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County will receive flood repairs

Sheila Gardner

Douglas County will receive more than half a million dollars from the state Interim Finance Committee to repair damage along the Carson River that was a result of the 1997 flood.

With a final vote on Wednesday, the county managed to get $571,795 from the committee which will be applied with other funds for the repairs.

The money was allocated the same week that long-awaited bank stabilization began along the Allerman canal.

“Stabilization of the structure provides irrigation for 103 water shareholders along the Allerman canal,” said Dan Kaffer, area coordinator for the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Getting the funding was a joint effort led by Douglas County’s legislative representatives, Sen. Lawrence Jacobsen, R-Minden, and Assemblyman Lynn Hettrick, R-Gardnerville Ranchos.

The project was aided by property owners along the river, NRCS staff, Douglas County’s emergency management team, county commissioners and the Carson Water Subconconservancy District.

“I think everybody has done a tremendous job,” said Hettrick. “It’s been a cooperative effort. The private property owners along the river really stepped up and said, ‘We’re going to work along with this.’ If they had laid back, I doubt very much would have been done.”

Hettrick said although other counties’ requests were trimmed, the Douglas allocation remained intact.

“Several claims were lowered significantly after the committee saw overlapping items, but Douglas County’s request held up,” he said.

Although he’s been sidelined by recent quintuple heart bypass surgery, Jacobsen continued to lobby by telephone for Senate Bill 318 which he co-authored with Sen. Ray Rawson, R-Las Vegas. At times during negotiations, the bill nearly became a casualty of north-south rivalry.

“It kind of got bogged down,” Jacobsen said Thursday. “I was tickled that our part of the funding was maintained.”

Kaffer explained that the bill aids communities affected by any natural disaster and need money to match federal funding.

“These dollars are being used for match money for United States Department of Agriculture’s NRCS emergency watershed protection program. Assemblyman Hettrick and Sen. Jacobsen really led the fight for getting this substantial support for our community. Now we have what looks like a good 90 percent of the funding to get the work done,” Kaffer said.

Dick Mirgon, communications director for Douglas County emergency management, said he is happy with the outcome.

“It was a nice thing to have happen,” he said. “”This is really going to help the ranchers because it will get the river back to the condition it was prior to the flood. They’ll be able to get their resources out of it.

“I think the process was a bit convoluted. However, being as how we were the first ones to ever try to use the fund set up by the Legislature last year, it surely didn’t go badly. The Legislature struggled with some philosophical issues and I appreciate all the work they did.”

Mirgon said the allocation also means the state is taking more of a share in ownership of the Carson River.

“They have never denied ownership of the river, they have told us they have no funding,” he said. “Our answer back to them has always been, ‘That doesn’t end your obligation.’ It’s been a long battle, but I think by virtue of them stepping up to the plate, hopefully they’ve gotten up to take more of a share.”

Mirgon said the county must come up with 12.5 percent to complete the funding. That may come from in-kind contributions, funding from property owners along the river or direct county funds.

“We’ve always been very creative with our in-kind contributions,” Mirgon said. “It could be labor, crews out there planting willows or donating rock. We use it for every cent it’s worth.”