COUNTY CONSIDERING CONSOLIDATING COUNTY WATER SYSTEMS AND UNIFORM RATE

In a preliminary study of the water rates for the Eureka County municipal water systems, Public Works determined that over the past two to four years, the county has been in the red for all three water systems. Eureka, Diamond Valley and Crescent Valley with a cost of $586,712 for operating and maintaining all three systems combined. Public Works is looking to cover the expenses of the municipal water system with the fees collected rather than having the county subsidize the system and so is proposing a residential rate of $33.49 for all the systems with a 10,000 gallon base. Ron Damele, Public Works Director, doesn’t “want to heavily encumber the rate payers” and so did not recommend adding an 8 percent capital improvement fee increase. Water usage above 10,000 gallons a month is proposed to be charged at a higher rate.

Presently, commercial water loads at the fill stations are $10 every time a truck pulls up. Damele is proposing a $15 fee per pull up and $3 every thousand gallons. The commercial water loads can’t be part of the rate because they’re intermittent and not consistent although Damele said that every half hour in Diamond Valley and in Crescent Valley water is loaded for hauling to mines such as Klondex and Cortez as well as by well drillers and stock contractors in Eureka. Damele noted water is not sold out of hydrants.

County hydrologist, Dale Bugenig, pointed out raising rates promotes conservation although he conectured the water system may “still end up operating in the red” and asked whether the analysis took into account an estimated decrease in sales.

Damele said water usage is not expected to change.

Goicoechea expects to see “more users, more use over the next few years.”

Commissioner Sharkozy asked whether the rates would start after the first of the year and Damele said changes could be “60 to 90 days out” as a new ordinance needs to be drafted followed by a public hearing on the ordinance and rate increases.

Chairman Goicoechea said if the Eureka County water system is consolidated they need to ensure “we don’t screw something up with Crescent Valley or Devil’s Gate G.I.D.”

While rates will go down in Crescent Valley and Devil’s Gate and rise in Eureka, Commissioner Etchegaray joked the increase “is only a couple of beers a month.”

Turning to the preliminary sewer rate study for the Town of Eureka, what is proposed is going from $9.72 with no capital improvement assessment to $10.50. Again, the adjustments are to address the fact the system is not breaking even, and it only applies to Eureka.

The last increase in water rates was in 2010 having started in 2009 with rates going up by a percentage. The last sewer rate increase was many years ago. The adjustment in sewer fees is proected to cover the County’s expenses since maintaining the sewer system requires some maintenance and jetting with fewer fixed costs than the water system.

CONSIDERING THE BIALE PROPERTY AS A VETERANS’ PARK

Cindy Beutel, Eureka Activities Coordinator, came before the Commission to give an update on the proposed Biale Veterans Park. Beutel noted that November 2nd the grant cycle opened for project matching grants from the Nevada Commission on Tourism available every two years. Beutel noted that the donation of land from the Biale Trust, Survey and Conceptual Drawing costs valued at $60 to $70,000 could count as a match towards the park to get it going. Beutel can’t however write the grant without permission from the Commission and the Commissioner’s accepting the property. The cost estimate for the proposed veterans’ park is $200-$250,000. Beutel said in addition to grant funding from the Nevada Commission on Tourism, grants can be pursued via the State Historic Preservation Office, a Block Grant, Main Street grant, NDOT grant, as well as Veterans’ grants. Beutel said all she needs to move forward is permission to go forward and the Commissioners saying they’ll take the property.

Beutel said the grant from the Commission on Tourism has to be earmarked for the project or given back. Beutel said the mines will likely want to assist in funding the park and there is a local grant for $8,000 in the works from a private group, but the funding won’t be forthcoming until the Commission accepts the property.

Chairman Goicoechea said the Commission would take the property it grants and donations were assured.

Beutel said the project could be done “in phases.”

Commissioner Sharkozy said, “Once we own it, we are responsible.”

Goicoechea agreed. “We have to know the money’s there.”

Commissioner Etchegaray said he’s “really concerned about the maintenance.”

Cindy Adams related she went to the Rec Board in January of 2015 and was told by the Rec Board, “We’re behind you, Cindy” and would like to see the park happen. The Rec Board granted $5,000 for conceptual drawings. Adam’s husband, Doren, has spoken to an architect who wants to come out. Adams said she attended a meeting with about 45 people at the Opera House “and everybody liked the sound of it.” Adams said, “Yes, we do want to do it classy,” but said there are “a lot of different ideas out there” and said it doesn’t have to cost $250,000, but could be more modest. Adams said, “We have connections for a Sherman tank and a jet fighter;” that would have to be transported to Eureka and put on reinforced concrete. Adams said, “Once we get the idea people will buy into it. The architect wants to see this” and wants to “come out and take a look at property.” As far as maintenance, Adams said, “I will maintain it till I’m dead. It’s going to be very low maintenance: concrete and cobble stone” with trees and solar lighting to address electrical needs. Adams said Mt. Wheeler Power can be approached and expects they will donate. In addition, Adams said the appraiser “said he would do for free.” Adams said once the conceptual drawing is done she’ll bring it to the Commission and see if they want to accept the land. She said, “I don’t think you pay for anything” with “grants popping everywhere.” Adams said they can work hard to get the money, “but to get it you have to own it.”

