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EDITORIAL: Legislature needs to fix Nevada’s probate law

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EDITORIAL: Legislature needs to fix Nevada’s probate law


There needs to be appropriate safeguards protecting the estates of the deceased. It’s clear Nevada doesn’t have them.

The Review-Journal’s Eli Segall and Michael Scott Davidson recently exposed a tragic scandal. Complete strangers are legally selling the houses of deceased men and women in Clark County. After a person dies, an estate often ends up in probate. That’s how the legal system moves assets and settles debts. A key factor in this process is the person who manages the estate.

Nevada law provides a long list of those who may perform that role. Usually, a relative will assume that duty. But the last entry on that list is anyone “legally qualified.”

That’s the opening Estate Administrative Services and Compass Realty &Management used to take control of hundreds of homes. Thomas Moore, the founder of Estate Administration Services, received court permission to administer at least 340 cases. Cynthia “Cyndi” Sauerland with Compass obtained this authority at least 125 times. Between the two of them, they “sold at least around 360 homes through probate court,” the story revealed.

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Sometimes this can be necessary. Abandoned homes can quickly become neighborhood hazards. They can attract squatters and turn into eyesores that lower property values. With a housing shortage, it’s better for the community when abandoned homes return to the market. Some homes in these situations are underwater. Lenders can agree to a short sale, which resolves the loan balance, but doesn’t leave anything for potential heirs.

None of this happens by magic. It takes work by real estate professionals and attorneys. There are legitimate cases where they may get paid even if families receive nothing.

But this process is ripe for abuse, and that’s what the Review-Journal investigation uncovered. Many homes are sold without a competitive bidding process. In one instance, Mr. Moore sold a home to We Flip It LLC. Less than a week later, it flipped the house for almost $30,000 more than it paid. In another case, Mr. Moore received court approval to oversee Tsoghik Khachatryan’s estate. He temporarily forced her husband and kids out of their home before resigning from the case.

In other cases, Mr. Moore paid out more than $900,000 to private entities for “costs listed in court records as foreclosure monitoring, abatement services, abatement fees or just ‘abatement.’ ”

Several other probate attorneys said “they had never heard” of those fees.

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This is an outrage. There are legitimate competing interests in these cases, but the Legislature needs to do a better job of protecting the assets of the deceased and their heirs.



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Nevada

4A/3A boys state roundup: Sierra Vista advances to 1st title game

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4A/3A boys state roundup: Sierra Vista advances to 1st title game


RENO — For the first time in school history, the Sierra Vista boys basketball team will play for a state championship.

The Mountain Lions, the No. 2 seed from the Southern Region, pulled out a 52-49 victory against North No. 1 Reno High in the Class 4A state semifinals Wednesday at Lawlor Events Center.

Sierra Vista (22-9) will play the winner of Wednesday’s late game between Somerset-Losee and Damonte Ranch in the state championship game at 9 p.m. Thursday.

The Mountain Lions built an 11-point lead in the third quarter, thanks to a dominant performance on the glass. Reno (23-6) was able to chip away at the deficit throughout the fourth quarter, eventually taking a 49-48 lead with 1:45 to go.

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Junior guard EJ Dacuma drove for a basket to put Sierra Vista back in front, and he hit two free throws to extend the lead.

Reno missed a tying 3-pointer in the final seconds.

Sierra Vista coach Joseph Bedowitz credited guard play for the victory.

“Obviously, we have (7-foot-1-inch Xavion Staton) in the middle, which is a great defensive deterrent, but it has really been our guard play that has pushed us on the offensive end,” Sierra Vista coach Joseph Bedowitz said. “They get downhill, and there’s nobody that can really stay in front of them.”

No one from Reno could stay in front of the Mountain Lions’ guards. Dacuma and senior Khamari Taylor slashed their way through the paint all evening, finishing with 16 points each.

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Now, Sierra Vista gets to spend a night dreaming about a state title.

“This means everything to the kids,” Bedowitz said. “We knew we had the pieces to do it, we just had to put the puzzle together, and we did.”

Class 3A

— No. 2S Democracy Prep 63, No. 1N Fernley 60: At Lawlor Events Center, sophomore Tai Coleman scored 20 points, and fellow sophomore Josiah Stroughter added 16 to help the Blue Knights (18-7) hold off the Vaqueros (26-3) in a 3A state semifinal.

Democracy Prep will face Southern champion Mater East for the state championship at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.

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After Fernley rallied from a 14-point deficit in the third quarter to tie the game at 58, Democracy Prep sophomore Jamarion Taylor drove to the rim and converted a three-point play to put the Blue Knights in front 61-58 with under two minutes remaining.

Democracy Prep locked down on defense the rest of the way, with Fernley’s final basket coming with only 4.3 seconds left.

