2014 NDOT plan
Tom Greco, NDOT Planning Director, gave the Commissioners a presentation regarding the draft Statewide Transportation Improvement Program and Fiscal Year 2014 Work Program for Eureka County. Greco complimented the Commissioners on the “friendly, intimate setting” and said he was “glad to be here.” Greco was accompanied by Kim Wallin, State Controller; Kevin Lee, NDOT District Engineer, and other NDOT staff.
Greco discussed short-range and long-range elements of NDOT’s plan which includes four Eureka projects in the Fiscal Year 2014 program, two within 2015 and two more within the long range program. Greco said, “Those were designated prior to the final budgeting within NDOT so two of the 2014 projects are going to be delayed due to lack of funding and that’s the first two.” Greco said, “The third one is in progress right now, that’s a chip seal on 306.”
Greco turned to statewide crash data relating that in 2013 year-to-date, Nevada highways have seen 142 fatalities compared to 143 at this time last year. Greco acknowledged the numbers are “pretty well status quo” although in 2006 there were approximately 480 fatalities a year which by 2009 had dropped to 250, a 40 percent reduction. Greco said the programs of NDOT’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan including a goal of zero fatalities, and road safety audits “are all moving in a very good direction and we’re working on bringing the numbers down.” Since the numbers from 2009 to present “have flattened out, we need to reevaluate those programs and place an effort where we’re going to get more positive results.”
On the topic of highway relinquishments, Greco discussed the legislative changes which mean “that when we initiate a relinquishment request, until the county agrees and responds in writing with the resolution, nothing exchanges; it is still at your pleasure whether there is a relinquishment, trade or whatever.” A working group of 25 members has been formed including representatives from NACO, the League of Cities and NDOT staff and the group is “well on our way to get that document done and to our board by November.” The group is grappling with “how do you define a road in good condition; how do you agree on an estimate of the dollar amount you’d need to bring the road up to good condition? That will all be better defined and give everybody more negotiating tools.”
Greco said NDOT has a list of about 600 miles of road that NDOT believes are no longer functioning as state route. Greco told the Commission, “When a road does move to local jurisdiction, you get 100 percent control” over access and speed limit, yours to do, maintenance as well. No one’s rich these days so we understand that.”
Eureka County’s plan will begin in January of 2014 and NDOT staff “will meet with your staff to better delineate better bicycle needs, bike routes that match up with the state program.”
Chairman Goicoechea noted that Highway 50 is a popular bike route with nowhere to travel except in the lane. He envisioned a situation where a truck is trying to pass a cyclist while another truck is coming down and asked, “What do you guys perceive rectifying that?”
Graco related that NDOT “just developed a new rumble strip that is bicycle friendly” and “is meant to be less of an obstruction to the bicycle yet warn the motorist when they’re weaving out of the lane.”
Commissioner Ithurralde said, “Highway 50 is a huge bicycle route and it’s very dangerous,” characterizing the cyclists as “awfully brave.”
Graco said he both drives a vehicle and rides a bike “and there are just places where it’s not smart to drive.”
Turning to funding, Greco said NDOT has received “about the same amount of federal funds as in 2012,” some $350 million, which includes “safety, transit, everything.” Greco said state revenues from the gas tax are approximately $190 million a year “that is tending to get smaller rather than larger. Vehicles that get better mileage, which is great when you’re the driver, but as to a funding stream it’s difficult to do the same amount of effort with less and less funding. In previous years, the state highway fund was balanced around $300 million. This year it’s a little below $100 million and our finance guys get very antsy when it gets below $90 and just meeting month to month bills is a difficulty. We hope there’s a turn-around in everybody’s economic state so that it benefits the state, benefits you guys; we can get back to doing what we need to do what we need to operate and maintain roadways.”
Asked about the need for more durable paint at crosswalks on US50, Engineer Kevin Lee said NDOT tried thermal plastics but they still didn’t hold up and making paint last would require a thin overlay over the road surface.
