Nevada Looks to OK Lane Splitting

A Nevada Sheriff’s and Chief’s Association official told lawmakers the chances of rear-end collisions would be “significantly less” with the passage of a bill to allow a motorcyclist to drive between lanes in traffic jams.  Bob Roshak of the association says he believes it would be safe as the bill is written.

The Nevada Senate transportation committee took up the measure on Friday that would allow the motorcyclist to drive up to 10 mph faster than slow-moving traffic, and up to a maximum of 30 mph. Lane splitting would only be allowed when there are at least two lanes going the same direction.

The Assembly passed the measure last week. Committee chair Democratic Senator Mark Manendo of Las Vegas said the bill will be brought for a vote before the next deadline.

Currently, the law only allows on-duty law enforcement staff to split lanes.

Nevada Honors State’s Oldest Lawmaker

The oldest Nevada legislator paid lawmakers a visit to the Senate on Thursday, which passed a resolution commemorating him.  Wilbur Faiss is 101 years old and served two terms in the Senate from 1976 to 1984.

Faiss came to Nevada in 1944 and was a small business owner in what was then an unincorporated area of Clark County.  Faiss was also a volunteer firefighter and one of the first workers at the Nevada Test Site.

He said he’s especially proud to have voted for the federal Equal Rights Amendment in 1977.  Faiss helped the measure clear the senate, but it would die in the assembly, however he said it helped pave the way for many laws intended to prevent discrimination.

In addition to being a statesman, Faiss is known for having one of the longest marriages in America.  He and his wife, Theresa, were married for seventy-nine years, until she passed away in 2012 at 97.

Faiss said he hopes to pay the Nevada State Legislature another visit during the next session — he will be 103.

Assembly GOP Renews Opposition to Nevada Mining Tax

Assembly Republicans are renewing their opposition to a plan being pushed by some Senate colleagues to seek a 10 percent tax on Nevada’s gold and silver mine operators. Members of the Assembly GOP caucus say singling out the mining industry for more money would hurt rural economies and stifle job growth when the state is still recovering from the recession.

Six senators led by Republican Minority Leader Michael Roberson of Henderson are proposing a mining tax increase as an alternative to a 2 percent business tax that will be on the 2014 ballot. Senate Republicans said the plan would raise $600 million during the two-year budget cycle to be used to fund education.

Meanwhile, Nevada sales rose 4.2 percent in February, compared with the same month last year. The Department of Taxation claims, merchants sold nearly $3.4 billion in goods during the month, of which the state collected $265,000 in gross sales and use taxes.  Statewide, 13 of Nevada’s 17 counties reported increased taxable sales.

Sailor Who Provided Iwo Jima Flag Dies at 90

Allan Wood spend nearly five decades as a technical artist and public information officer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge, before passing away April 18th at his Sierra Madre home from congestive heart failure.

Born in Pasadena on May 3, 1922, he earned a bachelor’s degree in history at UC Berkeley and was a talented watercolorist, who studied at the Art Center in Pasadena before joining JPL in 1958. Wood, however played a critical role in one of World War II’s most important events.

It was on Iwo Jima, February 23rd, 1945, that five Marines and a Corpsman planted an American flag on Mt. Suribachi.  Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal captured a picture of that moment which would inspire monuments and made the flag-raisers instantly famous.

Although the 22-year-old Navy officer, wasn’t among them, it was Wood who provided the flag.

“The fact that there were men among us who were able to face a situation like Iwo where human life is so cheap, is something to make humble those of us who were so very fortunate not to be called upon to endure any such hell,” he wrote in a 1945 letter to a Marine general who asked for details about the flag.

A squad of Marine’s scaled the 500-foot peak and hoisted the flag from a length of blasted water pipe.  This was actually the second raising of a U.S. flag on the mountain, as Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal, who was witnessing the battle, asked for the first one as a memento.

Wood was in charge of communications on LST-779, a landing ship that moved tanks and heavy equipment onto Iwo Jima.  Beached near the base of Suribachi, his ship was boarded by a Marine looking for the biggest flag he could find and Wood handed over a 37-square-foot flag he had procured in a Pearl Harbor Navy depot months before.

Sixty-eight-thousand Americans died taking the eight square miles island.  Japanese losses included 21,844 dead.