District Attorney Beutel noted that to accomplish the park it makes “sense it gets gifted to the County” as otherwise it’s “problematic for the [Biale] Trust.”

Cindy Beutel said, “As long as money’s ear-marked,” it doesn’t have to be spent.

Adams said she could “feel the negativity” and said, “Let us try to get the money,” saying if they were unsuccessful the property “can revert back to the owners.”

Commissioner Etchegaray said there’s “no guarantee on when it gets built.”

District Attorney Beutel said the “issue has always been” the Commissions being “willing to accept the property provided the conditions for keeping it don’t have a time frame.”

The issue of whether the property may require EPA remediation was raised. Chairman Goicoechea said, “At the point we own that, it becomes something different.” As a County-owned property, should it require remediation that “costs a whole lot more than $250,000.”

Ted Beutel acknowledged thus far they have “side-stepped that issue.”

The Chairman said he “didn’t want to bring it up,” but said, “That’s a huge concern of mine, way more than the operating and maintenance.” He said the County has some responsibilities regarding remediation of properties they own.

Adams said they will “still go forward with the conceptual drawing.”

Etchegaray said, “If we put a cement cap over the whole property they may go for it.”

Goicoechea said if the property is high in lead or arsenic they have to agree not to build a day care or housing facility and the park would have to “stay protected for lead and arsenic.”

SEEKING A WAGON OR TRACTOR FOR CHRISTMAS TREE EVENT

Cindy Beutel related that the Christmas Tree lighting is scheduled for Dec. 5 but will not feature a horse drawn carriage as the woman fell and broke her hip. Beutel is seeking someone with a wagon to haul kids as well as people with a tractor to pull a hay wagon.

NEVADA HEALTH CENTERS CHANGES STAFFING OF CRESCENT VALLEY CLINIC WITH PERMANENT EMPLOYEES

The Sentinel heard from a few concerned Crescent Valley citizens on November 3rd who expressed concern that Nurse Practitioner Nikki Bain’s contract with Nevada Health Centers was not renewed as people liked her very much and felt indignant that her contract was not renewed as people have built relationships with her, and the citizens express concern that their care would be interrupted and that they would have difficulty getting prescriptions filled.

The Sentinel reached out to Nevada Health Centers, and spoke with Lisa Dettling, Vice President of Mission Strategy for Nevada Health Centers.

On Thursday, Nov. 5, Dettling said, “We want to reach out and get you guys some answers so you know what’s going on and have people get the information so they can understand some of what happens.” Dettling said, “What I can tell you is Nikki Bain is one of our providers at Crescent Valley and she’s what we call a ‘locum,’ so somebody that we brought in on a contract on a temporary basis. Usually those contracts are 90 days. We have had a lot of recruiting needs in our organization so we’ve kept some of our locums longer; but when we have locums work for us we cannot bill for their services because they’re not on all of our insurance plans and all of the different things that one of our employed providers would be on. We value them very much; they certainly help us get through difficult times when we are provider short, but on a long term basis it’s not a good model for our company because we can’t bill and without billing for our services we can’t stay open. About 51% of our revenue as a company comes from patient billing so that’s a really big impact when we don’t have that locum. So, we have three providers that work in our Eureka County area and so those three will be providing service at Crescent Valley and we will pick up any of the patients that were seing Provider Bain will be picked up by these other three. There shouldn’t be any gap in service. Our hours are the same. They can make appointments the same way. If they have prescriptions that they need filled they can call just like they would have before; and if that requires an appointment they’ll get one or if they can just fill it depending on what the medicaiton is. It will be handled just the same. I totally get the part about people building relationships with providers. It is so hard for all of us to make a change there because they just get to know you, but in this case, it was part of the deal from the very beginning that she would be with us on a temporary basis. We have these three great providers that are going to stay and continue to service there and they’re employed by our organization so it’s a great opportunity for people to build relationships with these providers.”

Crescent Valley will be served by Laurel Capurro-Kleinman, APRN (Nurse Practitioner); Jason Rusk, Physician’s Assistant, and on occasion, Dr. John Whitaker.

Any one with concerns, was encouraged to call the Clinic and meet the new providers. Eureka County is now fully staffed as “we’ve been having a lot more success in recruitment lately and are filling a lot of positions that have been open.”

Dettling said it’s “hard when you bring in temporary physicians for services.” Bain had been serving since November of 2014 “which is highly unusual that we would have someone that long but it just kind of shows the need.”

“We are just so happy to be able to provide service there; and I know there’s so much need so our goal is to just continue to enhance that and make it better and make sure there are committed providers. It will be good.”