Here are some samples of Doresa’s writing:

Moving Goods from A to B: Nevada’s Logistics Industry is Strong

By Doresa Banning

When imported merchandise arriving on the West Coast can’t be sold due to some type of problem, such as incorrect labeling, loose threads, minor damage and the like, Quality Corrections & Inspections, a company with a base in Henderson, resolves the issue, quickly returning the merchandise to first quality and the supply chain. In doing so, QCI mitigates the potential supply chain disruption and saves retailers the costs of merchandise that otherwise typically would get sold wholesale, liquidated or thrown out.

“Anybody that imports, it’s not a question of if they’re going to have a problem; it’s when. We’re the creative, problem-solving experts,” said Randy Burk, QCI’s executive vice president.

For example, when a retailer placed an initial order with a manufacturer in Vietnam for 100,000 various handbags and they got to the western U.S., the inadequate packaging presentation meant the retailer couldn’t sell the merchandise. QCI inspected all of the handbags and repackaged the ones that needed it, saving the batch for sale.

With facilities in Henderson and Pennsylvania, QCI’s logistics role is helping get companies’ products through the supply chain to consumers.

This inspection, repair and rework company began serendipitously on the East Coast in 1986 when Randy’s father Ron Burk, a shoe manufacturer, helped importers who received subpar merchandise from an overseas supplier. QCI extended its footprint to Southern Nevada in 2003 by adding its current 42,000-square-foot location to serve companies importing goods via the West Coast ports of entry, including Los Angeles, Long Beach, Seattle and Houston.

QCI chose Southern Nevada for its favorable business and tax climate, available workforce, ease of getting merchandise in and out of the region and quality of life, Burk said.

Today, the company specializes in reworking and repairing shoes, apparel, accessories and consumer goods and serves manufacturers, importers, retailers and distributors. QCI’s growth at its Henderson location has been “pretty steady over the years,” he added, in large part due to the increasing number of companies that could use its services popping up in the area.

QCI is one of a significant number of Nevada logistics firms that, in some way, contribute to the storage and movement of goods, services or information within a supply chain between origination and consumption. Logistics has burgeoned into one of The Silver State’s key industries, according to the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

Coming into its own

Demonstrating that growth in logistics and operations, The Silver State added 20,912 logistics jobs between 2000 and year-end 2018, a 32.5 percent increase and more than double the national average of 14.6 percent, according to the labor market analysis firm Emsi. At the end of 2018’s fourth quarter, Nevada’s jobs in the sector totaled 85,353 versus 64,441 in 2000.

Job numbers grew the most, by 233 percent, in Storey County, home of the Tahoe Regional Industrial Center. The Reno Metropolitan Statistical Area saw 40.4 percent growth, adding 8,010 jobs, during those 18 years. The Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise MSA added 12,264 logistics jobs for a 31.7% increase. In contrast, Mineral, Lander and Churchill counties lost jobs during that period.

The industry had a particularly strong 2018 due to uncertainty surrounding potential trade wars and tariffs, particularly relating to imports from China and Mexico. Consequently, U.S. companies imported and stocked more merchandise than usual, said Scott Pruneau, CEO of ITS Logistics in Reno and Sparks.

“There was a massive haul on logistics. Rates were going up, margins went through the roof,” he added, noting that the flow leveled off since.

Generally throughout Nevada today, the industry continues to expand, experts said, in part due to the continuing influx of manufacturing and distribution companies. This is evident in the state’s number and diversity of industrial buildings to support, from a logistics perspective, all sizes of companies.

“People who manufacture and distribute goods need different kinds of help all the time,” Pruneau added.

Companies are drawn to Nevada, for several reasons, among them a favorable tax environment, business friendliness and strategic location.

For QCI, its Southern Nevada location, on major freight routes, enables immediate east and west access to California via I-80, I-70 and I-40 and north and south access from Mexico to Canada via I-15 and the CANAMEX Trade Corridor, Burk said.

For ITS Logistics, Northern Nevada is ideal for West Coast distribution, Pruneau said. It’s centrally located, port access is good and rail access easy. ITS can get products to seven of the western states in one day and to the remaining four in two days.

“For companies around the world and the U.S. that want to distribute to the western 11 states, this is a pretty good spot to do it from,” he added.

Going strong in Northern Nevada

Headquartered in Sparks and with locations in Reno, Phoenix and Los Angeles, ITS Logistics provides more traditional logistics services than QCI in the south. One is warehousing and distribution, storing and getting products to customers in the western U.S. Another is e-commerce fulfillment, filling and transporting orders of everything from books and office supplies to furniture and clothing.

The company’s third service prong is its freight brokerage division, a network of transporters who step in to run merchandise for other companies lacking a fleet in a particular area. For example, if Starbucks, one of ITS’ clients, needs product carried from Florida to Seattle, ITS, with no trucks of its own in Florida, would contract a company in that state and local area that could transport the goods, but ITS would remain responsible for the shipment. ITS launched ITS National in 2011, and now it’s 20,000 freight brokers and 120 local (Reno) employees strong.

“We hired five to six people a month in the last year and a half, and we have no plans to stop,” Pruneau said.

Overall, ITS Logistics’ business grew an average of 15 to 30 percent annually since its founding in 1999, but in the last four years the rate accelerated, Pruneau said.

The company expects 2019 revenue to reach $300 million.

The logistics firm now is six months into rolling out its three-year strategic business plan that involves further growth and geographical expansion. ITS is striving to reach $1 billion in revenue over that period and take its workforce to 750 people from its current 500. To do both, it will invest in the people and the technology necessary to enables its own and its customers’ success.

“We’re figuring out how we continue to replicate this [Northern Nevada model] in other marketplaces over the next three to five years,” Pruneau added.

Amazon in The Silver State

This e-commerce company is involved heavily in logistics with its eight facilities throughout Nevada. They are a sort center, delivery station and Prime Now fulfillment center in Las Vegas; a robotics fulfillment center for small- and medium-sized products, a fulfillment center for large products and a return center in North Las Vegas; and a fulfillment center for large products in Reno.

Amazon chose Nevada for these operations for the ample regional customer demand, a “dedicated and talented workforce and great local support,” said Ashley Wedlund, general manager of one of Amazon’s North Las Vegas fulfillment centers. “Our fulfillment centers in Nevada allow us to reach more customers throughout this great state.”

At those facilities, where the process of getting a customer’s ordered goods to them begins, products arrive on trailers and are moved on conveyor belts inside, where millions of other products are stored at the ready.

A major trend within Amazon is its use of robotics, which occurs at its North Las Vegas fulfillment center. Mobile robots, for instance, lift movable shelves of product and deliver them to associates at work stations. They also shift inventory between the center’s floors and stack product containers on pallets for the next stage of fulfillment.

“Robotics increase efficiencies, enabling us to process orders and get customer packages on trucks faster with quicker delivery times to customers,” said Wedlund.

To fill a customer’s order, robots help pick the items, taking them to an associate. Once all of the merchandise is picked, it’s put on and moved along a conveyor belt for packing. En route and by computer, the order is scanned, its progress tracked. After packing, the box is weighed to ensure a correct order then labeled. It’s sent to one of several trailers for transport based on its shipping method, delivery speed and destination.

