Douglas County commissioner injured in fight: ‘All options are on the table’ |

Douglas County commissioner injured in fight: ‘All options are on the table’

Kurt Hildebrand
Wounds on Commissioner John Engels arm from the May 16 altercation at the Douglas County Commission meeting in Stateline.
Virginia Starrett

A Douglas County commissioner injured in an altercation at the May 16 meeting said Monday he hasn’t yet ruled out anything.

“All options are on the table and are being evaluated at this time,” Commissioner John Engels said. “I am deeply disappointed by the events that took place at the Douglas County Board of County Commissioners May 16. It has been stressful on my family and myself. I also regret that the good people of Douglas County have been subjected to the circumstances that have occurred.”

Douglas County Commission Chairman Barry Penzel issued a statement on Friday indicating he regretted what happened at the meeting.

“As the chairman of the Douglas County Board of County Commissioners, I would like to express that I regret the behavior which occurred during the Board of County Commissioners Meeting on May 16,” he said. “This is not the way we wish to conduct business for the people of Douglas County. I am committed to working on settling our differences in a more appropriate manner in the future.”

Douglas County deputies were called to the Tahoe Transportation Center at 5:55 p.m., just minutes after a heated exchange between Penzel and Engels, who had read a five-page statement critical of the commissioners supporting Redevelopment Area No. 2.

Engels statement followed one by Commissioner Dave Nelson, who asked that redevelopment be placed on the agenda.

Echoes of the May 16 altercation rang through Monday’s budget meeting, which was attended by a handful of residents.

Former Douglas County Commissioner Dave Brady called for Commissioner Barry Penzel to give up the chairmanship over Thursday’s events.

“I believe that a change in leadership is in order,” Brady said. “Commissioner Penzel should resign as the chair and allow a new chairman to provide new leadership to the commission, as well as the county.”

Brady said the incident was embarrassing for the county.

“It was an absolute low point in Douglas County politics,” Brady said. “Any sense of order had left the building.”

At issue is a disagreement among county commissioners on whether to continue the redevelopment area at Stateline.

Redevelopment generates funds based on the increase in assessed valuation within its boundaries. In Douglas County, Redevelopment Area No. 1 funded infrastructure that brought Target, Home Depot, Walmart, Best Buy and Trader Joe’s to the north county.

It also extended sewer lines to Genoa and contributed to the expansion of the North Valley Wastewater Treatment Plant.

However, an attempt to bring additional business to the area east of Highway 395 left a large pile of dirt across from the Topsy Walmart without any of the infrastructure it was supposed to build.

Redevelopment at Lake Tahoe is touted to help build an $80 million events center designed to provide a large year-around venue to make Stateline more attractive to conventions.

Nelson said the area is expected to bring in $110 million over 30 years, thanks in part to improvements at Edgewood and the development of Tahoe Beach Club.

Close to 60% of that money would go to the county over the three decades, with the rest divided up by the Douglas County School District, the Tahoe-Dougals Fire Protection District and other taxing entities.

Proponents say the events center would help raise sales, gaming, cigarette, liquor and other taxes, which would make up the difference.

The center is also the subject of a bill before the Nevada Legislature that would add $5 to the price of a room to help fund it.

Senate Bill 461 has been approved by the Senate and is making its way through the Assembly.

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