ELKO – Elko City Councilman Bill Hance has died of COVID-19.
William J. Hance, 55, tested positive for the coronavirus and died at a lodge in Lowman, Idaho, on Wednesday morning, according to Boise County Chief Deputy Coroner Mike Johnson.
He was elected to the city council in 2018. Hance cited his prior experience in government, mining and gaming as assets to the city.
“We are stunned and saddened by Bill’s sudden passing,” said Mayor Reece Keener. “Councilman Hance was a dedicated public servant who loved his community, and always sought to do the right thing. He will be greatly missed.”
Keener said Hance was a veteran of the U.S. Air Force.
City Manager Curtis Calder said Hance had been a longtime employee of the Nevada Department of Transportation. He was a board member for the Elko TV District and the Central Dispatch Administration Authority, and worked on the county’s E-911 project.
“I thought he had done an excellent job as a councilman,” Calder said.
Hance was also a businessman, and owned Ruby Mountain Lock & Safe located in the Ruby Mountain Pawn shop.
According to Johnson, Hance was an owner of the lodge in Idaho where he died.
He was reportedly attending to the affairs of his mother, who died last month in a crash on Mountain City Highway.
Denise M. Hance, 80, was traveling south when her SUV went off the right side of the road about 31 miles north of Elko, according to the Nevada Highway Patrol.
Councilman Hance apparently had no next of kin but Johnson said his “significant other” had been with him and was informed of his death.
“My heart goes out to the family. My condolences to them,” said Councilman Clair Morris.
Hance was not present at Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Elko City Council, during which other council members voted to send letters to Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak opposing vaccine passports, any door-to-door vaccine surveys, and vaccinations at schools without parental consent.
The mayor said Thursday that Hance was “always a steady voice of reason. He would sit there and quietly take in everything, and he had the ability to move the board on things. He had a way of cutting through the facts and coming up with good solutions.”
Assemblyman John Ellison, R-Elko, said Thursday that he was “just shocked” when he heard about Hance, describing him as “fair and honest.”
There have been 60 confirmed deaths from COVID-19 in Elko County since the beginning of the pandemic.
"Councilman Hance was a dedicated public servant who loved his community, and always sought to do the right thing. He will be greatly missed.”
-- Mayor Reece Keener