| RecordCourier.com

2020 General Election guide

Click here to read the 2020 General Election guide.

2020 R-C Election Guide

Click here to read the 2020 General Election guide.

Richard Gertz Christensen

1930 – 2020

Richard Gertz Christensen passed away on Sunday, October 25, 2020 after reaching the age of 90. After months of declining health, he died of natural causes peacefully within his home in Gardnerville Nevada with his adoring children and God daughter (Rick, Claudia and Kristen) by his side.

Dick was born in 1930 in San Pedro, CA to Jens and Anna Christensen. As a boy Dick grew up bicycling to the nearest fire station and building anything he could get his hands on. He learned very early in life the value of working hard and preparing for the future. He spent a good deal of his days teaching himself how to build and fix all things.

While attending high school in 1948 he met the love of his life, Virginia Neal. After high school they got married and started their first life together building a family. For the next 30 years they would enjoy their time together and their children in San Pedro, CA. Dick accepted a role on the Los Angeles Fire Department where he was known as Crunchy throughout his working years. In his time away from the station he also co-owned an Auto Parts store in downtown San Pedro and become a Mastor Mason with the Masonic Lodge. Dick and Virginia also became avid skeet shooters and won more trophies than could fit on all their walls. Dick’s love of fixing things and helping people continued throughout. Dick retired from the LAFD in 1979 as an Engineer on Fireboat 2 in San Pedro.

In 1980 they started the next chapter in their lives when they moved to Gardnerville, NV. Virginia had always wanted horses so Dick being the kind and generous man he was did just that for her. Little did they know they would soon become Kerry Lane Farms where they would also raise and breed llamas for the next 40 years. Dick also found himself in the real estate business, riding horses, teaching himself how to own and manage a farm, enjoying many motorcycle trips around the US and spending most Sundays at the golf course. He and his wife also continued their foray into skeet shooting. At one point their farm housed geese, dogs, llamas, horses, cats and even the stray bear every once in a while. They also looked forward to the trips from their family. Many summers were spent with their grandchildren (Jennifer, Kimmie, Erik and Brianne) and Dick even had the opportunity to have their great grandchildren (Kade, Kyler, Maddie and Evan) on the farm with him. They built an amazing life with many amazing friends in an amazing town that they called home until the last moments on this earth.

When his beloved wife Virginia passed in 2010 he continued to care for his llamas and the family. He took it upon himself to make sure all his children and grandchildren were always cared for and loved. He also continued to fix anything that was broken, manage the farm, woke up early as not to waste the day, took motorcycle trips on Saturday, supported America and anything conservative, voted, loved having coffee with friends, was a great storyteller and loved having his family up to visit. He lived a full life and always said it was the one he would have chosen if he was given a choice.

Dick is survived by his children, Rick & (Jan ) and Claudia, four grandchildren, Jennifer, Kimmie & (Jonathan) Erik & (Jenny), and Brianne and four great grandchildren, Maddie, Evan, Kade and Kyler Richard (who is named after Dick).

Park Ranch unveils Buckeye Farms Agrihood

A proposed specific plan for 1,044 acres of Park Ranch Holdings land including 2,218 residential parcels and 48.3 acres of commercial zoning would more than double the size of the Town of Minden.

According to the town, there are roughly 1,700 housing units in the Douglas County seat with a population of 3,239 people.

The plan for Buckeye Farms Agrihood goes before the Minden and Gardnerville town boards this week.

Proposed to be built in five six-year phases over 30 years, each project would have its own planned development. David Park is the applicant.

Included in the proposal are 75 acres of land dedicated to Muller Lane Parkway’s right-of-way, 460 acres of preserved land, including 286 acres in the flood plain and native pasture and 575 acres in a conservation village.

The county is required to build two lanes of Muller Lane Parkway across the Park property prior to Dec. 5, 2025.

The plan includes 90 percent single-family units and 10 percent multi-family units.

