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2021 in review: Events return, leadership changes

The end of 2021 is near and with it comes a time to reflect and remember what happened in Boulder City during the last year.

Despite still being in the middle of a pandemic, big scale events made their return. The city’s longtime clerk was fired and replaced. City Council hired a new city manager and city attorney. The election ushered in two new members of City Council and directed the city about funding a new pool.

The community and all of the region are facing the first federally declared water shortage for Lake Mead. The first female athlete from Boulder City competed in the delayed 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Council approved a controversial zoning amendment to allow mortuaries in some neighborhood zones and moved forward with selling more than 40 acres of land to a luxury home developer. Additionally, the man who hoarded more than 70 cats in his trailer was sentenced for his actions.

With the new year starting Saturday, here are some of the biggest stories of 2021.

Big events, in-person learning return

Just like a butterfly emerging from its cocoon, Boulder City came back to life with a calendar of events that had been canceled because of COVID-19 even though they were a little bit different than before.

Spring Jam was the first large-scale event to be held in town since March 2020 and had some of the same features as in years past, including live entertainment, a car show, a rock and gem show, activities for children and booths featuring arts and crafts. Attendees, however, also experienced more space between vendors, roving volunteers to help with COVID compliance and contract tracing, sanitation stations throughout the park, extra cleaning, no picnic benches or high-touch activities and fewer people at the event at one time.

The Damboree, Art in the Park and Santa’s Electric Night Parade also returned, bringing thousands of visitors into town.

All four Clark County School District schools in Boulder City also returned to full-time in-person learning. Students, teachers, employees and visitors are required to wear face masks inside and on all district school buses. They are not required outside. Social distancing between students, when possible, is also encouraged.

City Clerk fired, replaced

A somber mood was at City Hall on Feb. 23 as City Council fired longtime City Clerk Lorene Krumm despite many people calling in to support her and express their disagreement with the action.

At the almost six-hour-long meeting, Mayor Kiernan McManus presented the item to terminate Krumm’s employment contract. It was approved 4-1, with Councilwoman Claudia Bridges voting against it.

Krumm said she wasn’t surprised by the decision.

“The promise to fire the three appointed officials was well-known prior to any of them taking the oath of office and confirmed by numerous public comments from certain members of the public … urging the council to ‘do what we elected you to do,’” she said after the meeting. “What was obvious was the scripted, orchestrated efforts by the four members to use blatantly false statements to justify their retaliatory actions.”

At the meeting, McManus said he did “not have confidence that Ms. Krumm” was performing the duties and obligations required of her. He said her competence to provide information to City Council, staff and the community was “deficient in significant ways.”

Tami McKay was appointed as acting city clerk after Krumm was fired. She became the full-time city clerk Aug. 10 when City Council unanimously approved her contract.

“I’ve been working in and representing Boulder City for a long time,” she said at the council meeting. “I will continue to display professionalism, dedication and commitment, and I will work diligently to communicate effectively with the council. Thank you again for this opportunity.”

New city attorney, city manager

In May, Acting City Attorney Brittany Walker was made the new city attorney when City Council unanimously approved her contract.

She had been working as the acting city attorney since October and council approved hiring her full time in April, pending a physical examination and background check. According to supporting documents, Walker passed both of those requirements.

Her approved contract with the city included a $125,000 base annual salary and a one-time allotment of 12 days of leave. Additionally, all the leave Walker accrued since starting as acting city attorney in October rolled over.

Boulder City’s new city manager started work Aug. 9 after City Council unanimously approved Taylour Tedder’s contract for the position June 22. His annual base salary is $145,000 and he received a one-time allotment of 12 days of leave when he started working.

Tedder has five years of experience as assistant city manager in Leavenworth, Kansas. Out of the possible 3,000 points from his May 12 interview, Tedder earned 2,440 and was the first choice of three council members. The other candidate, Forrest Neuerburg, received 2,460 points and was the first choice of one council member. Another council member had both of the candidates scored evenly.

The two positions had been vacant since Oct. 13, 2020, when council terminated the employment contracts of Steve Morris and Al Noyola.

Morris and Noyola filed a complaint in Nevada’s Eighth District Court accusing the city, Mayor Kiernan McManus and Councilwoman Tracy Folda of violating the open meeting law and breaching a covenant of good faith and fair dealing when they were fired.

