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Elko council to consider suspending brothel license after manager's drug bust

ELKO — Mona’s Ranch brothel is in hot water with the Elko City Council, which will be holding a public hearing Tuesday to decide whether to suspend or revoke the brothel license for owners Soon Yee Scott and Kim Watson of Las Vegas.

The potential council action follows the arrest of the brothel’s manager on drug charges, including for drugs found at Mona’s, and this constitutes cause for suspension or revocation of the license, according to the council agenda.

The council will meet Feb. 27 in its chambers at Elko City Hall beginning at 4 p.m., and the public hearing begins at 5:30 p.m.

Elko Police Chief Ben Reed stated in a memo for the council that Peter Alberro was employed at Mona’s Ranch as the manager and as bartender at the time of his arrest, but his work permit has since been revoked.

Police stopped Alberro on Feb. 3 for failing to stop at a stop sign and discovered drugs and paraphernalia in his car, as well as a methamphetamine pipe on his person, according to Reed. Police then obtained a search warrant for Alberro’s home and his personal room at the brothel on Third Street.

The police found 14 grams of meth at the brothel, and Reed wrote that “this weight of meth is substantial in the view of law enforcement and would not ordinarily be for personal use.” Drug paraphernalia also was found in Alberro’s room at Mona’s Ranch, the chief wrote.

Police also reported methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia at his home.

Reed wrote that “factual allegations” and seized evidence are grounds for suspension or revocation of the brothel’s license because “the city has set forth strict standards concerning the operation of a house of prostitution to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public.”

In his memo, the chief also wrote that “it appears there is substantial negligence and lack of supervision.”

Reed said Alberro and the brothel’s co-owner, Soon Yee Scott, were served with notice of the hearing.


Local
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Flood report analyzes Elko County's response to disaster

ELKO — Just over a year ago, Elko County experienced widespread flooding that resulted in extensive damage and disaster declarations.

“It’s hard to believe it’s been a year,” said Annette Kerr, emergency manager for Elko County, addressing the Elko County Board of Commissioners Feb. 21.

Corresponding with the anniversary, Elko County staff prepared a report that analyses strengths and weaknesses of emergency management before, during and after the hazard. The aim of the state-required report is for responders to be better prepared in the case of future catastrophic incidents.

Impact of flood

In a recap of events, Kerr described the conditions that led to flooding. On Feb. 1, the area had 8 inches of snow; by Feb. 17, all the snow had melted.

“Above-normal temperatures, high dew points and winds encompassed with above-freezing temperatures at night limited our freezing of our snowpack,” Kerr said, adding that moist air from the Pacific Ocean and rain also contributed to the thaw. “Basically, we were melting.”

Flooding resulted in loss of homes, school closure, evacuations, major highway and road closures, train delays, loss of livestock, a dam failure, and the isolation and displacement of citizen, the report states.

Twenty-four homes in Elko flooded plus 30 in Montello; two homes in Wells were completely destroyed. Sixty-three roads experienced damage, including the washout of State Route 233. The Winecup/Gamble Ranch 21-Mile Dam failed.

In Elko, the Humboldt River reached flood status on Feb. 9 then entered a prolonged period above flood stage Feb. 10-12 with spikes in subsequent days, the report states. The unofficial crest was 10.49 feet, which is the third highest recorded after 12.3 feet in 1962 and 12.18 feet in 1983, according to the report.

Strengths

The report outlines the strengths of Elko County’s strategies and tactics before, during and after the flood.

Before the flood, issues covered by planning, training, exercises and mitigation — such as identifying areas of concern, drafting declarations and identifying resources — are cited as well-done. Also noted were 911 dispatch activities and hospital and school coordination.

During response, the list of strengths included communications, quick action to ensure safety of people and property, and availability of resources. Also included were the activation of the Emergency Response Center, resource tracking, debris removal and information sharing.

For recovery, the report noted damage assessment, trained and knowledgeable staff following state and federal procedures, along with in-stock supplies to repair infrastructure. The list also featured assisting the public, use of GIS mapping, and information management.

Weaknesses

The report also outlines suggestions for improvements as a result of the flood.

“Of course, we didn’t do everything right,” Kerr said. “We identified areas for improvement.”

The county suggested working with the state and railroad to eliminate damming issues on State Route 233 in Montello; addressing issues on Pilot Valley Road such as pitfalls, drainage and paving; and lifting and installing drainage on Victory Boulevard in Osino.

For better response, items to consider include: placing more sandbags at strategic locations around the county, purchasing more signs and placing law enforcement at emergency sites. Another need is to have all responding organizations and volunteers report to a well-staffed and appropriately sized Emergency Operations Center for public information coordination, the report states.

Additionally, the county identified the need to better communicate with volunteers and set up monetary and other donations.

“We had a lot of people that wanted to help, which is wonderful,” Kerr said. “Elko is a wonderful community for doing that, but there’s also liability issues, concerns with overwork, people going into areas that perhaps might be contaminated — so we want to work on our communication and registration with volunteers.”

“Fake news” from private people posting incorrect statements on social media also interfered with recovery, Kerr said. To combat misinformation, the county plans to work with coordinating agencies to disseminate information through credible social media pages such as the sheriff’s, Bureau of Land Management and National Weather Service pages.

