Men in orange: Inmate work crews help clean graffiti

Four men clad in orange from beanies on their heads to jumpsuits down to their ankles piled out of the work truck and opened the back of the covered bed.

The men pull out rollers and a bucket of tan paint. Their motive: to work covering the recently tagged walls, their unlabored breaths forming white clouds in the just-past-dawn air, their paint letting off the same white wisps on the walls . . .

January 4, 2013 — Originally published in the Nevada Appeal. (All rights reserved)

PDF copy (clip) — Men in orange: Inmate work crews help clean graffiti

Four men clad in orange from beanies on their heads to jumpsuits down to their ankles piled out of the work truck and opened the back of the covered bed.

The men pull out rollers and a bucket of tan paint. Their motive: to work covering the recently tagged walls, their unlabored breaths forming white clouds in the just-past-dawn air, their paint letting off the same white wisps on the walls.

“We do nasty little jobs,” said Don Quilici, outside work crew coordinator. “We cover it as fast as we can or we clean it and we try to match the paint if we can. We can even sand fences.”

Quilici, a broad-shouldered man with a trimmed yet rambunctious and mostly pepper beard, motioned to a wall defaced by a series of letters.

“This is what I see,” he said, the wall on one side and the back of a grocery store on the other. “I don’t see artwork. I see trash.”

The taggers had been out en force as the calendar turned to 2013, despite the biting cold.

The graffiti is more properly defined as tagging, rather than the elaborate images in multiple colors the word graffiti can evoke. Quilici held up his hand, his fingers almost pressed together, indicating that the gang related graffiti is less than a single percent of what the work crew finds and covers.

Josh Emborsky was happy to be out in the cold.

“I get to get out of the jail,” Emborsky said. Emborsky, who has been on the crew for a month, is looking forward, just a little, to warmer weather.

“I’ve never actually seen artwork yet,” he said, motioning to a crude smiley face, “this (stuff’s) stupid right here.”

While Emborsky has only been on the crew for a month, the veteran of the group, Farron Cook, who has clocked three months so far, said he sees the same graffiti over and over.

“It’s all the same stuff,” he said. “Stupid little tags.”

Although it is the same tags over and over, he still enjoys covering tags more than anything else the work crew does, such as sweeping sidewalks, cleaning culverts, painting curbs, weeding and other jobs.

“A lot of work at the cemetery, going down to the park and picking up dog poop and trash, whatever the community needs us to do,” Quilici said.

He keeps a log which can help investigators and the district attorney’s office to link a tagger to a series of incidents, rather than just the one caught red-handed.

“If I do this, deputies can do work that they should be doing,” Quilici said. “For me, this is fun.”

Quilici is a civilian, although he has been working with inmate work crews for a long time, Sheriff Ken Furlong said.

Quilici himself is not paid by the city but rather with the funds generated by the jail’s commissary, where inmates are able to buy certain items during their stay in jail.

The graffiti program, started about a year ago, was an evolution that started with an offer to start a work program out of the jail, Furlong said.

“I allowed the team to start responding to graffiti,” Furlong said. “I realized there wasn’t a coordinated response to graffiti, really, that annoying tagging on the corner.”

After meeting with various city offices, Furlong gave the crews permission to clean up graffiti everywhere without needing to first ask for permission. The graffiti abatement is a three-pronged approach, with alternative sentencing, public works and the inmate work crews, who do a 100 to 1 ratio of the work, “hands down,” he said.

“If the public doesn’t see it, we’re doing our job,” Quilici said.

Quilici said he has yet to have an inmate run away. The inmates all have sentences of a year or less. If their sentences were longer, they would be serving with the Nevada Department of Corrections.

Cook said he too, like Emborsky, likes to be outside. “It’s not bad. It’s just nice to be out.”

It doesn’t hurt that he likes their boss, Quilici.

“Don’s super cool,” Cook said. “I wouldn’t have a better boss to do this.”

Working on the crew has its upsides: fresh, albeit often times below-freezing air, time away from the jail, work to occupy the time, a boost in self-esteem. Once in a while residents will come up and thank the inmates for picking up trash, weeding or other maintenance. Much of the time, when the crew faces the public, they get nasty stares.

“We get looks like we’re murderers and rapists a lot,” Emborsky said.

“They think that we’re out to hurt people and stuff,” Cook said. “Out at the park, there’s people who know we go out there and say thank you.”

The looks rarely progress to words, he said. “Nobody really says much.”

The crew, packed into two-door Chevy truck donated by Southwest Gas, goes out four times a week, often first starting with the early morning graffiti rounds. Quilici drives his crew of inmates on their route.

“We call it the loop, areas that are constantly getting hit. We check everywhere we can.”

The inmates get out their rollers and cover the graffiti in blocks.

“We always try to make it look as nice as possible,” Emborsky said.

Making it look as nice as possible does not come cheap. Because each gallon of paint is costly, the program looks for the community to donate leftover paint rather than footing the bill for a new can, a costly prospect at the average cost of $30 per gallon.

“That’s expensive,” Quilici said. “A lot of it we paint over. A lot of it we clean.”

When anyone asks Quilici which colors the program will take, he replies that they will take any color that can be mixed in a five gallon bucket. Every gallon donated is $30 saved. When one resident donated nine gallons of leftover house paint, she didn’t think it was much. For Quilici, it was a big deal. She had just saved the program $270.

The program is looking for donations of house paint. They can be brought to the sheriff’s office or the crew can pick them up. Pick-ups can be arranged by calling Quilici at 775-721-6619.

To report graffiti, one can call dispatch at 887-2007 and to report a tagger in the act, Quilici advises calling 911.

Taking charge: FASTT program provides mental health services to low-level inmates

Sheriff Ken Furlong said getting help for mental health patients was something that had been pushed aside for a long time in Carson City.

Saying it was an issue that “needs to be resolved,” the sheriff and other community leaders have partnered with the state in a new program . . .

February 17, 2013  — Originally published in the Nevada Appeal. (All rights reserved)

PDF copy: Taking Charge (FASTT) Clip

Sheriff Ken Furlong said getting help for mental health patients was something that had been pushed aside for a long time in Carson City.

