The Eureka County Commission met Jan. 5 starting at 1 p.m. following a morning of new officials being sworn in to office. The new Eureka County Commission convened with J.J. Goicoechea, Mike Sharkozy and new Commissioner Fred Etchegaray. Goicoechea was again voted Chairman and Sharkozy was voted by the Commission as Vice Chair.


In giving an update on the upcoming Nevada Legislative Session, County Lobbyist Steve Walker noted over 900 Bill Draft Requests (BDRs) have been submitted, while in a typical session 1200 to 1300 bills are produced. The deadline for legislators to have their bills in was Dec. 13 and what will come in afterwards are committee and leadership bills “and they will round it all out,” Walker said. He said education and funding for education and educational components are the primary BDR topic with the other dominant issue being homeowner associations. In terms of education, the recommendation is that the allocation from the state on a per student basis be put on a ratio related to any extra efforts on school districts’ parts to deal with students particularly in relation to English as a Second Language (ESL) and Special Education students who would get one a half times the funding. Nevada is the only state besides South Dakota that doesn’t have enhanced funding for advanced services. There would be no reduction of per student allocation, but additional funding would handle the additional funds to increase to one and a half times for Special Education, ESL and poverty. Rogers said 70 percent of the population lives in Las Vegas, reflected in the legislation related to homeowner associations and added that 80 percent of the problems come from there, quoting the late Senator Raggio.

Walker, focused on natural resource/water BDRs, discussed BDR 481 which calls for a statewide water committee to do statewide water planning and resource planning. Walker noted that from 1995 to 2000 he was the water planner for Washoe County and developed the water plan that was in legislation. He believes water planning should be done on a watershed or flow system basis such as the Diamond Valley Flow System and has provided that information to the State Water Engineer. Walker believes if a basin by basin inventory is done it will expose areas open to import and export. Walker said BDR 42 is the pit lake bill saying that where mines have exposed the ground water they should have a permit for the evaporation of that water because it’s a consumptive use with four acre feet per acre the standard rate of evaporation.

Chairman Goicoechea asked, “You’re saying Lake Mead we can see evaporization of 11 acre feet annually per acre?”

Walker said it would be between nine and eleven acre feet.

Walker discussed the State Engineer’s BDR 366 and 367 that are now SB 65 and 81. Walker related that SB 65 is clean-up language on adjudication and a lot of other things. “The issue I see with it is it does change legislation that was sponsored by Senator Goicoechea on when you have an inter basin transfer application that the State Engineer is basically required to do a basin inventory making sure they know where all the water is with an exception to 250 acre feet. Section 51 of SB 65 would change that to 25 percent of the perennial yield. Walker said as a water bill it will be an issue and also noted that SB 81 is controversial since it rewrites the statutes on critical management areas turning them into active management areas. Walker said that 40 percent of the appropriators can trigger activation of the active management area and the argument is that the number should be higher. Other BDRs of note include one on conservation districts which Walker hopes will include increased funding; as well as legislation pertaining to the recommendation of the transfer of public land to the state, some 7 million acres of primarily checkerboard lands. Walker said there is also a grey water bill out of southern Nevada that will allow single-family homes to use grey water systems which is fine except for communities that recycle water with water rights on it as Walker said, “You can’t go against that right.”

Walker thinks that the upcoming legislative session will be positive for Eureka County with issues being heard because of the party change in the legislature to Republican control.


Dan Lattin, Senior Environmental Engineer for Barrick Goldstrike provided an update on the Mercury Treatment and Storage Facility going in near Crescent Valley. The project was begun by Barrick in 2008 in response to the Mercury Export Ban. Lattin said the process area where the elemental mercury will be extracted is very small and will involve a skid-mounted small batch process. The facility will be able to house 11 years worth of elemental mercury. The mercury will be stored in 1 metric ton 3/8th’s inch steel containers. The NDEP RCRA (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act) permit was approved in March 2014 and the project is advancing to shovel-ready state and Barrick has to complete their construction design documents as well as the chemical accident prevention program documentation with NDEP as well as a Class 2 air permit and some water permits as well. Coordinated agencies involved in the process include Eureka County, the State Fire Marshall, OSHA, and NDEP who are the main players in the facility’s obtaining the chemical accident program approval. By the third quarter of 2015, Barrick intends to have complete detailed engineering done and permit applications submitted with the goal being a shovel ready facility in 2016 if needed.

The facility will have an HDEP liner, and the facility will be made of concrete with sumps and the concrete will be epoxy-coated.

Sharkozy asked about the earthquake danger and Lattin said the concrete will be seismically designed to the seismic conditions. Lattin said a preapplication meeting as a coordination of all the agencies, including the County, to map the process going forward is being targeted for Jan. 21.


