IRS promotes checking tax withholding |

IRS promotes checking tax withholding

PHOENIX -— The Internal Revenue Service today encouraged taxpayers to consider checking their tax withholding, keeping in mind several factors that could affect potential refunds or taxes they may owe in 2018.

Reviewing the amount of taxes withheld can help taxpayers avoid having too much or too little federal income tax taken from their paychecks. Having the correct amount taken out helps to move taxpayers closer to a zero balance at the end of the year when they file their tax return, which means no taxes owed or refund due.

During the year, changes sometimes occur in a taxpayer's life, such as in their marital status, that impacts exemptions, adjustments or credits they will claim on their tax return. When this happens, they need to give their employer a new Form W-4, Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate, to change their withholding status or number of allowances.

Employers use the form to figure the amount of federal income tax to be withheld from pay. Making these changes in the late summer or early fall can give taxpayers enough time to adjust their withholdings before the tax year ends in December.

The withholding review takes on even more importance now that federal law requires the IRS to hold refunds a few weeks for some early filers claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Additional Child Tax Credit. In addition, the steps the IRS and state tax administrators are now taking to strengthen protections against identity theft and refund fraud mean some tax returns could face additional review time next year.

So far in 2017, the IRS has issued more than 106 million tax refunds out of the 142 million total individual tax returns processed, with the average refund well over $2,700. Historically, refund dollar amounts have increased over time.

Making a Withholding Adjustment

In many cases, a new Form W-4, Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate, is all that's needed to make an adjustment. Taxpayers submit it to their employer, and the employer uses the form to figure the amount of federal income tax to be withheld from their employee's pay.

The IRS offers several online resources to help taxpayers bring taxes paid closer to what they owe. They're available anytime on They include:

· IRS Withholding Calculator — Online tool helps determine the correct amount of tax to withhold.

· IRS Publication 505 — Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax.

· Tax Withholding — Complete information on withholding, estimated taxes, FAQs, and more.

Self-employed taxpayers, including those involved in the sharing economy, can use the Form 1040-ES worksheet to correctly figure their estimated tax payments. If they also work for an employer, they can often forgo making these quarterly payments by instead having more tax taken out of their pay.

Israel should be at the top of your travel bucket list

One of the most fascinating trips I have taken in recent years was the unforgettable journey to the Holy Land in February 2015.

You need not be a bible scholar to enjoy every aspect of this journey. This is a historic peek into the birth of all religions and brings to life the many tales most Christians learned in their youth. You need not be a confirmed believer to appreciate the history and the struggles so many cultures have had over this land.

I saw so many sites that were unknown to me. Caesarea was a surprise, for although I know the Romans were a traveling bunch, I had not expected to find this ancient Roman capital built by Herod the Great around 22 B.C. You'll see more UNESCO sites along the way that were populated before the birth of Christ.

You'll sail across the Sea of Galilee on a replica of a boat used 2,000 years ago and then enjoy lunch at a kibbutz. You'll overnight at the Dead Sea and enjoy the opportunity to float in these healing waters. Did you know the Dead Sea is the lowest place on earth?

After a tour of one of Herod's palaces in Masada, you'll stop in Bethlehem on the way to Jerusalem. You almost can't absorb all the history you will be told. Then on to visually stimulating Jerusalem where those of you who love to shop will be delighted with the bazaars filled with an array of colorful wares in the old city. It is here I visited the Western Wall — or Wailing Wall — witnessing the devout Jewish who leave notes behind within the cracks in the wall. The tour of Jerusalem is all encompassing and you'll visit all those famous religious sites so revered by Christians.

Is Israel safe? I and my traveling companions never felt even the slightest threat. Collette Vacations would not allow travel to a country where Americans would be a target. The full itinerary reads like a familiar book that will come to life once you travel there in February 2018. To save $300 per person, you must put in your deposit by Aug. 1. I promise this to be a trip of a lifetime!

