Looking back on 2005

Outside my window the snow is quietly falling, creating a landscape of white, a wintry start to the New Year. About a dozen quail have found their way into the back yard, scratching in the snow for anything they can find that is good to eat. My new calendar is open and ready to be filled with exciting places to go and things to do.

The holidays are a pleasant memory of family and friends, special church services and too much holiday food. My resolutions are to get back into a healthy routine of exercise and eating right.

Four years ago I began writing the Sweetwater Notes column, reporting news and events in the Topaz Lake, Topaz Ranch Estates, Holbrook Highlands, Holbrook Junction and surrounding areas. The people who live here enjoy the beauty and quiet of this open country.

Looking back, January 2005 began with the annual Topaz Lodge Fishing Derby at Topaz Lake that begins Jan. 1 and continues through mid-April.

In February, a letter was sent to residents of the Topaz Ranch Estates General Improvement District concerning an urgent need for a water rate increase. A free American Association of Retired Persons/Internal Revenue Service Tax-Aide program helped taxpayers prepare their returns. We said goodbye to Robert Perry Ellis Sr., commander of Topaz Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 3630. In March, I reported on proposed tax legislation being considered by the Nevada State Legislature.

In April, I was privileged to talk with Care Flight helicopter pilot Art Vano, who provides emergency medical services and rescues to rural areas of Northern Nevada and northeastern California. The Topaz Lodge was the scene of their annual Chili Cook-Off and was lots of fun. Winners took home cash prizes and more than $4,000 was split equally between Mason Valley Boys & Girls Club and Kids & Horses Therapeutic Riding Center.

In May, the Topaz Sagehens held their annual rummage sale. The proceeds are used to help many community charities and civic organizations. I went to see my mother and stepfather in Southern California and listened as my mother told me wonderful stories about family life on the farm in Missouri when she was growing up. The Topaz Sagehens awarded scholarships to Douglas High School seniors Bianca Gillespie, Alesha Grant and Courtney Kemp. Town & Country Homemakers presented a scholarship to Collin Kamholz, who graduated with honors from Douglas High School. I reported on the big job general improvement district operations manager Ole Chavez and his crew have in keeping the water company and roads in good repair. In June, Chavez organized a community cleanup day, with many residents volunteering to help pick up trash.

Douglas County is conducting a 10-year update to the 1996 master plan. In June, a public workshop for the Topaz planning area took place to allow residents and property owners to express their comments. Land use and zoning, drainage and floodplain, traffic and roads, access to public lands, water and sewer services, housing and economic stability as well as open space were discussed. My husband Doug and I and our son David traveled to Ibapah, Utah to provide amateur radio communication for the annual National Pony Express Reride. The mail arrived in Ibapah at 4 a.m. on June 19. Doug and David traveled ahead of the mail relaying the location and arrival time to the Schellbourne Station about 53 miles from Ibapah on horseback.

In the early spring, Doug and I planted tiny seeds in peat pots and kept them in our greenhouse until the weather was right to plant in our garden. We used a small garden tiller to work up the soil and then planted our seeds. We also enclosed our garden area with a picket fence that took us three months to complete and enjoyed fresh vegetables all summer long. It was fun.

In September, the annual Topaz Lake Volunteer Fire Department barbecue was a great success thanks to the many volunteers who help every year. A motorcycle ride with the Wandering Wheels Motorcycle Club to Silver Lake was a magical day, the first time we had been able to ride since my husband's back surgery last December.

In November, a surprised Camille Howard won the Queen for the Day drawing at the Topaz Sagehens Boutique and Bake Sale. I attended a car care safety class for women at Mark Smith Tire Center, the Les Schwab in Gardnerville and listened to Douglas County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Tom Mezzetta speak about vehicle preparation, what to put in a survival kit to keep in your car, winter driving do's and don'ts, what to do if you become stranded, helpful hints and a list of emergency telephone numbers. I have since practiced putting cables on my car.

A December column included community organizations, meetings and services in the Topaz area; exercise classes, senior lunches, services available at the south county sheriff's substation and group meeting dates and times. The Topaz Sagehens welcomed 43 excited children and their parents to the annual children's Christmas party, with lunch, presents and a visit from Santa Claus.

I look forward to more exciting adventures in the new year ahead. Please call or e-mail with news or announcements for Sweetwater Notes.

n Med Direct Urgent Care 1550 S. Highway 395 (775) 266-3003 in Holbrook Junction is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. There will be an open house at the new facility this Sunday from 10 a.m., to 2 p.m.

n The Douglas County Public Library paperback book sale is in the front lobby of the Minden branch through Jan. 20. Large and small paperback books will be 50 cents each. Mysteries, romances and other genres will be on sale. The Minden library is located at 1625 Library Lane. For more information, call 782-9841.

n Carolyn Purkiss can be reached at 266-9482 or by e-mail at k6dug1@juno.com


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