In his analysis, Minden Manager JD Frisby said consideration should be given in the plan for a wider variety of housing types including multi-generational, senior and accessory dwellings.

Douglas County estimated 2,000 homes in the area for the traffic plan, but the specific plan doesn’t include an analysis to determine how it will affect traffic. 

The Park property is affected by both the Pinenut and Buckeye creek watersheds, however construction of Muller Parkway should deal with several of the town’s flooding issues, according to the report.

All of the residential and commercial proposed in the project are located in Minden, with Gardnerville seeing a large area of native pasture north of Chichester. The extension of Marion Russell Drive to Heybourne Road would be the only maintenance obligation for the Town of Gardnerville, according to manager Erik Nilssen.

In his report, Nilssen said he didn’t agree with a proposal allowing the project phases to be developed out of sequence.

“The development of projects out of sequence has been an issue to the Town of Gardnerville previously …” Nilssen said. “On the private side for farms and trails, the phasing plan does not state when anything will be completed, only initiated. This leaves an open invitation to leave phases unconstructed or in a semi-completed state.”

Nilssen acknowledged that the project will have a significant impact on Carson Valley, but not that much on Gardnerville itself.

According to the proposal, 9,000 acres of development rights would be transferred out of south Douglas County.

County seeks additional public input on master plan

Douglas County is seeking additional public input on the 2020 master plan update in the week leading up to a three-day session where county commissioners will discuss approving the plan.

Commissioners are scheduled to meet Dec. 9-11 on the draft plan, which is available for review at the Douglas County  website.  The plan was approved by planning commissioners on Nov. 17 and introduced to county commissioners on Nov. 19.  The text, tables, charts, pictures and diagrams have been updated in the 2020 proposed plan, along with changes to the overall format and organization of the elements within the document, county officials said.  

The proposed 2020 Master Plan text update is still in draft form and subject to review and modification by county commissioners. The agendas and materials for these meetings will be posted on the county’s website by 9 a.m. three days prior to the meetings.  

The public is asked to continue to review the proposed revisions and provide feedback.  Public comment on the master plan may be submitted during the meetings, by email or by setting up an appointment with the Community Development Department’s office. To offer public comment before the meeting, members of the public may submit comments by email to masterplan@douglasnv.us. Comments received by 4 p.m. the day prior to a public meeting will be posted as supplemental material by 5 p.m. on the county’s website. 

Additional questions or comments regarding the master plan can be submitted to Community Development Director Tom Dallaire or Planning Manager Sam Booth at 775-783-6015 or via email at masterplan@douglasnv.us.

  How to obtain a copy of the plan and related documents:

All information regarding the Master Plan can be found here.

The Dec. 1, 2020, R-C Morning Report

Genoa, Nev. — I worked into the night reading the reports on the Buckeye Farms Agrihood proposal going to the towns this week. Gardnerville is meeting virtually 4:30 p.m. today to discuss their sliver of the 2,218-unit project, which is mostly in Minden. You can participate in Gardnerville’s meeting by going to www.townofgardnerville.com and clicking on the agenda.

I received an email regarding Giving Tuesday from some outfit claiming that Census data showed Douglas County is Nevada’s most generous, which does not surprise me. 

There are many excellent causes here, but if I’m going to plug one, it’s going to be the dozens of Walker folks who lost their homes in the Nov. 17 fire. The Northern Mono Chamber of Commerce is collecting cash donations. You can find their information at www.northernmonochamber.com

County commissioners approved a new purchasing policy during a joint meeting with the audit committee on Monday. They accepted the annual financial report and heard a presentation on the internal audit program update.

As of Monday night, Douglas had 33 new coronavirus cases, bringing it to 467 active coronavirus cases, which is alarmingly close to the 545 recoveries reported by Carson City Health and Humans Services. Community testing will be at the Gardnerville Ranchos Fire Station on Mitch noon to 2 p.m. Dec. 8.

