Topaz Lodge work on track for July 4 opening

Contractors are working 12-hour days, seven days a week, to realize the reopening date of Topaz Lodge and casino, now projected for the Fourth of July.

Electricians, masonry contractors, roofers and plumbers from Reno-based Q&D Construction as well as six subcontractors, engaged in a complicated ballet to get the job done as quickly as possible.

Lodge General Manager Rick Ross admitted that earlier targets for reopening the casino were overoptimistic.

He said the damage from an April 3 electrical fire didn't appear to be extensive, but the very thing that saved the structure from burning to the ground, caused the most damage as water flowed down through all three floors of the 50-plus-year-old establishment.

According to Ross, delivery and availability of materials also slowed the process for the first projected date as well as the second projected date of the Father's Day weekend.

"It has not been easy," Ross said. "We didn't realize the magnitude of the whole thing at first and the timing of getting needed materials has really slowed us down"

Security officer, Norm Ziola, a resident at the Topaz Lake, explained the flurry of workers at the lodge.

"Six different construction companies, general contractors and sub-contractors, are all working here at the moment," he said as he surveyed the main casino floor and the upper floor office and security sections of the lodge.

Maggie Henderson who normally works in the cashiers cage, stands outside the front entrance of the lodge with a hard hat on, insuring unauthorized personnel don't enter the lodge.

"I have been off for three days," she said. "The amount of work that has been done since my days off has been amazing. I am so excited to see what it's going to look like when it is done. If they keep working like this they are going to make the July 4 opening date."

The lodge has continually employed as many of their staff as possible through the closure. Even those, now laid off, the Cashells have continued company benefits with the employee monthly mutual contribution and an understanding they will return to the lodge when it reopens for business.

"We will probably have about a 95 percent return of employees," Ross said. "We have managed to keep roughly 50 percent of our 150 regular employees working in some capacity since the fire.

"The employees have been fantastic through all of this," Ross said. "They have pitched in and done everything they could."

During the casino and restaurant closure, the hotel accommodations have remained available, as well as the general store, gas station and the RV park. For the most part, they have received their normal amount of usage for this time of the summer season.

"The bottom floor (which contained the steak house, buffet room, small bar, arcade and restrooms), will be the last to be finished," Ross indicated. "We probably won't have that finished until at least the end of July," he said.


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