Mineral County Board of County Commissioner highlights from Nov. 15 and 21

Nov. 15

Canvass of results

Clerk Chris Nepper discussed the canvassing of the Mineral County General Election which was held on Nov. 6. The commissioners approved.

Mina trust property

The commissioners met regarding the petitioning of the purchase of trust property in Mina. The board approved the sale but the planning commission will need to conduct a new survey.

Mina Well

Larry Grant gave the commissioners an overview of the condition of the Mina Well and informed them he would by applying for the Emergency and Imminent Community Water Assistance Grant (ECWAG) for emergency repair and equipment replacement. He was approved to go forward.

Nov. 22

Safety message

Patrick Hughes, Emergency Manager gave out ideas regarding preparing for the winter months.

Public comment

Commissioner Garth Price explained that the director’s meeting went well.

Hawthorne Utilities Director Larry Grant gave the commissioners an update on the Mina Well situation. He explained that Hawthorne Utilities was approved through the FDA to move forward with the plan they presented. An engineer is going to compose an emergency PER letter to the FDA.

Accounts payable

A request from the fire department for uniforms in the amount of $311 was presented to the commissioners. It was approved.

Recorder-Auditor Christine Hoferer informed the commissioners that the county cash balance was $278,000. She explained that she does have revenue coming in for December and that January is a good month.

Hoferer expressed her concern to the commissioners about the Hawthorne Town fund. The balance is $50,501 with an expense of $46,000 being drawn from that account. She explained that Fire Chief Chris Lawrence met with her in regards to a large voucher with a reimbursement. A voucher for radios was also discussed. Hoferer stated that Lawrence was not in town but she will meet with him when he is available.

Discussion of sheriff’s office vouchering radio annual fee to the fire department. Hoferer will get with all parties involved.

The court facilities fund is over $300,000 she told the commissioners.

She explained that the 11th Judicial District and the Law Library funds have been established.


Deputy Clerk Bonnie DeMars told the commissioners she has a letter from Lt. Col. Dustin Bishop regarding historic boundaries.

The Naval National Environmental Policy Act for the Fallon Range is available in the clerk’s office.

BLM updates

Ken Collum, Stillwater Field manger of the Bureau of Land Management. Collum told the commissioners to focus on chapter 2 of the Fallon Range expansion.

Graze management was discussed in Mineral County.

Rawhide is moving along with Nevada Department of Environmental Protection; nothing to report for Dajin and Thor Mining is moving forward. The BLM geologist made a map for the commissioners.

Road Department manager Eric Hamrey stated there was a road out by Rawhide that Best in the Desert used and he would like to check it and report back to BLM.

Business license

The following business licenses were approved: PK Backflow Services, Paul Kati (Price abstained from vote). Grant explained that he cannot test any of those devices until he produces his license to Hawthorne Utilities.

Steve Pierson for Steve Pierson was accepted.

Boat ramp

Hamrey explained the agreement in place with State Parks. He had a meeting with Nevada Division of State Lands who “own” anything that goes into the water. At the meeting, Hamrey stated State Lands said there would be no charge on the boat ramp. State Lands sent an invoice for $200 for the ramp.

“Bless their little pinheads,” Tipton said when she told Hamrey to get with State Lands.

The commissioner directed Hamrey to meet with State Lands and State Parks to get this item resolved and come back in front of the commissioners at a later date.

Flood update

Hughes gave the commissioners an update regarding the 2018 floods. He stated that there is not much to update. He has submitted all documents the state has asked for.

“We have had one of these every year. Whether it is a flood or a tornado, each year we scramble on how we are going to pay for this,” Tipton told the commissioners after she advised them to set funds back for 2019.

Hamrey explained that his department and the utilities department will have an agenda item at a later date regarding opening of Cory Canyon.

Hamrey explained that it is $22,000 for one month to rent the equipment to open up Bodie Canyon.

Hughes explained that the state is getting monies for flood mitigation.

Senior center internet

Cherrie George, senior services director agendized the need to purchase and install network security firewall equipment at the Hawthorne Senior Center – replacing equipment that is no longer sufficient to handle current internet needs.

The estimated price would be around $1,000. George explained that she had originally put this on the agenda in request for funds but she changed her mind and this will be paid out of the gift fund.

Public guardian

Mike James, Public Guardian advised the commissioners the need to appoint a public guardian effective Jan. 7, 2019.