On Monday night, the school district confirmed a dozen cases of coronavirus affecting a small group at Douglas High, Pau-Wa-Lu Middle, Scarselli and Meneley elementary schools.

Expect another sunny day with a high of 48 degrees and the breeze at 5 mph out of the northwest this afternoon. 

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

Lighting the holidays stays closer to home

With the Parade of Lights and the towns’ tree and gazebo lightings off the table, it will be up to Douglas County residents to make their own spirits bright. But if they want some extra attention, here are some of the more organized lighting contests.

Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce Holiday Decorating Contest

View decorated doors, storefronts, and sidewalks of local businesses and residents this coming weekend, Dec. 5. For details visit, https://business.carsonvalleynv.org/events/details/holiday-decorating-contest-36732?calendarMonth=2020-12-01.

Participate in the first Holiday Decorating Contest and be entered into the following categories: Best Holiday Door, Most Creative, People’s Choice, and Best of Show. Judging will take place after dark on Dec. 5. Find a content application here, https://growthzonesitesprod.azureedge.net/wp-content/uploads/sites/1302/2020/11/Holiday-Dec-Cheer-Contest-Entry-Form-Flyer.pdf.

Douglas County Historical Society

Walk through the gallery of trees on display at the Carson Valley Museum and Cultural Center for the entire month of December. For hours of operation, visit http://historicnv.org/.

Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce Light Up the South Shore Holiday Lights Contest

Enter your home or business in the holiday lighting contest to compete for prizes in one of the five categories: Best in Show, The Clark Griswold Award, Best Window Display, Neighbor that Sleigh-d Award, and People’s Choice.

All entries will be included on a Holiday Light Tour map of the South Shore. Participants should be willing to share their home and/or business address (private residents will not have their names listed). You do not need to be a Chamber Member business to participate. Homes and businesses submitted for the competition will be collectively judged by the Merry & Bright Ambassadors on Dec. 21. Trophies will be awarded for each award category as part of the winning prize.

Sign up at https://bit.ly/LightUptheSouthShore

Virus turns off holiday lightings, including Parade of Lights

After consultation with the Douglas County officials, the towns, public safety agencies and Douglas County Emergency Management it was determined in-person public holiday events at the Towns of Gardnerville, Genoa, and Minden, as well as the 25th Annual Parade of Lights hosted by the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce have been cancelled. The action was deemed necessary for the safety of the community, due to the most recent State directive limiting public gatherings to no more than 50 people.

“This was a difficult decision.  We know how important these events are to our community, but this is necessary for our fight against this pandemic,” Douglas County Manager Patrick Cates. “Douglas County has seen a significant increase in the number of COVID-19 cases with positive testing rates increasing rapidly.  Hospitalizations for COVID-19 is increasing.  It is essential to do everything we can to reduce the spread and relieve the stress on our healthcare system until there is widespread availability of an effective vaccine.”

Cates said the increase in cases and the potential to overwhelm health care were factors in the decision.

On Monday night, Douglas saw 33 more cases and no recoveries.

“Due to the increase in cases and the tax on our healthcare system, now is the time to increase our vigilance,” said Cates. “We are staying apart now so that when we come together again no one is missing.”

Residents are urged to protect themselves, family, friends, health care workers and community by following these prevention measures:

•  Staying home except for essential needs/activities and following local and state public health guidelines when visiting businesses that are open

• Staying close to home, avoiding non-essential travel

• Keeping gatherings small, short and outdoors and limit them to those who live in your household

•  Wearing a face mask when out in public

• Washing hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds

• Avoiding touching eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands

• Covering a cough or sneeze with your sleeve, or disposable tissue and your hands afterward

• Avoiding close contact with people who are sick

• Staying away from work, school or other people if you become sick with respiratory symptoms like fever and cough

•  Answer the call if a contact tracer from your local health department tries to connect

For the most current information on COVID-19 in Douglas County including statistics and testing information visit https://gethealthycarsoncity.org/novel-coronavirus-2019/

New vaccine for free-range cattle protects against fetal calf loss

A new vaccine approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in September promises to turn the tide against Epizootic Bovine Abortion, also known as the foothill abortion disease, that has caused devastating losses in range cattle exceeding $10 million annually in California, Oregon and Nevada.