“The raising of that flag on Suribachi means a Marine Corps for the next 500 years,” Forrestal would tell Marine commander, Lt. General Holland P. “Howlin’ Mad” Smith as Wood’s flag rose into sight.

Nevada Senate Looks at Candidate Residency Law

Nevada lawmakers are working to update candidate residency laws after a judge ruled a candidate for the Assembly didn’t live in the district he was running to represent. Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey of Reno presented AB 407 to the Senate Legislative Operations and Elections Committee Thursday.

The bill aims to clarify that simply owning a residence in a district does not alone qualify someone to run for that district’s seat.  It would mandate that candidates live in the district they seek to represent.

Lawmakers promised this bill after a judge ruled Assemblyman Andrew Martin of Las Vegas did not live in Assembly District 9. The judge said Martin owned a condominium in the district, but actually lived elsewhere.

It has already been approved by the Assembly.

Governors Meet over Lake Tahoe

Nevada’s Governor Brian Sandoval met with California’s Governor Jerry Brown to talk about Lake Tahoe and renewable energy, Thursday. The meeting comes under the cloud of Nevada’s threat to leave the decades-old Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, a bipartisan group that governs environmental controls and development in the scenic basin that straddles the two states.

A bill pending in the Nevada Legislature seeks to repeal the law passed two years ago. But officials in the Sandoval administration say keeping the threat alive to exit TRPA will make sure both states coöperate on Tahoe issues. Details of the meeting have not been released.

Nevada Considering Expansion of Scholarship Program

State lawmakers are considering expanding an annual scholarship meant to help future Nevada teachers finance their senior year of college from one recipient to two. Republican Senator Ben Kieckhefer of Reno presented SB 102 to members of the Assembly Education Committee Wednesday.

Currently, the Kenny C. Guinn Memorial Scholarship provides up to $4,500 to one Nevada college senior majoring in education. The bill allows a second Memorial Scholarship annually, with awards going to students from northern and southern Nevada schools that offer a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Education.

The scholarship is in honor of former Governor Kenny Guinn . It’s funded by donations received following Guinn’s death in 2010.

Guinn established the state’s Millennium Scholarship program that provides qualifying Nevada high school students with money to attend college.

The Explosion of the Sierra Chemical Company

Investigators with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are sifting through debris in the Texas town of West, following a deadly explosion at a fertilizer plant. Fourteen people died and more than 200 injured in a blast that devastated a four to five-block radius.

It brings back the memory of another blast nearly 15-years earlier. I was pulling out of the drive way of the Sierra Nevada Chapter of the American Red Cross, heading for the Sierra Chemical Company to teach a CPR and first aid class to their employees.

It was jus’ before eight that morning when an explosion rocked the chemical plant that manufactures dynamite, killing four people. About a dozen people were inside the plant at the time, in the hills above Lockwood, about 10 miles east of Reno.

In addition to the four deaths, six people received injuries that Wednesday morning, January 7th, 1998. Had the class been scheduled at eight like usual, I could have been among those numbers.

Barbara Bradley, who lived across from the plant said the first blast knocked her out of bed. She went to see what happened, and the second explosion threw her to the floor.

“It really shook the whole house,” Bradley added. “Pictures moved back and forth across the walls. It scared me half to death.”

Investigators believe the first explosion occurred in Booster Room 2, where workers were mixing explosives. Less than four seconds later a second explosion in the Pentaerythritol Tetranitrate (PETN) Building that housed chemicals used in the mixtures happened.

That first explosion was likely triggered when a worker started a blade in a mixing bowl unaware that an explosive mixture had been left there the night before. Evidence suggests a worker left 50-100 pounds of base mixture in a large mixing pot and it stratified and hardened overnight.

The next morning, when the same worker turned the mixer’s motor on, the mixing blade embedded in the mixture detonated the explosives. The blast left a crater 40 feet wide, scattering debris over a 2,000-yard radius, breaking windows over a mile away, shaking seismic needles at the University of Nevada, Reno and could be felt as far away as Fernley, 20 miles to the east.