Jake Tibbitts, Natural Resource Manager, reported on Monday, Dec. 8, he went to the N6 Grazing Board meeting in Austin. The biggest issues being dealt with are the drought, and Drought EA. What came up has been over the last few years as Sequestration is applied by the Federal Government, monies returned to the states were withheld even though it was a pass-through and was to come back to the Grazing Boards but in recent years they’ve been getting less. A movement is underway to see if Sequestration applied to those funds so even as the Boards are operating on limited funds, having faced a 17% reduction, the issue is being looked at. The funds come to the individual Counties and then those funds are distributed to the Grazing Boards upon request.

On Dec. 11, Tibbitts took soil samples to the Desert Research Institute for the bio-char pot studies being done over the winter and spring, replicating Diamond Valley weather conditions and replicating multiple growing seasons to see the end process.

On Dec 12 he and then-Commissioner Ithurralde attended the CNRWA joint meeting with the State Land Use Planning Environmental Council at a water forum with speakers from California, Utah, and Arizona talking about what their states are doing with water planning. They then sat down with the State Engineer and talked about the survey of water users in Diamond Valley. Tibbitts will be attending the Eastern Nevada Landscape Coalition winter weed issue meeting in Ely. The Society for Range Management Nevada Section is having a conference on grazing management for fine fuels such as cheat grass with experts coming in from UNR on the 13th and 14th of January in Carson City. Tibbitts will be attending the Division of Water Resources Hearing in Elko on Jan. 15 and in Eureka on Wednesday, Jan. 21 in the County Annex Building at 10 a.m. Tibbitts noted that the Hearings are very controlled with specific questions to be asked.

Eureka County Commissioners approved:

  • Appointment of J.J. Goicoechea as Chairman of the Board and Mike Sharkozy as Vice Chair of the Eureka County Commissioners for calendar year 2015;
  • Expenditures including a $1,091,589.16 pass-through to the School District;
  • Renewing the contract with Walker & Associates for lobbyist services for a one-year period;
  • Reappointment of Ron Damele as Public Works Director, Jake Tibbitts as Department Head for Natural Resources; Michael Mears as Budget Director; Mike Sullivan as EMS Coordinator; Andrea Rossman as Director of Cultural, Tourism, and Economic Development; Millie Oram as Director of the Eureka Senior Center; Adell Panning as Director of the Crescent Valley Fannie Komp Senior Center; Mike Mears as County Webmaster for the year 2015;
  • Appointment of Sandy Green to the Diamond Valley Weed Rodent District Board; Jim Gallagher to the Diamond Valley Weed District Board; Lynn Conley to the Fair Board; Sandy Green, Larry McMaster, Earl Overholser, Lee Raine, Sonni Sharkozy and Diane Wise to the Economic Development Program Board; Keith Logan, Mike Sullivan, Mike Sharkozy, Ron Damele, Earl Overholser, Mike Rebaleati, Annie Kniefel, Cathy Wolf, Mike Macarsak and John Schwebel, Jr., Mike Mears, and Dan Green to the Local Emergency Planning Committee; Jim Ithurralde as Community Liaison and Mike Sharkozy as Commissioner Liaison to the Health Care Committee; Paul Etsler and Mike Protani to the Natural Resource Advisory Commission; Mike Rebaleati on for Wildlife; Fred Etchegaray to the RTC; Fred Etchegaray to the CNRWA; J.J. Goicoechea as Commission Board Member to NACO and Mike Sharkozy as NACO Alternate; Mike Rebaleati as County Representative to POOL PAC, and Bev Conley as an Alternate; Keith Logan as a Legislative Representative; Mike Mears as a liaison representative with the Department of Taxation representing legislative and mining and overall tax issues;
  • A 2015 Order of the Board of Commissioners directing the County Treasurer to offer all tax delinquent properties for sale pursuant to NRS 361.595(2);
  • Eureka County’s acquisition of any of the tax delinquent properties pursuant to NRS 361.603;
  • The Natural Resources Manager, as the Eureka County appointee to the Eureka Conservation District, to attend the National Association of Conservation Districts in New Orleans, February 2-4, 2015 with no costs to be incurred by Eureka County for travel, hotel, and per diem, as these will be covered by the Nevada Association of Conservation Districts;
  • A response on the Environmental Assessment (EA) for Horse Canyon/Cortez Unified Exploration Project Plan of Operations (POO) and Reclamation Permit Modification, Addendum, and Amendment;
  • Sending a response on the proposed Mill Canyon Exploration Project POO;
  • Ratifying comments on the Administrative Draft EA for the Mount Hope Project POO amendment;
  • Mike Sharkozy as Chair of the Eureka County Liquor Board and Fred Etchegaray as Vice Chair;
  • Mike Sharkozy as Chairman of the Devil’s Gate G.I.D. and Fred Etchegaray as Vice Chair;
  • Mike Sharkozy as Chairman of the RTC and Fred Etchegaray as Vice Chair.