Year in review for 2015 |

Year in review for 2015

Personnel fill sandbags at the Johnson Lane Volunteer Fire Department in July.
Brad Coman |


Cold temperatures and a Wednesday date reduced the crowd at the annual New Year’s Eve celebration at Stateline. Highway 50 through the casino corridor was closed for a half hour, and only eight people were taken into custody.

The face of Gardnerville is changing once more as demolition work began on the old Pyrenees Hotel next door to Sharkey’s on Jan. 5. The Pyrenees was mostly reduced to rubble by the next day.

At age 70, Alicia Powers added a world championship to her résumé after competing at the United Country Western Dance Council World Championship in Orlando, Fla.

A first-degree murder charge was filed Jan. 12 against a Gardnerville Ranchos man accused of causing the Jan. 10 death of his infant daughter. Trent Getty, 24, is still in custody in connection with the death of Ava with a trial scheduled for summer.

The man who killed Douglas High School graduate Lacee Shupe was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole on Jan. 16. Shupe was killed July 1, 2013, by a roommate who was being evicted.

Gas taxes, sales taxes and utility operator fees are three of the revenue sources the champions of Douglas County’s connectivity plan are exploring to pay for transportation improvements, proponents revealed on Jan. 20.

A meeting held by the Bureau of Land Management on Jan. 22 was the scene of a protest by a national animal rights group determined to stop the round-up of more than 200 horses in the Pine Nut Mountains.

A Lake Tahoe woman went on trial for murder on Jan. 27, accused of killing her husband on Feb. 23, 2014. Tatiana Leibel was convicted of shooting husband Harry and sentenced to 12-30 years in prison in April.


Douglas County commissioners appointed Kathy Lewis as Douglas County’s new clerk-treasurer on Feb. 5, after a search that lasted five months. Lewis will have to run for the office in 2016 to keep it.

The second 90 mph windstorm to strike in two months left 12,000 Douglas County residents without power on Feb. 6. The storm tore up roofs and downed fences across Carson Valley.

GE Bently employee Steve Byrne and his colleagues partnered with United Way and Sierra Nevada Journeys to pack 50 science-based activity kits for the second-graders at Minden Elementary School.

Operators of a proposed fish farm in Carson Valley made a presentation to the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce on Feb. 18. As of yet, no work has been conducted on the 270,000-square-foot plant located on Bently land, two miles east of Highway 88 at Dressler Lane.

Gardnerville fixture Gary Haberland bid farewell to his hometown after 64 years walking along Main Street. Haberland moved to a senior mobile home park in Sparks.

A lands bill proposed for Douglas County was introduced in the House of Representatives and the Senate on Feb. 12. The Douglas County Conservation Act of 2015, S. 472, was introduced in Congress by Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Carson City.

A man who admitted to vandalizing more than 17 homes, businesses and government offices was sentenced to three, six-month jail terms, on Feb. 20. Daniel Crawford apologized to the victims of the Dec. 12, 2014, rampage.

After 33 years with Douglas County Social Services, Manager Karen Goode retired on Feb. 20.

A proposal by a county road task force to establish a district to raise money for feeder streets prompted Johnson Lane residents gather on Feb. 28 to discuss creating their own district. That proposal prompted a petition in spring and was dropped by fall.


A meeting on a proposed 322-acre solar farm in the East Valley drew a crowd of opponents on March 2. The proposal on Bently land went to Douglas County commissioners on March 5 where it was defeated 4-1.

Thermal run game controllers, a Band-Aid that can alert paramedics to heart attacks or strokes and a portable milk re-pasteurizer were just a few of the inventions at Meneley Elementary School’s invention convention and science fair.

On March 4, Minden Town Board members prioritized a list of objectives for the Valley Vision Plan. While they ranked getting truck traffic off the main route through both towns second, their No. 1 objective is putting away enough money to make that happen.

Four Gardnerville crosswalks will get flashing lights to warn motorists they’re in use if a plan approved by Gardnerville and the Nevada Department of Transportation comes to fruition.

Deputy Scott Battcher and his partner live together, talk together, sing together and trust each other with their lives daily. Deputy Rony, a 10-year-old Czech Shepherd, retired March 10 after nine years with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.

The original owner of the property where Pine View Estates sits said March 13 it’s not his intention to evict the community’s residents. Mark Kizer said that he filed the lawsuit against more than 260 homeowners on Feb. 26 to clear up uncertainty around the title to the land.

