Kyril "Ky" Plaskon

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Saturday, August 4, 2012

Boomers Bringing New Life to Rural America

RENO, NV (IRIS) -- Thousands of us flock to whispering pines, gurgling streams and crisp air of the mountains across America to escape, re-connect and set up a temporary camp. But as American Baby Boomers retire, they are establishing permanent camps in these settings at an astounding rate, building new homes, sometimes buying ghost towns and even old run-down abandoned cabins. Look into the mountains around any urban city and they are there, hidden in the woods living out dreams and putting finishing touches on life-long legacies.

“When I said I was going to live here, first one in 80 years, I said, will I plow the road or go over it?” said Dave Hensley, a former Las Vegas land broker who has bought one of the first mountain subdivisions in southern Nevada. He was looking at his 1974 Thiacal Imp Franken snow cat that he now uses for the commute home in 10-foot winter snows at his mountain cabin at an altitude of 8,730 ft.

Retirees like Hensley, moving into rural America, are expected to increase 30 percent by 2020 according to at 2009 USDA report. They are breathing new life into rural America and in Hensleys case, revitalizing the past in unimaginable ways.

The story of his new, old mountain home in Mt. Charleston above Las Vegas began in 1932. Hensley likes to look at an old news article from that year. It says that Union Pacific had big plan in this little place: To build 72 log cabins on 9 acres. For the people that lived down in the baking heat of Las Vegas, this little mountain island was paradise.

“If you had money, this was the place to be; deer, hunting, wine, women and whiskey,” Hensley likes to imagine.

The little housing project up here was a kind of precursor to the decades of development that would follow in the Las Vegas valley below. It led to huge profits and then, eventually a collapse of the housing market that we know so well. Much like our recent boom and bust, back then Union Pacific was on the loosing end. It finished just three model homes in this mountain enclave and then the bottom fell out of the entire economy. 

For decades the three cabins and a little guard shack decayed, becoming homes to the quiet Ringtail Cats.

But one thing didn’t change, people kept flocking to these cool mountains to escape the Las Vegas heat. Hensley was one of them. He came to the desert as part of the Air Force in 1974.

“Instead of going to casinos, I would hike in the mountains,” he said. He remembers the sheriff in the area who would “sit up at the bar and drink whiskey. He wore a black shirt, black leather vest with a badge on it, a cowboy hat and a six gun so that thee was no skullduggery.”

Along Hensley’s treks through the mountains, he came across a lot of colorful characters that took a permanent place in his heart. Among the characters were these three, falling-apart cabins.

“I’ve been trying to buy them since 1979.” He didn’t have much luck, not even getting answer from the current land owner when he inquired. Then, he got into the land business, eventually brokering a deal trading 310 acres of private land for land next to Las Vegas Boulevard. Translation: big bucks.

Of course, that is not even the beginning of the big money land-brokering Las Vegas stories that Hensley holds in his head. If you are lucky, he will share them with you at his little private resort on the mountain. Some of the king-maker stories will blow your mind.

This mountain retreat where he tells the stories is the end of the story, this little mountain cabin where much of the land speculation began. The once rotting log cabin is a place that he has always held in his heart. He finally has it and he would do anything for it. He remembers going in for the first time.

“You could see right through the building (the walls). We were down on our hands and knees with tooth brushes cleaning,” he remembers. But fulfilling a passion like this can also kill you and Hensley is testament to that.

Last year, he was working on the cabin and staying in the little guard shack.

“We were baking bread, cooking and the alarm went off.” It was the smoke alarm. He unplugged the alarms because all the cooking probably set it off he said. Then he went to sleep with the rest of the family as normal.

“I woke up at 3:30 with a splitting headache,” he said. He called the police and “I knew what to say, but I couldn’t say it, I was so disoriented.”

Medics came and took his family to the hospital. He stayed. Later he got a call telling him to get out of the shack. They had severe carbon monoxide poisoning. They could have died that night.

Hensley went back in and plugged in the alarm. “Evacuate! Evacuate!” he remembered it screamed at him. They figured out what it was. “The fridge almost killed us.” It was a propane fridge.

When the fire chief asked why he stayed, he said, “By the way, the captain goes down with the ship.” The captain responded: “Your ship went down a long time ago.” They both chuckled.