Lee explained NDOT, took a 17 percent cut in their operating budget.
Regarding local work, NDOT reported the road work on SR306 is being chip sealed with the major portion done. Regarding maintaining SR306, however, Lee said, “We’re envisioning a lot of problems with no money to fix it.”
The Carlin Tunnel project will be half finished this year and completed next year.
Greco thanked the Commissioners for their sponsorship of the Carlin interchange. “We very much appreciate your insistence. It wouldn’t have been built without that.”
Chairman Goicoechea said, “Increased truck traffic on 278 is another prime example. If you travel on that you know how it’s coming apart especially from Alpha south.” Goicoechea noted, “Holes open up” and “that is the biggest concern to us.” Goicoechea said, “278 is going to be a traffic and safety problem here pretty quick from Alpha south,” noting “One of those potholes will really get your attention.”
Public Works Director, Ron Damele, asked about the status of the approach to Mt. Hope and Kevin Lee said NDOT hasn’t been given the start time for the beginning of that construction which includes acceleration lanes to enable traffic to handle the anticipated heavy trucks. Based on the permit date, General Moly has until May 2014
to have the approach completed.
Lee reported the chain signs for the Mt. Hope area are on hold until they figure out the money and finding a mountain top in the Mt. Hope area to fill in radio holes to ensure the signs will work optimally.
In closing, Greco said, “We would like to do this more than just once a year. This last year we did not do a workshop; we usually do; we’ll continue them next year on.” Greco said, “The plan is to always be in contact with you, not just once a year. We very much appreciate our working relationship. Locals you work with, they’ve got nothing but good to say.”
The Commission accepted NDOT’s work program and the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program process.
Mt. Hope update
Pat Rogers and Zach Spenser of General Moly gave the Commission an update on the Mt. Hope project and the company.
Regarding the approach to the Mt. Hope mine, Rogers said he expects that construction to begin when there are people and materials coming in. The mine does not have a specific contractor scheduled for that and if need be “we’ll have to re-permit it.”
Rogers said the management team has been doing a lot of travelling inside and outside of China looking for financing with several entities interested and having signed Non-Disclosure Agreements. Rogers hopes the company will receive financing for the Mt. Hope mine. Locally, at the project site, a small maintenance team is at the site and there is still 24/7 security. Hard line communications have been put in to supplement cell phone usage at the mine site. If any emergencies arise, 9/11 will be called and Eureka County will be depended on to provide service. Following MSHA guidelines, the mine crew is trained in basic safety and CPR.
Spenser reported the mine’s “firewood dispersal program is going great” thanks to “great volunteer help up in Crescent Valley and also here in Eureka through both Senior Centers.” Spenser hopes all firewood will be disbursed to the seniors and underserved families “before the snow starts flying.”
Rogers said GMI is “absolutely focused on the environmental aspects of the property” and is ensuring there is “no excessive erosion or sedimentation” and is “maintaining all monitoring requirements.”
The mine received approval from the State Engineer to delay installation of outer monitoring wells but the “guys are out today outfitting wells with dedicated pumps and equipment to maintain environmental permits.” All in all, though, Rogers said, “It’s pretty slow at the site.”
Eureka Senior Center Director Millie Oram said, “Everything’s going good” with the patio under construction. Oram reported the Miss Senior Nevada games “went really well” and “they all enjoyed it.” The Eureka Center served 1098 meals with senior and home bound numbers up. The Crescent Valley Center served 774 meals and the two centers deposited $8,070.10 for the month.
The trip to Las Vegas to see the Miss Senior Nevada pageant is coming up with 21 seniors planning to attend, leaving on Aug. 19.
Panning noted a group of Crescent Valley Seniors had a good time when they went to Eureka on July 13 for the talent showcase. On July 18, Panning helped new activities coordinator, Gennifer Perry with her first set up of the bounce house for the Cops ‘N Kids picnic in Eureka. Panning said Public Works has been working at the C.V. Center water sealing the wood fence on both sides, which “looks nice and will hold up again.”
