2012 marked farewells, tragedy
December 28, 2012
W hile Dec. 21 came and went without anything particularly apocalyptic, anyone watching the news during the year could be forgiven for seeing a variety of signs in the heavens, including a giant fireball crossing the sky in April, an eclipse in May and the crossing of the sun by Venus in June.
January didn’t do much to improve the drought picture, which had been framed by two months without measurable precipitation. But while the weather was dry, the economic picture looked up a little bit with home sales approaching near pre-recession levels.
Mitt Romney locked up the Douglas County caucus along with the rest of the state in February, which was good news for him. The bad news during the month was that federal auditors were seeking $2.7 million in grant funds back from the Nevada Fire Safe Council, and that the state organization had to be cut off until its financial house was back in order.
The big news in March was that the man accused of killing Ben Oxley as he slept next to his wife in 2008 was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison. James Matlean admitted his part in the crime in the previous December. The case would be featured on national television. Meanwhile, Minden glider pilot Gordon Boettger was honored for a record-breaking flight the prior year.
In April, it was announced that Douglas County would share in a $28 million literacy grant, the largest ever awarded in Nevada. Minden Town Board members also gave a Maverik gas station rave reviews, happy to have something in the former lifestyle center at 88 and 395 besides tumbleweeds.
In May, an improperly extinguished controlled burn was picked up by the wind and tore through Topaz Ranch Estates destroying 19 structures, including two homes, and many vehicles. The fire took days to extinguish. Slightly more than a week later, in June, lightning set another fire in the Pine Nuts that threatened homes.
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In July, Nevada’s longest serving district judge, Dave Gamble, announced he would retire effective the first week of January. The long dry winter, followed by a pretty dry spring, led Douglas County to be declared a disaster area by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Illegal marijuana grows above Alpine View, and in Mono and Alpine counties occupied drug enforcement officers starting in August and into the fall. Meanwhile, Genoa Lakes Golf Course owner Mario Antoci threatened to close the resort course if a buyer wasn’t found for the property. That prompted the mortgage holder of the property to seek a receiver to take over the operation of the courses.
The death of Carson Valley’s largest landowner, Minden Industrialist Don Bently, on Oct. 1 was one of the year’s biggest stories. His memorial service in Gardnerville drew more than 500 people from all around the world.
November’s elections saw a new county commissioner and new assemblyman elected in Barry Penzel and Jim Wheeler. The Valley also saw the departure of its last traditional car dealership for the first time almost since the invention of automobiles.
The horrific killing of 20 school children at a Connecticut elementary school reverberated in Carson Valley in December when it was learned the daughter of a North Sails employee was among the dead.
We closed out 2012 with a white Christmas after several inches of snow fell in the Valley in the final week of the year.