Saying it was an issue that “needs to be resolved,” the sheriff and other community leaders have partnered with the state in a new program.

The Forensic Assessment Services Triage Team, or FASTT, is a partnership between the state and local governments to bridge a gap in mental health services from when someone is arrested on a low-level offense to after they are released but fail to engage the state’s mental health services.

“With these low-level cases, they’re in and out so quick, that’s why we call it FASTT,” said Dr. Joseph McEllistrem, the Carson City Jail’s director of forensic health services.

“Many of these people are known. They’re known to law enforcement, they’re known to the mental health service system, but it was the breakdown between the two systems, or not a formal relationship between them, that really is the crux of it,” Richard Whitley said.

Whitley is the administrator of the Division of Mental Health and Developmental Services and the administrator of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Division.

Whitley has been one of the key players in so quickly organizing the FASTT program, Sheriff Ken Furlong, Partnership Carson City’s Kathy Bartoz and other participants said.

“The people that would qualify for the FASTT team intervention are going to be most readily identified by the arresting agent, the booking officer or the forensic health services team at the jail, because they’re now not seen by a judge for at least three days,” McEllistrem said.

McEllistrem said once someone who is in need of intervention is identified they fill out a referral form.

“We do that just to get some buy-in from them. Tell us what’s going on, help us quickly identify your needs. While they’re filling that out, Lisa Treinen is contacted.”

Triage Assessment Coordinator Treinen, along with psychiatric caseworker Kathleen Buscay, come to the jail and meet with the referral and do a clinical interview. Their findings allow David Ramsey, the jail’s nurse practitioner, to write prescriptions and to make sure clients make their first, and continuing, appointments with Carson Mental Health Center.

“In less than 24 hours, someone from Carson Mental Health and the FASTT team coordinator are on sight interviewing (the inmate,)” McEllistrem said. “Before they leave that interview, they have identified their needs, they have set an appointment with Carson Mental Health and developed a treatment plan.”

So far, 41 people have been interviewed, five people have voluntarily enrolled in the program.

“There are very few names I don’t recognize” from previous contacts, Treinen said. “These are people whom we know.”

McEllistrem has been seeing the same for many years. He is a clinical psychologist and known by most in the jail simply as Dr. Joe.

“We have been dealing with how to integrate community collaboration between mental health providers, law enforcement and family,” McEllistrem said. “We kind of knew if we would integrate these groups, we could really reduce the number of crisis calls.

“It was always reaching a crisis point before we were intervening.”

MIND THE GAP

The problem everyone saw was the gap. When the jail released a low-level offender, usually arrested on a misdemeanor, an appointment had been made for the Carson Mental Health Center but the person rarely made it there. While the person was an inmate, he would be getting the proper medications but as soon as the jail bars closed behind him, he was left to his own devices. The gap in services had to be bridged.

An October meeting between state and local leaders was called to discuss the issue.

“They mobilized so quickly,” Whitley said. “I think it’s because they were seeing the problem anecdotally and individually. They knew the problem. We put a number to it and said, we’re a partner in this and in some ways, it was probably the state mental health system acknowledging the problem, quantifying it for ourselves and going to an existing forum in the community and saying, we’re in. We need to be a part of addressing this problem and it did move very quickly, I think.”

Bartoz praised Whitley’s bottom-up approach. “He’s allowing the community to take charge of our issues.”

Before, Ramsey couldn’t write prescriptions for longer than an inmate’s stay. With the FASTT program, he can write prescriptions to last a few more days, just long enough for the client, as Whitley calls them, to get to his appointment with Carson Mental Health.

Getting to the appointments, for many clients, can be more complicated than just continuing to take their medication. It’s about their life skills, some of which many members of the community take for granted.

“This isn’t just about people being mentally ill,” Bartoz said. “It’s about them not having the skills they need to function in society. It may be they can’t navigate bus systems or have a difficult time with their social interactions skills and turn people off, don’t get hired. It’s people who are having a hard time functioning.”

Those bridge medications, between the care they receive in the jail and the first appointment with Carson Mental Health, are a key part of the equation.

“David Ramsey will write bridge medications,” McEllistrem said. “Once we verify the appointment with Carson Mental Health, if they’re on meds, we want to keep them on their medications when they leave us, which in the past we weren’t able to do because there was no guarantee of follow-up, which was too dangerous. Now we’re able to supply these bridge prescriptions.”

Whitley sees bridging the gap in services to be part of his duty.

“I think it’s negligent if we don’t take an action to connect our systems because this is where the failure is occurring,” Whitley said. “These are our clients, so the fact that they were clients for out-patient mental health and now are coming into the criminal justice system, the question really is for us, on the mental health side, how is it that our services are failing and the client is having intervention from law enforcement. Unless we ask that question we can’t get at what we could do differently.”

Furlong, an enthusiastic partner the whole way through, said he, too, thought case management and proper hand-off are the key. Often, once a person was released from jail, they were really released not into the world or even back into Carson City but into “a dark hole.”

“That dark hole was really the problem. They went right back to the street,” he said. “Case management is a critical issue when it comes to mental health. We weren’t doing well at handing it off after they left the jail.”

SILOS OF CARE

Part of the new way of doing business is to break down the silos of care that existed, to build links and bridges and other sundry forms of transportation between service providers.

“We’re breaking down silos,” McEllistrem said.

The FASTT team is made up of people, of faces. When someone comes in contact with the law and is being held at the jail, the FASTT team member, either Treinen or Buscay or both, will meet with them before they are released. When the client comes back to Carson Mental Health, they will be seeing the same, familiar face and reconnecting with someone they’ve already met.

“Once you make that first contact, you take the mystery away,” McEllistrem said. Taking that mystery away, allowing a continuance of care, is one of the facets of the program.

“Before, it was Band-Aid care.” McEllistrem said. “Deal with the crisis, put a Band-Aid on it and you move on to the next case that’s burning on your desk. We just didn’t have that ability to follow up and insure somebody’s able to access the care they needed and said they wanted. In the end, it sort of already existed. We’re just pulling them together and having a team follow them through the system so they don’t fall through the cracks, so they don’t miss an appointment, so they don’t stop taking their medication. The barrier to successful treatment is really going to be addressed by the FASTT team.”