The shock wave also detonated thousands of pounds of explosives, destroying the Booster Room, sending burning and flying debris that triggered a second explosion 3.5 seconds later at the building storing the PETN . One survivor, Gustavo Alcala said he and other workers found themselves trapped  after the second blast.

“I yelled for help from my co-workers,” Alcala told investigators, “but they couldn’t hear me.”

Alcala said he and some of the trapped workers found a hole in the side of the building and crawled out carrying their severely burned co-worker, Benigno Orozco.

This was backed-up by Storey County Sheriff’s Sergeant Bill Petty, who was the first witness to arrive at the scene.

“There were four men staggering out of the area, and they were dragging a fifth,” Petty said.

The plant is about a mile from Interstate 80, where motorists could see the black smoke well after the blasts. The plant itself is in a canyon and couldn’t be seen from the freeway.

Nevada Senate Passes Cellphone Tracking Bill

The Nevada Senate has approved a bill designed to give law enforcement quicker access to cell phone locations in times of emergency, by-passing warrant procedures. SB 268 gives carriers protection for providing information during certain circumstances.

A Kansas mother who struggled with a cell phone company to provide call location information when her daughter went missing testified before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Labor and Energy, urging them to pass the bill requiring such information be given to police agencies in emergencies.

Missy Smith of Overland Park, Kansas, told committee members of her frustration and anger when her daughter, Kelsey, was taken from a store on June 2, 2007, just nine days after graduating from high school. The 18-year-old’s body was discovered four days later and her family believes she might have been found sooner, possibly alive, if her cell phone location was tracked and made available to authorities.

At least nine other states have adopted similar laws.

Nevada Lawmakers Tackle Wild Horse Issues

Don’t feed the horses. That’s the message the Nevada Assembly is sending with passage of a bill increases penalties for feeding feral livestock.

Republican Assemblyman Tom Grady of Yerington says AB 264 isn’t about Nevada’s wild horses but public safety. It’s intended to discourage feeding horses, which lures the animals to populated areas, creating hazards on roads and highways.

Under the measure, violators would be given a warning for a first offense. After that it would be a gross misdemeanor carrying a possible fine of up to $2,000.

The bill passed the Assembly on a 30-9 vote. It now heads to the Senate.

Meanwhile, the Nevada Senate has passed a resolution expressing support for wild horses and burros. Senate Joint Resolution 1 recognizes wild horses as living symbols of American Western heritage, as well as a natural resource and cultural asset.

SJR 1 also expresses support for wild horse and burro eco-sanctuaries, something supporters say could encourage rural tourism in the state. It now goes to the Assembly.

Nevada Assembly Oks Restaurant Menu Calorie Bill

Chain restaurants will have to post nutritional information on menus under a bill passed by the Nevada Assembly.  AB 126 was approved on a mostly party-line vote.

It requires restaurants with 15 or more locations to post  calorie information on-site, up from 10 in the initial bill.  Another change makes penalties administrative, rather than criminal.

Opponents of the bill say federal officials are already developing similar regulations, and they didn’t want to pre-empt  those rules. The bill now goes to the Senate.


Nevada Bill Gets Domestic Violence Victims Out of Leases

Lawmakers are creating an avenue for domestic violence victims to get out of lease agreements early. The Assembly passed AB 284 allowing domestic violence victims to get out of leases without penalty by telling the landlord the situation and providing a written report by the victim, law enforcement personnel or a third-party such as a minister or social worker.

Supporters say the state needs to do whatever necessary to help victims leave abusive relationships. Opponents contend allowing victims to go through means other than law enforcement would allow the abusers to continue living in the community without real repercussions.

The bill now goes to the Senate.

NC Governor Orders Flags Half-staff for Hawthorne Marines

North Carolina’s Governor Pat McCrory is reversing himself, ordering flags lowered statewide in honor of seven the Camp Lejeune Marines who died in a training explosion last month at Hawthorne Army Depot. The Governor plans to attend a memorial service at Camp Lejeune Tuesday and has ordered flags lowered for the day.

The order reverses an earlier decision by his office to not lower the flags.  McCrory’s office released a statement after the deaths saying there was no “precedent for lowering flags for tragic military accidents.”

The training incident occurred on March 18th when a 60 millimeter mortar tube exploded during a field exercise in the Nevada desert. The blast also wounded another seven Marines and a Hospital Corpsman.

