New DRAC a group with varied backgrounds |

New DRAC a group with varied backgrounds

Karen Woodmansee
Appeal Staff Writer

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Phil Cowee, a new DRAC member, looks over plans of a Dayton Development, in his Minnesota Street office in Carson City on Wednesday.

The four residents chosen to serve on the at-times controversial Dayton Regional Advisory Board have one thing in common – they all want to serve the community.

But their backgrounds, values and goals seem to be as diverse as the area they will represent.

The Lyon County Commissioners have created five new districts and a new council to represent those districts. Though the District IV seat was left vacant when no one living in that area applied, the county is still taking applications for a District IV representative.

Phil Cowee – District I

Developer Phil Cowee, chosen to represent District I, said he had no personal agenda and realized the board’s role was limited.

“I see it as an advisory position, not one to set policy for Lyon County,” he said.

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Cowee said he would abstain on any agenda item he had an interest in. “I have some developments in that area, but most of our development is in the Mound House area,” he said.

Cowee, a 15-year Lyon County resident, was not discouraged by the disbanding of the old DRAC.

“I attended a lot of meetings, and I think it was time for change,” he said.

As a developer, he said, he understands the process and “I think there’s smart ways to do development and some not-so-smart ways to do it.”

He said in the past there have been hurt feelings on decisions made by DRAC, and his experience and length of time in the development industry and the Dayton area would help improve the relationship between the advisory council and developers.

Amy Wachtel – District II

Amy Wachtel, a social worker and counselor at the Dayton Community Mental Health Clinic in Old Town, wants balanced development in Dayton.

“I’d just like to see Dayton develop in a way that is well-thought-out, well-planned and has a good balance of business, opportunity and residential,” she said. “At the same time, I would like to see more social responsibility and consciousness by developers, with thought toward open space and things that are usable for everyone.”

Wachtel, who has lived in Dayton since 2002, said she wanted to make sure the riverfront area will remain open for all to use.

Wachtel said she would like to see more community interest in DRAC. “I would like and need input from people in my district.”

She sees DRAC as a team rather than as a place to have individual impact.

“The council is a team and people come before the council, make a proposal and everyone on the council shares opinions and makes a recommendation,” she said. “I’m sure that everyone has their own valid input, and we’ll put it all together and make a decision.”

Ralph Ewing – District III

Ralph Ewing said he has always been involved in the community – no matter where it is.

The former planning commissioner for Pacifica, Calif., moved to Dayton in April and sees the community as still in the early stages of a growth spurt.

“I’m a managed-growth person,” he said. “Each project is its own case.”

Ewing said that despite being new to the area, he is committed to the community.

“We plan on staying there the rest of our lives,” he said. The experience he has with the process makes up for being new, he added.

He now works as a database administrator for the Nevada Supreme Court, but when he was the planning commissioner in Pacifica, he weighed all kinds of issues. Ewing chaired that commission in 2005.

“We dealt with all kinds of land-use issues, from coastal and view protection to big-box stores,” he said.

Ewing said past problems among DRAC members and commissioners didn’t dissuade him, but made him wary. “I do realize there is some bitterness, and that has to be taken with a grain of salt.”

He wants to get some time working on DRAC before he decides what issues the board should be involved in or not.

“I have the handbook, I’ve been reading through it, and the job is almost a combination city council and planning commissioner,” he said. “It’s an official position, and you have to conduct yourself accordingly.”

Leslie Sexton – District V

Leslie Sexton, a local Realtor, thinks Dayton needs a sense of community.

“My goal is to increase citizen participation in the process,” she said. “I want to contribute to a feeling of community so the residents of Dayton feel like they belong to a community.”

The eight-year Dayton resident would also like to see DRAC work on more than just planning issues. Among the things she thinks the board should look at is a new community center and ballot issues. She said nothing should be off limits.

“We need something in Dayton that’s geared for families recreation-wise,” she said. “And DRAC, since it’s nonpartisan, can hold issue forums, help citizens learn how the government and the initiative process works.”

She called herself “a good listener” and said that skill will be her biggest asset in serving on DRAC.

“I’m open to different points of view,” she said. “The more opportunity you have to include more people, the stronger you are going to be.”

Sexton said the dissolution of the previous board didn’t bother her.

“I don’t think the past is any precedent for the future,” she said. “I think we’re starting with a blank slate, and that’s a good thing.

• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at or 882-2111 ext. 351.

New Districts

• District I begins east of the State Route 341 intersection with Highway 50, runs north of Highway 50, and stretches to Yellowjacket Road in Mark Twain.

• District II is bordered by Yellowjacket road on the east and Stagecoach on the west, and is north of Highway 50.

• District III comprises Old Town Dayton and then stretches east south of Highway 50 and north of the Carson River to Stagecoach.

• District IV includes the area south of the river bordered by Dayton Valley Road and Bullion Road.

• District V includes the area south of Dayton Valley Road.

If you go

WHAT: Dayton Regional Advisory Council meeting

WHEN: 7 p.m. Wednesday

WHERE: 34 Lakes Blvd., Dayton