James stated that they are currently working on the transition of him out of the office. He explained that Dawn McClare, his deputy, could fill the position.

Hoferer explained that this position cannot be appointed. It will need to be advertised and a job description/salary range needs to be on file. Final decision will be made on Dec. 19.

Hoferer brought the commissioners back to this item agenda in the afternoon. She discussed the salary level of other county directors.

The commissioners decided to change the salary range from $32,000 to $40,000.

Case management software

District Attorney Sean Rowe requested the purchase of case management software for the district attorney’s office. Rowe discussed the caseload on his office and stated that the system that is currently not able to handle the load.

He described the new software and the need for this as Marcy’s Law has now passed. The cost would be approximately $36,000 and $4,000 annually.

This also interfaces with the Spillman report that the sheriff’s office currently uses. Also has the ability to e-file with Justice Court.

This software is web based, Rowe said.

Hoferer asked if this improves the justice court, it could be taken out of the court improvement account.

Rowe stated that he would also chip in some of his forfeiture monies.

Tipton advised Rowe to speak with current Justice of the Peace, Jay T. Gunter and come back in front of the board at a later meeting.

Hiring Forms

Commissioner Chris Hegg placed the following on the commissioner’s agenda, “For consideration and possible action relative to removing EEO and Disability statement from hiring forms and website, requesting complete county hiring process audit by third party for State and legal compliance for county.”

Hegg asked that POOL/PACT provides training and would like them to do an internal audit of hiring practices to see if Mineral County is in compliance. POOL/PACT can give training and recommendations on Mineral County hiring practices.

Hoferer explained the EEO statement and explained that the application is the POOL/PACT form.

“Every county office takes care of their own hiring,” Hoferer stated. She explained the situation with justice court employees.

Tipton asked if all department heads attend the trainings given by Hoferer’s office. Hoferer stated it was well attended and refresher classes are a good idea.

“We absolutely cannot remove that from our forms [the EEO and Disability statement],” Hoferer explained.

Hegg explained that there needs to be more focused training.

Tipton asked Hegg if he wanted POOL/PACT to come in and tell the county what their strengths and weaknesses are in their employment practice and what recommendations need to given.

Rowe asked what the cost of this “audit” will be and if POOL/PACT will actually do this service.

Tipton asked Hegg to reagendize this for two weeks with details on cost, etc.

County comptroller

Hegg placed an item on the agenda to create an office of county comptroller pursuant to NRS 251.170, including proposed duties, job description and funding.

“I think it’s time with our complexity of budget,” Hegg stated about creating a comptroller position. “I think we need expertise.”

He explained that he had spoken to the outside county auditor regarding this.

“If we were using the right funding, for the right personnel, in the right area, I think our Assessor does need a position down there. I think that money with our revenues changing and increasing – I think we could get them a position,” Hegg explained. He explained that the assessor is bogged down due to the workload.

“I’ve always thought we needed somebody,” Tipton said.

Hoferer explained that speaking with the independent auditor is different than speaking about budget.

“I guess I am confused. I sit in here every two weeks and give you the financial information of the county by fund. We can give you more. We’ve asked you what you wanted. You see the detailed expense reports,” Hoferer told the commissioners. “If you guys don’t do something with those reports, that’s up to you.”

Hoferer asked Hegg if he would like to break up the recorder – auditor position within the office. He answered yes.

“I can’t pull an elected officer and say okay, I want these five things investigated,” Hegg said. “Can you give me any information? You don’t have to actually answer me.”

“You are an elected official. You don’t have to answer me,” he said to Hoferer.

“I’m statutorily obligated to anyone who comes into my office to state, this is the balance of this fund, this is the cash balance, here is their budget, here is their audit. I’m statutorily obligated to do that for you, to you and any member of the public. That is what my job is,” Hoferer told Hegg.

“Maybe you would know a little bit better had you stepped into my office in the last two years that you have been here,” she explained.

“I don’t believe it is enough,” Hegg told Hoferer.

Hegg gave his argument as to why the comptroller position would benefit the commissioners.

“It takes a specialized person to give us those answers,” Hegg said.

Hoferer asked what would happen to the staff if the auditor position was erased and the additional cost of paying the recorder their salary.

“This is the most efficient way to serve our taxpayers,” she explained after stating that her office once had two additional positions that had to be cut due to finances.

“You don’t understand what you are talking about,” George told Hegg. “I don’t think you understand your position as commissioner.”