The 2018 Chamber Travel Club line-up is still coming in. Just recently, we received information on two truly "out of the box" tours for those who want to experience the truly different. Last month I wrote about the Polar Bear Discovery Tour departing next October. I'm equally excited to introduce what we think will be the most exciting holiday tour ever — a trip to Finland to not only see the spectacular northern lights, but to meet Santa Claus in his Lapland village as well. We'll have the opportunity to go on a reindeer safari and enjoy driving our own dog sled team. One of our accommodations will be in a glass igloo so you can view the lights while lying in your bed. To see the full itinerary, go to the Chamber's Travel Club site. Or, just stop in to pick up a brochure. The 2018 departure is Dec. 6 and all reservations are booked on a first-come, first-serve basis. Only 24 spaces are available and as of this writing, only 18 spaces are left.

The next Chamber Travel Club meeting is scheduled on Sept. 18 and will feature Collette Tours. As for me, I'm off to Nova Scotia to learn more about Anne of Green Gables!

Marilyn is a consummate traveler and at 88 years old enjoys every moment of her adventures.

We’ve become bike friendly — but where are the riders?

It's the cool thing for cities to do now — encourage bicyclists — by building protected bike lanes and erecting bike stands at just about every available spot on sidewalks. Some cities have used bike stands as the opportunity to invest in interesting art, as we will be doing.

Most of us rode bikes as children. That's how we got around before our parents had two cars and Mom was transporting us here and there. You don't see many kids riding bikes anymore. And, witness the local high school parking lot with every available bare spot covered with cars. Few bikes are tethered to the bike stands. When I lived in Germany with my military family, all kids rode bikes — everywhere in all elements. Either that, or you were stuck on the Army base. I loved the freedom my bicycle gave me to explore.

Those pushing the creation of bike-friendly communities are generally the local bike clubs and those in the city transportation departments who themselves are recreational bike enthusiasts. Much time and energy continues to be spent on a small percentage of the population who ride for fun — and the very few who commute daily via bicycle — with the hope more will abandon their four-wheel cars for non-motorized two wheels.

Some would say our four-season climate inhibits bicyclists; however, in some cities where bikes are the favored form of transportation, weather doesn't seem to matter. You wouldn't dare inhibit a bicyclist in the shared bicycle/pedestrian lane in auto clogged Amsterdam or Vienna! The cyclists have the right of way and they let you know it.

Some cities, like Carson City, have reduced traffic lanes from four to two in their downtown to better accommodate both automobiles and bicycles, though focus is more on reducing auto traffic in favor of the non-motorized kind. Some cities have experienced huge backlash as a result, though our citizens have been accepting.

Boulder, Colo. — a city often used as a model for our city — removed their bike lanes after citizen backlash when the city reduced lanes without informing the citizens. Nationally, Boulder ranks No. 3 at 8.9 percent for two-wheel commuters, so the backlash was a surprise.

As one would expect, those cities with universities have the largest percentage of riders, though in the overall scheme of transportation modes, the average bicycle commuters total less than 3 percent nationally. According to the League of American Bicyclists, weather-friendly UC Davis CA claims 23.2 percent bicycle commuters, followed by Berkeley at 9.7 percent. Reno commuter cyclists are just over 1 percent even though this is a university town. It would take a very hearty cyclist to commute daily to Western Nevada College!

Surprisingly, Nevada ranks at No. 25 at 0.5 percent when it comes to bicycle commuters. Oregon (2.6 percent) and Colorado (1.3 percent) rank the highest with California at No. 4 (1.2 percent). The state's four major cities — Las Vegas, Henderson, Reno, and Carson City — all received bronze ratings from the League of American Bicyclists for their continuing efforts to create bike-friendly communities. Carson's bicycle community is working to earn a silver designation.

Statistics are not available for Carson City since the U.S. Census Bureau only conducts studies of cities with over 100,000 population. Carson City's mostly flat surfaces make for easy riding for most and, for the serious sports rider, our mountainous trails make for a challenging ride.

I drive through the downtown at least four times a day and have recently begun to pay attention to bicycles tethered to our many bicycle racks. Sometimes there are one or two in front of the Carson Nugget, but for the most part, the racks are empty. On Saturdays, some of the west side residents ride their bikes to the Farmers Market, but for the most part, here cars are still the favored mode of transportation.

