EPA prepares to shutter its lab in Las Vegas

After more than 50 years on campus, the Environmental Protection Agency plans to vacate its laboratory at UNLV by Sept. 30. (James Tensuan/Las Vegas Review-Journal) Jeffrey Van Ee, former pollution specialist for the Environmental Protection Agency, speaks during a Sierra Club protest Dec. 1 in front of the EPA lab at UNLV. The agency has confirmed that the lab will shut down by Sept. 30. (Henry Brean/Las Vegas Review-Journal) Three years ago, Congress gave the Environmental Protection Agency almost $8 million to begin planning for a new laboratory and office complex in Las Vegas. That money is apparently gone, and soon the EPA will be too. The agency’s research branch has confirmed plans to vacate its lab on the UNLV campus and pull out of the valley altogether by Sept. 30. Local employees of the EPA’s Office of Research and Development have been given the option to relocate to other locations, retire or leave their jobs with the agency. Environmental advocates were quick to blame the Trump administration for what Elspeth DiMarzio from the Sierra Club in Nevada called a “blatant disregard for both science and the public servants of Las Vegas that have spent their lives protecting Americans from the dangers of pollution and toxic chemicals.” But its departure from UNLV began years before his election or his appointment of longtime EPA foe Scott Pruitt to run the organization.  Relocation exploration fizzles During the Obama administration, the EPA faced pressure to cut its use of leased office space and reduce its footprint nationwide. As part of that effort, agency officials explored building a new laboratory and multi-use facility in Las Vegas to replace the buildings it has leased at the heart of the UNLV campus since in the 1960s. In 2014, then-U.S. Sen. Harry Reid said he expected the EPA to become the anchor tenant for the university’s new off-campus technology park, a 122-acre site on Sunset Road at Durango that was Continue Reading

The de-Tuscanization of Las Vegas

Luxury Designer Experts say the Tuscan design is falling out of favor in the Las Vegas luxury home market. The modern kitchen has lighter tones. (Luxury Designer) Traditional staircase. (Luxury Designer) Modern luxury home designs favor lofts. (Luxury Designer) Real estate experts say homeowners are remodeling luxury homes to reflect current preferences for modern design. (Luxury Designer) A loft. (Luxury Designer) The master bath.( Luxury Designer) The master bedroom. (Luxury Designer) Donna Johnson, owner of Southern California-based Luxury Designer, which also has an office in Las Vegas, said the trend for homeowners are moving away from Tuscan-style homes. (Luxury Designer) Homeowners are looking to "de-Tuscanization" their homes in favor of a more modern look. (Luxury Designer) Real estate experts say the Tuscan-style home is out. (Luxury Designer) Modern designs are taking the place of the traditional Vegas Tuscan-style luxury homes. (Luxury Designer) BEFORE: The Tuscan-style kitchen has dark wood. (Luxury Designer) AFTER: The modern kitchen is replacing the Tuscan-style with lighter colors and clean, straight lines. (Luxury Designer) The luxury modern design calls for more open spaces. (Luxury Designer) Lofts with modern ironwork are popular for contemporary designs. (Luxury Designer) Wine walls are trending in luxury home decore. (Luxury Designer) Las Vegas Realtor Bruce Hiatt, owner of Luxury Realty Group AFTER: The kitchen. (Luxury Designer) Donna Johnson, owner of Southern California-based Luxury Designer The rebound in the Las Vegas housing market from the downturn has seen a transition to a design that is more modern and contemporary. That means cleaner homes that are more open with fewer walls and kitchens built for entertainment. During the housing boom more than a decade ago, builders gave buyers what they wanted: homes in the Tuscan design, the region of Central Italy in Continue Reading

Girlfriend of Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock has ‘clean conscience’ ahead of anticipated FBI questioning