Former Douglas High School coach Bill Coverley, who passed away March 14 at age 72 after a battle with cancer, still leaves a legacy that includes the 15 seasons between 1970-84. He compiled a 78-59-2 record, and in 1974, guided the Tigers to the only state football championship in school history.

Trading in his Chief Deputy District Attorney badge for a judge’s robe, Thomas Wayne Gregory will take the bench in the Ninth Judicial District Court starting April 13.

Calling the impact of the Affordable Health Care Act on East Fork Fire District’s ambulance service “devastating,” Chief Tod Carlini laid out the district’s budget for commissioners on March 24. Carlini said the act has cost the district’s ambulance service $500,000 since its inception.


What was supposed to be a cure for insomnia, sparked Mackenzie Jorgensen’s passion for the culinary arts, specifically baking. Mackenzie and classmate Alex Cazares put their baking skills to the test April 14-17 at the Nevada SkillsUSA competition in Reno.

Wink’s Silver Strike Lanes had been open for 20 minutes April 1 when it received its first regular customer. Andrew McLinden, 19, was the first person to throw a strike in the bowling alley since it closed Oct. 1, 2013.

A new superintendent could be named as soon as May 20 based on a search timeline discussed on Monday afternoon by Douglas County School District trustees during a special meeting.

By far the largest project proposed in Douglas County’s connectivity plan is the $25 million revitalization of Stateline moving Highway 50 out of the center of the casino core. On April 2, commissioners authorized staff to staff to write ordinances that would implement increases in the utility fee, gas and sales taxes to raise $4.4 million.

A new group pavilion topped the list of priorities set for Johnson Lane Park by Douglas County Parks & Recreation commissioners this week. The list for improvements included new playground equipment, tennis courts, a dog park and a variety of other improvements including a disk golf course.

For the first time in its history, the Carson Valley Business Showcase had room to stretch. After almost a decade and a half at the fairgrounds, the showcase was held in the Douglas County Community & Senior Center on April 16.

Tourism officials and businesspeople from across the state haunted Nevada’s first town on April 15, as the 25th Rural Roundup arrives in Carson Valley for the first time in the 21st Century. About 250 are signed up to attend the annual tourism conference.

Nearly a year after new data showed the population of bistate sage grouse was relatively stable, the U.S. Department of Fish & Game announced the bird won’t be listed as an endangered species. At an April 21 press conference, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said the bistate, or Mono Basin, population of the greater sage grouse is not warranted for listing.

When the “new” Sharkey’s Casino opened its doors for business at mid-day April 23, patrons were greeted by a new look that was blended with the old.


Ducks are splashing around in the Gilman Avenue ponds after water was released into the Martin Slough on May 1. The ponds were dry as a bone a week ago, and the ducks wandering in search of wetter circumstances.

Hoop skirts, spurs and guitars swished, clanked and twanged throughout the streets of Genoa as the fifth annual Cowboy Festival transported the town back in time on May 1.

Not living up to its original vision hasn’t hurt the Carson Valley Country Club a bit.

The Basque restaurant and bar is celebrated its 50th anniversary with an old-fashioned dinner May 15.

The contractor who worked on the Hard Rock Casino sued the property’s owners for nonpayment of $9.6 million on May 4 in Douglas County District Court. SMC Construction Co. said work on the property was double the original bid due to changes made when the casino affiliated with Hard Rock.

A single rumpled burlap sack that fell from the sky above Holland 70 years ago has connected two Carson Valley residents for a lifetime. Former U.S. Army Air Force pilot Clarence Godecke, 95, dropped that sack into the backyard of Garry Den Heyer, 81, who was a small boy living in Sheveningen, a district within southern Holland’s The Hague. The two men sat down together on May 8, the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

The first class of sixth-graders to attend Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School toured the school as fifth-graders on May 8.

A proposal for a solar voltaic facility north of Muller Lane was narrowly approved by Douglas County planning commissioners on May 12. The 260-acre power generation plant met substantial public opposition for the second attempt at an approval at the planning commission.

First-grade teacher Stephanie McMillen, 40, was named Douglas County teacher of the year, taking home the Golden Apple Award.

A drought emergency plan was just inches from being implemented at Douglas County’s Lake Tahoe water systems after what was described as the second longest drought since 1957.

Carson Valley resident and Nevada State Spelling Bee champion Daniel Taylor, 14, was the only student from Nevada to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee today in Washington, D.C.

