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WATCH NOW: School board meeting halted when some parents refuse to wear mask

ELKO – Tuesday’s Elko County School Board meeting was halted less than two minutes after it began when some parents in the audience refused to wear masks.

Board Chairman Teresa Dastrup admonished the parents to put masks on twice before she paused the meeting one minute and 40 seconds after it began. She had told those without masks that they could participate online.

Dastrup said the recess would last five minutes but the live feed did not resume. The Elko Daily Free Press was attempting to cover the meeting virtually.

Dastrup and the only other trustee on the board, Ira Wines, had been scheduled to appoint five board members Tuesday evening, among other business. The members resigned in August after taking action on the governor’s mask mandate.

The Free Press contacted Superintendent Jeff Zander, who was not at the meeting after injuring his foot over the weekend while hunting. He said the board had to postpone the meeting because of the lack of cooperation from parents.

According to Dastrup, who spoke to the Elko Daily Free Press after the meeting, “about seven refused to wear masks.”

She noted that some attendees who took masks provided by the school district at the door “chose to put it on their chin.”

“These are the mandates we’re under right now, whether we like them or not,” she said. “When we are in district buildings, our students have to wear masks, teachers have to wear masks, and the public when they are in our building.”

Dastrup said if Gov. Steve Siolak changed the mandates set by emergency directives, then the school district would “be glad to readdress things. But right now, we have to follow those mandates because they carry the weight of law whether people like it or not.”

Enforcing the mandates was necessary to keep schools open, Dastrup added.

“None of us want to be the mask police, but we need to keep our kids in school. We want them to have their sports and activities and be in class,” she said.

Dastrup said the board plans to reschedule the meeting at a later date.

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COVID deaths top 100 in Elko County

ELKO – The number of COVID-related deaths in Elko County topped 100 over the weekend.

Half of the deaths have been among residents 70 or older. Roughly 12 were in their 50s, seven in their 40s, and three each in their 30s and 20s.

No one under 20 years old has died from the coronavirus in Elko County, according to data released Tuesday.

Six out of every 10 deaths have been men.

Half of the 101 deaths occurred prior to the widespread availability of vaccines in March.

Out of the deaths that have occurred since vaccines were available, roughly 70% were unvaccinated. Six percent were partially vaccinated, 8% fully vaccinated, and 16% unknown.

Four deaths were reported over the past four days, for a total of seven so far this month. Twenty-five deaths – one quarter of the total – occurred in September.

Hospitalizations remained high over the past week, but the number of new COVID cases in Elko County declined 18%.

The county confirmed 353 new cases, down from 432 the week before. More than 8,000 cases have been confirmed since the pandemic began.

The number of active cases as of Monday was 491, compared with around 600 last week.

Hospitalizations stayed in the upper 30s over the past week. That’s double the number a month ago.

As of last Thursday, 37 people had been administered monoclonal antibody therapy treatment at the county’s outpatient center in the Great Basin College gymnasium.

“As a reminder, we’re scheduling MAB therapy Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of each week,” said County Manager Amanda Osborne. “A referral from your provider is necessary in order to receive treatment.”

Walmart began free COVID testing this week. Testing hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“Anyone wanting to be tested is welcome,” said the announcement. “Please wear a mask in the walk-up clinic.”

Visit or call 800-401-0946 to find a vaccination site or for more information about the COVID-19 vaccine.

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First Majestic reports record production

First Majestic Silver Corp. produced a record 7.3 million silver equivalent ounces in the third quarter, including 3.3 million silver ounces and 54,525 ounces of gold, with 26,145 of the gold ounces coming from the Jerritt Canyon Mine north of Elko.

“The record quarter was primarily due to having a full quarter of production from the Jerritt Canyon operation in addition to continued strong production at San Dimas and La Encantada,” said First Majestic Silver’s president and chief executive officer Keith Neumeyer.

The company acquired Jerritt Canyon Canada Ltd. from Sprott Mining Inc. in late April.

“Santa Elena is now at the cusp of a significant step-up in production and cost reductions as we prepare the plant for initial production from the Ermitano area in the coming months,” Neumeyer also said in the Oct. 12 announcement.

San Dimas, La Encantada and Santa Elena are in Mexico.

“Looking ahead, we anticipate higher grades to drive production growth at San Dimas, Jerritt Canyon and Santa Elena in the fourth quarter and into 2022,” Neumeyer said.

The company also announced that 1.4 million ounces of silver was held in inventory due to suppressed silver prices in the quarter, but First Majestic expects sales to begin again this quarter. Neumeyer said this was the third time in the company’s history that sales were suspended.

Silver prices hit a high of $29.58 per ounce on Feb. 1 of this year, but the price at the end of September was $21.52, according to Kitco charts.

Reporting on Jerritt Canyon, the company stated that the connection drift between the SSX and Smith underground mines is roughly 75% complete and remains on schedule for completion at the end of the year to reduce transportation bottlenecks, improve the efficiency of personnel and equipment movement, and support new exploration activities.

