Why Max Baer Jr. will be at the former Wal-Mart on Saturday | NevadaAppeal.com

Why Max Baer Jr. will be at the former Wal-Mart on Saturday

Barry Ginter
Nevada Appeal Editor

When Max Baer Jr. walks into the former Wal-Mart building on Saturday, it won’t be as its owner. Baer granted the space for a home and garden show before he decided he would sell the building and take his Beverly Hillbillies casino project to Douglas County. The sale of the Wal-Mart site became final this week, but he made sure the new owner would follow through on his word to allow the show Saturday and Sunday. Baer, who played Jethro on the TV series, will be there as a guest, though he’s not sure what time he’ll arrive. The show runs 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.

On Thursday, Baer stopped by the Appeal and showed the newest version of the casino project, which includes the two golden hotel towers and their connecting structure behind the casino that would have 740 rooms.

There are plenty of steps before that becomes a reality, of course, but Baer said he’s confident he has the investors to make it happen. He’s not sure what to expect from Douglas County, however, and in saying so leaves little question where he places the blame for the project’s demise in Carson City.

“I don’t have control over what other people do, I can only do what I can do,” he said. “I have not yet met the Shelly Aldean of Douglas County.”

His vision for the project could have been as grand at the Wal-Mart site, but Baer thinks the retail that will locate nearby on all the open land in Douglas County will give it an added boost.

Will the casino be a success? What happens when the generations that watched the Beverly Hillbillies are no longer around? After all, the show first aired in 1962 and I couldn’t find any reruns on local channels.

“That’s the same thing as the mouse,” he said. His point is that if Disney can build an empire on a rodent, there should be little concern about building a casino and hotel based on a piece of Americana.

“It’s not what you do, it’s how you execute it,” he said.

While I have talked with Baer on the phone, Thursday was my first opportunity to meet him in person and he was gracious in answering a few irrelevant questions I peppered him with at the end of our conversation.

Why does he always wear black? Well, there’s the romantic answer, that he always wanted to be a gangster. That’s true, but overshadowed by the other reason: He doesn’t have the fashion sense to color coordinate his clothes. So, unless it’s a formal occasion, you’ll see him wearing black, most likely Levis or sweat pants and a tank top (probably purchased at Costco).

He’ll likely also be wearing a St. Christopher’s medal around his neck, his father’s pinky ring with a star sapphire and a watch given him by a friend, along with a few magnetized bracelets to help his arthritis.

He’s had three hair transplants (and would have another if there were enough hair left from the donor portion of his head). He was married once, from 1966-71, but has no children, and he regrets that.

Finally, Donna Douglas (Elly May) is the only other surviving cast member. She’s living near Baton Rouge, La., is deeply religious and opposes drinking or gambling. But she still counts Baer as a friend and the two talk often.

•••

The entries we’ve received so far for the Community Awards have been inspiring … people giving of themselves to their communities with no expectation of reward or acknowledgment.

That’s why the Community Awards is such a special event, and I’m sure you know someone who should be recognized in one of the 11 categories.

But here’s the thing – Monday is your last chance to nominate someone.

Fortunately, it couldn’t be easier. Just write a letter or e-mail of about 150 words explaining what makes your nominee special. Include your name, address and phone number. Then drop it off at the Appeal building or send it to us at: Nevada Appeal, Community Awards, 580 Mallory Way, Carson City, NV 89701; you can also e-mail nominations to editor@nevadaappeal.com.

The nominees will be judged by the Appeal’s reader panel and the awards will be given out during a luncheon ceremony on June 20 by First Lady Dawn Gibbons and Appeal Publisher John DiMambro.

The categories are: Public servant of the year; Educator/school administrator of the year; Mentor of the year; Organization of the year; Artist of the year; Athlete/sportsperson of the year; Student of the year; Heritage award (for those who work to preserve our local history); Boss of the year; Employee of the year; and Citizen of the year.

•••

The forecast says Saturday morning will be another perfect Nevada day. A suggestion: Consider taking the family to the CASA 5K/10K run or walk. It starts at Longview Park on the city’s west side (go west on King Street 1.3 miles from Division, turn north on Longview, then drive three blocks to the park on Bristol). The entry fee is $10, but another $20 will get you an official race shirt. Registration begins at 9 a.m. and the event begins at 10 a.m. The course features some great views of the city.

• Barry Ginter is editor of the Appeal. Contact him at 881-1221 or bginter@nevadaappeal.com.