While 2019 has landed and a new year begins, we thought a recap of 2018 would be great to look back on, and look forward to what’s in store for 2019.
In 2018, the Fire and Ice event was cancelled due to mother nature not cooperating. This year, the Tour and Rec. Board has decided to move past that possibility of mother nature not cooperating and various events are in the works that include volleyball, snow events, tournaments, bar crawls, fireworks train, a bonfire in addition to the traditional events at Cave Lake.
The Lincoln Day Breakfast in January kicked off with GOP candidates flocking Ely to introduce themselves and promote people to register to vote.
The City of Ely had a lot going on each and every month. City council meetings started to show more attendance from residents.
The city attempted to approve an ordinance that would have allowed the city and county elections to run concurrent on even numbered years. An ordinance that would have extended the Mayor’s term in addition to council members Jolene Gardner and Kurt Carson’s seat. In the end, the item died and was never passed.
City Administrator Robert Switzer’s job performance was debated and a month later Switzer presented the council in February with a report to the city that included reducing expenditures that included a hiring freeze, and reducing animal control to half time. Switzer said, “We all know the easiest way to save money is fire people because that’s 80 percent of our budget.”
The agreement between the City of Ely and White Pine County’s Fire and EMS services caused several heated discussions throughout the year, particularly at County Commission meetings. The issue? The desire to have the closest responding unit respond. The monthly amount the county was paying to the city. By April, after just shy of a few months of two years, Fire Chief Tim Woolever submitted his resignation. And by June 30, the mutual aid agreement between the City and County fire and ems had expired and had not been renewed.
By March, the Tourism and Rec Board began making some drastic changes when the new county liaison and board member Steve Stork came on board. Ed Spear’s contract of director for Tour and Rec Board was notified that his contract ended on March 31 and it was not going to be renewed. By June, after several interviews, a top candidate was selected. Kyle Horvath was selected and relocated to Ely.
Cannabis became a relatively hot topic in the city. In March, the city council discussed a proposed dispensary from Las Vegas called Acres Dispensary. John Mueller, founder and CEO of Acres, started attending city council meetings in March to seek the approval by the city for the issuance of a license for a dispensary in the city. The council approved it on March 23, but not without the Ely Shoshone Tribe giving their input about it.
The tribe approached the council again in July to attempt to negotiate with the ity regarding terms for a marijuana dispensary compact between the two entities.
And although after Joe Dice and Cassandra Dittus representatives for the dispensary spoke before the council, the vote passed on approving a compact, days later the mayor vetoed it, citing that entering into a contract like this would provide a monopoly for one company for five years.
In the middle of all of this, Janette Trask, city treasurer, turned in her resignation to the city of Ely in May. Trask had returned to the City of Ely in March of 2017, and just barely over a year later, resigned. Trask had read memos in front of the council several times explaining the misappropriated funds she had fixed, and stressing the city needed to reduce its spending,
For the first time, Ely held its first air race event. The event was held in June 13-16. The event is slated for 2019, with the commission keeping a closer eye on budgets, with a required monthly report and any budgetary changes.
The fight on Question 3 began to become very noticeable around town, signs in yard with red letters stating No on Question 3. The initiative that would have amended the constitutional amendment. The efforts on the fight, resulted in a victory for local power company, Mt. Wheeler.
The Holiday Inn broke ground in July and has an estimated opening in early 2019.
The S&S Shortline lawsuit had several breaking points during 2018. S&S Shortline offered the City in June of 2018 $1.5 million in addition to foregoing other monies that had been exhausted since the lawsuit began in 2015.
Mike Wiliams, owner of S&S Shortline, attended the council meeting, and in the end the city denied his offer. On Oct. 5, the city council approved sending an offer of settlement to S&S where no money would be exchanged and the city would write off anything they potentially owed if it went to trial.
The letter was sent, and no action was taken from the letter. The trial is slated for this summer.
In August, an Ely Times headline read, “Coalition declares victory over pipeline proposal.” A ruling by the Nevada State Engineer denying all water rights applications for the project was applauded by many in White Pine County and afar.
Another big feat for residents, was the dismantling of the gas chamber used on the animals at the Ely Animal Shelter. A story that the Ely Times first exposed in 2017 of a gas chamber being used to euthanize animals in White Pine spilled into 2018, the city council received letters from the public, and much even national attention from PETA, the City voted to dismantle the chamber by May of 2018.
Since then, the numbers of euthanized animals have decreased, an Animal Control Advisory Board has been created and the animal shelter has begu receiving assistance from non-profit organizations as well as local groups.
Architect planning with the county has begun for the Justice Center in addition to the commission approving the funding to hire a lobbyist during the Legislative Sessions.
So, as January kicks off, so do two new county commissioners, Ian Bullis and Travis Godon. In addition the City of Ely will also be looking at two new city council seats and possibly a new Mayor later on this year.