Nevada Correspondence – December 2016

In this edition:

Baker, Boulder City, Carson City, Ely, Hawthorne, Las Vegas, Laughlin, Lincoln County, Mesquite, South Lake Tahoe, Virginia City,



Holiday Festivities help make the long nights sparkle in and near Baker

An Oregon junco (a subspecies of the Dark-eyed junco). Juncos are also called snowbirds, because they usually appear only shortly before the first snows of winter and depart before spring comes.
An Oregon junco (a subspecies of the Dark-eyed junco). Juncos are also called snowbirds because they usually appear only shortly before the first snows of winter and depart before spring comes.

The annual EskDale Banquet, with food, singing, orchestra, and a holiday play are held December 8 and 9. For more info, call 435-209-0065. The school play, possibly the biggest event of the school year, is December 15 at 6:30 p.m. at Baker Hall. Listen to music and watch two holiday plays. Santa will find his way to the hall before the evening is over.

A Mallard drake in flight
                                                                                             A Mallard drake in flight

The Snake Valley Christmas Bird Count will be held Wednesday, December 14. Generally 45-50 species of birds are seen. Some routes involve mostly driving, while others are mostly hiking/snow shoeing/skiing, and some are a combination. Routes cover an elevational gradient. People of all experience levels are welcome. Because of the remote location, extra counters are always welcome. Contact for more info.

kids sledding

With the snow level creeping down the mountain, all the kids — and some of the adults — are hoping that there’s enough snow to go sledding! There aren’t any designated sledding hills around, but over the years we’ve been creative and found some. Up in the park, some small hills can be found where the Scenic Drive is closed, at Upper Lehman Creek Campground, and on the hill going down into Grey Cliffs on Baker Creek road. There’s also a side cut along the Baker Creek road that is terrific sledding if there’s enough snow. On the few occasions we get a good snow down in the valley, locals head to the gravel pits both north and south of town.

great basin park sign

Great Basin National Park is open every day of December except Christmas. The Lower Lehman Campground is open year round. Lehman Caves tours are held at 1 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. on weekends. The Lehman Caves Visitor Center is open daily from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

One other place that’s fun to visit in December is the Baker Archeological Site, especially if you go on winter solstice. The self-guiding booklet shows how the village was designed with astronomical features in mind, including the solstice. It’s always a good reminder that the Fremont culture survived 800 years ago in this valley without the modern conveniences we take for granted, and we should be grateful for all the amenities and easy traveling we have today.

— Gretchen Baker

Give Gretrchen’s Desert Survivor blog a look-see! Outdoor adventures for kids and adults all around Baker and Great Basin National Park.


Boulder City

The Birds of Lake Mead

Double-crested cormorant
                                                                                        Double-crested cormorant

Chirp, caw, quack, squawk, squeak, coo are parts of the cacophony of sounds performed in winter at the edge of the inland sea along the constantly receding shoreline in what is called the riparian zone of Lake Mead.

Lake Mead, which you may recall is the body of water formed with the construction of Hoover Dam,  happens to be just down the road from Boulder City and is right along the great Pacific Flyway, the West’s migratory avian freeway. Having Lake Mead is like having easy freeway access to Disneyland: if you’re a bird, of course your going to stop.

Osprey (also called fishhawk)
                                                                                       Osprey (also called fishhawk)

And winter through spring is a great time to watch the birds. The crowds of people are gone. Grab a map and pick a spot. Swans, eagles, ducks, geese, buzzards, and crows. Cormorants, ibis, Peregrine falcons, blackbirds and quail. Red Heads, coots and pelicans in great floating flocks float and fly by even the most casual of adventurers.

Great Egret
                                                                                                      Great Egret
American white pelicans
                                                                                          American white pelicans
Great Blue Heron
                                                                                                   Great Blue Heron

— Alan Goya

Photos by GOYAphotography


Carson City

College Class with Designs to Transform V&T Train Station

V&T Railroad asks Truckee Meadows Community College for train depot remodel concepts

The Truckee Meadows Community College architectural design class presented designs that included exterior awnings and railings reminiscent of traditional stations
The Truckee Meadows Community College architectural design class presented designs that included exterior awnings and railings reminiscent of traditional stations

The Virginia & Truckee Railroad has partnered with an architectural design class at Truckee Meadows Community College for a conceptual redesign of the V&T’s depot in Carson City, Nevada. The project provided an opportunity for 16 students to take their imaginations inside the classroom out to the community – in this case for ideas to transform the current depot into a memorable train station.

