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ELKO – Dirt clods flew through the air as city officials and donor representatives pierced the ground where the future Elko Regional Sports Complex will be located. The property at the corner of Bullion Road and Errecart Boulevard has been lying fallow as plans inched forward and monies for the park filtered in.

“I am hoping we will be playing ball in late summer or early fall of 2019, parks and recreation director James Wiley said.

The William N. Pennington Foundation recently made a $2.1 million pledge that has propelled progress. News of the pledge came on May 8 at a city council meeting.

Pennington was successful in the gaming industry. His legend lives on with a generous foundation that funds projects in northern Nevada.

“This has been a long time coming,” said Danny Story, president of Elko Adult Softball, vice president of Elko Little League, and a member of the Elko Parks and Recreation Committee.

He said the master plan for the sports complex was formulated about seven or eight years ago. When it is finished Story is hoping they can bring in regional teams from all over the West.

Jayson Stanton, who heads Elko County Girls Softball, said, “This is great for us. More space is going to alleviate congestion.”

The park will eventually have six multi-use fields with room for growth. Granite Construction was awarded a $6.78 million contract for phase one.

In a speech made prior to the groundbreaking, Mayor Chris Johnson commended the efforts of everyone involved and thanked the donors for their financial commitments to the new city green space.

“This all started with an idea,” Johnson said. “We knew from the studies that the city had completed about the need for more parks, and I can attest just with my sons growing up about the need for more area to play baseball.”

Johnson mentioned quality of life in Elko and the basic needs of a community including fire protection, safety, infrastructure and parks.

“If you put parks on an income statement or balance sheet, you could say that from that side of it, it doesn’t make sense,” Johnson said. “But that is sometimes where government is different from business. You don’t see that impact on a balance sheet, but you see it from what those things can offer the community.”

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In 2013 Richard Stoltz, a representative of Pennington, told the city about the foundation and that the foundation supported funding solely in Nevada.

Johnson said,“He asked the city if there was a project and the sports complex was far enough along in design that Richard said, ‘That looks like one that Pennington can get behind.’ Richard told us then that they would be in the position when 2016 comes around. We didn’t quite make 2016 but here we are at 2018.

“There was the initial gift from Pennington and the fact that Pennington stepped up again with a contribution of over $2 million. It really is neat that an individual like William Pennington was successful in Nevada and cared about the people in Nevada enough to distribute the money back out.”

He also thanked the mines for being part of this project.

“This is really a big feat for the city of Elko, Johnson said. “When we get focused we can do it and build big things.”

“Granite Construction will be out here Monday starting on the first phase of the project,” Wiley said.

“This is really a big feat for the city of Elko. When we get focused we can do it and build big things.” — Mayor Chris Johnson
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