Tedford, Reid forged working relationship for Fallon

Nevada’s longtime U.S. senator died Dec. 28 at 82

Rick Lattin, left, of Lattin Farms explains how the hoop greenhouse works to Nevada Sen. Harry Reid in 2010. (Photo: Kim Lamb/LVN)

Rick Lattin, left, of Lattin Farms explains how the hoop greenhouse works to Nevada Sen. Harry Reid in 2010. (Photo: Kim Lamb/LVN)

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They may have fostered different political ideologies over the years, but when issues involved Churchill County, Fallon Mayor Ken Tedford and former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, who died Dec. 28, were on the same page.
The 82-year-old Reid died after a four-year struggle with pancreatic cancer, said his wife Landra in a release confirming her husband’s death. His career in Nevada began in 1968 when he served as Henderson city attorney and later won a state Assembly seat, and it ended in January 2017 when Reid stepped down. Nevertheless, Reid established himself as the longest-serving U.S. senator from Nevada
“Our friendship developed over the years,” Tedford said, noting he was saddened with Reid’s death. “We texted back and forth even after his retirement until Thanksgiving.”
Tedford said Reid’s last message to him was cordial.
When Tedford was first elected mayor in 1995 after spending several terms as a councilman, he flew to Washington, D.C., with City Attorney Mike Mackedon. As they waited, Mackedon said the senator won’t hesitate to ask him about water, a thorny issue in which Reid previously succeeded in having more water diverted to Pyramid Lake from the Truckee River and, subsequently, the Truckee Canal that feeds into the Lahontan Reservoir.
Reid didn’t disappoint. Water was the first topic the senator mentioned.
“I told him we’ll never agree on water, and I asked him would he agree to talk about anything else other than water,” Tedford recalled.
Reid agreed.

A friend to the community
What ensued was both a professional and personal friendship that focused on issues affecting Fallon and with each other’s families. For the next two decades, Tedford said the senior senator from Nevada helped Fallon and Churchill County over some rough patches, especially the problems associated with the leukemia cluster that affected a number of families in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Reid called a meeting to order at the Fallon Convention Center on April 12, 2001, with the Committee on Environment and Public Works and local and state stakeholders to determine a cause for the outbreak of leukemia cases in Churchill County.
“We’re extremely fortunate to have national experts on a range of issues important to the community, including children’s health, childhood leukemia, cancer clusters, and environmentally-related health problems, as well as state, local, and U.S. Navy officials, with a wealth of expertise and a demonstrated commitment to addressing the difficult circumstances surrounding the citizens of Fallon,” Reid said, opening the hearing.
Tedford said Reid was a big help to the community at that time.
“The children were ill, and we were trying to find what the cause was,” Tedford said.
During the same time, Tedford said Reid was instrumental in obtaining funding to help Fallon build a $17 million treatment plant to reduce arsenic in the municipal water supply.
Reid also had taken an interest in the state’s small farms and traveled to Northern Nevada during the early spring of 2010. He visited Lattin Farms on April 6 and toured the grounds and showed an interest with hoop houses, a greenhouse stretched with plastic. The Western Nevada College’s Specialty Crop Institute provided farmers with different options for growing food.
Rick Lattin said during the Reid’s visit the senator had secured millions of dollars to help the small farmer develop testing on certain plant species. Lattin said the additional funding had led to a resurgence in smaller farms.
During Reid’s visit, he learn more about hoop houses and their importance to farming. The hoop houses allowed for extended growing seasons and increased production and protected the crops from both wildlife and inclement weather. Lattin said small-producing farms were just as important as the major producers.
“When I began traveling Nevada (in the late 1960s), we had truck farms. Now, they’re a thing of the past,” Reid said. “In 1992, Rick Lattin decided to change things (with family-oriented farming.”

