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Dec. 28, 2007

Home Depot start brightens 2007



The groundbreaking of the new Home Depot store on Highway 160 and Basin Avenue Oct. 24, marked a bright spot in the otherwise dismal 2007 construction downturn.

Home Depot officials promised 150 jobs with the completion of the new store in fall 2008.

The news was a bright spot during a year when the number of building permits sank in September to the lowest level since May 2003. The notice of foreclosures soared to 55 in September, while trustee sales, normally in the single digits each month, reached 19 in August and 16 in September. More than 900 homes were on the market in the MLS listings for Pahrump after the sub-prime mortgage crisis hit in the summer.

A mass mailing of rezoning notices to 48,600 parcels brought out possibly the largest crowd ever to the Bob Ruud Community Center for a Pahrump Regional Planning Commission meeting on the zoning map May 18. While 365 people filled the center to capacity under the fire code, another 220 interested residents waited outside.

The Pahrump comprehensive zoning plan was approved by Nye County Commissioners June 20, the first ever hard zoning. The map excluded 1,251 parcels which were set aside for further review by a citizens task force.

The moving up of the Nevada caucus to Jan. 19, 2008 drew national political attention to Pahrump. U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd, D.-Conn., became the first presidential candidate ever to visit the area, with a stop at Pahrump Fire Station No. 1 on April 13. He was followed by U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D.-N.Y. with a speech to supporters at Skate Zone Aug. 13, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson's stopover at Petrack Park Sept. 8 and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Tex. who spoke to an exuberant crowd at the Bob Ruud Community Center Nov. 19.

Pahrump made national news with the discovery of a video tape in September showing a man having sex with a little girl. Darren Tuck, 26, was arrested for possession of child pornography after turning in the tape to the Nye County sheriffs department. The man supposedly shown in the video, Chester Stiles, was caught Oct. 15 in Henderson after a nationwide manhunt.

An issue that aroused widespread publicity before that incident in late 2006, the English Only ordinance, was repealed by a new Pahrump town board with the passage of Pahrump Town Ordinance 61 on Feb. 14. The newly-sworn town board then aggressively took on the long-dormant fairgrounds project and appointed a committee to study incorporation.

A power outage Jan. 13 left over 19,000 customers of Valley Electric Association out of power for more than 12 hours on the coldest day of the year. The outage was blamed on a vandal shooting out the 238 kilovolt power line between Sandy Valley and Good Springs, which snapped in the cold weather.

Tyler Gibbons, 16, was found guilty May 18 in the shooting of Anthony Risko, on his 12th birthday in June 2006. Gibbons was sentenced July 30 to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

AnnJet Switzer, 33, an employee in the Nye County district attorney's office, was arrested Sept. 13 on drug charges and leaking documents to drug dealers. Nye County Sheriff Tony DeMeo said he suspected there was a "second mole" in the D.A.'s office leaking documents.

Also in September, a final audit by the Office of the Inspector General asked Nye County to return a $3 million U.S. Economic Development Administration grant awarded in 1999 for the construction of the Amargosa Valley science and technology park, along with the Pahrump High Tech Center, now the Great Basin College building.

An animal zoning ordinance was passed by Nye County Commissioners Oct. 24 after an ad-hoc committee met for months to modify the original draft of the bill following a public outcry by animal owners. A neighborhood dispute near the New Leash on Life animal rescue on Nye Street led to the ordinance, followed by widespread publicity over the shut down of the animal sanctuary For the Love of Cats and Kittens (FLOCK), at 2171 E. Bond St., where 400 sick cats were seized in July.

Legal maneuvering in the David Cleveland trial filled a lot of column inches of newspaper space during 2007. Cleveland, the owner of Valley Homes, a manufactured home company, was accused in the Thanksgiving Day, 2006 motor vehicle accident that killed Jeremy Moon, 27, of Fontana, Calif.

Nye County school trustees broke ground Nov. 14 on the new Floyd Elementary School on Jane and Susquehanna streets. B & H Construction Company was awarded the $16.3 million contract to build Pahrump's fifth elementary school. School enrollment however was flat at the start of the 2007 school year, with 6,532 students registered county wide, a net loss of four students.

Nye County Commissioners passed a six month moratorium on subsequent and contiguous parceling outside Pahrump Nov. 27. The action came after concerns over development in Amargosa Valley.

Pahrump had two of the four sites under consideration for a proposed federal detention center to house 1,000 to 1,500 federal inmates awaiting trial on East Parque Avenue and East Mesquite Avenue, both east of Highway 160. At a public hearing June 19, federal detention trustee Scott Stermer said the 200 to 250 employees would be paid a minimum of $17.45 per hour by the contractor of the facility.

The Nevada Legislature passed an amendment to an Assembly Bill on the last day of the session June 4, authorizing the Nye County Commissioners to enact a half-cent sales tax increase. County commissioners Dec. 18 however voted 3-2 not to enact the increase, with Commissioner Peter Liakopoulos voting with Commissioners Joni Eastley and Roberta "Midge" Carver against it.

Liakopoulos was arrested two days later for bribery in allegedly promising Pahrump Town Board Chairwoman Laurayne Murray to vote for the sales tax, in exchange for the town board appointing his wife as curator of a veteran's museum. Sophia Liakopoulos was turned down for the curator job. Liakopoulos fended off two ethics complaints earlier in the year, but was the subject of a recall campaign later.

Golden Gaming Inc., owner of the Pahrump Nugget Hotel and Gambling Hall, confirmed rumors it would acquire the Saddle West Hotel and Casino from Marnell Sher Gaming in late November. The move makes Golden Gaming the largest employer in Pahrump with over 500 employees. The takeover is pending Nevada Gaming Commission approval.

The cost of infrastructure went up in 2007. Utilities Inc. was granted permission by the Public Utilities Commission Nov. 28 to raise its water and sewer rates. Valley Electric Association began imposing an impact fee on new construction effective Oct. 3.

Joey Provenza, 19, was awarded a $41.5 million settlement in May against LeMans Corp. after a 2001 dirt bike accident. He was arrested later in the year for kidnapping.

Nye County Commissioners filled some key posts. Jack Lohman was named planning director Feb. 21, followed by the appointment of Darrell Lacy as Nuclear Waste Project Office director May 25, while Comptroller Pam Webster was promoted to assistant county manager July 17.

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