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City may lease dark fiber

ELKO – Elko City Council will be considering leasing a portion of the city’s dark fiber asset to increase broadband availability within the city when it meets Nov. 27.

“We’ve been looking at how the city can help. We don’t want to make money off it,” the city’s information systems manager, Troy Poncin, said Monday.

He is on the Elko Broadband Action Team that has been working with the Governor’s Office of Science, Innovation and Technology to boost broadband capacity and improve internet service. The team’s survey earlier this year showed problems with service interruptions and internet speed.

The idea of using a portion of the city’s extra cable came out of the team meetings, Poncin said.

Elko owns 12 bundles of 12 fibers each, but only four bundles are now in use by the city, Elko County and the Elko dispatch center. Poncin said he will be proposing to the council that the city lease one or two bundles, so there will be remaining capacity for future projects.

Century Link provides the internet service. The city also uses the cable for intranet service for all city departments, and “the bulk of it is for intranet,” he said.

The county pays its share for the internet service and helped pay construction costs. Poncin said the underground cable has only been in use a few years.

The buried cable runs from Elko Regional Airport to the Elko Fire Department’s main station, then down Idaho Street before turning at the Elko Area Chamber of Commerce and turning again near the old police station site before reaching city hall.

Poncin said fiber running along Interstate 80 for internet providers could be linked to the city’s bundles to boost broadband service in at least the parts of the city where the cable is located.

The agenda proposal is for the council to direct city staff to create dark fiber lease agreements, set prices, and to consider whether an auction of the dark fiber asset or direct leasing under an economic development exception is better.

After research, the staff is recommending a five-year, month-to-month lease with specific terms to be placed on any carrier accessing the dark fiber, according to the meeting agenda.

So what is dark fiber?

“Dark fiber is fiber that has been built but is not used,” Poncin said. explains that because fiber-optic cable transmits information in the form of light pulses, a dark fiber is one through which light pulses aren’t being transmitted.

The city’s information systems staff asked four contractors for ballpark quotes on maintaining the dark fiber asset, but only one of the four responded. That proposal was expensive, so staff is recommending taking steps to do the maintenance in-house, the agenda states.

When the dark fiber asset was brought up at the Sept. 25 meeting, City Attorney David Stanton said the lease idea is “kind of breaking new ground legally.” He said his opinion was that the dark fiber was real property, so the city would be “leasing out a little piece of real estate.”

The alternative, Stanton said at that time, would be an exclusive licensing agreement.

The Nov. 27 council meeting begins at 4 p.m. at city hall, and a public hearing for the second reading and possible adoption of the city’s proposed new subdivision code is at 5:30 p.m. City staff hammered out the repeal-and-replace code with input at workshops involving developers, real estate agents and contractors.

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Festival of Trees raises money for community needs

ELKO – The conference center at the Elko Convention and Visitors Authority was buzzing with activity Monday. Beginning at 7 a.m. people began setting up a myriad of holiday décor in the conference center.

Trees to wreaths, the event highlights the best in seasonal generosity and is locally viewed as the official start of the holiday season.

“Jim [Winer] has done this since the event started,” real estate agent Theresa Meyer said.

Winer owns Coldwell Banker Real Estate. Realtors Ben Cortez and Faith Betancourt were busy hanging a star made from branches on top of this year’s tree.

Anyone can bid on trees and other decorative items. The proceeds from the sales are split among several charities chosen by the ECVA board. This year the charities are Friends of Elko County Library, Heart and Shield Family Violence Prevention Program, Igloo Recreation Center, Lion’s Club Camp Lamoille, and the Wells Family Resource Center.

Bidding started Monday at 6 p.m. The silent auction lasts until 7 p.m. Nov. 28. At that time the event closes down and ECVA employees tally up the winners.

Trees can be picked up on Nov. 29 or 30. Members of the POW/MIA organization will be making home deliveries for a fee.

“We ask that people come in on Thursday to pick up their tree,” ECVA receptionist Amber Merz said. “It gets pretty crazy Wednesday night.”

Merz said people often stand by the tree they want and compete in bidding wars right until the last minute.

“This is the third year we’ve done this,” Carlin Police Department administrative assistant Karen Carr-Brian said.

The police department’s tree has a number of colorful ornaments, including brightly colored plastic doughnuts.

Other trees sparkle with glitter and garlands. Some participants used color as a decorating scheme while others hung their evergreen with items that represent their company or group.

