Disaster declaration does no immediate good for flood victims

Clark County Commissioner Larry Brown during a Mount Charleston Town Board meeting Wednesday night defended the county’s decision not to accept liability for a plan to construct an earthen berm to divert flood water from the Rainbow subdivision in upper Kyle Canyon.

The neighborhood suffered substantial damage from a flood following a late-July rainstorm. With homes damaged and neighbors seething, the County Commission on Wednesday morning voted to approve a disaster declaration for the area.

Which will do nothing to immediately help protect that neighborhood.

Wednesday evening found Brown trying to persuade skeptical homeowners the county had acted prudently when it chose not to accept liability for an Army Corps of Engineers plan to build a 1,700-foot-long emergency embankment.

After agreeing to a lengthy list of conditions, Brown said, the county was stuck on the liability issue.

“What the facility does create is a new liability,” Brown said. “We don’t know where that water’s going to go. Ideally, it will be dry, the facility will hold for seven years, and everything would be perfect. But that water will go somewhere.”

He offered hypothetical challenges, including possible damage to downstream campgrounds and roads.

“We’re redirecting a lot of water to new places,” he said.

Trouble is, Rainbow residents aren’t dealing with hypothetical damage. The destruction they’ve been hit with is very real, and the danger remains.

Some of those neighbors weren’t buying Brown’s view. Attorney John Mowbray was one of his harshest critics.

“I think this is a failure of leadership from the County Commission,” Mowbray said. “The Carpenter fire happened last summer. We had a bad storm event, a flooding event, last fall. And no one did a thing about it. Who else has responsibility to take care of the citizens of this canyon? You are our commissioner. It’s on your shoulders. I’m pointing fingers. The county was negligent. The county was on notice this was going to happen.”

BOARDWALK BLUES: Recent news that Atlantic City has fallen on hard times has some locals from the gambling industry laughing about a time a couple decades ago when Las Vegans were told their gambling mecca might be eclipsed by a New Jersey gaming hot spot.

“I clearly remember when gambling was proposed in Atlantic City and how everyone here freaked out,” reader Richard Buhler recalled.

All these years later, Las Vegas has managed to do more than survive while Atlantic City is rocked to its sandy foundations.

FINAL BELL: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., gave the eulogy at the service Saturday night at St. Anne Catholic Church for his longtime friend and occasional bodyguard Gary Bates, who died recently after a hard battle with cancer. He was 69.

Bates is best remembered locally as a heavyweight boxer who took on Ron Lyle, Gerry Cooney and Ken Norton during his career.

Hall of Fame sports writer Royce Feour remembers him as a friend and watched him in the ring.

“I remember when Bates was at Bishop Gorman High School, which was more than 50 years ago,” Feour wrote on Facebook. “ … Gary had a contrasting personality. He could be a tough man. But to me he was more of a caring and giving man who volunteered for many worthy causes, including Catholic churches and the Nathan Adelson Hospice. Gary and his wife Carmen were honored as ‘Citizens of the Month’ for their community work.”

A Marine, Bates was honored by the playing of taps at the conclusion of the service, the notes from a solitary horn drifting into the night.

MAVERICK FOREVER: The impromptu James Garner fan blog continues this week with yet another fond memory of the late actor, this one from Boulder City resident Kathy Hendricks, whose late father, Los Angeles Herald-Express sports writer Wilson Springer, befriended the actor back when he balanced leading film roles with a passion for auto racing. Springer handled the Garner team’s public relations and even helped design its racing logo.

“Somehow, I thought I might be the only one who felt such a sense of loss at his passing,” she wrote. “I’ve been a fan from the beginning, and perhaps felt I had an inside look at the man.”

NOW BATTING: Longtime local baseball fans will remember sports announcer Paul Olden from his days in the radio broadcast booth at Las Vegas Stars games.

These days Olden is with the New York Yankees organization. He divides his time between New York as the club’s public address announcer and St. Petersburg, Fla., where he serves in the role of team ambassador.

ON THE BOULEVARD: The Boulevard notes the passing of likable former TV newsman Murray Westgate. He was 85. … While the investigation into possible credit card fraud at Club Paradise topless cabaret continues, more alleged victims are surfacing. I recently fielded contacts from representatives of disgruntled customers from California and Nebraska. … Talk about an air ball. The basketball brains at ESPN embarrassed themselves when they openly speculated that the basket stanchion at the Thomas &Mack Center was somehow to blame for the devastating injury NBA star Paul George suffered last week during a USA Basketball scrimmage. A league inquiry quickly dispatched that theory.

Have an item for the Bard of the Boulevard? Email comments and contributions to Smith@reviewjournal.com or call 702-383-0295. Follow him on Twitter @jlnevadasmith.

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