Douglas County School Board trustees found a replacement for Superintendent Lisa Noonan in Human Resources Director Teri White. White would officially accept the job in June.

Douglas High School senior Lindsey Adams was practicing her graduation speech earlier on the day she received the news she was valedictorian. Hundredths of a percentage point separated herself, Olivia Abbott and Sedona Ewbank from the top spot. The trio was among nearly 360 seniors to graduate on May 29.


A third farmers market opened in the parking lot of the Sierra Gourmet Grill. The market joined the Lampe Park and Minden markets.

Work to widen Centerville Lane in Gardnerville from Highway 395 to Waterloo Lane for a bike lane could begin summer 2016. While that work includes widening the bridge at Cottonwood Slough, it stops at the East Waterloo Lane.

A no longer Basque Overland reopened on June 6 feeding residents after its nine-month renovation. The upstairs, which once boarded Basque sheepherders, is now home to several offices.

The aircraft flown by a famous Nevadan will be the centerpiece of an extension of a museum dedicated to the memory of the paratroopers who landed in Normandy on June 6, 1944, as part of the D-Day invasion. Minden resident Nancy Downey, the daughter of U.S. Sen. Howard Cannon, whose C-47 cargo plane “Stoy Hora” delivered paratroops as part of the invasion, was on hand at the D-Day Paratroopers Historical Center in Saint-Come-du-Mont, Normandy.

A man accused of burglarizing homes in Chichester Estates was arrested on June 9 after investigators determined his pattern and were waiting for him in the Gardnerville neighborhood. Christopher Bernal would eventually admit to the burglaries and be sentenced to 2-6 years in prison in October.

The long delayed expansion of the North Valley Wastewater Treatment Plant will have to happen by 2018 in order to meet demand, according to a report prepared for the county. County commissioners approved a financing plan and bonds to bring the plant up to snuff.

Demolition work began at the Bently Heritage site the week of June 19. Nonhistorical portions of the property including two large metal buildings, the back of the Minden butter building and the corrugated metal portions of the old flour mill were taken down during the year.

Top-rated Gardnerville glider pilot Rick Walters was killed on June 16 when he lost control of his bicycle on the Blue Lakes Loop and struck his head.

A Fort Bragg, Calif., woman drowned on June 17 at Topaz Lake. It had been the first drowning at the lake since 2012 when a Topaz man drove his Jeep into the water south of the state line.

A Johnson Lane man’s 2014 attempt to shoot his wife of 63 years while she lie paralyzed at Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center was ruled to be without malice by the Carson City District Attorney’s Office. Prosecutors dismissed the case against 89-year-old William Dresser.

Residents of historic Markleeville were told they would get plenty of warning to evacuate as the Washington Fire burned to within a few miles of town.

A lightning strike knocked out electricity to more than 2,800 NV Energy customers in Gardnerville and the Gardnerville Ranchos on June 29. Electricity was not restored to some customers until after midnight. Thunderstorms raged across the Valley knocking out power and setting a few small fires.


County commissioners denied a second solar farm, this time on Muller Lane, only to be sued in district court. Geenstone Renewables is asking a judge to overturn the July 2 denial.

The first rainfall recorded in Carson Valley in 30 years on the Fourth of July doused some celebrations. Subsequent flooding was reported all over Carson Valley the following week. High water rolled through Johnson Lane for three days July 8-10.

A fire wiped out the inventory at the Dollar Store & Party Connection on July 11. The business was still closed in December.

Despite fire and flood, the 35th Tour of the California Alps, also known as the Death Ride, saw waves of cyclists participate on July 11.

A proposal to use a Gardnerville Ranchos church into a counseling center and dining room offering free meals 2-3 days a week was denied by Douglas County Planning Commissioners on July 14. Friends In Service Helping is proposing a new use at the home of Great Life Church.

Bears know that Wednesday is trash collection day along the western edge of Carson Valley. State Wildlife Biologist Carl Lackey said he has seen a handful of addresses where bears have knocked over trash cans along Foothill Road looking for food. It was a busy summer for Lackey and state wildlife officials as the drought drove hungry bears into the urban areas.

Gardnerville Ranchos resident Mark Perkins was killed by Douglas County sheriff’s deputies who responded to his home with an arrest warrant on July 30. Perkins allegedly pointed a weapon at members of the Special Weapons and Tactics team. Results of the investigation may not be available until January.