The company attributes its growth to sticking to its Day 1 approach: “to make smart, fast decisions, stay nimble, innovate and invent, and focus on delighting customers in Nevada” and to its more than 4,000 employees in the state who make it happen.

As for Amazon’s next couple of years in The Silver State, Wedlund said, “We look forward to growing here in Nevada and continually engaging the communities where our great associates live and work.”

Trending in the industry

Supply chains continue to evolve. Twenty years ago, the term was barely used as the chain contained few links, Pruneau said. A company would order goods, hire a carrier to move them to the company’s only, roughly 1 million-square-foot warehouse, from which the merchandise would be distributed across the U.S. This model no longer works because it’s too slow.

“Supply chains today require very quick turnaround,” Pruneau said. “The way inventories are managed and the way commodities are traded dictate a shorter delivery schedule.”

Amazon, for instance, in select areas and on certain items, offers one-day or same-day delivery.

The use of inland ports is one way turnaround is quickened, said Pruneau. It shortens the transit time of goods by moving the place of distribution inland, where the distances to the ultimate destination are shorter. Now, instead of merchandise being broken down and distributed from coastal ports, they now send it to inland ports, Reno and Las Vegas for instance, for breakdown and distribution there.

With the pressure on retailers and, thus, the logistics industry for delivery speed and diverse inventories, today’s supply chains look much different from yesteryear’s and continue to evolve. For instance, Amazon in June announced one-day delivery on more than 10 million items for Prime members.

Supply chains are fully integrated, Pruneau added, meaning they take into account all kinds of available information, such as the defined customer base, the location for sourcing raw materials, best places for manufacturing and storing goods, how customers consume goods, delivery speed and method. Technology and data sharing make that possible.

QCI is seeing diversification in the supply chain, specifically with regard to global sourcing of merchandise. More and more retailers have started obtaining goods from manufacturers in Vietnam and Cambodia instead of or in addition to China, Burk said.

Another trend is reverse logistics, the delivery and processing of returned, unwanted merchandise, said Burk. With free shipping and returns, e-commerce returns are far greater than brick-and-mortar returns due to consumers’ buying habits, like buying several sizes and styles of one item, then returning most of them. A major challenge for companies is how to manage them.

“It’s good for the customer’s experience, but it’s not so good for the retailers,” he added. “Logistics operations are seeking internal and external solutions for dealing with the volume of returns.”

Because many returned items are still of good quality and may need just repackaging or minor reworking, QCI is expanding into that segment of the logistics industry.

“Our company is trying to help companies recover more of the upside of the returns versus going the liquidation route,” Burk said. “We’re putting some new programs together where can do inspections and repackaging and make [merchandise] factory fresh so [retailers] can resell it as new.”

No stopping in sight

For the next few years at least, Nevada’s logistics industry should continue to flourish, expand and adapt to meet customers’ and consumers’ needs and demands, according to the experts.

“Even if we hit an economic downturn, the need to deliver goods to people within one to two days’ transit time isn’t going away,” Pruneau said. “It’s going to get more accentuated. That’s great for this marketplace.”

Lady Luck Changes Her Game

By Doresa Banning

Gambling has been a part of Nevada’s history since before it even became a territory. As miners flocked into the area, they brought their games of chance to pass the time. Attempts to ban, penalize, and regulate gambling were made beginning in 1861, but regardless of the laws, gaming existed in many forms.

Finally in 1931, as Nevada faced the Great Depression, Governor Fred Balzar signed a bill making gambling legal in the state. The hope was the new law would generate much-needed revenue for Nevada in the form of taxes and licensing fees.

The days of nickel slots paying out drinks and cigars and illicit back-alley poker games were over, and gaming quickly became one of the state’s most important industries. Since that time, the core of industry — the games — has changed, led by technology and followed closely by the desire for bigger payouts and more entertaining options.

Table games lead the way

For half a century following gaming’s legalization, table games generated the most revenue for The Silver State’s casinos. Many games evolved slowly but the waning interest of gamblers led to the demise of some. For instance, faro was the hottest card game in mining towns such as Virginia City since the early 1880s, but by 1950 people no longer wanted to take the time to learn the game’s intricacies and it eventually faded. The dice game chuck-a-luck is nearly, if not already, dead. Chemin de fer, an early form of the card game baccarat, also disappeared in the 1950s when it was replaced by a new version of the game, punto banco.

Table games continue to evolve, becoming “more challenging, more skillful, and more complex in their designs,” according to Michael Shackleford, a Las Vegas-based professional gambling consultant and writer known as the Wizard of Odds.

A major shift with games such as poker, baccarat, and blackjack was the invention of the card-shuffling machine in the 1990s. It allowed for more hands to be dealt per hour and an overall faster pace, thereby increasing profitability for gambling establishments. As for craps, minimal changes were made to the game until the 2010s, when special side bets with big payouts were added.

Taking the place of some traditional table games today are electronic versions with a virtual dealer who appears on a screen or no dealer at all. These options are less intimidating for newbies, let people play at their own pace, and offer guidance on how to play.

“Casinos might not have very many live dealers in the not so distant future,” says Sharon Nickson Cox, executive casino host at Reno’s Silver Legacy Resort Casino.

Roulette “has been pretty stagnant for a long time,” Michael notes, but there’s Organic Roulette now, which is electromechanical and dealer-less. It has a wheel and the wagers of a live game but bets are placed through a touchscreen display. Virtual Roulette by Nevada’s Aruze Gaming America Inc. is similar but allows players to shoot the ball and features a progressive jackpot side game.
Single-zero roulette remains the standard although last year The Venetian in Las Vegas released a triple-zero roulette game, which seems to be more popular than the double-zero versions.

“It just goes to show you that most players don’t really care what the rules are to a game,” Michael says. “They’re more concerned that the limits are within their comfort zone.”

Spinning wheels to video screens

Early three-reel mechanical “one-armed bandits” accepted a top bet of just $1 with a maximum payout of $25, and their motifs — fruit, pots of gold, etc. — were generic. They also had to be played standing up because gaming houses originally didn’t provide chairs. Eventually advances in technology meant slot machines began to rule the casino floor, taking over the dominance of table games.

A major advancement in the 1970s was the shift to a video screen display from the window view of reels spinning. Another was the addition of $5, $10, and $20 bill acceptors to slots. Then ticket-in ticket-out technology was introduced, which eliminated the use of money in the machines altogether.

The advent of progressives in the 1980s heralded a big change for both slots and table games. Progressive jackpots grow by a percentage with each coin played until the money is won, and while they were originally limited to poker and slots, progressives are now often tied into other games such as blackjack, roulette, and pai gow poker.

One newer development in slot machines is the incorporation of themes — movie, TV show, celebrity, song, history, fairy tale, fiction, other pop culture, and more. Early machines included “The Addams Family,” “Li’l Abner,” “The Lone Ranger,” and “Pac-Man.” Some recent market entrants feature James Bond, “Singin’ in the Rain,” “Knight Rider,” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Some themed slots even boast three-dimensional video.

“The manufacturers have been very creative in how they do [theming], through the use of bigger video screens and playing lots of video clips of whatever the show is and trying to tie in bonuses around themes from the show,” says Michael.