I asked Randy Gaa, committed cyclist and Secretary of the 200-member Muscle-Powered bike club, why there are so few riders. His answer was simple, "Concern for personal safety." He daily commutes from his south Carson home to his work in downtown in all seasons, but cites some challenges in certain parts of the city that still make him nervous. He advises all those who want to commute to carefully plan their route in advance.

The cost of redesigning streets to build bicycle lanes can be expensive. How does the bike lobby justify the expense? Gaa reminded me all bicyclists own cars and pay gasoline taxes — like the rest of non-commuters — to create bike-friendly communities.

Gaa is pleased there seem to be more commuters downtown — he sees one or two now daily — but did concede that seeing even one additional bike commuter could be considered a 100 percent increase in ridership over last year. He further adds, "There needs to be more training as to the benefits of riding." He cites cycling as a "win-win," predicting if we continue our quest to be a bike-friendly community, we will see more who will choose to live here or come to visit as well as a healthier population.

When I asked my counterpart in Carson Valley to share his commuter statistics, Bill Chernok wrote, "There is almost no commuting by bike. Bike racks are typically empty and Highway 395 is not terribly bike friendly." Those in Douglas County, like Carson, ride for pleasure attaching their bikes to their cars to ride elsewhere.

As for the future, expect better bike lanes on South Carson Street as part of the overall redesign. Traffic is expected to decrease dramatically with most trucks and through traffic diverting to the completed freeway.

There’s a light at the end of the tunnel for Nevada State Prison

There continues to be a pent-up demand to open the historic Nevada State Prison and, for those watching the progress, rejoice, there's a light at the end of the tunnel.

Some were lucky enough to be able to enjoy the informative tours before the state Public Works Board closed the prison mandating the Nevada State Prison Preservation Society (NSPPS) spend thousands of dollars to determine whether the 155-year-old prison could meet ADA requirements to allow for regularly scheduled tours, even though when open, the prison was ADA compliant for prisoners.

The Chamber was fortunate to be able to use the backdrop of the prison for their 70th Annual Meeting in 2015. The NSPPS staff worked hard to prepare the prison yard for this historic event that might showcase how the site could be used for future concerts and events. Over 300 attended this historic event.

Unfortunately, with a change of guard at the Department of Corrections and scrutiny by the Public Works Board, things came to a screeching halt and the NSPPS was charged with raising thousands of dollars they did not have to hire architects and engineers to determine whether a Change of Use Permit could be granted. This wasn't just simply red tape to mire through, this was a brick wall.

As NSPPS President Glen Whorton writes, "This has been an extremely busy year for the preservation of the Nevada State Prison despite the fact access to the facility has been limited. After the Chamber leadership academy event last spring, NSPPS was informed that a "Change of Use Permit" would be required before tours could resume. This is a complicated process involving architects, engineers, and six state agencies."

With the assistance of the Chamber 2016 Leadership Institute class to raise funds, the society engaged Dube' Group architects and the final stages now are being done to design the tour route and the modifications needed to make certain the proposed tours could comply with state and federal requirements.

Whorton adds, "The Director of the Department of Corrections has committed to completing the request for the change of use which goes to various agencies for review."

What will it further take to open this landmark to become another tourism attraction in our city attracting those who love historic prisons? Whorton states it will cost even more money than has already been expended to get to this point. The bank account has been drained to pay for the architectural review and renderings. But, things are looking up. According to Whorton, "The International Footprint Association, Chapter 72, from Minden, recently donated $1,000. In addition, Sheriff Ron Pierini of Douglas County has donated all of his artifacts from the time of his employment at the Prison."

Learning how to navigate the grant scene, NSPPS applied to the John Ben Snow Foundation and Memorial Trust, and Whorton is pleased to announce the successful grant funding of $12,500. They also were granted $2,000 from the Estelle J. Kelsey Foundation. Whorton states, "That was especially poignant for the foundation trustees are Don and Carolyn Bernard. Don's father was the prison warden in the 1950s and his family was the last to live in the warden's house."