When it comes to the actual costs of the program and the expanded care, on Whitley’s end, it’s almost nothing.

“We’re just moving personnel” and duties, he said. “We’re formalizing the hand-off.”

Bartoz was more enthusiastic. “He’s taken existing resources and by moving them around and getting people to collaborate, get them all moved to the front-end of this problem, by doing the in-jail assessment, we have probably increased the success rate of these individuals three-fold without any additional money. It was just a matter of moving people around, getting them out of the silos, getting them out of their cubicles and saying, I’m putting you over here.”

A similar program is ongoing in Reno, with the hope to expand statewide.

UP AND RUNNING

Whitley came to Bartoz to help bring the local players together to bridge the gap in services he saw through the data his office had analyzed.

“What we did with Carson City was we looked at the jail data and our mental health data for Carson City to see how many people in the jail had been clients of mental health and really let data drive where we needed to put services,” Whitley said. “What was unique, I think, was the sheriff being such a willing partner and being willing to share the data.

“We had a meeting first with the sheriff (because) we’re concerned that we’re seeing a lot of people who are getting out of jail, not getting plugged in to mental health systems …” With the draft report on the overlap between mental health patients and frequent visitors to the jail in hand, Whitley called Bartoz.

“We’re kind of a like a wedding planner,” Bartoz said of Partnership Carson City. “We bring all the resources together. He called us on (Oct. 17) to see what we could get done and, coincidentally, we had a steering committee meeting (two days later).”

Whitley came to the meeting and presented his ideas and then the snowballing group contacted McEllistrem.

The concept is not novel to McEllistrem, who had seen an earlier implementation of the Crisis Intervention Training program come and go as funding came and went.

“We’ve been here before,” McEllistrem said. “We’ve done this before. We could never maintain it or sustain it. We’re reworking a program from the past but now we have the support of the state.”

The Crisis Intervention Training program, too, is being brought back into full swing come March, when the first training is planned. Much like the FASTT program, the CIT program aims to bring those who need help into contact with the Carson City’s mental health resources, although its aim is broader.

“CIT is not just mentally ill. Your crisis could be schizophrenic but this person’s crisis is they just need shoes,” said Sgt. Daniel Gonzales with the Carson City Sheriff’s Office.

The problem has been here for a long time, Ramsey said. At 63, he’s been in and around the medical field for 20 years. He went back to college at 43, graduated, and then bounced around before finally finding himself at the Carson City Jail.

“This is kind of great,” Ramsey said. “Ever since we lost our mental institutions, those people were basically turned out onto the street and a big percentage of them ended up in jail. County jails have been the new mental institution. That’s how it’s been, so this is kind of a step in a new direction, which I appreciate.”

Whitley was impressed by Furlong’s own willingness to emerge from his silo. Furlong was the first sheriff to attend the meetings between the state and the local governments on the issue.

“He’s been directly involved,” Whitley said. “I thought it would be more challenging.”

“This has come together quicker than any dealing I’ve had with the state in 30 years,” Bartoz said.

Add, subtract … almost anything goes when it comes to hummus

Many, if not most, of my cooking stories and memories are attached to my time in Germany.

I was an au pair — a nanny with less pay and more responsibility who lives with the family . . .

January 23, 2013  — Originally published in the Nevada Appeal

Many, if not most, of my cooking stories and memories are attached to my time in Germany.

I was an au pair — a nanny with less pay and more responsibility who lives with the family.

Photo by Wheeler Cowperthwaite for the Nevada Appeal. Hummus is made much easier with either a blender or a food processor.
Photo by Wheeler Cowperthwaite for the Nevada Appeal.
Hummus is made much easier with either a blender or a food processor.

Before I flew across pond, I had cooked some on my own. I moved out of the dorms early because I loathed not being able to cook for myself.

As the au pair, I was in charge of cooking for a family of four and also for cooking for guests, visiting family and parties.

I had always toyed with idea of hummus before and as a kid my parents would buy it at the specialty grocery store and add garlic powder and lemon juice. The German family had a party coming up so I decided to dive in, head first.

I found out where one of the middle eastern stores was — beneath the train station, across the corner from the Asian store where I bought cilantro by the roots — and procured the key: tahini, or, sesame seed paste. I made sure the chickpeas soaked overnight, found the pressure cooker, keyed up the recipe and blended to my heart’s content.

The hummus was a hit, as were the whole-wheat pitas I made with the aid of a baking stone. Now that I’m back state-side, I can forego making the pita bread in favor of buying it but I still make the hummus. I love it so.

One of the creature comforts Americans take for granted in the kitchen is the mighty slow cooker, which I use any time I need to cook beans. In Germany, it was near impossible to find a slow cooker. The only option was to import and have a voltage downgrader to operate on Europe’s higher voltage.

One could use canned chickpeas, but, where’s the fun in that?

When it comes to hummus, I go heavy on the garlic because I can. The recipe has less garlic than I personally use. When I was in Germany, it was verboten to serve anything with garlic, unless the eaters didn’t have to go to work the next day. Even then, it was iffy.

When it comes to hummus, any number of adjuncts can be blended and added, chopped and added or even added whole. Artichoke hearts, bell peppers, roasted garlic, the list goes on.

I base my recipe size on eight ounces of tahini, which in ratio, calls for a (dry) pound of  chickpeas. I buy the tahini  from Trader Joe’s in the refrigerated section, near the hummus. There, it is labeled “Tahini Sauce.”One of the keys to using a blender to make the hummus is to add just enough liquid to the beans so they can easily be blended. Reserve some of the water the legumes are cooked in or, some of the water in the cans.

Another sticking point for hummus can be its texture, which is entirely dependent on the tastes of the cook. I prefer a rougher hummus, often times with a few whole chickpeas left in. For a creamier hummus, blend all the chickpeas at once. For a chunkier, blend only a portion fully, and partially blend or don’t blend, the rest.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound dry chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans) — around 7 cups cooked
  • 8 ounces tahini
  • 1 /3 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons chopped garlic, more to taste
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 /3 cup reserved chickpea cooking water
  • Artichoke hearts (optional)

DIRECTIONS

1. Soak the chickpeas overnight in cold water, three times the quantity of water to chickpeas. Cook the chickpeas until tender, with a few dashes of salt. If made in a slow cooker, cook on low for at least five hours.

