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Tuesday, June 18, 2024 at 8:45 PM

Koenig Brings Assembly to Tour the Lahontan Valley

Koenig Brings Assembly to Tour the Lahontan Valley
Assembly members Greg Koenig and Shondra Summers-Armstrong at the Frey Ranch

Author: Rachel Dahl

From a first-hand look at the country’s premier fighter pilot school to seeing irrigation ditches being lined in concrete, to sipping what is quickly becoming a top-rated bourbon grown and aged in the Lahontan Valley, Nevada Assembly members toured through Churchill County last weekend as the guest of Assemblyman Greg Koenig, (R-38).
Shondra Summers-Armstrong (D-6) is from North Las Vegas and represents a portion of Clark County in her second term in the Assembly. She and Koenig work closely together and she speaks highly of him and the opportunity to see more of the state. “Greg doesn’t take any of this personally, for him this is for the people. He is not afraid to push the red button or the green. We come up here and do the best we can for our communities, sometimes we agree and sometimes we don’t, but he’s a good one.”
The seed for a tour into the rurals on a precious day off during the session came from a conversation between Koenig and Rueben D’Silva, (D-28), also from Clark County. D’Silva is a purple heart recipient who was interested in NAS Fallon and the TOPGUN School and possibly coming out to visit. 
Koenig mentioned the idea of bringing D’Silva and other Assembly members to the community when he ran into Kelli Kelly and Zip Upham at the Empty Bowls event at the Churchill County Library. Kelly works for the Small Business Development Center and is a registered lobbyist this session, while Upham is the Public Affairs Officer at the base. The three agreed that bringing legislators would be a great idea and other locations were floated as potential stops for the tour. 
“We like showing off this community, especially to people from other areas, it’s important for legislators to meet people on the ground in Churchill County and hear their stories,” said Kelly. 
Because time is so limited during the session, the tour touched down briefly at the Top Gun School and the Frey Distillery where legislators and their staff were able to hear from TOPGUN Commanding Officer John Stigi (callsign Vespa) about the importance of NAS Fallon, why the range expansion is important, the significance of the training that happens in Fallon, and had the chance to ask several questions. At the Distillery, Colby Frey talked about sixth-generation farming in Northern Nevada and the 170 years of farming knowledge that leads to better ingredients from the field to the glass in what has become a famous bourbon. 
Assembly members were able to tour the distilling rooms and the barrel house and had lunch from the food truck that was onsite to kick off the summer food truck Saturdays that Frey’s will be hosting throughout the summer. 
Assemblyman Toby Yurek (R-19) from Henderson who represents much of rural Clark County, also enjoyed the trip and talked with Koenig about their experiences as a freshman legislator.
“If you’re in the majority it’s different,” said Koenig. 
“But when you’re in the super minority you have to be strategic,” said Yurek. “As a freshman, it takes a bit to come in and develop a rhythm – who do you talk to, who do you trust.” 
“We’ve gotten burned a couple times,” said Koenig.
“There are two sides to every issue, three really,” said Yurek, “first is it good policy, second can you navigate the politics, and third is finance, even if it is good policy and you do make it through the politics you still have to get through finance and is there enough money.” 
Yurek said some of the issues go back to the politics and relationships four or five sessions ago, “when that person did that to this person. And sometimes the people in power don’t necessarily want to share that power.” 
Koenig said it all comes down to building relationships. He recently came under fire for voting for what party Republicans called a “Union Bill” generating calls to the Churchill County Republican leadership to threaten his seat. 
“It comes down to fairness with that bill, teachers teach for nine months and get a full year of credit in PERS. Teacher’s aids who serve in the same classroom get only .8 of a year of credit in PERS for the exact same number of days. That’s not fair and I don’t care if it’s union or not, it’s treating people fairly,” said Koenig.