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ECON Elko, Nevada: Where the recession never hit
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  1. #1
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    Elko, Nevada: Where the recession never hit

    and they don't even mention the best reasons to live here: we're a machinegun friendly state, open carry is legal AND ENCOURAGED by local law enforcement, and land outside of town is still available for $100-$500 an acre.

    Elko, Nevada: Where the recession never hit

    http://money.cnn.com/2009/08/17/news...tune/index.htm

    Thanks to a boom in gold mining, the small Nevada town has been cruising through the downturn.

    An open-pit gold mine operated by industry giant Newmont Mining.
    Elko, Nevada: Good as gold

    The small Nevada town has been able to dodge the recession. What's the secret of its success? Gold - and lots of it.

    Curtis Calder, Elko's city manager: "Elko is the best place in Nevada to be."


    ELKO, Nevada (Fortune) -- At a time when local officials coast to coast are frantically slashing municipal budgets, furloughing employees, and trying to soothe recession-wounded constituents, Curtis Calder, the city manager in Elko, Nev., has a hard time coming up with much to worry about.

    Indeed, the economic news in this community of 19,000 is astonishingly cheerful: Housing prices are stable. Commercial building is up. Tourist events are drawing bigger crowds than last year. Unemployment is about as low as you'll find. The casinos are down only slightly. And the town's four legal brothels are having a busy summer.

    "Elko is the best place in Nevada to be," says Calder with a burst of exuberant confidence that would make any civic booster proud, "and maybe in the whole country."

    What's the secret of the city's success? Gold. Lots and lots of it.

    The mile-high land around Elko in the barren northeastern corner of the state contains a treasure trove of invisible specks of gold. Dug from open pit mines, tons of ore are put through a complex leaching process to extract the precious metal.

    Nevada has the largest deposits of gold in North America, most of it in the Elko area. It ranks fourth in production in the world behind Australia, South Africa and China. With the price of the precious metal not far off its record high at $950 an ounce, this is a modern -- if more modest -- version of the bonanza that transformed California in 1849.

    "Gold is a boom and bust industry," explains Calder. "When the rest of the economy drops, the price of gold goes up. We're pretty vibrant right now."

    From Cowtown to Boomtown
    Elko was essentially a cow town until geologists found the ore (sometimes reddish, usually gray) in the hills outside neighboring Carlin in the early 1960s. The gold here isn't in the form of nuggets as in California, but what is technically called "disseminated submicroscopic gold." Armed with new technology for recovering the metal, the two biggest gold mining companies in the world moved in -- first Newmont Mining (NEM, Fortune 500), based in Denver, and later, Barrick Gold (ABX), a Canadian firm with headquarters in Toronto.

    The mining process in Elko is a long way from panning in a stream. Simply put, extracting the gold involves grinding the ore into a powder, sometimes subjecting it to intense heat, and then percolating it with a weak cyanide solution. At the end of this process, the invisible specks become molten gold, which is poured into bars called dorés. These bars are the size and shape of a loaf of bread and weigh about 60 pounds. They're transported by armored trucks (on a secret schedule to prevent hijacking) to refiners who produce bullion and sell it to banks and investors as well as manufacturers of jewelry, dental products, and electronics.

    As the price of gold has more than doubled over the past five years, the mining companies have ramped up operations in Elko to take advantage of the opportunity. In 2008, Newmont produced 2.2 million ounces in Nevada and Barrick mined 2.7 million ounces, most of it in the Elko area, where the two companies presently operate 18 open-pit and eight underground mines. They employ some 7,000 workers -- headcount has increased 5% a year for the past three years -- and contribute a combined annual payroll of $410 million to the region. (Greater Elko has a total population of 44,000.)

    The median family income here is $68,000, highest in the state. With overtime, an unskilled worker just out of high school can easily earn that much. "My older boy got into six figures, $105,000 one year," says Elaine Barkdull Spencer, executive director of the Elko County Economic Diversification Authority. "He was making more money than I was. I say, God bless mining."