2. Drain the chickpeas, reserving 1/3 cup of the cooking water.

3. Add 2/3 of the chickpeas (or all, to make a creamier hummus) into a blender or food processor, along with the lemon juice. When blending, a little more liquid can help facilitate the process. Add a few tablespoons of cooking water as needed.

4. Add the tahini and continue blend until everything is mixed. Once the chickpeas blend with the tahini, the color should change to a lighter shade of yellow.

5. Decant the mixture into a mixing bowl and add into the blender the garlic, the lime juice and, if using, the artichoke hearts or other ingredients and blend.

6. Add the new mixture into the mixing bowl and stir until well combined.

7. Add salt, or garlic salt, to taste. Start with two teaspoons. Just enough salt will make the flavors of the hummus pop.

8. Add the rest of the chickpeas, either only briefly blended or whole, depending on texture desires.

9. Refrigerate or enjoy immediately. The hummus will get just a little bit better and thicken after it has been refrigerated.

DA files murder charges against Patrick Dunn

ELKO — Patrick Dunn told investigators he tried to dispose of the gun he used to shoot Erik Espitia during an altercation early on May 27, according to court records.

The narrative of the alleged murder of Erik Espitia was filed at the Elko County Justice Court Friday afternoon, including a narrative of events according to witnesses . .

June 02, 2012 —  Originally published in the Elko Daily Free Press

DA files murder charges against Patrick Dunn as a PDF

ELKO — Patrick Dunn told investigators he tried to dispose of the gun he used to shoot Erik Espitia during an altercation early on May 27, according to court records.

The narrative of the alleged murder of Erik Espitia was filed at the Elko County Justice Court Friday afternoon, including a narrative of events according to witnesses.

The Prelude

Two groups left two different bars shortly before 3:15 a.m. Sunday, according to the investigation by Elko police detective Dennis Price.

The group leaving Cantina La Hurrabura was composed of Erik Espitia, Salvador Espitia, Raul Perez-Munoz and Esther Espitia.

The other group, leaving the Tiki Hut, was composed of Patrick Dunn, Chance Creamer, Brandon Evans and Angela Evans.

Brandon Evans was flown to Salt Lake City for injuries he suffered during the alleged fight that followed, according to police.

The two groups walked toward their respective cars, in the downtown parking corridor near the 400 block of Railroad Street.

When the groups got near to each other, “words were spoken which eventually led to a confrontation between the two groups of people,” according to the court documents.

The view from the car

Angela Evans, part of the group leaving the Tiki Hut, told investigators that she was there when the fight started and at one point “she attempted to intervene in an altercation” between Patrick Dunn and another person.

She was thrown to the ground after attempting to intercede in the fight Dunn was involved in, according to court records.

Angela Evans then “took a seat in the rear driver’s side passenger seat.”

She then heard a gun shot come from the rear of the car.

From the side

According to Salvador Espitia’s narrative, he was fighting Chance Creamer and “at one point he had Mr. Creamer pinned up against a vehicle.”

Creamer and Salvador Espitia agreed to stop fighting and watched Dunn go to the vehicle and retrieve the .40-caliber pistol.

Salvador Espitia grabbed Dunn by the hair, according to court records.

Dunn pointed the gun at Salvador Espitia. Salvador Espitia let go of Dunn’s hair.

Suspect told police

Patrick Dunn told investigators he “became involved in an altercation” with Erik Espitia. Dunn told investigators he was either fighting three or four individuals or there were three or four individuals fighting.

Dunn said he was kicked to the ground and, at one point, got up and “lost his snap,” according to court records.

Dunn told police he went to his vehicle, grabbed his gun, cocked it and fired it at Espitia.

He said he did not remember he or Espitia speaking prior to him shooting the gun.

Tossing the gun

When the investigator asked Dunn where the gun was, he said he had “taken it ‘into the hills’ and ‘tossed’ it under a tree.”

Dunn went with the investigators and showed them the area in which he threw the gun.

Detectives found the gun and a nylon holster.

The aftermath

Elko District Attorney Mark Torvinen charged Dunn with open murder with the use of a deadly weapon, assault with a deadly weapon and attempted willful destruction of evidence of the commission of a felony.

He is not eligible for bail.

Espitia is survived by his wife, three children and unborn child, as well as brothers, cousins and mother, according to a message on a memorial in the downtown corridor.

A car wash in the Red Lion parking lot will be held today, from noon to 4 p.m., to raise money for his family and for his final expenses.

———

DA files murder charges against Patrick Dunn as a PDF

http://elkodaily.com/news/local/da-files-murder-charges-against-patrick-dunn/article_af252930-ac65-11e1-a276-001a4bcf887a.html

Freedom Ride: Group travels across U.S. to honor veterans

ELKO — The thunder rolled into Elko Wednesday night with a police escort and roared out of town Thursday morning with honk, a smaller escort and a single salute.

The Freedom Riders, on the National Veterans Awareness Ride, were treated to dinner Wednesday night at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Gasper J. Salaz Post 2350. The VFW, American Legion Post 7 and the POW/MIA Elko Awareness Association all helped to put on the dinner . . .

May 18, 2012 —  Originally published in the Elko Daily Free Press

ELKO — The thunder rolled into Elko Wednesday night with a police escort and roared out of town Thursday morning with honk, a smaller escort and a single salute.

The Freedom Riders, on the National Veterans Awareness Ride, were treated to dinner Wednesday night at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Gasper J. Salaz Post 2350. The VFW, American Legion Post 7 and the POW/MIA Elko Awareness Association all helped to put on the dinner.

National Veterans Awareness Ride National Coordinator Jerry Conner makes sure the ride goes smoothly.

“It’s organized to the minute,” he said.

When Conner addressed the assembly at the VFW Post, he said he was amazed by the reception Elko put on.

“If we get this kind of help along the whole U.S., we’ll be safer and 10 pounds heavier by the time we get (to Washington, D.C.,)” he said. “We’ve got the whole damn town of Elko out here.”

The American Legion, POW/MIA Awareness Association and the VFW donated the food and their time to put the dinner on, American Legion Commander James Macpherson said.