The NSPPS invites the public to join them in their efforts to raise needed monies by joining the society as an individual or life member. The Chamber joined the Society as a Life Member for $200, a small amount when considering the gain this historic attraction may have to our economy, not to mention our historic pride. We encourage all to join at whatever level you can afford whether at the $20 senior/student level or the business level at $500. This is a volunteer organization and no monies are expended for salaries.

Don't let the prison go the way of so much of our unique history; let's all invest in the future while showcasing our historic past. Go to the NSPPS website for more information on how to join: If we all contribute even a little, we'll bring back a bit of our history for current and future generations to enjoy. Or, if you prefer, come by the Chamber. We'll proudly take your donation to pass on to NSPPS. We still have some of the holiday ornaments featuring the prison if you are looking for them.

Can the U.S. Census Bureau predict the future?

Every 10 years, demographers and marketers use the result of the national census to forecast coming trends, thus preparing businesses for what may lie ahead.

But, is the census all that reliable? In our fast-paced world, events can skew statistics almost overnight causing unanticipated ripple effects throughout the business world. Can the Bureau anticipate men such as Lance Gilman, Governor Brian Sandoval or Elon Musk, who with a stroke of their pen can forever the fortunes of our region?

The U.S. Census is mandated by Article 1, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, and every five years is updated under the Economic Census to measure the health of the U.S. economy. The original intent of the census was "to apportion seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, define legislative districts, school districts and other functional areas of government." According to the website, today, "the mission is to serve as the leading source of quality data about the nation's people and economy." Many marketers still use the census data as their marketing bible to predict future trends.

Federal and state demographers consider the study of humanity a science; however, humans are not as predictable as they once were. When the census first was mandated, we were a homogenous nation. We haven't been homogeneous for a long time. There were no technological advances changing the world and its people in an instant. The population was stable. In contrast, today, by the time the census results are analyzed and published, the data is outdated. The influx of immigrants has changed our world as have the entrepreneurs and government officials not afraid to take a chance.

Today's generations are unpredictable and nothing like the generation that bore them. The Baby Boomers were followed with much trepidation – and still are. How could society absorb this many people all coming through the world at the same time? Then the hue and cry became, how would society cope when they exited at the same time?

Then there was the Baby Bust or GenX generation. Boomers just didn't reproduce to the numbers forecasted, followed then by the concern of who was to support the Boomers in their old age since the GenX generation was far too small to generate the tax revenues needed to support the Boomers in their retirement.

Then it was the GenX'ers turn to surprise demographers. They produced children in numbers not seen in previous generations. In fact, they had so many babies, the Millennials are now America's largest generation, hopefully able to take care of their parents and grandparents — that is, once they are no longer supported by those parents/grandparents.

Demographers predicted the sky would fall as the Baby Boomers came of retirement age about 8 years ago. They predicted a workforce exodus that could cripple the workplace since there were not enough GenX'ers to fill the spots and the Millennials were still too young. Businesses prepared for the worst. The scramble began to develop robots.

As they have all their lives, the unpredictable workaholic Boomers just defied convention. The mass exodus did not occur. That same exodus is being predicted yet again. We shall see. The only Boomers seeming to retire are those who work in government and have stable pensions.

It appears the Millennials will be just as unpredictable. They are not marrying as early and having children much later than any previous generation. Demographers are sure to wail about this soon predicting dire consequences of this action, for who will take care of the Millennials once they are of retirement age? History just may just repeat itself, as it usually does.

Once again, attempting to lump people into a specific category or predict the future is the least predictable of all "sciences." While demographers assert their stats are to be used as a template of the future, the reality is no one can predict the future. As we have seen, the economy can be rolling along and poof, the bubble bursts creating unintended consequences.

Or, one decision or action could change the entire fortunes of a city or region.

We doubt demographers had yet met or heard of real estate developer Lance Gilman, owner of the Reno Tahoe Industrial Center. How could they know in 2010 — the date of the last official census — that in 2014 Governor Brian Sandoval and his economic development team would bring Northern Nevada out of the economic doldrums by signing into law tax incentives to attract some of the world's most attractive companies — like Tesla and Panasonic — that were courted by Lance Gilman?

