in the Assembly.

But Sisolak said he’s not worried about whether the Democratic sweep gives him political capital to spend.

“As long as they agree with what our agenda is and our mission and if they’re interested in doing what I am, which is helping the citizens of the state of Nevada ... we’re going to get along just fine. If they’re not, then we’re going to have a problem,” he said.

Sisolak demurred when asked if the power shift will move the state further left.

“I’m I think a moderate as it relates to some of these programs,” Sisolak said.

Sisolak spent a decade on the Clark County Commission, the governing body overseeing the Las Vegas Strip and a county where most of the state’s population lives.

Nevada Democrats next year could revive a plan to open the state’s Medicaid plan to anyone, regardless of need, instead of limiting the government subsidized-insurance to low-income residents.

Sisolak said he doesn’t think the state has the resources to afford such a move, but wants to study it.

Sisolak says he is philosophically opposed to the death penalty and has no plans to try and ease the state’s prolonged legal battle over the use of lethal injection drugs. He said he wanted to talk with lawmakers before considering any steps to slow capital punishment.

The governor-elect said another priority is improving the state’s education system, including finding more money for teacher pay.

Sisolak will be inaugurated in Carson City on Jan. 7.