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County won’t sell Belmont mining claims after opposition from residents

Earlier this year, Nye County began to look into the process necessary to sell the Constitution mining claim but once residents of the Belmont area caught wind of the potential sale, they came out in force to oppose it.

With public opinion against a sale and new information at hand, the county has now decided the claim will not be sold. Instead, it has officially been recognized as a public-purpose parcel through a resolution passed during the Nye County Commission’s Tuesday, Aug. 1 meeting.

“June 24, this was heard by the Belmont Advisory Board. There were 50-plus people who attended that meeting, their voices were heard, a vote was taken by the advisory board… advising and requesting that the county not sell this particular patented mining claim,” stated Nye County Commission Chair Bruce Jabbour, who represents the Belmont area where the Constitution mining claim is located, as the agenda item opened that afternoon.

Evidencing the lack of public support for a sale were Belmont property owners, who spoke during the meeting. One was Janice Berard, who said her community was shocked by the proposed sale and requested that in the future, Jabbour notify the Belmont Advisory Board whenever an item related to their community is to be included on a county agenda. She also requested he attend future Belmont Advisory Board meetings.

“It’s not the job of the natural resources director to be Belmont’s go-to person, it is the job of our elected county commissioner, representing our district,” Berard asserted.

Jabbour responded that the commission has made it a policy that anytime an item about a certain area comes to the commission, it be tabled until the local governing board can address it first, as happened with the case of the Constitution mining claim.

Neal Jones spoke second and he was obviously suspicious of how the item had developed in the first place.

“When this first came before the commissioners on May 2, there was a woeful lack of backup documentation and information provided to the commission and the public,” Jones stated. He then accused county staff of intentionally misleading the commission in an attempt to have action taken on the May 2 item.

“County staff stated that they had spoken with the residents of Belmont and no one had any concerns regarding the sale of this claim. This statement is patently false,” Jones proclaimed. “Which should be evident from the other backup documentation provided of the results of the Belmont Advisory Board meeting… The property owners and residents of Belmont were unanimous in their opposition to the sale of the mining claim. This is the actual truth of the matter.”

Both Berard and Jones also questioned why the petitioner, North American Silver Corporation, had not presented the May 2 request rather than the county’s natural resources director.

Kunzi interjected to provide some context.

“There is some confusion about the laws in this arena,” Kunzi stated. “One of the problems is, there is a process with a mining patent that is owned or acquired by the county pursuant to the financial laws, which is that they haven’t paid their taxes… If that is the status of the patent, the county is required to sell it under this statute. It’s a very troubling statute.

“So questions were raised and we got into it. But I don’t believe there is anything nefarious going on. We were trying to figure out what went on,” Kunzi continued. “We actually acquired this property through a sheriff’s sale… The reality of it is, finding that deed made this a perfect situation for us because the petition that was originally filed (by North American Silver Corp.) has no application. There is no requirement for the county to have to sell this property.”

Nye County Commissioner Debra Strickland made the motion to adopt a resolution recognizing the Constitution mining claim as a public-purpose parcel which is not to be sold. Commissioner Ron Boskovich offered a second and the motion passed with all in favor.

The Constitution patent will now be kept for the purpose of maintaining access to public and private lands adjacent to the parcel.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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