The Ely Times

White Pine County has announced commencement on the long awaited Justice Center Project. To celebrate this moment, White Pine County will be holding a Groundbreaking Ceremony on Tuesday, Sept. 24, at 1 p.m.  at the White Pine County Public Safety Building located at 1785 Great Basin Boulevard.  

The project is to modernize safety features for court proceedings, construct a secure sally port connecting the courthouse and jail, provide for a jail expansion, add temporary juvenile holding and upgrade of the public safety building through a limited remodel.

The White Pine County Courthouse was built in 1907, and serves six rural White Pine County communities. It houses the 7th Judicial District Court, the County Justice Court, the White Pine County District Attorney and court clerks, as well as offices for elected officials. 

Its location in the downtown area has caused security concerns. District Attorney Michael Wheable has  previously said, “High security court proceedings should not be held in a location that is in close proximity to the public library, middle school and senior center.”

The county has sought funding for a new courthouse since the 1970s. A 2008 United States Marshals report found that the courthouse could not be brought up to national courthouse security standards and should not be used for either civil or criminal court activities.

This years legislative session was White Pine County’s third chance at a shot for funding from the state.  

In December of 2019, the county commission approved to hire lobbyist Marin Nakashima St. Marin with Perkins Company to lobby for Senate Bill 149.     

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. 

All of these measure proved to be successful, when the legislature approved a $5 million appropriation for the Ely Justice Center at the last minute of the 2019 Legislative Session earlier this year. 

In September of 2017, USDA Rural Development approved a 30-year-loan in the amount of $9 million dollars at 3.25 percent.

White Pine County has also contributed $7.55 million and secured the loan through bond financing from the proceeds of Senate Bill 74, which establishes sales tax revenue dedicated solely to public safety infrastructure.

Frances said, “We sincerely hope everyone will be able to join the White Pine County Commission for this auspicious occasion.”  

Chairman of the White Pine County Commission Richard Howe, said that Assemblyman John Ellison and Senator for District 19 Pete Goicoechea will be speaking at the groundbreaking, in addition to  Dobrescu and former District Court Judge Dan Papez.  

Governor Sisolak  has also been invited.  “It is a very historic day, for White Pine County,” Howe said.