    Unemployment is fluctuating around 6%, about half what it is in Las Vegas and Reno and well below the national average. The figure would be even lower if not for a recent influx of unemployed people looking for work. A year ago Elko's unemployment rate was an almost non-existent 3.5%. Sales tax receipts for the year in the state are down a worrisome 11.9%; in Elko county, they've fallen only a third as much.

    Bikers, Basques, and Blackjack
    Before the gold boom, Elko's main claim to fame was as a transportation hub. It was founded in the 1840s as the main stop between Salt Lake City and Reno on the transcontinental railroad that united east and west. The California Trail, a popular route for wagons traveling west in the mid-1800s, passed through Elko, and the ill-fated Donner party stopped here briefly before heading for tragedy in the mountains ahead. The Union Pacific railroad still has a sizable main yard outside town, with switching and maintenance crews and a base for its employees.

    There's a long tradition of ranching in the area -- both for pleasure and profit. In 1943, singer Bing Crosby bought a ranch in Elko County as a healthy place to raise his sons and five years later, he was appointed honorary mayor of the town, a position he held until his death in 1977. Today Elko is one of the top ten counties in the nation for livestock production.

    But it's Elko's wide variety of tourist-oriented events that give the town a special flavor. In January the weeklong National Cowboy Poetry Gathering brings in a huge collection of bards, storytellers, filmmakers, and musicians. In mid-June, some 7,000 bikers roll in to town for the Motorcycle Jamboree. And the National Basque Festival (affectionately known as the "Basco Fiasco") over July 4th weekend celebrates the Spanish immigrants who came here from the Pyrenees in the 1860s and 1870s to herd sheep. Another big draw in the summer is the annual Mining Expo, one of the biggest and oldest of its kind in North America. It gives manufacturers a chance to show off their massive new machines for all kinds of mining, not just gold. Autumn brings a hot air balloon festival and the hunting season.

    When visitors aren't admiring a new steam shovel or shooting mule deer, they're usually found in one of Elko's three major casinos (slot machines and table games) and four smaller ones (slots only). Because these out-of-towners have presumably not escaped the recession back home, the amount they are betting these days in Elko, says David Zornes, CEO of the Red Lion hotel and casino, the largest in town, "is down about 6%." Elsewhere in the state, the situation is dire. According to the Nevada Gaming Board, gambling is off 16% in Las Vegas, 23% in Reno, 34% in South Tahoe.

    Sex For Sale, Legally
    Elko has one other tourist attraction that is surviving the recession nicely, thank you -- its brothels. Bordellos are legal in Nevada in cities with a population of less than 400,000 (eliminating Reno and Vegas). Elko's four houses -- Inez's Dancing and Diddling, #1 Geisha, Mona's Ranch, and Sue's Fantasy Club -- are all clustered around an intersection downtown and employ a total of about 20 "working girls."

    Business generally heats up with the weather. "It's like high season for us in the summertime," says Victoria, the madam of Sue's Fantasy (who declined to give her last name). "The mining expo is a lot of business."

    The houses are carefully monitored by the city. The women, who are from all over the U.S. and even overseas, must obtain work permits and submit to weekly medical exams. Inside each brothel there are signs warning in English and Spanish that condoms are required. They only accept male customers and the minimum age for admission is 21.

    The women are all "independent contractors" and set their own fees. Sue's Fantasy Club has a $100 minimum, but as Victoria acknowledges, "for some girls, that's only a striptease. Other girls won't take anything less than $500." Victoria has strict rules about the women she hires. "No tattoos, no body piercing, no stretch marks, and no drinking at the bar unless there's a guest here," she says. "These are professionals."

    Although the customers are "50-50, local and tourist," according to Kathy Hill, bartender at Mona's Ranch, Elko as a community seems to shrug off the presence of the brothels. "Unless you've been in town for a while, you may not even know they're here," says police chief Don Zumwalt.

    Moving Beyond Gold
    Despite all the good news in Elko, there is some understandable caution. "Even though our economy is strong and stable," says Mayor Mike Franzoia, a local businessman, "people read what's going on elsewhere."