Interestingly, these devices are only available to casinos to lease—allowing the manufacturer to share the revenue they bring in. This is due to the high cost the makers pay to license the intellectual property along with the games’ complex designs.

Today’s typical slot machine features six-channel surround sound delivered through a comfy chair; impressive graphics displayed via high-definition screens (some as big as 84 inches); one of numerous themes; fun extras like bonuses and free spins; and with progressives, the potential for multi-million dollar payouts.

“It’s gotten to the point where most players don’t even understand what they’re playing. They just press a button and hope to be entertained. [Slots] have moved from being seen as a form of gambling to being seen as a form of entertainment,” Michael says.

Traditionally games of chance, some slot machines now include elements requiring video/arcade game-playing abilities. One, Danger Arena, resembles a slot machine but is equipped with a video-game like controller and involves the player shooting targets.

The latest slot machines also offer four-dimensional graphics. Some, such as Sphinx 4D, made by Nevada’s International Game Technology, boast mid-air haptics technology, which means players can touch, feel, and manipulate graphic objects that appear in free space.

The customer’s always right

Changing customer preferences and demand, which translate into casino profits, drive the evolution and fate of all games.

“Each generation likes to discover their own game and doesn’t like the game that their father or grandfather played,” Michael says. “Every game has a life span. If any game isn’t pulling its weight, it’s probably going to get voted off the casino floor.”

As for slots versus table games, the latter are going to make a comeback, predicts Michael. He expects the trend of casinos forfeiting table space for slot machines will reverse to the point where both are about evenly represented. However, he also expects traditional blackjack and craps tables to decrease slowly “in favor of new table games, new different ideas,” he said.

What specific games will become hits is anyone’s guess, as what the public will fancy at any given time is impossible to predict.

Michael sums it up like this: “If poker is the hot thing right now, and blackjack was the hot thing before poker, what’s going to be the next hot thing?”

Amping Up: Nevada’s Energy, Water Utilities Expand to Meet Demand

By Doresa Banning

Nevada’s population is projected to increase 5.6 percent through 2022, according to the state demographer. That expansion and the continuing robust economy translate into greatly increased, cumulative power and water needs by new businesses and residences. Accommodating the current and forecasted growth is a huge focus of The Silver State entities providing these utilities. Here’s a look at the both of the industries, energy and water.

ENERGY

Nevada’s energy industry is “thriving,” described John Hester, CEO, Southwest Gas Corp., the state’s largest provider of natural gas (700,000 customers). In the north, the utility serves Carson City, Elko, Winnemucca, Fallon, Gardnerville, Incline Village and other areas around Lake Tahoe. In the south, it covers the Las Vegas Valley, Henderson and North Las Vegas. It operates in California and Arizona, too.

To meet demand, Hester expects his corporation to grow over the next few years at 1.6 percent on an annualized basis, or add about 35,000 customers per month. Further, plans call for Southwest Gas to spend more than $2 billion over the next three years in its tristate service territory to feed growth and ensure its gas delivery systems are as new and as safe as possible.

Energy in Nevada continues to evolve, with the demand for more renewable energy rising, particularly as the related technologies and the adoption of them improves, like large-scale batteries for storage and electric vehicles, said Doug Cannon, CEO, NV Energy. The utility provides electricity to more than 1.2 million customers in the state, in the southern region through its subsidiary Nevada Power Co. and in the northern part through Sierra Pacific Power Co. It also delivers natural gas to more than 165,000 people in the Reno-Sparks area.

Regarding electric vehicles, last year Nevadans adopted them 40 percent more than in 2017, according to the Nevada Governor’s Office of Energy’s “2018 Status of Energy Report.” Additionally, the GOE and various partners are working to develop the Nevada Electric Highway, a system with the infrastructure needed for electric vehicles to travel long distances. As for Phase 1, along US 95, Beatty, Fallon and Hawthorne now have charging stations; the final two, in Tonopah and Indian Springs, should be added this year.

Renewable sources accounted for 18.1 percent of the state’s power generation as of August 2018. That category encompasses biomass/biogas/landfill, geothermal, waste heat, hydroelectric, solar, net metering (energy sold back to the grid) and wind.

Natural gas, which is low carbon emitting, was the largest energy source in Nevada at 69.5 percent. Coal followed renewables at 9 percent. Next were hydroelectric at 3.3 percent and petroleum at less than 0.01 percent.

Currently, before the Nevada legislature is a bill to double the state’s renewable portfolio standard to 50 percent by 2030 from the current 25 percent by 2025. This standard is the amount of electricity sold by a power utility to retail customers that must come from renewable sources, 6 percent of which must be solar generated. Senate Bill 350 also would require wholly carbon-free emissions by 2050.

Cannon said NV Energy supports the bill and is committed to adding more renewable energy resources to its system. With its integrated resource plan, approved by the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada in December 2018, NV Energy will bring 1,001 MW of new renewable energy to the state, including 100 megawatts of battery storage capacity. The PUCN regulates the 400 investor-owned utilities in the Silver State.

Representing a $2.2 billion investment, these six photovoltaic solar projects (three in the north, three in the south), being built by different developers, will boost the utility’s renewable energy portfolio to about 3,000 megawatts. These projects are scheduled to be completed by the end of 2021. From most to least power generation, they are:

• Eagle Shadow Mountain Solar Farm: 300 MW, north of Las Vegas on land owned by the Moapa Band of Paiutes, developer 8minutenergy Renewables
• Copper Mountain Solar 5: 250 MW, Eldorado Valley, south of Boulder City, CED Southwest Holdings Inc.
• Dodge Flat Solar Energy Center: 200 MW with 50 MW of battery energy storage, east of Reno, NextEra Energy Resources LLC
• Battle Mountain Solar Project: 101 MW, including 25 MW of battery energy storage, near Battle Mountain, Cypress Creek Renewables
• Fish Springs Ranch Solar Energy Center: 100 MW with 25 MW of battery energy storage, north of Reno, NextEra Energy Resources LLC
• Techren Solar V: 50 MW, adjacent to Techren Solar I, II, III and IV in Eldorado Valley, Techren Solar LLC

“For the first time we’ll be adding large-scale battery storage onto those projects,” Cannon said. “We’re excited to get experience with these batteries to provide more benefits to the grid.”

Southwest Gas has been pursuing, with various potential partners, the addition of renewable natural gas to its assets and expects that will come to fruition next year.

The utility would collaborate with entities that generate methane gas as an operational byproduct, for example sewage treatment plants and dairy farms. The methane would be captured, cleaned and added to Southwest’s distribution system.

“It creates a carbon neutral or carbon positive source of fuel,” Hester said. “It’s a nice opportunity to make natural gas even greener than it already is.”

Nevada also is increasingly moving away from carbon-intense energies like coal and diesel to renewables and natural gas, Hester said. For instance, NV Energy will no longer own any coal generation plants in Southern Nevada by year-end and is scheduled to retire its Valmy plant in Northern Nevada in 2021, Cannon said.

Additionally, Southwest Gas is expanding its Nevada service territory, particularly in the rural areas. It most recently added Mesquite in February.

Another energy provider, to Nevada’s rural areas, Pahrump-based Valley Electric Association Inc., has been plagued with scandal recently. Perceived mismanagement and an unexpected March rate hike by the cooperative have many of its 7,500 members outraged and wanting the entire board ousted. VEA provides electricity to more than 45,000 Nevadans within a 6,800-square-mile area between Fish Lake Valley and Sandy Valley.