“That was one of the things that was a huge issue for us, the fake news that was going out — that another dam broke, or that people were stranded, or that people died,” Kerr said, describing the types of rumors that prevailed.

Commissioner Cliff Eklund asked if dispersal of incorrect information caused the allocation of assets where they were not needed. Kerr responded that reports from the public resulted in loss of manpower as people were dispatched to check into the issues being reported.

Future

Kerr explained that improving strategies and tactics to handle winter storms and flooding is an ongoing process but that last year’s flood event provided valuable insights.

“The lessons learned with the declared disaster, the 2017 February Flood, will enable Elko County, its incorporated cities and towns, the citizens and businesses to be better prepared, respond with confidence and continue to improve their resiliency,” the report states.


Crime-and-courts
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Spring Creek man sentenced to house arrest in elderly exploitation case

ELKO – An Spring Creek man accused of stealing from his elderly mother was sentenced to 60 days house arrest Monday in Elko District Court.

Wade E. Fordin, 54, of Spring Creek pleaded guilty before Judge Al Kacin to one count of conspiracy to commit exploitation of an older person and one count of conspiracy to commit theft, both gross misdemeanors.

He was given a suspended sentence of 364 days in jail for each count concurrently, required to pay $6,183.48 restitution to the Elko County Public Guardian, and was placed on probation for three years.

Kacin further sentenced Fordin to 60 days of house arrest to be served “in one lump period.”

Senior Deputy Attorney General Eric Nickel appeared by phone during the sentencing hearing before Judge Al Kacin, and said the state agreed with the Division of Parole and Probation to grant Fordin probation and have him pay restitution.

Because of Fordin’s age and lack of criminal history the state agreed “probation was the best alternative,” Nickel said.

Attorney David Lockie also asked for the probation, explaining that Fordin only had one misdemeanor on his record and no felonies. He added that Fordin was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension and had “a boatload” of about 16 prescribed medications that would he would have to bring with him if he were incarcerated.

When Fordin was asked by Kacin to make a statement on his behalf, Fordin declined.

Fordin was arrested Sept. 11, 2016 on suspicion of converting more than $6,000 for his personal use from his 80-year-old mother, Helen Mae Fordin. He was charged with one count of exploitation of an older person and one count of theft, both category B felonies.

He pleaded guilty on Nov. 6 in a plea agreement that reduced the charges from felonies to misdemeanors.

According to court documents, Fordin was appointed as his mother’s permanent guardian over her and her estate after it was determined she was unable to care for herself.

The case was filed to the Attorney General’s office by Public Guardian Kathy Jones. She spoke at the sentencing hearing on behalf of Helen Fordin, who died July 29, 2015.

“It’s been four years since the start of the investigation into Mr. Fordin’s exploitation of his mother,” Jones said, describing how Fordin preyed on the “frailty, old age and illness of his own mother.”

Jones went on to explain how Fordin was appointed guardian of his mother’s estate; however, his mother lived her final days at Highland Manor dependent on the kindness of others.

“I feel sorry for you because you weren’t able to walk into Highland Manor and hold your head up knowing that you are taking care of your mother. Instead, other people had to buy your mother’s clothes, slippers, snacks and Christmas presents,” Jones said.

“The trust his mother, Highland Manor and the court gave to him was selfishly exploited by Wade Fordin,” Jones said.

Upon handing down the sentence, Kacin said the court recognized the fact Fordin has “very little criminal history,” but that if Fordin were to have had an extensive criminal history, the sentence would have been different, regardless of his medical condition and “boatload of medications.”

“I expect you to follow the rules of your probation very well,” Kacin told Fordin.

Kacin added that he agreed with Jones that the crime “was a terrible offense of exploitation.”

“Ms. Jones said it eloquently, and I can’t say more except that I agree with her.”


Alberro


News
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NNRH names next CEO

ELKO — Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital has named Steven Simpson its CEO, effective April 2. Simpson will replace Rick Palagi, who is retiring March 2 after four years of service.

“We are delighted to welcome Steve to Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital,” said Robert Klein, president of LifePoint Health’s Western Group, of which NNRH is a part. “His passion for delivering the highest quality care, his experience enhancing patient, employee and physician satisfaction, and his commitment to the communities he has served makes him the ideal candidate to lead NNRH and advance the many ways it makes its communities healthier.”

Simpson comes to NNRH from Tennova Lakeway Regional Hospital in Morristown, Tennessee, where he has served as CEO for two years. During his time at Tennova, Simpson increased patient satisfaction from 57 percent to 90.3 percent; reduced door-to-provider time in the emergency room from 38 minutes to 18 minutes; and achieved zero serious safety events or hospital-acquired conditions for more than a year.

Before Tennova Lakeway Regional Hospital, Simpson held several leadership positions at University Medical Center in Lebanon, Tennessee.

“We wish Rick all the best in his much-deserved retirement, and we appreciate his dedicated service to our community,” said Delmo Andreozzi, chair of the governing board at NNRH. “We want to warmly welcome Steve to Elko. We look forward to working alongside him to ensure that NNRH continues to provide the highest quality care for our community.”

In Tennessee, Simpson held leadership roles with organizations including Rotary International, United Way, Kiwanis International and Encore Theatre Group. He is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives and American Association of Physician Liaisons.

Simpson earned a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Phoenix and a bachelor’s degree from Belmont University. He is moving to Elko with his wife and 11-year-old twin daughters.