By Selwyn Harris
Newly minted Town Board member Amy Riches said she is glad to put her inaugural town board meeting in the books as of Tuesday evening.
The seven-year Pahrump resident describes herself as a housewife and a jack of all trades, but master of none.
When it comes to town related issues, Riches has very strong opinions on which direction the town should be moving for the benefit of all residents, businesses, and organizations.
She spoke about the Bob Ruud Community Center and her disappointment in the user fees, which were implemented by the board last year.
The fees are also applied to area parks.
“I really want the community center to go back to the community and it is ridiculous when nonprofit organizations cannot afford to use the center. It belongs to the people and the town should not be using it as a piggy bank,” she said.
The town paid more than $100,000 to upgrade the aging building, which included renovating the roof portion that was heavily damaged after severe rainstorms hit the valley in late 2011.
It costs the town $41,879 annually just to maintain and operate the facility.
Town staff estimated that they could generate $12,440 each year by incorporating user fees, which would leave the town with a $29,439 deficit.
Att the time, Town Manager Bill Kohbarger said the savings is better than nothing.
“We just want to break even. We pay for the electricity, we pay for the manpower to do all of the work at the parks and breaking even would be perfect. All of the groups get the use of the park for free and there’s no reason they can’t help pitch in for the costs,” he said.
Another pebble in Riches’ shoe was the condition of Pahrump Valley Fire and Rescue Services Station Three, located on the south end of town.
She described the state of the facility as horrible.
“It leaks like a sieve because it is in a scooped out ground just standing on bricks basically. It is horrible and these guys deserve better,” she said.
As a staunch opponent of incorporation, Riches also provided her thoughts on growth within the Pahrump Valley.
She said too much growth too soon would be bad for the community.
“The other thing that I am really interested in is some kind of growth moratorium to preserve our water and save our wells. In order to save our wells, we have to have a moratorium on growth. These are the three major things at this point,” she said.
Growth, Station Three, and user fees aside, Riches noted that she also has some major concerns about parks in and around the community.
She said she visited all of the area parks in town and jotted down notes that she would like her colleagues to peruse for consideration.
“I wrote three pages down of things that I wanted to see fixed. I gave them until February 1 to get them fixed because I wanted to be fair with the holidays and everything. I have been told that several of the items have been fixed,” she said.
Riches, once considered a “dark horse” candidate ran on a shoestring budget.
She noted she is very thankful for all of the support from Pahrump residents.
“The voters are signaling that they want a positive change and I am ecstatic. I didn’t know what to expect to be honest. I did not have any signs out because I didn’t have any funds to get the signs. I just thought we will see what happens so I feel really grateful. I intend to keep all of my promises. I told the truth. I love this town and I love the people. To be perfectly honest, it seems to me that the town board hasn’t done anything for the people,” Riches said.
She went on to say that she hopes all the board members can find a common ground and working together for the town’s best interests.
“I’m hoping that they will listen to the people more. I have to work with them but I don’t care if I get along with anybody on the town board, although I’m hoping to work with them. I am there for the people. I’m not there to win a popularity contest with the other members of the board although I am hoping to really get along and do good things. Again I’m for the people so I don’t know what’s going to happen,” she admitted.
Riches also remarked on the ballot question number two which voters passed by a very slim margin in Nov.
Town staff are now litigating the constitutionality of the question which will be decided on next month by Judge Robert Lane.
If Lane’s decision goes against the town, the board will revert to an essentially powerless advisory board where the county will take over the town’s responsibilities.
Riches suggested that the town made its own bed and now must sleep in it.
“They brought it on themselves because they were rude to people, they didn’t listen to the people so the previous town board brought it on themselves,” she said.
Riches and her husband of 17 years moved to Pahrump from Las Vegas.
In her leisure time, she enjoys working on arts and crafts along with tending to her beloved pets.