Panning related that the State of Nevada inspector retired and no one knew what the new inspector was like. Panning had watched the Elko paper to follow inspection reports but said when he came in and inspected they got 100 percent. Panning praised her staff.
County Engineer, Tom Young, reported the 2013 Street Maintenance Project starts Monday with all residents having road access and Young expects project completion Sept. 17. The two CV park projects have received notice to proceed. Young has reviewed the submittals, and restroom and playground equipment have been ordered. Both projects start the last week in September and are due to be completed the end of October. Young reported both contractors are working well together and will probably share some resources such as “fencing and so forth at the secure site.”
Regarding the airport instrument approach, Young said 1 mile visibility and a 420 foot ceiling will be published on August 22nd by the F.A.A. which will help with the Medflight and mine use when the weather is not so good. Young said it’s time to think about the airport capital improvement plan which has to be updated every two years for the grant cycle. “Each year $125,000 gets put in the bank” and the Commission needs to think about how that money will be utilized. Young will bring last year’s capital improvement plan to go over with the Commission and then will take two weeks to “pull it all together.”
Road Superintendent, Raymond Hodson, said, “We finally finished the Dug Out road, that’s all widened and bladed up. It’s in good shape.” The crew bladed the cut off road between 101 and Third, First street and all the surrounding houses out there; Frontier, Gold; mowed on 3 Bars and are still blading on the JD Road with quite a bit of traffic. The Road Crew assisted Cindy Beutel with several cones to close Main Street for Art in the Park and cleaned debris after recent heavy rains. Stop Signs on Buell and Robins were changed with stopping on Robins in both directions. “The Sheriff said they will be lenient for a while” as people adjust to the new stop signs.
The North End crew was working on the Willow Road and moved to Union to fix a section; moved to Palisade and Maggie Creek where a new mine is starting up and is assisting the blade with water. The blade that was at Dugout has moved to the end of Rose Ranch Road as they blade from Rose Ranch Road up the Dry Hills to the last residence on that road and from the end of the Q&D Project out to Pioneer Pass.
State health centers
Nevada Health Centers CEO, Walter Davis, and Julie Clyde, Director of Provider Relations, met with the Commission to give an update report on NHC and the Eureka and Crescent Valley Medical Clinics. With the new contract in place, Davis said their goal was to provide feedback and find out issues. Commissioner Sharkozy said things are going “really well” in Crescent Valley. Commissioner Ithurralde remarked that the front desk position at the Eureka Clinic has a huge turnover although he understands what’s going on. Garney Damele of the Eureka Health Care Committee reported they have been meeting with Clyde and had a meeting planned for 3 o’clock that day.
Undersheriff Keith Logan reported that a potential new hire candidate came out for his required physical and drug screen with considerable driving from the Carson City area, and the Eureka Clinic would only do the drug screen although the candidate told the staff he’d fasted and that portion has to be completed for P.O.S.T. Logan said he’d explained to the Clinic staff what was required when he’d made the appointment.
Davis said NHC has protocols and processes in place for problems, and plans to take care of complaints in real time and asked everyone to contact NHC with complaints swiftly.
Commissioner Ithurralde pointed out Eureka is paying for 3 providers and currently only has two.
Davis said NHC is still recruiting and with their rigorous provider screening process has turned away a couple of applicants after background investigations. Davis said the provider has “to be right” as NHC doesn’t “want to have a turnover of providers once they get here.” Davis said NHC has a list of priorities and “definitely Eureka’s on the top.”
Natural Resources manager
Natural Resources Manager, Jake Tibbitts, has been spending much of his time reviewing two 800 page BLM EISs. July 29 he and Public Works Director, Ron Damele, and Chairman Goicoechea met with American Vanadium of the Gibbellini Mine. Tibbitts said they are in the “very early stages of discussing how the County could be a partner in that process in terms of energy solutions in Eureka County.”
