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School district seeking dozens of teachers to replace retiring, resigning staff

ELKO – Elko County School District is looking to fill nearly five dozen teaching positions as the school year draws to a close.

According to Deputy Superintendent Mike Smith, the elementary, high school and support staff positions result from an excess of retirements and resignations.

So far, the school district has accepted 36 letters of retirement, he said, adding that those openings are due to a hiring surge about 30 years ago.

“We have had a large number of certified employees who were initially hired in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s and who are nearing retirement,” Smith explained.

According to the school district’s human resources webpage, about 66 positions had been posted as of April 16. Smith said the most positions open at one time had been 89.

Although employees are not required to give a reason for their resignation or retirement, Smith said some teachers said they were leaving “as a result of all the issues surrounding the pandemic.”

To ensure there is teaching staff before the start of the fall school year, Smith said the district was developing and implementing signing and retention bonuses that range between $5,000 to $7,000 for some schools and as much as $15,000 for Owyhee Combined School and West Wendover schools.

“We hope that signing bonuses will aid in the recruitment of quality staff,” he said. “Bonuses are higher in Wendover and Owyhee due to the increased difficulty in recruiting and retaining licensed employees in those locations.”

Additionally, the district is participating in virtual career fairs and posting teaching jobs on Handshake Consortium online, which reaches about 70 colleges and universities nationwide.

Smith said it was unclear how many vacancies resulted from the 30 teachers who had applied for retirement service credits earlier in the year because staff still have some time to decide if they will remain for another year or two, or leave altogether.

“Employees have until 10 days after the last student day to make decisions regarding retirement/resignation without penalty,” he said.

On March 9, the school board deadlocked on whether to purchase a portion of retirement credits, coming to an impasse after three tie votes.

Elko events return following a year of cancellations
  • Updated

ELKO – After over a year of pandemic caution and limited access to events and social gatherings, things are beginning to look up for residents suffering from “Covid fatigue.” A number of popular events are returning this summer with certain safety limitations. Finally, there is something positive to look forward to.

Here is a summary of recently announced plans, subject to potential changes in regulations:

Cinco de Mayo Parade

The annual Cinco de Mayo Parade will return next month after a one-year hiatus due to the pandemic. Once again we can watch as female dancers flounce their brilliant dresses and the gentlemen keep in step in their sombreros and dark suits. The parade will take place at 11 a.m. May 8 in downtown Elko.

“We have been approved by both the City of Elko and the Nevada Department of Business and Industry to hold this event,” an administrator wrote on their Facebook page. “We are taking entries with no entry fee, thanks to our sponsor Ruby Rose Garden Landscape and Tree Service.”

“We are asking for donations,” said organizer Ben Cortez. “Those funds go toward scholarships and back to the community.”

Folks and businesses interested in being involved in the parade should contact Cortez at 340-6043 or email to sign up.

Elko Mining Expo

Up until last year, the Elko Convention & Visitors Authority had hosted 34 annual Elko Mining Expos. The 35th event will run June 7-10.

this is one of the oldest and most respected mining expos held in the United States and draws close to 8,000 people nationally and internationally.

The convention center is asking exhibitors to not bring large quantities of marketing materials or promotional materials because of the pandemic.

Because of Nevada’s restrictions on large public gatherings, the event will be scaled down and masks and social distancing will be required.

“I know some of the changes are not going to be popular; however, we want this event to happen,” said Katie Neddenriep, executive director of the ECVA, in an earlier interview. “I think the industry wants this event to happen and our community from the economic impact [standpoint] wants this to happen.”

“If you look at some of the other industry conferences, you have to have a badge to go anywhere,” Neddenriep said, referring to the MINExpo International in Las Vegas and the SME Annual Conference.

Ruby Roubaix Gravel Fondo

Rotary Club of Elko Desert Sunrise is sponsoring the inaugural Ruby Roubaix (pronounced “Roo Bay”), formerly “Ride Around the Rubies,” on June 19.

“We did not get to do this last year,” said Kerry Aguirre, who handles public relations for the club. “Our sponsors were very gracious to carry this forward.”