The unique challenge for students was to reflect the period’s western heritage while also providing a contemporary working design for today’s customers. The V&T Railroad depot is the gateway for thousands of guests annually to

ride the historic steam and diesel trains from Carson City to destinations including Virginia City, the Carson River Canyon and the mythical North Pole aboard The Polar Express.

“Even with challenging budget guidelines, the ideas presented by the students were incredibly creative, practical and progressive,” said Candy Duncan, sales and marketing manager for the V&T. “Each person provided a signature concept and many offered additional suggestions.”

Presented as a mock client, the V&T presented the class with requirements for the new design keeping history in mind, which students utilized to construct floor plans to meet the needs and wants of the railroad and its guests. Students gathered inspiration from various sources to develop their plans.

Proposals for the current 3,000 square-foot building included exterior awnings and railings reminiscent of traditional stations, outdoor deck areas overlooking the tracks to make the train experience more relative. The transformation from frog to prince, also included more lighting via windows, French or double doors, and ceiling skylights. Other ideas included a traditional oversized clock: “It’s a train station. You need to know when the train arrives and departs,” offered the author of that pragmatic idea. Various paint schemes were offered for aesthetical and decorative purposes. Historical elements related to train stations: hand cars, luggage wagons, period benches, decorative period lighting and signage were also in the

Over a six-week period, the Design Foundation class researched and developed concepts to reflect the period’s western heritage
         Over a six-week period, the Design Foundation class researched and developed concepts to reflect the period’s western heritage

The station’s interior received serious consideration as a more functional and experiential centerpiece. In addition to layouts routing visitors through historic displays, video presentations and memorabilia, photo booth, souvenir displays and onto the ticket counter with waiting area and period benches, others included that most traditional of Nevada offerings: a bar – and a snack area. Area rugs, or painted cement floors were offered as options to freshen the look and complement the plethora of options. With opportunities for hosting weddings and celebrations, most offered movable walls and flexible space options to accommodate guests during special events.

“We jumped at this opportunity since one of our core directives at Truckee Meadows Community College is for community involvement,” said class instructor Kreg Mebust. “The V&T train station project offered a unique opportunity and one that required a good deal of thought, preparation and individual challenge, as well as legitimate commercial  experience for each student.”

Over a six-week period, students researched, designed and developed designs before presenting their individual concepts to classmates and a panel of V&T representatives who visited the school. Three designs were chosen with the idea to incorporate the best of each, along with complementary ideas from various students. V&T staff will present the concepts to the Nevada Commission for the Reconstruction of the V&T Railway, then apply for historical grants in the hopes for taking concepts to reality.

The Carson City passenger station is located at Eastgate Siding on Flint Drive off U.S. Highway 50 East. For the latest train updates or to purchase tickets visit or call (877) 724-5007.

— Milly Barlow



Ely Adds Two New Murals

This summer saw the addition of two murals to the outdoor art that tells the story and history of Ely. The Ely Renaissance Society (ERS) believes that outdoor art blends our history with our beautiful scenery to make our community welcoming for the visitors as well as the local residents.

The Ely Renaissance Society was formed in 1999 to preserve and renovate the downtown area through art. The Society choose the theme “Where the World Met and Became One” which tells the story of the various ethnic groups who came to eastern Nevada to work in the mines, ranches and businesses. These groups brought a rich diversity to this community. Using White Pine’s unique historical theme to create giant canvases of art in the form of murals, the project sparked a sense of pride and revitalization to the community.

The Lehman Cave mural
                                                                                              The Lehman Cave mural

In July, a mural about Absalom Lehman and his discovery of Lehman Caves was gifted to Ely by the National Speleological Society, who held its 75th  National Conference here.  The National Park Service celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2016 and the National Speleological Society met in Ely, to celebrate Lehman Caves as part of Great Basin National Park.

The second mural just completed used the theme “Where the World Met and Became One” to showcase the ethnic groups and, in this case, the women who formed the community. Men came here to work in the mines and on the ranches or to operate businesses, but the women built the community. The mural was sponsored by the Hotel Nevada.

This mural, "Where the World Met and Became One," depicts the ethnic heritage of Ely
                                           This mural, “Where the World Met and Became One,” depicts the ethnic heritage of Ely

This mural features art work done by four young artists who created the art depicting the ethnic women and the local architecture and scenery. The artists are Jill McPherson, Gorman High School, Las Vegas, Nevada; Cameria Poulsen, White Pine High School, Ely, NV; John Rupert, Carson City High School, Carson City, Nevada; and Jessica Wright, Faith Lutheran High School, Las Vegas, Nevada. This mural was created by young artists to add their perspective on our past and culture.