Hensleys story is the contrary of a ship going down. You could say he has resurrected a ship and a piece of America that will live on for at centuries. According to the USDA, the rural challenge is one that many retiring baby boomers will take on as a final personal project, brining parts of rural America back to life. Each of their stories is unique and no doubt there will be failures, but that is not Hensley.

Now, he has a custom dream like no other place in the world. He has added the flare of a train theme that goes with the Union Pacific origins of the old cabin. If you look around, it is a piece of America that seems to combine every powerful element of history in one little remote place: The complicated politics of water trickles through his stream, railroad relics litter the property, colorful mining tailings dot the landscape along with the old stumps of logging. Hensley knows all the inside stories and it is that oral history which is at risk. It can only be conveyed by people like Hensley himself, covering land speculation, housing developments, boom and bust, its victims and perpetrators. All of this is nestled in what you could call the purple mountains above Las Vegas.

The missing link between the public and this story is that right now, Hensley doesn’t have any plans to share this private legacy with every average Joe who comes wandering through. Unless he changes his mind, this article is about as close as you will ever get.

But, like I said, there are lots of stories like his. Look into the mountains around any urban city and stories like these are there, hidden in the woods. If you are lucky, you will find a person, their story and can share and relish their legacy like I did. Happy trails.

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Free Ride Picks Up Most People Ever

RENO, NV - “The mountain is high, the valley is low and you're confused on which way to go. So, I’ve come here to give you a hand and lead you into the promised land. So, come on and take a free ride!” - Edgar Winter Group.

It’s not clear if anyone ended up in “the promise land,” but like the Edgar Winter Group’s song, “Free Ride,” on Thursday June 21st RTC took people up mountains, through valleys and eliminated confusion about buses through free rides. It was the first “Dump the Pump” day.

Click here to find out more!

“It ended up being a record increase. The most people ever using public transportation in our community,” said David Jickling, RTC Public Transportation Director. In his 22 years with the commission, this is only the second or third time this has been offered. 32,000 passengers hit the bus, a 34 percent increase.

The big factor in the success is the economy, he says. “Most of our customers pay cash and people planned around that day and If I save my shopping or doctors appointment we will get to ride for free, and for a lot of people that makes a difference right now.”

While the economy is a factor getting people on the bus, just like the Edgar Winter Group’s song, the obstacle preventing people from getting on is confusion,

"People see these buses and . . . ‘I don't know which one to get on.’ There is a nervous factor: “Will the bus driver be helpful” . . . and that it is sort of a fear factor. So if we can overcome that with 'what can go wrong here,' well it is free.’

While it is a free ride for the people, this is not cheap for the RTC. The loss of revenue is about the equivalent of what it would cost to do a good advertising campaign in the media, he said. “And this really gets people on the bus. Just telling people about the bus doesn't really seem to get them on the bus. This does."

So, the success means they will likely do more free rides in the future. You not only get a little help for your pocketbook, there is also a lot of help from other riders.

“There are a lot of regular riders and they can tell who is a new person. That is important in the sense that they are happy to help you,” Jickling says.

The free events are important in a down economy because it helps expand the service he says. They plan on expanding the rapid service to UNR and Summit mall. While the perception of a ‘promise land’ is relative, the RTC is trying to make some pretty challenging promises with this service, hitting major destinations with fewer stop.

“We are really trying to compete with the car. If you are trying to go from your house to the Atlantis or Meadow Wood Mall you can get there as fast as in your car and maybe even faster, especially if you had to find parking. With a bus you don't have to do that,” he said.

But the RTC wants you to judge for yourself . . . “So, come on and take a free ride.”

Sat, August 4, 2012 | link          Comments

Mud-Making Moms Beat Cosmetic Goliaths
Reno, NV (IRIS)-- In New York recently the bright stage was packed with cosmetic Goliaths like L'Oreal, MAC, Kimberly-Clark, Beyonce and two moms from Fernley, Nevada. They were competing for the coveted Health and Beauty Association’s 'Best Green Packaging of the Year Award'. And when the flash bulbs burst, the cameras were trained on the two moms from a world away. Their unlikely rise is from the world of cosmetic mud that they dig up and package themselves from their parents own ground.

“It is teaching the kids that the American dream is still there,” says Shelly Egbert, co-founder of Black Rock Mud. “For two small town moms to put together and idea and go against the big boys and win is the American dream and the American dream is still alive no matter what you hear.”

Click here to find out more!