“This directly affects what I was elected to do,” Cindy Nixon said to Hegg. She explained the Nevada Revised Statutes to him. She explained that Hegg must place the item onto the ballot to separate the office. “Is this personal or is this your agenda,” she asked Hegg after feeling that this may be a personal attack after Hegg tried to dismantle the planning commission. She feels that her competency was challenge after it was said that “all the knowledge is walking out the door.”

DeMars explained that she believes that the taxpayers ask the commissioners questions and that the comptroller position was one of these questions.

“I think you need to work harder with the local government structure we have,” Hoferer told the board.

“Maybe you need a county manager,” Cindy Nixon asked.

“Just because it has been this way for years, it may not be best in the future,” Tipton said. “I had said for years, if we could ever come up with enough, a county manager is $100,000 a year.”

Hoferer explained that the new financial system is more up to date and will allow the commissioners and other department heads a day by day overview.

Rowe weighed in on the statues that Nixon quoted earlier in the meeting.

Tipton explained that she doesn’t feel at this time that they need a comptroller. She would rather see how the financial system works out. Price believes there needs to be a county manager but explained he isn’t educated enough to vote on a comptroller position.

No decision was made.


Hegg asked for the creation of an ordinance to allow the sale of fireworks countywide; sales, restrictions, usage and related information. Tipton explained that there was no ordinance at this time but one will be before the board by that afternoon.

Price explained that he believed that the ordinance should be that people can buy them but not use them within the county.

Hegg explained that he had seen the sale of fireworks in Pahrump and he would like to have the ability to sell county-wide that will allow the sales.

Mark Nixon asked if this will allow the use of fireworks in Mineral County.

Rowe explained if he was going to write the ordinance, he would combine the two ordinances and rescind the older ordinance.

Hamrey asked how his would affect the WPA who comes to town to do a workshop.

A member of the Walker River Paiute Tribe explained that he only sells seasonal fireworks but it will take away from business on the reservation.

Hoferer said she would believe this could make those on the reservation upset.

Tipton advised Hegg to get with the Walker River Tribal Council to see if the sale of fireworks within Mineral County would benefit the tribe.

It was advised to bring this back to the board at a later time.

Planning commission

Mark Nixon advised the commissioners that the planning commission had been light.

Mike McNeill, from the Hawthorne Convention Center, discussed a gateway monument when entering the community and a lighted marquee to get people into town.

Price explained that it would leave the original sign but the inside will be replaced with a computer type board.

Hughes stated that McNeill had met with the LEPC board and as long as the marquee is at the convention center, the LEPC board may support it with a grant.

The board will need to discuss using the marquee when there is an emergency or a paid advertisement.

He clarified some things that were in the newspaper regarding his role on the planning commission.

Evaluation of Bret Towe

The commissioner met “for consideration and possible action relative to conducting annual performance evaluation of Mineral County Computer Technician Bret Towe, including, but not limited to possible promotion, endorsement engagement, retention, termination, suspension, demotion, and reduction in pay, reprimand or “no action”.” A closed session can be held in regards to this item to consider character, alleged misconduct, professional competence and physical or mental health pursuant to NRS 241.030.

Towe asked in going forward that they may possibly ask all departments to help on his evaluation as he is involved with all departments.

George explained that Towe has been very helpful at the care and share.

Price asked that an inventory program be done. Towe explained that this has already been started and he explained his process.

Price also stated that he feels some departments have way too many cell phones and he would like to know who has them and possibly get rid of some phones that are not needed.

Towe explained that he needs more space to work on items.

The commissioners thanked Towe for his work over the last year.

Software package

Towe asked the commissioners for authorization to purchase the hardware needed to run the Albert Sensor software package that is part of the state’s work on improving voter security.

He explained this is something that the state has been pushing. The cost is over $9,000 and will be reimbursed by the state and a yearly fee will need to be paid.

The software will be used for voter security.

Nuisance complaint

The commissioners heard the nuisance complaint for Parcel #001-243-02. The property is the Covered Wagon Motel.

Building Inspector Mike Fontaine gave the commissioners photos. He explained that the garage door is unsecured. There is no damaged doors or windows.

Fontaine stated sent the owners a letter to secure the garage, fixed the fence and clean up the weeds.

He stated he was approached by people to make it into a hostel.

The initial complaint stated that children were playing around and on items in the area. Fontaine said this was an issue of the complainer needing to contact the parents.