Virginia City is getting a new event venue designed to accommodate nearly 5,000. The town is perched on the side of a hill with limited options for expansion, especially when considering the impact of the terrain on visitors. However, for two major events that will change with the addition of the new Virginia City Arena and Fairgrounds.
“Over the last three years with the incredible growth of several of our special events, especially those that have received regional and national attention, it has become obvious we needed to start thinking of long-term solutions if we wanted to continue to meet the demands,” said Deny Dotson, tourism director for the Virginia City Tourism Commission. “With limited expansion options available, Storey County Tourism officials identified several privately owned parcels and are working on a long term agreement to develop a new facility to accommodate a handful of our current events, but also pave the way for our future. Events are something that this town relies on heavily for visitation and this is going to make a difference.”
Public comment is invited through Oct. 22 on a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) environmental assessment regarding a proposed American Flat Mill site activity in Storey County.
The BLM Carson City District’s Sierra Front Field Office has drafted the assessment to evaluate proposed action to temporarily expand the existing closure to facilitate better management of the site and vicinity during demolition and reclamation activities. The site is to be demolished and reclaimed for safety purposes.
The united Comstock merger mill site is located on public lands near Gold Hill in Storey County.
It was built in 1922 to process gold and silver ore. It was described then as the largest concrete mill in the nation. Since the site’s abandonment in 1926, the seven acre site has been used for parties, to post graffiti and to conduct paint ball fights despite physical safety hazards that include falling concrete, underground mill sumps filled with water, and holes in concrete flooring.
A 2008 site audit by the Department of Interior’s Office of the Inspector General determined the mill site is a high risk liability to the federal government.
In 2012, the BLM agreed with the State Historic Preservation Officer and others to mitigate adverse effects from demolition.
It includes off-site exhibits, brochures and other media.
Links to the environmental assessment and related documents are on the BLM website at http://www.blm.gov/nv/st/en/fo/carson_city_field/blm_information/nepa.html. Written comments should go to BLM’s Carson City office at 5665 Morgan Mill Rd, Carson City, 89701, attention Dan Erbes.
Silver City, NV – The Comstock Resident’s Association’s (CRA) recent request for funds to obtain third-party analysis of health and safety data associated with mining activities in Gold Hill and Silver City has been denied by Comstock Mining Inc. (CMI).
This denial has prompted CRA to consider pursuing support from both the Nevada Mining Association and federal programs to enforce a standard for the mine’s commitment to the community’s sustainability and safety. Additionally, CRA will be applying for a Technical Assistance Grant (TAG) through the EPA to fund the third-party analysis and data interpretation of environmental test results.
“We are disappointed that CMI has denied this request as we believe it’s an opportunity for them to uphold a standard that’s been set by larger mining corporations across the State,” said Joe McCarthy of the CRA. “Not only is CMI operating in a historically sensitive area, but they are also in the midst of Nevada’s largest Superfund site. We firmly believe this comes with great responsibility.”
The community sought financial support from the mine in an effort to independently review environmental data related to current mining and exploration activities in the Carson River Mercury Superfund Site. Designated in 1990 as a federal Superfund to clean up hazardous waste in the area associated with historic mining, the Site includes a study area of over 200,000 acres spanning Washoe, Carson City, Lyon, Storey and Churchill counties.
According to Superfund guidelines, all activities within the site must be carefully monitored and follow specific guidelines. The EPA requires companies operating within a Superfund site to offer transparency in operations. Unlike CMI, other mines in Nevada provide residents with Community Involvement Planning and display the plan on their corporate websites.
According to McCarthy, “Our goal is to collaborate with CMI for effective community relations like what is found in Elko, Ely and Eureka and with larger mining companies such as Barrick and Newmont. Unfortunately, we will now be forced to pursue a TAG grant which will utilize taxpayers dollars to fund the third-party analysis we believe should be of the mutual interest and obligation of CMI.”
McCarthy cautions that the failure of CMI and CRA to reach an agreement regarding third-party analysis may have negative consequences for future mining requests at Superfund sites throughout Nevada as it has become a controversial, poor example of working within a historically sensitive community.
About the Comstock Residents Association
The Comstock Residents Association is a Community Based Organization representing the interests of the residents of the Comstock, including Silver City and Gold Hill. These two proud communities consist of hard working Nevadans, many of whom have lived in the area since the 1960’s, who have restored historically relevant residential properties and opened a variety of small businesses. CMI initiated open pit mining of a historic mine located in Gold Hill, just outside of Silver City in 2012.
CMI is currently operating both its mining and exploration operations within the Carson River Mercury Superfund Site. In the 1995 Site Record of Decision, the EPA assessed the health risks from toxic substances, specifically mercury and arsenic and lead. Mining as a future use of the area was not part of EPA planning or reflected in zoning at that time. However, in September of 2013, CMI announced its intention to expand its mining operations into residential areas.
As a result, the Lyon County Planning Commission to protect the property rights of the residents denied CMI’s master plan amendment request as well as zoning changes. The Planning Commission’s recommendations, findings and unanimous decisions were overturned by the Lyon County Commission. As a result, approximately 200 acres that were previously designated as residential and rural residential are now classified as “resource,” which allows mining exploration and open pit mining within 100 yards of family homes.
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Sheriff Gerald Antinoro is squaring off against two of his own deputies in his re-election bid.
But the fact that they all work together has not stopped this race from getting downright ugly.
Antinoro said he has never seen anything like it.
“Definitely one of the dirtiest campaigns I’ve ever seen in my 30 years in law enforcement.”
As Antinoro seeks his second term as sheriff on the Comstock, he finds himself not only defending his record, but his character. Antinoro is facing off against Tim Guthrie and Shawn Mahan.