    Not only that, but it doesn't take a very long memory for locals to recall what happens when the price of gold falls. It happened last between 1999 and 2003 and the results were not pretty. Gold plummeted into the $200s, the mines cut back, and the city had to reduce payroll and services.

    That experience is the driving force behind a major effort to diversify Elko's economic base and lessen its reliance on gold. In 2008, the town adopted its first redevelopment plan. Now a diesel repair shop and an extra wing on a retirement community are going up. At the airport, a handsome corporate jet facility, El Aero, recently opened for private flights, mining and otherwise. A new tourist attraction, the California Interpretative Center, devoted to the California Trail and the families who passed through Elko, is under construction beside Route 80 west of town. To provide housing for visitors and temporary workers, three long-term rental hotels -- from companies like Marriott, Hilton, and Candlestick Suites -- will be built this year.

    But the pet project of Spencer, the economic development chief, is taking shape five miles west of town on 800 acres of former ranch land: the $15 million Northeastern Nevada Railport. Located just off the Union Pacific main east-west lines, it offers 19,000 feet of track for on- and off-loading and warehousing of commodities like fuel, lumber, mining supplies, ore, etc.

    Small companies allied with mining -- metal fabrication and steel recycling -- are already building at the railport. And other companies not dependent on gold (like bottling and paper towels) are interested, says Spencer. The facility will open this fall and could eventually employ 800 to 900 workers who will live and shop and pay taxes in the Elko area. "We thought it would take 20 years to attract businesses to this land," says Spencer. "It'll be [fully developed] in five years."

    For Elko, that kind of self-reliance is part of its frontier history. "Think about it," says city manager Calder. "We have cowboys, Indians, gold, gambling, and legalized prostitution. We're still part of the Old West. We want to hang on to that tradition and combine it with modern day economic realities. We want to make our own destiny." The mining boom gives them a golden opportunity.
    The only rights we have are the ones we're willing to fight for.




  2. #2
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    Is there water? And how far down is it if there is?
    Thus let me live, unseen, unknown; thus unlamented let me die; steal from the world, and not a stone tell where I lie.

    The best place to be in the event of a nuclear explosion is anywhere you can say: "what the hell was that!?!"
    ><>
    Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions.

    Men are NOT interested in what God has to say - but what they would rather believe themselves (shamelessly stolen from INVAR).
    <><
    "...no one can jump into the arms of God.
    Oh, no. You have to fall."



  3. #3
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    I've heard of water. That clear stuff, right?

  4. #4
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    WW: Depends on where your property is. Most of the good water is over 100 feet deep, so you'll need to have a well drilled instead of dug. We've got a pretty good acquifer covering most of the county, but it's deep.

    BTW: Before you get your hopes up, things have started to slow down big time around here - the writer who wrote the article did his research LAST year before the effects of the recession hit NV full on. As a result, State/County departments that rely on State/Federal money are feeling the financial squeeze. If it weren't for gold mining, things would really suck here financially. Even the mines are in a slow-down period, and not hiring like they once were.

    There ARE jobs to be found here, but it's no Shangrila here. Between a flat housing market and financing issues, the construction trades are hurting big time.

    Elko is considered High Desert with the majority of our precip coming as snow during the winter, and the summers are hot/dry with daytime highs over 90 degrees, with a relative humidity of less than 20%. During the winter, daytime highs hover around freezing, and nightime when it's not snowing can dip below zero for weeks at a time.

    That said, it's probably one of the most beautiful areas in Nevada, especially when you see the Ruby Mountains (they're actually garnet sand) which have snow-capped peaks 9 months out of the year.

    The airport at Elko is at 5500 feet MSL, and some of the higher points in the valley exceed 6,000 feet. The Rubies are about 80 miles long, and Ruby Dome is 11,387 feet, one of the highest peaks in the region.

    Due to the altitude/lattitude, etc. we've got a fairly short growing season, with only 90 days of safe growing between last freeze and first freeze. Most people have small greenhouses, or start their plants indoors.

