Appreciating Nellis, Dorinson

Air Force base, recycling pioneer have done a lot for this community

Bruce Spotleson

Bruce Spotleson

For many Southern Nevadans, Nellis Air Force Base comes to mind only when they see contrails in the sky.

But Nellis’ impact on the economy is unmistakable.

There are more than 20,000 military and civilian folks employed at the base, making Nellis Clark County’s largest employer outside of gaming. Those numbers make for a large economic footprint.

Nellis was a small airstrip until Las Vegas bought it in 1941. After using it as a gunnery school during World War II, it reopened as the Las Vegas Air Force Base. In 1950, it was named in honor of Lt. William Harrell Nellis, a World War II pilot who flew 70 combat missions and was shot down three times — the last, fatally.

Nellis today is the headquarters for the U.S. Air Force Warfare Center, where pilots learn to be combat aviators.

It’s tough to say how long the base can avoid budget cuts. If expenditures get slashed, the valley most certainly will feel the result of that reduced payroll and purchasing.

The good news is that there is renewed appreciation for Nellis these days. And a number of activities are planned for the northeastern valley military installation.

The base, for example, will be saluted and celebrated by the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce at a luncheon Tuesday. Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Lofgren will be the keynote speaker.

It’s an event worth attending. You’ll learn more about Nellis there than by watching the sky.

• • •

It was on a hot summer day a dozen years ago that I first met Rob Dorinson, who ran Evergreen Recycling from an office in a trailer. It was the setting of a working man, a role he filled with sweat and humor.

The company Rob built quickly found a niche reclaiming materials from construction sites and other commercial locations. It earned numerous awards and attracted attention for its innovative work.

Republic Services noticed, and in 2010, it acquired Evergreen Recycling. By that time, Rob was known as an advocate for local recycling and seen as a pioneer.

A couple of years back, Rob was diagnosed with ALS, the horrid Lou Gehrig’s disease that has struck other good local people in recent years.

He died Feb. 25.

ALS of Nevada described him as a “brave, compassionate and generous man who was determined to help others with ALS.” A photo that ran with the message showed him at a fall fundraiser. He was smiling. He did that a lot.

In accordance with his wishes, people wore bright colors to his memorial service.

Rob left behind his wife, Lori; four children; grandchildren; his father, Sol; and a large host of loved ones, friends and admirers.

He made a difference, and we will miss him.

Tags: Opinion, Business