Politics of Rainbow Bend

The eyes of the world won't likely turn to the the small community of Rainbow Bend anytime soon, and this may be unfortunate for the residents.

This small section of Storey County bordered by Interstate 80 East to the north and along the Truckee River east of Sparks has long been a spot for political unrest.

Most recently, the turmoil has been with the Canyon General Improvement District.

The district, tasked with serving the water, safety and other infrastructure needs of the some 300 homes, came into the spotlight last summer when residents were forced to let their lawns dry up because the district's single well nearly ran dry.

This winter, voters by a slim margin, eight votes, recalled the chairman of district board. The five-member body then lost another member who resigned.

The board throughout the recall was busy brokering a deal with Washoe County for water -- a deal placing the burden of maintaining the water system on the district's residents and releasing water rights to Washoe County.

Though the system promises water, the elements of the deal seem to be little benefit to the parched residents.

The deal was brokered by the improvement district's attorney Mark Gunderson who also advised the district on the replacement of its members.

On Feb. 6, two of the three remaining board trustees appointed two new members. The third member was absent from the meeting.

The appointments were overthrown by the Storey County Board of Commissioners Feb. 19 who, using state law logically, believed it takes a quorum -- at least three of five members in this case -- to make the appointments legal. As the district missed its 30-day deadline to make the appointment, commissioners appointed two members. The district board at two meetings Feb. 19 and 20 refused to recognize the commission appointees as members.

District Judge Bill Maddox agreed with commissioners and March 4 ordered the board members to recognize the commission-appointed members and declare any actions taken by the illegal board null and void.

Board members have said they will challenge Maddox' ruling.

A hearing is set for March 22 where the board must show the court why they refuse to acknowledge the commission-appointed members.

In the meantime, the board has postponed its March 20 meeting to March 27.

While all the political minutia is lost on most of the world, the fact remains the residents of the 300 homes likely won't have water this coming summer, but they will have a large legal bill.


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