    What CFI said about firearms is true - they don't give a rip if you carry openly, it's a Shall Issue state for CCW, and 100% Class III friendly. It's even legal to carry a concealed loaded weapon in your vehicle as long as it's not on you.

    All in all, it's well worth a trip, and we've got plenty of room if you want to move, but make sure you have a guarenteed job first.

    Fleataxi

  5. #5
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    I assume CFI told you about my situation here. Trying to heal up before action is taken. Elko doesnt sound much differant than what its like here. Except for how far down the water is.
    Thus let me live, unseen, unknown; thus unlamented let me die; steal from the world, and not a stone tell where I lie.

    The best place to be in the event of a nuclear explosion is anywhere you can say: "what the hell was that!?!"
    ><>
    Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions.

    Men are NOT interested in what God has to say - but what they would rather believe themselves (shamelessly stolen from INVAR).
    <><
    "...no one can jump into the arms of God.
    Oh, no. You have to fall."



  6. #6
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    A realistic view there FT. Practical and informative. And all true. Having visited Winnemucca a few times a few years back I was always struck with how similar that area and central Orygun is, except for the Gold there.
    If I was to start over again, Northern Nevada would be a good choice IF you have skills needed in the area and the price of land is a huge bonus.

    Land here when I moved over in '93 was available for 1500-2K for 2 acres,, the county now appraises it at over 90K for the same damn dirt, actually down from 115K two years ago,, still insanity they tax me at 190K for a place I dont even have 20K into.

    If I was in debt here,, It would have been impossible to survive with the struggle of the past 3 years.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walrus Whisperer View Post
    Is there water? And how far down is it if there is?

    And if you're lucky enough to have water, I would suspect gardens are not exactly easy to grow. Oh you can grow them, I know, but they are a lot of work and a lot of water, not to mention the wildlife that wants to share.

  8. #8
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    i'm sorry FT but you don't know what you're talking about. i know several of the people quoted and talked to them today and they said the interviews were only a few weeks ago. they also confirmed the numbers in the article are correct. you are aware that barrick has hired several hundred people in the last few weeks, right? and they're still hiring. also i know of at least 30 houses in spring creek that are under construction or were recently completed.

    things here aren't as good as they could be, but the truth is, we're better of than almost every other area in the nation.
    The only rights we have are the ones we're willing to fight for.




  9. #9
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    CFI: Whatever!

    Fleataxi
    Last edited by Fleataxi; 08-20-2009 at 04:27 PM. Reason: Excuse me for breathing!

  10. #10
    Permit me to say that the greatest advantage of Elko is not its economy, or its 'open carry' status, or its abundance of water, or even the nearness of the stars in the night sky (You can actually reach out and touch them, or so it seems). It is rather the cordiality, and welcoming embrace of the likes of C for I and Fleataxi.

    Both BV141 and I have most pleasant memories from our visit with those folks, and their friends, in Elko two years ago. A truly wonderful time!!

    Thanks guys!

    Woolly
    Where Is The Birth Certificate?

  11. #11
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    How are the schools?

  12. #12
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    the schools are more like what i went to 30 years ago. there's no metal detectors, no guards, the kids still walk to the store during lunch if they want, etc. i have no idea about the curriculum as i don't have any kids but most students seem to have at least a modicum of sense so that's something.
    The only rights we have are the ones we're willing to fight for.




  13. #13
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    CFI: You're right - it's like we stepped into a 1950's time warp! We've even got a Dairy Queen, but it's not a drive-through anymore.

    Like I said, it's a great place to live and raise your kids, but make SURE you have a guaranteed job (in writing) before you move, and expect to shell out more $$$ than usual for apartment rent - nice apartments charge premium rents here since they're almost always over 80% occupied.

    Fleataxi

  14. #14
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    But, do you guys have TREES?????

    I'll admit the trip to investigate is starting to look like a necessity, but my pre-trip investigation (google Earth, etc) suggests that you guys don't have things I'm kinda addicted to, like trees, streams etc....


