Geoff Dornan

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December 18, 2012
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Governor seeks info on Nevada State Prison historic monument

The governor, secretary of state and attorney general say they all support the idea of declaring the old Nevada State Prison a national historic site.

But Gov. Brian Sandoval and Secretary of State Ross Miller in particular say they first want to make sure there are no unintended consequences that might commit the state financially or otherwise.

The request for backing from the board of Prison Commissioners came from former Director of Corrections Glen Whorton, who heads the Nevada State Prison Preservation Society. He said the plan isn't in conflict with Assemblyman Pete Livermore's proposed legislation to turn the 5th Street prison over to a nonprofit to develop and wouldn't restrict the potential uses of the prison.

He said those sorts of restrictions only come into play if federal money is used in restoring or developing the prison.

Whorton said in part because the prison operated continuously since before Nevada became a state in 1864, it has unique historic value. There also are archaeological finds ranging from American Indian artifacts to mammoth tracks on the site.

But Sandoval said he wants the state lands division, university archaeological and paleontological and historic preservation along with other parties with a stake in the historic prison to weigh in and sign off on the plan.

"We want to make sure we've nailed down what the consequences are of doing this," Sandoval said.

He also said he wants lawmakers to be involved, so that there are no issues of different groups fighting about what to do with the prison.

Whorton cautioned the commission not to take too long to decide because that might end up costing the project a full year.

He said if the commission can move forward at its next meeting in March, there still would be time for the federal government to list the prison as an historic site next year.

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The Nevada Appeal Updated Dec 18, 2012 02:33AM Published Dec 18, 2012 02:33AM Copyright 2012 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.