Jessica Wright attends Faith Lutheran High School in Las Vegas.  She is an honors student, and she would like a career in art. She played volleyball at Faith.

Jill McPherson attends Bishop Gorman High school.  She is an honors student and

Nevada State Champion Discus thrower.  She wants to be a veterinarian.

Cammie Poulsen is junior at White Pine High School in Ely, Nevada, and a member of the National Honor Society. She is in varsity soccer and track. She plans to attend college to get a degree in art.

John Rupert is a sophomore at Carson High School in Carson City, Nevada.  John is an enrolled member of the Duck Valley Shoshone Paiute Tribe.  He is a Native American Fancy Dancer and has performed in China, Alaska and Hawaii.  John is an exceptional athlete and excels in football and wrestling.  He’s an avid hunter and recently harvested a buffalo, with a bow.  John plans to attend college and play football at the collegiate level. Art is an interest John has, and he is most interested in reproducing early Nevada Indian bows and arrows.

By combining history with art and placing it in the outdoor domain, accessible to all, art becomes a part of everyday life. The history lessons expressed on the walls ensure that our mining and ranching heritage is forever enshrined.

— Lorraine Clark



Historic Hawthorne’s Guns and Roses

With awe inspiring views of Mount Grant and Walker Lake, Hawthorne is nestled in as a historic landmark of military pride and sentimental gardening qualities, which yields a true “Guns and Roses” opportunity to visit. Over the years, the Hawthorne Army Depot boasted a medium-sized population of military families eager to plant their roots and become community members. The local military base began it’s active history in 1930 as an ammunition storage and assembly-line bomb making facility, but as time marched forward the employee base gradually declined as the fashion of wars changed, which altered many current weaponry pieces required in the latest warfare.

Hawthorne Ordnance Museum 02

Today, as the base’s contracted employees concentrate a large part of their time on ammunition de-mil efforts, while balancing the storage of out-of-date items and renovation of salvaged pieces, the community spirit has retained it’s positive momentum.  This is seen best in the welcoming Garden Club’s flower pots along the main street of Hawthorne and at the predominant Ordnance Museum, located just two blocks east of Highway 95.  The Veteran’s Park flanks the corner with tributes: a large Naval warfare piece and creative bomb-salvaged windmills turning in the breezes.

Hawthorne Ordnance Museum 01aOn the north side of E Street, large windows encase the Ordnance Museum’s vast collection of military items, which are easily seen from the

street. A Patton Tank welcomes visitors for photo ops, along with the outdoor display of original military bombs. Outdoor photo opportunities abound, drawing visitors to stop on a daily basis.

With winter hours of 10 to 3 Monday through Friday and Saturday from 10 to 2, a volunteer greets you with a guest book inside this unique museum. A roomy Ordnance Gift Shop offers the chance to purchase one-of-a-kind articles, such as bomb canisters, bullet keychains, cheaply priced ammo boxes, military overages, and handcrafted items which help support the museum’s overhead. It’s a nice seasonal shopping spot for the Christmas Season.

Looking around, there is an overwhelming awe, as one can see intricate historic war displays and handle items once used in warfare. It is a place for the young to experience the touch of history, as well as for the old to reminisce about the many eras of our country’s strides.  Visitors freely walk through the many rooms, open to photograph anything and are encouraged to enjoy the visit with any questions they may have.

Hawthorne Ordnance Museum 03

The museum remains a constant work in progress, always expanding as new items are curated. Clothing and various donated memorabilia are lined up behind eight-foot glass cases, with intricate collectables one may never see anywhere else. An upcoming enclosed aircraft building is slated as their next large project, especially to house a UH-1 Huey Helicopter that was obtained and transported in two recent trips from the White Sands, New Mexico missile range. Pieces are shared nationwide, with some duplicate items given to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C. These priceless artifacts of torpedoes, ammunition, guns, bombs, a 1960’s flight drone, transportation items, and military bunkhouse pieces hold an Americana value enjoyed by people throughout the world who have visited Hawthorne’s Ordnance Museum.