Anyone who wants to join the ride can find the schedule at www.nvao.us.

Why we do it

The riders started Wednesday morning in Auburn, Calif., and headed to Reno’s Veterans Association Medical Center. They greeted every veteran and took the in-hospital vets on a walk, or a push in a wheelchair, around the neighborhood, spending the time to get to know them.

“We did a walk and roll,” said Mike Kline, 64, a veteran of the Vietnam War from Iowa.

“Sometimes we’re the only visitors (the vets) get for a whole year,” he said.

The group will ride to Washington D.C., by Memorial Day and go to the Vietnam Memorial Wall.

“The fact that I could stop and thank the vets, that’s why I got involved,” Kline said.

Kline, who was drafted into the military and served in 1964 as a medic in the 25th infantry division, added a thousand miles to his normal ride from Iowa to California and the capitol by taking a southern route.

“I rode from Iowa down to Texas,” he said.

In Amarillo, Texas, on his way to Auburn via a southern route, he was riding with a group of five other veterans. They stopped at a local restaurant and talked with an elderly couple.

By the time the group went to pay for their dinner, more than $200 for the six of them, they found the elderly couple had already paid the tab, presumably just because they were veterans going on a cross-country tour to visit with other vets.

“We were just amazed that somebody would do that just because we’re vets,” he said.

In Reno, Kline visited with Carl, a vet with a paralyzed leg.

Kline went to the trailer the group hauls behind them and gave Carl a National Veterans Awareness Ride hat.

“The sun was shining so hard,” Kline said. “He was so shocked or happy or overwhelmed, I’m not sure what the right word is. You would have thought I’d given him a million dollars.”

How much the simple act of kindness meant to Carl, an embossed hat to keep his sensitive skin from burning beneath the spring sun, is why Kline rides.

Buzz

No one knows Paul Neeb by his first name on the ride. They all know him as Buzz.

For Neeb, from Ann Arbor, Mich., it’s the eighth time he’s done the run.

Neeb, 75, volunteered for the draft for the Korean War because his brother was there.

“The war was just winding down, so I didn’t get to go to Korea,” he said.

Neeb looked around the lobby at the veterans milling about, some eating their continental breakfast. “I don’t have the same hardships of these Vietnam vets,” he said.

Buzz’s time in Reno was spent with a 90-year-old woman who was a nurse during World War II.

“We talked for 15 minutes,” he said. “They’re so happy to have someone to talk to them. It can get pretty damn emotional.”

Each ride is dedicated to a vet who has died. This year the ride is dedicated to Neeb’s old friend Craig, whom he rode with.

Neeb had lunch with Craig’s widow and picked up Craig’s old riding vest.

He will wear the vest for the length of the ride and Craig’s widow will fly to the capitol and leave the vest at the wall, trying to find some kind of closure.

“It’s going to be hard when we get there,” he said.

Filling the void

While many of the Vietnam veterans felt the sting of coming home to an unwelcoming country, they had each other.

Carol Scamara, from Sonora, Calif., felt it from both the military and civilian sides.

“When you came out of the conflict, you didn’t tell people where you were,” she said.

The sense of belonging she, and other veterans, feel on the ride is part of the reason she goes.

“To go on something like this, where you’re just accepted,” is something she needed.

“It fills a little bit of a void,” she said.

It’s not just the veterans of the Vietnam era who want that belonging.

When Carol visited the Reno VA medical center Wednesday, she met with a veteran named Jerry in the breakfast room.

“Don’t let them leave without me,” he told her, referring to the riders.

Jerry couldn’t leave without his vest though. The nurse fetched the vest and put it on him.

“He said, ‘Now, I’m ready to go,’” she said.

Jerry looked down at his legs.

“I’m out of uniform,” he said.

“I had to put the pin (a small metal National Veterans Awareness Ride ribbon) on his vest,” she said. “It brought us all to tears. He just wanted to belong.”

Carol and her retired Marine husband Larry are on the ride for the first time.

“(Larry) turned 65, so that’s what we wanted to do,” she said.

Larry is conscious of his age, both old and young.

“I need to go now because, health wise, if I don’t go, I may never,” he said.

But it isn’t just his maturity he’s conscious of.

Larry joined the Marines when he was 17 and went to Vietnam at 18, he said.

Carol chimed in: “He graduated as a sophomore in high school” when he joined at 17.

Larry’s first tour was 18 months, in 1969. He went back for two more tours.

Larry went on to have a career in the military and finally retired in 1986.

“I’d always heard about the rolling thunder,” he said. “My friend went two years ago and talked about how it was a life changing experience.”

For Larry, it will be his first time visiting the wall. He will be leaving a poem for a dear friend who lost her brother, he said.

The poem isn’t the only thing he’ll be leaving; the Scamaras have been picking things up along the way since they started Tuesday.

“The wall stirs up the past,” he said. “It stirs up a lot of guilt. Lots of friends were killed.”

Larry himself would have been killed had it not been for a soldier who replaced him on patrol.

“He was shot and killed,” he said. “He had just gotten there a month before.”

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Freedom Ride: Group travels across U.S. to honor veterans as a PDF

http://elkodaily.com/news/local/group-travels-across-u-s-to-honor-veterans/article_688013fe-a0f9-11e1-b726-001a4bcf887a.html

Burning Questions: course teaches how to investigate a fire

ELKO — The facts, at the outset, were few. A fire had charred the ground, although the cause was unknown.

A lady was camping out of her Jeep Cherokee, hanging out right next to the burn drinking whiskey from a bottle with her small dog on a pink leash.

She even managed to intimidate some of the firefighters . . .

May 22, 2012 — Originally published in the Elko Daily Free Press

ELKO — The facts, at the outset, were few. A fire had charred the ground, although the cause was unknown.

A lady was camping out of her Jeep Cherokee, hanging out right next to the burn drinking whiskey from a bottle with her small dog on a pink leash.

She even managed to intimidate some of the firefighters.

“She freaked us out,” said Elizabeth Gameros, a volunteer firefighter with Storey County since 2007.

The lady wasn’t really crazy and the fire didn’t get out of control because it was set by firefighters as part of a week-long class in fire investigation.