New Amendment to Nevada Gay Marriage Bill

The Nevada Senate, on a strict party-line vote, amended a proposal seeking to clear the way for gay marriage in Nevada. An amendment offered by Democratic Senator Pat Spearman of North Las Vegas inserts language ensuring churches and clergy would not have to solemnize same-sex unions.

The resolution seeks to repeal a constitutional measure passed by voters in 2002 defining marriage as between a man and a woman. It also eases the political angst of some lawmakers to secure votes and keep the measure alive.

The amendment passed on an 11-10 vote. Senate Joint Resolution 13 must still be voted on in it entirety by the Senate.

SJR 13 needs to be approved by lawmakers this year and in 2015. It would then go to voters in 2016.

Abdulrahman Alharbi, Person of Interest

Abdulrahman Alharbi

At first he was named as one of the possible bombers, then that changed to ‘Person of Interest.’ But Abdulrahman Alharbi is in the U.S. illegally,  but claims to be only a witness to and  victim of the Boston Marathon bombing.

UPDATE: 04/01/2014 — Alharbi is now suing Glenn Beck and his network for defamation, even though nearly every TV network and news organization named him as a suspect in the attack.

How’d I Get Here?

“It comes without meaning, it departs in darkness, and in darkness its name is shrouded.” Ecclesiastes 6:4 (NIV)

Anger equals evil.

It took me a year and some time to complete my study of the Book of Jeremiah, in the Old Testament. When I undertake a study from any book in the Bible, I try to place it not only in its faith-based context, but historical and real-world context.

For that reason, I found myself in December at a place so angry within myself that I lashed out at everyone on my Facebook page. It was the wrong thing to have done.

I realized, albeit too late, that everything I was gleaning from Jeremiah wasn’t about me or anyone else in my life – either personally or in cyberspace.

Following my ‘blow up,’ I stopped blogging my political opinions, whether nationally or locally. There was something in me that said it was a good thing to do and so I did and furthermore, I am not planning to return to that subject anytime soon.

Instead, I am going to share some of my notes on the Book of Jeremiah. This will happen over several weeks or maybe months – I don’t know.

What happens to this country isn’t up to me; it’s not even up to the leadership of this nation. Instead, it is up to God and how our relationship as a people is viewed by Him.

Call me crazy, but let’s get started with Jeremiah 1:6.

“I will pronounce my judgments on my people because of their wickedness in forsaking me, in burning incense to other gods and in worshiping what their hands have made.”

Over the course of the last few decades, the U.S. has slowly been erasing God from our national culture. No longer are children allowed to pray in school, in some places the “One nation under God,” is even struck from the Pledge of Allegiance, and finally after lawsuit after lawsuit, the U.S. struck a coin for circulation without the words, “In God We Trust,” on it.

Instead of God, we worship our federal, state, regional and city leaders. We praise the newest technology and the people who brought it to us and we eat our meals without saying grace.

My conclusion: We have forsaken God and he is judging us – the U.S.

Sparks Man Injured in Boston Marathon Blast

BOSTON (AP) — Two bombs exploded in the crowded streets near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday, killing three people and injuring more than 130 in a bloody scene of shattered glass and severed limbs that raised alarms that terrorists might have struck again in the U.S..

Eighty-five runners in the Boston Marathon are from Nevada. Twenty-two are from Reno, eleven from Sparks and another 52 from eastern and southern Nevada.

Spark resident Frank Kight is one of those 130 people to recieve injures in the blast. He and his son-in-law, Scott and ex-wife, Marilyn were near the finish line hoping to watch his daughter Amy Blomquist complete the Boston Marathon.

The  retired track coach and school counselor says he ducked when he first heard the explosion. He believed it to be a celebratory cannon blast, or perhaps a very loud fireworks display.

A few seconds later, he heard the second blast and dove for cover. That’s when he thought of his son-in-law and ex-wife, who were next to him at the time.

When he raised up to see where they were, that’s when he saw the carnage. He describes the chaotic scene as filled with blood and body parts.

As soon as medical personnel arrived, they started treating him and others. Both he and Marilyn recieved injuries to the leg, but since hers were more severe, she went to a different hospital than Frank — one which is under lockdown.

