UPDATE: Commissioners urged to make ‘bold moves’ on economy
ELKO – Elko County Commissioners declared Wednesday that the county is in compliance with the first phase of coronavirus guidelines, and Chairman Demar Dahl announced the availability of compliance stickers for businesses but he emphasized that the county was not urging businesses to reopen at this time.
“We are not telling you to open. All we’re saying is you are ready to open,” he said.
The declaration will be forwarded to Gov. Steve Sisolak to show Elko County is ready for Phase One of reopening the economy, and Dahl said the stickers were an “idea for how we can determine how many businesses want to open and how many are prepared to open.”
Dahl suggested a video might be made of all the businesses with stickers to show the governor, and the stickers would also reassure potential customers.
The large stickers, or posters, will be available beginning Thursday afternoon at the Greater Elko Chamber of Commerce.
The chamber also isn’t telling anyone to reopen, Dahl said, adding that “Elko County people don’t lie,” when the question of how to determine if a business is in compliance came up.
Assemblyman John Ellison, R-Elko, said he thought a video or list of businesses displaying the stickers might have an impact on the governor. He warned that if something isn’t done with agricultural businesses and meat packers in trouble, people will be going hungry.
“With no food on the table you can bet people are going to revolt,” he said.
Commissioners didn’t take action to support the stickers because Assistant District Attorney Rand Greenberg nixed the vote. He said such a vote wasn’t on the agenda, but commissioners did have the declaration on the agenda and unanimously approved it.
Commissioner Jon Karr said as he made the motion that he hopes the county’s action “gets the ball rolling” for Sisolak to realize Elko County is different, and he also wants to see other rural counties get on board in the effort to push the governor.
He said Sisolak has had zero communication with the county.
The governor announced late Wednesday that he planned to extend the state’s stay-at-home directive to May 15, with retailers allowed to offer curbside pickup.
“I’d like to see more aggressive action taken by him to allow some businesses to open in a reasonable fashion,” Commissioner Cliff Eklund said at the special meeting.
Commissioner Delmo Andreozzi said the heart of the issue is that “we need to have the ability to make regional decisions on regional issues.”
Commissioners heard from people in person and via email who mainly want the county commissioners to do what they can to get the economy moving again since the coronavirus restrictions shut down many businesses and schools.
Commissioner Rex Steninger said he admired what business people were doing, and that they have the “courage to tell the government enough is enough.”
Lou Ash of Spring Creek urged commissioners to “take some bold moves” to revive the economy, and Stephanie Herr said she agreed that bold moves were needed.
Tina Diedrichsen of Pizza Barn said “we’re all in this together,” and while people may think restaurants are making big profits that isn’t true. Pizza Barn can deliver but can’t open to the public. She also said the effort to obtain a small business loan was hit with roadblocks.
“It’s extremely frustrating,” Diedrichsen said.
She also said businesses are afraid if they open before the governor’s actions allow them to do so, they are afraid they will lose their licenses.
Ellison said state agencies and professional boards can revoke licenses on businesses, “so we need to have caution.”
Robert Leonhardt of Port of Subs urged commissioners to take a stand and “stand up for your people.” He said his business does take out, but there are businesses that are not going to be able to reopen their doors.
Ron Goldie of Goldie’s Bar said he feels that what is happening is unconstitutional.
“This is America, they need to let us open,” he said.
Wilde Brough, who has announced his candidacy for county commissioner, said there is a lack of common sense, with people “elbow to elbow” inside Home Depot or Walmart, while small businesses can’t open.
Jamie Metz said she is a business owner but she is concerned about the mental stress of people stuck at home without the usual resources to help them or the usual places to go. She said a 10-year-old boy she didn’t know came to her door and asked to live with her, probably because of problems at home.
“There is no relief for families,” she said.
Regarding stickers, Jeff South of Ruby Mountain Bible Church asked whether churches could display the stickers, too, and he said the church could do social distancing, even if it meant additional services.
Elko County has had 15 confirmed cases of coronavirus since the outbreak began. As of Wednesday, four remained active, 10 had recovered and one had died.
“I’d like to see more aggressive action taken by [Governor Sisolak] to allow some businesses to open in a reasonable fashion.”
— Cliff Eklund,
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