By Melody Van Camp
City of Ely Mayor
I compare Nevada to a fancy car show. Las Vegas, Reno and Carson City are like the soup-ed up version of a new sleek, fast sports car. They look good; they look flashy, but is there any substance associated with them? Everyone wants to take them for a spin, but if you crash, what’s left?
Ely, on the other hand is the old, sturdy, dependable, big car our parents drove. Ely has hit many bumps and dips. It’s had to travel the road of boom and bust many many times. But it’s survived and always will.
One of the biggest speed bumps facing Ely has been its financial condition. It seems to always be a topic of conservation. Our new City Clerk Bob Switzer, has taken on the monumental task getting us back on the right road with our city budget. Our cash position is better now than the last few years and our General Fund Revenue is holding steady. We’re in great shape! Mr. Switzer has also updated our web sight, to allow for on line bill paying and for public viewing of City codes and ordinances.
The City has some major capital improvements projects in the works. We’ll be using the Community Development Block Grants for the 15th Street water project and a new sewer line for Murry Street. Hopefully, with additional RTC Funds, we can finally pave Murry Street after many years of delay.
Councilman Hansen, our go to man for meetings, has attended numerous workshops and conferences throughout the year dealing with grants and other community projects, such as tire recycling, Nevada League of Cities and many more.
Councilwoman Calgren is working on a city newsletter as well as attending almost every city and county meeting. She has her finger on the pulse of Ely and is a great asset to our community.
Councilman Setterstrom took Animal Control under his wing and has broadened it to include building improvements and has worked to insure that Ely Animal Control is heading toward a no kill facility. Sam Davis, Animal Control officer, works closely with the public to find the right animal to join their family. Others helping Sam with pet adoptions are, the Pet Posse doing the online posting, Melissa Rosele and the TNT facility, all of who have pet fostering and adoption programs. Brenda Alexander, who operates The Zoo, promotes the spaying and neutering program in Ely.
Later this year we hope to visit the schools to educate the children on the importance of spay and neutering and the care of animals.
Gathering speed is the recycling program. The City of Ely Landfill has expanded its operation to include the recycling of paper, plastics, cardboard and aluminum. We will finally be joining other communities, like Eureka, Panaca and others around the state that already have their recycling programs in place. Councilman Derbidge, former Councilman Lee and I worked closely with Tony Locke of J&M Trucking to get this project off the ground. The recycling program is long overdue. It will not only prolong the life of the landfill but it’s good for the environment.
Another long overdue project coming soon are the landfill scales which will provide accurate weighing and reporting.
Councilman Westland and Councilman Setterstrom worked with the City crews to revitalize the terrace ice rink and we had a grand opening with hot chocolate, and food and it was enjoyed by over 100 folks before the winter thaw the next day.
We also had a snow slide at Broadbent Park that was enjoyed by the kids during our brief two days of winter.
We now have a full time attorney, Chuck Odgers. He’s hit the road like a speed demon and moved this council forward, directing them at every turn, advising them every step of the way. It’s our plan to have Mr. Odgers do much needed maintenance on the the downtown derelict buildings, the bank owned buildings and condemned properties. They’re a blemish on our town and could be put to better use with some elbow grease and polish.
As with any business, if you don’t have good employees, your business will fail. The City of Ely employees are what makes this Cadillac run. They’re conscientious, hard working and honest. They are the powerful motor that drives the City of Ely.
Last month the council voted to purchase the old un-employment office and move City Hall to a new home. We will not only have a new look but there will be numerous cost savings, as well as ADA access and room for public meetings. We’ll now be able to present a more professional atmosphere. But, our beloved City Hall will not go by the wayside like so many other buildings in town,it’s our history and we’re considering many options. The City has been approached by local groups who are interested in using the building for various community functions.
Our Beautification Project would not have been possible without the help of the beautification committee and Councilman Setterstrom and his wife Pat, Councilman Westland and his wife Andrea. The memorial benches and planters turned out to be so popular that we sold out within days. Councilwoman Calgren has already begun planting flower pots throughout Main Street this upcoming summer.
Last year the “Mayor’s Cleanup Campaign” participation was better than expected. Pat Setterstrom and Andrea Westland were a driving force in making sure everything went smoothly. Many businesses provided breakfast and drinks for the workers and the railroad offered free train rides, for all those who gave up their weekend to help clean up our community. Our town is covered in weeds, trash and empty buildings. I want to send a message to tourists, that we care and take great pride in our community and since the “Clean Up” was such a success, I would like to have another event in May. If we involve more organizations and groups, we will have a bigger impact in our town.
The railroad is the Crown Jewel of Ely and our single biggest attraction. It brings in thousands of tourist a year and the council wants the railroad to succeed. As with any business, the railroad must have transparency in all aspects of its operation. As with the City, it’s imperative that the railroad be financially sound. This has been a long uphill journey, one that we would all like to have come to an end.
With this in mind, we are still struggling to obtain the requested information from the railroad. The Forensice Auditors will give their report during a special meeting to be held the first week in March and the city will finally have an end to this financial road trip from Hell.
When writing this speech, I thought over everything that Ely has to offer. I realized that we have a unique way of life.Our town offers a safe haven for travelers and returning families. We have beautiful mountains and the best sunrises and sunsets anywhere. We’re fortunate that in less than ten minutes we can be up in the mountains, wandering through the trees, breathing fresh air and unwinding. This is what our tourists come to see. Our way of life. I have people tell me over and over, that although they like to go to Vegas or St. George, when they top Murry Summit or Connors Pass; they breathe a big sigh of relief and say “Thank God we live in Ely”. We may not have a lot of the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas, but we also don’t have the crime or the hectic traffic, the pollution or the mad rush.
As I said at the start, Ely’s like a big car our parents drove. It’s survived the big cashes because of the strong metal. That metal being the citizens who live and work here. Who raise their children, who participate, who want the best for our town.
Some might see Ely as too slow, never getting anywhere. But we’re moving forward. We’re not looking at the past in the rear view mirrow. We’re moving at a slow and steady pace. A pace that’s designed to give everyone in the car a smooth ride. Yes, the big cities are fun and exciting, but all they really offer is a fast drive and a blurred life.
Ely, let’s enjoy the ride.