After being stitched up and released, Frank spoke to Marilyn by phone where she told him she was scheduled for surgery.  Neither his daughter Amy or son-in-law Scott were hurt in the incident.

WASHINGTON (AP) – A person briefed on the Boston Marathon investigation says the explosives were in 6-liter pressure cookers and placed in black duffel bags. The explosives were placed on the ground and contained shards of metal, nails and ball bearings.

The Saga of Crescent City’s Japanese Boat Continues

Adding to a small boat’s more than 5,000-mile  journey is where it came ashore — less than a mile from a  multi-million-dollar project to repair damage done to a harbor from a tsunami resulting from a March 2011 earthquake. Now authorities in Del Norte County have tracked down the owner of that vessel which washed up on South Beach in early April 2013.

It came from the coastal Japanese town of Rikuzentakata, where the tsunami took the lives of 2,000 people and left only three buildings standing.

A photograph of the goose barnacle-covered boat posted to Rikuzentakata city’s Facebook page lead to the boat’s owner: a high school teacher. The social media page also showed the boats handwritten Japanese characters of  “Takata-kou-kou,” which when translated, reads “Takata High School.”

This is the second find for Rikuzentakata. In April 2012, a soccer ball was found on an Alaskan island with a student’s name on it and returned.

Now,  Takata High School would like to have the boat back and Del Norte County officials are working to make it happen.

Spring Calving in the Snow

<"The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel." Proverbs 12:10 (NIV)

It was my turn to work a seven-day stretch at the line shack. It was spring calving time, so I expected to be fairly busy, but I didn't know jus' how busy I would be.

The second evening after checking on the momma cows and their calves, I put up my horse, fixed myself a cup of coffee and stood outside looking at the moon. The night was clear, however the lunar orb had a milky-white ring around it.

I knew immediately that meant bad weather and I decided to prepare for it.

It was about midnight when I pulled myself out of my sleeping bag to have a look outside. A gentle snow had started to fall and I knew then I had to get down to the calving-pens to care for the newborns.

By the time I dressed, had the horse saddled and trotted away from the shack, the snow was swirling and blowing and twisting, making my travel difficult. I'm sure that had I not known my way, I'd have gotten lost within minutes of the storms arrival.

Once there, I had to ride from cow to cow, checking on the calves. Generally my appearance caused the momma cow to spook and move away along with her baby.

However, in one case the momma cow jus' stood there bawling while her calf remained curled in a ball on the snowy ground. I had to get off my horse and approach the little thing carefully so as not to cause the mother cow to panic and run me down.

It took me a few minutes to get a good response from the calf. For a few seconds I thought the thing had frozen to death, but soon it started struggling to get up and get away from me.

Instead I hefted it up into the saddle with me, and with momma following behind, we made our way back to the line shack and the near-by horse stalls, where I laid out a straw bed for the little one to rest. Momma cow, though having never been indoors before, followed me inside and took over the care of her baby.

I was busy until around 10 in the morning.

Soon after I returned to the shack for a cup of coffee, some bacon and a biscuit, the snow stopped falling and the sun broke free of the clouds. By the afternoon, with the help of the warm breath of a Chinook, much of the white stuff disappeared.

And though I was wet, cold, dirty and sore, and one momma cow had prolapsed and needed to be buckled, I didn't lose any of the cows or calves in my care. I recall being tired, but happy for having done a good days work and it was a good feeling.

The Ramona Food and Clothes Closet

This may appear to be off the beaten path at first, but you’ll soon understand why I am treading this road…

The Ramona Food and Clothes Closet is in its 30th year of service to the community. The FCC, as it is known locally, was officially launched in March 1983.

My wife’s parents, Don and Helen Conklin along were the primary organizers. They started by supplying a three-day food package to each needy family or individual who lived in Ramona, California and who expressed a need for food.

I was lucky enough to have helped deliver these boxes a couple of times while visiting them.

Meanwhile, Christmastime’s “Share Your Holidays” became an annual event. And as far as I know, this tradition continues with the help of local churches and schools who donate both food and pack the boxes.

In 1994, the FCC was moved to the abandoned Bank of America building on Main Street. It is still in full operation today, housing the thrift shop, emergency and holiday food distribution, an emergency food pantry, board room, and a room to receive, store, and process donated merchandise.

