Olsen seeks 2nd term on commission
Although he has served only one term as a Churchill County Commissioner, Pete Olsen believes in doing his homework, sometimes pouring over 250-300 pages of information before each meeting.
Consequently, Olsen, a Churchill County resident for more than 40 years, said he still has much to offer as a commissioner, and that’s why he is announcing his intentions to run for re-election in District 2.
“Time has really flown by,” said Olsen, who first won the seat after the June 2010 primary when he captured more than 70 percent of the vote in a three-person race.
During his tenure on the board, Olsen points to many key accomplishments the three commissioners have nurtured or approved to improve the quality of life in the Lahontan Valley.
“As far as the commission, we have had a budget that has been relatively balanced the last three years, and we’re appreciative of the people who put in the hard work to make that possible,” he said. “The DFA (Dairy Farmers of America’s dry milk plant) is so close to fruition that the stars are aligned to make us one of the greatest dairy markets. We are in the right place at the right time, and the plant will be great for our community and our country.”
Olsen was one of the people responsible for bringing the DFA plant to Fallon. He served as president of the Associated Nevada Dairymen, president of the Churchill County Farm Conservation District, vice chairman of the California Cooperative Creamery, supervisor at the Lahontan Conservation District, vice president of the Western Area Council of Dairy Farmers of America, president of the Nevada Ag Foundation and he was on the corporate board of directors for Dairy Farmers of America.
In other words, Olsen’s background became a plus for economic development.
“DFA’s success has many fathers. I just had something to do with it, and I am thankful for that,” he said.
Nevada dairy farmers had been following a business model of shipping milk to Northern California, but as the market began to shift, Olsen said local dairymen faced a dilemma of where to sell their milk. Olsen said the dairy plant came in at the right time.
“The average dairy plant is 65 years, and they come here to stay a long time. It will have a long-term economic impact and is something good for several generations,” he said.
Furthermore, Olsen said geothermal rents and royalties collected from the federal government built the new juvenile detention facility. Olsen said parents don’t have to travel to other counties for their child’s appointments or stays. The Churchill County dairyman also lauds the cooperation shown between the two local governments.
“The city and county came together and built the gym at Venturacci Park, and that will befit the community for many years to come,” he added.
Olsen said county commissions and NACO, the Nevada Association of Counties lobbied the state Legislature to change some of the requirements for giving tax abatements to alternative energy. Before the move, counties saw very little — if any — taxes from geothermal construction, but the counties will see more money coming their way with new geothermal projects.
“I think the (new tax policy) will be a net plus for the community,” he added.
Because of the tax abatements, the state’s monthly taxation reports don’t show the losses to the counties. That bothers Olsen
“They (Nevada Department of Taxation) send out their reports making everything look positive. Then, after six months, when they reconcile the taxes, figures look much different,” Olsen explained.
During the fiscal year 2013, for example, Churchill County had to return more than $20 million in taxes to the state because of the alternative energy abatements.
As with current and past commissioners, Olsen said he is a firm believer of continuing the buffer between Naval Air Station Fallon and county lands. As a result, both the county and Navy have worked together to withdraw lands to provide a buffer around the base to prevent any encroachment.
“Our community has been recognized for its unique relationship with the Navy,” Olsen said, adding the Navy has been a great partner in helping with purchasing the land near and around the air station. Olsen said about 4,000 acres has been bought, but the ultimate goals is purchasing 15,000 acres.
Olsen has taken an active role in economic development for the community and was one of many people who invited the Northern Nevada Development Authority to come into Churchill County, a result of Gov. Brian Sandoval’s mandate that regional authorities work with local governments. That being said, Olsen supports the Churchill Economic Development Authority and feels they benefit more local concerns in attracting businesses to the county.
He said CEDA recently interviewed for a new director to replace Eric Grimes, who resigned last fall, and an announcement on Grimes’ successor is forthcoming.
The sage grouse debate will affect commissioners, and Olsen said the board wants as much information on the federal courts directing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to make a determination to name the sage grouse as an endangered species and then to designate 20 million acres of habitat in 11 states.
“I would want us to be very informed and engaged as possible as a commission,” Olsen said.
If the federal government goes through with habitat designation, Olsen wants the state, which has a better idea of its own lands and limitations, to determine the land that will be used for habitat. He said the federal government’s track record in managing land or wild horses is not the best.
Olsen and his wife, Tami, have 10 children between them and eight grandchildren including two on the way.