— Sheri Samson


Las Vegas

One of artist Nathan Sawaya's "Park People." (Photo courtesy of New York - New York Hotel & Casino)
                             One of artist Nathan Sawaya’s “Park People.” (Photo courtesy of New York – New York Hotel & Casino)

Diamond Jack loves great art, and that includes LEGO art. Through Dec. 30 at The Park (on the Strip between New York-New York and Monte Carlo), former corporate lawyer Nathan Sawaya has placed several of his playful pieces for visitors to examine and enjoy. The art installation is called PARK PEOPLE and this is the first time it is being shown in Nevada. It has already toured the world.Park People

A small part of the Cactus Garden at Ethel M's Chocolate Factory
               A small part of the Cactus Garden at  the Ethel M Chocolate Factory

Art can also be found at The Ethel M Chocolate Factory and Botanical Cactus Garden in Henderson (2 Cactus Garden Drive). The factory has gone through an extensive renovation as it begins its 35th years of making award-winning chocolates in Nevada. And for the 23rd year, it is again the site of one of the most colorful and decorated gardens in the world. More than one million lights beautifully brighten the three-acre garden featuring over 300 species of plants and cacti. Guests can view the newly-remodeled factory store featuring an all-new Chocolate Tasting Room, interactive displays, demonstration areas, expanded retail space, and café. The garden shines every night from 5 – 10 p.m. through Jan. 1.

The Las Vegas Natural History Museum has converted a 1,200 square-foot space into a working laboratory —

The Richard Ditton Learning Lab. The Lab is the only one of its kind in the state and serves as a paleontological and archaeological prep lab for college students, research facility for science professionals and a live exhibit for visitors.

Last year, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) declared the Museum a federal repository for archeological and paleontological materials removed from BLM lands in southern Nevada. It houses many of these excavated materials that will be used for research and learning as well as being included in exhibits. The private, non-profit Museum opened in 1991 and through its exhibits and educational programs strives to instill an understanding and appreciation of the world’s wildlife, ecosystems and cultures. The Museum is at 900 North Las Vegas Blvd. at Washington Ave., adjacent to Cashman Center. Go to or call 702-384–3466.

— Diamond Jack Bulavsky


Don’t Miss Holiday Time In Vegas!

Cowboy Christmas at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Saturday, December 5, 2015. CREDIT: Glenn Pinkerton/Las Vegas News Bureau
                     Cowboy Christmas at the Las Vegas Convention Center (Photo credit: Glenn Pinkerton/Las Vegas News Bureau)

What’re we going to do in December?  Cowboy up!  It’s Cowboy Christmas time in Las Vegas. Sure, you can head on down the road a piece to all the Cowboy Gift Shops which have free admission, like:

Cowboy Christmas at the Las Vegas Convention Center from 12/1 – 12/10 (9 a.m.- 5 p.m.)
Stetson Country Christmas at Sands Expo from 12/1 – 12/11 (10 a.m.- 5 p.m.)
Cowboy Marketplace Gift Show at Mandalay Bay in Bayside Exhibit Hall D from 12/1 – 12/10 (9 a.m. – 5 p.m.)
Western Gift Show at South Point from 12/1 – 12/11 (9 a.m.- 7 p.m.)

Or, in the same spirit of Country, go to one of the gun shows, although there are no rootin’-tootn’-cowboy-shootin’ guns for sale, you can buy, sell or trade guns and view other items at these locations:

The Las Vegas Gun Show at Sport Center of Las Vegas (Sunset Rd. & Las Vegas Blvd.) from 12/10-12/11 – $14 on line, $16 at door – tickets good for both days; $1 off coupon available.

The Crossroads of the West Gun Show at Cashman Center is 12/17-12/18 – $14  with $1 off coupon available.

Okay, so you are not into all things Country. Here are some traditional holiday exhibits which are free to enjoy during your time in Las Vegas:

Holiday display at the Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Garden
                                                           Holiday display at the Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Garden

The Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Garden has their holiday show from December 1st through January 2nd. You can stroll through their beautiful decorations and floral playground knowing at least 90% of their foliage is recycled.

A part of the Four Seasons Gingerbread House display
                                                               A part of the Four Seasons Gingerbread House display

Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas Holiday Village is always a delight to visit just for the amazing smells of gingerbread crafted by pastry chef Jean-Luc Daul and his team of pastry chefs each year. They have been constructing this display for over 15 years at the Four Seasons. It takes a few days to assemble and takes more hours than we can count (500+) to produce, since there are at least 20 gingerbread houses along with landscapes. It is located near the grand staircase from 11/23/16 – 12/26/16. In case you want to purchase one of the displays to take after 12/26, be forewarned, they can cost upwards of $500 each!