Santa will make an appearance at the event. Parents can bring their children for a special visit with the big guy Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.

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Women booked on $20K bail after jail fight

ELKO – Two women have been charged with battery in a jailhouse fight that reportedly started after one woman was shoved hard enough to knock her orange shoes off her feet.

Claudia M. Salas, 37, of Elko and Chancie L. Scott, 25, of Spring Creek had been arguing about an issue involving a third inmate a couple days earlier, according to a deputy’s report.

Video footage from Sept. 23 reportedly shows five women, including Scott, sitting at a table and laughing at noon, then lining up for lunch. Salas then walks up to the end of the line and apparently starts yelling.

Salas “gets into Scott’s face,” the deputy reported, then Scott pushes Salas and she ends up lying on the floor, both of her orange shoes falling off her feet.

The two then get up and start fighting. As the deputies enter the block, one of the women has the other pinned against the wall.

Scott was arrested Nov. 19 and Salas Nov. 22 after felony warrants were issued against them. Both women were booked on $20,000 bail.

Both women were originally jailed on drug charges.

Scott was arrested Aug. 1 at West Oak and Rahas for use or possession of drug paraphernalia. She was identified as the driver of a vehicle in which Joseba K. Urdaneta, 26, was arrested after being accused of selling drugs inside a local casino. When the vehicle was searched a scalpel with heroin residue was located near Scott, according to police. Two felony counts of drug possession were added the following day.

Salas was arrested Aug. 18 at Mittry Avenue and College Court for felony possession of a controlled substance, furnishing or attempting to furnish a controlled substance to a state prisoner, and use or possession of drug paraphernalia.

In July , three female inmates at the jail were booked on felony charges following a fight in May that involved at least six women.

No Democrat supermajority in the Nevada Senate

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A recount in the race for a Nevada legislative seat has shown no change in results, making Republican Keith Pickard the winner by just 24 votes.

Clark County Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria said Monday that the results of the recount in the race for the state Senate seat will be officially canvassed Thursday.

Democrat Julie Pazina had requested the recount after the razor-thin results kept from victory. Her loss also keeps Democrats from achieving a supermajority in the state Senate.

Democrats came out of this month’s election with a supermajority in the state Assembly but fell one seat short of achieving the same in the Senate.

Pickard is a lawyer and a former teacher who served in the state Assembly in 2017.

His new Senate seat covers Henderson and south Las Vegas.

Outside spending on Nevada governor, other races topped $48M

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The close contest for Nevada governor and other competitive state races this year drew at least $48.6 million in outside spending, including about $38 million on ads that filled airways and mailboxes, according to fundraising documents.

Campaign finance reports from 30 political action committees that focused at least some of their efforts on the governor’s race show heavy spending on behalf of Democrats, who were able to flip the top job for the first time in two decades.

The Associated Press reviewed campaign finance reports through Nov. 2, the most recent available, for state-registered PACs that ran at least some digital, television or radio ads related to the race for Nevada governor.

Democrat Steve Sisolak, chairman of the Clark County Commission that governs the Las Vegas Strip and surrounding communities, won the Nov. 6 election by carrying 49 percent of the vote. Republican state Attorney General Adam Laxalt picked up 45 percent.

The $48.6 million in outside spending is on top of the more than $22 million combined that Laxalt’s and Sisolak’s campaigns spent this year.

PACs that spent in the race may have directed some of their funds to other state contests, such as the race for attorney general or legislative battles, but it’s unclear exactly how much. Nevada campaign finance laws do not require PACs to detail how much they spent supporting or opposing a particular candidate.

Campaign ads online and on the airways indicate most of the groups focused their spending on the top-of-the-ticket governor’s race, including the general election battle between Laxalt and Sisolak and the Democratic primary between Sisolak and Chris Giunchigliani.

At least $16 million was spent by groups supportive of Laxalt, while more than $32 million was spent by those backing Sisolak or Giunchigliani, including more than $5 million spent on behalf of Giunchigliani before she lost the June 12 primary.

Nevada Families First, a Sisolak-supporting PAC heavily funded by the Democratic Governors Association, spent $9.5 million.

The Republican Governors Association, backing Laxalt, spent $8.9 million for him. It also made the biggest single ad buy, reporting an expenditure of $4.5 million in September.

While the spending in the governor’s race was heavy, it was dwarfed by $66 million spent by outside groups in the U.S. Senate race, in which Democrat Jacky Rosen toppled incumbent Republican Dean Heller.