Renovations continue at Governor's Mansion

First lady Dema Guinn drove from Las Vegas on Sunday with a tree in the back of her car.

"I'm so excited to get new trees that I just wrapped it up and drove it home," Guinn said.

The tree will be one of about 20 that will be planted as part of the landscape renovation Guinn is coordinating.

Barrick Goldstrike mine outside of Elko is donating landscaping materials as well as labor.

"I can't thank them enough," Guinn said. "They love the mansion as much as I do."

Guinn said she has been doing the landscaping herself but now has organized a large-scale renovation plan with donations from Harvey's Resort & Casino, Steel Engineers and Barrick Goldstrike mine.

"The taxpayer is not paying a dime for this," Guinn said.

The major project is the transformation of the old fountain into a pavilion. A sidewalk now connects the pavilion with a patio behind the mansion.

"There's 1.7 acres here," Guinn said. "I wanted to pull it all together."

Barbecue pits will be installed and chairs are scattered across the lawn.

"I want people to feel like they can sit down and stay for awhile," Guinn said.

Guinn said she plans to top the pavilion with a dome where a chandelier will hang. During the summer, she plans to serve daily refreshments of muffins, cookies, tea and coffee in the pavilion.

"I want everything to be warm and friendly to the people who come here," she said. "I think it's going to work out."

She said she wants to offer more to the public than just being able to take pictures of the front of the building.

"I want people to come here and say, 'Oh, I'm so proud of the mansion,' because it belongs to them," she said.

Bill Story of the Department of Conservation is overseeing the landscaping of the grounds.

He said they will be planting about 35 flats of colored flowers, mostly ultra-burgandy petunias.

The most noticeable change is removal of the shrubs along the front of the mansion. They were replaced with red-tipped photinia, rhododendrons and hosta lilies.

Story said they've planted about 350 new shrubs.

"What we've tried to do is provide shrubs with the most foliage color so we have color year round," Story said.

He said the southeast corner will be set aside as a Nevada native garden featuring indigenous plants such as sagebrush and mountain mahogany.

The state Republican Convention will be held in Carson City this weekend, with events scheduled at the mansion. It will be the first event with the renovations.


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