Most recently, when this issue went to press, the VEA had a meeting scheduled for April 27 for its members to “address concerns regarding fiduciary responsibilities and the process for recalling VEA board members,” according to a news release.

VEA Members for Change, the entity that represents the disgruntled VEA members, announced via Facebook on March 16 it had collected enough petition signatures to “hold a special meeting on April 20 for the purpose of presenting charges against the board members for their removal” and had notified the governing body of such.

In early March, the VEA board appointed an interim CEO, Richard Peck, who will serve until further notice.

Last month, Peck stated in a TV news interview that other than the recent rate hike, VEA plans no other significant changes in the near term.

Looking forward, Nevada can expect its energy industry in the near future to change even more, encompass more electrification and continue investing in infrastructure to meet increasing demands.

“The conversation will continue to be very focused on how do we reduce carbon in the environment, what’s the role of the electric industry in reducing that carbon and where do we want to take our energy in the future,” Cannon said.

WATER

In Southern Nevada, the water situation is “strong and resilient,” said John Entsminger, thanks to conservation, infrastructure investments and resource planning. “From a resource and facilities perspective, we have the situation well in hand.” Entsminger is the general manager of the Las Vegas Valley Water District and the Southern Nevada Water Authority. The LVVWD is the largest of seven member agencies comprising SNWA, from whom it receives water wholesale. The LVVWD then sells it retail to its customers in the city of Las Vegas and unincorporated Clark County.

“We don’t show a scenario in our resource plan where we need to be bringing in new supplies in the next 30 years, even under the worst hydrologic scenario on the Colorado River,” Entsminger said.

However, he emphasized, having enough water for the region depends on the entire community maintaining and improving its conservation efforts. The utility’s primary initiatives in this regard are getting customers to follow the existing rules and removing the nearly 5,000 acres of nonfunctional, unused turf commonly located in medians, traffic circles, pocket parks and the like. Success with the former alone would result in a savings of tens of thousands of acre-feet of water (one acre-foot of water is enough for two to three single-family homes for a year).

Also important in protecting Nevada’s water resource, Entsminger said, is the federal Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan Authorization Act, introduced on April 2 by two U.S. senators from New Mexico. The law would implement the water conservation measures agreed upon by the seven Colorado River Basin states (Nevada is one) and Native American tribes to ensure the river’s sustainability and to protect Lake Mead and Lake Powell’s reservoir levels.

Regarding facilities, SNWA will have $1.5 billion worth of new facilities at Lake Mead finished by April 2020, which guarantee it can extract water out of the lake continually.

To meet economic and population growth in the southwest, west and northwest parts of the Vegas Valley, the LVVWD is in the midst of a “robust” system expansion, the first since The Great Recession. Construction of a number of new pump stations and reservoirs, now in the design phase, is part of the 10-year $616 million capital improvement plan the LVVWD board approved in 2017.

The utility’s priorities in the ensuing years are making additional gains in conservation, having the necessary facilities in place and, through demand management and partnering with neighbors, ensuring water is available.

“You’re going to see stability because we’re planners, because our job is to look out multiple decades and make sure nothing’s going to sneak up on us,” Entsminger said.

In Northern Nevada, a wet winter brought nearly double the average snowpack, which means “all of our reservoirs will fill and spill, and because of that, the water supply situation really could not get any better than this,” said Mark Foree, general manager, Truckee Meadows Water Authority, the water utility for the Greater Reno-Sparks area and parts of Washoe County. “We do have ample water resources to provide for expected growth over the next 20 years and beyond,” he added.

TMWA is experiencing growth throughout its system, which requires planning, design, new facilities construction, operation, maintenance and rehabilitation, Foree said. The utility currently is updating its 20-year water resource plan, an every five year event, this round of which should be finished in about a year. Part of that planning is for capital improvements to existing infrastructure.

Another part is planning for drought periods. Today, TMWA stores water during the winters in upstream reservoirs on the Truckee River that are federally owned and operated. This is the result of the Truckee River Operating Agreement completed in 2015 after 27 years of negotiation.

“That’s been a big change,” Foree said. “It really sets us up for several decades of expected growth.”

Where possible, TMWA is maximizing the use of Truckee River surface water by moving it into the groundwater-dependent systems in its portfolio and minimizing the use of pumped groundwater by temporarily taking the necessary wells offline. The utility plans to do just that with its new asset, acquired in March, the West Reno Water System near Boomtown in Verdi, after connecting it to the main system.

“We have seen groundwater levels recover and rise because of that,” Foree said.

Also, the utility is building a water treatment plant off of Mt. Rose Highway in the Galena area. Water from Whites Creek will be treated at the new facility and used, again to replace some of the pumped groundwater in the area. The plant is slated to be up and running in about a year.

As for renewable energy efforts, TMWA generates hydroelectric power from its three run-of-the-river plants then sells to NV Energy what its water system doesn’t use. Last year, the sellback yielded $3.76 million for TMWA.

“That’s saying quite a bit if you have renewable energy-generating facilities that can produce nearly all of what you use in terms of power,” Foree said. “We really look at it as a cost benefit to our customers.”

For the next few years, TMWA will remain focused on managing and keeping pace with all of the growth, said Foree.

Echo Park Library Branch Lot Could Become “Safe Parking” Site for the Homeless

By Doresa Banning

The parking lot of the Los Angeles Public Library’s Edendale branch is being considered as a place where qualifying homeless people living in a vehicle may park overnight. Were the site deemed viable and approved, it would become the first safe parking location in Echo Park and could open to parkers sometime next year.

“The goal is to provide a safe, dedicated space for those living out of their vehicles, with access to restroom facilities and wraparound supportive services, until the individuals are able to obtain more permanent housing,” said Tony Arranaga, communications director for Mitch O’Farrell, 13th District councilmember.

Such a place hopefully would help keep the homeless from parking on streets in residential areas—an ongoing problem, said Emily Kantrim, program coordinator at Safe Parking LA, a nonprofit organization that provides safe parking options for vehicle dwellers. Los Angeles’ 13th District already has an established safe parking lot, administered by Safe Parking LA and funded by Los Angeles County, but it’s not in Echo Park. (Generally, lot locations are kept secret to protect the individuals who park in them.)

“The downside is kind of not recognizing that people are in your neighborhood in their vehicles right now,” she added.

Currently, about one-third (166) of the number of unsheltered homeless people residing in Echo Park (488) live in a car, van or recreational vehicle, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority’s 2018 Homeless Count.

Safe parking also would get some of these individuals closer to resumption of living in a home, as the ones who qualify for safe parking are required to work, with the help of a service provider, toward attaining that goal.
“Safe parking does not solve your dilemma, but it relieves this constant anxiety and burden of where am I going to be and how do I not fall further into homelessness,” Kantrim said.

Finally, the program would maximize use of a City of Los Angeles-owned property, Arranaga said.

The concept is not without controversy, however. Typical concerns include costs, parkers not leaving when they should, and potential trash and sanitation problems, vandalism and crime.

The Edendale library lot is one of many properties under review, after some Echo Park citizens suggested it for safe parking.