Winterfest 2016 is 12/8 through 12/10 at the Henderson Convention Center on Water Street. This is an evening festival on Thursday, 12/8 from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. and Friday, 12/9, starting with the tree lighting ceremony at 6 p.m. and runs to 9 p.m. On Saturday, 12/10, it begins at noon until 8 p.m. with the Winterfest Evening Light Parade at 5 p.m.

Holiday lights at the Ethel M Cactus Garden
                                                                             Holiday lights at the Ethel M Cactus Garden

Ethyl M Cactus Garden Holiday Lights display has already begun. Visit now through January 1st. Admission is free, and their holiday lights are turned on between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. each evening. They have live choirs and visits from Santa each weekend.

The Elves' Cookie Factory in the Magical Forest at Opportunity Village
                   The Elves’ Cookie Factory in the Magical Forest at Opportunity Village

You can also visit their chocolate shop until 10 p.m. each night.

This is the 25th anniversary of the Magical Forest at Opportunity Village. They open nightly (except for Christmas Day) at 5:30 p.m. now until January 1st. The have free parking and a great gingerbread house display. Adult general admission is $11.99 for those over 13 and $9.99 for children. You will purchase ride tickets separately for those prices, but, can have rides included for a passport price of $21.99 adults and teens, and $18.99 for children 12 and under.

— Pauline Cimoch



Bill Engvall Headlines Edgewater’s E Center

Top comedian Bill Engvall will be center stage at the E Center on Saturday, Dec. 3 at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $25 to $85.

Bill Engvall - LaughlinEngvall’s first album, “Here’s Your Sign,” was certified platinum and held the No. 1 position on the Billboard Comedy Chart for 15 weeks. His second album, “Dorkfish,” and subsequent comedy albums also debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Comedy Chart.

Engvall has explored other ventures. He’s written several books, including his 2007 autobiography “Bill Engvall –Just A Guy.” More recently, he was a contestant on season 17 of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” and made it to the finals. Engvall lent his voice to the animated comedy series “Bounty Hunters” on CMT.

A native of Galveston, Texas, Engvall moved to Dallas and worked as a disc jockey with plans of becoming a teacher until he tried his hand at stand-up comedy one night. He moved to Los Angeles and in 1992 and after that won the American Comedy Award for “Best Male Stand-up Comedian.” He appeared in several episodes of “Designing Women” and co-starred in “Delta” and “The Jeff Foxworthy Show.” Engvall was part of the enormously successful Blue Collar Comedy concert films, which sold more than nine million units and received a Grammy nomination. In 2012, he reunited with Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy on the “Them Idiots Whirled Tour,” which aired as a special on CMT.

Ben and Noel Haggard with the Strangers Visit the AVI

Haggards 2Ben and Noel Haggard are carrying on the family legacy with a limited number of tour dates in 2016 as they hit the road with their father Merle Haggard’s legendary band, The Strangers. They will appear in the Avi Grand Ballroom on Saturday, Dec. 3 at 8 p.m. Ticket range is $30-$55.

Currently, Ben Haggard tours with his older brother Noel paying tribute to their father, singing his songs and playing the dates Merle had planned before his passing. The Haggard brothers have recently opened for Willie Nelson and have upcoming shows with Jamey Johnson and The Oakridge Boys.

Gladys Knight Visits the Edgewater

Gladys Knight - LaughlinSeven-time Grammy winning Gladys Knight considered the “Empress of Soul” will perform one night at the Edgewater E Center on Friday, Dec. 16 at 8 p.m. Over the last 50 years, Knight has recorded more than 38 albums, including four solo albums during the past decade: “Good Woman,” “Just for You,” the inspirational “Many Different Roads,” and “At Last.” She has earned her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and membership into both the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame. Tickets are $35 to $95.

Quick Items

The holiday isn’t complete if you don’t take in a performance of the “Nutcracker Ballet” performed by the Anaheim Ballet at the Riverside in Don’s Celebrity Theatre Thursday-Sunday, Dec. 8-11 at 7 p.m. plus at 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The classic heartwarming tale of Clara and her Nutcracker doll will have audiences experiencing battling toy soldiers and menacing mice, athletic Russian dancers, prancing Bon Bons and Tchaikovsky’s “Waltz of the Flowers.” Tickets are $30 and $12 for ages 12 and under.