Columnist Karen Weise writes in Bloomberg Businessweek (6/22/17) "Not long ago, Reno was a home foreclosure capital and fading casino town. Today, Reno is starting to look like Silicon Valley." Even those in the economic development sector in Reno did not realize with just a stroke of the governor's pen, Reno would become a "hipster haven" and on the radar of those who want to live in a "cool" city.

Will Carson City attract the Millennials and GenX'ers now flocking to Reno? According to demographers, there won't be much spill over. Millennials prefer jobs that challenge them and allow their creativity to shine, talents not often needed in government dominated capital cities. Plus, we still have some challenges to overcome: new apartments, more restaurant choices, thriving night life, affordable housing. Until these challenges are met, the demographers might be right, but as we continue to see, things can change in an instant!

Is there a Lance Gilman soon to announce some major event in our city? You never know. We can say we are ready for whatever good comes our way. Now, we must take care of the rest of the city as we have taken care of the downtown.

On the lighter side: Bonanza lives!

Not a day goes by without a visitor asking us how to find the Bonanza.

This beloved TV series, that ran between 1959-1973, was such a national and international hit and so loved by all generations that many come to our city to see where Ben, Adam, Hoss and Little Joe might have hung out.

As most may know, there was a Bonanza theme park in Incline Village opening in 1967, closing in 2004. When the original owners sold the land to a California billionaire who closed the property upon the execution of the Deed of Sale, the world lost a beloved landmark, even though only 15 episodes were shot at the site.

The exterior opening shots were, indeed, shot in our region, but the inside shots were all executed on the back lot of Paramount Studios. And, if there was a need for the cast to ride in the outdoors, those shots were filmed at Big Bear Lake, Red Rock Canyon, Mojave or eastern Kern Country, Calif. The Incline Village attraction did feature a replica of the house for visitors to enjoy.

The series made the ride between the Ponderosa Ranch and Virginia City seem as though it were just a hop and a jump. The fictional ranch was said to be almost 1,000 square miles. There was a bridge at the time that connected Washoe Lake to Virginia City, so the route was a bit shorter than the one we know today and the journey took approximately two hours via horseback. If one were to travel via auto today, the journey between Incline Village and Virginia City takes approximately just a little over one hour. Those were some fast horses! Perhaps some of today's sturdy wild horses found in the Comstock were "descendants" of the hardy horses ridden by the Cartwrights.

The series changed Virginia City creating the tourism mecca it is today, though the Cartwrights would not have recognized much of C Street, now full of T-shirt and souvenir vendors.

Bonanza is still watched faithfully throughout the world and lives in the hearts and minds of many who loved the characters and the stories of the early years on the Comstock. It is amazing Carson City is still benefitting touristically from a show that went off the air 44 years ago!

Memory of V&T Roundhouse isn’t fading away

The beloved V&T Roundhouse met the wrecking ball in February 1991 and those who remember the historic landmark still rue the day it was demolished.

In the April 1991 edition of National Trust for Historic Preservation magazine — then called Preservation News — writer Lisa A. Kirk reported the Virginia & Truckee Railroad Engine House and Shops was the "most visible reminder of the state's famous Comstock mining booms."

The dismantling of the 45,000-square-foot iconic sandstone structure took five weeks. T&O Masonry of St. Helena, Calif., was hired by then sole owner Paul Larquier — who at the time lived in California — to demolish the roundhouse and negotiated with Larquier to buy the stones, hauling the stones back to St. Helena. For those who like following the paper trail, Mrs. Omer (Marie) Wolf and Paul Larquier inherited the building from their father Mr. Paul Louis Larquier in 1958. The senior Larquier purchased the building in 1955 after the site had been on the market since 1952.