“We’re very far from still figuring out if that would be a viable location,” Kantrim said.

How it could work

Were it approved, the currently gated Edendale lot would be open for safe parking starting one or two hours after the library’s closing and ending one or two hours before its opening, Arranaga said.

Other specifics haven’t been established because the idea of using this location is in its infancy. However, the programs of Safe Parking LA, which likely would be the vendor for an Echo Park site, operate similarly, with each lot accommodating 10 to 15 vehicles and, during parking hours, having an unarmed security guard present and offering a maintained, cleaned restroom of some kind. The lots are open only to qualifying applicants (designated by a parking permit), are free to park in and operate on a first-come, first-served basis.

Vehicle dwellers needing assistance typically get referred to Safe Parking LA. After filling out a safe parking application, which lists the lot rules, they’re interviewed and screened. Parkers are prohibited from camping, cooking in their vehicle, sleeping outside of their vehicle, drinking or doing drugs, for example. They must have a valid driver’s license, vehicle registration and insurance.

O’Farrell and his team will continue to collaborate with Mayor Eric Garcetti and his office, LAHSA and Safe Parking LA to evaluate the Edendale lot. Factors under review are parking capacity, potential impacts to the library’s revenue potential and how the general community uses the library, among others, according to the city’s Safe Parking Pilot Program Framework Elements report.

“Councilmember O’Farrell is taking this challenge on, and the mayor will do everything possible to help bring this proposal to life,” Alex Comisar, spokesperson for the mayor’s office, said, referring to safe parking.

Two weeks ago, O’Farrell and Safe Parking LA’s Kantrim met with Echo Park residents and business owners, Neighborhood Council representatives and other stakeholders to discuss the idea “and will continue to do so throughout the entire process,” Arranaga said.

Safe parking is O’Farrell’s latest in a string of other efforts regarding the homeless population. Earlier in the year, he proposed having city-owned property in Echo Park, near the Edendale library, and other communities evaluated as possible places to build housing with supportive services for the homeless. Also, last year, in response to citizen complaints, he got the city to ban overnight recreational vehicle parking at Echo Lake and nearby areas.

Nevada Mining Continues Transition Into High-Tech Industry

By Doresa Banning

Imagine if mining companies could send an unmanned aerial vehicle, instead of a person, into a dark, narrow underground area to document the landscape or the scene following an industrial accident.

Well, the Autonomous Robots Labs at the University of Nevada, Reno is developing the technology for autonomous aerial robots to do just that, to explore, survey, map and monitor underground mines when they can’t rely upon an operator’s vision or the Global Positioning System.

Earlier this year, the team conducted multiday tests of its mine inspection robotics in the field, which demonstrated “full exploration autonomy of underground drifts and headings using aerial robots,” according to the ARL’s website.

Aerial robots are just one of the high-tech tools and methods in development or use for or by Nevada’s mining industry. They range from automation of individual tasks to an entirely new mining approach.

“It’s pretty exciting because we’re seeing such rapid innovation,” said Dana Bennett, the president of the Nevada Mining Association, a Reno-based trade organization comprised of about 520 member companies.

Industry at a glance

Nevada was named the world’s top jurisdiction for mining investment in 2018, as determined through a survey by the Fraser Institute, a Canada-based research and educational organization. An estimated $460.1 million were spent that year on exploration only, not development or production, reflecting a directional reversal and a 28 percent year-over-year uptick, the “Survey of Nevada’s Mineral and Energy Exploration Industry” showed.

Seventy-seven percent of those millions of dollars went to exploration for precious metals, 15.1 percent to base metals, 5.1 percent to energy metals, 2.7 percent to geothermal and 0.4% to industrial minerals. That total investment reflects favorably on The Silver State.

“We tend to interpret a strong exploration economy as indicative of a strong mining industry,” Bennett said.

The economic sector, encompassing more than 100 mines producing 20 minerals essential to our day-to-day living, generated about $12.4 billion for the state’s economy in 2018, according to the NMA’s “Nevada Mining by the Numbers, 2019.” Earlier this year, McEwen Mining Inc. joined the roster, having poured its first gold at its Gold Bar mine in Eureka County.

Further, The Silver State is home to various nonproducing projects, in various stages. For example, Nevada Copper Corp. is on track to commence production at its Pumpkin Hollow project in Yerington by year-end 2019. Lithium Americas’ Thacker Pass lithium project in Humboldt County plans to submit a plan of operations to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management this fall. First Vanadium continues to advance its Carlin vanadium project in Elko County toward a preliminary economic assessment, slated for release in early 2020.

A high-tech core

Because technology remains a critical component of Nevada mining, companies are adopting and developing related advancements, Bennett said. Many of the latter have been exported around the globe.

“Where we’re seeing an uptick recently is intellectual property, where operators are developing their own methodologies, software or equipment and seeking patents,” said Sarah Bordelon, who is of counsel at Holland & Hart LLP n the firm’s Reno office and assists clients in the mining and energy industries.
However, Nevada’s gold mining industry specifically has catching up to do. It hasn’t looked ahead enough and innovated as much as it should’ve because it hasn’t had to to turn a profit,” said Greg Walker, the executive managing director of Nevada Gold Mines, an Elko-based gold mining joint venture between Barrick Gold Corp. and Newmont Goldcorp Corp.

“It’s such a strong gold mining area, such a strong resource that we haven’t been pushed to improve,” he added. “We haven’t had to be better to be successful. Our strength has also caused one of our weaknesses.”

The benefits to new technologies include better safety, improved working conditions, increased productivity and greater efficiencies, Walker said.

One downside, Corrado De Gasperis noted, is that even if the science works, it can still be cost prohibitive. He is the executive chairman and CEO of Virginia City-based Comstock Mining Inc.

Another is that emerging technologies expose operators to new areas of law, regarding unmanned aerial vehicles and autonomous vehicles for example, which must be considered and followed, Bordelon said.

Also, opponents argue that new technologies are eliminating jobs. Bennett said, though, that jobs generally won’t go away but, rather, will change.

“We are going to need miners with great computer skills and digital skills,” she added.

Walker agreed but pointed out it’s difficult to attract and retain “young, enthusiastic, educated people” to support existing and advancing technology in terms of design and engineering when the existing services like broadband Internet, education, child care and healthcare in certain Nevada counties need improvement. Bennett described access to broadband in rural Nevada as “embarrassingly bad.”

New eco-friendly mining

By year-end, Comstock Mining intends to begin testing a new technology that cleans mercury-contaminated soil while recovering trapped gold and silver previously deemed uneconomic by conventional mining methods, said De Gasperis. (Mercury historically has been used in ore processing and continues to be used in many developing nations worldwide to extract gold from ore.)

The approach will involve using a proprietary, organic liquid solution and mechanical, hydro, electro-chemical and oxidation processes to reclaim, treat, segregate and eliminate the mercury and isolate the precious metals.

Using this method, the Virginia City-based mining company and its partners will tackle the hottest mercury spots on its sizable Comstock District land package in Storey and Lyon counties. It will do so through its joint venture, Mercury Clean Up LLC, and California-based Oro Industries Inc., which developed and owns the clean technology. Oro manufactures ore processing equipment, including centrifuges and spiral concentrators that maximize mercury and metal recoveries.