Diamonds Yuletide RevueThe Diamonds’ new holiday show Silver Bells and Diamonds will take place at the Riverside in Don’s Celebrity Theater Dec. 20-24 at 7 p.m. The production combines the best of The Diamonds classic tunes from the ’50s and ’60s with holiday favorites like “Let It Snow” and “I’ll Be Home For Christmas.” Tickets are $30.

At year’s end, there will be four days of shopping, Dec. 29-Jan.1, at the International Gift & Craft Show being held in the Taos Room at the Edgewater. The show will open daily at 10 a.m. and feature vendors showcasing such handmade items as exotic Indian skirts and tops, belly dancing and Zumba apparel, jewelry, scarves, Native American jewelry and pottery, pain relieving oils and sea salts, home decorations, candles, keepsake boxes, picture frames and more.

Tom & Sharon’s Dance Party will happen again on Saturdays, Dec.3 and 17 from 1:30 to 4 p.m. at The Karaoke Dance Club in the Riverside. For information about admission fee, call Tom and Sharon Craddock at 928-444-4067.

—Jackie Brett


Lincoln County

Drone Demo at Alamo Airport

Several of the experimental drones that were demonstrated at the Alamo Airport by Unmanned Aerial Systems, Inc.
                   Several of the experimental drones that were demonstrated at the Alamo Airport by Unmanned Aerial Systems, Inc.

The hottest things in aeronautics at present aren’t stealth bombers, advanced jet fighters or bigger jumbo airliners. The hottest things are drones, more properly known as UAS, or unmanned aerial systems.

A demonstration of some of these drones was given at the Alamo Airport Nov. 11 by Don Bintz with the Sandstorm Unmanned Aerial System Inc. Bintz, a retired Air Force pilot from Wisconsin, has established an outpost of the company in Henderson, Nevada. But he plans to use Alamo as a center for research, development and training on the cutting edge of technology.

 It is equally important to know that pilots of the unmanned systems do have to be licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration, a part 61 certificate,  and there are specific rules and guidelines for commercial drones use and amateur use. Drones must also have “aircraft markings” (an ID number that can be traced back to the owner).

Commercial drones cannot be operated at night unless equipped with lights that are visible for three miles. Drones are to fly no higher than 400 feet in commercial use unless having to go over a structure that tall. You have to avoid flying in populated areas and cannot exceed 100 mph.

Experimental drone being prepared for a demonstration flight in Alamo
                                                        Experimental drone being prepared for a demonstration flight in Alamo

Rules for amateur uses of drones prohibit flying where there is a “a reasonable expectation of privacy, ” like someone’s backyard, other than your own. Also amateur drones are prohibited from flying over power stations, and prisons, or within five miles of an airport without permission.

Amateur drones are also strong advised not to interfere with wildfire suppression aircraft.

Bintz’s company has been one of the leaders in the UAS industry since it was first established in 2003.

A large crowd was on hand Saturday morning to watch the flight crews demonstrate six or seven planes and one or two of the spider-like helicopter drones.

At times, some of the kids in attendance were even given a try at the stick of the aircraft.

The main demonstration involved “Sandstorm,” a 15-foot wingspan drone, available with either gasoline or battery power. Remotely piloted, it can be flown from ground control stations that are be close by, but could also be hundreds, even thousands, of miles away from the actual flight location.

Engineer Cameron Berg said Alamo is going to be the base of operations for Sandstorm in Nevada.  Another base for the company is in Antigo, Wisconsin. “It’s possible,” he said, “we might someday even have a staff person living in Alamo.”

An experimental drone being demonstrated by Unmanned Aerial Systems, Inc. at the airport in Alamo. The company is planning to use Alamo as its Nevada base for research, development and training.
An experimental drone being demonstrated by Unmanned Aerial Systems, Inc. at the airport in Alamo. The company is planning to use Alamo as its Nevada base for research, development and training.

Bintz said the door is wide open for drones to do a number of things, good for commercial and civilian uses, survey work, videography, construction, law enforcement, search and rescue, even agriculture uses. “We haven’t come up with all of them yet.”

Nevada is the only state designated presently by the FFA as an unmanned aerial system test site, although other places are making application

There is a three-fold plan for Alamo, Bintz said. “Overhead aerial photography, construction and agriculture. It’s going to take a coordinated effort. Once the success of the systems are proved, the bottom line will be: it’s hard to argue with success.”

He added that Alamo is a good place for research and development because it is “out away from the crowd, yet still convenient and easy to work. The air space is good, and you can get everything done that you need to do.”

