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Posted 03 Jun 2001   For week ended June 01, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 01Jun01

By Rosemary Pollock

Mormon-Influenced Wendover, UT Dying Next to Nevada Counterpart

WENDOVER, UTAH -- The great divide that exists between the twin towns of Wendover is invisible except for a thin strip of paint that crosses Wendover Boulevard separating Utah and Nevada. The differences are obvious, on the Utah side, dilapidated mobile homes compete against twin shimmering sentinels, the Nevada State Line and Silver Smith casinos. Utah's conservative Mormon influence stands in contrast with Nevada's affinity for the wild side.

"This side of the line is dying," said Richard Dixon, a longtime Wendover, Utah resident. "We're just about ready for the moritician." Some residents agree, they want a single community and are seeking legislation to make it official by moving the Nevada line to include 10,000 acres of Wendover land.

Elko County Commissioner, Warren Russell, sees an opportunity for great economic development if the two small cities were to merge. "If Wendover were in Nevada, the opportunities for business and development would explode," Russell said. "And I see the people of Wendover as an asset to Nevada.

West Wendover's casino industry doesn't share Russell's enthusiasm. Fear of more competition and the prospect of a dozen slot machines in the lobby of a Wendover hotel raises the industry's hackles. Michael Devine, president of the State Line and Silver Smith casinos and head of the Wendover Resorts Associations supports a compact that would allow the two towns to share services without moving the border.

"We've got a lot of hurdles to go over before it happens, but I think it's the only thing that makes sense," said Wendover Mayor Steve Perry. Sharing a fire and police department along with city attorney's office and utilities would save the towns hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Unlike its Nevada counterpart, Utah's Wendover is millions of dollars in debt. Its schools and city projects are underfunded and its tax base has shriveled. The Utah side spends only about $3,000 per student while the Nevada side spends about $7,000 per student. Utah struggles to find teachers who are paid about $10,000 less a year than their Nevada counterparts.

Combining the two towns would allow the consolidation of city services and schools, along with a larger population base, to draw on more state and federal funds for government support. "There's a 'them and us' attitude. The truth is, we are one community. We're family, we're business associates," said Kathy Behle, a hotel owner on the Utah side. "This should be one community, but it just can't be because of that line."


2 Towns' Great Divide
Los Angeles Times 28May01 T4
By Tom Gorman: Times Staff Writer
West: Poor Utah city wants to unite with its richer Nevada half. To work, the state line will have to be shifted a bit.

Utah Town May Join Nev. Counterpart
Washington Post (AP) 27May01 T4
By Christy Karras: Associated Press Writer


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