The northern Nevada area is bereft of enough fire investigators and Greg Liddicoat, who was leading the class, wanted everyone to succeed.

Investigating fires is a system, not magic. It is structured so that every fire investigation goes the same way, every single time.

“It’s a systematic methodology,” he said.

Liddicoat said he wanted the students to come away with one thing, more than any other. He wanted them to be able to do a fire investigation the same way time and time again.

“Once you learn it (the system), it becomes easy,” he said.

If they could teach that to their fellow firefighters, fellow police officers, fellow deputies and coworkers, they had probably learned the system right.

“I love this,” Liddicoat said. “I’ve been doing it for 33 years.”

The crazy lady kept on sitting in her chair, her dog wrapping itself around the legs of one of the students who was trying to figure out what she knew and saw and whether she started the fire or could lead him to who did.

Wading through the ashes

The role-playing scenario was part of the fourth day of the fire investigation class. It was meant to take the ducks out of the water and put them in the ashes of a brush fire.

Don Unruh was one of those ducks, or more aptly, one of the deputies with the Elko County Sheriff’s Office, taking the class. Because part of his job is to interview subjects, he wasn’t allowed to do the talking. It was his forte.

Instead, he would be getting down on his hands and knees and searching, often with a magnifying glass, through the remains of the fire.

The class has changed Unruh’s entire outlook on his job.

“I wish I could apply this to cases I’ve already had,” he said, referring to the methodology of the class.

The class, Unruh said, was about investigation, but investigation through a system, often of documentation.

“Document, document, document and map the points,” he said.

“I’m going to apply the methods, procedures and documentation” as a deputy, he said.

The class forces the students to think about even the “tiniest details,” he said.

“It really enforces the need not to shoot from the hip,” he said.

Unruh will be applying the methods he’s learned as an often-times first responder to fires.

“We’re usually the first or second on scene,” he said.

Goodbye, comfort zone

Unruh soaked up the instruction and the methodology and so too did Gameros. She, on the other hand, had to interview the crazy lady and exit from her comfort zone of heat and light and ash to whiskey, people and a small dog.

The crazy lady who freaked Gameros out was actually Liddicoat’s wife, playing crazy for the day, to help the students deal with a real-life scenario.

“It’s good to role-play to get used to dealing with these people,” Gameros said.

Gameros liked the class just as much as Unruh and said she, much like him, will be able to go back to her department and teach the system and methodology she learned.

She already teaches CPR and first aid and now she can add fire investigation to the list.

“I want to help out the (Storey County fire) department,” she said.

If nothing else, the class has been an incredible experience for her.

“I’ve learned so much in the past week,” she said. “The hands-on element is amazing.”

Arsonists, negligent parties beware

“We’re really short,” Elko City Deputy Fire Chief Mike Hecht said. “We’ve only got three (investigators) in the whole area.”

The class will produce more investigators, though it may take up to two years before these students can graduate to investigating fires on their own.

The students must go with one of the current three investigators to a series of fires and get their task books signed off on, Hecht said. The complexity of the fire determines how many more they must go on.

“We won’t have to pull (an investigator) from Battle Mountain or Winnemucca,” he said.

Hecht was co-teaching the class.

Arsonists who don’t want to end up in jail aren’t the only ones who need to realize that fire investigation is a serious matter.

By the policies of most agencies, most fires need to be investigated, Greg Liddicoat said.

“Where the fire starts determines who picks up the bill,” he said.

Fire investigation, and the classes, have been evolving and growing stronger because of the increased costs of fighting fires and the necessity of finding out who will be paying for them.

And if the fire is human-caused, the party may very well be liable for the cost of the fire fighting.

“It’s not getting cheaper,” Liddicoat said. “Negligence can lead to a bill,” he said.

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Burning Questions: course teaches how to investigate a fire as a PDF

http://elkodaily.com/news/local/course-teaches-how-to-investigate-a-fire/article_b50fcfc4-a424-11e1-903e-0019bb2963f4.html

New law requires off-road vehicles to register

ELKO — Off-highway vehicles are ubiquitous in Nevada, from dune buggies on Sand Mountain to hunters retrieving their kills.

Come July 1, Nevada residents who want to buy an off-highway vehicle, such as an all-terrain vehicle or snowmobile, will have to register it within 30 days after purchase. Residents who already own OHVs will have to register them with the Department of Motor Vehicles by July 1, 2013 . . .

June 23, 2012 — Originally published in the Elko Daily Free Press

ELKO — Off-highway vehicles are ubiquitous in Nevada, from dune buggies on Sand Mountain to hunters retrieving their kills.

Come July 1, Nevada residents who want to buy an off-highway vehicle, such as an all-terrain vehicle or snowmobile, will have to register it within 30 days after purchase. Residents who already own OHVs will have to register them with the Department of Motor Vehicles by July 1, 2013.

OHVs purchased out of state after July 1, 2012, will have to show that Nevada sales tax has been paid on them before they can be titled and registered, according to the Department of Motor Vehicle’s website.

Aye, there’s the rub

“The original genesis is because people were buying (OHVs) out of state with no title and no sales tax,” Off-Highway Vehicles Commission Chairman Paul Jackson said.

An ATV that costs $6,000, at a sales tax rate of 7 percent, costs an extra $420 in sales tax.

OHVs bought before July 1, 2012, will not be required to show proof of paid sales tax in the state.

The commission, which is appointed by the governor, has been working for six years to ready the registration regulations, Jackson said.

With an estimated $2 billion spent in the state on OHV recreation, something was needed to administer and maintain the networks of roads.

“That’s billion with a B,” Jackson said.

The fee, around $30, will exclusively benefit OHV trails through maintenance and signage, he said.

OHVs, after July 1, 2013, must be registered once a year.

The forms to register are on the DMV’s OHV website at dmvnv.com/ohv.

The OHV Commission’s website, with information on the subject, will be live on Monday at nvohv.com.

“No one knows how many OHVs are in the state,” Jackson said.

The regulations Nevada has created will allow people with Nevada OHVs to use their vehicles in states that have similar OHV registration programs, according to the Nevada DMV website.

The blanket fine for failing to register, for new OHVs after July 1, 2012, or for older ones July 1, 2013, is $100.

