By Nicole Barde

We still have checks for the VCTC general fund account and have spent $163,533 over the 2015-2016 budget barely two months into the year. But don’t worry, the County will do a temporary bailout of the Black and Howell building site, a big chunk of the VCTC general fund drawdown, by coming up with ideas to fix the eyesore and using County funds to do so. We can look forward to an $80,000 +++ observation deck for St. Mary’s photo ops.

It seems that the park funds for the community parks will get drawn down from the reported amounts as a result of backing out the interest. This doesn’t sound right but OK. Marshall also threw out a tasty morsel by saying that maybe the county could help the Highlands HOAs finish the rest of Cartwright road but has to find a way to do it without setting the wrong precedent.


The August 13 VCTC meeting agenda was standard fare and had the usual activity updates. When Tourism Director Deny Dotson gave the budget update I saw that the update of the general fund balance was missing and so I asked why it was not included. Deny said it was an oversight. Board Chair Scott Jolcover and the rest of the board said that it needs to be part of the update going forward. I asked to get the latest fund balance and was stunned when I did. Now I see why it was an oversight. There is only $321,717 in the VCTC General Fund. In my June 17th summary of that meeting I reported the rapid drawdown of the fund due to a number of reasons not the least of which was the purchase of and now maintenance and repair of the Black and Howell building site.

Recall that Deny pushed this purchase thru the Board in December 2014 with no prior discussion and a rush to buy it immediately because it was a good deal. I objected at the time but the board just rubber stamped the purchase.  In Deny’s 2016 budget presentation done at the June 17,, 2015 meeting he projected that the June 2016 general fund balance would be $485,250 by the end of June 2016. That is what the board approved. WHAT HAPPENED between June 17th and a  $485,250 projection for the end of the 2016 budget year and August 13th and a balance of $321,717?  An additional $163,533 has been spent in 2 months to draw down the account.

The general fund balance when Deny took over in 2010 was at $650,000. The VCTC has been running at a deficit and speculating on real estate by buying the Black and Howell building site thereby eating into the fund. In what universe is this acceptable? In what universe does this type of ongoing budget overrun not have consequences?

At the end of the meeting I asked about the status of the Black and Howell building and Deny said that the County (County Manager Pat Whitten and Planner Austin Osborn) had approached him with a couple of ideas they had about what to do with the building site temporarily. One of the ideas was to build a deck over the site as an observation deck or picnic area as a temporary fix to eliminate the eyesore. I then asked whose budget this “temporary fix” would come out of and he said that the repairs of the boardwalk on the Taylor street side would be a VCTC expense but anything else would be paid out of the county’s budget.

It seems to me that the county is bailing Deny’s ………bacon…..out of the fire. The site although historic is also a money pit just to stabilize let alone build on. Again I ask… what universe does spending over $80k for a functionally worthless lot not result in some type of corrective action?

Other items of interest:

Deny stated that Hot August Nights was a success and that the town was a visitor destination for the entire week not just for the weekend event due to the promotion and advertising. I had heard that the owners of the cars were not happy with utilizing the fairgrounds to unload their cars due to the dust. They had to find other locations.  All in all Deny said the promoters were happy with the event.

Deny also mentioned that the County will be installing bronze signage in front of the various mining artifacts around town so that our visitors understand both the historical and functional significance of the item. The new iron “Virginia City” sign at the entrance of town produced by Nick Fain has received numerous kudos.

There was a discussion about signage and the prohibition of lighted signs on the outside of the town’s buildings. This has been an ongoing issue and the Planning Department is trying to rewrite the ordinances and zoning restrictions to make them clearer and to also streamline the process. Someone made the comment that it was easier and faster to get Tesla into the County than to get your sign approved. I don’t know if that’s good or bad. Board member and Commissioner Lance Gilman commented that when he was told to take down the neon “Open” sign near the Red Light Lounge door that business dropped by 30% because people didn’t know it was there and open. This is counterproductive on several levels. If we are trying to become a day and night venue then we really need to write the ordinances so that there is the double priority of both maintaining the historic character of the town and to help it evolve into a nighttime venue.


This was a short agenda but the meeting was late in starting due to the Debt Management meeting running over.

Commissioner Lance Gilman was absent for the Commission meeting due to conflicts. The meeting summary published by County Manager Pat Whitten’s office follows after this summary.

Under staff updates Mike Nevin reported that the $160k match grant for improvements to Miners Park in VC. has been approved thru the states Parks and Recreation Trails program and that the matching funds are in his budget.  It will fund replacing the playground equipment, adding sidewalks and other items.  He as well as Gary Hames reported that the activity at TRI is increasing and that “Lance is out chasing more deals” and lots more is coming. Pat Whitten reported that Mark Amodei and his office is helping to get a separate zip code for TRI so that we get our fair share of the taxes collected out there. Right now they go to Washoe County. This will literally take an act of Congress to accomplish.

Commissioner Jack McGuffey asked Pat Whitten and Comptroller Hugh Gallagher a question about the park funds. Jack was asked at the 1’s HOA meeting what the process will be for obtaining those funds. The answer was that the way both associations sent the request for the $10, 000 in community funds worked out quite well. That if both associations agree as to what they want to do in the park they need to document the work needed, the cost (thru bids) and timing of the request for funds supported by the invoices.  Hugh then read the NRS that stipulates what park funds can be spent on. This is all good but what Hugh said next has me confused.

