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What’s so great about Nevada?

For the Silver State’s 150th birthday, the Review-Journal asked an eclectic mix of prominent residents to tell us in 100 words or less: What’s so great about Nevada?

Here’s what they said:

Bill Boyd, founder and executive chairman of Boyd Gaming Corp.:

Nevada has everything from diverse climates to incredible opportunities. Nevada is a state with great diversity, a place where everyone can thrive and build a career. And we have people who are very community-minded, who look for ways to give back to their communities. One of my favorite examples is The Smith Center. It think it is a wonderful tribute to Nevadans, and how we worked together to build something culturally important for our state.

Richard Bryan, former Nevada attorney general, governor and U.S. senator:

That’s an impossible task in a hundred words or less. The shorthand answer is our heritage and our people. Each generation has come to our state seeking an opportunity to build a better life for themselves. And each brought with them their customs and cuisine which have enriched us all. Nevada has and continues to reward those who bring their talents here and are prepared to contribute to the community. Nevada’s welcoming environment, from those who trace their forebears to the days of the Comstock Lode to those who arrived last month, makes it a special place and a land of opportunity!

Patty Cafferata, attorney, historian, former state treasurer and the daughter of Barbara Vucanovich, first Nevada woman elected to Congress:

Openness is what makes Nevada great. The state’s spacious valleys between its mighty mountain ranges are open to all to explore, ride, hike, ski, camp, hunt and fish. Nevada’s elected officials at all levels are accessible to the people. With little effort, anyone can meet our senators, members of Congress, governor and other officials. For these reasons, Nevadans are lucky to live in our great state.

Robyn Carr, bestselling romance novelist from Henderson:

I’m pondering what’s so great about Nevada as I sit on my patio with a book in my lap, something I can count on being able to do at least eleven months of the year. The temperature has plummeted to 73 degrees, the blue sky hasn’t moved in days, there’s a slight breeze, the valley where I live is framed in snow-covered mountains, we can have skiing, boating, hiking or a vast desert filled with cacti and wildlife just a short drive in any direction, cities filled with the latest in Broadway entertainment and five-star restaurants, quiet residential neighborhoods, the hustle and bustle of cities or vast wilderness so remote the sound of an engine is out of place, where residents are committed to helping each other, to welcoming millions of happy tourists, and I ask myself, what’s so great about Nevada? Just everything, that’s all.

Carolyn Goodman, Las Vegas mayor:

Nevada has always had a reputation of being a state of intrigue and opportunity. It was that uniqueness that drew Oscar and me to Las Vegas in 1964 seeking to find a community that would offer excitement and the potential for growth. Today Nevada remains just as special and inviting. Anyone with a dream and the determination to work hard can make their vision a reality. That’s why we love Las Vegas and Nevada — for its Western roots, and the glitz and the glamour that have made us the world’s No. 1 tourist destination. It has been our choice to call this incredible place home.

Oscar Goodman, former Las Vegas mayor:

When Carolyn and I arrived in Nevada, and more specifically Las Vegas, fifty years ago, we had $87 dollars in our collective pockets. We looked out and saw a few twinkling lights in the dessert and a tumbleweed rolled in front of us. But there was something mystical about it. It seemed like it was someplace special. It was and is. With hard work, half a brain and little luck you can realize your dreams. The word “can’t” is not part of our vocabulary. There are no impediments which cannot be overcome. Only in Nevada!

Mark Hall-Patton, Clark County museums administrator and the historian in the flat-brimmed hat on “Pawn Stars”:

Nevada’s history is fascinating and wonderfully varied, from our Paiute and Shoshone heritage to mining and ranching, to the creation of an economy uniquely ours. As a relatively recent resident (21 years this December), Nevada has allowed me to follow opportunities which would have been impossible for a museum administrator in nearly any other location. You cannot dream big enough or weird enough to find something impossible in Nevada. Personally, I am quite happy to be a resident. And I am glad we made sure to accept the southern portion of the state in 1867 when the Federal government offered it. I prefer Clark County, Nevada to Paiute County, Arizona.

Dr. Lonnie Hammargren, neurosurgeon, collector and former lieutenant governor:

Born in the Midwest, 40 years ago I came to the Silver State looking to stake my claim. A growing Nevada provided a chance for a new doctor to make a name for himself. As one of the first neurosurgeons in Clark County, it was a chance of a lifetime. As Nevada’s 31st lieutenant governor, I visited every town and met its diversified population. The Silver State has always been the land for the rebels, the out-of-the-box thinkers. Nevada is a place for the visionaries, where anyone with imagination and ambition can come and realize their dream.

Rick Harrison, star of “Pawn Stars” and co-owner of the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop:

Nevada is an easy place to do business. Nevada has an eclectic group of people. It’s a live-and-let-live state that respects people’s rights and a great place to raise a family.

U.S. Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev.:

The great thing about Nevada is that in communities from Elko to Laughlin, everyone shares a common objective: making our state the best place to live, work, and raise a family. It doesn’t matter if you have lived here for 50 years or 50 days, everyone is an important piece of the cultural fabric that makes our state great. New residents provide fresh ideas and perspective that make our future bright, while multi-generation Nevada families remind us to embrace our remarkable past. The great thing about Nevada is that no matter where you are, you are never far from home.