File by mail

“It’s important for dealers to become licensed OHV dealers,” DMV Public Information Officer Kevin Malone said.

The packet for OHV dealers is on the DMV’s OHV website.

All registration, if not done through a dealer, will be handled by mail, Malone said.

OHV owners should not come into a DMV office because all of the transactions and interactions will be done through the mail or online.

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New law requires off-road vehicles to register as a PDF

http://elkodaily.com/news/local/new-law-requires-off-road-vehicles-to-register/article_3cd8aad4-bce9-11e1-94bf-0019bb2963f4.html

Crushing the Future

ELKO — The Italians do a few things very well: sports cars, food, wine and flirtation.

New to the list is specialty construction equipment, except, not in terms of the machines themselves, which belong to the likes of Sweden’s Volvo and Japan’s Komatsu . . .

June 08, 2012  — Originally published in the Elko Daily Free Press

ELKO — The Italians do a few things very well: sports cars, food, wine and flirtation.

New to the list is specialty construction equipment, except, not in terms of the machines themselves, which belong to the likes of Sweden’s Volvo and Japan’s Komatsu.

What the Italians have done is managed to replace the normal bucket on an excavator with a crusher.

But not just any crusher; a crusher that makes variable-sized gravel and, with a sorting attachment, can make laying gravel down a quick and painless endeavor, especially when in remote areas, MB America CEO Miriano Ravazzolo said.

Another garage story

The Italian who invented the excavator extension worked as a contractor and wondered why no such crusher existed.

Commercial crushers cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, cost tens of thousands of dollars to transport, and days to set up and take down.

In other words, nothing practical for small, short or otherwise curtailed or mobile use existed, Ravazzolo said.

“He produced the first one for himself” 11 years ago, Ravazzolo said. “His buddies said, ‘I want this.’”

Today, the current crushers are far more streamlined than the first prototype.

“After 11 years, they’ve been simplified and simplified and simplified,” he said.

Ravazzolo sought for a quote, and finally paraphrased Mark Twain when he said, “If I had more time, I’d write shorter.”

At 10 years, the crusher has had that extra time and it shows in the increased simplicity of the machine, he said.

Kind of a big deal (in Europe)

Since the crusher was introduced into the market, it’s sold 7,600 models in Europe, Ravazzolo said.

In America, on the other hand, the company has only sold a few hundred units.

Ravazzolo based the American arm in Reno, partially because of its proximity to mining and to its proximity to the rest of the American West.

The crusher’s European success is evident in its share of the market it created 11 years ago: 92 percent.

The company, based in Italy, has branches all across Europe and is especially useful for pioneer trails, he said.

Pioneer trails or roads, those which are being built or built up far from a ready source of gravel and base, often cost much more than normal roads because the gravel has to be trucked in, with associated manpower and diesel costs.

The crusher, brought on to a site with the excavator, eliminates the need to truck in gravel or base for new roads.

“You can pick up material wherever you are and make your own gravel,” he said. “You can crush whatever you want.”

The crusher, often with a screener in tow, makes gravel or base that’s up to code for roads, with gravel sizes ranging from 5 inches to a single inch.

Those pesky rocks become the new gravel to travel on.

The whole gamut — from road contractors to utility companies — has been snapping up the crushing buckets in Europe, he said.

Moving on up to the West Side

A water district in California bought its own crusher to help recycle old cement.

The district, in the middle of nowhere, had to dig up and replace old cement water conduits. Before the epiphany of the crusher, they broke up the old pipes and trucked them to the dump.

Now the crews break up the pipes, just as before, but crush them and turn them into the new base for their new pipe system.

The town sees nothing wasted, little trucked in and money saved in fuel costs many times over.

Ravazzolo said the crusher is not for established mines; for those kinds of operations, a dedicated crusher is the most cost effective and efficient solution.

Prospectors, on the other hand, have been paying Ravazzolo extra special attention at the Elko Mining Expo.

Miners aren’t the only market for a crusher; cement companies, looking to reduce their physical footprints and reduce costs, take heed.

Many cement mixing companies use the crushers to process their washout, he said.

The washout, the extra cement that’s been washed out of the cement mixing cylinders, is dropped on the ground and hardens.

With the crusher, this refuse can be crushed and reused in the next batch of cement instead of trucking in that extra load of gravel.

“This is the real recycling,” he said.

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Crushing the Future as a PDF

On the web: http://elkodaily.com/mining/crushing-the-future/article_3a1faaec-b11b-11e1-9dc0-0019bb2963f4.html

 

Jackpot JOP candidate sued for harassment

JACKPOT — An Elko County deputy, who had a temporary restraining order issued against him for two months, is being sued, along with other members of the Elko County Sheriff’s Office and Elko County.

Brad Hester, who is running for justice of the peace in Jackpot, is being sued for damages stemming from alleged stalking, an alleged “unlawful” search and alleged slanderous statements . . .

June 15, 2012 — Published in the Elko Daily Free Press

JACKPOT — An Elko County deputy, who had a temporary restraining order issued against him for two months, is being sued, along with other members of the Elko County Sheriff’s Office and Elko County.

Brad Hester, who is running for justice of the peace in Jackpot, is being sued for damages stemming from alleged stalking, an alleged “unlawful” search and alleged slanderous statements.

Hester won 53 out of the 99 total votes cast in the primary election for Jackpot justice of the peace.

Hester will still face Monica Burt in the general election come November, according to the county clerk’s office.

Richard Pike, the plaintiff, applied for the first temporary protection order against Hester on Nov. 15, and it was extended by Judge Al Kacin on Dec. 14, for two months.

Kacin concluded that Hester conducted an unauthorized and warrantless search of Pike’s workplace with a K-9 officer, according to court documents.

Pike filed a complaint with the sheriff’s office after the warrantless search. Once an internal investigation, prompted by Pike’s complaint, began, Pike testified, Hester began a “stop and stare” form of harassment.

“(Hester) began driving an Elko County Sheriff’s Office patrol vehicle, while in uniform, to (Richard Pike’s)” house and work, “over the span of several months,” seven times a day, often lasting for more than five minutes at a time, according to the lawsuit filed at the end of May.