Once described by then curator of the California State Railroad Museum, Stephen Drew, as "one of Carson City's most significant and long-standing architectural features," the Roundhouse was listed in the National Register in 1972, but that listing did not save it. When fully operational, the inside was filled with a machine shop, roundhouse, water works, pattern shop, smith shop, foundry, car shop, engine room, and tin shop and many were employed there.

Since the land on which the roundhouse sat was privately owned, the City could not stop demolition although a strong effort was made by citizens to convince the City to purchase the site. Money, however, was tight. Mayor Marv Teixeira made every effort to save the structure and so passionate was he about this that even in his obituary, published on June 5, 2014 in the Nevada Appeal, the roundhouse demolition was mentioned, "Teixeira said the low point in his time in office was his unsuccessful attempt in 1991 to prevent the demolition of the historical V&T Roundhouse in east Carson City, which had been determined an unsafe hazard."

In the attempt to save some of the structure, the V&T Engine House and Shops Foundation was formed with the sole purpose of raising monies to purchase some of the stones to rebuild some of the shops. Sharon Burnett was the first president. Ed Astone, Town Manager for Old Sacramento and the driving force behind the revival of Old Sac was consulted and, in 1984, asserted in his study the project wouldn't pencil, "It was the right project in the wrong community, economically and politically." He did not feel the community could afford to subsidize the venture.

Some wanted to turn the building into government offices by having the City use the 1987 "quick take" law allowing the city to condemn the property through eminent domain to allow for redevelopment. The citizens opposed this fearing if the project failed, taxpayers would be burdened. As is the case in so many things, taxpayers wanted to preserve the buildings, but were opposed to paying higher taxes to do so. In a last-ditch effort, Mayor Teixeira proposed a ballot question — that never made it to the ballot — to raise taxes to combine a new city complex with private development. Even so, the Foundation sued the state and city for failing to allow eminent domain.

The City, however, did find $9,000 to purchase two of the 11 arches. One of the arches was to be displayed at the Nevada State Railroad Museum, but that never happened and those stones today still survive in the city's corporate yard numbered for future reconstruction. Public Works Operations Manager Curtis Horton has made it a personal goal to guard the stones. However, we recently learned two of the roundhouse doors are stored within the museum.

On a whim, I searched the internet for T&O Masonry and was delighted to learn they are still in business after 60 years. The business passed from Dale Taylor to his son Ken who told us, "The arches and stones found their way to two wineries — the biggest projects — and other stones were incorporated into landscaping projects at private homes and in smaller wineries." The demolition was handled with care, the arches were all carefully numbered to assure they would be perfectly reconstructed. The stones, too, were treated with care to avoid breakage.

Offered for sale in 1952, after much of the inside had been sold off, the building was neglected and in total disrepair by the time it was demolished in 1991. Ken Taylor stated the entire structure would have had to undergo an expensive retrofit to make it earthquake safe.

Taylor remembers about "five or six" arches ended up at Round Pond Estates. Owned by the second generation of the McDonnell Family, Round Pond has been growing grapes since the early 1980s and features an olive mill and Farm-to-Table foods on 468 acres. They produce award-winning cabernets. The V&T arch is prominent here as shown in the photograph. "It is a farm and winery that specializes in the creation of pure, expressive wines, artisan foods and unforgettable experiences," according to their website.

Another arch and more historic sandstones can be found at Harlan Estate that, according to The Wine Advocate's Robert M. Parker, Jr., "Might be the single most profound red wine made not just in California, but in the world."

If those proud and historic arches and stones could no longer be a part of Carson City history, at least they ended up in a beautiful setting and are well cared for and admired by the many visitors to these high-end wineries.

The historic stones no longer sit on a weed-filled vacant lot.

 If these stones could talk, they would say, "Carson's loss is Napa's gain."

Maybe we should send a memorial plaque?

The roundhouse was constructed by Carson City founder Abraham Curry in November of 1882 and completed in July 1883 in time for the great Fourth of July Ball. The stones were crafted by prisoners quarried from his sandstone quarry just off Fifth Street. It is a testament to these prison masons that the stones are still in use today.

