TRIC, USA Parkway job transportation in the works |

TRIC, USA Parkway job transportation in the works

Aly Lawson
The Churchill County Commission is aiming to have a transportation program in place for commuters to the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center, the future home of the Tesla Gigafactory and Switch data center, among others.
Courtesy Tahoe Reno Industrial Center |

The Churchill County Board of Commissioners met Thursday and agreed to sponsor a regional transportation plan related to future USA Parkway job commutes.

“It’s not going to be a plan that sits on the shelf,” said Social Services director Shannon Ernst. “We do want to develop a timeline for how we could implement phase two and how we also get people in outlying areas to jobs that are hiring at this time.”

Commissioner Bus Scharmann noted the Nevada Department of Transportation wasn’t interested in aiding the rural areas regarding the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center’s (TRIC) development — focusing more on Sparks and Reno. Scharmann hopes to see the USA Parkway companies, such as the Tesla Gigafactory and PetSmart, match Churchill’s contribution of fostering jobs in McCarran, 50 miles west of Fallon.

Ernst also received approval to lease two specific properties for a total fiscal impact of $18,000 for county homeless housing. Additionally she discussed the encompassing 2017 Community Development Block Grant and its relation to economic development and downtown revitalization.

“It’s not just about creating jobs but having a viable community so you can increase those jobs and those wages,” she said.

Jeff Fontaine, Nevada Association of Counties executive director, proposed amending the NACO bylaws regarding dues that have been flat since 2013. Commissioner Carl Erquiaga was curious if some counties put in more than others, how would that reflect in the services and resources NACO provides its members.

“We’re going to help the counties that ask us for help, quite frankly,” Fontaine said, mentioning that NACO is providing assistance with the Naval Air Station Fallon Training Range Complex Modernization project. “We’re never going to turn down anybody that asks for help regardless of what the county contributes.”

The motion passed, and the Board moved on to Geof Stark, the county’s Human Resources director, who was seeking a staff position revamp due to a retirement. He proposed the Emergency Management Coordinator position be allotted 10 more hours to include Occupational Safety — it would remain part time at a total of 29 hours and include PERS (Public Employees’ Retirement System of Nevada). The Board approved, but Commissioner Pete Olsen requested that Stark and the eventual new hire report back in six months.

The Board also discussed the NAS Fallon Training Range Complex Modernization project, having gone over the scoping comments provided so far by Resource Concepts, Inc.’s Jeremy Drew and others. County Manager Eleanor Lockwood emphasized the need for even more specificity in certain areas addressing the expansion proposal.

Olsen brought up how other counties being affected don’t benefit from the base as Churchill does and will also be experiencing a loss of PILT (payment in lieu of taxes), and they’re upset. (PILT are federal payments to local governments that help offset losses in property taxes due to non-taxable federal lands within their boundaries.) Olsen and Erquiaga touched on what they can do for Churchill and other counties.

“We need to make sure these people don’t feel alone,” Scharmann said of organizations such as geothermal operations. “We’re supporting them, and we’re on their side. They need to get their comments in and know that we’re commenting.”

Lockwood also said will continue to feature more information that will keep residents informed throughout the project’s entire process.

The Liquor Board issued new licenses for Cattleman’s Café and the Fallon Golf Course.

The next meeting will be Nov. 16 at 1:15 p.m. in the County Commissioners Chambers.