— Dave Maxwell



Mesquite Sparkles as it Shares the Spirit of the Holidays

‘Tis the season of sharing, and no place shows its sharing spirit more than Mesquite, Nevada.  In addition to the numerous fundraising efforts among its residents, for its residents, there are delightful opportunities for visitors to join in this happy holiday time.

Cheerful bell ringers are signs of Christmas in Mesquite
                                                                   Cheerful bell ringers are signs of Christmas in Mesquite

Mesquite Light Parade makes its 2nd annual ride down Mesquite Blvd. at 5:30pm on December 8.  This new Mesquite tradition concludes with the annual lighting of the Community Christmas Tree at City Hall, caroling and the appearance of Santa and Mrs. Claus.  Everyone is welcome to join these festivities, enjoy the fun and share a hot chocolate at this heartwarming event for the entire family.

Sparkling gifts at the Mesquite Fine Arts Gallery Christmas Boutique
             Sparkling gifts at the Mesquite Fine Arts Gallery Christmas Boutique

Mesquite Rotary Club Christmas Light Contest.  Starting December 11, homes around Mesquite will be glowing with lights, vying for five prizes offered to the best decorations.  This display will add to the sparkling appearance of Mesquite as seen by motorists from I-15, and overnight visitors are welcome to see those homes up close as they drive through town.

The familiar sound of Salvation Army Bell Ringers greets shoppers at stores and markets around town.  Mesquite has been the only town in Nevada that staffs its seasonal fundraiser with all-volunteer bell ringers.  Shoppers can expect to hear carolers, saxophone players, and other entertainers add their musical sounds to the ringing of the bell. “Merry Christmas!” proclaims every Santa’s helper who lends a hand for this charity that helps so many families.  Donations from generous shoppers help make miracles happen for so many children.

Mesquite Fine Arts Gallery hosts its 11th annual Christmas Boutique, to the delight of all.  Hand crafted gifts and fine art are beautifully displayed at the Gallery, 15 W Mesquite Blvd., open 10a-4p Monday through Saturday.  This charming boutique offers something for everyone on your Christmas list.  Call 702-346-1338 for more details.

Mesquite welcomes all to share in the Mesquite holiday spirit and adds its sincere good wishes for a safe and happy holiday season.

— Linda Faas


South Lake Tahoe

The wait is over …. The temperatures dropped and the snow started falling the weekend before Thanksgiving. Artificial snowmaking efforts had begun when Mother Nature decided to give us a taste of real snow with a little surprise storm to help ensure a pre-Turkey Day opening at Heavenly Mountain Resort.  The November 18 announcement  was a bit of a pipe dream, but nevertheless Heavenly opened for visitors and locals on November 23, and skiers and snowboarders can now enjoy a few turns on a few runs to kick off the season. Down in the town everyone is gearing up for a busy winter season. Stateline casinos on the Nevada side and businesses at Heavenly Village on the California side are ready to give people a good time for a delightful holiday season.

The ice skating rink at Heavenly Village
                                                                               The ice skating rink at Heavenly Village

The Heavenly Village was built for wintertime, with the centerpiece being the gondola lifting people to 10,000 feet above sea level and to the center of the skiing action.  But in the village, people can enjoy a whole array of fun activities and events with a wintry twist.  Visitors can celebrate in December and see ice sculptors shaping fascinating frozen scenes, carolers serenading visitors and lifting spirits, and a 16-foot interactive snow globe where kids can get their photos taken with Santa.  Sit by a fire-pit and gaze up into the snow-capped mountains, or twirl around on ice skates in the ice skating rink set up right in the middle of the village.

The cozy lounge at The Loft
                                                                                         The cozy lounge at The Loft

One of the best attractions at the Heavenly Village is The Loft Live Theatre, Lounge and Dining.  Opened a year ago on December 9, it has turned into a popular destination to have a drink, get dinner and see a show.  Located at 1001 Heavenly Village Way in South Lake Tahoe California, The Loft has turned into a hot spot for locals and tourists alike.  With a very comfortable atmosphere, The Loft will put you at ease after a tough day at work or a long fun day on the slopes.

