The Rural Desert Southwest Brownfields Coalition was formed in 2011 to address environmental concerns and economic development needs for five counties across two states.

Lorina Dellinger, Nye County Assistant County Manager, gave her annual presentation to the Board of Lincoln County Commissioners in Pioche, March 4.

Counties initially involved included Esmeralda, Lincoln, Nye and White Pine in Nevada, and Inyo in California. In 2014, Mineral County, Nevada, was added, and in 2016 the Duckwater Shoshone Reservation was added as well.

As the coalition has told the board on previous visits, “the goal and objectives are to protect the health and welfare of the population, protect the environment, promote economic development and job creation, manufacturing facilities, innovative agriculture and tourism opportunities, as well as specific projects of interest in a given community.”

Dellinger said since 2011, over $122,000 has been spent on Lincoln County projects.

For example, Brownfields provided significant help in 2012-13 with the cleanup and removal of lead and asbestos materials found in a multi-use building at Pahranagat Valley High School (PVHS). The building had formerly been a military barracks at Nellis Air Force Base, and PVHS obtained it sometime in 1964.

The challenge Brownfields identified was to remove the lead-based paint and asbestos and replace the weather-worn exterior siding, a project that was successfully completed.

In February 2016, following the fire at the PVHS Auto Shop, Brownfields helped with a Phase I Environmental Assessment and a Phase II Sampling and Analysis Plan to support the school with its decision to locate, fund and construct a new auto/carpentry shop facility.

The newly built auto and carpentry facility opened for use in 2019.

The Brownfields Coalition is currently interested in restoring and reopening the Gem Theater in Pioche. The Gem Theater, first opened in 1937, has been closed since the 1990s.

Dellinger discussed the potential redevelopment of the theater as a functional site, pending a Phase II Environmental Site Assessment, which, she said, “is in progress to assess whether or not there is lead-based paint and asbestos in the old building, and to fix it so it can be reopened.”

In 2018, Ron and Michelle Orr posted on their Facebook account their interest in restoring and reopening the building.

The Orrs are applying for some grant money that Brownfields might be able to help them obtain as they pursue this restoration project.