Among the questions that have surfaced is why a member of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang is featured in one of Antinoro’s campaign brochures planting trees. News 4 asked Antinoro for an explanation. “So he belongs to an outlaw motorcycle group, but anybody who’s willing to lend a hand and improve our community, I’m not going to turn that down.”
News 4 has also been contacted by several people inside and outside the Storey County Sheriff’s Office, who claim Antinoro covered up a murder after Virginia City resident Judy Black fell down some stairs in her house and died recently.
Antinoro said all signs point to an accidental death. But sources close to the case said the scene looked suspicious, because of the amount of blood found throughout the house on Combination Road. They said there was blood upstairs and downstairs, and that Black suffered “trauma from head to toe”. Our sources also said her injuries were so severe that her family was not allowed to see view body at the mortuary.
The sheriff said there is no cover-up. “It’s been thoroughly examined, thoroughly documented,” Antintoro insisted.
But that does not compare to a complaint filed with Sparks Police in January, accusing Antinoro of rape. The alleged victim told police, “(Then deputy sheriff) Antinoro had sex with me while (another deputy named) Dosen pleasured himself.” The alleged victim said it happened sometime in 2006. That was eight years ago.
News 4 asked Sheriff Antinoro to respond to the allegation. “One, I categorically deny committing any sexual assault at anytime in my life,” he said.
Antinoro said he questions why the complaint was filed eight years after the fact, during the middle of a political campaign. And he also wonders why he was never even contacted by Sparks Police.
The Sparks Police Department said by the time that complaint was filed, the statute of limitations on rape had already expired. So there was nothing for them to investigate. As for why the woman who filed the complaint waited eight years before speaking up, Sparks Police said they did not ask about that, because they do not want to discourage other potential victims from coming forward in any case.
Even though the case was never investigated, the accusation is out there and the complaint is now a public document. “It stinks of a witch hunt,” said Antinoro. “Unnamed person making a complaint where there’s absolutely no basis.”
If that is the case, the question is, why in the typically friendly, small town of Virginia City have the politics become so mean-spirited?
It depends who you ask. Some say Virginia City is simply a town that does not like change. “It’s the old guard versus the new guard,” said local business owner Breck Greninger. “And Jerry rode in wearing a white hat.”
Others, like Storey County District Attorney Bill Maddox, said it is simply a fact of life in a small town where everybody knows everyone. “It’s a little more personal, the fewer people you have. In Virginia City, most of the people know the candidates, so it’s a little more personal in small towns than it is in the big cities.”
The question is, will the rumors and the accusations impact the vote on election day?
News 4 did speak with Guthrie and Mahan, the other two candidates in the race. They both deny having any role in spreading these accusations.
As far as the rape allegation, that case is closed. When it comes to the death of Judy Black, Sheriff Antinoro said it appears to be accidental, but he is awaiting the results of an autopsy before making it official.
Early voting in Storey County begins on Saturday.
Inside, shareholders of Comstock Mining Inc. were told during their annual meeting that the company is now meeting gold and silver production goals for 2013 and is preparing to mine a rich new ore deposit.
Outside, sign-wielding opponents marched along the street, protesting mining operations they say threaten the environment, a precious historic resource and a valued way of life.
Nearly a year after Comstock Mining initiated mining outside Virginia City, the differing perspectives make clear divisions remain over modern mining in a place made famous by the activity more than 150 years ago.
Corrado De Gasperis, president and CEO of Comstock Mining, told shareholders mining operations are proceeding smoothly and that the future holds immense financial promise.
“We feel in so many ways we’re just getting started,” De Gasperis said. Since mining started at an open pit mine last August, the company has ratcheted up activity to the point it is now pouring 400 ounces of gold and silver weekly to meet a desired production goal of 20,000 ounces annually.
The Bureau of Land Managemen (“BLM”) BLM has declared that they are going to tear down the historic American Flat Mill site. Please take the time to write to BLM officials, as well as Storey County government, and tell them you want American Flat to stay!
Once the largest concrete mining facility of its type in the country and now a crumbling, graffiti-covered hazard, Storey County’s American Flat mill should be razed, federal land managers have decided.
Closed to the public since 1997 but still a popular location for nighttime drinking parties, paint ball battles and other activities, the United Comstock Merger Mill at American Flat is simply too dangerous to stay, officials with the federal Bureau of Land Management insist.
“We are very concerned about the liability there,” said Mark Struble, a BLM spokesman. “The problem is it’s a dangerous site.”
Built in 1922 “with a huge capital investment” to process Comstock gold and silver ore using cyanide vat leaching, the mill only operated six years, closing after federal subsidies for silver mining were cut off, said Guy Rocha, Nevada’s former state archivist.
“It was a major mining development that had a rather short life,” Rocha said. “What that operation meant was an effort to revive the Comstock. When it went down, there just wasn’t much mining left on the Comstock.”
And if the Comstock’s fate was to evolve into a tourist destination, the abandoned American Flat mill became a destination of its own right.
The mill’s machinery was dismantled and sold as salvage but over the years, the cavernous interiors of its disintegrating buildings offered an irresistible spot for keg parties, target shooters and graffiti vandals.
Some people practiced rappelling from the mill’s largest structure, BLM officials said. In May 1996, a 44-year-old Wisconsin man driving an all-terrain vehicle on concrete steps within one building was killed when the vehicle toppled over on top of him.
The death played a big role in the BLM’s decision to close the mill to the public in 1997 but the move did little to stop dangerous visits to the site, Struble said. “We’ve fenced the thing a number of times. They’ve always been torn down,” Struble said. Continue reading