United States Senator, Nevada, Catherine Cortez Masto visited Battle Mountain on Aug. 24. Senator Masto stopped to visit with the Frontier Community Action Agency before stopping at the high school and Lander County Courthouse.
Battle Mountain played host last Thursday, as Cortez Masto and her staff stopped in to tour the town. Cortez Masto is hoping to get a better understanding of some of rural Nevada’s issues and meet some of the people who live here.
The first stop for Cortez Masto was at the Frontier Community Action Agency (FCAA), where the senator met with family advocates and spoke on the logistics of serving the rural areas. She even took the time to talk with the daughter of one of the women working in the office.
Janine Robinson said, “She just wanted to find out what is going on in rural Nevada and is touring the smaller towns. She is visiting towns like here (Battle Mountain) and Carlin. Because when they (Senate in Washington D.C.) think rural, they think Reno.”
Robinson continued, “Coming from Las Vegas, sometimes people from Vegas don’t understand what it is like in the northern half of the state. I got her cards with some of the people she knows in the Reno office.” Cortez Masto told the FCAA to send them letters to help them understand the strengths Battle Mountain has in rural Nevada.
Cortez Masto continued her trip through town by visiting Battle Mountain High School (BMHS). Cortez Masto complimented BMHS saying, “The high school here is one of the nicest I’ve seen on this trip.” Masto took a short tour through the high school before making her final stop at the Lander County Court House.
While at the Court House, Masto met with County Commissioners Patsy Waits and Doug Mills. The commissioners brought up some of the issues the county has dealt with for some time, including matters like wild horses, sage grouse and the Army Corps of Engineers.
On the subject of wild horses, Cortez Masto said, “We have got to come up with a plan because it is not working right now and we need to figure this out. I had the opportunity to visit Indian Lakes and to take a look at the corrals down there. I just recently spoke with the BLM about those issues, talking with those communities and wild life advocates.”
Cortez Masto stated that her goal is to pull together a stakeholders group and sit down with the BLM to figure out wildlife issues. Cortez Masto also extended the invitation to commissioners to appoint someone to represent Lander County in those meetings.
Waits said, “The only pictures you see with the horse advocates are these beautiful horses, but they don’t show the horses that are starving, dying and dead. There are a hundred of them around with no watering hole, and if you say something to them (horse advocates), they say, ‘well, if you get the cattle off the land, they will have their water.’ I’m sorry, but that is not an option.”
Mills also took the opportunity to bring up the idea of building a highway to connect Battle Mountain to Boise Idaho to improve the economic development of the county.
Mills said, “We have had commissions in the past that were against expansion or growth. I think right now our commission is very open to economic development. I keep bugging NDOT (Nevada Department of Transportation) about highway 11. I want 11 to go from Battle Mountain to Boise. The distance from Battle Mountain to Boise is about 150 miles but to get there you have to go all the way around.”
Mills said the economic boost the county would receive by connecting to the Idaho city would be huge. Cortez Masto agreed that it is something to consider and noted the plans for highway 11 are not final.
Cortez Masto listened to the issues the county is dealing with and looked for solutions to the problems for rural Nevada. Cortez Masto making the trip to the small towns is a rarity for senators from Nevada, but her appearance helped residents feel like change might be on the horizon.