This American dream runs deeper than just a story of David beats Goliath. She and co-founder Summer Powlson have 11 kids combined, and they are all getting their hands dirty in it.

“Everything we do is all by hand, by shovel,” she says and the kids, “They love it, they think it is awesome. My daughter is starting a mud-dyed t-shirt company. We are teaching our kids how to be an entrepreneur and start a business.”

But that’s not the only American dream that has risen from the mud. This is an American green dream. “Our plant is all off the grid, we are working off solar and wind power. We aren’t just saying we are green, we are trying to do it and it is tough.”

It is all happening about a mile from where they live in Fernley, in the even smaller town of Gerlach, Nevada on Shelly’s dads private property.

Not to be lost in all this New York fan-fare is the product behind their dream.

Complexion-concerned people spread the Black Rock Mud on their faces to pull out toxins and nourish the skin with minerals. But this ‘mud’ is different. “The mud is a special kind of clay,” she says and it is only found one other place in the world. Most face mud are mostly “Bentonite” clay which is a “filler” she says.

“But ours is Illite and that is what makes us so special,” she says. Most mud come from volcanic geothermal that smells like rotten eggs, not the kind of thing you want to spread on your face. But she explains that this mud comes from heat generated by friction between the earths’ plates and that kind of heat makes the mud odorless. The end result is something that you want to put on your face that “pulls toxins out of the body and it is naturally mineral rich that are really healthy for your skin,” she says.

Now, like many companies that make mud, they could have just stuck their mud in plastic containers. But they didn’t and that takes us back to the Green Packaging Award that they won last week in New York. Their packaging is 100 percent recyclable and made in the USA.

So, the product is unique, they beat out the cosmetic Goliaths, they are green, made in the USA and teaching their small town children entrepreneurship. But there is still one piece missing from making this American dream come alive.

“We hope that some of this will start translating to orders some time soon,” Shelly says adding that it is only available in Reno at You Microspa. She wants to sell more of it, not to make herself rich, but to enrichen others lives in the small community. “Our dream has always been right here in Fernley we have so many friends and family that are struggling and we would love to help them have a second income.”


The company's product can be found at
You can find them on Facebook at: 


Sat, August 4, 2012 | link          Comments

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Nation's First Cold War Memorial Groundbreaking & Book Signing

The Forest Service members of the CIA and workers from Area 51 were at Mt. Charleston outside Las Vegas for the groundbreaking of the nation's first Cold War Memorial on Saturday, November 17. This will enhance the regions international recognition for its role in America's victory in the Cold War. The Atomic Testing museum with its hands-on exhibits, the atomic test site with its bomb-ravaged structures and now the cold war memorial honoring America's heroes who lost their lives in America's longest war. Vistors can get a signed first-edition copy of Silent Heroes of the Cold War (Stephen's Press 2008) and learn more at this first public event on a multi-million dollar Forest Service project in the area.

Ky Plaskon's web archive

Children's Health Care (Live)

UNLV's 1st News Director

Artifact Theft (NPR)

Construction Defects (NPR)

Mortgage Fraud on the Rise (APM)

Muslim Radicalism (Voice of America)

Vegas Thirst for Groundwater (Living on Earth)

Computerized Voting Arrives (Voice of America)

Engineering Behind Entertainment (NPR)

Wind-powered Car (KNPR)

Industry of Prisoner Employees (KLAS)

Losing it all in Vegas (KNPR)

High-brow Brothel (KNPR)

Desert Con Had Last Word (KNPR)

Money, Blood & Children (KRNV)

Drug Cartel Kidnaps Kid (CNN)

Racist Vegas I (NPR)

Racist Vegas II (NPR)

Revolutionary Janitor (NPR)

Tax Fraud Publisher Jailed (NPR)

Yucca Mountain Gold Diggers (NPR)

U.S. Artifact Plundering (NPR)

Vegas Limits Water Use (NPR)

Torrential Vegas Floods (NPR)

Vegas Police, Wrongful Death Suit (KLAS)

UNLV President Resigns

Sales of Kyril Plaskon's Silent Heroes of the Cold War supports

National Cold War Memorial

The Impact of Governme Secrecy.
Silent Heroes of the Cold War book cover
Only American Account of Transgenerational War Trauma. Click on the Pic for the title at Amazon

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Ky Plaskon * Phone: (775) 287-0302