John Barrette: Ormsby House future heartening or not? |

John Barrette: Ormsby House future heartening or not?

John Barrette

Skepticism will run rampant regarding a story on the previous page that quotes a Chamber of Commerce official as saying The Ormsby House could become the heart of Carson City again.

Such skepticism doesn’t seem unwarranted after a decade watching the painful process of Cubix Ormsby LLC trying to revive the hotel. But neither is such skepticism necessarily warranted. Truth to tell, track records are nearly all we have to go on in life, but they are just as prone to lead us astray as to pay dirt.

It’s like Chinese water torture. Or the camel’s back. No one knows which drop will send a sane man undergoing torture ’round the bend into babbling incoherence. No one knows which straw will make the weight so burdensome it breaks the camel’s back. And no one knows when Cubix Ormsby LLC will complete the job or throw in the towel. Perhaps not even the Cubix Ormsby LLC principals know, given dicey unknowns.

Just as true is the fact that no one knows when economic disaster and then malaise — which sent the world, nation, state and Carson City to the precipice and back — will become a bitter yet ghost-like memory. Malaise may be ending, or not, it will someday. The notion that rebound is just a term in basketball is as bogus as is the notion that a track record means a long shot can’t win or a favorite can’t lose.

No one knows the future specifically. Predicting an exact future is a fool’s errand or the fix is in. General prognostications, however, are possible with caveats. Caveats are a lawyer’s term for if, when and etc.

So if pale outlines of a rebound become colorful, and when that rebound takes on a beauty it still lacks (etc., ad infinitum), then The Ormsby House may live up to chamber chief Ronni Hannaman’s rosy projection. Rosy talk is part of Hannaman’s job, and you will note it was hedged with if and when talk. Certainly there are no guarantees. All anyone can do is keep plugging. Short odds are rare, long the norm. But odds can get beaten.

Almost nobody would have thought Abraham Lincoln could rise from rough-hewn rail splitter to president. Few would have bet Samuel L. Clemens, a mere teller of tall tales, would become the beloved literary figure Mark Twain. And who would have figured Carson City, a state capital in 1900 with 2,893 residents in a backwater state of 42,335 then, would reach more than 50,000 in a modern Nevada with 2.6 million residents?

Hannaman — right or wrong about the future of The Ormsby House — was spot on when she said Carson City folks should view the hotel-renovating risk takers differently than some residents do.

And as Supervisor Brad Bonkowski said after Hannaman’s projection, “They will finish it when it’s economically viable.”

John Barrette covers Carson City government and business. He can be reached at