The Year the Silver Linings Shone

A look back at 2012, in the words of Las Vegans at the center of the storm

Electoral Excess

It was The Year of More in Nevada politics: More ads than ever (Las Vegas was No. 1 in the country, and it started in July). More repetitive rhetoric than ever before (protecting and preserving Medicare, fighting for the middle class and warring on women). And more national attention: more love from presidential campaigns, more annoying robo-calls. All we had less of was policy substance, quality candidates and scintillating debates. Never has so much television time been purchased to affect so few voters to elect so many people who will only repeat this bad behavior two years from now when the next campaign rolls around.

– Jon Ralston, The Ralston Report

Building a Renaissance

A year ago, we relocated to the Arts District, joining the influx of creatives with a shared vision for a new downtown. We realized that the renaissance is not only real, but also contagious. Our firm thrived—adding staff, new clients and new downtown projects—and we saw our neighboring businesses flourish as well. In 2012, we discovered the buzz, a little serendipity and a supreme sense of community.

– Dwayne R. Eshenbaugh, principal, NOVUS Architecture

The Health-Care Cliff

We have seen a major expansion in health care for veterans with the new VA hospital and clinics around the Valley, yet they face the same problem that additional Medicaid recipients would face if that program were expanded per the Affordable Care Act: not enough providers. When I departed the VA clinic in late April, there was a three-month wait for patients to be seen. It will be interesting to see which companies and providers survive, what Gov. Brian Sandoval decides to do with Medicaid and whether providers will be able to keep up.

– Maureen Parker, R.N.

Renovate and Retrench

For the hotel-casino business, there were more changes this year than you’d guess from the skyline: Downtown, one “new” casino opened (The D, built on the Fitzgeralds chassis), and one venerable casino expanded (Golden Gate). On the Strip, there was one significant closure (O’Shea’s), one name change (Imperial Palace became the Quad), one opening (Caesars Palace’s Octavius Tower) and one big renovation (MGM Grand). Perhaps the biggest story—and the reason for the demise of O’Shea’s—was the preparation for Caesars Entertainment’s Linq, a no-holds-barred attempt to bring an urban-streetscape vibe to the Strip. For years, downtown was chasing the Strip—one of the ironies of the post-Great Recession era may be the Strip trying to import a little of the downtown spirit.

– David G. Schwartz, director, UNLV’s Center for Gaming Research

Going Global

The creative energy directed toward downtown’s economic redevelopment has allowed me to cultivate Sin City Gallery’s international marketing endeavors: I’ve focused on promoting local artists to the world and introducing national and international artists to downtown clientele. It is a special feeling when artists and patrons can share an intimate art experience because of your vision. I feel pretty fortunate to be part of the downtown synergy.

– Laura Henkel, artistic director, Sin City Gallery

Performing Local

This was the year of the local performer. Starting with the success of Evil Dead, local production companies have begun to work their way into larger venues, such as RagTag at LVH. It’s a trend that looks strong enough to continue into the future. Shows are starting to reach out to the local community as well, rather than draw on talent from outside of Vegas, which is encouraging. This means that more people who call Sin City home are now working on the Strip in shows, as it should be. I am excited to see what 2013 brings.

– Sirc Michaels of Sirc Michaels Productions

Better Bets

We broke new ground in the industry in 2012. With William Hill, you have the U.K.’s biggest bookmaker bringing fresh ideas into the market—and our current products, such as in-game wagering, will be enhanced as a result. There’s also the growing convenience of sports betting, with mobile betting becoming more prominent. Overall, casinos are giving more recognition to the importance of their sportsbooks, thus breeding more competition. I’ve always said that competition is good for people on both sides of the counter.

– Jimmy Vaccaro, public relations director, William Hill Sportsbooks

Schools in Flux

The data-driven curriculum has made educational headlines, but educating our children goes beyond the numbers. In 2012, the science of teaching collided with the art of teaching. National initiatives challenged teachers to demonstrate growth in every child to the parents, school and district. Meanwhile, in the classroom, we had to synthesize all this data, differentiate instruction, create engaging lessons, teach social skills, guide peer relationships and manage behavior. All the while, we’ve kept the main goal in mind: providing our children with the tools for success.