Nevada District Court Judge Jim Crockett dismissed the claims against city officials but not the claims of alleged breach of contract. They are still ongoing in Nevada’s Eighth District Court. Morris and Noyola filed an appeal for the dismissal in Nevada Supreme Court, and that appeal is also ongoing.

The city offered a settlement to Morris of $270,000, inclusive of attorney fees, costs, expenses and interest. Noyola’s offer was for $290,000. Neither of them responded to the offers and they expired.

City has first female Olympian

Boulder City’s first female Olympian had an experience of a lifetime in Tokyo competing for Team USA.

“It was an absolute roller coaster of emotions,” said Alexis “Lexi” Lagan. “There were exciting moments and really tough ones, too. Overall, it was an incredible experience that is truly difficult to put words to.”

Lagan competed in women’s air pistol, mixed team air pistol, women’s sport pistol precision stage and women’s sport pistol rapid stage. It was her first Olympic games.

She did not make it to the finals in any of the competitions.

“I am disappointed in my air pistol scores, but I know I did the best I could with how much was going on at the time,” she said. “I do feel I left on a high note with my sport pistol scores. I was just a few points out of the finals, and I finished my last 14 shots with only one nine and 14 tens. That’s pretty cool to see at such a high-pressure match.”

Lagan came in 38th in the 10-meter women’s air pistol, 21st in women’s sport pistol precision state and 18th in the sports pistol rapid stage, just 10 points shy of the leader.

She and partner Nickolaus Mowrer placed 16th out of 20 in the 10-meter mixed air pistol competition.

Lagan was also the first U.S. woman in 20 years to compete in the pistol portion of the International Shooting Sport Federation President’s Cup in Poland in November.

The ISSF President’s Cup Rifle/Pistol competition is by invitation only and open to the top 12 world-ranked athletes in pistol, rifle and shotgun events.

She is currently training for the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

Election brings change to council

The 2021 Boulder City election brought in two new City Council members and directed the city about how to proceed with the project to replace the current pool.

Sherri Jorgenson was elected in the primary election in April when she received more than a majority of votes from the 4,111 voters who cast their ballots. Matt Fox was elected over Cokie Booth during the June 15 general election with 186 more votes. He received 2,086 votes, or 52.35 percent, and she received 1,899 votes, or 47.65 percent.

The two questions about building and financing a new community pool received overwhelming support.

Ballot Question 1, which asked if the city should spend an amount not to exceed $7 million from the capital improvement fund for a swimming pool project as funds become available from the proceeds of the sale and lease of city land, passed with 2,710 yes votes, or 67.06 percent.

Ballot Question 2, which asked if the city should spend the proceeds from the sale of land adjacent to Boulder Creek Golf Club, known as Tract 350, from the capital improvement fund as follows: 10 percent for public safety capital needs and 90 percent to fund a swimming pool project, passed with 2,559 yes votes, or 63.37 percent.

The city has yet to hire a consultant to work on the project, but a proposal to purchase the land has been accepted.

Luxury home developer targets parcel

Boulder City moved forward with selling a 45-acre parcel of land to a luxury home developer and could bring in approximately $28.5 million over the course of the project.

At a special meeting Nov. 30, City Council directed staff, in 3-2 vote, to move forward with a sales contract with Toll Brothers for Tract 350, a parcel of land adjacent to the northeast portion Boulder Creek Golf Club, south of Adams Boulevard. It was approved for sale by voters in 2010 and rezoned in 2015 for homes with minimum lot sizes of 7,000 square feet, 10,000 square feet and 15,000 square feet.

Toll Brothers’ proposal includes a three-phased purchase of the parcel with a total price of $28.5 million. If it goes through,$25.7 million will go toward the new swimming pool project and $2.8 million will go to public safety.

Staff is moving forward with finalizing the sales contract with Toll Brothers and getting the independent appraisal for Tract 350. If the amount comes in higher, then Toll Brothers has the option to match the appraisal. If it comes in lower, the city expects them to honor the initial bid.

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Water shortage declared for lake

Lake Mead experienced its first federally declared water shortage in August.

The declaration, triggered by water level projections released by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, will force Nevada to slash its allocation of Colorado River water.

