The Ely Times

The Ely City Council approved last Thursday to allow the Stardust Ranch to re-open.  

The discussion was to determine whether to repeal privileged licenses  for the the Stardust Ranch or to place requirements upon their licensing.  

Allen Buttell, Stardust’s legal counsel, was on the phone since he was unable to attend.  

City Attorney Chuck Odgers explained he had sent a letter to the council members regarding the facts of the case that arose approximately two weeks ago.

 Odgers said, “I received a phone call from Sheriff Henriod indicated that there were problems at the Stardust.” 

Odgers also explained that Buttell appeared that Friday morning. “We met for over an hour, discussing the issues that had been identified, unlicensed workers, unlicensed bartenders onsite, we had no proof that any of the workers were licensed and working,” he said.

It was also noted that there were two arrests, one was illicit drug use at the Stardust.  

Henriod approached the council and explained what happened as well.  “We were actually called out due to illegal drug activity, when our deputies arrived they discovered that their cards were not valid, bartenders card was expired, and there was also a female that was on the premises that was shouldn’t have been there and claimed she was only a dancer, but she was doing other things,” he said.  

Henriod noted the deputies took care of the situation, and it was at that point he contacted Odgers with this concerns related to the business. It was also indicated by Henriod that active investigations are currently taking place on particular individuals. 

It was reported by Odgers that he has had to go to the establishment four times during the past four years for licensing issues relative to the workers or license forms not submitted. 

City Councilman Sam Hanson appeared to be concerned stating that the record didn’t appear to be very solid in terms of their compliance. And he moved to repeal the privilege license.

Odgers informed Hanson that the Stardust’s council had to allow the attorney to speak.

Buttell thanked the council for the opportunity to address them.  “Upon being made aware of the issues, it was much more clear what needed to be done to clean house.” 

The company made the decision to close the business down while they took care of matters. 

Since that time it was reported by Buttell that they have a new applicant Gary Phillips who intends to be transitioning from the current owner to himself. A drug-free workplace and restaffing of qualified staff was also in the works.  

“The place is on the way up and our goal on top of that, we have invited the sheriff to come in any time and inspect, bring drug dogs,” he said. “Please help us get where we need to be so we can serve the community instead of be a problem which apparently has been what was happening in the past two weeks at least, due to a lack of on-site management.”

The new licensee was in the meeting, and stood before the council.  

Phillips said, “I applied for the license there, I’m gonna live here in Ely, and I don’t have any like for anybody that does drugs. I’m onsite all the time, I assure you that’s not going to be a problem. I have zero tolerance for drugs. I think it can be a viable property if ran properly, I think Mr. Michaelson’s  neglect has caused all of these problems, it’s a shame to let it go this bad.”  

Phillips also spoke about the business being beneficial for the city by bringing in tourism. 

Jennifer Lee, city clerk, received a letter for the State of Nevada Health Department about allegations of black mold in the bar area and holes in the ceiling of the Stardust. The letter stated that the bar at the Stardust Ranch could not be reopened even on a temporary basis, until it was inspected.   

On May 13, Rob Kinternecht said the inspection was completed, no mold was detected and the entire place has re-opened for business. 

Buttell wanted to ensure the Stardust was opened up for the Silver State Classic Car Challenge race slated for this weekend an upcoming Bike Rally and several other events.  

Odgers did indicate that the counsel and owner of Stardust has been very responsive since the problem was identified just weeks ago.  

Hanson had a completely different take on the issue though. 

He said, “I appreciate their response but I still stand by my previous assertions that the United Nations has determined that trafficking of human beings is a violation of basic human rights, and especially  impacts females more than it does males, and more over that being the case I find it being in violation of the 13th amendment, in the United States prohibiting involuntary servitude.” 

Councilman Kurt Carson made the motion to have the sheriff and city attorney come up with rules and regulations.  

Odgers said, “I can tell you about my restrictions, and the number one problem is the owners, absentee management. So the only way we were allowing them to stay open was that they needed a on-site manager that was not a working girl, and a security officer.  

“They get health certified once a week, which was part of the problem, all sex workers, I don’t care if you’re a dancer, or non-dancer, you have to be licensed to dance, nude dancing leads to other things. Their sex workers, they need to be identified as certain, and licensing for the health and safety of the patrons, and the ladies themselves.” 

Councilman Tony DeFliece said, “Maybe the community would feel better if we put them on a probation.”

Odgers recommended a year and Henriod agreed.  

The motion was made to allow the Stardust to re-open with 1 year probation. The vote was approved 4-1 with Hanson opposing.