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State Of The City: Elko


Scott Lien/Desert Companion

At this same time last year, Elko was dealing with some of the worst flooding of the Humboldt River it had seen in years. 

While the fallout from that continues, Mayor Chris Johnson said the city is doing what it can to plan and prepare going forward. 

Johnson has been the mayor since 2011 and will term out at the end of the year. 

A big issue the city tackled at the start of 2018 was placing a zoning ban on the sale of medical and recreational marijuana. 

Residents of Elko can still buy marijuana elsewhere in the state or grow it themselves - but they won't be able to purchase it in Elko. At least not anytime soon. 

“I think Elko is the same as a lot of rural areas in the country," Johnson told KNPR's State of Nevada, "In my studies of the effects of marijuana and where its supported and where it isn’t supported, I think Elko falls into similar places as Colorado…. 60 percent of municipalities in Colorado do not have legalized marijuana.”

He said people in Elko are worried about use by teenagers and an increase in traffic accidents. They are also concerned about the "image" marijuana dispensaries will give the city. 

Support comes from

However, he said that people who bring it to Elko won't get into any trouble.

“As far as someone coming to Elko and having any more of an issue in Elko than in Las Vegas or Reno, they won’t as far as possession of and where its consumed that’s not an issue

Johnson said as far as what's ahead for the small city the bidding process will open soon for a new sports complex. He said it took several years for the complex plan to be approved because of its proximity to the Humboldt River.

But ultimately, the city council decided not to put any structures on the area that could be at risk for flooding and instead put in a park, which will see very little damage if hit by flooding.

Johnson said he's enjoyed being mayor of the city and got a lot of support from the community. He also appreciated what he learned from being in the post.


Chris Johnson, mayor, Elko 

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KNPR's State of Nevada
KNPR's State of Nevada
KNPR's State of Nevada