Sen. Harry Reid gives flag to senior services center |

Sen. Harry Reid gives flag to senior services center

Linda Hiller

Harry Reid came to town last week to see firsthand what’s what.

“I get letters and phone calls, and reports from my staff, but I find the best way to learn about what is going on is to go home and visit,” Reid said in an interview at The Record-Courier in Gardnerville.

Reid said the month of August is an “out of Washington” period for federal legislators, and provides him with a perfect opportunity to visit the state he represents as senator. He is currently in his second Senate term, having served two terms previously in the U.S. Congress.

Reid was on a tour of northern Nevada, visiting Fallon Aug. 6 to dedicate a new substance abuse center building.

“I dedicated the beginning of the Fallon center 22 years ago, and now I’ve come back to dedicate the new building,” he said.

Following the Fallon stop, Reid traveled to Gardnerville to present the Douglas County Senior Center with a flag that had flown over the Washington D.C. capitol.

“It was great that he took the time to come here,” said Kathy Maidlow, senior center supervisor. She said the idea for the new flag came from the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8583.

Bill Schmidt, commander of VFW Post 8583, and Genevieve West, past president of the VFW women’s auxiliary, worked to get the new flag.

“It was Bill’s idea,” West said, “and we worked with him as a team. The really great thing about the ceremony was that afterwards Sen. Reid went inside to call Bingo.”

While he was at the senior center, Reid was asked about flood money recently allocated to several counties, including Douglas.

“When I was here in January, I saw the flooding firsthand. It was good to see the levee repaired,” he said, adding that one county official told him there was plenty of money now – the only problem was where to use it.

Reid was obviously happy with the recent budget agreement in Washington.

“This budget was historic,” he said. “The 1993 debate was all partisan, but since then, the economy has been so good and things have changed (in leadership in Washington), so the passage of the budget was bipartisan.”

Reid said the most significant aspects of the new budget involve health insurance for children, tax credits for families, Medicare extension and help for those wanting education beyond high school.

“In Nevada, 84 percent of high school graduates do not go on to college,” he said. “Only 16 percent of our grads are going to college.”

This new budget will provide Hope Scholarship tax credits and other incentives so more students can afford to go to college, he said.

“This is as important as the GI Bill of Rights was 50 years ago,” he said.

Another part of the newly-passed budget is the addition of preventive health services for Medicare enrollees, Reid said.

Added benefits are annual mammograms and pap smears for women, tests for colorectal cancer and prostate screenings for men, and a program to help patients manage their diabetes.

Reid said the new political climate in Washington, as evidenced by the budget agreement, makes him hopeful.

“I do hope we can continue on bipartisan lines,” he said.

Since returning to Nevada, several people asked him about the sonic booms, Reid said. Over the past several weeks, sonic booms caused by a SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance plane have rattled nerves and window panes across the state.

Another question Reid was asked by residents is the possibility of an eminent temporary nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain.

“I am confident that the president will veto that,” he said. “The president has said that science should determine where the best spot is for nuclear waste to go, not politics. I feel confident he will veto Yucca Mountain.”

In regard to the recent presidential summit at Lake Tahoe, Reid said the $50 million allocated by the president was a down payment on future federal involvement at the Lake.

“The federal government owns 75 percent of the land at Lake Tahoe,” he said. “It is important that they’ve assumed a role with both Nevada and California.”

Reid, father of five, told of another side of his career in politics – that of a family man.

“I’m a past PTA president at Doris Hancock Elementary School in Las Vegas” he said. “I was a team mom, too,” he added, referring to one of his children’s baseball teams.

Reid will continue his rural Nevada tour with visits to Elko, Winnemucca, Pahrump and other Nevada towns and cities.