Donation of land puts Silver Springs back in play for jail

A local developer has offered to donate about 20 acres in Silver Springs for a proposed Lyon County jail.

The Lyon County Commission voted unanimously to ask for information that could detail the costs of either expanding the current Yerington facility or building a new jail in Silver Springs on land offered by developer Greg Peek of ERGS, Inc.

Peek offered the property adjacent to the Silver Springs Airport, north of Spruce Street and bordered by Opal Street to the county for a jail or public safety complex. He estimated its value at between $500,000 and $1 million.

A past consultant, David Bennett, recommended a public safety complex which would contain a jail, court services, police, communications and records.

Commissioner LeRoy Goodman supported adding the Silver Springs site to the request for proposals.

"The first look at Silver Springs and Stagecoach was for the site," he said. "It was too much before to take infrastructure there. Here it's there already."

He also said the cost of transporting prisoners should be part of any proposal for a 160-bed facility.

Commissioner Larry McPherson has long pushed for the jail to be built in Silver Springs.

"It doesn't make sense to spend $25 million to build it around here and 10 years later have to move it anyway," he said.

But Sheriff Allen Veil supported upgrading the jail in Yerington, with an eye toward a possible Silver Springs facility.

"We've been going through this for 11 years," he said. "We have to decide what we're going to build before we build anything."

The jail must be a maximum-security facility, yet there is constant uncertainty as to how many maximum-security inmates the jail would actually have, he said.

Transporting prisoners from the proposed jail to district and justice courts could prove to be a security problem, he said.

"Every time we move an inmate, it increases the risk of injury to deputies."

Veil said the Yerington jail is close to the hospital, district court and Walker River Justice Court.

The move to Silver Springs would be more attractive if it were a complete public safety complex, he said.

"A standalone jail in Silver Springs is not going to work for us," he said.

Veil said he would need more supervisory personnel if the jail was moved out of Yerington, he said.

District Attorney Bob Auer faced criticism from the commissioners for not spending enough time in Yerington, Veil said.

"I'm not going to submit myself to the same criticism."

Yerington Police Chief Darren Wagner said the Yerington jail remodel process needs to move forward.

The commission previously voted to put the jail in Silver Springs. When county finances dipped, the commission then considered upgrading the existing jail in Yerington.

Peek said he was offering the land because he wanted to develop a new town square in the triangle area of Ramsey Weeks, Highways 50 and 95A, to provide jobs and some housing.

He came up with the plan while working with county staff to update the county master plan.

"Silver Springs has a huge potential for the county," he said.

He said the area is flat and had water and sewer infrastructure nearby.

Whatever they decided, Comptroller Josh Foli said, he had about $6.25 million starting July 1, and a $10 million bond to build a jail, but didn't think there would be funding sources beyond that.

He also said he would rather do bonds than a lease-build arrangement because of favorable interest rates.

Silver Springs resident Rick Zierenberg, who is running for Commission District III, said that the Lahontan Medical Center in Silver Springs could become an urgent care center and be open, and the Carson Tahoe Dayton Hospital should be open by the time the jail is built.

Jerry Morgan of Q&D Construction estimated a jail could be built for between $10 million and $11.25 million.

• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at or call 881-7351.


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