Douglas commissioners drive letter to governor seeking to open county

Kurt Hildebrand
Commission Chairman Barry Penzel holds up a letter destined for the governor in front of the Minden Inn as Undersheriff Ron Elges, and commissioners Dave Nelson and Larry Walsh look on.
Just Hildebrand / Record Courier

Escorted by about 60 vehicles, Douglas County commissioners left for the Capitol on Thursday with a letter asking the governor to allow county businesses and offices to reopen.

The letter was approved on Wednesday at a meeting of commissioners that included State Sen. James Settelmeyer and Assemblyman Jim Wheeler. Through public comment C&Co. manicurist Heidi Bowers urged commissioners to reopen the county.

“With distancing in place and sanitation in place we can work with this enforced,” she said in public comment. “Our community has several self-employed (who) have not received the promised unemployment funds. Please let us reopen Douglas County.” A La Carte Salon & Wig Boutique owner Suzanne Carreau said she closed her salon on March 16.

“Many of my self-employed technicians have not received their stimulus checks yet, and I also have been unable to procure an SBA loan to keep my business afloat.”

She said she doesn’t believe the current lockdown is necessary everywhere in Nevada. She listed protocols she would put in place to keep her staff an customers safe.

“How flat does our county’s curve have to be,” she said. “I would like to ask that the choice be given to businesses to re-open.”

K2 Pilates owner Katie Brannan said she felt Douglas must reopen on May 1. “I had a healthy, 11-year-old business which was closed upon the Governor’s orders on March 18,” she said. “Only one of my five employees has received unemployment. My employees are local families who are suffering.” Some agreed with opening county businesses with specific guidelines. “I want to put the health and safety of myself, my employees and my customers in the forefront,” Joyce’s Fine Jewelry President Norie Jenkins said. “As a small business of 43 years in the Carson Valley it is critical for me to open my doors.”

Not everyone thought reopening was a good idea.

“The amount of traffic I see on 395 is still heavy and I see few people in the public stores wearing masks,” said retiree Lucy DuPertuis. “Folks here are not taking the pandemic seriously.” Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce Director Alicia Main said the chamber seeks to safely and responsibly move toward recovery.

“The relatively low number of cases in Douglas County is a direct result of the sacrifice our county has made in recent weeks,” she said.

“While we need to look forward to the recovery, we hope we can act in a manner which will not negate our positive progress.”

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