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Hundreds Of Trees Planted But Few Jobs Created In Clark County Federal Stimulus Project

CARSON CITY – If a $490,000 grant to plant trees in Clark County public places as part of a federal job-creating stimulus project should be measured by the “greening” of Southern Nevada, then the effort might be considered a modest success.
Thirteen different government and nonprofit entities applied for 1,814 trees for planting at 35 different public areas in Southern Nevada through the grant. A total of 1,541 trees have been provided to the agencies and groups for planting, mostly at schools and parks around the Vegas valley.
But if job creation to help the country out of the “great recession” is the measure of success, then the funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the Clark County “Nursery Greening Project” is not likely to win high marks.

According to the Nevada state Division of Forestry, which administered the grant, few jobs were created. Two positions, equivalent to less than 1.5 full-time jobs, were preserved at the Las Vegas State Tree Nursery. A third position through Manpower Inc. of Southern Nevada was created. In addition, 11 individuals were hired for various aspects for projects to include planters, program development, trainers and drivers. The jobs were short term.
Seven temporary jobs were also created for workers at First Choice Tree Service to plant the trees in 15 gallon containers. A total of 480 hours were worked.
The federal website that monitors American Recovery and Reinvestment Act projects, reports the tree planting grant has created 1.72 jobs.
Pete Sepp, vice president for communications and policy at the Washington, DC-based National Taxpayers Union, said the project appears to have generated little benefit in the way of job retention or creation.

Pete Sepp, vice president for communications and policy at the Washington, DC-based National Taxpayers Union.

“At first blush this does seem to have amounted to an awfully high expenditure for a rather low level of results,” he said. “Planting trees is a wonderful thing but if the goal was to preserve or create jobs, a near half million dollar expenditure for a few retained and a few created would strike most taxpayers, especially unemployed ones, as a poor value.”
The project, and many others, raises the question of whether the estimates of job creation through ARRA were ever credible to begin with, Sepp said.
The Nevada News Bureau first reported on the grant in July last year. A public records request to the state Forestry Division provided the results of the grant and its success at job preservation and creation.
Bob Conrad, public information officer for the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, said of the program: “ARRA projects were solicited to state agencies, and we were given 24 hours to put together very short project proposals. ARRA money had to go through state agencies, and the U.S. Forest Service selected the projects by county.”
U.S. Forest Service spokesman Larry Chambers defended the project in an emailed statement: “The recovery act has given hundreds of Nevadans access to green-collar job training in more than a dozen landscaping workshops, and hundreds of trees have been planted in urban settings, improving quality of life and improving energy efficiency. Trees are a long-term investment – the people of Nevada are reaping the benefits of the recovery act now, and will continue to do so for years to come.”
Nevada state Assemblyman John Hambrick, R-Las Vegas, tongue firmly in cheek, said the benefit of the job-creation project has been misunderstood.

Nevada state Assemblyman John Hambrick. / Nevada News Bureau file photo

“Obviously when you look at it, what the public does not understand, and obviously you are missing the point – those trees are very special trees,” he said. “They are money trees. And as they plant them, obviously the county will harvest the bills that grow on the money trees. So in actuality it was an investment.”
After the Nevada News Bureau reported on the program, it along with tree planting efforts in several other states, made a list of 100 questionable ARRA projects assembled by two U.S. senators in 2010 in a report called “Summertime Blues.”
Even President Obama joked in June that the 2009 $787 billion stimulus bill, aimed at creating jobs with “shovel ready” projects, “was not as shovel ready as we expected.” The stimulus was intended to keep the national jobless rate from exceeding 8 percent, but that did not happen.
Even so, defenders of the stimulus said the jobless rate, which stood at 9.2 percent as of June, would have been worse without the grants, extended unemployment benefits and other elements of ARRA. Nevada’s June jobless rate was 12.4 percent, tops in the nation.
Sepp said such claims are questionable.
“It’s impossible to start disproving negative situations through government expenditure levels and employment levels,” he said. “In the end this package over-promised and under-delivered.”
Conrad said an original estimate of 2,500 trees to be planted through the grant was an error. The correct number was 2,000, with 801 purchased from the state’s Las Vegas nursery and 1,195 purchased from L.E. Cooke Co., a tree supplier to nurseries around the country. The trees cost $33.50 each for just under $70,000 total. Of the total, 220 died or were not sellable, and 235 remain to be awarded to the different entities for planting.
Tree types made available for planting included Arizona ash, black locust, desert willow, honey locust and sweet acacia, among others.
Some of the entities requesting and planting the trees includes the city of Mesquite, which received 150 trees, the city of Henderson Parks and Recreation Department which received 128 trees, and a nonprofit group See Spot Run, Inc., which created a dog park in Boulder City.
The Division of State Parks also planted 35 trees at the Mormon Fort State Park in downtown Las Vegas.
Other projects included in the nearly half million dollar stimulus funding grant were tree care classes for Spanish-speaking green-industry workers, a city/regional tree inventory, and urban canopy assessments. Funding for the tree-care classes totaled $30,000.
In a report on the project by the state Division of Forestry, two classes of five, three-hour sessions were held in November 2010 and March 2011 for the Spanish-speaking workforce. There were 510 attendees.
A request for proposals for the tree inventory was issued in July.
About 90 percent of the grant has been obligated to positions, salaries, sub-grants and projects, with about 60 percent spent so far.
According to the Nevada Division of Forestry, the recovery act provided the U.S. Department of Agriculture with $28 billion in stimulus funding, with $1.15 billion of the total allocated to the U.S. Forest Service for forest restoration, hazardous fuels reduction, construction and maintenance of facilities, trails and roads, green energy projects and grants to states, tribes and private landowners. The grant to the state Division of Forestry for the tree program came from this pot of funding.
The Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources was awarded $46 million in ARRA funding, of which the tree-planting project was one project. Nevada state agencies were awarded $3.3 billion total.