    And, no I'm NOT the Lorax....
    I would STILL rather fight an insurgency (from EITHER SIDE) than an epidemic!

    "I must not fear.
    Fear is the mind-killer.
    Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
    I will face my fear.
    I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
    And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
    Where the fear has gone there will be nothing....only I will remain"

    Frank Herbert "Dune" "Bene Gesserit Anti-Fear Litany"


    http://bluemudpatriot.wordpress.com/

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fleataxi View Post
    CFI: You're right - it's like we stepped into a 1950's time warp! We've even got a Dairy Queen, but it's not a drive-through anymore.

    Like I said, it's a great place to live and raise your kids, but make SURE you have a guaranteed job (in writing) before you move, and expect to shell out more $$$ than usual for apartment rent - nice apartments charge premium rents here since they're almost always over 80% occupied.

    Fleataxi
    Just out of curiosity, what do you folks do for hobbies around there? What's the size of the town. ETC.



    HB
    "The national budget must be balanced. The public debt must be reduced; the arrogance of the authorities must be moderated and controlled. Payments to foreign governments must be reduced, if the nation doesn't want to go bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance."
    Cicero, 55 BC
    Roman author, orator, & politician (106 BC - 43 BC)
    "The more things change, the more they stay the same." -- popular cliché

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by night driver View Post
    But, do you guys have TREES?????

    I'll admit the trip to investigate is starting to look like a necessity, but my pre-trip investigation (google Earth, etc) suggests that you guys don't have things I'm kinda addicted to, like trees, streams etc....


    And, no I'm NOT the Lorax....
    Looks to me (via mapquest zoomed all the way in) that they have a little river running right through town and a fare amount of trees and greenery (considering that their in the desert - er, high desert).


    HB
    "The national budget must be balanced. The public debt must be reduced; the arrogance of the authorities must be moderated and controlled. Payments to foreign governments must be reduced, if the nation doesn't want to go bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance."
    Cicero, 55 BC
    Roman author, orator, & politician (106 BC - 43 BC)
    "The more things change, the more they stay the same." -- popular cliché

  17. #17
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    Keep in mind the altitude. I wouldn't recommend anyone over 50 move to that altitude unless they are already used to it. Otherwise its a great area. There is a great deal of beauty in the desert.


    LIVE WITHIN YOUR HARVEST

  18. #18
    Nope. Austin's fine for me




  19. #19
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    this is a pic of the humboldt river that runs through town. there are also several streams and lakes in the area.



    here are some pics of the area:



    The only rights we have are the ones we're willing to fight for.




  20. #20
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    CFI: Guess you didn't see the newlyweds that moved down the street last week!



    Fleataxi

  21. #21
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    come on FT, you shouldn't be posting your wedding pictures on an open forum...it's not safe.
    The only rights we have are the ones we're willing to fight for.




  22. #22
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    Now that CFI has painted such a rosy picture, I thought I'd tell the other side of Life in Elko:

    Here's some images from around Elko, Including a couple of CFI's close neighbors:

    This is the view across the street from CFI's house:



    Here's a nearby "Split-Level" :



    Here's a Pic of CFI's new Swimmin Pool:



    Here's a picture taken in Downtown Elko showing one of the city's more upstanding residents sitting on his porch:



    Fleataxi

  23. #23
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    ND:

    You said you wanted trees?

    How's this:



    One of my favorite images of the Rubies (I took this a couple of years ago):



    Here's one minus the snow:



    Just because it's High Desert doesn't mean it's all dry - this was last Spring in Lamoille Canyon - it gets VERY green in there while the snowpack is melting!:



    Lamoille Canyon is a huge feature, with a Forestry Service Road providing acess to the upper Rubies, with hiking, camping, picnicing, horseback riding, hunting, etc. In the winter, people snowmobile in the canyon along the canyon road. The road isn't plowed, but some years, if you have a high ground clearance 4wd vehicle, you can get half-way up the canyon, and see some amazing glaciers. with snowmobiles, you can usually get all the way to the top.

