In Carson: Fernley soldier killed in Iraq |

In Carson: Fernley soldier killed in Iraq

Provided by the Nevada Appeal

A 19-year-old man from Fernley was among seven U.S. soldiers killed Friday in Iraq.

The Associated Press reported the family of Army Pfc. Alejandro Varela said he was killed Friday when the vehicle he was riding in was struck by a makeshift bomb south of Baghdad.

Roger Varela, Alejandro’s father, told KOLO-TV the family was contacted by the military over the weekend.

The Department of Defense Web site had not confirmed Varela’s death as of Monday, pending further notification of family members.

Varela’s girlfriend, Alexandria Avant, said Varela left for U.S. Army basic training in May 2006 and was deployed to Iraq in October. He was with Company A, Fifth Battalion at Fort Hood, Texas.

Avant, 19, said Varela lived in Fernley the past seven years and leaves behind his mother, Brenda, and an older brother and older sister, all of Sacramento.

Varela sent Avant an e-mail May 12, the last time they corresponded. She said the two had discussed marriage but were not officially engaged. She is a member of the Nevada Army National Guard.

Kathleen Jameson, program coordinator at the Fernley Adult Education Center, said Varela received his general equivalency diploma March 17, 2006, in order to join the military.

“He was very positive, very pleasant, very outgoing,” Jameson said. “He had a strong, fun personality.

“He was very focused and very motivated to get his GED so he could join the military.”

In honor of Fernley’s fallen soldier, Mayor Todd Cutler ordered American, state and city flags in Fernley to fly at half-staff today. He extended his sympathy to Valera’s family and friends and called him, “a brave young man who represented the best our armed forces and our city, state and country have to offer.”

The Department of Defense Web site reported Monday that seven soldiers were killed in Iraq on Friday, but names were being withheld until families were notified.

Just a week ago, Northern Nevada mourned the loss of Army Sgt. Anthony J. Schober, 23, who attended Douglas High School in Minden. The Department of Defense announced Friday that Schober, of Reno, was killed May 12 in Al Taqa, Iraq.

It might be several more weeks until Curry Street reopens as a throughway for drivers, but a portion could be opened as soon as today between Clearview Drive and Casino Fandango.

“There’s still some work to be finished,” said Andrew Burnham, the city’s public works director.

This is why the portion north of the casino to Koontz Drive will remain closed, he said.

The street has been blocked for months from Clearview Drive to Koontz Lane while Casino Fandango adds a Courtyard Marriott and a Galaxy Cinema, and improves Curry.

Fandango’s project is expected to be completed by July, he said.

Curry was open this weekend to through traffic but blocked again Monday for striping.

The street might be open at Koontz from time to time, but drivers should not get accustomed to it because the intersection still needs work. Heavy trucks and large equipment might be on the street, too.

He advises drivers trying to travel from one end to the other to continue using South Carson Street.

The Board of Supervisors last week, for example, approved the use of $500,000 in redevelopment funds to improve Curry. Fandango’s parent company would receive the money over seven years to improve sections of Curry near Koontz.

The $3.6 million project is within a redevelopment area. Also being used to pay for the project is street improvement and infrastructure money. Fandango is paying about $1.9 million.

Long-term plans call for improvements to Curry north almost to 10th Street. This work is expected to occur over several years, Burnham said.

Design work for the entire span of Curry Street would take six to nine months alone. The entire project is estimated to cost $5 million to $6 million.

Being considered are traffic signals at Sonoma Street and Eagle Station Lane.

A priority will be improvement of the S-shaped portion of Curry north of Koontz. It would be widened and receive curbs, gutters and sidewalks, Burnham added.

Nevada’s Senate Finance Committee joined Assembly counterparts Monday, restoring fee increases in the Health Division budgets that Gov. Jim Gibbons cut after taking office.

The fees are in the budgets of Consumer Health Protection, Radiological Health and Hospital licensing.

Consumer Health conducts inspections of restaurants, food processors and sanitation facilities. Radiological Health inspects providers of X-ray, mammography and other such services to ensure that equipment is safe. Hospital licensing inspections examine hospitals, clinics and other health providers to ensure they are operating in a safe, sanitary manner to protect patients statewide.

Outgoing Gov. Kenny Guinn put the fee increases in the budget to cover costs of providing those inspections. Gibbons removed them, instead covering the costs with state general fund revenues.

But faced with a statutory spending cap, lawmakers are trying everything possible to free up general fund money for schools, the university system and other programs.

Assembly Ways and Means restored the fee hikes Saturday with members saying that saves general fund for other purposes and puts the cost on those businesses which benefit from the inspections.

Without comment, members of the Republican dominated Finance committee unanimously did the same Monday.

Senate Finance Chairman Bill Raggio, R-Reno, said in an earlier hearing the health and food service businesses that receive the benefits of those inspections should pay rather than effectively making all Nevadans cover the cost through the state general fund.

The Assembly committee has also restored fees in several other budgets, saving general fund money in the process. It remains to be seen if the Senate committee follows suit in those budgets.

Gibbons said after his election he opposes any tax or fee increases. He has threatened to veto legislation containing fee hikes.

These fees will be part of the legislation that implements the state budget. To block them, Gibbons would have to veto the budget.