– Judy Kraus, math and science teacher, Hyde Park Middle School

A Boost for the Bard

The Las Vegas Shakespeare Company launched our building-fund drive this year, and we had the mayors of Henderson and Las Vegas join with us in their shared support of the arts. This is significant: We need the active support of our officials, and we have it here. It makes me proud to be part of this expanding arts community and to work in cooperation with private, nonprofit and government entities. On a personal note, the year ended with the LVSC board chairman telling me my Hamlet was the best he’d ever seen—and he’s seen 10 of them, including on Broadway. It doesn’t get any better than that.

– Dan Decker, artistic director, Las Vegas Shakespeare Company

… But Not for the Bars

When I opened Double Down 20 years ago, I gave the town an alternative to stale, boring corporate chain bars—and at the time it was a hard sell in a town not yet ready for alternatives. Las Vegas is now ready, and a lot of new bars have popped up recently. But no matter how good your concept, a bar will succeed in the long run only if you treat your customers well: Serve them a good drink quickly and respectfully. But what I saw all too often in 2012 is that more and more places are going for the style of unqualified hipsters and [well-endowed models] behind the bar while neglecting the substance of customer service. And until new bars open whose owners understand the importance of both style and substance, I think Las Vegas’ bar culture will continue to spin its wheels.

– P Moss, owner, Double Down bar

The Art of the Art Business

The Las Vegas art market experienced a bump in locals buying basic, entry-level work in 2012. Other galleries and shops tell me that hobbies, crafts and decorative trinkets are selling well. But the year was dismal for emerging artists because collectors of emerging work continued to hold back in their luxury spending. The emerging artist market is my strength, but I made a few folly choices in programming this year due to an unexpected increase in workload: I love being an ambassador to Arts District tourists, but they spend very little and take a great deal of my time. We did have a good year with professional collectors, however, so our bottom line is similar to years past.

– Marty Walsh, owner, Trifecta Gallery

Doing Justice

This was a record year for the district attorney office’s Family Support Division, which collected more than $125 million for the children in our community. We also took great strides to shed light on those times when our local police officers use deadly force. Earlier this year, we began issuing reports on officer-involved deaths, providing detailed information about these most serious encounters. So far, we have presented 18 of these reports to the public. People deserve to be told what happened and why. These reports give the families touched by these tragedies and the public the answers they are looking for.

– Steven Wolfson, Clark County District Attorney

Taking Flight

My attention was focused on the opening of McCarran International Airport’s Terminal 3. During my 15 years with the Department of Aviation, we had never undertaken such a sizable project—something that would bring many benefits to this community for decades to come. It took a lot of hard work from so many people, but we pulled off a phenomenal, Las Vegas-style opening on June 27 and have since remained busy operating the new space and refining how it can best serve our 40 million annual passengers. For me, 2012 will always be remembered as the year of T3.

– Rosemary Vassiliadis, deputy director, Clark County Department of Aviation

Lean and Green

I see the architectural profession emerging from the Great Recession wiser and much leaner than it was five years ago. Many of today’s most successful firms have embraced an integrated design process that involves all interested parties in every aspect of the design process to produce better, more economical, more sustainable buildings. This type of collaboration needs to continue in architecture education in 2013.

– Alfredo Fernández-González, architecture professor, UNLV

Loud and Green

In 2012, environmentalists expanded their community and learned to work with new constituencies. As a result, a larger and more diverse mix of environmentally minded citizens made a difference through advocacy and in exercising their right to vote. – Scot Rutledge, executive director, Nevada Conservation League Education Fund

Rebel Remedy

There is something special about being a lifelong UNLV Rebel, about having the words “Scarlet & Gray” move you emotionally. The Rebels are the soul of this town. They are one of the very few things—if not, the only thing—that brings us together. In 2012, that was as evident as it has been in a long, long time. I am a Southern Nevada native and a UNLV alum, so seeing the Rebels once again assume their place at the heart of our culture has been meaningful for me on more than a professional level. In a community that has faced more than its fair share of challenges in recent years, the Rebels have brought us all a much-needed boost.

– D.J. Allen, senior associate athletic director, UNLV

The Revitalization Boom

The Zappos effect + critical mass of interest in how preservation is sustainability + decades of benign neglect + a remarkable collection of mid-century modern-era building stock (now officially “historic,” according to the criteria of the National Register of Historic Places) = One of the most dynamic urban revitalization opportunities in the U.S. We have all the ingredients for success that every other place that has done it had. Let’s hope 2012 is remembered as the year it finally all got fully baked.

– Andy Kirk, history professor and director of UNLV’s Public History Program

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