Audio clips:
Pete Sepp, vice president for communications and policy at the Washington, DC-based National Taxpayers Union, says taxpayers do not appear to have received much value from the program in terms of job creation:
080411Sepp1 :15 level of results.”
Sepp says the tree-planting project appears to be a poor value for jobs created or retained:
080411Sepp2 :23 as poor value.”
Sepp says ARRA over-promised and under-delivered:
080411Sepp3 :21 and under-delivered.”
State Assemblyman John Hambrick says (in jest) the trees are an investment that will pay off:
080411Hambrick :22 was an investment.”


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UPDATE: NV Energy reports power being restored to the south and east of Dayton Valley Airpark. As of 11:17 p.m. there were 936 customers without power.
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UPDATE: As of 10:50 p.m. there's been more reported outages, back up to 1,672 customers south and east of Dayton Valley Airpark.

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UPDATE: As of 9 p.m. 942 NV Energy customers remain without power south of Dayton Valley Airpark.

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Since 2009, Western Nevada College has actively sought ways to be sustainable in the operation of its campuses. Through continuing efforts and a commitment to use green energy, that vision is rising to new heights.

Black Rock Solar, a nonprofit corporation in Reno that specializes in expanding the use of renewable energy, just completed installation of 666 panels atop the Bristlecone Building on the Carson City campus. At 180 kilowatts, the project is Black Rock’s largest roof array to date.

The Carson City Chamber of Commerce welcomed Terri Baijounas, Farmers' Insurance newest Carson City agency owner, with a ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday. It is the chamber's newest member and latest business to open its doors on John Street.

Baijounas, who has been affiliated with Farmers Insurance for 34 years in Nevada and California, set out on her own in May of this year with a branch as an agency owner.

If you're looking for a camping and fishing trip after this week's NV 150 Fair at Fuji Park, my suggestion is a special location that is not too far from Carson City, south of here off of Highway 395.

If you're not familiar with Lundy Lake, Calif., you are probably asking yourself, "What is Lundy Lake and where in the heck is it?"
 Well, if you're interested, here is some information to whet your appetite:

Today’s NV150Fair, celebrating Nevada's Sesquicentennial celebration, has something for everyone and admittance and all shows this day are FREE. Parking can be found at Casino Fandango with shuttle buses running continuously to take you there. Here's what's on tap today.

11 am – Be part of the history!

The Nevada Department of Transportation will begin a $800,000 project to construct turn pockets for enhanced safety and mobility on U.S. 395 south of Gardnerville Sunday, Aug. 3.

Proposed 2015 health insurance for individual and small group markets in Nevada are now available online, state Insurance Commissioner Scott J. Kipper announced Thursday. The proposed rates are for plans sold both on and off Nevada’s health insurance exchange.

Nevadans who wish to view proposed health insurance rates for plan year 2015 can go here. The Division has made proposed rate information available in two different formats.

Carson City sales tax is up 7.8 percent in May this year as compared to May 2013, according to figures provided Wednesday to the Carson City Chamber of Commerce.

"We attribute that to all the new retailers that chose to open their doors here," said Chamber Executive Director Ronni Hannaman.

