Heller: No Decision On Wells Buildings

Rep. Dean Heller's office said any decision on the future of earthquake-damaged buildings in the historical district of downtown Wells would be made by local health and safety officials - not the federal government.

Some residents in Wells were angered when the Elko Daily Free Press on Tuesday reported Heller as saying the buildings damaged in the Feb. 21 temblor would have to be razed.

Heller spokesman Stewart Bybee said the freshman Republican was speaking in general terms and not specifically of the historic district when he said it was unfortunate some buildings would have to be torn down.

"I toured Wells shortly after the earthquake and was able to witness firsthand the destruction to the historic district. Any decision to raze local buildings should be made by local authorities," Heller said in an e-mail to the newspaper on Wednesday.

Gene Kaplan of the Wells Chamber of Commerce and Wells Historical Society said there is no appetite to raze the historic district.

"We're pulling for a heritage area," Kaplan told the newspaper.

The property would then come under public ownership, said Kaplan, adding he has offered to donate five of the downtown buildings to help the project along.