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Heavenly intervention: Historical sign returned to church

A piece of Boulder City’s history has returned home.

For almost 20 years, a sign stood at the corner of Park Place and Avenue I on the old Boulder City hospital property for the Life Giving Spring Retreat Center, which was owned by the Orthodox Diocese of the West. The diocese is a geographical district of the Orthodox Church in America for the Western United States, which has parishes in Nevada.

In June, the sign was returned to someone with the denomination, Bishop Nikolai of All Saints Russian Orthodox Church in Las Vegas. Bishop Nikolai had helped facilitate the purchase of the property in 2000 from the Church Episcopal Sisters Charity to open the retreat center.

In 2015, developer Randy Schams bought the almost 2-acre piece of property. The building that had housed the hospital and retreat center was vacant and in disrepair. The sign, though, still stood strong.

Schams said he didn’t want to throw the sign away after buying the property, but he hadn’t found someone who wanted it, so he kept it there.

“We had some interest in it but nothing concrete,” he said.

Recently, that interest peaked when Boulder City Police officer Chris Slack crossed paths with Bishop Nikolai during a community outreach event.

“During that exchange, he … started speaking about his religion and how one of the first orthodox churches originated in Boulder City,” wrote Slack in an email. “He mentioned he visited the site and that the sign was still standing. He mentioned he would like to preserve the sign if ever offered the opportunity.”

Slack said he contacted his friend Jackie Schams and told her about Bishop Nikolai’s interest. She then talked to her dad, Randy Schams, and the family said it would love to donate the sign rather than throw it away.

He said that after a few phone calls, a meeting to give the sign to Bishop Nikolai and his church was set up.

“All credit goes to the Schams family,” Slack said.

“It means a lot to me,” Randy Schams said about the sign going to the church. “I’m glad it’s found a home.”

Bishop Nikolai said he isn’t sure yet how his church will use the sign.

“I’m not sure where we will use it, but we will use it,” he said. “That’s why we saved it. … History as a memento is kind of a nice thing. We need to be connected to something. It’s a connection to what was out there.”

Bishop Nikolai said the original plan for the Boulder City property was to remodel the building.

“We had great plans,” he said.

The diocese had already remodeled the kitchen by 2001, when he was transferred out of state to serve as the bishop of Alaska. He said that after he left, the project lost steam and was forgotten. He returned to Nevada in 2009.

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

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