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October 21, 2014

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LOOKING IN ON: CARSON CITY:

Fallout of budget cuts: Museums’ closed doors

Days of operation slashed, entrance fees raised at centers across Nevada

Nevada Southern Railway Museum (6-12-2009)

The Nevada Southern Railway Museum in Boulder City continues to roll along, despite state budget cuts. Launch slideshow »

The state’s seven museums typically get a third of their annual visitation from July 4 through Labor Day. That will likely drop this summer because budget cuts have forced the museums to close for 27 days during that 66-day period.

“There will be some unhappy visitors,” said Peter Barton, administrator of the state Museums and History Division.

The state’s museums will reduce their days of operation from seven to four a week.

Michael Fischer, director of the state Cultural Affairs Department, said museum officials were directed to remain open for four consecutive days, including the day of the week they typically see the most traffic.

The limited museum hours will be accompanied by higher entry fees.

The state Museums and History Board voted this month to raise admission fees at the Nevada State Museum in Carson City and Lost City Museum in Overton. In Carson City an adult admission rises to $6 from $5. In Overton an adult admission goes to $4 from $3. Seniors get $1 off the adult admission price at both museums and children are admitted free.

For the first time the East Ely Railroad Museum will charge admission — $2 for adults and $1.50 for seniors. (Admission is unchanged at the Boulder City Railroad Museum — $8 for adults, $7 for seniors and $4 for children over age 4.)

The state Library and state Archives, both in Carson City, will be open four hours per day — from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — starting July 1.

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The Board of Regents’ standing and special committees must follow the state’s Open Meeting Law in voting, the state attorney general’s office said in a new opinion.

Senior Deputy Attorney General George Taylor said the regents have not yet established the committees, which will consist of regents and members of the public, but wanted advice from his office beforehand.

The Board of Regents had suggested that because the committees were established under their bylaws and not state law, the 2001 Open Meeting Law may not apply.

In a sharply worded opinion, Taylor said: “Reliance on authority from their bylaws to blunt the clear legislative voting requirement is a self-serving artifice capable of repetition by any public body seeking to avoid the more stringent legislative voting requirements represented by Senate Bill 329” of the 2001 Legislature.

There is no law “that allows either the regents or its standing committees to avoid the Open Meeting Law’s voting requirement,” according to the opinion.

Only the elected regents on these committees, and not the public members, may vote, Taylor added.

Regents have a “legal duty to only take action based on a majority vote of the elected members of the body,” even if the committee was created by the regents’ bylaws and not state law, he said.

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The Nevada Transportation Department announced this month that it has joined the legions of organizations using social networking Web sites to get their message out.

The state agency has begun issuing updates on crashes and construction and safety information via Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

Southern Nevada-related updates on Twitter, which can be sent to cell phones and other portable devices, are available at twitter.com/ndotdistrict1.

In a “tweet” Wednesday, the department alerted motorists to an accident and related lane closure on northbound Interstate 15 at Flamingo Road.

The Transportation Department’s Facebook page can be found by searching the Facebook Web site for “Nevada DOT.” Its YouTube Web page, which offers driving safety and project videos, is at youtube.com/nevadadot.

The department also continues to provide similar updates and information on its Web site and by phone.

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