Aguirre said they have nearly reached half of their registration goal with local riders and others from California and Idaho signing up.

The event is named after the Paris-Roubaix, a 100-year-old cycling event in France.

The Ruby Roubaix is for both beginners and experienced cyclists. The terrain will include gravel road, dust stretches, asphalt and lightly traveled roads. Participants can either race it or just ride it.

Proceeds from the event will support youth leadership development, exchange programs, local and global community improvement projects, and programs that include healthy behaviors and inspirational service to others.

Visit for registration and other details.

Lamoille Country Fair

The Lamoille Women’s Club is happy to announce that their annual event, the Lamoille Country Fair, is scheduled for Sunday, June 27.

The fair was cancelled last year due to the pandemic.

The fair will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Lamoille Grove and in the clubhouse yard.

According to Pam Osmonson, co-chair of the fair, 60 vendors have already registered and there are 60 more spaces available.

Handmade lemonade is a fair staple and it will still be available. A single-service option will also be provided.

“One thing we are going to do is have ‘Covid lemonade’ which will be a bottle of water with a packet of Crystal Light to avoid hand-squeezed lemons,” said co-chair Kenna Sorenson.

Terrys Pumpin’ and Potties will provide hand wash stations throughout the area and social distancing will be required.

According to Osmonson, booths are enclosed on three sides so each vendor will be separated from others.

Vendors will check in on Saturday prior to the event.

Sorenson said money raised at this event will be put to good use. The club helps the Committee against Domestic Violence, provides a veteran’s relief fund, and contributes money toward scholarships for women.

Members of the club have been busy making hats for the Huntsman Cancer Institute which they will deliver in March. They are also making baby quilts for the March of Dimes.

National Basque Festival

The National Basque Festival will be a smaller event this year with most of the activities happening at the Basque House.

According to, Basque communities throughout the Silver State have been attending the National Basque Festival since 1964. The event is one of the more colorful happenings in the community. Dancers wear blazing white and bright red costumes, visitors consume big bowls of saffron-colored paella, and the “irrintzi” (a celebratory cry) pierces the air during an exhilarating competition.

The event will occur July 3-4, a slightly shorter version than normal. On Saturday there will be a golf tournament and 5k run. Food, dancing and games will follow. The dance will be held at 9 p.m. Saturday evening. The Sunday picnic will include Mass at 11 a.m., lunch at noon and cultural activities at 1 p.m.

“The Basque Club is so excited to host the National Basque Festival,” said club member Kassidy Zaga Arbillaga. “We missed celebrating with the Elko Community in 2020 and are looking forward to seeing everyone in a few short months.”

Schedules and updates will be posted on the Elko Euzkaldunak Club’ Facebook page and at

“Come enjoy some good food, cold drinks and watch traditional dances and games,” she said.

Art in the Park

Art in the Park will be held July 10-11. As in the past, vendors will showcase artwork and handicrafts.

Last year the event was one of the few that was able to take place because it was outside. More than 70 vendors set up booths.

“We should have about the same number or more this year,” coordinator Tess King said.

Local vendors Deb Finley and Mica Johnson are attending. Finley is a ceramic artist and Johnson makes artisan jewelry.

“We are having some new vendors coming in from Reno,” King said. “There is a new apron vendor who does artwork on aprons. There also may be a handmade licorice seller.”

The Art Club is still looking for an entertainment venue and volunteers. Call 385-1626 for details.

Silver State Stampede

The annual Silver State Stampede, Nevada’s oldest and most respected rodeo, is returning this year. The event will take place July 9-11 at the Elko County Fairgrounds. This will be the 109th year of the rodeo.

The Stampede was a “go” last summer, in part because it is an outdoor event.

The rodeo was begun by G.S. Garcia, a well-known local bit and saddle maker. It is a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association event.

Everyone loves the mutton busters who will compete all three evenings. Other ranch-related competitions take place with daring moves by both riders and livestock. The “Ring of Fear,” a nerve-racking bull versus human being contest, is often the highlight of the evening.