July’s flooding in northwestern Carson Valley didn’t rise to the level of a disaster by federal standards, but that didn’t mean that it wasn’t a disaster for the people who were affected. A score of residents excoriated commissioners on Aug. 6 after hearing a presentation on the flooding.

There was a moment of silence on Aug. 10 in memory of retired District Judge Norm Robison, who was the first judge to sit on the Department II bench. Robison died Aug. 9 at age 78.

Planning commissioners denied a permit for the first large project to be proposed since the Great Recession on Aug. 11. Planning commissioners voted 5-1 on Tuesday to deny a 250-unit development on the northern portion of the Corley Ranch.

Splash Dogs returned to Gardnerville’s Heritage Park for a second year on Aug. 14.

A dozen Douglas County officers responded Aug. 15 to the shooting in Carson City that claimed the life of Deputy Carl Howell.

The new Douglas High School campus was unveiled on Aug. 17 when students arrived for the first day of classes. It was the first time since 1994 the Douglas enrollment included freshmen.

The second shooting involving a domestic dispute in three days resulted in a man being hospitalized with life-threatening injuries on Aug. 18.

Business came to a screeching halt in Carson Valley on Aug. 20 as residents and shopkeepers stepped outside to watch the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds streak across the sky. The Minden-Tahoe Airport Aviation Roundup Aug. 22-23 drew a crowd of 30,000. The Thunderbirds are due back in 2017.

A lawsuit challenging Douglas County’s ownership of the Jobs Peak Ranch water system was remanded back to district court by the Nevada Supreme Court. The parties are working on a settlement.


The first of two murals one either side of Sharkey’s Casino were installed on Sept. 1 as Gardnerville Town Board members discussed a Basque mural for the side of the Mason’s Building.

An elderly Chichester Estates couples’ deaths were ruled suicides. William and Phyllis Lewis had been married for more than 60 years and had lived in their home on Edlesborough Circle.

In the 50 years the Gardnerville Ranchos General Improvement District has existed, it has apparently never owned the 25 miles of roads its residents pay to maintain. On Sept. 3, Douglas County commissioners confirmed that while the county owns the roads, it’s the responsibility of the various districts to maintain them within their boundaries.

Memorial kites with names of lost friends, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and grandchildren lined the Carson Valley Museum & Cultural Center sidewalk in an effort to bring awareness to the effects of suicide. With the theme of “Walk Your Heart Path,” nearly 150 people participated in the Sept. 12 event sponsored by Suicide Prevention Network of Douglas County.

Carson Valley ranchers donated more than 50 tons of hay to help feed animals left homeless by the California fire near Jackson. Coordinated by the Stodieck family, ranches across the Valley contributed to the effort.

A glider designed to fly to 90,000 feet had its first test flight on Sept. 23 in Redmond, Ore. The Perlan II was towed into the air by a Soaring NV Pawnee piloted by Silvio Ricardi. The glider returned to Minden in November.

With good weather and a big crowd, Candy Dance 2015 on Sept. 26-27 was one for the record books.


Only two of the three taxes proposed to fund the county’s connectivity plan were approved by county commissioners at their Oct. 8 first reading. By the second reading in November, only the nickel gas tax survived.

Hope Valley’s colorful aspens have been enough to stop traffic on Highway 88 during weekends in October. While a lack of frost and a fourth year of drought have made the color harder to find, warm temperatures on Oct. 10-11 made searching for golden leaves a great way to experience the Sierra valley.

A Gardnerville Ranchos woman was shot down in the street in front of her house by her own son early on Oct. 13, investigators said. Michelle Kozlowski, 50, was the victim in the shooting. Her son Jarek Kozlowski allegedly fired at deputies and was in turn wounded. Jarek would be dead by the end of the week from a cause unrelated to his injuries.

Help poured in for the four children of a Johnson Lane man who was killed in a vehicle rollover east of Fallon on Oct. 17. Former Douglas County Deputy Mark Hounsell, his wife Jeanne Hounsell, and a friend, Laura Fisher, were killed in the wreck. All four children were in the vehicle and were injured.

Threats made by a runaway China Spring inmate started a social media firestorm on Oct. 15, but also cut short his freedom as he was taken into custody three hours after an alert was issued warning parents about the threats.

