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Longtime NyE Communities Coalition employee says goodbye

A longtime employee at NyE Communities Coalition is bidding farewell to the Pahrump Valley.

Coalition Director and Community Educator Laura Oslund recently accepted the executive director position for a similar organization encompassing Elko, White Pine and Eureka counties.

Oslund, who moved to the Pahrump community back in 1997, said the new organization made her an ‘offer she could not refuse.’

Her final day at the coalition is Feb. 29.

“I found a better opportunity for me,” she said. “The only way I could really move up in our coalition is if our executive director, Stacy Smith left and we wouldn’t want that either. It is a great opportunity and though I hate to admit that I’m getting older, these opportunities only come around every so often.”

Oslund said the mission statement for both organizations are nearly identical and focuses on strengthening the character and competencies of youth and families through a collaborative effort of community members.

Those efforts are targeted at every community sector to reduce substance abuse and enhance factors encouraging youth to make healthy choices in their lives.

“I am a substance abuse prevention specialist and community educator regarding the use and abuse of various substances,” she said. “My time with the school district and the coalition enabled me to increase my knowledge and work within the communities in Nye, Lincoln and Esmeralda counties, where I provided education and training to community partners, organizations, and businesses throughout those counties.”

Additionally, Oslund said she is looking forward to building similar relationships with residents in and around the community of Elko.

Essential to the new position is travel.

“One of the things they were talking about is my assets, which involves me going out into the various communities and meeting people where they are, seeing what they need and bringing it back,” she said. “That’s one of the things that I really enjoy about my job, reaching out to different communities.”

Oslund’s announcement took many at the coalition by surprise.

She talked about a little ‘good-natured’ ribbing from a few of her associates, after they learned of her accepting the new position.

“Former District Attorney Brian Kunzi called me when he heard about my departure and lightheartedly said I hate you,” she said with a laugh. “Assemblyman James Oscarson and said I no longer exist as far as he’s concerned. It was all in a loving light-hearted manner and those are the type of relationships that I have within the community through the coalition and that I will definitely miss.”

Coalition Executive Director Stacy Smith said Oslund has been a key factor in the growth of the organization over the years.

“I’m really happy for her and glad I will get to work collaboratively with her on state projects with her new job,” Smith said. “I’m going to miss Laura personally and professionally. Her dedication to our community is going to be missed, and for those of us who have attended her meetings, we will miss her amazing food.”

Oslund, meanwhile, said she will also miss many of the connections she’s made over the years, with numerous individuals while at the coalition.

“I know in our rural community, we’re always running into each other, no matter where we go,” she said. “I have a lot of those relationships already as well as relationships with local law enforcement and everybody I work with. I also feel very lucky to work for NyE Communities Coalition and with some of the best people around, both the staff and members of the community in general.”

Though Oslund is eager to begin her new career chapter, there was one thing she’s preparing for when she arrives in Elko, roughly 437 miles from the town of Pahrump.

Today’s forecast calls for highs in the mid-30’s with an overnight low of 12 degrees.

“The weather is going to be a challenge,” she lamented. “I accepted the job without thinking about it because most of the time I go up there between May and October. I started looking at the winter weather and it reminded me of Minnesota. They were also telling me that it has been unusually cold as of late.”

On the flipside, Oslund noted she’s also gearing up for one of her many favorite pastimes once she gets settled in.

“I really love to fly fish so I will have a much better opportunity to make that happen,” she said. “I also like to hike and they have some beautiful canyons up there, including Cave Lake in White Pine County. I am making a lot of changes and I am going off on my own. Fortunately, I do have some friends up there who own ranches.”

Oslund has traveled around the globe since she was born on an U.S. Air Force base in Libya.

She moved to Nevada in 1981.

Oslund inadvertently quoted a line from a popular 1984 sci-fi movie, while noting her departure is not a final goodbye to the Pahrump community.

“I’ll be back,” she said. “I will definitely come back and visit. I also decided not to sell my house here in Pahrump because I feel so very tied to the community. When I retire I know I’ll want to live in a warmer climate, so my home will always be here for me. As we get closer to my final day, it gets so much harder for me. I will be coming back to cook at the annual Crab Fest for the CASA organization.”

Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at sharris@pvtimes.com

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