A dance with live music will be held Friday and Saturday evenings after the rodeo.

Ruby Mountain Balloon Festival

The balloon festival returns this year bigger and better than ever. The event is a colorful and fun time for participants and visitors alike.

This year the event’s 20th anniversary will take place July 23-24 in both Elko and Spring Creek.

Ruby Mountain Hot Air Inc. was founded to plan and organize the Ruby Mountain Balloon Festival. The nonprofit organization is made up of pilots, crews and other balloon enthusiasts.

“As we speak, we have 26 balloons coming to the event,” said President Kristopher Stephenson.

He said the organizing committee made the sad decision last year to cancel for safety reasons. That makes this year ever more special.

“The balloon glow will be at the park, as it always has been,” Stephenson said. “We are going full steam ahead. Of course, everything is still Covid-contingent.”

Stephenson said that this year during media day, all balloons will be launching from town.

The group is always looking for crew members to help with the event. Call Stephenson at 934-3418 or email

Elko murals:

Elko murals: The full collection and where to find them

This story has been altered on April 19, 2021 to correct for a mistake in reporting the date of the Cinco de Mayo parade.

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City taking steps on shed issues

ELKO – Addressing citizen complaints about the city’s rules regarding sheds, Elko city staff has come up with a twofold change in codes that starts with a proposed amendment to building regulations and would follow with zoning changes.

Development Manager Michele Rambo said she took “another look back” at Elko’s codes and compared them with the building permits and setback requirements in other Nevada cities. She found that their setbacks from property lines are less restrictive than Elko’s.

Staff will propose easing setbacks, but that change will come in the form of zoning regulations, Rambo said.

Elko City Planner Cathy Laughlin said the rear setback will go from 10 feet down to 5 feet, and the interior side setback is going from 5 feet 6 inches to 5 feet.

Rambo said the “big change for the building code” basically states that accessory buildings greater than 200 square feet require a building permit, but smaller ones would not require permits.

Sparks, Reno, Carson City, Fernley, North Las Vegas and Las Vegas have the 200-square-foot requirement for building permits, according to a chart Rambo showed the Elko City Council this week.

Amendments to the building code would describe a non-permanent building accessory as a detached building that is not on a permanent foundation, “such as a greenhouse, garden shed, storage shed or other building designed to store garden tools, bicycles, holiday decorations or similar items and that is usually purchased at a retail establishment.”

Assistant City Manager Scott Wilkinson said much of the citizen concern over setbacks and building permits involves sheds that were purchased at Home Depot or other businesses.

“Regardless, if they need a permit or not, they will have to comply with zoning regulations,” Rambo said.

Setback requirements for Reno, for example, are 5 feet, and Churchill and Humboldt counties also require 5 feet. North Las Vegas and Las Vegas have 3-foot setbacks for interior and rear yards.

A complaint that led the city to relook at codes involved homeowners locating a 10-foot by 16-foot shed adjacent to their house within a fenced area, which the city said failed to meet code and was placed without a building permit required on all accessory structures.

Senate advances criminal justice reform bills, including limits on police use of force, hate crimes reporting

Members of the state Senate voted this week to advance a trio of criminal justice reform bills sponsored by Sen. Dallas Harris (D-Las Vegas) that would add more limits on police use of deadly force, require additional recordkeeping on hate crimes and place rate caps on calls made to and from inmates.

The bills passed just as former police officer Derek Chauvin is on trial for the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis — an incident that touched off a wave of protests last summer — and as protests continue over the death of Daunte Wright in Minnesota at the hands of police. But Harris said the national attention on police killings isn’t what is motivating her.

She remembers the 1992 Rodney King riots growing up. And as a Black woman, she says she’s conscious that she must be especially careful to keep her hands on the wheel and not make sudden movements when interacting with police.

“These are things that are ingrained in us growing up,” she said. “And so the imperative has always been there. I think other people are just kind of coming around to it, which is great.”

The three measures are among the 22 bills and resolutions passed out of both the Assembly and Senate on Wednesday, and part of the legislative rush ahead of the first house passage deadline next Tuesday.

