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Carson judge rules against state on tax approvals without two-thirds majority

Republicans challenging approval of the extension won an early round when Carson City District Judge Tod Russell ruled in their favor today.

“Today the Nevada Citizens and the Constitution they voted for won in court when the judge said you can’t violate the two-thirds vote requirements they put into effect,” tweeted Sen. James Settelmeyer, R-Minden.

“We appreciate the District Court ruling that passage of Senate Bill 542 and Senate Bill 551 violated the Nevada Constitution,” Nevada Republican Senate Caucus Executive Director Greg Bailor said.

Nevada’s constitution requires a two-thirds majority in each house in order to raise taxes.

Among the organizations challenging the new laws were the  Nevada Trucking Association, the Retail Association of Nevada, the Nevada Franchised Auto Dealers and the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

During the 2019 session, the Legislative Counsel Bureau issued an opinion that said the Legislature could extend fees that were supposed to sunset, such as the Commerce Tax, by a majority.

The lawsuit was initiated by the Senate Republican Caucus. 

It is likely that the state will appeal the decision to the Nevada Supreme Court.

Rolph Sidney Ericsson

Rolph Sidney Ericsson, 81, of Gardnerville Nevada, passed away on September 19, 2020 and is in the trusted care of Autumn Funerals & Cremations (775)888-6800.

2020 V&T Polar Express canceled due to coronavirus

As a result of COVID-19, V&T Railway Commission has announced that the Polar Express, has been canceled for the 2020 season.

In its place, V&T Railway will host Santa’s Drive-Thru Village, a socially distanced holiday event, Dec. 11-13 and Dec. 18-24.

The event, which is $20 per vehicle, will begin at 6 p.m. each day with the final vehicles taken at 9 p.m. at the Eastgate Depot in Carson City. Fans of Polar Express rides will still be able to enjoy the magic from the comfort of their home by purchasing virtual Polar Express VIP packages or can secure tickets for the 2021 season. To reserve vouchers or for more information, call 877-724-5007 or visit www.vtrailway.com.

“While we are saddened to cancel Polar Express this year, we are excited to introduce Santa’s Drive-Thru Village and a virtual Polar Express VIP package, two events that will keep the holiday magic alive,” said Elaine Barkdull-Spencer, general manager for V&T Railway. “Santa’s Drive-Thru Village will be a socially-distanced event where guests can visit Santa’s North Pole home from the safety of their car.”

The drive-through event, which will take place at the Eastgate Depot, will include a brilliant light show and feature Santa, Mrs. Claus, and dozens of elves busy at work as they prepare for Christmas. Guests are encouraged to wear their favorite holiday pajamas and bring hot chocolate as they travel through the North Pole experience. The event will run from 6-9 p.m. Dec. 11-13 and Dec. 18-24 and will be $20 per car. Guests can reserve vouchers by calling 877-724-5007 or visiting www.vtrailway.com

“This year, we’re also introducing a virtual Polar Express package which will allow guests to experience the magic of the train from the comfort of their home,” continued Barkdull-Spencer. “Our drive-thru vouchers and Polar Express packages will make wonderful gifts for the holidays and will include all the keepsakes received on the actual train ride. They’ll also be available for pickup or delivery beginning November 15.”

The virtual Polar Express VIP Packages include four ceramic 2020 souvenir mugs with hot chocolate mix, four large Polar Express cookies, four silver bells, four golden tickets, a copy of the Polar Express movie and a letter from Santa. Packages can be purchased through www.vtrailway.com for $75, plus shipping or can be picked up in person at the Eastgate Depot beginning Sunday, Nov. 15. Additional sets, which include a mug, cookie, bell, and ticket, are available for $20 apiece.  

For more information on the upcoming events, visit www.vtrailway.com. For the latest updates on the V&T Railway, find us on Facebook and Instagram

Saturday is Nevada State Parks fee-free day

Nevada residents and visitors are invited to celebrate Nevada Public Lands Day on Sept. 26 with a “fee-free” day at Nevada’s State Parks. Park fees, including entrance, camping (Saturday night) and boating, where applicable, will be waived at state parks throughout Nevada.

