Bob Cashell, who as general manager is shepherding the Ormsby House back from bankruptcy, apparently was led to believe his invitation to the Carson City Elks Lodge on Saturday night was so he could explain plans for the 10-story hotel/casino.
When Exalted Ruler Barbara Rackley announced the lodge members had named him their Citizen of the Year, Cashell had to fight back a few tears.
"I really don't know what to say," Cashell said. "I'm usually not touched like this."
In explaining Cashell's selection, Rackley cited his support of the Boys & Girls Club of Western Nevada, other youth programs, domestic anti-violence programs and local advocates for cancer victims. She also pointed out that Cashell had been involved in the financial restructuring and recovery of several casino operations over the years.
And Cashell's service as a regent of the state university system and tenure as Nevada's lieutenant governor and head of its tourism promotion efforts figured in the selection, Rackley said.
Before learning of the award, Cashell spoke about the substantial changes new Ormsby House owners Don Lehr and Al Fiegehen are making, which will give the structure a New Orleans look.
"If you head south on Carson Street now, you see the Corner Bar entrance and you can't tell whether we're open," Cashell said. Remodeling will open up a large entrance in place of the bar, he said. "Y'all call me back in a year and tell me whether you can tell if we're open!" Cashell said.
He said the community was lucky to have the Lehr and Feigehen families, who are committed to spending millions of dollars to improve the Ormsby House.
"There was a good chance of it ending up like the Mapes Hotel in Reno - a pile of rubble from a wrecking ball," Cashell said.
He said the new owners' enthusiasm is so great he has to rein it in occasionally.
"They're going to paint the parking garage entirely white, so it can always shine," he said. "I had to tell them that was OK for the walls and ceilings, but we'd better wait and see about where the cars drive."