The girlfriend of Las Vegas attacker Stephen Paddock told family she had a "clean conscience" ahead of her expected questioning Wednesday at the FBI's Los Angeles field office. Marilou Danley, 62, was thousands of miles away in the Philippines when police first revealed her identity and said she might hold the key to why Paddock set up a sniper's nest on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino and rained death on a country music festival. "I called her up immediately and she said, 'Relax, we shouldn't worry about it. I'll fix it. Do not panic. I have a clean conscience,'" her bother, Reynaldo Bustos, told ABC News. Police have named Danley a person of interest as they investigate the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. The Las Vegas sheriff confirmed Wednesday that Danley was due to be interviewed at the FBI's Los Angeles headquarters around midday, local time. Criminal defense attorney Matthew J. Lombard was acting as her lawyer, a colleague at his Los Angeles office confirmed to the Daily News. Danley's two sisters told Australia's 7 News they believe Paddock surprised her with a solo ticket to the southeast Asian islands to keep her in the dark about his plan to kill. "I know that she don't know anything as well, like us. She was sent away. She was away so that she will be not there to interfere with what he's planning," one of the sisters said through tears, her face blurred to protect her identity. The sisters said the sudden trip two weeks ago caught them all by surprise. They said Paddock also wired $127,000 to an overseas account for Danley. "She didn't even know that she's going to the Philippines until Steve said, 'Oh, Marilou, I found you a cheap ticket to the Philippines,'" the sister said. "He sent her away so that he can plan what he's planning without interruptions. In that sense, I thank him for sparing my sister's life. But that Continue Reading

Girlfriend of Las Vegas killer Stephen Paddock says she didn’t know he was planning massacre

The girlfriend of Las Vegas killer Stephen Paddock broke her silence Wednesday, saying she had no idea her boyfriend was planning the bloodthirsty rampage that left at least 58 people dead. “It never occurred to me in any way whatsoever that he was planning violence against anyone,” Marilou Danley said in a statement read by her lawyer Matthew Lombard after her meeting with FBI and Las Vegas Police investigators in Los Angeles. “I have not made a statement until now because I have been cooperating with the authorities,” she said. “I voluntarily flew back to America because I know that the FBI and Las Vegas Police Department wanted to talk to me. And I wanted to talk to them.” Danley said she was out of the country on a trip paid for by Paddock. She thought the trip was Paddock's way “of breaking up with me,” she said. “Anything I can do to help ease suffering and help in any way, I will do. Please respect my privacy and my family's privacy,” she added. Danley arrived in Los Angeles Tuesday night and met with investigators at the FBI's headquarters in Los Angeles for several hours. Danley, 62, was thousands of miles away in the Philippines when police first revealed her identity and said she might hold the key to why Paddock set up a sniper’s nest on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino and rained death on a country music festival. Before she met with investigators, ABC News reported she told her brother she had a “clear conscience” and wanted to clear her name. “I called her up immediately and she said, 'Relax, we shouldn't worry about it. I'll fix it. Do not panic. I have a clean conscience,'" her bother, Reynaldo Bustos, told ABC News. Police named Danley a person of interest as they investigate the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Danley’s two sisters told Continue Reading

Man who was caught having sex on Las Vegas Ferris wheel killed in carjacking; one-day mistress didn’t keep in touch with him

A Texas man who earned national notoriety for allegedly having sex on a Ferris wheel in Las Vegas last month was slain in front of his fiancée during a Saturday morning carjacking, police said. Philip Panzica left the Vivid Live strip club in Houston, where his bride-to-be Mistie Bozant works, in the early morning, according to the Houston Chronicle.They got into a car with Bryan Watts and Aaron Jones. As Panzica drove the four, Watts told him, "You need to come clean," and shot him several times with a handgun around 5:15 a.m., KTRK reported. Watts and Jones then dumped Panzica's body on the side of the road, told Bozant to get out, and drove away with her cash, police said. When officers caught up to them, Watts confessed to the killing. He and Jones are now jailed on capital murder charges. Panzica's violent demise comes just weeks after he was caught doing the deed with a woman on the High Roller Ferris wheel— the same day he was set to marry Bozant, who was pregnant with another man's baby. Panzica, 27, and Chloe Scordianos, 21, of Long Island, were arrested on suspicion of the wild sex stunt next to the Linq Hotel. Scordianos told the Daily News she hadn't heard from Panzica since their mid-air mingling. "I haven't spoken a word with him," she said Monday. "I didn't even add him on Facebook. There was so much drama, I usually just try to keep drama out of my life. It's funny how that just comes to me." She said she only learned of Panzica's death an hour before The News called her. "It just really creeps me out," said the 21-year-old mother of one. On the day Philip Panzica was set to marry Mistie Bozant (l.), he was caught having sex on a Ferris wheel with another woman. His fiancée, meanwhile, was pregnant with another man's child. "I didn't know him, but no one that I've ever been with has died Continue Reading

