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Looking ahead at the 2021 board of commissioners

by John Engels Douglas County Commission Chairman

We residents of Douglas County are all immigrants escaping government tyranny. Whether you were one of the original settlers escaping Europe or a recent immigrant escaping the tyranny of California government we have all settled here in Douglas County. We all have developed a common appreciation for the magnificent beauty our county provides us.

Unfortunately as of late our county has been exposed to evil. In the past five years two ladies who were residents of the Gardnerville Ranchos were shot at point blank range by an individual who was morally evil. Approximately two years ago Douglas County Sheriff Sgt. Miller got into a point blank gunfight with a criminal and took rounds to his hand. Recently Douglas County Sheriff Sgt. Lenz was in a gunfight with a criminal and was shot in the neck.

Without prejudicing these cases all I can say is that there is evil lurking among us. I want to make it perfectly clear that I stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Sheriff Coverly, the men and women of the sheriff’s office, the district attorney who will prosecute these people and the judges and staff of the East Fork courts.



These are the people who stand between us and the tyranny of evil and complete chaos.

The one common thread, this commissioner has learned with the folks living here, is they want to have the county of Douglas maintain its rural character. We cannot have it both ways either massive development or rural. The congestion on our local roads, in our supermarkets and our local medical facilities are now stretched to a breaking point.



We have been hearing bogus solutions from shallow men whose proclivity is they want to keep the area rural but their actions dictate otherwise. For months we have been subjected to self-isolation because of this COVID-19 virus. Our board meetings have been restricted to Zoom that allows limited public interaction to discuss county topics. It is very important that you vote for commissioners who are men of virtue and represent your values. If they do not represent your values then vote them out and try the next person as your commissioner. In a big city you cannot do this but in our county you can talk with your neighbors or directly to a candidate.

Two years ago I wrote a “treatise” about bringing movie production companies to our area. They had been here before but over the years seemed to have forgotten about the majestic beauty of our area. The Northern Nevada Development Authority picked up on this and there is now a full court press to make Hollywood aware of Northern Nevada including our county. It seems to be working as there was a production company in Minden last summer. There are now other inquiries coming in about doing productions here. This has huge financial potential for our area. Lodging, catering, tourism, etc., and it does not have a negative impact on our environment. Douglas County is like a giant back lot.

One of the wonders we have in our county is Lake Tahoe. The casinos, the skiing the breathtaking beauty of the area is unsurpassed to anywhere in the world. What we have is the Monaco of the United States right at our portion of the Lake. This geographical setting can be capitalized on as there is no other place like it on Earth. Edgewood has done a marvelous job attracting top names to its golf tournament. It would be beneficial to have the other casinos learn from Edgewood instead of playing casino monopoly. Attract a world poker tournament or something of this nature.

Vacation home rentals at the lake have gotten out of control due to lack of code enforcement. This is about to end. A completely revamped office of code enforcement is in the process being established. This is different from law enforcement. There are new code enforcement officers working the streets now with more on the way. They carry badges and will receive the support of the county. No VHRs will be allowed in the valley. Zoning for single family residential means what it says and VHRs are clearly a commercial endeavor.

Over 40 percent of VHR owners are out of state. They should have more consideration for full-time residents at the lake. We cannot control this but we can vigorously have code enforcement.

Water in our aquifers supply all our water no matter where you live in Douglas County except at the lake. This is a precious commodity as Nevada is the driest state in nation. It cannot be argued that the water in our aquifers is finite. Minden is pumping 1 million gallons of water per day to Carson City. That’s 365 million gallons a year. We need to learn what is replacing this huge draw down from the aquifer. A USGS study needs to be conducted regarding aquifer water in the Carson Valley.

Although water was mentioned in this new master plan it needs to become a major component of the master plan. State and federal agencies need to provide in depth studies of our aquifers. 

Development in the Carson Valley is overwhelming our roads, water systems and has been running amok with a hodge podge of developments. In this year’s master plan an architectural oversight component was introduced. The county’s title 20 needs a comprehensive review for the Carson Valley. The Lake Tahoe area has a completely different set of building codes.

Administratively the county needs to continue with financial austerity. Look for ways to control and cut unnecessary expenses. If items are not in the budget as expenses then do not spend the money.

Commissioners have a fiduciary responsibility to hold the line on expenses not in the budget.

Commissioners have a full plate of work ahead of them.

John Engels is chairman of the Douglas County Board of Commissioners.