The AUDITED totals for each community per Hugh’s spreadsheet are as follows:

~$74.3k VCH

~$20.5k Miners Park

~$36.3k Mark Twain

~$45.8k Lockwood

In this week’s meeting Hugh said the Highlands has around $68k and said that the audited amounts would get reduced by taking out the assumed imputed interest. I was under the impression that the interest hadn’t been computed since the county was waiting for a decision on whether they had to pay it or not. DA Anne Langer told them that based on her research they did not have to pay it so I don’t know how or when it got added. The number for the Highlands at ~$74k is consistent with what Dave Thomas and Karlyn McPartland calculated with supporting documentation. I will ask to see the calculated interest for each park account to understand it better.

Lastly ,Commissioner and Chair Marshall McBride commented on the roadwork being done on the county’s portion of Lousetown and Cartwright roads. He commented that the county needs to be able to figure out a way to help the Highlands with finishing the HOA’s portion of Cartwright (i.e. find the funds). I am happy to hear this. I just wonder why the change in attitude. In the May 24th Infrastructure article  I detail how the Highlands is not part of the infrastructure fund and essentially is being ignored.  In the past, and most recently in the April 7th commission meeting, when I or anyone else asks about the Highlands getting more county support we were told that we continually stress that we are a private organization so the county should butt out , that we can’t get our act together and that we are basically whiners. Now there is a change of attitude….maybe someone read the article? Maybe elections are around the corner?

The issue to be overcome is that the HOA portion of Cartwright is private property and the county can’t do work with county resources on private roads. Marshall suggested putting this on a future agenda. DA Langer agreed with Marshall that the County needs to research this thoroughly since it can’t set a bad precedent that is in violation of NRS (I have to say, this has not always been a deterrent to the County when they want to do something).  It may be that they suggest that the HOA’s cede the rest of Cartwright to the County….but then both roads will be County roads ……not private and the public will have rights to drive thru the Highlands. Who knows, it may then lead to completion of Lousetown down to HWY 80 and then we can have lots more people driving thru. The Highlands really does need to decide what they would like and then look at the tradeoffs.



The September 15, 2015 County Commission meeting has been taken off the calendar.

The next big event in Virginia City – Civil War Days – will be held September 5-7, Labor Day Weekend.

The Commission recognized Maggie Lowther for years of representation as a Storey County Legislative Lobbyist.

The next Planning Commission meeting will be held August 20 at 6 p.m. at the courthouse. The zoning ordinance will be discussed and a Master Plan workshop will be held.

A Town Hall Meeting is scheduled for August 27 at the Mark Twain Community Center from 6 to 8 p.m. Dinner will be served followed by a question and answer period. The County also hopes to present a short-term flood mitigation plan at this meeting.

The Nevada Health Center Mammography van will be in Virginia City this Friday, August 21 from 8 3:30 p.m. at the Silverland Inn & Suites.  Appointments are necessary – call 877 581-6266.  Medicare and most insurances are accepted.

An income survey will begin in September for residents in Mark Twain. The University of Nevada, Reno will be acting as facilitator of the survey. Residents are urged to complete this survey as it will help in qualifying the area for federal grants and loan programs. 

The Fire Department has received a Fuels Grant from the Division of Forestry. Funds will be used to treat areas in the Highlands, Six Mile Canyon and Mark Twain. This work will likely be completed next year.

The new Fire Department engines are on line and working well.

As part of the I-580 highway project near Lakeview and Eastlake, the Nevada Department of Transportation has agreed to replace the water line that brings water to the Comstock.  NDOT will bear the entire expense of this portion of the project with construction to start in December.

Storey County Public Works and Lyon County Public Works Departments are working to clean and clear culverts along various routes in Mark Twain Estates. This will help to alleviate some of the stress and strain of high flow during another rain event, although heavy downpours may continue to cause damage. Work will continue into next week.

The cap/slurry seal on various streets throughout the County should be completed by the end of this week. Delays impacting traffic should be expected.

The swimming pool closes for the season Sunday, August 23.

There have been several instances of foals being roped in the Highlands. Residents should be aware that it is a felony to steal the horses that belong to the State. Anyone with information regarding this issue is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Office.

Pursuant to a recent contract, Storey County has begun housing Bureau of Indian Affairs inmates at the Storey County Detention Center.

The County continues to work with on the issue of obtaining a zip code for the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center.

Work is progressing with the BLM and Washington on the Lands Bill.  

The annual Volunteer Fire Department spaghetti feed was held last Saturday and was a success.  

The Chairman acknowledged the tragic loss of a Carson City Sheriff’s Deputy and a Tahoe Firefighter, both occurring while performing their respective duties.



The Commission approved a request to file a loan/grant application with the USDA-Rural Development utilities for the purpose of financing remaining phases on the rehabilitation of the Virginia Divide Sewer System.

Commissioners approved seven new business licenses:

  • Simerson Construction
  • The Buckner House
  • Tesla Motors, Inc.
  • Vivid Vistas – HB
  • Veteran Construction, LLC


The Nevada Health Center Mammography van will be in Virginia City this Friday, August 21, from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Silverland Inn & Suites.

A Town Hall Meeting is scheduled for August 27 at the Mark Twain Community Center from 6 to 8 p.m.

Civil War Days in Virginia City is September 5 through 7.

The Labor Day Parade is Monday, Sept. 7 at noon on C Street.

Coming up…

The annual Health Fair will be held November 7 at Piper’s Opera House from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Flu Shot Clinics are scheduled for November 14 – 21. More details will be provided in fall.

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