Gibbons appoints new V&T commissioner, gives no explanation
Appeal Staff Writer
Gov. Jim Gibbons replaced a 14-year representative to the Nevada Commission for the Reconstruction of the V&T Railway.
Because the governor’s appointment to the commission is reconsidered each June, this was his first chance to replace Janice Ayres, an advocate of the tourist railroad who has helped collect taxpayer and private funds for the project. On Monday, Dwight Millard took over Ayres’ position at the commissioners’ meeting. It was the first session Ayres hadn’t been to in years.
Brent Boynton, a representative for Gibbons, said the governor has the authority to appoint whoever he wants to the position. Ayres was not terminated from the position, he added, but, instead, “was not renewed.”
Millard, a member of the Carson City Convention & Visitors Bureau, said he wanted to be a commissioner because he believes the railway will help market the area. He said he’s proud of helping push through a room tax increase that brought in $6 million for the commission.
Also, Millard has known the governor since the late ’80s and, while they’re not close friends, they have a “longtime knowledge” of each other, he said.
Ayres said the decision surprised her.
When the meeting started, the other commissioners greeted Millard, owner of Millard Realty & Construction, and moved on with the agenda.
Despite the decision, Ayres will remain the director of the Northern Nevada Railway Foundation, which promotes the project and raises a small amount of money to build it. Ayres said she’s done a lot to help raise $40 million of $54 million needed for the railway, which is expected to run from Virginia City to Carson City and open in 2011.
“It kind of hurts that you put your heart, soul and work into it and, politically, if you’re not in, you’re out,” she said.
Gibbons hasn’t given her a reason why he didn’t re-appoint her, she said, and “I don’t think it’s because I’m not qualified.”
“Of course Dwight Millard is going to say he sits on the Convention and Visitors Bureau,” Ayres said. “They did pass room tax money for the railroad, but it’s easy to pass somebody else’s money.”
Ayres added she is proud of helping to bring in millions of federal dollars for the project.
• Contact reporter Dave Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1212.