A coast-to-coast layup from Charles Williams put the Blue Knights in front 47-33 in the third quarter, but the Vaqueros trimmed the lead to 47-40 by the end of the frame.

— No. 1S Mater East 59, No. 2N Elko 37: At Lawlor Events Center, Lonnie Bass Jr. scored 16 points, and the Knights (16-6) held the Indians (18-10) to 13 points in the second half to turn the 3A state semifinal into a rout.

Mater East led only 27-24 at halftime, but put on a defensive clinic in the third quarter, with several steals leading to easy fast-break opportunities. Kendon Jones scored all of his 11 points in the quarter to help the Knights pull away.

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Outdoor Nevada: Take a Ride!

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Outdoor Nevada: Take a Ride!


The conflict between hikers and mountain bikers is no secret. If you’re a Southern Nevada hiker, who frequents areas such as Buckskin Cliffs in Red Rock and the east side of Deer Creek Road in Mt. Charleston, then chances are good you’ve been startled by a mountain bike barreling up behind you in recent years.

In this episode of “Outdoor Nevada,” host Connor Fields makes a case for peace, arguing that mountain biking is as good for the body as it is for the mind — but to truly flourish, it needs to be good for the earth and its fellow trail users, too.

Describing the ad-hoc trail system at Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area as a “bowl of noodles,” Fields points out that, while — yes — these are public lands (implying they’re for everyone’s enjoyment), chaos would ensue if everyone did whatever they pleased. Hence the need for the Bureau of Land Management’s rules, such as those requiring environmental review for approved trails. He brings together the BLM and Southern Nevada Mountain Biking Association to discuss the need for sanctioned trails — and for users to both help build and maintain them, as well as stay on them.

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Riding the McCullough Hills Trail between the Anthem Hills and Mission Hills Trailheads is a great way to get a taste of mountain biking on sanctioned trails in Sloan Canyon. You can foster goodwill among your fellow trail users by using proper trail etiquette, while enjoying what Fields calls a “pristine desert landscape rich in natural and cultural treasures.”

Route Name: McCullough Hills

Getting There: To do this trail as an out-and-back, begin at the Mission Hills Trailhead, also sometimes referred to as the McCullough Hills Trailhead. It’s on the far west end of East Mission Drive off East Horizon Ridge Parkway in Henderson. If you have two cars, then you can do this trail one-way. Just leave your first car at the Anthem Hills Trailhead (near Del E. Webb Middle School), and take your second one to Mission Hills to start the ride.

Distance: 8 miles one-way; 16 miles out-and-back

Equipment Needed: Ample water, sunscreen, and standard mountain biking gear, such as helmet, pads, and emergency repair kit

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Pro Tip: Be on the lookout for snakes, which trail users have spotted in this area between late spring and early fall. Also know that there is no shade, so this is not a suitable route during hot summer months.





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First Reno Starbucks, fifth store in Nevada, announces effort to unionize – Nevada Current

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First Reno Starbucks, fifth store in Nevada, announces effort to unionize – Nevada Current


The first Starbucks location in Reno filed a petition this week with the National Labor Relations Board seeking to unionize, joining four other Southern Nevada locations that have sought to unionize in recent years.

The Reno store, located on McCarran Boulevard and Lakeside Drive, was one of 21 stores across the county that announced efforts to unionize on Tuesday. 

Starbucks Workers United, the national organization that has helped coordinate Starbucks union drives across the country, said it is the largest number of stores to file in a single day.

Fenrir Larsen, an organizer at the Reno Starbucks who has worked as a shift supervisor for eight years, said the location wants “to be a part of changes moving forward together as a team.”

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“We’ve had a hard time being noticed as individuals but with collective bargaining we get to have a seat at the table and be heard by management,” Larsen said in a statement.

Four stores in Southern Nevada have previously voted to unionize since December 2022.   

Companies across the country including Starbucks, Trader Joe’s and Amazon have attempted to unionize in recent years in an effort to secure stronger worker protections. 

Starbucks Workers United has sought to reign in unpredictable schedules, secure low wages as well as pushback against unfair discipline policies and racism and sexual harassment. 

The group is proposing a base wage of $20 an hour with a 5% cost of living adjustment and requiring full-time status for those working an average of 32 hours per week along with benefits for those working less than 20 hours per week. 

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Around 400 stores representing more than 9,500 baristas have voted to unionize since 2021. However, no store has successfully negotiated or signed a contract so far. 

In a letter to Starbucks CEO Laxman Narasimhan on Tuesday, workers from those 21 stores reiterated that they deserved “fair pay, clerk communication with all partners, a say in the decisions that affect our day to day, better power balance, and manageable expectations.”

“Across the country management is cutting hours, writing inconsistent and unreliable schedules, and placing more and more work on fewer and fewer partners,” the workers wrote. “We ‘partners’ demand a say. We are the face of Starbucks. As employees, we deserve the same respect and dignity as the CEO.” 



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