Here’s a brief synopsis from the Chamber:

Furniture Sales – Up 24.8 percent; Sporting goods were up by 101.2 percent; General Merchandise stores were up by 37.5 percent and food and beverage stores showed an increase of 16.1 percent.

A 23-year-old Carson City man was arrested Wednesday on felony drug charges, a Carson City sheriff’s deputy said. Troy Lee Lindsey was booked on the felony charges after officers found two baggies of suspected methamphetamine in the man’s shoe.

According to the arrest report, a Carson City Sheriff’s Office Special Enforcement Team officer observed the man make a sudden turn on North Roop Street to East Washington at 9:26 p.m., nearly causing a collision between himself and another vehicle.

Many celebrations are scheduled statewide in the month of August. These Nevada 150 events celebrate all things Nevada and bring awareness to the 150th Anniversary of Statehood. The following events are held Aug. 1 through Aug. 14.

Thunderstorms are moving into the Carson City region, prompting an alert from the National Weather Service in Reno. A Flash Flood Watch is in effect until 10 p.m. for Carson City, Carson Valley, Dayton and Virginia City.

Firefighters have also responded to reports of lightning strikes seen in areas south and east of Carson City. As of about 1:30 p.m. Sierra Front Interagency Dispatch Center said there have been reports of lightning strikes and smoke near Carson River Road and near Stephanie Way but but nothing confirmed as wildfire.

Fruit trees throughout western Nevada blossom in the spring and will produce ripened fruit in mid-summer. As the fruit develops, the black bears in western Nevada are sure to take notice.

Armed with a sense of smell that is 2,100 times better than a human’s, black bears can tell when it is time to venture down the hill into places like west Reno, Washoe and Pleasant Valleys, Carson City and the western edges of the Carson Valley including Minden, Gardnerville and Genoa.

The fourth graders worked at the computer screens for hours, fingers dancing over the keyboard and figures on the screen spinning, growing and changing colors. And, their parents were happy. The students weren’t playing games; they were designing and building things like a whistle, buildings, hot air balloon, cars, DNA models, bracelets, airplanes and more, using a 3-D modeling and CAD design program.

Project Americans Coming Together local director Carla Wilson, and event coordinator Joy Evans will hold an informational meeting and auditions for two local original productions designed to bring both national and local history to life.

This meeting will be held on Friday, August 1, 2014, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints located at 411 N. Saliman Road in Carson City.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A package of Northern Nevada lands bills — six introduced by Rep. Mark Amodei (NV-2) and one by Rep. Steven Horsford (NV-4) unanimously passed the House Natural Resources Committee Wednesday.

The bipartisan support clears the way for the legislation to be brought to the House floor in September as a non-controversial suspension bill, according to a news release from Amodei's office.

The compromise agreement was made possible after adjustments to the legislation were made to a version passed in January.

UPDATE: Carson City sheriff's officials confirmed an adult woman was flown by Care Flight following this morning's crash at Fifth and Roop Street and a child was taken by ambulance. Their conditions are unknown and their identities were unavailable.

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UPDATE: Care Flight has taken one victim to the trauma ward of Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno following a pedestrian accident this morning at Fifth and Roop streets. A second victim was taken by ambulance. Reports to dispatch were that a woman and child were hit by a pickup at the intersection.

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A Reno man was booked Tuesday into Carson City Jail on a felony charge of probation violation. Timothy Ryan Gillenwater, 25, was stopped after a Carson City sheriff’s deputy observed the vehicle he was driving speeding 50 mph in a 40 mph zone and twice crossing the white travel lane divider, according to the arrest report.

Officers could smell a slight odor of alcohol from his breath and observed four opened and empty beer cans in the back seat of his vehicle, the arrest report states.

As July closes so does Nevada Department of Wildlife's month-long BEAR Logic campaign, designed to teach residents and visitors how to live and recreate in bear county. This week NDOW advice provides tips if people should have a bear encounter.

Keep in mind that bears exhibit stress behaviors that indicate their anxiety and preference to avoid conflict with you. These are not necessarily signs of an aggressive bear.

— Moaning and woofing while avoiding direct eye contact with you.
— Clacking of their teeth and smacking of their jaws.

A few months ago, Carson City Mayor Bob Crowell was out of the state when he received a message from his city hall office that a secretary from the Navy wanted to arrange a meeting with him.

Crowell, a Navy veteran who served in the Vietnam War, suspected the meeting might be about recruiting. He was delightfully wrong.

This year, the United States celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Beatles' first visit to these shores. The "Jazz & Beyond: Carson City Music Festival" is excited to provide two exciting Beatles events in honor of that occasion.