Nevada Public Lands Day encourages Nevadans to discover the many exciting and affordable recreation opportunities right in their own backyards. “Nevada’s state parks offer an exciting line-up of outdoor opportunities,” said State Parks Administrator Bob Mergell. “For example, visitors can discover the rich history of the Ward Charcoal Ovens, tour a genuine ghost town at Berlin-Ichthyosaur or spend a relaxing afternoon fishing at Spring Valley.”

Visitors are reminded to please recreate responsibly while visiting a Nevada State Park. 

  • Recreate locally and close to home.
  • Separate yourself and honor the social distance of others.
  • Avoid crowded parks and trailheads.
  • Wear a face covering or mask inside all Visitor Centers, Museums, Gift Shops, Park Offices or while outdoors when social distancing is not possible.
  • Avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people.
  • Limit interactions to members of your household.
  • Stay home when you’re sick.
  • Keep parks and facilities clean by following principles of Leave No Trace
  • Know and follow all current fire restrictions.

For more information, visit parks.nv.gov and follow @NVStateParks on Facebook.

Tahoe man in custody after Monday morning pursuit

A Lake Tahoe man was taken into custody Monday morning after he allegedly fled from police in a stolen vehicle.

Thadd Winton, 31, was stopped in a 2001 Lincoln Navigator on Highway 50 in Douglas County after he crossed the state line into Nevada.

The Navigator was allegedly reported stolen, and South Lake Tahoe police were pursuing the vehicle, when Douglas County deputies took over at around 6:45 a.m.

Winton allegedly has a suspended drivers license.

The vehicle was recovered and the owner called to come pick it up.

Tahoe stabbing results in manhunt

Two men are accused in a stabbing that occurred around 10:55 p.m. Friday at the Harrah’s Valet in Stateline.

Deputies who responded to the incident said one man, Israel Medina, 29, was booked in connection with the incident. The other suspect in the stabbing fled above the treeline at Stateline.

According to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, deputies found a group of people at the Harrah’s Parking Lot valet entrance where a man was sitting on the ground in a pool of blood.

The deputy at the scene of the stabbing said the victim was awake, but lost a lot of blood. Because medics were delayed, the deputy put the man in his patrol car and while driving to meet the ambulance found a second man with a knife wound to his arm.

Both men were transferred to a Tahoe-Douglas ambulance and taken to Barton Memorial Hospital for treatment. While gathering witness statements at the scene a third man was found to have been injured in the case.

Meanwhile, witnesses pointed out where the assailants had gone. One man was described as wearing all black and another wearing a white shirt, black pants and white shoes.

Deputies received information that the suspect in the white shirt entered Tahoe Vapory, where they found Medina standing in the shop.

He was taken into custody at gunpoint. According to the deputy he had blood spots on his shirt and a black shoe print hear his abdomen.

Medina denied involvement in the stabbing while being booked, according to the sheriff’s report. He posted bail over the weekend and was released from jail.

Lights, camera … litigate

Appearing online, whether for a court hearing or a work meeting, has become unavoidable and the new norm for many. Amusing or adorable, accidental “appearances” by a video conference participant’s spouse, child, or pet are no longer endearing. Also, in addition to being aware of one’s look, behavior, and surroundings, the quality of the video appearance is equally important in times when one’s success depends on their video appearance and the quality of their video presence.

The obvious requirement is to test the camera and microphone prior to the appearance to ensure that they are in working order. It is unprofessional, embarrassing, and can be detrimental to one’s case to be unable to connect, appear, or be heard.

The camera should be at eye level to create an appearance of eye contact, like in real life. This can be achieved with an adjustable camera or by simply setting the laptop on top of a stack of books or a small box. Steady video and consistent eye contact help to get arguments across effectively.

Lighting should be adequate. An overhead light or light behind one’s back creates an impression of a silhouetted shadow speaking on camera. Initially, daylight or room light may have been sufficient, but if the next few months require regular videoconference appearances, then looking professional and ensuring that facial expressions and body language are visible is important to communicate effectively. Consequently, ring lights have become very popular. A ring-shaped light positioned in front of one’s face reduces shadows on the face and creates more consistent lighting.