LeBron James ‘concerned’ for Johnny Manziel, calls Las Vegas reports a ‘distraction’

LeBron James is "concerned" for Johnny Manziel after recent reports said the quarterback went incognito while partying and gambling in Las Vegas the night before the Browns' season finale. Under concussion protocol, Manziel was supposed to check in with the team at 9 a.m. Sunday but reportedly never did. The troubled signal-caller, who was drafted by the Browns 22nd overall in 2014, had a business relationship with James' marketing group, LRMR, but the agency told Cleveland.com Wednesday evening that it had ended its "formal business relationship" with Manziel. The NBA superstar stressed that he worries about Manziel on a human level. “I’m more concerned with him individually,” James said Wednesday morning. “I don’t know all the details on it. I haven’t been all up on it, but I’ve heard a little bit of it. It’s a distraction not only for himself but for everyone that’s around him, including family, people that represent him. He’ll figure it out at some point." LEBRON CATCHES FAN MAKING CRYBABY GESTURE TOWARD HIM Johnny Football donned a blonde wig, glasses and faux mustache and went by the name "Billy" while out at the MGM Grand's Hakkasan night club on Jan. 2, according to reports. The quarterback spent 10 weeks in rehab in 2015. When James was asked by a reporter if he ever uses a disguise when going out in Las Vegas, the Cavs star said: "When I go to Vegas? No. I don't go to Vegas much, but when I do, I'm myself." The Browns (3-13) are in the midst of a massive overhaul, with general manager Ray Farmer and coach Mike Pettine getting the ax. They recently hired Mets' vice president of player development Paul DePodesta to take a front-office job as they try to clean up the mess. Manziel threw for 1,500 yards with seven touchdowns and five interceptions during nine appearances this season. He was spotted at the team's facility on Monday, the day after Cleveland fell to the Continue Reading

Environmentalists just killed a wind farm near Las Vegas

A renewable energy developer is moving on from a Nevada wind project after years of legal wrangling, its dreams of a 200-megawatt wind farm killed by environmentalists who successfully argued the power plant could harm golden eagles and desert tortoises.Federal officials approved the Searchlight wind farm — which would have included 87 wind turbines on public land sixty miles south of Las Vegas, near the California border — four years ago. But conservationists took the federal Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to court, arguing the agencies hadn't adequately analyzed the impacts to federally protected species. In 2015, a federal judge agreed, invalidating Searchlight's environmental review and throwing out its government permit — a first for a renewable energy facility. THE CURRENT: Sign up for The Desert Sun's energy and water newsletter An appeals court upheld that ruling in October — and now the developer, Virginia-based Apex Clean Energy, has apparently decided to stop fighting. A spokesperson for the Bureau of Land Management's Nevada office told The Desert Sun the developer has taken down its meteorological towers, which are used to test wind resources at potential turbine sites. Apex is working with federal officials to close out the Searchlight project."The BLM will inspect the land to make sure the (met towers) are gone and the land where they were is reclaimed," agency spokesperson Kirsten Cannon said in an email.An Apex spokesperson didn't immediately return a phone call seeking comment. But the developer has taken down a page from its website that touted the Searchlight wind farm.The wind farm would have stretched across 9,300 acres of public land outside the town of Searchlight, created 275 construction jobs and generated enough electricity to power 70,000 Continue Reading

Local 8-year-old races around Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Tuscan Nuccitelli, dressed in a blue fire suit and racing helmet, slides into his bright orange race car with the number 66 on the side. The engine bursts to life and he rolls out of the pit, heading toward The Bullring short track at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.In many respects it's similar to the scenario played out by hundreds of other race car drivers on speedways throughout the country. Most of them, however, aren’t 8 years old.This will be Tuscan’s first time driving on an actual race track. When he turned 8 this past summer he reached the minimum age required to race a Bandolero-class car. Now he’s following in the tire treads of his father, Nick Nuccitelli, who races his bright orange 1972 Ford Torino stock car in the speedway’s Bomber-class competitions at The Bullring.When Tuscan saw other Bandolero racers, he wanted in.“Last year when I was racing my stock car he was like, ‘Hey, can I race with those other kids?” Nick says, acknowledging that watching and driving, however, are not quite the same. “That view from behind the wheel is a lot different.”With Tuscan approaching the minimum age, Nick purchased a Bandolero car from the actor Skeet Ulrich, best known for the 1990s films “Scream” and “As Good As It Gets.” He then transported the car from California to their home in Ivins City, where Nick works as a sergeant for the Santa Clara-Ivins Public Safety Department.Bandoleros are entry-level racers with engines capable of 20-30 horsepower and maximum speeds of more than 70 mph, though they are mechanically limited at The Bullring, a 3/8-mile track, to 60. They are built like mini stock cars with roll-bars and other safety features but they have left-foot braking and a centrifugal clutch to ease the learning curve for young drivers.Drivers of Bandoleros are typically between 8 and 16 years old and most move on to Legends racing, where the cars are slightly larger, Continue Reading

