Churchill County in 2022: The year in review

Mayor Ken Tedford read a proclamation commending the Churchill County School District for receiving a Purple Star recognition.

Mayor Ken Tedford read a proclamation commending the Churchill County School District for receiving a Purple Star recognition.

Following is a look back at the major news events occurring in Churchill County and the surrounding area for the first six months of 2022:


• Fallon Mayor Ken Tedford said the late Sen. Harry Reid, who died in December 2021, 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 had also 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.

Tedford said Reid pushed for funding for Naval Air Station Fallon and the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center.

• Lance McNeil, who spent 30 years organizing the food deliveries to the county’s senior citizens as part of American Legion Post 16’s Thanksgiving and Christmas outreach, and Linda Rupert, who finished her 27th year as a volunteer, each received a plaque to honor their service.

• La Plata was once the County Seat for Churchill County and according to “Forgotten Nevada,” was a fairly busy and prosperous mining community in the late 1860s. The website has an interesting history of La Plata.

According to, La Plata is the first seat of Churchill County that's actually still in the county.

• A federal judge has halted the start of construction on the Dixie Meadows geothermal energy project in Churchill County. U.S. District Judge Robert Clive Jones found that the project posed significant risk of harm to the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe and the ecosystems there.

• The Nevada Hospital Association reported last week that many of the state’s hospitals in Clark County and the rural region are experiencing a crisis in staffing. As a result of the updated status, facilities in southern Nevada and the rural regions have requested assistance from the State of Nevada.

The COVID-19 hospitalization status for the rural hospitals, however, continues to be low. The NHA announced Churchill County is decreasing, while Humboldt is flat and Mineral, Lander and Pershing counties show none.

• Filing for office opens in Churchill County and for also state offices.

• The Intergovernmental Executive Committee met last week at the Fallon Convention Center for a Navy update on numerous items including legislative, cultural resources and tribal engagement.

• The Churchill County Library has outgrown its present location, and as a result of increased usage over the years, Churchill County commissioners received the newest Library Strategic Plan at their last meeting.

• An Oasis Academy eighth grader is this year’s state winner in the Veterans of Foreign Wars Patriot’s Pen contest. Christina Robinson, who won both the local and district judging, became the first student from Churchill County to place ahead of students from other districts including Reno-Sparks and Las Vegas.

• Chief Petty Officer Joshua Sawyer, an air traffic controller at Naval Air Station Fallon, was honored with the Bob Feller Act of Valor Foundation for his dedication of military service and for dedicating his time to honor and recognize veterans. Sawyer won the 2021 U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Award, which is one of seven categories individual or groups receive recognition from the Bob Feller Act of Valor Foundation.

• Assemblywoman Robin Titus, who represents most of Lyon and all of Churchill counties, announced she will be a candidate for State Senate District 17 once filing opens in March. Current State Sen. James Settelmeyer, R-Douglas, is termed out.

• The Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery (NNVMC) in Fernley participates every December by laying wreaths at the sites of every veteran laid to rest in and on their grounds. This marked the third year that the High Desert Grange has partnered with the Nevada Veterans Coalition (NVC) through coalition volunteer Roger Elliott of Fallon to recycle those wreaths.

• Desert Oasis Teff & Grain, a Nevada food and agriculture business located in Churchill County, has been selected as a 2022 Good Food Award winner. According to the Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA), the Good Food Awards are presented annually by the Good Food Foundation to highlight those that make quality food with social and environmental excellence in mind.

• The Fallon Chamber of Commerce conducted its an award presentations.


• Col. Michael Peyerl formerly of Fallon became the Nevada Army National Guard’s newest general. Peyerl succeeds Brig. Gen. Michael Hanifan, who has announced his retirement effective March 1. Coincidentally, both Peyerl and Hanifan grew up in Fallon and attended Churchill County schools.

• It’s time for the 56th annual Nevada Cattlemen’s Association’s Fallon All Breeds Bull Sale on Feb. 19 at the Fallon Livestock LLC.

• Fallon/Churchill Fire Department announces it has recently contracted with Darley Co., to custom build two new fire engines for the Fallon/Churchill County community.

The new additions will be direct replacements for Darley engines that have served the department for more than 25 years.

• Community members received their first glimpse of the new Rafter 3C Center at the fairgrounds as the county hosted on Thursday the Fallon Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the new $13.9 million facility.

• A Fallon educator who lives in Fernley was selected Feb. 22 to fill an unexpired term on the Lyon County School Board, District 7. Michael J. Hogan will retire from the Churchill County School District in June. He will succeed Kimber Lee Ann Crabtree, but he must file this month to seek election to the board seat later this year.

