Commissioner raises concerns over unvaccinated senior center staff

Pershing County Commissioner Larry Rackley said unvaccinated senior center employees could threaten the health of seniors who use the facility and should be tested weekly. Only one of five full-time staff members had been vaccinated for COVID-19, he told the county board last week.

Rackley was concerned after a staff member and her husband tested positive for the virus.

“My first thing was, if you are going to work in a facility with elderly people, a COVID vaccine is required,” he said. “That didn’t go very well so my next thing was, if you work with the seniors, you’ve come down with COVID, you’ve tested positive, you don’t have a job, don’t come back. You’ve got to think about the people you are working around. They don’t. Of the five employees who are full-time, one is vaccinated. The other four are not (vaccinated).”

Weekly COVID-19 test kits for unvaccinated senior center employees would cost $24 each.

“We don’t have that in our budget so what do we do?” Rackley asked. “In this last instance, both the employee and husband tested positive and she has a doctor’s clearance to come back Monday. Did she expose other people before she found out she was positive? I don’t know.”

Rackley confirmed that masks are worn by volunteers who serve food in the dining room as well as bus drivers who deliver homebound senior meals and provide transportation for seniors. Temperature checks “for everyone coming in” were dropped but may be required once again.

At the County Health Board meeting in November, County Health Officer Dr. Kamin Van Guilder presented 18 reasons why face masks and vaccines are still needed to protect the community. However, most county leaders ignored her advice that masks still be required at indoor events.

“I believe they should wear masks during indoor meetings,” Dr. Van Guilder said later. “They can lead by example and show the community how to stay safe and help end the pandemic.”


Rackley stated that a letter-to-the-editor published in the Lovelock Review-Miner on January 5, 2022 regarding State Highway 400 was incorrect and unfair to the county. The letter writer complained that the road was not being properly maintained by the county road department.

SR 400 connects Unionville to Mill City and should be maintained by the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT), not the Pershing County Road Department, Rackley said.

“He says that State Highway 400 is finally clear of ice, no thanks to the county commissioners and the road crews of Pershing County. State Highway 400 is not maintained by the county, it’s maintained by the state. He’s apparently not a long-term local person and doesn’t know what he’s talking about. The road crew in our county does a fantastic job at maintaining the roads.”

Road Department Supervisor Dan Hill said batteries, lights and a horn were stolen from road department equipment so the machines will have to be parked overnight on private property.

“”Bill and Kevin were in Dixie Valley and got that done. Unfortunately, we were parked out there and our blades were vandalized. They got the batteries, all the lights and the horn. We do have a report with the Sheriff’s Office. Now, we have to waste a half hour a day taking them to the nearest ranch so they won’t get robbed.”

Hill said a contract extension with Hoss Disposal is in the works for transfer site trash collection but the cost will increase substantially to $180,000, 50 percent more than the previous contract. 

“They’ve been doing a good job. In the previous year, we had tons of complaints about Grass Valley overflowing (with trash),” Hill said. “Apparently, they have a guy who is doing a good job now and is on top of it and they are hauling like they are supposed to.”

Commissioner Carol Shank asked Hill to research costs for the county to collect trash from the transfer sites to the county landfill. Hill agreed to report back but said it could be a “tall order” for the county to purchase a trash truck, trash bins plus hire personnel needed for the job.

The commission approved Hill’s request to advertise another job vacancy for a landfill operator and to hire another person to fill the position. The last landfill operator was hired in 2021.


The county commission may require a monthly event schedule as well as fees for events at the Imlay Community Center to help pay for substantial increases in propane bills for the facility. 

“I was shell shocked by the amount of the propane and I’m not even sure who is using the building,” said Building & Grounds Supervisor John Handka. “A monthly schedule would be good. I would send it to the commission as well so everyone knows what’s going on out there.”



Lovelock Volunteer Fire Department Chief Rodney Wilcox is worried about the lack of response to recent fire and ambulance calls by members of the Rye Patch Volunteer Fire Department. 

“We have concerns about the Rye Patch area where they are not being able to have people respond to calls,” Wilcox said. “We (LVFD) respond no matter what out there but I don’t know if they are down on people out there or everybody is gone. The most recent one was yesterday or the day before, we had a call out there for a fire and they did not respond.”

Wilcox questioned the need for a proposed $250,000 Rye Patch fire house expansion.

“Maybe we should be looking at getting equipment down to the size of the amount of people that are out there because we respond to everything that happens out there anyhow,” he said. “Do we really need a bigger fire house or do we just need to have the equipment that they can run to the calls like one brush truck, their structure truck and a tanker. Do we need more equipment and a bigger fire house? How many people do we have to run all that equipment?”

County Auditor Rene Childs said volunteers can be deactivated and PERS payments ended.

Grass Valley Volunteer Fire Department has 15 volunteers (18 are authorized) with Firefighter One training underway and 12 volunteers are expected to be qualified by the end of January. There will then be wildland fire certification training prior to the summer wildfire season. 

The board approved advertising for the EMS Coordinator position without setting a minimum salary range. The salary will depend on experience and qualifications of individual applicants.

“In my opinion, we should be advertising the job but, in that process, you don’t have to set the salary,” Rackley said. “We don’t know who is going to apply for that.”

The job will be posted on the county website and Facebook page, the local newspaper and the NACO website. Mike Heidemann suggested the job be posted with the state EMS office and the state fire marshal training division to expand the pool of applicants.


The board approved a starting salary range of $35,000 to $40,000, for a new IT Technician. IT Supervisor Justin Abbott said his priority is hiring a technician to assist him with service calls.

“My main concern is getting in another person and moving towards competitive salaries or as close to competitive as we can be within the constraints of our budget,” Abbott said.

Commissioner Shank said the starting salary could be less than the minimum salary range.

“We’ll see who becomes available,” she said. “If it’s somebody that doesn’t have a lot of experience, it might be less than that. I don’t know.”


To address the Imlay drinking water system, the board approved a professional services agreement with Farr West Engineering at a cost $109,642 to be funded by the American Rescue Fund. Farr West will obtain cost estimates and funding sources for upgrades and repairs of the Imlay water tank, groundwater wells, pipes and other infrastructure.