    People heli-ski off the steeper slopes in the Rubies, and we have several locations that provide sking/snowboarding opportunites for people of ALL abilities.

    Fishing is pretty much year-round, with Ice Fishing being very common in winter.

    It's a beautiful area, and from what I've heard, our economy isn't as bad as the rest of the country. There are jobs available, and it's well worth the stamps or e-mail to send resumes, and to follow up any positive hits with a visit to Elko.

    I understand there are several people here that are seriously considering relocating anywhere they can find jobs, and I think you'd have a pretty good chance finding work in Elko depending on your skill set, and what you're willing to do for work.

    Fleataxi

  24. #24
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    I want to show off my red neck neighbors and thier handy work too
    Attached Images

  25. #25
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    thread drift!
    The only rights we have are the ones we're willing to fight for.




  26. #26
    this brings back memorys. we spent 18 months in elko in the late 70's. way out in the boonys and an old travel trailer. and it wasnt dry where we were up high. we had a great stream and fish. i roamed and tryed the gold thing which to me was a joke i never got nowhere at it. but i sure didnt go at it like i shoulda lol.

    from 10k feet in colorado to elko. sure wasnt nearly as hard to survive in winter as colorado was in that trailer but elko brings back memorys thats a fact. 18 months on top of a rock in the high desert. good living no worrys and game/fish for food. i always said id go back. but i never made it. i was only in the town of elko 3 or 4 times. we lived 99% off what we had there. and we were prolly 30 miles from elko. in the end i worked for a rancher for 2 months to get money to move on to washington.

    oh to be young and not have roots and mortgage payments and utility bills. no tv no electric and no desire to have such things. the wife and i did the same thing in colorado, south pass wyoming, and elko in that trailer. we ended up leaving the trailer in elko when we split there. i wonder if it still sets on that rock.
    from the weathered lips of an ole hippie spilled these words of nonsense.
    Bob Dylan said “All the truth in the world adds up to one big lie.”
    Bob Dylan said “People seldom do what they believe in. They do what is convenient, then repent.”

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fleataxi View Post
    ND:

    You said you wanted trees?

    How's this:



    One of my favorite images of the Rubies (I took this a couple of years ago):



    Here's one minus the snow:



    Just because it's High Desert doesn't mean it's all dry - this was last Spring in Lamoille Canyon - it gets VERY green in there while the snowpack is melting!:



    Lamoille Canyon is a huge feature, with a Forestry Service Road providing acess to the upper Rubies, with hiking, camping, picnicing, horseback riding, hunting, etc. In the winter, people snowmobile in the canyon along the canyon road. The road isn't plowed, but some years, if you have a high ground clearance 4wd vehicle, you can get half-way up the canyon, and see some amazing glaciers. with snowmobiles, you can usually get all the way to the top.

    People heli-ski off the steeper slopes in the Rubies, and we have several locations that provide sking/snowboarding opportunites for people of ALL abilities.

    Fishing is pretty much year-round, with Ice Fishing being very common in winter.

    It's a beautiful area, and from what I've heard, our economy isn't as bad as the rest of the country. There are jobs available, and it's well worth the stamps or e-mail to send resumes, and to follow up any positive hits with a visit to Elko.

    I understand there are several people here that are seriously considering relocating anywhere they can find jobs, and I think you'd have a pretty good chance finding work in Elko depending on your skill set, and what you're willing to do for work.

    Fleataxi
    Absolutely BEAUTIFUL!!

    Based upon nothing more than the pictures, of course, I can very easily see myself living happily ever after in a location such as that.


    HB
    "The national budget must be balanced. The public debt must be reduced; the arrogance of the authorities must be moderated and controlled. Payments to foreign governments must be reduced, if the nation doesn't want to go bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance."
    Cicero, 55 BC
    Roman author, orator, & politician (106 BC - 43 BC)
    "The more things change, the more they stay the same." -- popular cliché

  28. #28
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    Haybails: Come on down - We'll leave the light on!

    Fleataxi

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