• Gailmarie Pahmeier’s powerful words radiated the beauty of Valerie Serpa, who, along with her late husband Kirk Robertson, transformed the Oasis of Nevada into a cherished home for the arts. Pahmeier, who teaches creative writing and contemporary literature courses at the University of Nevada, Reno, was one of many speakers who remembered the late Valerie Serpa, executive director the Churchill Arts Center along with more than 300 people.

Serpa and pilot Don Sefton died Dec. 5, 2021, when a small plane he was piloting crashed shortly after takeoff from the Medford (Oregon) Municipal Airport.

• Greenwave track coach Paul Orong died unexpectedly on Feb. 14. He lived in Fallon for over 25 years and had led the track team to regional and state titles.

• An investigation conducted by the Churchill County Sheriff’s Office concluded Robert Shannon Collins and Torri Anne Gibbs allegedly killed 48-year-old Sean Erin Green almost two years ago.

• Community members received their first glimpse of the new Rafter 3C Center at the fairgrounds as the county hosted on Thursday the Fallon Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the new $13.9 million facility. Churchill County Manager Jim Barbee presented an overview to Chamber members and their guests before his staff gave a tour of the 75,000-foot center. B


• The National Weather Service confirmed the latest snowfalls provided very little water content. The NWS said the first part of March may have some storms developing over the Great Basin.

• The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to take up a dispute over a 44-year-old law that prioritizes placement of Native children in the foster system with extended family or Native communities whenever possible.

• Four Republicans filed for County Commission District 2, and with no Democrats throwing their hats into the ring, voters will elect a new commissioner to replace the termed-out Pete Olsen. The candidates are Tanya Freeman, Myles Getto, Kenneth Harmond and Thomas Riggins.

• Greg Koenig of Fallon and Vida Keller of Silver Springs will face each other for Assembly District 38. Since no Democrats filed, the winner of the June primary will become the state’s newest representative to the Assembly, succeeding Dr. Robin Titus of Smith Valley. Titus and Assemblyman Jim Wheeler of Douglas County have both filed for State Senate District 17 to replace James Settelmeyer. The Douglas County rancher is termed out.

• The Churchill County School Board appointed Robert Wickware as the new principal of Churchill County Middle School.

• The Julia Bulette 1864 chapter and its outpost Copper Queen 1915 of E Clampus Vitus and volunteers from NAS Fallon decided to replace a small remembrance dedicated to the helicopter’s crew who died in a crash in 1978. They held a ceremony on the 44th anniversary of the crash.

• Retiring Naval Air Station Fallon commander Capt. Evan Morrison said time has passed quickly since he took the oath to serve his country for the past 36 years. The next chapter in Morrison’s life began when he relinquished command to Capt. Shane Tanner, a 24-year military veteran.


• In a 54-page report released last week, the Biden administration detailed a number of issues tribal communities face when voting, as well as specific actions policy makers at the federal, state and local levels can take to eliminate those barriers.

• Both the city of Fallon and Churchill County conducted a ribbon cutting last week to signal a new use for the Cottage Schools. The county’s CARES after-school program and SumFun moved from the fairgrounds to the Cottage Schools with the students arriving on Monday.

• Churchill County and the City of Fallon have declared April as Child Abuse Prevention Month and used the opportunity on Friday at Millennium Park for speakers to say a few words about a problem that plagues every community and county in the United States.

• Troy Driver, 41, was taken into custody as a suspect in the March 12 disappearance of Naomi Irion of Fernley. Her body was found March 30 in a remote, high-desert grave in neighboring Churchill County. Prosecutors say Driver, a mining services worker living in Fallon, allegedly abducted Irion in her car from a Walmart parking lot in Fernley, fatally shot her and buried her body.

• The Nevada Department of Transportation said additional overnight and weekend lane closures are now occurring as improvements continue on U.S. Highway 50 through Fallon. NDOT is repaving two miles of U.S. 50 from Allen to Rio Vista Drive, as well as improving existing sidewalks and sidewalk ramps, to enhance roadway surface and accessibility.

• Churchill County School District was informed Friday it has been identified as the first Purple Star District in Nevada. All five of the school district’s K-12 schools were awarded Purple Star status in the most recent application window. The Purple Star award recognizes schools that show a commitment to students and families connected to the nation’s military. Schools are honored with the Purple Star award if they meet all the qualifications in the application.

• Fallon native Brig. Gen. Michael Hanifan retired from military service at the end of February. Former and current colleagues marked the end of his career with a retirement dinner for the 57-year-old Hanifan, who spent the first 10 years of his career as an active-duty military intelligence officer.

