Storey County commissioners locked over clean-up dabate

VIRGINIA CITY - Storey County commissioners are locked in a debate over clean-up efforts in Virginia City, resulting in the organization of two citizens' groups and a lot of confusion.

According to long-time residents, there is a cleanup effort here every spring. The county picks up broken limbs and other light material that has accumulated throughout the winter free. In addition to the county's efforts, a citizens' volunteer group not affiliated with the county has been created to deal with heavier objects: old cars, refrigerators or any bulky items people might want to discard.

Commissioner Greg "Bum" Hess said the committee was set up three meetings ago. Due in part to liability issues, it was decided that the county would neither fund nor affiliate with the project.

But District 3 commissioner Carl Trink felt things were moving too slowly. Frustrated with the lack of progress, he spearheaded his own movement. For him, creating an effective cleanup committee has been a central focus for years.

"Nobody else was doing anything so I headed one up (cleanup committee) because of all of the complaints from merchants, and the tourism committee. Something should have been done a long time ago. I've been working on this for 3 1/2 years," Trink said.

"Sun Valley did a tremendous job, and there's no reason why we can't do the same thing. ... This is how the people of Virginia City feel, and I'm inclined to agree with that."

Commission Chairman Chuck Haynes feels Trink's clean up effort has been too heavy-handed.

"Clean up is primarily voluntary. (Trink) feels that (the cleanup) is what everyone wants and it's not," Haynes said, noting it is not a function of county government in part because it's too invasive and not within the purview of government.

"People here have antique mining equipment and collect old cars. They have a different lifestyle than other people. Not everyone wants to live like that."

Differing opinions turned into contention last week when Trink mailed 350 letters supporting his movement on Storey County stationery at taxpayer's expense.

"It's misappropriation of county funds. He sent out his own political mailing and is getting taxpayers to foot the bill. He is trying to use this as a mechanism to further his reelection," Haynes said, noting the letter was never sanctioned by the Board of Commissioners and the mailing, using county tax dollars, was unauthorized.

"The county will be benefitting, not me," Trink countered. "This has been going on for years and it's really not an issue. Some people are trying to make it an issue."


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