The vaccine, developed through extensive research at the University of Nevada, Reno and the University of California, Davis, was commercialized by Hygieia Biological Laboratories of Woodland, California, and is now available to the cattle industry. This license marks a pivotal advancement in decreasing those substantial calf losses and comes as the result of decades of work by generations of scientists and cattle producers.

“It was really neat to see the pieces come together over the years as a result of all the effort that was put into this project,” Mike Teglas, a partner in the project and a professor and veterinarian in the University of Nevada, Reno’s College of Agriculture, Biotechnology & Natural Resources, said. “I have a definite sense of satisfaction that I was able to play a role in the development of this vaccine.”

First described by U.C. Davis scientists in the 1950s in the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, the disease, EBA, only affects pregnant cattle and can be responsible for losses of up to 100% of the year’s calf crop in susceptible herds.

In 1985, U.C. Davis Professor Jeffrey Stott joined the faculty at the Veterinary School and began working on the disease with current collaborator Myra Blanchard, also of U.C. Davis Veterinary School.

“As a member of our research team and a faculty member in an instruction and research university, there could be no greater feeling – maybe a Nobel Prize would sit higher on the shelf – than seeing the results of our efforts,” Stott said. “We are all expected to conduct both instruction and research, but to create something that will have, and is already having, a major positive impact on the cow/calf industry is what makes this accomplishment so much more meaningful and rewarding.”

A decade of vaccine trials were conducted to establish the safety and efficacy of the product, which is now available commercially to the cattle industry through livestock veterinarians. The USDA Center for Veterinary Biologics issued the conditional license for the vaccine after two years of trials of the Hygieia product.

“The vaccine has proven safe and phenomenally effective; the fervor for its widespread availability is palpable among cattle producers,” Stott said. 

The decades of perseverance of the researchers on this project shows the value of land-grant universities to the communities they serve. 

“It’s translational research such as this that we all strive to achieve, completing our land-grant loop of research, education and outreach with a solid solution to a real-world problem,” Bill Payne, dean of the University of Nevada, Reno’s College of Agriculture, Biotechnology & Natural Resources, said. “It’s not just research for research’s sake. Mike’s untiring work over the long-haul, and the work of his predecessors, on identifying the disease and building a vaccine is impressive work that makes us all proud. Especially impressive is the team’s work with the relatively small pharmaceutical company to commercially produce this after the big companies shunned it for years because of (in their view) a relatively small, niche market for this particular disease.”

Industry representatives are also excited about the new vaccine.

“The licensing and availability of this vaccine is monumental for the beef cattle industry,” Mark Lacey, president of the California Cattlemen’s Association, said. “For generations producers have had to manage incredible losses from foothill abortion.

“From the University’s research, to the generous donations of cattlemen and the Livestock Memorial Research Fund, to the production and commercialization of the vaccine, it has been a long haul. I couldn’t be happier to say that we are finally here.”

Teglas has been leading the EBA research at the University of Nevada, Reno, since 2006, after leaving U.C. Davis where he had been studying the origins and causes of the disease as a graduate student. He continued the University’s long-time collaboration with lead researcher Jeffrey Stott and Myra Blanchard from the School of Veterinary Medicine at U.C. Davis. At that point Stott’s lab had utilized a molecular genetic technique to finally identify the pathogen that caused foothill abortion disease.

But earlier research on the cause of EBA had gone on for decades without success. Scientists were unable to identify a pathogen as the source of the disease and were unsure about how it was transmitted. In one old study, U.C. Davis researchers even housed pregnant cattle in pens hung 8 feet off of the ground in order to determine if flying insects versus those confined to the ground served as vectors for the disease.