Coolio and son Grtis arrested and booked in same Las Vegas jail: Rapper busted for traffic violation, son for robbery and kidnapping

What a doozy of a day for the Coolio clan. The rapper, 48, was arrested in Las Vegas early Friday morning after he and a friend were pulled over for a routine traffic violation, TMZ reports. Coolio was in the passenger seat. Upon running Coolio's name through the system, the police officer discovered the "Gangsta's Paradise" rapper had two active bench warrants out for his arrest based on multiple traffic violations. They promptly arrested him on the spot. Coolio (real name Artis Leon Ivey Jr.) was taken to the Clark County Detention Center, where, incidentally, his oldest son Grtis Ivey, is also being held - albeit for much more serious crimes. Grtis, 22, is currently being held without bail for a number of offenses, including robbery with a deadly weapon, first degree kidnapping and grand larceny, according to TMZ. Coolio's sinning son was arrested last November following a bizarre string of events, starting with a female prostitute and ending with a straight-up robbery. According to police reports, back in October, the prostitute, Shantrice Wilkerson, had convinced a man named Joseph Hall to take her back to his apartment from the Luxor nightclub after they met. Wilkerson allegedly told Hall she had a "dream" of having sex on a pile of money, but didn't reveal that she was a gal for hire. Hall reportedly offered $5,000 to create the aforementioned pile, and Wilkerson agreed - but when the prostitute then demanded the money Hall had removed from his safe, he grew angry and left the scene. Wilkerson remembered where Hall lived, however, and reportedly asked Grtis to help her wipe his apartment clean three days later. On that fateful day, Grtis barged into the apartment with a gun in hand, TMZ reports, and he and Wilkerson stole a safe, two iPads, two laptops and passports, among other things. They allegedly locked Hall's roommate in the bathroom while they ransacked the Continue Reading

Firearms, anarchist book found in Las Vegas ricin victim’s room

LAS VEGAS — Cops are probing the discovery of the deadly toxin ricin in a motel room occupied by a man who is now in critical condition, authorities said Friday. Firearms and an anarchist-type textbook were also found in the room. Las Vegas police said there was no apparent link to terrorist activity, and no indication of any spread of the deadly substance beyond the several vials of powder found in a plastic bag in the man's room on Thursday. But what the ricin was doing there remained a mystery. A pinprick of ricin is enough to kill. "Six to eight hours, you're going to start showing symptoms," said Greg Evans, director of the Institute for Biosecurity at Saint Louis University in Missouri. A friend or relative of the sick man found the vials after going to the Extended Stay America motel, several blocks west of the Las Vegas Strip, to retrieve his belongings, police Deputy Chief Kathy Suey said. Tests by police homeland security officers, the Nevada National Guard and a laboratory in Las Vegas came back positive for ricin, she said. A cleanup of the motel has been completed, she added. Seven people, including the man who found the ricin, the manager, two other motel employees and three police officers, were decontaminated at the scene and taken to hospitals for examination, but none have shown any signs of being affected by ricin, Suey said. All were released overnight. "There is no information to lead us to believe that this is the result of any terrorist activity or related to any possible terrorist activity," Suey said. "We don't have any reason to believe any of it left the property." Police cordoned off the hotel and told residents to stay in their rooms. The cordon was lifted early Friday morning, and the motel has been open since then. Suey said the manufacture of ricin is a crime, but it was not clear the substance found belonged to the man, who was hospitalized in critical condition Feb. 14 after summoning an ambulance to the Continue Reading