Mercury Clean Up’s method not only remediates mercury-laden land, thus improving the ecosystem and bolstering local economics, but it also represents an eco-friendly way to mine in the future. Thus, it changes the conventional mining paradigm. Further, unlike traditional historical mining, this clean tech approach does not deplete the world’s existing reserves and heighten reclamation liabilities.

“We’re mining but in a new way,” De Gasperis said. “We’re using clean solutions, clean technology, clean chemical-free liquids, and it’s inherently so much safer.”

Subsequently, De Gasperis said, Mercury Clean Up will take its clean mining method to the broader market where demand for it is great. Already, the joint venture has been approached and visited by international officials interested in using the technology. Additionally, 113 countries signed the multilateral environmental agreement, Minamata Convention on Mercury, thereby committing to helping reduce global mercury pollution over the coming decades.

Comstock Mining also is pursuing applying the cleantech approach to decontaminating and extracting precious metals from contaminated leach pads (ponds where metals are dissolved from ore), tailings (the remaining waste after metal extraction from ore) and industrially contaminated water bodies.

“This will be in a much higher international profile in 2020, for sure,” De Gasperis said.

Shift toward automation

Nevada’s mining industry is seeing increased automation, both through software and processes and robotic technologies applied to vehicles and equipment.

This is in part because Nevada’s emerging workforce is demanding high-tech.

“One of the threats I see for the industry is that it’s becoming more and more difficult to get young professionals unless we automate the business,” Walker said. “If we don’t, we’ll very quickly become dinosaurs. There aren’t enough miners with 30-, 40-year experience who can fill [the need].”

For instance, the NMA is working with the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration, which oversees the safety of mine sites, to ensure the required safety environment is in place to start pilot projects with fully autonomous vehicles, said Bennett.

Already, partially autonomous vehicles are being used in the field, by Nevada Gold Mines, for instance, at some of its mines. Prior to the joint venture, Barrick Gold Corp. led the state in launching a pilot program using autonomous haul trucks for surface use, at its South Arturo project in Elko County, and Nevada Gold Mines now employs them at Goldstrike in Eureka County as well. They’re consistent, running around the clock every day.

Also, for example, at Goldstrike, and Cortez in Lander and Eureka counties, too, Nevada Gold Mines uses automated underground loaders whose operator controls them from the surface using a joystick and a sensors-equipped remote control camera.

“By removing the operator completely, in effect taking them out of the underground, the person is completely separate from risk and hazard,” Walker said, referring to the potential for accidents involving mobile mining equipment, which can cause serious injuries and fatalities. “It allows us to have people not exposed to the noise, dust and fumes.”

Nevada Gold Mines also employs three autonomous Pit Vipers, open-pit drill rigs, at its Phoenix mine in Lander County, which drill according to a computerized pattern. One operator, in charge of all three, watches them on screens in a control room, a safe environment far from the actual rigs, to ensure they’re running as they should.

Automation also comes via the use of sensor systems in many applications. They include monitoring fatigue among operators, monitoring miners’ proximity to mobile mining equipment and monitoring vehicle tires for optimal performance and providing alerts when necessary.

From a legal perspective

In terms of mining-related transactions, Bordelon said, most activity in Nevada recently has been the formation of joint ventures, which are part of a broader trend of industry consolidation in the state and globally.

Nevada Gold Mines, created earlier this year by both Barrick, which owns 61.5 percent, and Newmont Goldcorp, with a 38.5 percent stake, is an example. The three-month-old entity encompasses eight Nevada mines and their infrastructure and processing facilities at its Cortez, Goldstrike, Carlin, Turquoise Ridge, Twin Creeks, Phoenix and Long Canyon properties.

The company currently is concentrating on two expansion projects: Goldrush, its main project for which a prefeasibility study is expected by 2020, and Robertson, both in Lander County. In terms of exploration, it has one major project, McCoy Cove, also in Lander, and various extensions to existing operations, or brownfields operations.

Nevada Gold Mines allows Barrick and Newmont Goldcorp to combine their strengths and capitalize on the resulting synergies, including about $4.7 billion in cost savings over the next 10 years. One benefit is the ability to keep facilities operating that otherwise would be closed. Nevada Gold Mines is keeping Newmont Goldcorp’s Carlin mill flotation circuit open by transferring ore from Barrick’s Goldstrike mine to it.

In another example, Comstock Mining partnered with Tonogold Resources Inc. to process the ore from the Lucerne mine, an asset Tonogold is acquiring from Comstock later this year, with plans for bringing it back into production, De Gasperis said.

Ongoing legal issues for The Silver State’s mining companies when they’re planning a new or an expansion operation pertain to the often-fluid requirements regarding water claims, endangered species such as sage-grouse, the Clean Air Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.

“You can’t get very far digging in the dirt in federal lands without encountering environmental issues,” Bordelon said, referring to the fact that the BLM owns and manages most of Nevada’s land.

Down the line

Regarding the future of technology for the mining industry, it will continue to advance, evolve and become increasingly relevant for safety and efficiency, Walker said. Technology will continue changing the makeup of the workforce needed to do the jobs.

“I see the roles changing from the perspective that there’ll be, as we go through time, less physical, hands-on roles and more technical value-add roles,” he added.
As for Nevada’s mining industry overall, Bennet said she expects it will maintain its solid footing in the near future. This is particularly the case since the state and the country will rely on mining to produce all the metals and minerals needed for emerging sectors such as renewable energy and advanced manufacturing and for meeting their clean energy goals.

“That’s great news for Nevada’s mining industry,” she said. “I’m looking forward to another strong 12 months.”

City Guide: Reno, Nevada

By Doresa Banning

The Biggest Little City offers exceptional quality of life that is prosperous, rewarding, fun, active and healthy. Reno is an affordable place to live, and Nevadans don’t pay personal income tax. The economy is growing and diversifying away from its decades-long gaming focus. Jobs are plentiful. Residents may pursue any number of careers, from drones to medicine. With so much to do, it’s easy to take up a hobby, or two, anything from homebrewing to triathlons.

The area’s topography makes for an enormous outdoor playground with many recreational opportunities. The Truckee River, which snakes through downtown, is a favorite open space where people can kayak, tube, play, stroll, cool off and more. The surrounding hills and mountains are ideal for hiking and mountain biking. Pristine Lake Tahoe, with eight ski resorts dotting its perimeter, is less than an hour’s drive away.

Reno caters to people of all ages and stages of life. It boasts some top-rated K-12 schools and the University of Nevada-Reno. Housing options run the gamut, from high-rise apartments and condominiums to town and single-family homes to active adult and senior communities. Health care is easily accessible, with three major hospitals and numerous other facilities.

Cost of living

The cost of living in Reno is 5.8 percent, lower than the national average. It’s more affordable to live in Reno than in California and in major U.S. metropolitan areas. However, other places exist where the cost of living is lower than Reno’s, like the Midwest. Reno is known for attracting people from other locales where it’s more expensive to live, particularly California.

Crime

In general, people feel safe in Reno, as crime overall is moderate, and the violent crimes rate is low. Some neighborhoods tend to experience more criminal incidents than others.