“Eventually, researchers were able to pin transmission on the pajaroello tick, Ornithodoros coriaceus, a species of soft tick that is commonly found in the Sierra Nevada and coastal ranges of California,” Teglas, also an expert on tick-borne diseases, said. “The distribution of the disease mirrors the distribution of its tick vector and has now been identified in the mountainous regions of California, northern Nevada, southern Oregon and southern Idaho.”

In 1992, Stott and Blanchard had teamed up with University of Nevada, Reno Professors Mark Hall in the Center for Molecular Medicine and Don Hanks in the School of Veterinary Medicine to try to identify the agent causing the disease in an effort to develop a method to grow the pathogen in the lab.

In one experiment, using cattle at the University of Nevada, Reno’s 900-acre Main Station Field Laboratory at the east end of Reno, the team glued cloth hats – with a zipper sewn into the hats – onto the cattle; the zipper would be opened in order to pour 100 hungry pajaroello ticks into the hats to infect the cattle. But the researchers ability to recreate the disease in a consistent manner was still hindered by the lack of an identifiable pathogen in those fetuses lost to the disease.

A breakthrough came along when Stott’s lab used the molecular genetic technique to finally identify the EBA pathogen, a bacteria that was more closely related to slime molds than it was to other bacterial pathogens of animals. 

“With this knowledge in hand, I was able to test ticks across their range, determine their infection status and assess whether the tick vectors were being moved around the West by human activities such as the shipping of cattle,” Teglas said. 

Another important discovery was made in those first few years of his new career at the University of Nevada, Reno, one that created the foundation for the eventual development of a vaccine. 

Stott and Blanchard found that they could infect mice that lacked a competent immune system with the bacteria and that tissues from these animals contained considerable amounts of viable pathogenic bacteria.  

“This led to our ability to reliably infect large numbers of susceptible cattle for research purposes,” Teglas said. “We quickly discovered that cattle exposed to the bacteria in their first year would develop immunity to subsequent infections for another two years without additional exposure to the pathogen.”

The research team, once again using the cattle at the University’s Main Station Field Lab inReno, used the new bacterial inoculum to sensitize cattle to the bacteria when they were not pregnant to see if that could serve as a potential source of immunization against the disease.

“For the EBA vaccine studies we used the heifers, young females, that were born the previous year and were going to be pregnant for the first time – about 50 to 70 animals a year,” Teglas said. “The benefit of doing research at the Main Station was that we could keep animals for two or three years in a row and follow up on them over time.”

There are about 520 head of cattle (males and females) at the Main Station Field Lab in a given year that are available for use in research by faculty on campus.

“The Main Station was vital to our research efforts since we had access to a large group of susceptible cattle that could be manipulated and monitored much more closely than in a private cattle herd,” Teglas said. “We used the bacterial inoculum to create an attenuated vaccine product and began to test its ability to protect pregnant cows against developing EBA. The results were immediately impressive, with 100% of the vaccinated pregnant cattle producing live calves after being experimentally infected.”

The team began studies to test the efficacy and safety of the product following USDA guidelines. Stott met with representatives from some of the largest drug manufacturers to see if there was interest in commercialization of a vaccine, but the big companies considered it a regional disease and not widespread enough to make an investment.

The final steps necessary to fully approve the vaccine by the USDA were completed this summer, and now beef cattle producers across the country can order the product directly from the Hygieia, which made the vaccine a reality.

“Jeff and Myra need to get the credit for spearheading this research and keeping the faith even when we had to start all over again,” Teglas said. “It’s a fascinating disease and there are still lots of questions waiting to be answered. I look forward to continuing working with them on EBA into the future.

“In fact, we are working on a project now investigating the potential of in-utero vaccination/protection of the fetus with the EBA vaccine. If successful the work could have lots of implications for development of future vaccines aimed at producing a calf that is already born with protection against cattle pathogens, something that is unavailable to producers today.”

The team has ongoing foothill abortion research projects and are developing new ones.