That weekend, my wife and I were visiting her family.  I recall Don and I spent that Saturday cleaning the place, drinking coffee and swapping corn-ball jokes.

Honestly, I miss my wife’s folks.

Nevada’s Mysteriously Missing Bullfrog County

Bullfrog County was a short-lived county in Nevada created by the Nevada Legislature in 1987.  It consisted of an uninhabited 144-square-mile area around Yucca Mountain completely enclosed by southern Nye County, the county from which it was created.

Bullfrog” was the name Frank “Shorty” Harris and Ernest “Ed” Cross, the prospectors who started the Bullfrog gold rush, gave to their mine. As quoted by Robert D. McCracken in A History of Beatty, Nevada, Harris said during a 1930 interview for Westways magazine, “The rock was green, almost like turquoise, spotted with big chunks of yellow metal, and looked a lot like the back of a frog.”

The Bullfrog Mining District, the Bullfrog Hills, the town of Bullfrog, and other geographical entities in the region took their name from the Bullfrog Mine. If fact, “Bullfrog” became so popular that Giant Bullfrog, Bullfrog Merger, Bullfrog Apex, Bullfrog Annex, Bullfrog Gold Dollar, Bullfrog Mogul, and most of the district’s other 200 or so mining companies included “Bullfrog” in their names.

Mining in and around the county 1920 consisted mainly of working old tailings until a new mine opened in 1988 on the south side of Ladd Mountain. A company known as Bond Gold built an open-air pit mine and mill at the site,  along State Route 374.

LAC Minerals acquired the mine from Bond in 1989 and established an underground mine there in 1991 after a new body of ore called the North Extension was discovered. Barrick Gold acquired LAC Minerals in 1994 and continued to extract and process ore at what became known as the Barrick Bullfrog Mine until the end of 1998.

The name persisted and, decades later, was given to the short-lived Bullfrog County.

Bullfrog County’s 1987 seat was located in Carson City, the state capital, some 270 miles north.  The county’s establishment was a response to plans by the federal government to create a disposal site for radioactive waste at Yucca Mountain when the fed’s agreed to provide payment-equal-to taxes funding to Nye County during the characterization and construction of the Yucca Mountain repository.

This money was intended to go straight to the county government bypassing the state government. In response, Nevada Assemblyman Paul May drafted a law declaring the unpopulated area around the proposed nuclear waste site to be a new county, Bullfrog County.

Because this new county had no population, any federal payments for placing the nuclear waste site there would go directly to the state treasury. Furthermore, rates in the county were set at 20 percent, or $5 on every $100 valued, the highest allowable by the state constitution.

This tax was meant to discourage the waste site’s creation by making the tax rate so high that the federal government would balk at paying to use the land for a radioactive waste dump. However, it also guaranteed that, should the site be built anyway, its existence would at least be profitable (at least $25-million) for the state government.

The bill was passed jus’ before 4 in the morning, June 18th, 1987 — near the end of the year’s legislative session — and signed into law by Governor Richard Bryan. The bill stipulated that if the repository was not built in the county, it would be merged back into Nye County

Bullfrog County was the only county in Nevada whose county commissioners and sheriff were not elected. Instead, the law creating the county stipulated that those officials were to be appointed by the governor.

It was not assigned to any of the state’s nine district courts and as such had no district attorney or judiciary.

To date, Bullfrog County is the only county with a population of zero known to have existed in the United States, and except for Shannon and Todd counties in South Dakota, the only organized county whose was not contained within its boundaries. It contained no paved roads, buildings or infrastructure of any kind. The easiest ground access to the county was by way of a dirt road off U.S. Route 95.

More than three-fourths of the county’s land was to the public. Half of it was taken up by the Nellis Air Force Range. The remaining fourth was owned by the Bureau of Land Management but almost no one visited there.

The existence of Bullfrog County had the potential to create serious legal problems for the state of Nevada. The Nevada Constitution requires all criminal trials to take place in the county where the crime occurred, and before a jury of residents of that county

However, since it was not assigned to a judicial district, it had no judiciary or prosecutors. Additionally, if a felony or serious misdemeanor was committed in Bullfrog County, it would have been theoretically impossible to empanel a jury.