• After listening to county residents voice their opposition for almost 90 minutes to a new coding chart affecting residential areas, the Churchill County Commissioners unanimously voted April 20 to accept the new code structure that will streamline the current residential districts and a third code for intensive multi-family residential units.

 • U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday traveled to Fallon last week to meet with tribal and local government leaders and visited Naval Air Station Fallon. Gilday met separately with local government and tribal leaders from the Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribe, Walker River Paiute Tribe, and Yomba Shoshone Tribe and discussed modernization and expansion efforts for the Fallon Range Training Complex.

• Texas Sen. Ted Cruz praised former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt’s campaign for the U.S. Senate during Thursday’s campaign swing to three Nevada counties.

Laxalt, who served as Nevada’s Republican attorney general from 2015-19 but failed in his attempt to defeat Gov. Steve Sisolak in 2018, is seeking the Senate seat currently held by Catherine Cortez Masto.

• Churchill County Junior Livestock Show results were announced.

• The Nevada State Society Daughters of the American Revolution along with other service organizations gathered at Carson City’s Lone Mountain Cemetery to pay their respects not only to the soldiers who served and died at Fort Churchill in the 1860s but also for those who enlisted after them to show others the meaning of service and sacrifice.


• The Nevada Department of Education recently presented two school districts with their Nevada Purple Star School Award. Churchill County School District and Mineral County School District received the first district-wide Purple Star School Designations in Nevada.

• Katherine “Kat” Miller retired after spending 10 years as the Nevada Department of Veterans Services director.

• The Churchill County Volunteer Fire Department, along with the Federal Fire Department at Naval Air Station Fallon, hosted a street dance.

• Veterans Legislative Symposium held in Reno to address future needs for veterans and the military to include Naval Air Station Fallon.

• Candidates Night at the Fallon Convention Center held for Assembly District 38, State Senate District 17 and County Commission.

• Churchill County Parks & Recreation is updating the names of its facilities at the fairgrounds.

• Fallon hosts annual Armed Forces Day celebration.

• Memorial Day observances held at four local cemeteries. Capt. Shane Tanner, commanding officer at Naval Air Station Fallon, spoke at the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe’s cemetery on Memorial Day.

• Western Nevada College’s conducted its drive-through commencement ceremony on the Fallon campus. Oasis Academy's graduation for high-school seniors was held later that day. Churchill County’s Adult Education Graduation was held in the high-school’s auditorium.


• Churchill County High School graduation was at the Edward Arciniega Athletic Complex’s football field.

• The inaugural Battle Born Broncs featured 30 bareback and 30 saddle bronc riders next week at the Rafter 3C Arena.

• Fallon hosted the annual Nevada League of Cities as representatives from around the state conducted their retreat.

• Sue Sevon, who had been with the Churchill County courts for 30 years — most recently as the court administrator for 20 years —retired.

• Top Gun: Maverick recently debuted with the second movie portraying the warfighting skills of aviators associated with the Navy’s Fighter Weapons School that fits under the umbrella of the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center.

• Inductees from the 28th NIAA Hall of Fame class, the largest to date, included Dan Anderson, Toni (Brown) Fairbanks, Art Collins, Pat Dolan, Rob Hastings, Rollie Hess, Martin “Skip” Houk, Greenwave volleyball standout Jennifer Hucke, Michelle Palaroan, Richard Pitts, former LVN reporter Dave Price, Ed Shepard, Paul Tremayne, Mike Whitemaine and Mitch Woods.

• Fallon Elks Lodge 2239 conducted its annual Flag Day ceremony on June 14. This year, the Elks and by Boy Scouts Troop 1776 assembled at the Lions softball complex.

• After 17 years of working with the Churchill County School District, Kevin Lords was announced as the new principal at Battle Mountain High School for the 2022-23 school year.

• A Fallon native Dale Erquiaga has been approved as the acting chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education for 18 months while the Board of Regents search for a permanent chancellor.

• Myles Getto, a newcomer to Churchill County politics, defeated Tom Riggins for the commission’s District 2 seat. Current Churchill County Commission board member Dr. Greg Koenig defeated Vida Keller of Silver Springs for Assembly District 38. Dr. Robin Titus defeated Jim Wheeler for State Senate 17.

• The first deployment of a Nevada Army National Guard unit to Europe since early 2020 involved about 40 soldiers from a Carson City-based military police unit. Local soldiers were involved.

• Alvin Moyle, former chairman of the Fallon Shoshone Paiute Tribe, was remembered as not only a man who had strong convictions but also one who had a love for the land and its people, rodeo and service in the U.S. Marine Corps. A funeral service was held inside a packed tribal gymnasium for the 83-year-old Moyle, who died June 20.


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