“The announcement today is a recognition that the hydrology that was planned for years ago, but we hoped we would never see, is here,” Bureau of Reclamation Deputy Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton said during a virtual news conference.

The shortage follows two decades of drought that has strained the Colorado River, a vital water source for 40 million people. Lake Mead, the country’s largest reservoir, supplies about 90 percent of Southern Nevada’s water.

Under two river agreements, Nevada’s 2022 allocation of water from the river will be cut by 21,000 acre-feet, nearly 7 billion gallons. Normally, Nevada is entitled to 300,000 acre-feet of water annually.

One acre-foot is about what two Las Vegas area homes use over the course of 16 months.

Arizona and Mexico will also take cuts next year under various river agreements. All told, the Lower Colorado River Basin will scale back its allocation of water by 613,000 acre-feet in 2022. At current lake levels, that volume of water is equal to about 8 feet of elevation in Lake Mead, the bureau said.

Controversial zoning change approved

Funeral homes and mortuaries are now allowed as a conditional use in the city’s C1 neighborhood commercial zone despite a divided vote by City Council and numerous residents voicing their opposition to the idea.

At the Nov. 23 council meeting, more than 50 people provided comments, mostly opposing a text amendment to allow funeral homes and mortuaries in R1 single-family residential and C1 neighborhood commercial zones. They had been allowed as a conditional use in C2 general commercial and CM commercial manufacturing zones.

Tyson Smith, owner of Boulder City Family Mortuary, applied for the change.

“All we’re trying to do is make it so we have more options out there,” he said.

Smith said his Boulder City and Henderson locations are at capacity and, if a property like a church became available, he would like to be able to move forward with it.

He also said the city could face a crisis if the zoning wasn’t changed.

“The reason I put this out there was basically to get shut down again and to show people I am trying. … I just hope the community opens its eyes to the problems we’re gonna have before it’s too late because it is on our doorsteps and it’s bad. … What’s going to happen when we have nowhere to put our deceased people?” he said.

The residents who did not want the zoning changed said having a mortuary in their neighborhoods would lower their property values and increase traffic.

The Planning Commission had recommended the council deny the change with a 1-6 vote. Commissioner Nate Lasoff voted to recommend approving it.

Council approved mortuaries as a conditional use in the C1 zone in a 3-2 vote, but not in the R1 zone. McManus and Councilman James Howard Adams voted against it.

New historic preservation plan OK’d

In August, City Council approved a new guiding document for future historic preservation efforts.

“The historic plan is not regulatory,” said Community Development Director Michael Mays. “It’s a guiding document.”

One of the plan’s goals is to update the structure, powers and duties of the Historic Preservation Committee by giving it the power to approve, conditionally approve or deny an application for altering or demolishing a historic resource. It would also be able to do the same for new construction in the historic district.

That approval or denial would be based on preservation standards that have yet to be set. The committee membership requirements would also be updated to include commissioners with a professional background.

Even though those proposed changes are part of the approved historic preservation plan, they are not valid yet and will come through future text amendments to the city code.

The plan’s goals for historic preservation include reviewing and amending city code to comply with current state and federal historic preservation standards; identifying and promoting historic resources that help define a sense of place in town; foster community support for preservation practices; promoting the private and public use of historic structures and developing cultural heritage tourism programs based on historic preservation ideals as an economic driver and educational resource for the community.

Cat hoarder sentenced

A former resident received a 90-day suspended jail sentence for hoarding almost 70 cats in his Boulder City mobile home in 2019.

At an April 27 hearing in Boulder City Township Justice Court, Terry Chastain pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of overdriving, injuring, abandoning or starving animals. The charge stems from Aug. 23, 2019, when Boulder City Animal Control officers began rescuing cats from his home in a local mobile home park.

Judge Victor Miller sentenced Chastain to 90 days in jail, which he suspended. He ordered Chastain to receive a mental health evaluation and to follow its recommendations for one year. Additionally, Chastain must provide proof that he has moved from Boulder City and update his driver’s license with the new address.

If Chastain does not fulfill these requirements, he could face the 90 days in jail.

Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Blake Apgar contributed to this report.

Contact reporter Celia Shortt Goodyear at cgoodyear@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9401. Follow her on Twitter @csgoodyear.

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