weather icon Clear

Local couple finds retirement isn’t easy

t’s hard to find a Pahrump native these days. Unless family members have been in this area since the town began to coagulate in the 1960s, most residents have moved here from somewhere else. And because this is a “bedroom” community to Las Vegas, it attracts a number of folks seeking a simpler life, and because it’s less expensive than Las Vegas, it attracts a large number of retirees.

Bill and Salli Kerr moved to Pahrump in 2002 in a combination of both. Back then, Bill was 52 and Salli was only 38. The couple looked around quite a bit before they settled here. Salli said, “We looked at Mesquite, Parker, Ariz., and other places. Bill came to Pahrump by himself the first time, but when I came back with him, I knew this is where we were supposed to be. I knew this is where Bill would retire.”

Salli has three children from a previous marriage, and although the family lived in a small community in Orange County, Calif., and enjoyed it, they were far away from most amenities and the schools. Her youngest son was entering middle school and all the children were being bused into the city for classes. “I didn’t want that kind of life for them,” Salli said.

Bill is retired from safeguarding pools against child drowning. He said he needed to get involved after his own son drowned in his backyard pool in California.

His main motivation for being here was the small community feel and the lenient laws. He said, “You could pretty much do what you wanted on your own place, and it’s the cheapest place to live. I hated both of us having to work full time.”

Salli manages Arnie’s Cocktail Lounge and The Hideaway for her uncle Darrell Strain and Bill does the farming chores.

The most important thing for both of them was being able to “pump water out of the ground.”

Bill said, “We sold our home in California and were able to pay cash for our house and five acres here. We don’t have a mortgage.”

The couple wanted a simple life and a good place to raise the boys. They had a lot to learn about the simple life, and the learning curve wasn’t far behind the relocation. Bill said just over one year after they moved here, their home caught fire and he learned to “build a house” out of necessity.

“When you have a mortgage, your insurance is figured in as part of your house payment. Without that, we were underinsured when the house burned, I had to rebuild it. I thought it was going to be easy to retire.”

Salli, who is originally from Montana, comes from a farming family. Her knowledge was instrumental in the couple’s next adventure as they “went from city folks to country folks.”

Bill said, “We wanted to raise our own food and with three kids, we were spending $10 a day for milk back then. We figured it was cheaper to buy the cow, so we did.” Salli did the milking until Bill caught on. Now the couple has one milk cow, a bull and a calf. Bill said the bull is going to the freezer soon.

Extra milk goes into butter and cheese or gets fed to the chickens.

They added chickens to the growing menagerie and fresh eggs to the fridge.

Salli said putting in a garden wasn’t overwhelming to her. Bill took the Cooperative Extension Master Gardener classes.

“The original garden was 40 feet wide and 100 feet long. It was huge.” With a garden that size, the family could can and freeze their own food for the winter. Salli said, “There’s nothing like opening the pantry and seeing all those canned vegetables. You know where they came from, how they were grown and when I open the jar in November, it’s going to taste just like it did when I canned it.” Bill said, “We give back. All the food we don’t use goes to the food banks.”

She said last year, there was no garden. Bill has COPD, and could no longer take care of such a massive garden while Salli worked. “We really miss having one, growing our food.” Salli said she and Bill go to the farmer’s markets to buy produce if they don’t have a garden.

Asked if the local politics has changed the way they live over the years, Salli said, “Even if the government drives me crazy, there’s something we can do about it. I can walk up and introduce myself to any member of the town board or county commissioners and have my say. They are approachable. It’s not that way in a large city. It’s where we have power.

“We don’t have that on a national level. This community is too small to matter anywhere but here. People need to pay attention and be heard. Bill and I like this as a small community. Some businesses are OK, but we didn’t come here to live in a city. If someone wants city life, they can move into one.”

She said one of her biggest gripes is the community complaints about not having anything for the kids to do here. “I practically lived in my car for four years when the boys were growing up. I was always running them here or there for healthy activities. We’ve had businesses here that provided entertainment for the kids. Skate Zone and Sandbaggers have both gone out of business because even when it’s here, the community doesn’t support it.”

Two of her sons are making their lives in Las Vegas. EliCline is her youngest and has integrated himself into the community as a Little League coach, and as the Trojans JV football and baseball coach.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Thousands watch Nye County GOP virtual debate

The Nye County Republican Central Committee, with the participation of the Pahrump Valley Times, hosted a GOP debate last weekend for the contenders vying for the Republican vote in the 2020 primary election, with nearly three dozen candidates joining in to tackle a variety of topics pertinent to their various offices and thousands of voters watching over two days of discourse and debate.

Striving for success, commission reduces Pahrump Fall Festival vendor fees

The Pahrump Fall Festival is, hands down, the single largest community event in the valley each year but over the past few years, it has been dwindling a bit in terms of participation by vendors offering merchandise and goodies for the thousands of people who turn out on a regular basis. With this in mind, town and county officials have made the decision to revise the vendor booth fee schedule, lowering the prices in an effort to attract more vendors and make the 2020 Fall Festival a resounding success.

Pahrump’s Movies in the Park given the go-ahead

It’s been more than two months since the last community gathering was held in Pahrump and though certain restrictions are still in place regarding the number of people allowed to congregate in public or private settings, the town is now readying for the first large-scale public event since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nevada, its annual Movies in the Park.

Leslie Street paving to commence tomorrow in Pahrump

Pahrump Valley motorists who regularly travel along Leslie Street might want to consider another route this Thursday and Friday, May 28 and 29, as the repaving project for the stretch of Leslie Street between Basin Avenue and Irene Street is set to take place over the next two days.

Virus deadly to Beatty events

Among the victims of COVID-19 are Beatty’s two biggest events of the year—the Fourth of July celebration in the park and Beatty Days in October.

Storm Area 51 cost Nye County $363,000

More than seven months after the Storm Area 51 event that had Nye County in an official state of emergency, the county now has a view of just how much the event cost it, with a reported $363,000 in unbudgeted expenses connected to the phenomenon that grew out of what was originally intended as a social media joke.

Fight For Nevada holds second rally in Pahrump

Fight For Nevada, the group striving to recall Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, held its Freedom March this past Saturday, drawing together dozens of disgruntled residents for a demonstration of protest against continued COVID-19 restrictions on the public and businesses as well as any other action they feel infringes upon their constitutional rights.

DAN SIMMONS: Get back to nature, enjoy the sounds of silence

Even as we see improvement in the current pandemic, but continue the process of quarantine, isolation, hibernation and social distancing, do what you can by continuing to work at home, work with government programs and creditors.

Pahrump’s Golden Years contestants surprise pageant founder

The contestants for the 2020 Ms. Senior Golden Years Pageant recently made a special visit to pageant founder BJ Hetrick-Irwin’s house to bring a smile to her face and let her know that while the pageant may have to be postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the ladies are ready and willing to forge forth with the annual event just as soon as they are able.