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County to acquire Manhattan cemetery

TONOPAH — Nye County acquired the historic Belmont courthouse after action by the Nevada Legislature last year, now the county will acquire the Mount Moriah Cemetery in Manhattan.

Nye County authorized $40,000 for the acquisition back in October 2012, the sale price will only be $6,500 for the 7.5 acres, which the U.S. Department of the Interior determined was the fair market value.

County Commissioner Lorinda Wichman said she has been working on the project for four years. Nye County initially asked for a recreation and public purpose lease in August 2010 but changed that to a request for the direct sale back in August 2011. The acquisition allows the expansion of the cemetery from the original 3.78 acres.

“Because of potential hazmat issues, it is the BLM policy to encourage a direct land sale or special legislation when transferring or patenting cemeteries to counties or municipalities,” former BLM Tonopah Field Office Manager Tom Seley wrote county commissioners in March 2011.

The sale transfers all the responsibility for management, operation and any remedial action required to the county. The county had to undertake the cost of printing notices, a Hazmat survey, cultural survey and mineral report.

While that project was completed, Wichman was upset a memorandum of agreement with the Federal Highway Administration Central Federal Lands Highway Division will require a full-blown environmental study for a grant to rebuild .8 miles of Main Street in Manhattan.

Main Street is Highway 377, the road that continues on to the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and the historic town of Belmont. The section being rehabilitated is 6.6 miles east of the intersection of Highway 376, the Tonopah to Austin highway.

The agreement states a cultural resource survey and consultation with Native American tribes will be required for compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act.

The project will cost $1.325 million, the Federal Lands Access Program will fund $1.295 million as a 95 percent match; Nye County must allocate $70,000 as a 5 percent local match. Construction is expected to take place in September 2015.

“This is another situation where they want to walk down a road that has been maintained for 100 years and see if there’s any bugs, bunnies or bones on it,” Wichman said. “Does anybody get outraged by that as a taxpayer besides me?”

Nye County Public Works Director Dave Fanning said he had to go through the same thing requesting funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), better known as the stimulus package, to repave two miles of Gamebird Road in Pahrump. He recalled having to take three flights to Reno packed with information to apply for the government grant for a road that existed for 64 years with no environmental concerns, but was able to convince the feds no National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) studies were needed.

“That town was established in 1906. That road has been there since 1906. If there are any archaeological finds on that road they’ve already walked off with everybody that lives there,” Wichman said.

On another Manhattan matter, commission Chairman Dan Schinhofen inquired about fixing the padlocked Manhattan church, the oldest church in the state. Charles Abbott and Associates reported the church is on a grade inaccessible to disabled persons, stairs don’t comply with code, drywall is falling inside, a small room at the rear doesn’t have proper footing, there isn’t appropriate parking access and consultants were unable to determine the support under the floor.

Wichman wanted to at least patch the roof to stop any more deterioration, but County Manager Pam Webster felt the building was splitting.

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