In addition, Tibbitts met with the State Wildlife Commission to discuss predator policy to ensure our concerns are heard.” On Aug. 1, Tibbitts was in Carson City where he met with multiple agencies including the USGS for an update on the status of the Diamond Valley Flow System study and the various agreements with the USGS. Tibbitts also met with the Cooperative Extension to discuss future partnerships; as well as with Joe Locurto, new manager of the State Conservation District program. On August 5th, Tibbitts was part of a meeting with Congressman Amodei and Senator Goicoechea to discuss issues related to Eureka County.
Tibbitts planned to attend the Ruby Hill Community Advisory Committee meeting Aug. 7 and to take a mine tour. On Friday, Aug. 9, Tibbitts planned with Chairman Goicoechea to attend the Humboldt River Basin Water Authority meeting.
Tibbitts reported he’d applied for a grant to be able to create Biochar from piñon-juniper and to apply the char in agricultural applications in Diamond Valley. Tibbitts noted Biochar can be added to plants to increase production and for rangeland restoration as well as pointing out the possible integration of biogas and biooil into heating swimming pools, and schools. In addition, Tibbitts noted the oil could be further refined to produce bio diesel.
Tibbitts will be attending the NRAC meeting in Eureka on August 14th, the August 16th NACO meeting in Eureka as well as the Nevada Land Management Task Force which will also take place that day. In addition, on Aug. 19, the Forest Service Resource Advisory Committee will meet in Eureka to go over and track projects funded through Secure Rural Schools monies.
In Public Works updates, Ron Damele, Public Works Director, reported that Richmond Spring and another spring have been excavated as part of the Spring project, which Damele said is “progressing well.” Damele expects the Crescent Valley ‘welcome’ sign to be installed within the next 30 days depending on staff availability as Public Works is “stretched pretty thin.” Damele and Public Works have been spending time coordinating with the School District over sewer requirements and will be installing $25,000 worth of water pipe, 600 feet of water main to the school to serve the gymnasium starting Monday, Aug. 12 in conjunction with the School District’s contractor.
Damele reported paving has been completed at the subdivision and he recommended hydro seeding the slopes.
Eureka County Commissioners approved:
• Expenditures of $1,516,531.19 for 2013 and 2014 including payroll of $461,018.64 and Yucca Mountain expenditures of $79.95;
• Proposing changes to Eureka County Code, Title 3, Internal Control Policy, Chapter 10, Section .020, Accounts Receivables with a Public Hearing to be set for 1 p.m., Oct. 7, 2013;
• Signing Fiscal Year 2013-2014 contract with Consumer Direct Personal Care, LLC as approved on July 8;
• Declaring all approximately 30 units of Survivair brand Panther, Sigma, and Mark II self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) as surplus property and authorize disposal of the SCBAs pursuant to Eureka County Code, Title 3, Internal Control Policy, Chapter 20, Section .130;
• A capital outlay purchase for Eureka’s Fire Protection District of 18 (8 to Pine Valley and 10 to Crescent Valley) Sperian Warrior SCBA units outfitted with face pieces, carbon cylinders with locking collars, and voice amplification devices, from L.N. Curtis & Sons, not to exceed $$130,000 with purchase to be made and pricing per Nevada State Contract;
• A grant of $5,000 to GBRDA for Fiscal Year 2013-2014 to participate in and assist in funding economic development activities within the region;
• Adopting a Proclamation declaring Aug. 6 as National Night Out 2013 in Eureka County in cooperation with the nationwide program for crime prevention efforts;
• Ratifying comments sent to BLM on the 3 Bars Ecosystem & Landscape Restoration Project Preliminary Draft EIS;
• Adopting a resolution accepting Gitla Avenue and Ivan Way as Eureka County General Roads with both roads having been inspected by the Department of Public Works which were found to be constructed in accordance with Eureka County standards, setting speed limit at 25 mph.