The structural fill for a tailings lift was finished in the quarter. Roughly 25% of the new liner has been installed, and the company expects the lift project that is ahead of schedule to be done in November.

First Majestic also said the annual maintenance overhaul of the dual roasters at Jerritt Canyon was almost finished at the end of September. The 14-day maintenance shutdown resulted in an increased ore stockpile of roughly 30,000 metric tons that are to be processed in this quarter.

In addition, the company stated that six drill rigs were on site, three of them on the surface and three underground.

Jerritt Canyon had produced 18,752 ounces of gold in May and June of this year, and First Majestic said the 26,145 ounces produced in the third quarter was a 39% increase over the second quarter. The change of ownership was in the second quarter.

San Dimas produced nearly 1.89 million ounces of silver and 20,767 ounces of gold in the third quarter, while Santa Elena produced 508,641 ounces of silver and 7,498 gold ounces. La Encantada produced 905,074 silver ounces and 114 gold ounces.

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Open burning resumes Friday

ELKO – Open burning will resume Friday in unincorporated parts of Elko County, after a nearly four-month break due to elevated fire conditions.

Burning hours are 6 a.m. to noon daily, according to the Elko County Fire Protection District. All natural vegetation burning must be extinguished by noon.

Small warming or cooking fires are permitted at any hour. If the burn escapes control, the landowner/permit holder could be responsible for all suppression costs.

Before burning, visit Elko County Fire’s webpage to obtain or update your permit at Scroll to the bottom of the page to find the link. Your phone number will be your new burn permit number and will be valid 12 months from issue. A copy of your permit and the county’s burning regulations will be emailed to you upon issuance.

  • You must notify dispatch prior to burning, at 775-777-7300
  • Open burning is restricted to natural vegetation only, no construction or trash materials
  • No open burning after noon (warming/cooking fires exempt)
  • Do not burn if windy
  • Do not leave fire unattended for any reason
  • An adult over 18 must be present at the burn site
  • Keep a water hose or water source available
  • Keep piles small, no larger than 4 feet by 4 feet
  • Extinguish all piles completely when done
  • Keep a 30-foot clearance around the burn area

For questions regarding controlled burning, contact the Elko County Fire Protection District at 775-738-9960.

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Gurr to run for Assembly district in northeastern Nevada

ELKO – Campaign 2022 officially kicked off Tuesday in Elko when a longtime real estate agent announced he would file to run for the Nevada Assembly seat currently held by John Ellison.

Republican Bert Gurr has lived in Nevada for more than 70 years and is being endorsed by former Elko County Commissioner Demar Dahl.

Ellison terms out of his District 33 seat next year. It includes all of Elko, Eureka and White Pine counties and a portion of Lincoln County, but that could change with reapportionment underway following the 2020 Census.

“I have lived in Nevada since 1949. A lot has changed since then. I love our state and I love Nevada’s rural way of life,” said Gurr. “We need to ensure that our rural communities have a seat at the table when we are looking at legislation and budgets, and that is why I have decided to run for State Assembly – to be a conservative voice for rural Nevada.”

“I am proud to endorse Bert Gurr for the Nevada Assembly,” said Dahl. “He has the good judgment and common sense to serve us well in the legislature and I strongly support his candidacy. Bert will work hard to keep taxes low and reduce regulations, and he understands what it takes to protect our natural resources and the industries of mining, ranching, and recreation that keep our economy strong and protect our great way of life. Please join with me in voting for Bert Gurr for Nevada Assembly.”

In an interview with the Elko Daily Free Press on Tuesday, Gurr said if elected, freshmen lawmakers are allowed to introduce six bills, noting he would have to “pick and choose carefully what you are going to do, what you are going to support, what you’re going to sponsor.”

For residents of Elko, Eureka and White Pine counties, Gurr said he would fight issues such as mining and gaming taxes. “I’m firmly against that, and will fight that in whatever form I can.”

He said he would also look at expanding lanes on U.S. Highway 93. “We just had another major accident where somebody died. We’ve got to improve that to a four-lane highway over time.”

Gurr also observed how Clark and Washoe counties are “controlling” rural Nevada in the Legislature due to population growth in those areas.

“A lot of what we need to do, we get lost in,” Gurr said. “If we don’t conform with Reno or Las Vegas, we’re no longer an issue, and I want to change that. I want to make sure they hear us.”

Gurr praised Ellison and the late John Carpenter for their work in the Legislature and he hoped to continue the tradition.

“They did a great job down there,” Gurr said. “When you talk to legislators that had been with them and worked with them, they said they did great, and I want to continue that.”

Gurr is currently a small business owner and Realtor in Elko County. His diverse background includes being a past member and chairman of Head Start in Elko County, crew boss on the Bureau of Land Management’s Fire Crew, past president of the Elko County Sportsmen’s Association, current member and past chairman of the Elko County Wildlife Advisory Board, project manager of the Spring Creek Development, past president of both the Elko County Board of Realtors and the Nevada Association of Realtors, and he served six years as a Nevada Real Estate commissioner.

Gurr’s campaign website is