The Ely Times

The meeting began with reports of monthly activities going on in the City of Ely.  Mark Bassett, director of the Nevada Northern Railway, gave a monthly report for the railway. Bassett noted they have the  2019 schedule up early, they counted up 916 events that can be booked online in addition to 500 room nights of lodging available. Ridership was reported for August with a decrease of 461 passengers compared to last year, but still a number of 1,326 riders. September has increased by 25 more percent than last years numbers. To date, the NNRY reported a ridership of 8,118 for this year.

An agenda item put on the agenda by Councilman Kurt Carson for discussion for possible action or direction to city staff regarding whether to continue the recycling contract or negotiate the recycling contract with Paul Holdaway, owner of Outwest Excavating.

Holdaway sent an email to Jennifer Lee, deputy clerk, requesting her to read it to the city council. The email said, “It has become apparent that some members of the city council and city staff have made the contract between the city of Ely and Outwest Excavation a personal matter.  Therefore regardless of what recommendation the council makes, any and all post changes will need to be submitted in writing to the Law Office of Barry Clarkson, legal counsel for Outwest Excavating. Outwest will expect the City of Ely to stand behind the contract which is already in place and is binding until January 2020.”

The motion was made an approved unanimously to review the contract.

Approval was also granted for the Steptoe Valley Trap, Skeet and Target Club’s to build a building at the club’s site. They recently completed a grant application with Nevada Department Of Wildlife for construction of a building for purposes of hunter safety education and other community activities.

“I don’t know much about this, I was hoping someone from the club would be here tonight, but I know Chuck (Odgers) knows quite a bit about it,” Carson said.

Odgers said, “I talked with Bill Ricci, NDOW has a $350,000 grant that they would like to give to the Steptoe Valley skeet club, where they will build a building that’s primarily used for Hunters Safety courses.

“It will improve our property that they have a lease on. Their looking for approval, the grant does require that if the trap club does fold, that the city would take over that and responsibilities for that building.”

Odgers also noted that he has made several attempts to reach out to NDOW, to inquire what they wanted other than a letter of recommendation, and he had not received a phone call back. Odgers said, “nonetheless this is $350,000 for a building to be installed to improve the area.”

The motion was approved unanimously.

Approval of the first reading to Ordinance 715 establishing the City of Ely’s recreational marijuana rules, setting fees and zoning requirements. Odgers explained to the Mayor Melody VanCamp and the council that there were some particular provisions that they needed to be aware of “limitations under the ordinance will allow one recreational license, and that one recreational license needs to be connected with a medical marijuana certificate issued by the state. Until such time if the population of Ely reaches a population of 20,000 or more at which time the City of Ely shall could request an additional license.”

The mayor commended John Mueller with Acres Dispensary on his success in obtaining a license through the Nevada Department of Taxation.

Mueller was present at the meeting and commented on how the process worked and how excited he was to be approved,  “We were successful in the five applications that were submitted. and were very excited about that, very excited to be part of the community.”

A letter was also approved to send to the Nevada Department of Taxation to notify potential application of the City of Ely’s intent to pass Ordinance 715.

Another agenda item from the mayor was to review the recommendations of the installation of two stop signs on Avenue C at East 15th Street.

Basin Engineering was tasked by the city council to coordinate with Sheriff Scott Henriod to complete a review. After a complete engineer review a collection of traffic counts and a five year history of accidents in that intersection it was determined no stop signs would be installed.

The city approved to work with the  county to assist in establishing a local Main Street organization for White Pine County.  City Administrator Robert Switzer noted that he is in favor of the program. Switzer said, “There will be a financial commitment from the city eventually this first year if this were to go forward it is my suggestion that we donate office space at city hall, we have a spare office that can be used as an in-kind contribution.”

Switzer also discussed the city’s ability to eventually step up the game and provide financial contributions. Motion was approved unanimously.

The city had an agenda to discuss and approve sending an offer of settlement to S&S. Odgers spoke to the council saying, “The city and the foundation are working together, probably the first time in the history of the city and the foundation, we are working towards a common goal. The foundation met with the board of directors and presented a offer to settle they approved it unanimously. You have an opportunity today to buy into or not buy into the settlement.”

Odgers explained to the council that no money would be exchanged, and the city we would write off anything that they potentially owe if it went to trial. The second item is that everybody releases each other, “They can’t sue us, we can’t sue them. They terminate the lease agreement.  One of the agreement is that they would have to leave the line within 30 days,” Odgers said.

Much discussion took place. Councilwoman Jolene Gardner said, “If they agree to this, they can’t sue us, we can’t sue them.”.

Councilman Sam Hanson said, “That’s right, it puts the whole thing back to square one, it eliminates our involvement with S&S and anything that’s going on there, they have to get their stuff gone.”

Odgers said, “It essentially puts everybody in the same position they were in March of 2009.”

Carson said, “I really think it might be a good solution, because I honestly don’t know if we can afford to go on like this.”

Gardner added, “It’s never going to end.”

The appearance of frustration came through the mayor’s comments. “We can win the lawsuit, it will be appealed and then we have four more years to wait.”

Odgers explained to the council the reality of litigation, and its expenses. “Even if we win, say we win, not only is there a chance of an appeal, there’s also a chance of bankruptcy, which then anything that we got in the jury trial could go away as well, it’s worth the shot, I think you should support it, but that’s up to you”.

Councilman Tony DeFelice spoke on how this was giving S&S an out to not have to go to trial. He said, ”As a city resident I think the way I look at, they have a weak position, they don’t want to disclose everything. We give up a lot to do this, but it also brings them to the table to at least start negotiating again.”

Gardner was frustrated as well, adding, “How many times do we need to negotiate with this guy? We’ve already done it so several times.”

Carson said, “The fact of the matter is can we afford to prove him wrong.”

The mayor held the offer in the air,,  “This is really swell, but I’m telling you he’s going to say no.” This is worthless, were wasting 15 days and he’s not going to go for it.”

Odgers replied, “Were not wasting 15 days mayor, I told you in our depositions”

“It’s a lot of money, were spending money right now,” VanCamp said.

Odgers reminded the Mayor that litigation is a long and expensive process.

“We’re geared up for a trial in 2019, the city has produced over 4,000 pieces of paper, the foundation has recently produced over 400 pieces of paper which you all got, and their in the middle of producing even more emails,” Odgers said. “If this goes to trial it could take two more years.”

The motion was made and approved unanimously to send the offer to S&S.