County allots $50,000 for Jarbidge talks

ELKO, Nev. - Elko County Commissioners will ante up another $50,000 for next month's planned settlement conference in Reno between the county and federal government over South Canyon Road.

Wednesday's vote was 4-1 with Commissioner Mike Nannini opposed.

''We had a way to get out of this from day one and I've said that all along,'' Nannini said.

Commission Chairman Roberta Skelton, chairing her last meeting, retorted, ''We didn't get us into this.''

Nannini contends that county leaders could have avoided further negotiating expenses and possible litigation by signing the original settlement agreement released in May.

District Attorney Gary Woodbury requested the money to pay for expert witness fees, mailings, travel, lodging, meals and court reporter costs, according to Deputy District Attorney Kristin McQueary.

County Chief Financial Officer Cash Minor said the money was coming from the county's budgetary incentive fund, part of the $250,000 that had been earmarked for motivating county employees to retire early.

The fund remained largely untouched since only one employee took advantage of the early-out option, which has not since been renewed nor are there plans for renewal, the Elko Daily Free Press reported.

The Justice Department has asked U.S. District Judge David Hagen for an injunction to close the road in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest near Jarbidge to protect the threatened bull trout.

The county maintains the government has no jurisdiction over the road because it was there before the national forest was established.

The parties have been ordered to appear in Reno in front of federal Magistrate Robert McQuaid starting Jan. 17 for a settlement conference.

McQueary has said the conference may lead to further talks.

Hagen ordered Grant Gerber, Assemblyman John Carpenter, R-Elko, O.Q. ''Chris'' Johnson, Elko County, the U.S. Justice Department, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Forest Service into mediation more than a year ago with little result thus far.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment