April 5, 2023, Letters to the Editor

Cates will be missed


I would like to take the opportunity to address the Douglas County community in regard to the early retirement of County Manager Patrick Cates.  

In February 2023, I reminded Cates that his annual review should be on the Board of County Commissioner’s agenda for either March 2 or March 16 and asked him to entertain the idea of a contract extension due to the fact he was entering the last year of his 5-year contract with the county.

In early March, he informed me, that due to family commitments with the aging of his father and father-in-law, he was seriously looking into the prospect of resignation and retirement to ensure some quality time with his family. Last year, the Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved a change to his contract to allow him to relocate to his larger home in Washoe Valley which would allow him to meet his family goals. I was hoping this would improve his family situation. Patrick is in a fortunate position in his life that provides him the opportunity to choose his timing on retirement, and unfortunately for Douglas County, that time is now. His desires are to see us through the hiring of an emergency manager—which has been accomplished with the hiring of Kara Easton who will be joining us in mid-May — the awarding of a contract to a new airport management company, hopefully, the settlement of a new labor agreement with our Sheriff’s Deputies and Sergeants, and the conclusion of the state legislative session in early June.

I have come to appreciate the talents and dedication Patrick has brought to Douglas County as County Manager. I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with him as commission chairman in the last year and I was extremely disappointed to hear of his proposed departure. We are truly a better county due to his involvement during the last four years. I’m saddened by the retirement of Mr. Cates but understand and appreciate his reasoning and personal commitment to his family.  On behalf of the commissioners, I would like to express our appreciation and gratitude of his dedicated service, leadership, and the performance of all the duties incumbent upon him, as well as extend best wishes for his retirement and time with his family.

Mark Gardner

Douglas County Commission Chairman

Topaz Ranch Estates

Current status of the Minden Airport


I have been deeply involved with Minden Airport since 1999 and I must add context to the three letters to the editor on March 22, which seem to be referencing years long past. The intentions were probably good back then when many changes were made in the early 2000s but let me bring everyone up to date: it hasn’t worked out that way. In fact, our airport has become a shameful case of terrible user sat-isfaction, and I speak to many visitors who are disgusted by the unwelcome they receive. Don’t believe me? Walk around and ask a half dozen aviators in the airport restaurant. And you won’t find many visiting glider pilots because they have mostly been driven away by bad services, inadequate facilities, and a punitive attitude. This, despite the fact that our airport is the best in the nation for the sport. It will take years to claw back our global reputation after losing about 80 percent of the glider activity.

Yes, there was bad management in the era of 2000. The root cause was bad executive oversight, so switching to contract management in place of employees didn’t fix the problems. It just hid them behind a veneer. 

For the following years, airport users were mostly silent and apathetic as they endured decline and persecution, until the situation boiled over last year to prompt a loud outcry. 

Democracy is a contact sport, and I now think all the county executives are aware and attentive to fix it. I applaud the extensive effort underway to rebuild the airport management with determination to quickly solve the problems. 

The actual airport problems are too numerous to list here, but a lot of it boils down to bad attitude towards airport tenants and visiting aviators who perceive them-selves as “abused customers”; and a strategic direction for the airport that defies what most county folks want for their most complex and expensive asset. As a consequence, many millions of FAA & county money has been utterly wasted – like the infamous “bridge to nowhere”. Drive Bliss Road to the east side and you will see.

Look, I don’t use the Swim Center or the Community Center, but I am still proud of these amenities and happy to fund them as key assets for our wonderful county to flourish and grow. 

The airport is the same – it deserves top quality management and proud support from all of us. In certain emergencies, it is our only lifeline.

Our airport is very much broken, so yes, it does need fixing. Many thanks to the new Airport Advisory Committee, the County Manager, and the County Commissioners for recognizing reality and setting about fixing it with a clean sweep.

Jim Herd


Sertoma thanks coat drive donors


We have just completed another successful year of the Sertoma Coat Drive and we are taking this opportunity to thank the community for its enthusiastic participation. 

We collected and distributed 8,709 warm items, including 3,800 coats and jackets. We are hum-bled as we see the continuing support and encouragement from the Carson Valley and Carson City communities. 

Twenty-nine locations cared for our blue donation barrels, in Douglas County: COD Casino, DST Coffee, Round Table Pizza, The Grill Next Door, Tractor Supply Co, Douglas County Senior & Community Center, Wa-She-Shu Casino, Ace Hardware, Douglas County Library (both Minden and Tahoe), Double J Automotive, Brown Bear Designs, Custom Framing & Design, St. Galls Catholic Community, ABE Printing, Anytime Fitness, UPS Store, Dance Workshop, Coco’s On Main, Daggett Creek Kennels, and Tahoe Sports Center; in Carson City: Carson City Senior Center, Tractor Supply Co., Carson City Library, Trader Joes, Benson Feed & Tack, and Guild Mortgage; plus two new locations: Cottage Clip & Tips in Reno and Kirkwood Mountain Resort. 

In addition to the record-breaking amount of warm clothing donated by the community, Walmart in Gardnerville and Walmart on Topsy Lane gave us grants through the Walmart Foundation and Costco in Carson City made a generous donation. With this financial assistance we were able to purchase more children’s warm jackets. Fed Ex surprised us with a large contribution of children’s winter jackets and Harrah’s/Harvey’s Tahoe locations provided fleece vests in addition to their an-nual employee coat drive donation. Douglas High School and Starbucks Distribution also held in-house coat collections. Lamar Advertising once again gave us space on their electronic billboards. Many thanks go to our two new corporate contributors Crown Cleaners and Mr. Bubbles Laundromat. 

The generosity of the people who filled barrels allowed us to provide warmth to homeless and un-employed veterans, homeless and very low-income families, domestic violence victims, people in crisis, and school kids in need. The work clothes went to organizations that help those in our community who are trying to re-enter the work force, but don’t have the wardrobe to interview and start their new positions. The specific organizations we gave to this year are listed on the r esults flier on our webpage. 

Thanks again to the Douglas County and Carson City communities. We look forward to working with you next fall on the 2023-24 Sertoma Coat Drive. 

Eileen Behr

Sertoma Coat Drive Chair 

Kathy Johnson, 

Carson Valley Sertoma President


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