Uninterrupted sound is equally necessary to appear professional. A broken-up and distorted voice takes away from even the best crafted argument as it cannot be heard fully and accurately. Generally, default microphones on laptops are sufficient. However, especially with multiple participants, it helps to mute one’s microphone as others speak to avoid feedback.

During a video call, the focus should be on the participant, not his or her surroundings. Therefore, it is important to preview what will be visible during the call. A simple, even if dull, background is preferred over pretentious artwork, furniture, or other unexplained items that distract the viewer. A video call should not be a window into one’s private life but only a way to effectively convey points and arguments.

Most people are not used to appearing on camera and therefore are unaware that certain mannerisms impact how effective the video presence may be. Lounging, bouncing, stretching, too often scratching or touching one’s face, repeated affirmation sounds, and eating or drinking do not present well during a video conference.

All that considered, performing an equipment check and examining one’s look and surroundings prior to the video appearance is a good idea. It can be done during a less formal call with friends or even by calling a family member in the next room to confirm that the lighting is accurate, the sound is good, and the background and behavior are not distracting. This quick task can save the embarrassment of an unfortunate appearance in times when one’s success depends on one’s performance.

Natalia Vander Laan is a Minden attorney and owner of Vander Laan Law Firm

The Sept. 21, 2020, R-C Morning Report

Genoa, Nev. — It’s pine nut harvest season on Nevada’s public lands. Families can gather up to 25 pounds of pine nuts on BLM and Humboldt-Toiyabe lands without a permit. Keep in mind that doesn’t include Washoe Tribe allotment lands. Call the Carson District Office 885-6000.

Eleven new cases of coronavirus were reported over the weekend, bringing Douglas County to 27 active cases as of Sunday night. The county has had 294 cases and one death since March. Community testing is 8-11 a.m. Thursday at the Sunridge Fire Station.

Air quality is moderate this morning at 79, though the bar graph shows it creeping up a bit from last night. Visibility at Minden-Tahoe Airport is 10 miles. 

Firefighters have a line around 84 percent of the Slink Fire and should have it contained by Saturday. There are a few corners on the fire’s southwestern flank that are still smoldering.

Expect hazy conditions and a high temperature of 84 degrees. The wind will pick up out of the west at 10-15 mph, gusting to 30 mph.

Kurt Hildebrand is editor of The Record-Courier. Reach him at khildebrand@recordcourier.com

Kingslane sidewalk project clears another snag

If all Gardnerville had to do was lay a sidewalk along Highway 395 south of the entrance of Kingslane, it would have been done years ago.

But because the project involves one of Carson Valley’s major sloughs and is in the flood plain, it has taken all that time to get to the point where the town can start work.

On Monday, members of the Douglas County Water Conveyance Committee signed off on installing a concrete box culvert to replace the two metal culverts that transport water in Martin Slough.

The slough is actually an open ditch downstream from Kingslane and installing the culvert should help reduce flooding in downtown Gardnerville.

The committee rejected the plan last spring because there wasn’t an agreement between the town and Kingslane delineating maintenance responsibilities.

The town plans to replace the two 30-inch culverts with 150 feet of concrete box culvert, which will increase capacity.

Conveyance Committee Chairman Frank Godecke said that usually he’s in favor of replacing dual culverts, but that he was concerned that there wouldn’t be sufficient flow to keep the box culvert from silting up.

Work on the project will have to wait until next year’s irrigation season has been completed.

The sidewalk in Gardnerville essentially ended at the Kingslane entrance because that’s where the town ended for many years. The mall located south of the project was built in this century and Lampe Corners was built in the late 1990s.

The project also includes a rapid beacon crosswalk sign, to make it safer for residents to cross.

Around $500,000 is budgeted for the entire project.

Shaping art in Carson Valley

Nestled at the base of the Carson Range in Carson Valley lies a 34-acre ranch offering a summer retreat for select sculptors to live and create.

The Buffalo Creek Art Center began to take shape in 2016 when the namesake ranch was acquired by Zephyr Cove residents Steve and Lana Hardy. Steve, the founder of a pair of finance and software companies and a lifelong woodworker, found a new hobby in multimedia sculpting about a decade ago, so when the Hardys purchased Buffalo Creek Ranch, Lana knew exactly how the couple should use it.