For these and other reasons, Nye County sued, claiming the law was unconstitutional. In late October 1987, Nevada Attorney General Brian McKay announced that the state would not defend the law in court, since in his view it was likely unconstitutional.

On February 11, 1988; retired Nevada Supreme Court justice David Zenoff conducted a special hearing and found Bullfrog County to be unconstitutional. In addition to its zero population size, Zenoff found that the provision of the law giving Bryan the power to appoint the commissioners and sheriff ran counter to the democratic process, so state legislature abolished Bullfrog County in 1989, and the territory was absorbed back into Nye County.


Annette Funicello died April 8th, 2013, following a lengthy battle with multiple sclerosis. She was 70.

In July 1983, when she was 41,  Annette was photographed playing a slot machine at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.  At the time Annette was appearing at the hotel-casino.

Meanwhile, Annette’s passing has touched many in Northern Nevada, including Sharon Baird.  She has a lot of photographs and memorabilia from the times, but her most valued are her memories.

She told KTVN’s Erin Breen she and Annette met when they were 12 on the set of Disney’s Mickey Mouse Club in 1955 and they stayed friends for a lifetime.

“When I moved up here Annette would come and see me here in Reno,” Sharon says. “In fact she made three trips up here after her diagnosis with Multiple Sclerosis. We knew she wouldn’t always be able to travel and I made a promise to her that I’d continue to visit her. And I did.”

Baird was a child-actor with Annette, who went on to start in string of Disney movies, while Sharon went on to star in other kid shows and adult movies, but the two always kept in touch. Sharon was even there when Annette passed away.

“She always dreamed she’d be able to walk again,” Sharon says, “and she always said she wanted to dance again. The last thing I said to her was, ‘Put on your dancing shoes.'”

Possible Tsunami Boat Washes Up on Del Norte Beach

Officials are trying to determine if a boat that washed up on a beach is debris from the 2011 tsunami. The  20-foot boat with Japanese writing, believed to be a license or registration number on its side, washed ashore Sunday near Crescent City.

Del Norte County Sheriff Dean Wilson reports, “Yesterday evening at about 8:30, we received our first debris from Japan. It washed up on South Beach and was full of goose neck barnacles.”

A team from Humboldt State University’s Redwood Coast Tsunami Work Group, an assemblage of local, state and federal agencies and others that studies tsunami hazards is examining the small vessel. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the group is working with the Japanese government to try to confirm the origins of the craft.

Experts say while unlikely to be radioactive, debris could have invasive species, human remains, or other things that you may not want to casually handle. It’s recommended you call your local authorities to report such finds.

From Sparks to Spy

His family had no running water, so they bathed in the Truckee River every Saturday — something that prepared him for conditions during Central Intelligence Agency operations in Vietnam during the war, he wrote in his autobiography, “The Master of Disguise: My Secret Life in the CIA,” with Malcolm McConnell.

Antonio “Tony” Mendez’s mastery led CIA efforts in 1980 to rescue six Americans hiding from Iranian revolutionaries by using a ploy they were in Tehran to scout locations for a science fiction film. The public learned of his exploits in the film “Argo,” with Ben Affleck playing him.

But not as well-known is Mendez’s life of living in a tent just east of what is now Vista Boulevard in Sparks in 1947 and 1948, while his stepfather worked at a quarry. His time in Sparks helped shape his character.

Mendez was born in Eureka, Nevada in 1940. His father went to work in neighboring White Pine County at the copper pit at Ruth.

In 1943, his father was working as a signal hand on the railroad that carried ore out of the copper pit and when caught between the wall of the mine and a railroad car, he died. He was only 23 years old.

Mendez’s mother remarried and got a job in Eureka editing a newspaper but, when his stepfather lost his job in 1947, they moved to the Sparks area. His stepfather worked in a quarry, and they lived on the property until they moved to Pioche in 1948.

That quarry was jus’ west of Brierly Way and north of where Vista Boulevard meets Interstate 80. The eastern boundary of Sparks at the time was Stanford Way, about two and a half miles away.

