Submitted photo
A rendering of the proposed Justice Center of Ely, which received $5 million in funding by the state legislature.

The Ely Times

Before the stroke of midnight on Monday evening, the state legislature was still abuzz.  

Last minute debates, voting and signing of bills. Some bills were approved seconds before sine die, the term used at the legislature that defines adjourning the assembly for an indefinite period. 

SB149 was one of those bills approved at the last minute.  Assemblyman John Ellison said. 

The Senate approved a $5 million appropriation for the proposed Justice Center in Ely.  Ellison said, “I am so happy we were able to get what we got.  It is half of what we asked for but at least we got that much.”

An attempt to contact Pete Goicoechea for comment was unsuccessful.

This wasn’t the first time White Pine had submitted a bill for the Justice Center, this was the third time.  

This year the White Pine County Commissioners decided to take a different approach, by hiring a lobbyist for this legislative session.  

In a December county commission meeting, the commission approved hiring Mari Nakashima St. Marin with Perkins Company to represent White Pine County at the 2019 legislative session on this particular item.

District Attorney Mike Wheable, Finance Director, Elizabeth Frances, and District Court Judges Gary Fairman, and Steven Dobrescu testified before the Ways and Means Committee during a hearing and made additional road trips to Carson City to represent this bill. 

Fairman explained how the legislative allocation gets the county incredibly close to the project becoming a reality for the community. 

Fairman said, “Clearly, Senator Goicoechea, Elizabeth Frances, Mike Wheable, and our lobbyists did the heavy lifting for the legislative appropriation. Hopefully the county commissioners who have been so supportive will be able to develop a financial plan for the remaining $5 million necessary to have total funding for construction. 

Conrad Architects has been handling the plans and drawings for the future justice center.  

The center will be comprised of two floors, secured entrances will be accessed by key cards.  

The first floor will house the municipal and justice courts, judges chambers and the clerk’s work spaces.  

Wheable said, “I am very thankful the Nevada Legislature and Governor Sisolak decided to partner with White Pine County in addressing these very serious and outstanding needs.”

Wheable explained that with this appropriation, the county can move forward with the entire Justice Center project and perhaps even break ground this fall. 

This new facility, at the location adjacent to the existing Public Safety Building, will allow for the safe movement of inmates, the separation and protection of the public and staff, but also preserve and protect the trial rights of the accused.

“We have found records demonstrating the need and planning of new courthouse dating back to the early 1960’s. It’s a very exciting time for our community to see this project finally become a reality. 

“This new courthouse, like our historic courthouse, will undoubtedly serve our community for over the next hundred years.”