“She said, ‘You always like to talk with artists when we go to art shows, you’re always working on your sculptures by yourself, and you’d probably really enjoy having a lot of artists around during the summer,’” recalls Steve.

The property was already an artist’s paradise: It boasted an orchard, vineyard, aspen groves, 10 small ponds, eight waterfalls, a nature trail and a pasture to roam in. The 3,000-square-foot, 4-bedroom home on the property became the artists’ living quarters, and the 5,000-square-foot shop that formerly housed tractors was turned into a metal sculpting and ceramic studio with all of the necessary equipment. Steve built a 3,000-square-foot woodworking shop and transformed the existing “train depot” with a restored 1923 caboose into a gallery and artists’ library, respectively.

In 2017, with the Buffalo Creek Art Center certified as a nonprofit, the Hardys welcomed their first round of sculptors for the summer, a mixture of artists invited by Steve and those who applied to the residency online.

“There are thousands of artist residencies all over the world,” says Steve. “But what’s unique about ours is that it is only available to sculptors whereas a lot of artist residencies will have painters and writers and musicians. We also have the space to make really large sculptures, which isn’t always the case.”

John Melvin, an eco artist who creates multimedia sculptures to spark dialogue on ecological change, was one of the first artists to work at Buffalo Creek. Steve commissioned him to create a piece for the center’s 8-acre sculpture park, and over the course of the summer, Melvin constructed “Helix.” Sitting beside a pond with the mountains in the background, the 30-foot wooden sculpture is inspired by DNA’s double helix and the genetic overlap we have with everything from chimpanzees to plants.

“I’m quite honored to have it there,” says Melvin. “It’s my first fully permanent sculpture, and the door that Steve opened, opened many more doors for me since.”

Jessica Bodner, a metal sculptor from Montana, resided at Buffalo Creek in 2018 during a heavy wildfire season. Inspired by the “ethereal glow” of the moon through the smoke and haze, she created a 12-by-10-foot yellow metal moon sculpture called “Balsa Luna,” which translates to “Moon Boat.” It is another of the sixteen large-scale sculptures now living in Buffalo Creek’s sculpture park.

“There are very few residency programs that offer sculptors in particular (especially metal sculptors) a space and tools to work, a great property and a wonderful experience,” says Bodner. “The staff is especially welcoming, and you are basically creating art in a working orchard and vineyard.”

For Phoenix metal sculptor Hector Ortega, his time at Buffalo Creek has opened up opportunities to help other artists in their process. After creating the abstract metal piece “The Four Agreements” in 2018 for the sculpture park, Ortega created several more pieces while helping outfit the metal studio and aiding other artists. Steve has since asked Ortega to come live at the center every summer to create more art and help the new sculptors, and he’s agreed.

“Buffalo Creeks Art Center is a really special place. It’s one of the leaders in the sculpture world bringing large scale art to fruition from a varied pool of artists from all over the world,” says Ortega. “The support at the center, facilities and environment are amazing and bring participating artists a unique opportunity to realize their dreams, not only there on the grounds, but to continue to bring their art to the world.”

The art center is fully funded by the Hardys with no outside funding, and for sculptures that artists want to give to the sculpture park at Buffalo Creek, Steve will pay for the materials himself. Artists can stay for 4-, 6- or 8-week residencies, and usually about 15 artists come each summer.

“The only obligation on the part of the artist is they have to make something. They could make something for themselves, they could do it for a commision or gallery show,” explains Steve.

Though Buffalo Creek Art Center is not usually open to the public, from June through October when the artists are living and working there, the Hardys open up the ranch once a month for studio visits, which are announced through their email newsletter.

Now in its fourth year of operating the art residency, Steve continues to find inspiration from the artists coming through the ranch.

“You’re always getting inspiration from other people, what they do and how they do it, so it’s been really educational for me,” he says. “The residency gives artists a chance to get away from everyday distractions on a beautiful property and enjoy the comradery of other artists. I’m sure it’s helped me expand what I’m doing.”