On Oct. 20, Sheila Kendrick became only the second Main Street program manager in Nevada. Main Street Minden announced that Kendrick, who had been the program’s interim manager, would be taking the job. Gardnerville is home to the only other Main Street program in the state.

More than three years after a fire rendered a home in their neighborhood uninhabitable, Saratoga Springs residents are seeking the property’s sale.

The home at 1162 Aqua Caliente Court caught fire on May 12, 2012. On Oct. 21 it became the property of the Saratoga Springs Estates Homeowners Association after no one bid on it.

In an effort to generate revenue and change the look of Highway 395, the Washoe Tribe is building a place for travelers to stop, and people to gamble. The tribe broke ground for a new casino on Oct. 29, which will go right next to their travel plaza at 1001 Highway 395 South.

The Nevada Day Parade fell on Nevada’s actual birthday of Oct. 31 this year. Douglas County had a number of entries in the parade this year.


A score of calls from motorists either involved in minor accidents or stuck in the snow on Kingsbury Grade kept authorities busy and traffic snarled on Nov. 2. The first winter storm of the season came in early on the Grade, which had up to an inch of snow by 8 a.m.

After a five-year battle with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to get those maps revised, residents got a chance to look at the new maps at a Flood Awareness Week event on Nov. 5. About 800 homes will be removed from the flood plain by new maps, but those homeowners will still be required to pay for flood insurance until the maps become effective around June 2016.

Carson Valley began paying tribute to veterans on Nov. 9 who served on land, at sea and in the air, with celebrations continuing through Veterans Day. East Side Memorial Park raised more than 60 American flags to surround the cemetery.

For the first time in 87 years, there are no fuel tanks in the Gardnerville S-Curve.

Fuel tanks at the Gardnerville gas station were pulled on Veterans Day and hauled off.

With the weather starting to cool down and temperatures dropping into the teens at night, many people find that their pipes are freezing or bursting. The weather changed so rapidly, with record high heat on Halloween to a freeze only a few days later, and people should be aware of the dangers frozen pipes pose.

Skiers lined up as both Heavenly and Kirkwood ski resorts opened on Nov. 14 thanks to early season snow. It was the earliest the resorts have opened since 2012, and the first time opening six days ahead of schedule since at least 2009.

Eighty students representing Douglas High School’s Block D letterman’s club were businesslike as they scurried in pursuit of their goal on Nov. 17. They poured through the aisles at Smith’s Food and Drug store as part of the club’s annual “Turkey Drive” to assist the Carson Valley Community Food Closet.

When Douglas County’s Justice & Law Enforcement Center opened in 1982, there were just under 20,000 people living here. A third of a century later, the building is slightly more than a third too small for everything that goes on there now, Douglas County’s Scott McCullough told county commissioners on Nov. 19.

The Douglas Tigers came out on top on the scoreboard, 50-48, in a coed game played for fun and funds before a crowd of 300-plus that turned out at Randy Green Court to benefit the Peace Officer’s Memorial Fund for the families of two local officers who died in recent months. The inaugural Douglas vs. Carson Staff Charity Basketball Game followed tradition Nov. 19 in Minden.

A Gardnerville woman was killed in a Nov. 27 collision at Highway 88 and Mottsville Lane. The wreck occurred after an earlier collision knocked out the traffic signal.


Rainy weather didn’t discourage Gardnerville residents from enjoying fireworks at the 10th annual Christmas Kick-off on Dec. 3. Minden celebrated its Weihnachts festival with German food and the lighting of its gazebo, while Genoans caroled all on Dec. 4.

The Active 20-30 Club No. 85 of Carson Valley served as grand marshals of the 20th edition of the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Parade of Lights on Dec. 5.

While formation of a new redevelopment area at Stateline will affect future revenues for agencies that rely on property tax at Lake Tahoe, that didn’t slow down Douglas County planning commissioners recommendation of the plan 7-0 on Dec. 8. If all goes well, the area could be in place by the end of February 2016.

A 12-hour event from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Dec. 11 collected more than 176,683 pounds of food to be donated to the Carson Valley Community Food Closet.

A group of teenagers learned the value of paying it forward Dec. 12 as Project Santa Claus shifted into its second phase of bringing Christmas to 314 Carson Valley families. The teens helped wrap some of the hundreds of books and toys donated by the community.

A stocking stuffer in the shape of a pair of checks for more than $112,000 from the Dean Seeman Foundation made Family Support Council of Douglas County’s Christmas a lot brighter on Dec. 16.