Mendez had one older sister, a younger brother and three younger sisters. They walked about a half mile to what is now Larkin Circle, to the one-room Vista School, which had about 10 students, from first grade through high school.

Another important thing leading up to his career in the CIA occurred in Sparks.

One day, his mother gave him a sketch pad and watercolors to encourage his artistic abilities.  Nearly 20-years later, Mendez  the CIA hired him as an espionage artist for the Technical Services Division.

He and his family eventually moved to Colorado, but still have ties to Nevada. It’s a mine near Silverton — east of Tonopah — where the family’s cemetery is found.

Fire Escape

Generally, it’s my mouth that gets me into trouble — other times it’s my thoughtless actions.

It was our final foray to San Francisco as a track team my senior year of high school. And even though we were on a strict curfew, I sneaked out of my hotel room, using the fire escape to visit my ex-girlfriend, Debbie’s room.

She was bunking with her best friend at the time, Donnel Stull. I tapped on the window and she let me in so I could talk with Debbie.

Doni was certain Debbie and I were going to “mess around,” so she headed up the fire escape to my room. Though I suggested it, Debbie and I remained fully clothed.

We ended up talked a lot longer than intended — though I can’t recall what was so important at the time.

By the time I got back to my room, Doni was asleep. Unfortunately for her reputation, also in the bed next to her was a my male room-mate, and he too was fast asleep.

The incident haunted Doni for years as it labeled her as a ‘bad girl.’ In reality though, I was the one who was bad, by placing her in that unflattering position.

Worst of it is — I didn’t know this had happened to her and I’m so sorry for that.


Every couple of months my wife will gather up all the romance novels she’s read, put them in a plastic bag and she’ll donate them to the Spanish Springs Library.  Last Sunday was one of those times.

Since she was doing that, she decided to also pick up a few supplies from the local office supply store for her sandwich shop. On her way home, she’d drop off the books.

Once home she brought in her bag of goodies from the store and set them on the counter. A few seconds later, I heard her ask: “What the…?”

“What?” I felt inclined to ask since she never completed the question.

“I think I donated my staples and pens to the library,” she answered.

I was still laughing as she backed out of the driveway.

Wants, Needs and Cyprus

“Be sure you know the condition of your flocks,
give careful attention to your herds;
for riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations.
When the hay is removed and new growth appears
and the grass from the hills is gathered in,
the lambs will provide you with clothing,
and the goats with the price of a field.
You will have plenty of goats’ milk to feed your family
and to nourish your female servants.”  Proverbs 27:23-27 (NIV)

It jumped right out of the Bible at me the second I began reading it, though I’ve read it hundreds of times. The recent financial crisis in Cyprus must have been on my mind – where the government has taken 40-percent from both people and businesses bank accounts to help prop up the country’s failing financial system.

We all can’t be completely self-reliant but our efforts should be toward being as debt free as possible and capable of producing something useful that we can rely on to help sustain us. Being dependent on others or a government is not good.

There are circumstances where we have no choice but to lean on the help of other people but our efforts should be to work hard, prepare for our old age, and to give our children the best start in life we can provide, both spiritually and physically. Sadly, since World War II we’ve tended to view pleasure as a need with a lot of our money spent on things that tend to leave us unprepared and eventually leaving us dependent on others for support.

Work hard, work smart, and say no to yourself at least once a day, make your pleasures a treat and not a daily need. Put away money for your own old age, and teach yourself and your kids to be as self-reliant and self-disciplined as possible.

Lay your wants aside, care for your needs first and shield your assets.

The Easter Bludgeoning Continues

The bludgeoning of faith continued Easter Sunday as ABC’s George Stephanopoulos’, “This Week,” had atheist Susan Jacoby, who wrote in the New York Times that the murders in Newtown are “The Blessings of Atheism.”  Jacoby wrote this piece of trash on January 6th, but Stephanopoulos chose to have her on as a guest Easter morning.

Perhaps it was to off-set the hugely popular cable TV show, “The Bible,” on History, owned by A&E Television Networks. It is safe to say though, “This Week,” didn’t have even half the viewer-ship of “The Bible.”

Strangely enough A&E is a joint venture between the Hearst Corporation and the Disney-ABC Television Group, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. Remember, timing is everything with these people.

Fortunately, God is in control.