Poor election turnouts to a plea deal | NevadaAppeal.com

Poor election turnouts to a plea deal

Staff report

Today begins the LVN's Top 10 stories as determined by the LVN editorial team and with help from feedback received from community members and readers and from website feedback and page views and visits. The LVN looks at stories six through 10, and Friday reveals the top five including what we think is the top story of the year.

6 — Two Idaho men received probation in August after a deadly brawl at the Overland Hotel in 2012 left Harvey Olson dead and Rick and Linda Johnson injured.

Kevin and Levi Travis avoided a murder conviction and pleaded guilty to lesser charges after evidence by the defense was discovered and altered the course of the case.

The Travises and Olson and Johnson engaged in a bloody melee, although each side said the other instigated the fight. The Travises defense team discovered Olson brandished a knife, which was not reported by authorities.

In addition, the defense was prepared to call numerous expert witness about Olson's medical history and that he was terminal and the injuries suffered were incidental.

During the brawl, Rick Johnson testified he was knocked unconscious after being hit in the back of the head. In addition, Olson was hit with barstools, kicks and punches, according to Rick Johnson's testimony.

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Levi Travis was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit battery, a gross misdemeanor, and received a suspended jail sentence of 364 days. Kevin Travis entered an Alford plea to one count of attempting to commit involuntary manslaughter, a felony, and received a suspended prison sentence of 18-48 months.

Both were ordered to pay $31,472.71 in restitution.

7 — Dr. Sandra Sheldon became the new superintendent for Churchill County School District on July 1. According to trustees, Sheldon was the best candidate. Sheldon left a favorable impression with all of the trustees. Steve Nunn, trustee vice president, said everyone on the board was impressed with her interview. He said Sheldon views CCSD as a team and her beliefs fell directly in line with the boards.

Sheldon agreed to a two-year contract that allows for the extension of one more year after evaluation by the school board in April 2014.

Trustees narrowed the interview selection down to three candidates: Sheldon, Edna LaMarca and Jose Delfin. Candidates had a lengthy interview process. Not only did the candidates have to face the trustees but also had to answer questions from the public.

Sheldon replaced County Commissioner Bus Scharmann who served as interim superintendent after Dr. Carolyn Ross' abrupt resignation in 2012.

8 — A major drug bust and a manhunt for a drug dealer kept law enforcement busy this year.

The Drug Enforcement Agency arrested four Fallon residents for selling spice, a synthetic marijuana, in February and the North Central Narcotics Task Force apprehended one of Nevada's Top 10 Most Wanted in July.

Gurprett Singh, Ranjeet Singh, Parvin Rajput and James Christensen were arrested by the DEA. Rajput and Christensen entered guilty pleas in federal court in October.

The task force, meanwhile, conducted a three-month manhunt for Charles DeSelms and the saga ended in July when the task force and Carson City Sheriff's SWAT team raided a residence on Mary Street.

Breaching charges were used to blow the garage door and authorities arrested DeSelms and two others. DeSelms pleaded guilty in October to trafficking in a controlled substance, commission of an unauthorized act relating to a controlled substance and failure to stop on signal of a peace officer. He was sentenced to 46-168 months (14 years) in November.

9 — Fallon natives and Churchill County High School graduates Dale A.R. Erquiaga and Brig. Gen Michael Hanifan made huge waves in their careers this year.

Erquiaga was appointed as Superintendent of Public Instruction announced by Gov. Brian Sandoval. The governor said Erquiaga has extensive experience working with the state's largest school district, the Department of Education and the Legislature on education reform in Nevada.

Erquiaga has held positions as interim CEO and strategic planner for clients in health care and arts and culture, senior adviser to the governor from 2010 to 2012, executive director, Government Affairs, Public Policy and Strategic Planning for the Clark County School District from 2009 to 2010 and principal at Get Consensus, LLC, from 2006 to 2009.

Hanifan became the Commander of the Army Guard. He is responsible for the training and readiness of 3,200 Nevada soldiers. Hanifan spent 10 years in the active Army, two years in the Individual Ready Reserved. He joined the Army National Guard in 1998 and has been director of Training and Mobilization; deputy commander, 17th Sustainment Brigade; battalion commander for the 421st Regional Training Institute; and commander, headquarters, State Area Command.

Hanifan received a congressional appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., where he earned an engineering physics degree and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He received a master's degree in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College and also attended numerous classes.

10 — Rachel Dahl and James Richardson were re-elected to the Fallon City Council for second terms on June 4.

Dahl edged Susan Smith-Savala by 99-70 votes in a rematch for the Ward I seat. The race was a rematch from 2009, when Dahl triumphed against Smith-Savala by a 142-65 count. Fewer than 12 percent of the 1,346 eligible voters in Ward I cast ballots.

Richardson defeated Eric Blakey by a 94-79 margin to secure the Ward III win, or a 13.4 percent of the vote of 1,290 eligible voters. Blakey offered his congratulations to Richards after the results were posted at the Fallon Convention Center.

The scenario replayed itself from four years ago considering only 400 voters went to the polls four years ago. The turnout was disheartening despite the immense effort put forth by the challengers in their campaigns. Efforts reached from campaigns letters, door-to-door visits and billboards size signs.