Weather

Situated in a valley in a high-desert region, with an elevation of 4,600 feet, Reno boasts four distinct seasons. In July, the warmest month, temperatures average in the 90-degree Fahrenheit range, and in January, the coldest month, they drop to the 20s on average. Reno can get snow — average annual snowfall is 23 inches —but it tends to melt quickly.

Things to do

In the city, the problem isn’t nothing to do; it’s narrowing the choices to one. Reno is known for its year-round, outdoor recreation. In the warmer months, road biking, kayaking, fly fishing, golf, tennis and skateboarding are popular. When there’s snow in the mountains, residents enjoy downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, sledding and just playing in it. Other sports include wall climbing, bowling, soccer, flag football, lacrosse, archery and more.

At least one major community event is held every month. They include Reno Balloon Races, the Hot August Nights classic car rally and the month-long, July art festival Artown. Reno Aces baseball and Bighorns basketball and UNR Wolf Pack games are hot tickets.

At any given time, several plays, concerts and other entertainment are on offer, whether a classical music performance at UNR, a Broadway musical at the Pioneer Center, a rock concert at the arena or a stage show at one of the hotel-casinos. Reno’s arts and culture scene is burgeoning. Art walks, ballets, dance performances, philharmonic concerts, operas, gallery showcases and Nevada Museum of Art exhibits are a sampling. Due to the hotel-casinos, Reno offers higher-caliber entertainment, dining, spa and gaming options than a city of its size typically could.

Reno is a foodie town, where all cuisine types, from Ethiopian to Korean Barbecue, can be found and an annual culinary event, Reno Bites, takes place. New restaurants pop up all the time, and special wine dinners, food tastings and the like are ongoing.

Shopping is a favorite pastime, too, at The Summit mall, and the abundant boutiques and local shops like Reno Envy.

Who lives here

Reno primarily attracts families, millennials and retirees, many with pets. The population is comprised of Baby Boomers mostly, then a roughly equal amount of Gen Xers and Millennials. The most represented age range is 36 to 45 year olds.

For all groups, Reno’s affordability and potential lifestyle are major draws. For people who need to work, the strong economy and jobs availability are key. For those who own an enterprise or want to start one, Reno is pro business, and ample free help is available.

The median household income in Reno, a middle class city, is about $52,000. Pockets of less affluent neighborhoods exist as do wealthy ones such as Montreux. Affluent individuals from California looking for a more affordable place to live with less of a tax burden have flocked to Reno over the past decade.

Single people and Millennials move to Reno primarily to attend UNR, Truckee Meadows Community College or a career college. Because the Millennium Scholarship offers full tuition for UNR or its counterpart in Las Vegas, 450 miles away, to any Nevada high school graduate and resident with a minimum overall GPA of 3.25, young people come from around the state to attend UNR.

They also like being able to live, work and/or go to school in a walkable downtown and appreciate the many ways to recreate and have fun, and the numerous places to eat. A favorite hangout is the Midtown District, with its trendy restaurants, bars, clubs and more.

Families are drawn to Reno events and activities that adults and children can enjoy together or separately. Community gatherings, sports competitions and attractions like the Discovery Museum, Animal Ark wildlife sanctuary fit that bill as do the many parks, arcades, community centers, organized sports leagues and clubs.

For retirees, Reno is all about the lifestyle it affords. Available housing options suit all types of retirees, from active-adult golf communities to high-rise apartments to assisted living facilities – all with ample opportunities for amusement and socializing.

On the liberal-conservative spectrum, Reno is considered purple. Despite its perceived liberal image, due to early lax divorce laws and legal gambling, the populous falls on the conservative side but not radically so. Whereas the city is home to spiritual houses of various denominations, it’s not considered religious.

How to get around

Unless people live and work in downtown Reno, which is walkable, and pet and pedestrian friendly, they likely need a car to get around town. Other available modes of transportation include the citywide bus system, taxicabs/Lyft/Uber and bicycling. Navigating the city is easy, traffic is minimal and the average commute time is about 19 minutes.

For travel in and out of the city, the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, conveniently located in town, offers 90 daily departures to more than 20 nonstop U.S. destinations. Due to its smallish size, access is easy, and wait times in lines are short. Alternatives include Amtrak, Greyhound and Megabus. The latter traverses between Reno and Sacramento and San Francisco.

Kinds of available jobs

With Reno’s estimated population of 234,000 increasing and new companies continuing to relocate to the region, the economy keeps growing, and new job creation is active. Therefore, work is available. Some industries like construction desperately need qualified workers. The unemployment rate for Reno’s county, Washoe, was 5.5 percent in mid-2016, a handful of percentage points above the national average. Nevada is a right-to-work state.

Reno’s primary industry is hospitality/gaming. The hotel-casinos, such as the Peppermill, Atlantis, Silver Legacy, Grand Sierra, are some of the largest employers and offer 24-hour work shifts. That workforce tends to be somewhat transient but at the same time, more than half of Reno residents have lived in the city for 10 or more years.

Other major employers are the Washoe County School District, UNR and Renown Health, a healthcare network.

The city’s second biggest economic sector is manufacturing and logistics in industries like computers, electronics, financial services and communications.

Reno, however, continues to diversify its economic focus, concentrating more on high technology, healthcare, entrepreneurial startups, clean energy, and research and development. It is home to Apple, International Gaming Technology and Microsoft Licensing, among others. Tesla Motors Inc.’s gigafactory, under construction, is located 10 miles east of town.

Parts to Products: U.S. Gun Manufacturer Fires on all Cylinders

By Doresa Banning

Now in its third decade of business, a Nevada, U.S.A.-based gun manufacturer recently secured a competitive contract with Denmark’s military.

To start, U.S. Ordnance will supply the Royal Danish Army with 700 M60E6s, accessories and spare parts and provide initial training on their use. The agency will use these as its new general purpose machine gun in place of the LMG M/62. Product delivery is slated to begin in late 2014.

“We’re excited to extend our reach to yet another country and provide its military with a state-of-the-art, combat-proven and fully NATO-codified weapon,” said Steve Helzer, U.S. Ordnance’s vice president of sales and marketing.

The company builds and sells military small arms, machine guns and replacement parts. Via strategic partnerships, it augments its weapon systems with accessories and complementary products from the defense industry’s leading manufacturers.

The American gun maker’s three primary product lines are the M2, the M60, and, the newest addition to its arsenal, the Mag58/M240 General Purpose Machine Gun. Each series features several versions, as U.S. Ordnance routinely upgrades its products to meet the needs of the end users (it has more than 30+ upgrades on its track record). For example, to extend barrel life and effect fewer barrel changes, the arms manufacturer lines all of its M240 and M60 MGs with a Stellite liner, an alloy designed to resist wear caused by the high heat and friction generated when the weapon fires.

From-scratch firearms

Here are descriptions of U.S. Ordnance’s GPMGs currently in production:

• M60 Series
The M60E6 GPMG—recently purchased by the Danish Defense Forces—is the latest improved version of the M60 MG model. A gas-operated, disintegrating link, belt-fed, air-cooled weapon that fires from an open bolt, it is ideal for special forces and dismounted infantry where a high volume of 7.62mm suppressive fire is required. It features a quick-change barrel and a forged aluminum feed cover with an integrated M1913 Picatinny rail for mounting optics. The aluminum M1913 rail hand guard allows mounting of infrared laser aiming devices and other sensors, giving the weapon 24-hour capability. The M60E6’s maximum effective range is 1,200 yards; its cycling rate is 500 to 650 rpm. The M60E6 is the weapon of choice for those needing a compact, lightweight and accurate 7.62mm GPMG.