According to Kacin’s ruling, “It is especially disturbing this conduct occurred after Pike contacted (Lt. Marvin) Morton in an effort to provoke an ‘internal affairs’ investigation of Hester.”

Deputy Sean Munson is also being sued by Pike for allegedly breaking into the Jackpot Recreation Center and searching Pike’s office with neither a warrant nor probable cause.

Munson allegedly conducted the search while acting as the field training officer for the sheriff’s office, while being accompanied by newly admitted deputies. Munson had no permission from the Recreation Center staff to conduct the search, according to the lawsuit.

Sheriff Jim Pitts, Rick Keema, the Elko County Sheriff’s Office and Elko County are being sued, partially because they “breached their legal duty to properly supervise” Hester and Munson, as well as for not properly disciplining them.

Richard Pike asked the court for a temporary injunction to put Hester and Munson on administrative leave without pay, enter an order declaring that Hester, Munson, Keema, Pitts, the sheriff’s office and Elko County violated his constitutional rights, and requested an award for various damages.

Pitts declined to comment and Julie Cavanaugh-Bill, representing Pike, was not available for comment by press time.

1. Jackpot deputy reassigned to Elko — December 20, 2011

2. Judge extends deputy protective order — December 15, 2011

3. Judge examines legal authority in deputy’s restraining order — December 14, 2011

4. Kacin to issue order on deputy — December 13, 2011

5. Jackpot deputy hearing Monday — December 9, 2011

6. Deputy reassigned, investigation under way — November 24, 2011

7. Jackpot coach files for protection against deputy — November 22, 2011

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http://elkodaily.com/news/local/jackpot-jop-candidate-sued-for-harassment/article_b58f73dc-b69e-11e1-9ef1-001a4bcf887a.html

Ely fire chars 12,047 acres, 90 percent contained

ELY — The North Schell fire, a prescribed U.S. Forest Service burn that ballooned to 12,047 acres, continued to be at 90 percent containment Friday.

The fire, 20 miles northeast of Ely, is expected to be fully contained by Wednesday, according to U.S. Bureau of Land Management Public Affairs Specialist Chris Hanefeld.

The Schell fire is smoldering and creeping . . .

June 30, 2012 — Originally published in the Elko Daily Free Press

PDF Copy (Clip) — Ely fire chars 12,047 acres, 90 percent contained

ELY — The North Schell fire, a prescribed U.S. Forest Service burn that ballooned to 12,047 acres, continued to be at 90 percent containment Friday.

The fire, 20 miles northeast of Ely, is expected to be fully contained by Wednesday, according to U.S. Bureau of Land Management Public Affairs Specialist Chris Hanefeld.

The Schell fire is smoldering and creeping.

Firefighting resources began to demobilize Thursday afternoon, according to Hanefeld.

“Isolated areas of smoke are expected throughout the interior of the burn area for up to a month and may be visible to Ely and McGill residents,” Hanefeld said.

The Forest Service started the fire on June 9 before it crossed over into BLM land and was declared a wildfire on June 17.

Two factors led to the fire’s growth, Forest Service Ely District Ranger Jose Noriega said.

The first was spotting — when embers fly ahead of the fire.

The fire, with about 300-foot flame lengths, stopped at green sagebrush and mahogany but spotted half a mile farther into a stand of old white fir.

The embers landed in a heavy fuel zone not accessible by vehicles on June 12 in the late afternoon, Noriega said.

The Forest Service had ceased to set fires by then.

The embers hit an area of old and dead trees, he said.

“It was too dangerous to put people in to control it,” he said.

At 3 p.m. June 16 a log rolled out of the area lit by the spotting and into the bottom of a canyon.

Helicopters were directed to stop the spread of the fire but on June 17 high winds in the mid- to late morning picked up and whipped the fire down the canyon and prevented helicopters from dropping water on it, he said.

“It went right down the canyon,” Noriega said.

All of the resources, crews and machines were moved to the bottom of the canyon to try to prevent it from burning structures and mule deer and sage grouse habitat.

The sides of the canyons were “real rocky,” which hindered crews but also hindered the fire.

The log and the spotting changed the whole fire.

“Those two factors led to something new,” he said.

A double-wide mobile home, on the east side of the fire, burned. It was in a sporadic pinyon-juniper area.

The resident was able to safely evacuate and take a few belongings, Hanefeld said.

The rancher whose home burned told Noriega he is still supportive of the controlled burns.

“He wants us to do (the burns) in the future,” Noriega said. “A lot of people who were affected want to see this continue.”

The prescribed burn was supposed to be 600-700 acres to burn out white fir to allow the area to be restored to aspen.

“Aspen loves fire,” he said.

After a fire burns white fir out of an area, aspen will take hold. In 100-200 years, with no burns, white fir will take the area back over.

After a fire, aspen can sprout 1,000 to 2,000 trees per acre, Noriega said.

Aspen sprouts from roots protected in the ground, usually unaffected by the burns.

“It’s possible to cook it,” he said.

If a burn happens in extremely hot weather with dry ground, it can cook the aspen roots to death, Noriega said.

The burn was part of a larger relandscaping effort the Forest Service approved after a National Environmental Policy Act process.

The plan calls for 12,000 acres of prescribed burns and 12,000 acres of mechanical treatments, such as chopping down trees and harvesting them, in a 78,000-acre area.

There are no more plans for burns or mechanical treatments this summer, Noriega said.

Indian Creek and Kalamazoo roads, and the Kalamazoo Recreation Site, are now open.

Pinto fire completely contained

Firefighters fully contained the 2,800 acre Pinto fire Friday, which burned 20 miles east of Eureka.

The fire caused six residents of a ranch to be evacuated but they were moved back into their residences Wednesday.

High winds caused power lines to arc, sparking the fire, which was 30 miles north of the Bald Mountain mine, early Tuesday morning at 12:30, according to Hanefeld.

Residents in Newark Valley lost power temporarily and Mt. Wheeler Power restored it with a substation while they repaired the main power lines.

“Firefighters will continue mop-up activities in the interior burn area,” Hanefeld said Friday.

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http://elkodaily.com/news/local/ely-fire-chars-acres-percent-contained/article_2beafe0a-c263-11e1-89af-001a4bcf887a.html