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Washoe era to resume at Meeks Bay

Patrick McCartney

Music drifted over Meeks Bay Resort Tuesday, punctuated by the sound of hammers, as work crews stripped old carpet, plumbing fixtures and linoleum from rustic cabins at the water’s edge.

Three weeks after the U.S. Forest Service awarded the new permit to the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California, contractors and members of the Washoe Tribe worked overtime to prepare the resort to open by Memorial Weekend.

Because of the renovations that are still under way, however, the resort will only be open for day use and campers this weekend, said Carolyn Bryant, the resort manager.

“We’ll have limited facilities on Memorial Weekend; our official opening day will be on June 19,” said Bryant, who has previously worked at Kirkwood Ski Resort an the Eagle’s Nest. “We’re just trying to get things open; we want people to come in and enjoy a positive environment.”

If it were left to the workers, at least a few of the cabins will be open this weekend.

“We’ve been here since the day after the announcement,” said Bennie Fillmore, a Washoe who has worked in the building trades. “These building have good foundations; and most of the repairs is from water damage. Now, we are cleaning, painting, putting in new carpet, linoleum, furniture and kitchens. Hopefully, it will lead to bigger and better things.

Fillmore said many Washoe are excited about returning to Lake Tahoe, where their elders spent their summers before they were displaced by settlers. The elders are especially thrilled when they visit Meeks Bay, the site of a traditional Washoe summer camp, he added.

“They start bubbling,” Fillmore said.

By committing to improve the resort’s facilities, the Washoe have received an immediate benefit, an opportunity to employ about 15 tribal members in the renovation and cleaning work.

“We have a big work force down there without jobs,” Fillmore said of the Carson Valley. “So it’s a good opportunity to work and contribute. It’s the best work site I’ve ever been on.”

Outside a cabin they were cleaning, four Washoe women were taking a lunch break. Eileen Mazy gestured to a stand of fir behind the row of cabins.

“Did you see the bald eagle on that tree?” Mazy asked. “It’s like he’s saying it’s about time you people got back here.”

The renovations are under the supervision of Nick Hartzel, a Markleeville contractor. The Washoe also hired Bob Hassett of Tahoe Action Watersports to manage the resort’s marina.

Bryant said the Washoe are implementing a marketing plan to reach potential customers beyond the resort’s base of loyal visitors. So far, the response has been good, she said.

“We’re booking fast and furious,” Bryant said.

At a glance:

What: Meeks Bay Resort season opening

Who: Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California, new permitee

When: Campground opens this weekend; lodging units open over next few weeks as refurbishment completed. Grand Opening on Friday, June 19.

Where: Lake Tahoe’s West Shore

Phone: (530) 525-6946

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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