Penn Jillette, illusionist, entertainer, BS detector:

Nevada has the humility of the garish; a pyramid with a light coming out of the top to amuse astronauts, castles built on sand boasting names like “Paris,” “Bellagio,” Venetian,” even “New York, New York,” but never “Nevada.” Our ideas are simple — (bigger + brighter) louder = better. Then we build our ideas with brick, mortar and immoderation. When our castles start to age, we blow them to kingdom come, record the explosion, and showcase that video on a giant screen at our brand-spanking new casino. Nevada is dirt, cactus, hot, and tinsel. It’s like living on the moon.

Pat Mulroy, former general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority and Las Vegas Valley Water District:

When I think of Nevada I see a place of rich diversity and limitless opportunities; where a rugged terrain invites the rugged individual to carve out a future for himself. Majestic natural wonders coexist alongside bustling urban centers. It is a State shaped by the fearless pioneer whose spirit lives on in today’s entrepreneurs and visionaries. Nevadans have warm hearts, strong wills and limitless creativity. Nevada is nimble, adaptive and resilient; every hardship makes it emerge stronger and more determined. Cherishing its past, it embraces the future. Nevada: where dreams can still become reality.

Jim Murren, chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International:

I see an incredibly bright future for Nevada. The scenery may change, but the atmosphere over 150 years has remained constant. Nevada continues as an abundant frontier for those who possess energy, determination and new ideas. Those who call Nevada home are the people who come together, pragmatically addressing common needs for our common good. Through the spirit of competition and cooperation, Nevadans utilize ingenuity, inspired by cultural diversity, to build dreams. These provide the bedrock for the Nevada we know today, where our families, neighbors, and friends live, and 40 million travelers from around the globe are drawn each year.

Wayne Newton, Mr. Las Vegas:

Nevada epitomizes Dreams, Wings and Beauty: The Dreams of a 15-year-old boy to be able to live and work in this state that has welcomed me, and so many people, into her heart. The Wings that the people of Nevada gave to me, and so many others, to soar and realize our dreams. The Beauty of the lakes, mountains and deserts that Nevada has to offer. I have been blessed to call this great state my home and to raise my family here. To me this is what makes Nevada so great.

U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, Democrat, Senate Majority Leader, Searchlight native:

Throughout Nevada’s history there have been plenty of booms followed by busts; prosperity followed by hardship. But for 150 years and beyond, Nevadans have proven themselves to be determined, resilient fighters. From the Native American tribes who have lived here for centuries, to the first pioneers to homestead in the Great Basin; from the leaders who pursued statehood in the midst of the Civil War, to the families today fighting to stay afloat as our economy rebounds – Nevadans always prove their mettle. As we celebrate Nevada’s sesquicentennial, let’s never lose sight of the true resource that has fueled this state for the past 150 years – battle-born and battle-tested Nevadans. Let’s continue working together to ensure another prosperous 150 years for the state we love and call home.

Fred Stewart, owner of a ranch in Humboldt County’s Paradise Valley that has been in his family since his great-grandfather homesteaded it in 1864:

Airline pilots who fly over the Owyhee Desert in Northern Nevada call it the “Big Empty” because they say it is the largest piece of ground in the lower 48 with no lights or development. Our ranch sits on the edge of the big empty and it’s been my home all my life. Nevada is great because along with powerhouse cities like Las Vegas and Reno, a place like our home still exists.

Kris Stewart, Paradise Valley rancher and wife of Fred Stewart:

What’s so great about Nevada? It’s the wide open spaces, the incredible mountains and deserts, the dry valleys that surprise you with a beautiful little aspen- and willow-filled stream at the bottom and the fact that most of the country knows nothing about it. It’s like a hidden treasure. When I hear people say, “Nevada is just Vegas and Reno with a lot of nothing in between,” I think, great! I love having our little slice of Paradise all to ourselves. I love being from Nevada’s Great Basin, Buckaroo Country, U.S.A. I cannot imagine a better life anywhere.

U.S. Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev.:

Nevada is a land of incredible natural beauty and amazing man-made wonders. But it’s the people of Nevada who make the state special. From the beginning, they have come from all parts of the world, filled with hope and driven by a belief that with hard work, good luck, and divine intervention, they can make a better life for themselves and their families. Indeed, we are the American Dream, in spades! Nowhere is this more evident than in District 1.

Claire Vaye Watkins, Mojave Desert native, Pahrump Valley High graduate, author of the acclaimed short-story collection “Battleborn”:

Nevada is a place of wild solitudes, great lovely swaths of land without cell service or wifi, without many other folks around. In Nevada you needn’t go far to find a basin or range or sky that will make you feel very, very small, very, very young, and even a little insignificant. Human beings need to feel this way every once in a while, or else we get self-centered and short-sighted and tend to smash things up. These wild solitudes are rare, and a gift to all of us, even those who are afraid of them.

Anthony Zuiker, creator of “CSI,” graduate of Chaparral High and UNLV, former Mirage tram driver:

Nevada got its name from the first Europeans who explored our great land. The Spaniards bestowed the name “snowy” because of the snow caps that would cover our purple mountains during winter. What’s so great about Nevada is the endless, expansive beauty of our silver state. The sight of wild horses running free. The way the desert air smells after a downpour. The majestic sunsets painted by the hand of God. Nevada is my heaven. My heaven on Earth.

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