County to prohibit marijuana sales, cultivation

The Pershing County Commission introduced a draft ordinance to prohibit or “zone out” all marijuana establishments including cultivation from unincorporated parts of the county. The amended ordinance follows vocal testimony both for but mostly against the marijuana industry at a crowded public hearing.

County leaders had decided to prohibit marijuana sales but cultivation was still on the table for the tax revenues such a business could generate for the county. However, opponents cited news reports of alleged increases in crime and drug abuse as a result of pot shops and farms in other communities.

The draft ordinance defines the businesses prohibited from the county to include marijuana cultivation, testing, production, distribution, retail recreation sales and medicinal dispensary sales of pot products.

Although the marijuana industry is now legal in the state, Nevada law gives local jurisdictions the right to zone out the businesses as is still the case in Humboldt County and the City of Winnemucca.

The board's decision to prohibit marijuana cultivation as well as pot sales got a mixed reaction from the community. Some residents were relieved the community would not be inundated with more pot users while others disagreed with the loss of pot sales tax revenues, estimated at more than $250,000 a year.

Tax Enforcement

The commission approved an ordinance to enforce business license suspensions or revocations for business owners delinquent on property taxes and prosecutions of those without a business license.

Licenses could soon be suspended for delinquencies past 60 days on real and personal property taxes. Those operating a business without a license could be hit with a possible $1,000 fine or six months in jail.

The bill adds group homes and care facilities to the list of enterprises that must pay a quarterly business license fee of $10. Junkyard operators are required to pay the county an additional $40 per year.

“Now we have the teeth to go after a business that has not paid their taxes for quite some time,” Commissioner Larry Rackley said of the amended county code.

Computer Man on the Job

Justin Abbott got started early this week as the county's much-anticipated IT expert. He will assist all county clerks with new computer hardware and software and will upgrade the county's website.

County administrators face a challenging transition to new software systems to control their budgets, pay bills, issue paychecks, collect taxes, register voters, record public documents and other services.

“We are so happy that we were able to get someone of your caliber to apply,” said Commission Chairwoman Carol Shank told Abbott. “I'm ecstatic. I had no idea who applied, so I'm very grateful.”

A Pat on the Back

Lovelock Volunteer Fire Chief Nathan Carmichael said the fire department is “finally going in the right direction” with an increased roster of 22 volunteers. Some may retire or drop out due to certification issues so more members will be needed. A full roster of 30 volunteers would still be the ideal, he said.

“We are finally seeing the light,” Carmichael said before a proclamation to honor the county's emergency volunteers. Emergency medical technician training attracts new recruits and a class is coming up next week. Contact Chief Carmichael for more information.

“In the past, with those EMT classes, we've been very successful at getting people to join the fire department,” he said. “It's an open door for them to see what we do. They get excited when the alarm goes off during class and everybody runs out the door. It's a benefit for us to have those classes.”

The recent spike in emergencies means the county's four volunteer fire rosters may need to be full.

“We've been busy with lots of ambulance calls and fire calls in the last month,” Carmichael said. “I'd like a full roster. It might give the older group a chance to take a deep breath and relax for a minute.”

Sheriff's Report

One of two sheriff's deputy vacancies is in the process of being filled, according to Sheriff Jerry Allen. Meanwhile, he is assisting the Lovelock city police department that currently has two officer vacancies.

“We're assisting the city since the city will be down two officers,” he said. “They are looking at some potential new hires but, like us, it's going to be a long process.”

Late billing and a computer glitch are new headaches but Allen's sense of humor never seems to fail.

“If we could get rid of computers that would be wonderful but apparently they are attached to everything nowadays,” he told county leaders.

The commission approved DARE training for Youth Resource Officer Phillip Dickerman next month in Tennessee and the Frontier Community Coalition will cover most of the expenses.

“It will give him instructor development training and will teach the elementary school and the middle school curriculum,” Allen said. “Plus, it fits in School Resource Officer training.”