The land on which the roundhouse sat remains a vacant, weed-filled lot. Though there has been some interest by developers, the lot will need remediation to clean up the many years of "gunk" poured into the soil before EPA standards took effect. Those not familiar with the site can see this vacant property to the west side of Stewart Street starting just south of the Jack in the-Box. The city has used this as a staging site during the downtown reconstruction.

As for the two arches still sitting safely within the City's corporate yard — watched closely by Horton — discussions have begun between Carson City Public Works and the Chamber to determine how and where these may be reconstructed so that Carson City, too, will retain a piece of its proud past. Local resident and historian Stan Jones is chairing the informal committee.

Reconstructing even one historic arch won't be an easy task and it could be expensive, but it's time to save a bit of this historic Carson City structure. Stay tuned.

Program aims to reduce construction labor deficit in Nevada

Nevada Builders Alliance presented its newest program to assist construction and construction-related companies in relieving some of the pressure felt by the shortage of skilled construction workers in Nevada this week at a luncheon in Reno.

The H-2B Visa program is the country's only legal seasonal foreign worker visa program for non-agricultural employers. It allows U.S. employers or agents to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary non-agricultural jobs.

"We're missing an entire generation of construction workers," Aaron West, CEO for Nevada Builders said. "With 22 percent of the construction labor force over the age of 55, and only 7 percent age 25 or less, we are nearing critical mass in replacing workers who are aging out of the industry."

West also said Nevada alone will need to hire 10,000 skilled trade professionals to meet the need for workforce housing, incoming industry and the supporting infrastructure.

Reed Graham, chief operating officer for Erickson Companies, a construction, pre-fabricated building components and framing services contractor with locations in Arizona, Sacramento and Reno, spoke to the assembled group of contractors, tradesmen, government officials and economic development representatives on Erikson's three-year odyssey into hiring H-2B Visa labor.

"We spent a lot of time and energy on Craigslist, in churches, newspapers and supermarkets to recruit for our workforce needs," Graham said. "We just weren't getting enough people, and the turnover was tremendous. Guys would work three or four days and quit."

Graham said Erikson petitioned for six workers in 2015 through the U.S. Department of Labor. In 2016, the company's request grew to 170. This year, they're looking to bring in 337 workers.

"It hasn't been an easy process," he said. "We stubbed our toe a few times during the process. Having the right agent to help see you through is critical."

Graham said he has hired an employee to oversee the petition and logistics processes for the company's H-2B Visa program to help with the myriad details, and uses MAS Labor, an H2 visa specialist located in Lovingston, Va.

Kerry Scott, program manager for MAS Labor, said the U.S. is limited to 66,000 H-2B visa workers per year, as written by Congress, half of which are allowed in April 1, the other half on Oct. 1.

Scott said landscaping is the largest industry using H-2B workers, followed by construction. The key for construction companies, he said, is being able to train workers who may not be experienced, but have a strong desire to learn.

"These guys want to work, they want to learn, and made a conscious decision to do this job, with this company, in this city," he said. "Once they've been trained, they want to come back year after year. It's how you can build a skilled workforce."

Nevada Builders Alliance is working with Graham and Scott to provide assistance to companies who wish to petition for H-2B workers in the future by providing the correct language to use in forms and paperwork.

"This is a great program and we are happy to help our member companies and others who wish to invest in skilled workers," West said. "Through our efforts with our local educational partners and employers, and now with the H-2B visa program, we are committed to workforce development for Nevada."

Nevada Builders Alliance partners with Army

Nevada Builders Alliance, the state's largest construction industry trade organization, signed the first statewide partnership with the U.S. Army Partnership for Youth Success (PaYS) program at a signing ceremony with the U.S. Army, local and state dignitaries at noon on July 17 at Rancharrah in Reno.

The PaYS program is part of a long-term U.S. Army effort to help young men and women gain important education and training in an employment field while simultaneously serving their country. PaYS is an enlistment option for future soldiers and ROTC cadets to prepare for possible employment after active duty.

"The PaYS youth army program is a strategic partnership between the U.S. Army, organizations and private businesses, providing unique programs to reconnect the Army with America and create future soldiers and leaders." Lt. Col. Michael Gomez, commander of the U.S. Army recruiting battalion, said.

