Harveys bombing documentary now streaming

STATELINE, Nev. — Before the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, the extortion attempt that resulted in an explosion at Harvey’s Wagon Wheel in August 1980 was the biggest instance of domestic terrorism in U.S. history.

The bomb, created by gambler John Birges after he was kicked out of the high roller suite at the casino.

The explosion resulted in the formation of the Tahoe-Douglas Bomb Squad.

A documentary on the bombing is being streamed on the Hearst Corp. platform “Very Local.”

KCRA Special Projects Producer-Reporter Dave Manoucheri said the documentary features interviews with retired FBI agent Bill Jonkey and retired bomb squad member Danny Daniehl.

Manoucheri and co-director Victor Nieto interviewed many of those involved, including Harvey Gross’ grandson – who had never spoken about the bombing before – and the bomber’s son, Jim Birges.

“As part of (the ‘Very Local’) launch in Sacramento they asked about programs we might want to collaborate on for exclusive content for the streaming platform,” Manoucheri said. “The Harvey’s bombing was certainly one of the craziest and best stories I could imagine.”

The 1,000-pound bomb Birges constructed was wheeled into Harvey’s executive offices on Aug. 26, 1980, disguised as an IBM computer, including a logo.

With the bomb, Birges left a note offering instructions on how to dismantle it in exchange for $3 million.

But while Birges’ bomb was proof against efforts to disarm it, his plan to collect the money fell apart for want of a 12-volt car battery.

After the drop failed, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, bomb squad and FBI agents made the decision on Aug. 27, 1980, to try to disarm the device using a shaped charge.

Most of the casino core, crowded with Labor Day vacationers, was evacuated. All the Harveys guests were taken to Whittell High School.

“It is an amazing story, full of characters, with lots of information, funny moments, and fascinating insight into not only what happened but the lessons that continue to be taught by a crazy bombing and extortion plot that, thankfully, saw no one killed or injured,” Manoucheri said.

UPS, AVK America plan to expand in Douglas County

United Parcel Service plans to build a new 168,000-square foot building in Douglas County, according to the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

On Thursday, the office announced UPS and AVK America plan to expand in the county.

The UPS expansion is projected to create 15 jobs over the first two years it’s in operation after it was approved for $965,509 in tax abatements.

“This expansion will improve the region’s connectivity within UPS’s worldwide package and distribution network and better align it with UPS’s other activities,” state officials said.

Workers will earn an average of $34.96 an hour.

“This company will make $19,650,969 in capital equipment investment within the first two years of operation and generate $4,200,497 in new tax revenues over the 10-year abatement period,” officials said.

The Record-Courier has reached out to both companies and the state for more information about where they plan to build.

AVK Elastomer Technology plans to build a new 36,400-square-foot high-tech manufacturing plant in Douglas County.

“This company produces rubber sealing components for valves, pumps and various fittings that are used in the water, food, energy, healthcare, and chemical industries globally,” officials said. “It was approved for $377,603 in tax abatements.

Over the first two years of operation, AVK projects it will create a dozen jobs with an average weighted hourly wage of $28.42. That number will double in five years.

This company will make $4,005,000 in capital equipment investment within the first two years of operation and generate $5,161,561 in new tax revenues over the 10-year abatement period.

“The investment these companies are making is another indication of a strong and diversifying economy in Northern Nevada,” said Governor Joe Lombardo. “Since the beginning of my term, Nevada has issued five abatements that will create 3,134 jobs over five years. These companies are making $3.7 billion in capital investments and will generate $789 million in new tax revenues over the 10-year abatement period.”

Douglas County planners to hear VHR ordinance on Monday

STATELINE, Nev. — Changes to Douglas County’s vacation home rental ordinance are scheduled to go before planning commissioners on Monday.

The planning commission’s meeting was continued after a brief meeting on Tuesday after the county closed offices due to an impending storm.

One of the concerns residents have expressed since the committee completed its work has been the reduction of the occupancy of smallest vacation home rentals from four to two.

That may be an artifact of the change from the former three-tier system to a five-category system.

“Current code has a tier 1,2,3 – the “plus 2″ provision is applicable only to tier 2 up to four bedrooms,” said Vacation Home Rental Program Manager Ernie Strehlow. “(The) thinking is that a tier 1 is a resident host and it rents only up to four, so its not applicable. Tier 2 provisions up to four bedrooms or a max occupancy of 10. If a renter uses the “plus 2″ option then how many cars plays into this number. If they choose not to use this provision then, based on the settlement last year, cars cannot determine occupancy.”

Strehlow said the proposed changes include a specific category for those rentals with resident hosts, which is essentially the present Tier 1.

“The same rules apply as today,” he said. “Tier 1, 2, 3 is the current tier 2. Occupancy is broken out in this version. The difference would be there would be no option for the “plus 2” provision. Tier 4 is the current tier 3 so its basically the same and never had the “plus 2” option.

The new tier 2 would have up to eight people, tier 3 up to 10 and a new tier 4 category would allow 11 or more people.

Both tier 3 and 4 would require a noise monitor, to be at least 100 feet from the nearest neighbor and a local property manager.

A special use permit would be required for a tier 4 vacation home rental. Those permits would only be issued to owners who operated a tier 2 or 3 vacation rental for a year without any issues.

Planning commissioners will make a recommendation to county commissioners about the ordinance. Once it gets to the county commission, it must undergo two readings before it can be approved.

The planning commission meets 10 a.m. Monday at the Douglas County Courthouse in Minden.


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