“Research is what we love and what we do,” Stott said. “Our ongoing foothill abortion research projects, are directed at furthering our understanding of the disease, its geographic distribution and new disease management strategies that will incorporate the vaccine as an important component in our translational research, of making research useful for our constituents – the cattle industry.” 

Extension offers town hall to help businesses make year-end decisions

 As a year with unprecedented challenges for small businesses comes to a close amid another COVID-19 surge, University of Nevada, Reno Extension will offer a free online town hall to provide small businesses with information to help them make some important year-end decisions. The English-language session will be 9 a.m. Wednesday and the Spanish-language session will be 5:30 p.m. Dec. 9.

“This is the time of year when businesses are looking at their tax filing for the year, as well as planning for the coming year – what adjustments to make to their marketing and other business operations,” said Buddy Borden, economic development specialist with Extension’s Business Development Program. “With all the changes this pandemic has brought to our business landscape, business owners have a lot to consider as they wrap up 2020. During these sessions, we’ll focus a lot on taxes and marketing, but also take questions on other issues small businesses may be grappling with as they make year-end decisions and prepare for 2021.”

Borden says the presenters will discuss, among other things, changes in tax regulations that businesses should be aware of, and how they may want to shift their marketing and operations to better accommodate online sales.

Details on this upcoming town hall include:

The “Year-end Decisions on Taxes and Marketing” town hall 9 a.m. Wednesday for English speakers and Dec. 9, at 5:30 p.m. for Spanish speakers. 

Panelists include:

  • From Extension – Reyna Mendez and Juan Salas, business development instructors; and Mike Bindrup, research associate (both sessions)
  • From the Small Business Administration – Saul Ramos, deputy director (English-language session only); and Alfredo Cedeño, outreach/marketing specialist (Spanish-language session only)

The town halls usually run about an hour. To register:

The Nov. 30, 2020, R-C Morning Report

Genoa, Nev. — There were 125 new coronavirus cases and 40 recoveries over Saturday and Sunday, according to Douglas County Emergency Manager Tod Carlini. According to the graphs at Carson City Health and Human Services’ gethealthycarson.org that should bring us to 451 active cases. 

The reports from Carson City Health and Human Services have been coming out at 6 p.m. weekdays and I’ve been reporting them the next morning. That’s why the Nov. 24 spike was in the Nov. 25 morning report. 

Alpine County was elevated to the red tier in California due in part to people from different households visiting without face coverings or social distancing, according to Public Health Officer Richard Johnson. 

County commissioners will discuss revising the procurement and purchasing policy and the comprehensive annual financial report at a virtual joint meeting with the audit committee 1 p.m. today. Go to www.douglascountynv.gov and click on agendas and minutes to find out how to participate.

Expect sunny skies today with sunny skies and a high temperature of 58 degrees. The wind will be out of the east at 5-10 mph shifting west in the afternoon.

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

60-foot Christmas tree rises over Heavenly Village

A 60-foot Christmas tree was installed in South Lake Tahoe by longtime resident Kenny Curtzweiler and his crew, along with the help of many local agencies. 

California Highway Patrol, Ed Cook Crane and Robert Haen Trucking met Curtzweiler’s company, K&K Services, on the city of South Lake Tahoe property next to the Lake Tahoe Airport to cut down the tree on Nov. 16. Last year, several trees on that property were marked to be cut down for defensible space creation so Curtzweiler asked the city to save a few for Christmas and the tree would’ve been cut down regardless. 

The police and fire departments helped close one lane of Highway 50 in the casino corridor while the tree was installed. 

The installation at Heavenly Village took a little over an hour and took coordination and teamwork between everyone involved. 

Christmas tree permits for National Forest lands in the Lake Tahoe Basin sold out last week with 2,000 online permits issued on a first-come, first served basis. No additional permits will be authorized for this season.

Nearby Eldorado, Humboldt-Toiyabe and Tahoe national forests are also selling Christmas tree permits online. Check permit availability for these forests at www.recreation.gov.