By Mark Waite
AMARGOSA VALLEY — While Pahrump voters decided to take power away from their town board, Amargosa Valley voters signed a petition and won independence for their board in 2012.
On Thursday, newly elected members took the bull by the horns, untangling a host of unfamiliar parliamentary matters in their first meeting.
Board member John Bosta wanted to nominate John “Doc” McNeely as chairman, but board member Trevor Dolby followed with his own choice, Joe Cohan. McNeely said the proper protocol was for the board to vote on the first nomination. McNeely won the vote.
Then the agenda said the board was merely to discuss the appointment of a vice-chairman, in case they didn’t need one. Bosta wanted to nominate Cohan for vice-chairman. But they had to postpone action until the next meeting.
Then there was the tricky matter of deciding who would serve four-year terms and who would serve two years. Since there is already one vacancy after the death of Joe DeLee in a Nov. 24 car wreck, Bosta suggested three of the four sitting members serve for four years. Dolby had suggested waiting until the fifth board member was appointed by the governor.
McNeely again resolved the problem. He spoke with County Clerk Sam Merlino who suggested the four board members draw cards, with the lowest card serving a two-year term. McNeely said the person who is appointed will only serve until the next election anyway.
“It’s customary in Nevada, since our background is gaming, to use a deck of cards,” McNeely said. “It was my intent to see if someone had a deck of cards and bring it to the meeting.”
Merlino informed him the high suits in order, were spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs. They could fan out the cards and pick one or shuffle the deck. It was the way County Commissioner Butch Borasky won the Republican primary in 2010, resolving a tie with Carl Moore Sr.
But nobody brought a deck of cards. They didn’t have straws to draw from either. So the town clerk brought out some plastic spoons, one was cut shorter than the others — Cohan drew the short spoon and the two-year term.
McNeely, the new town board chairman, appointed Cohan as the liaison to human resources and tourism/economic development; Dolby to the cemetery committee and fire department; Bosta to the health clinic and planning; while former board member Vern Gilliland, sitting in the audience, was appointed to the building and park use committee.
Gilliland said his committee is considering a fee for usage of the community center, similar to what Pahrump and Beatty do.
Board members didn’t take action on sending a letter to Gov. Brian Sandoval about appointing DeLee’s replacement. Gilliland applied for the vacancy, he didn’t run in the election, but said Thursday he decided to apply for it to prove former County Commissioner Joni Eastley wrong that the town of Amargosa Valley couldn’t support itself financially. The town is already taxing property at the tax cap of $3.64 per $100 of valuation.
Applicants had a deadline of Dec. 30 to apply for the vacancy, but Bosta wanted to start the application process over.
There were conflicting reports given at the meeting. McNeely said the county clerk’s office informed him the clerk advertises the vacancy and when the governor has sufficient applicants he makes a choice. Gilliland said he talked to the governor’s office who informed him they had received more than one application and the governor would fill the vacancy before the start of the legislative session in early February.
Gilliland made a brief stump speech.
“I was totally involved in virtually all aspects of the town’s business,” Gilliland told board members from the audience.
Gilliland said he worked extensively with DeLee on things like a personnel policy, some of them came to pass, others didn’t. But Gilliland said the main focus was to get an elected town board. Gilliland said he was the “go to guy” when he was on the board, if people had problems.
“You gotta be smarter than a box of rocks. That’s all it takes,” he said.
Bosta said the governor’s office can’t take action to fill the vacancy until they receive a certificate of vacancy from the town board. He predicted it could take several months to fill the seat.
Pahrump waited nine months for the governor to appoint a replacement to Carolene Endersby who resigned from the town board in March. The Pahrump Town Board recommended three choices for the governor, something Bosta wanted to follow.
“We can send a letter of recommendation to the governor to be considered if we can find people who want to put their name in,” Bosta said.
Dolby added, “My intention was to make it absolutely clear no deadline passed.”
Town clerk Mike Cottingim said the vacancy was advertised in locations around Amargosa Valley including the library, clinic, post office, bank and community center.
In a follow-up letter to the governor’s office and county commission after the meeting, Bosta requested the county commission fill the vacancy.
Bosta also wants an inventory of what property belongs to the town of Amargosa Valley and what belongs to Nye County. He wants to start a dialogue with the county over the dispute, Cottinghim said Nye County Comptroller Susan Paprocki informed him the county was working on an inventory.
“The library is still the property of the town because the bond issue paid for the library,” Bosta said.
Board members also discussed whether to put more controls over the town newsletter. Cohan said one group had two pages last time, too much to pay for. The newsletter costs $80 to $84 per month to print, Cottinghim said, and almost a day of his time. An advertisement costs $100.
Colby urged board members to try to limit legal expenses for the Pitegoff law offices, after a $2,490 bill for the period from Oct. 1 through Dec. 4, about $400 was for correspondence about the newsletter.
Among other organizational business, Cohan, McNeely and Dolby will be the co-signers on a checking account at American First National Bank.