The M60D is an M60 MG that can be mounted on boats and vehicles or, via a pintle mount, on helicopters.

• Mag58/M240/GPMG Series
The Mag58/M240 is a U.S. Ordnance-developed, 7.62mm GPMG with a maximum effective range of 1,200 meters and a 650 to 950 rpm cycling rate. All parts, which are newly made, are interchangeable with existing Mag58/M240 components. This MG passed a 50,000-round torture test in 2013 to ensure its durability and reliability.

The Mag58 version is a fully automatic, gas-operated, belt-fed, crew-served weapon whose accurate, effective sustained rate of fire can suppress and destroy enemy soft targets. U.S. Infantry style, it features a folding bipod and standard NATO mounting points for tripod, boat and vehicle mounting. This system fully interoperates with all existing Mag58 and GPMGs currently in service.

The M240C is the coax version of the Mag58/M240 and the standard for most NATO armored fighting vehicles and turret systems.

The M240D is used in both aircraft and ground configurations. This version incorporates a clip-on ring sight and a trigger group that accommodates the spade grip device. Most utility and cargo helicopter units employ this weapon.

• M2 Series
The M2A2 QCB MG delivers the performance of the existing M2HB but also has fixed headspace and timing and is the only system that uses a “single master breech lock.” (Other competing systems have more than 16 different sets.) This upgrade improves the weapon’s performance, increases the safety level for operating personnel and affords barrel changing on crew-served or coaxial-mounted weapons in 10 or fewer seconds. Only one person needs to change the M2A2 barrel, thereby reducing exposure to enemy fire and quickly readying the weapon for continued operation.

Both the M2A2 and M2HB are 12.7 mm, air-cooled, belt-fed MGs that fire from a closed bolt and operate on the short recoil principle. They’re capable of both sustained automatic and accurate single-shot fire. Their maximum effective range is 2,000 yards, and their rate of fire is 450 to 600 rpm. Ammunition may be fed from the guns’ left or right side, making them suitable for use by both infantry and in armored vehicles.

The M48 is similar to the M2A2 with one difference—it can be mounted on a turret. It fires automatic only. Many countries use it mounted on armored fighting vehicles and operated from inside.

U.S. Ordnance also sells M2 and M60 conversion kits, allowing MG operators or armorers to outfit older-style MGs with the latest enhancements. Either the company or the customer installs the kit, at the client’s preference. An armorer can accomplish MG conversion using one of these kits in fewer than 30 minutes and without complex tools or machines.

Similarly, the manufacturer’s replacement parts for the M240, M60 and M2 all are backward compatible. Its M2 components interchange with those of other manufacturers.

Quality assurance is critical

The weapon systems the company develops and assembles are all NATO sanctioned—a critical point as its customers encompass domestic military and law enforcement agencies along with U.S. government-approved foreign leaderships and militaries. The company has worked with more than 25 different countries and, currently, maintains a significant presence worldwide. U.S. Ordnance provides instruction to operators and armorers on safe and proper use, care and maintenance of its products.

The firearms supplier manufactures, assembles, chrome plates and phosphate coats the weapons and components in house at its manufacturing facility.

“Long-term U.S. government contracts for key items like barrels and spare parts ensures government oversight and monitoring of all critical processes like chrome plating, coating and nondestructive testing,” Helzer said.

Each gun is run through a series of tests—high-pressure proof firing, magnetic particle inspection, live-fire function testing and more to ensure its dependability. Every weapon is repeatedly proof-fired to verify it functions optimally. Every barrel is tested for accuracy as well.

U.S. Ordnance operates from its ISO 9001:2000 certified, 100,000-plus-square-foot facility in a sagebrush-laden desert area east of Reno, the Battle Born State’s largest northern city—the rural location allowing for its on-site firing range. Also at its plant are CNC mills and lathes, screw machines, mil-spec plating facilities, and custom rifling and chambering equipment. Engineers, CNC machinists, armorers and support staff make up the team.

“We practice a strict code of ethics and commitment to integrity and excellence,” Helzer said.

Marijuana Clouds Issue of Workplace Drug Use

By Doresa Banning

All employers must protect their workers, their customers and themselves when it comes to illicit drug use in the workplace. Doing so will become especially crucial if Nevadans, through November’s ballot, vote to legalize the recreational sale and regulation of marijuana and related products.

This was the primary message of the “Marijuana in the Workplace” lecture delivered today at the Carson City Chamber of Commerce’s Soup’s On! luncheon, in collaboration with Partnership Carson City and the city’s district attorney’s office.

Partnership, a local coalition dedicated to the community’s health and wellness, arranged the event to provide citizens with a broader perspective on issues related to Question 2 and ensure they get research- and fact-based information, said Kathy Bartosz, executive director.

Proactive steps

For a safe and drug-free workplace, business owners and employers first should implement a drug and alcohol policy immediately if they don’t have one — before an incident occurs. Additionally, each job description should include the statement that the person holding the position cannot perform their duties while high, said Jo McGuire, the event’s guest speaker who urges employers to adopt zero-tolerance strategies. As a member of the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association’s board of directors, she educates employers and other groups about public health and safety.

Second, employers should communicate the rules and expectations to everyone and consistently enforce them.
“Marijuana is the largest, most common impact we have to the workplace right now,” added McGuire, referring to the U.S.

Reasons for concern

The cost resulting from impaired employees on the job is significant, McGuire said. Small businesses can lose up to $7,000 a month in lost productivity and worker turnover, tardiness, absenteeism and theft. In workplaces with marijuana use among employees, the rate of absenteeism is 75 percent higher than in those without. Fifty five percent more industrial accidents and 85 percent more injuries occur in that scenario as well.

Today’s marijuana is much more potent than that of decades ago, McGuire said. Whereas the THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, content was around 2 to 3 percent in the 1960s and 1970s, today it can be as high as 30 percent. In marijuana products, or chemically altered extractions from the plant, it can reach 90 percent.

As such, the effects are longer lasting, up to 24 to 48 hours, McGuire said. Consequently, what employees do on their own time, say on weekends, can impact the workplace.

New products, using butane and hash oil for instance, are so potent that one hit from a small amount on a fingernail tip — equivalent to 26 puffs on a joint — can render a person unconscious.

The varied marijuana delivery systems include THC cartridges used in vapor pens, which are odorless, roll-on skin applicators and edibles, from cookies to snack mix, which often resemble the real food items and are highly potent.

“It’s such a variable product that we’re all over the map with variable compounds and don’t have any way of isolating how they affect people,” McGuire said.

As a warning to Nevada companies, McGuire cited the increase in positive workplace drug tests that occurred during the first year marijuana was legal in Colorado and Washington. The number jumped from a 6 percent national average to 20 and 23 percent, respectively.

“What that means is employers are not doing a good job of educating employees that workplace drug use is not OK,” she added.

“We cannot tolerate endangering the public health and safety. We have a greater responsibility to ourselves, to our families and to our communities.”


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