Here’s a look at all three proposals, which now head to the Assembly.

Limits on police use of force

Members of the Senate voted along party lines to approve SB212, a bill that would put additional limits on police use of force, use of restraint chairs for people in police custody and police dispersal techniques during protests or demonstrations.

The bill requires police officers to use de-escalation techniques and other alternatives before resorting to higher levels of force to arrest an individual. It would also require police agencies to adopt use of force policies and training that take into account (before using deadly force) the potential threat posed by individuals not armed with a weapon, who are under 13 or over 70 years old, or are physically frail, mentally or physically disabled, pregnant, suffering from a mental health or behavioral health issue or experiencing a medical emergency.

The bill initially would have banned use of restraint chairs, but was amended to put limits on the practice including only using a restraint chair for persons who are physically violent, and if police get authorization from a higher-level officer to use the chair. The bill also limits use of the chair to no more than two hours unless authorized by a supervising officer. It would also ban use of a restraint chair for a person who is pregnant.

The measure also aims to put limits on police activities during protests or demonstrations, prohibiting officers from firing nonlethal rounds “indiscriminately” into a crowd or targeting a person’s head, pelvis or other vital areas. It also would require that police issue at least three orders to disperse and offer an egress route before firing chemical agents into a crowd (with some leeway in dangerous situations).

Some Republican lawmakers pushed back on the bill during a hearing and during the floor session Wednesday, saying statistics provided by bill advocates that showed Reno as having one of the highest rates of police killings of Black men were flawed and painted police in an unfairly negative light.

“This really boiled down to an attack,” Ira Hansen (R-Sparks) said about the bill in a floor speech.

Sen. Melanie Scheible (D-Las Vegas) said she works with police who are trying to serve honorably every day in her day job at the Clark County district attorney’s office.

“This bill perfectly hits on the places that it’s necessary to have reform without imposing on the ability of an officer to utilize their good judgment and their training to effectuate their jobs adequately,” she said. “But it allows for better community trust, better community relationships, and for the progress and improvement of our law enforcement agencies moving forward.”

Recordkeeping on hate crimes

As written, SB148 would require that all state and local law enforcement agencies submit monthly records of all hate crimes to the state’s Central Repository for criminal history records. The bill would require hate crime statistics, including data on prosecution and sentencing, to be made available to the public.

The bill was approved on an 18-3 vote, with Republicans Scott Hammond, Ira Hansen and Joe Hardy all opposed. Hansen spoke against the principle of enhanced penalties for crimes committed based on a victim’s personal characteristics.

“The whole concept is flawed,” Hansen said. “I think we need to get back to the idea that all are equal in the eyes of the law, including all people that are victims of crime.”

Democrats, however, said the law is full of enhanced penalties, including for crimes against the elderly and against law enforcement.

“We are not yet perfect, but we are on our way to perfection,” said Sen. Pat Spearman (D-North Las Vegas). “And until we get there, then we will need these types of enhancements to make sure that those who break the law, pay.”

Rate caps on inmate calls

The state Public Utilities Commission (PUC) would be required to regulate and set rate caps on businesses that provide calling services for inmates under SB387.

The bill, which passed unanimously on Wednesday, would authorize the PUC to establish rate caps and charge limits on inmate calling services, and would require any competitive supplier of inmate calling services to both file their rates with the commission, and publish their rates, terms and conditions on its website for public view.

As it stands, a 15-minute call to or from a prison in the Nevada Department of Corrections costs $1.65 to $2.10.

“It’s not 1989 anymore, and the rates should be coming down,” Sen. Scott Hammond (R-Las Vegas) said ahead of the vote.

Harris said high calling costs prevent inmates from maintaining relationships with family, and that in turn could increase their chances of committing crime again when they leave prison. She also nodded to the multimillion dollar commissions that state prisons get from phone service companies — last session, the prison system estimated it would earn $10 million a biennium in commission from the phone service vendor.

“Can I necessarily be upset at agencies for wanting to get a little bit of additional funding where they can? No, not necessarily,” she said. “I just wish it didn’t come on the backs of the folks who have the least.”