Comprised of 750 companies in the construction industry and affiliated sectors statewide, Nevada Builders Alliance actively works with area schools, community agencies, veterans and military groups to promote a skilled workforce to spur economic development.

Through the Army PaYS program, Nevada Builders Alliance will help young veterans who are looking toward a career in the construction industry by providing introductions and job interviews upon completion of their service.

"We've lost a generation of workers in the industry, and our member companies are looking to hire responsible employees with a strong work ethic," Aaron West, CEO for Nevada Builders Alliance, said. "The question I get most frequently from our members is how to get in touch with vets. We look forward to working with the U.S. Army and placing very capable individuals with our member companies."

The signing ceremony concluded with Lt. Col. Gomez presiding over an enlistment ceremony for six new recruits.

"These programs are so important to help our vets," Gomez said. "There's no better organization for us to build a partnership with for our future soldiers and leaders than Nevada Builders."

For information on construction industry training, construction workforce development and U.S. Army PaYS, contact Pam Duxbury, outreach coordinator for the Nevada Builders Alliance at

Association: Mining has $10 billion impact on Nevada economy

The mining industry has been fundamental to Nevada's economy since the state's inception and continues to have a large impact today.

"Mining is truly the foundation of Nevada's economy," Dana Bennett, president of the Nevada Mining Association, said. "The state began as a mining state and it is still very much a mining state."

The Nevada mining industry had a $10.3 billion total economic impact in 2015, according to a report titled — "The role to the state's mining industry, 2016" — which was presented at the Nevada Mining Association's annual convention. The report also showed there were 119 active mines in 2015. Bennett said Nevada has a mine in every county except for Douglas County and Carson City.

According to Bennett, the mining industry employs approximately 28,000 people or 1 percent of the Nevada workforce. The average salary within the industry is $96,000.

"They are a well-compensated group of employees because it is a very skilled workforce," she said.

Bennett explained the mining industry tends to be countercyclical in nature.

"When the rest of the economy is doing well, mining is not necessarily sharing in that robust activity," she said.

During the Great Recession, the mining industry was doing well when almost every other sector was struggling and reducing their workforce. She explained many people entered the mining industry not only from other industries but also from other states.

"We had great job growth during that time," she said.

Now that the economy has rebounded and many of the other industries are thriving, there's more competition for talent. According to the economic report, mining companies were anticipating workforce reductions over the next several years.

However, Bennett was still optimistic about the future of mining in Nevada.

"We are holding our own," she said. "We are feeling pretty positive about the future."

Bennett said a strong mining industry is fundamental to Nevada's future, as well as other emerging economic sectors.

"For the success of Nevada's new economic sectors, the mining industry needs to be healthy," Bennett said.

Nevada produces around 20 metals and minerals — everything from gold and silver to lithium and molybdenite.

"Nevada is truly a mineral storehouse," she said.

Nevada is the only producer of lithium in the United States. Companies like Tesla are using lithium for batteries. Currently, the only active commercial lithium mine is located in Silver Peak, and owned by the North Carolina chemical company Albemarle. However, there may be another on the horizon.

"There is a deposit in Humboldt County, which shows great promise as a significant producer of lithium" and it's currently in its permitting phase, Bennett said.

Bennett highlighted several of the other recent developments and expansions within the industry. For example, Newmont Mining Corporation poured its first gold from its Long Canyon operation in November 2016. The operation is located in Elko County. She explained even though Nevada is called the Silver State there's currently only one mine that predominantly produces silver. The mine, which is located in Pershing County, was recently approved for expansion.

"There are some real bright spots in terms of expansion in the future," Bennett said.

Advancements in technology have also made the industry safer.

"There are certainly hazards in mining but we have learned to mitigate them," Bennett said.

The Nevada Mining Association currently has around 425 members from across Nevada from various aspects within the industry.

"Our members represent the entire spectrum of the industry from exploration and discovery to construction and operation," Bennett said.

For information about the Nevada Mining Association and to read the full report, visit