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WATCH NOW: Spring Creek rises to COVID-19 challenges
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WATCH NOW: Spring Creek rises to COVID-19 challenges

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SPRING CREEK – After a year of change defined by COVID-19, the Spring Creek Association is preparing to navigate 2021 with the pandemic in mind.

Although the year presented many challenges, “many positive changes have taken place,” said Jessie Bahr, president and general manager.

“While this year has been unique and trying on many levels, we hope to highlight what the SCA team has been working on for our great community in Spring Creek,” she said.

Mandates and directives issued by Gov. Steve Sisolak starting in March changed the SCA’s front office and amenity operations “a little differently than we are used to,” Bahr added.

The SCA joined the City of Elko and Elko County to limit in-person contact among staff and employees and the public starting in March.

Employees are required to wear masks and work staggering shifts to avoid in-person contact that allows staff “to feel safe as well as working within the requirements we were given.”

Amenities such as the Horse Palace and Spring Creek Golf Course felt the impact of rules restricting large gatherings that closed their doors to the public for a few weeks in April.

But when warmer weather prompted families to seek outdoor recreation, the amenities became a popular destination for all ages.

“New programs for junior golf were a huge success and will continue next year,’ Bahr explained. “Movie Night at the Horse Palace provided an opportunity for families to ‘get out of the house’ due to COVID-19.”

H2Go Watersports signed a five-year contract to operate its watercraft rental business at the Spring Creek Marina. Colorful kayaks and paddleboards joined diving docks in the water bringing dozens of swimmers and anglers to the amenity in August and early September.

H2Go plans to expand its services at the Marina next year by adding a water park of inflatables, in addition to the boats, kayaks and other water entertainment sports.

However, the SCA is heading into the new year with a reduced budget that cut expenses when the board of directors unanimously approved to forego a dues increase to help property owners struggling with finances compounded by the pandemic. Earlier in the year, the board voted to waive fees for late payments.

“The SCA had to cut well into the six digits to balance the budget this year while providing no increase to dues,” Bahr explained.

“As we all know, prices of goods and services increase due to inflation, but the board decided not to raise fees, which we believe was looking out for the best interests of the community during these hard times.”

Some projects will be delayed for a year, while the staff takes on additional duties.

Gas, broadband and water

Southwest Gas. Corp. broke ground on the first phase of the Spring Creek Expansion, laying a natural gas pipeline between Elko and Elko Summit Estates.

Phase 2 is set to begin in the new year, when 475 Spring Creek residents and businesses are in line to receive natural gas service.

Additionally, broadband service is set to expand with CC Communications that will lay fiber optic cable alongside the natural gas pipeline.

Safelink and White Cloud Communications also announced their intentions to serve the Spring Creek area.

In December, Great Basin Water Co.’s new president Seán Twomey agreed to assist water customers who have seen a drastic increase in monthly water usage and charges and report back to the board of directors.

The agreement followed dozens of complaints to the association from Spring Creek customers served by the utility. Some customers said their water usage increased to as much as a thousand gallons a day.

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“GBWC welcomes the opportunity to demonstrate the validity and accuracy of our meters with the SCA board. Our aim is to be transparent about any customer concerns,” Twomey said.

The company filed its Integrated Resource Plan with the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada in October, proposing to raise rates by 7.4% to fund capital improvement projects and short-term projects.

Amenities and roads

In 2021, the SCA will take a closer look at the Horse Place, guided by a committee dedicated to determining upgrades and finding revenue-generating activities for the facility.

The committee’s formation came after a survey of Spring Creek residents showed 86% of respondents did not use the amenity, which is primarily for equestrian and rodeo-style recreation.

In light of cost-cutting measures during the pandemic, the association will have to “balance that need with other SCA needs, including road infrastructure necessary for long-term sustainability,” Bahr said.

“The committee will determine the next steps for upgrades and activities that could generate revenue at the Horse Palace and provide a positive return on investment,” she continued.

This year, the Horse Palace was the new home of the summer movie series, previously located at the Marina, which drew families eager for an activity “to get out of the house,” Bahr said.

Amid the pandemic, the SCA took steps to upgrade and protect amenities, including installing electronic gates and security cameras.

The gates serve a dual purpose, allowing the SCA to track amenity use while adding security measures to facilities, including the Marina, Horse Palace and shooting range, which has endured vandalism over the years, particularly this spring and summer.

SCA members will receive an electronic card in the coming months. Non-members will also be able to purchase passes through the association.

“We are still working through the back programming of the cards for residents as well as the payment system for those wanting to use the amenities and who are not SCA residents,” Bahr explained.

Monitoring popular facilities protects the investments made by the SCA, Bahr said. This year, the association received a $39,000 grant from the Nevada Department of Wildlife to install 10-foot tall berms, expand fuel breaks, remodel restrooms and install spring-loaded gates at the shooting range.

The association reduced wildfire fuel loads in the campground and within the greenbelts of Palace Heights Tract 400 section of Spring Creek. The greenbelt clearing was through a grant funded by the Nevada Division of Forestry.

Additionally, more than 32 miles of roads were chip sealed this summer as part of a road preservation plan that will repair potholes and refurbish culverts and shoulders to increase drainage away from the road.

Outlook for 2021

Bahr said the association is ready to meet the challenges set by COVID-19 in the coming year as they did in 2020.

“Our staff team worked through the challenges with grace and adapted quickly,” she said. “We are still in the midst of working through the mandates and changes as they come down the pipeline from the state although we see the light at the end of this tunnel and will continue to meet the needs of the community even with these restrictions in place.”

One of those needs was continuing family-friendly events for the Fourth of July, Halloween, Veterans Day and Christmas while following social distancing guidelines and crowd-size limitations.

It’s an example of how the SCA became “creative” to maintain their traditional activities,” Bahr said.

“You can always find some good in a bad situation,” she said. “Overall, I believe the pandemic helped many people realize what is important in life and giving some time to those important aspects.”

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Below is a photo gallery of highlights in Spring Creek during 2020.

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Courts, K-12 schools & Spring Creek reporter

Staff writer for the Elko Daily Free Press

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