Priority in military spending
Tedford said Reid pushed for funding for Naval Air Station Fallon and the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center. Reid had hired a former Army and Nevada National Guard pilot to be his senior policy adviser and director of appropriations. Robert Herbert managed all 12 federal spending bills for the senator from 1991-2016 and advised Reid on transportation, defense, veterans and homeland security matters.
“He did much of the funding through Robert Herbert,” Tedford said. “He worked with us through the years.”
Herbert, who died in September in an automobile crash south of Las Vegas just inside the California border, had retired from the military as a major general. Herbert had advised the senator on military issues throughout Nevada.
“I know he (Reid) funded billions of dollars to the state, millions of dollars to this community and millions of dollars to NAS Fallon,” Tedford said.
Retired Brig. Gen. William Burks, who served as adjutant general from 2009 to 2019, said Reid and his staff were extremely helpful with military issues, and the senator would listen to his concerns.
“His staff was great to work with because they would teach us (Burks and his executive staff) on how to work things through Congress especially with the limitations on spending especially with MILCON (military construction),” Burks said. “In my entire time I came back from Washington, D.C., ­­as the adjutant general, I think every single building we have was directly responsible (to Reid) because he would make sure everything went through for the military, not only for the Guard but also Nellis and Fallon.”
Burks said he completion of the newest readiness center near the speedway occurred during his last term.
According to the Nevada National Guard, Reid’s office helped fund the Nevada Army Guard Las Vegas Readiness Center ($26 million in 2010), Nevada Army Guard Field Maintenance Shop ($23 million in 2012), Nevada Air Guard Intelligence facility ($16.8 million in 2006), Nevada Air Guard Fire Station ($10.8 million in 2010) and more than a dozen others. Reid and neighboring counties including Churchill were also instrumental in preventing the Department of Defense from closing the Hawthorne Army Weapons Depot in 2005.
After the IHOP restaurant shooting in Carson City in 2010 that killed five people, Burks said Reid offered his assistance. Of the five who died, three were members of the Nevada Army National Guard.
In the meantime, funding also flowed into NAS Fallon. In the mid-1990s Strike U became the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center when it relocated from the former Naval Air Station Miramar. Base improvements over the years included programs for the aviation training as well as a Warrior Fitness Center for the sailors.
Reid, former Republican Sen. Dean Heller and U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei, R-CD2, worked as a team from 2011 to secure millions of dollars in funding for F-35 training missions, Tactical Ground Mobility Training and to grow Fallon’s Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center (now Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center). Reid said the two major military installations in Nevada are on the cutting edge of efforts to protect our homeland well into the future.
Other funding for buildings included the Secure Compartmented Information Facility, Secret Internet Protocol Router Network, unclassified but sensitive Internet Protocol Router Network, Automated Logistics Information System and Simultaneous Mission Playback capabilities. About $3.4 million was provided for facility alteration for the F-35 training mission.
Tedford said both Reid and Herbert were friends of Churchill County and the Navy.

Respecting the office
After Reid became the Senate minority leader in 2005, majority leader from 2007 until 2015 and minority leader until his 2017 retirement, Tedford said the senator didn’t spend as much time in rural Nevada.
“He became busier, and it was harder for him to travel, but he still made many trips to the state,” Tedford said. “He wasn’t much for gatherings. He was a quiet man.”
After Reid retired in 2017, Tedford flew to Las Vegas to have lunch with him. He also said Reid loved his wife Landra and was devoted to her and their family.
Former mayor and councilman Robert “Bob” Erickson said he first met Reid when he and Mike O’Callaghan were running for office. Reid was seeking the lieutenant governor’s office, while O’Callaghan was facing the current lieutenant governor, Ed Fike, for governor. Both Reid and O’Callaghan won the 1970 general election.
“That was one of the classical political upsets in Nevada,” Erickson said. “As a dark horse, O’Callaghan crisscrossed the state.”
During the early days of the race, Erickson said O’Callaghan introduced Reid, who wasn’t well known in Northern Nevada. The two had a relationship. O’Callaghan had taught Reid at Basic High School in Henderson and was also his boxing coach.
“I always enjoyed talking to him (Reid),” Erickson said.
Erickson noted he and Reid had philosophical differences, but that didn’t affect their personal relationship. Erickson said he always had the philosophy of respecting the office. On the other hand, Erickson said Reid always had a respect for the Fallon community and its values.
Tedford said Reid visited his office many times. On the other hand, the mayor said not too many senators or congressmen have stopped in to see the mayor over the years.
“He’s been here and that speaks highly of him,” Tedford said. “He has left a power legacy in the state, well-earned. He came from totally nothing and built himself as one of the most powerful politicians this state had ever known.”


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