Commission honors ‘rock’ Gwen Washburn |

Commission honors ‘rock’ Gwen Washburn

Aly Lawson
The late Gwen Washburn is honored at the Churchill County Commission meeting last week with family, friends and community leaders in attendance. The plaque (with an accompanying photo) reads with a quote from Mahatma Gandhi: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

The Churchill County Board of Commissioners met last week to recognize the late Gwen Washburn for her service to the Nevada Rural Housing Authority (NRHA), county and community.

Willis Swan, NRHA commissioner, along with fellow board members and NRHA Executive Director Gary Longaker, described Washburn’s impact as a former NRHA commissioner as well as a former county commissioner chairwoman.

“She made numerous important contributions to both boards and was valued for her wise judgments,” Swan said.

Longaker said though Washburn started work in business, her first love was farming.

“Gwen first was a farmer and a farmer’s wife, and she was extremely proud of that,” Longaker said, emphasizing she was a wonderful mother and sister as well as a consummate organizer.

Family members and friends were also in attendance as speakers highlighted Washburn’s 15 years of service with NRHA.

“The board misses her insights and I miss her very sage council,” Longaker said.

County Commissioner Carl Erquiaga, who served his first two years on the board with Washburn, said he considered her a mentor.

“She’ll be remembered in this community for many years for all her hard work,” said county Commissioner Pete Olsen.

Longaker thanked Washburn’s husband, Bill, for his support of her activities.

“She was a tremendous support to me in the Planning Department,” said County Manager Eleanor Lockwood. “This community was very near and dear to her heart. I will always remember Gwen Washburn as I go forth.”

Longaker added Washburn received recognition from such leaders as U.S. Sen. Dean Heller.

“She was a rock for the community, she really was; we’ll miss her,” said county Commissioner Bus Scharmann.

The commission also adopted a proclamation recognizing this month as Nevada Wildfire Awareness Month. Ed Smith, a natural resource specialist with the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and co-manager of the Living with Fire program, thanked the board for keeping the wildfire threat in front of Nevadans’ minds.

Smith teaches Nevadans how to live more safely in high fire hazard environments and said this year’s theme is to “Prepare, Anticipate and Evacuate,” noting this applies to flooding and earthquakes as well. More information can be found at including emergency preparedness resources and efforts such as “Junk the Junipers,” encouraging residents to remove ornamental junipers or other hazardous wildfire fuels located with 30 feet of homes.

The Nevada Department of Transportation gave its 2017 Churchill County presentation on future plans. Sondra Rosenberg, NDOT assistant planning director, said the goal is to help develop state transportation and long-range plans but also have an ongoing partnership with each county to make adjustments as needed, from passing lanes and wildlife conflicts to intersections and shoulder widening — she stressed the importance of rural transit and sustainable funding.

The presentation touched on the U.S. Highway 95 and 50 flood mitigation efforts, Naval Air Station Fallon land withdrawal, intersection control evaluation (ICE) and a regional transit study that includes all potential types of transportation. Olsen thanked the presenters for NDOT’s flood mitigation assistance.

“I think it’s a good response to what we’ve asked for,” Olsen said of the report that details local transportation issues, adding decreasing traffic fatalities is always a priority over convenience.

Cliff Van Woert, county building official, said he believes the county’s new adult detention facility is on schedule and Sletton Construction has committed to Oct. 30 for substantial completion. He said most materials on-site now, and the sheriff and team will train in Colorado this month on the facility technology.

“The financing is continuing to work out real well for this project,” said Comptroller Alan Kalt.

Emergency Manager Mike Heidemann gave a flood mitigation update and said things are going well and as planned — and the Lahontan Reservoir had been “pretty much dumped out” once.

Heidemann said mosquito abatement is estimated at $700,000 for 15 weeks of active abatement this year to aid with vector-borne virus control.

The commission also approved the following:

Loretta M. and Theodore L. Guazzini zone change application for property including the funeral home and cemetery; rezoning was stated to align with master and land use plans as well as not be detrimental to the surrounding community or associated properties including no infrastructure issues.

Conditionally approved Tariff #17 changes with the public hearing being May 17.

Granville Utilities, LLC agreement to settle outstanding fees for an expired development as well as clarified water right status.

Amended conservation easement purchase agreement for Floyd J. Goins and Gayle Goins.

The next commission meeting will be May 17 at 1:15 p.m. in the county administration building.