TO THE CITIZENS OF THE CITY OF ELY AND WHITE PINE COUNTY:
One of the pleasant things about small town life in Ely is that it exposes us to many marvelous things, such as our wide open spaces, natural resources and dark skies. We have a simpler life. It’s quiet. There is no rush hour. Connecting with strangers is a lot easier.
For the last couple of years we have gathered to reflect on the accomplishments of the past year and to set ambitious goals for the year ahead. Here are just a few of the many goals we have accomplished.
A new fire truck will roll into the station later this year, thanks to the efforts of the Fire Department, staff and the Fire Department’s Volunteers; we were awarded a grant for the truck at no cost to taxpayers.
The City also purchased a new ambulance; we secured a low interest loan and a grant was received to buy equipment/supplies for it.
Small trees were purchased for many of the flower planters and summer banners will line Downtown, showing off our tourist attractions and recreational activities. Jack Caylor Park was dedicated this past Labor Day with a community party; fencing, landscaping and its sign will be completed this spring. Fencing has been completed at the Bianchi and Terrace Parks. The sprinkler system at the lower end of the Cemetery has also been completed. Weed control will start again this spring, along with abatement of derelict buildings and community clean up.
Through generous donations of animal lovers, we were able to purchase screen/mesh fencing to give shade to the outside enclosures; many trees were also donated and planted to provide even more shade.
HISTORIC CITY HALL RENOVATION
This project is moving slowly as we had to wait for several months for grant money to come in. This spring, a soil analysis will be completed and an architect will be hired to put our vision on paper. Then the work will begin to find the financing to fund this project.
In the meantime, our lease is up at the current City Hall and through the efforts of City Engineer Almberg, Council Members Setterstrom, Carson, Gardner, as well as their families and the Parks Department, remodeling is taking place at Historic City Hall; we will relocate back there in June. Dollars saved by moving back will go towards the large renovation project.
STRATEGIC TOURISM COMMITTEE
This committee has been very successful. We have been obtaining input from all facets of the tourist industry: Outdoor enthusiasts, tavern owners, motel/hotel owners, parks and the list goes on and on. We received a Rivers & Trails Conservation grant to help in combining walking/biking/ATV trails into a brochure; this effort will be aided with the help of gateway signage and directional signage, which has been a topic of great discussion in the committee.
One goal of the strategic Tourism Committee has been to bring one new event to Ely and that is in the workings for this summer: Tahoe Star Tours will come here and hold three different astronomy events! As Tahoe Star Tours’ owner Tony Berendsen stated “White Pine has darker skies than Lake Tahoe and the darkest skies in all of North America.”
We have made great strides in recycling, progressing from collection bins to a Recycling Center at the Landfill. The main purpose of the Recycling Center has been to extend the life of the Landfill and divert as much recycled material as possible to collection bins. The Recycling Center is still in its infancy and we’re aware we need more public education, streamlining and tweaking. However, a bright spot is that in our first thirty days we were able to bale and ship approximately 27,000 lbs. of cardboard and our metal pile netted us $23,000 last year for our general fund. Also, truck scales are now in place to accurately report and charge for the amount of waste going into the Landfill.
The most talked about, complained about, and discussed issue in the City are road conditions. We have thirty-seven miles of roads in the City. A new street sweeper and snow blower have been purchased using public transit funds – gas tax monies – at no cost to the City. By tapping into the room tax money, we are able to build a fund to assist in badly needed infrastructure. Last year the City was awarded a CDBG grant to the tune of $366,000 and with our matching funds, we will begin the work on a new waterline from Ely Avenue to 15th Street. We are aware and realize that we need to address and improve our efforts in dealing with the roads.
We are grateful for the opening of Shop-ko and are in anticipation of the Loves truck stop grand opening this spring. There are also combined efforts to make Downtown a designated cultural district. We will be working with the County in improving the broadband and the list goes on.
My goal as Mayor this year is to aggressively pursue Gateway Signage or “Welcome to Ely” directional signage. The lack of information is keeping our tourists from experiencing what we all have grown to love about our little City.
All these accomplishments would not have been possible without endless hours of work provided by my Colleagues, the Parks Department, Road Department and Landfill crews.
We are ready! The City is ready to march forward this year to make our community shine, to make it become the brightest star in the darkest skies.