The Loft Live Theatre
                                                      The Loft Live Theatre

The intimate 107-seat theatre features Magic Fusion, billed as a perfect blend of intimate magic and comedy, starring award-winning magicians from around the world.  See a show before or after dinner. The restaurant, which opens at 4:00 pm and closes at 2:00 am, offers great homemade, handcrafted Italian cuisine.  Make reservations to dine in the restaurant or grab a seat at the swanky bar, and get some appetizers with a glass of wine chosen from their extensive wine list.  Yummy appetizers include a great artichoke dip with fresh baked bread, a tomato bisque or meatball sliders.

The Loft sits atop the Heavenly Cinema and sat for years as a totally unfinished storage space or attic for the movie theatre below, according to owner Paul Reder.  But with great support from the city of Paul Reder, which owns the building, a hidden gem was found and is now enjoyed by the throngs that come to the village at Stateline. It recently won the South Tahoe Chamber of Commerce Blue Ribbon award for tourism.  Along with Magic Fusion, The Loft has numerous special events, such as Electroswing Burlesque with the vocals, dancing and witty patter of Ashley Kepler and the Deuce Spot Band, along with the Dame Doll Dancers.  Shows are on December 14 and 21. (Check out for tickets.)

Another section of the Loft Live Theatre, Lounge and Dining
                                                                Another section of the Loft Live Theatre, Lounge and Dining

Stateline at Lake Tahoe is a great place to ring in the New Year, with parties happening all over, both official and spur of the moment.  Again, the Heavenly Village is the place to get the night started.  Say goodbye to 2016 with an outdoor concert and watch a unique 9 pm Gondola Ball Drop to greet 2017.  Plus a firework show will culminate the evening. The casinos are always lively, but on New Year’s Eve the crowds are huge. And at midnight they spill out onto a closed Highway 50 corridor, where people do their best adaptation of Times Square in New York City — an unofficial party but one that’s been happening for more than four decades.  But if big crowds aren’t your thing and you don’t want to stay home, go for a boat ride and party on the Lake on board the M.S. Dixie II.  Ship off at 9:30 pm and wine, dine and dance in the New Year out in the middle of Lake Tahoe.

It’s been an interesting 2016: the circus of the campaign season and the election of our new president has some people wanting to zone out for a while.  Lake Tahoe in December and the coming winter months is just the place to escape to. Hopefully, a big winter will provide us with plenty of snow to frolic.  The bi-state area of Nevada and California, with the Heavenly Village and the Stateline casinos teaming up, gives people a great place to visit.

— Brendan Packer


Virginia City

The V & T Candy Cane Express Train

The Candy Cane Express Train near the V & T Railroad's F Street Station in historic Virginia City. Two of the legendary mining town's beautiful churches, dating from the 1870s, can be seen in the background.
The Candy Cane Express Train near the V & T Railroad’s F Street Station in historic Virginia City. Two of the legendary mining town’s beautiful churches, dating from the 1870s, can be seen in the background.

All aboard the holiday train! The Virginia & Truckee Railroad will host three week-ends of enchanted holiday trains aboard one-hundred-year old decorated vintage rail coaches, November 25, 26, December 3, 4, 10, and 11. Trains depart from the F Street Station, Virginia City, NV, at 12 noon and 2pm.

Savor hot chocolate and warm apple cider while enjoying festive holiday cookies and listening to the 1832 T’was
The Night Before Christmas holiday narrative.

The North Pole “Candy Cane Sisters” will record children’s wishes for Santa deliveries, with special North Pole sing-a-longs that delight both the young and young-at-heart during the 50-minute ride though Nevada’s high desert wonderland.

The Virginia and Truckee Railroad's Candy Cane Express Train passing by the historic Gold Hill depot.
                            The Virginia and Truckee Railroad’s Candy Cane Express Train passing by the historic Gold Hill depot.

The day includes a visit to Virginia City’s original Virginia and Truckee train depot and museum for an opportunity to “Step Back in Time.”  The magnificent 1870 train depot remains a tribute to the glory days of the “richest place
on earth.”

“Dear Santa” postcards will be distributed on all trains and can be posted for special delivery to the North Pole daily at the depot.

This holiday experience is appropriate for all ages, young and old, and a joyful addition to your holiday
season.  Wear warm clothes and don’t forget a camera for precious holiday photos that will perhaps include a wild
horse or two.

Departures leave promptly from the F Street Station, Virginia City, NV, at 12 noon and 2 pm. Please arrive fifteen (15) minutes prior to designated train departure time.

Cost: Adults (12 years +) $19; Children ( 2-11 years) $8; Children under two  may ride Free on adult lap.

For more information call 775-847-0380 or visit the V & T website, or contact

— Susan Sutton



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