MYSTERY WIRE — Back in the fall of 2019, social media were abuzz about a possible “storming” of Area 51, an outlandish, semi-serious proposal wherein vast crowds of curious citizens might invade Nevada’s top-secret military base in order to “see them aliens”, or something like that. Now, the bill has come due and the ill-fated venture ended up costing cash-strapped Lincoln County $196,092.79.
The dollar amount was calculated by Lincoln County’s emergency management director Eric Holt. According to an article in the local newspaper, the Lincoln County Record, Holt reported the total cost to the county at the commission’s April 6 meeting.
Mystery Wire reported many times on the ‘Storm Area 51’ event. In early March, the county commission began talks on how to handle a proposed second event in Rachel, the community closest to the gates of Area 51. Commissioners delayed voting on a declaration expressing opposition to any similar events in 2020, but will take it up again later, according to Joerg Arnu, a vocal opponent of Storm Area 51 who attended the March meeting. Arnu’s Dreamlandresort.com website has posted his opposition since last year’s event. Lincoln County wants to hear from promoters before ruling out music events or any kind of repeat of last year’s Facebook-inspired events.
Holt told the commissioners, $127,511.76 was spent on food, fuel, and direct support. Sheriff’s department labor costs came in at $41,870.68, just over $10,000 for county planning, $5,700 for the building department, $4,357 for supplies and equipment, and $20,996 for emergency management and the fire district.
Lincoln County commissioners hope they won’t have to foot the entire bill. They said they will be asking the state to help.
Mystery Wire also reported in March the Lincoln County Record quotes Commission Chairman Varlin Higbee: “In 2020 the county will not go through that again. “If she (Connie West of the Little A’Le’Inn), or George Harris at the Alien Research Center in Hiko want to do something, they will have to pay for what is needed. They will have to do it themselves,” Holt said.
West is already taking steps to produce an event the weekend of Sept. 10-12. She told the Record she will host a music event, despite disappointing attendance in 2019. About 3,000 people attended last year. She is calling her event Alienstock, which is sure to continue the feud she has had in the past with Matty Roberts, whose online joke about “Storming Area 51” took on a life of its own last fall.
Commissioners were not happy that West is already advertising the event, Arnu said. In addition to opposition from Arnu and a group called Concerned Residents of Rachel, NV, Lincoln County Sheriff Kerry Lee has expressed serious concerns about a possible repeat.
The idea first surfaced in a Facebook post by was a Facebook post by Roberts, who lives in California. Roberts revealed his identity as the creator of “Storm Area 51” in an interview with investigative reporter George Knapp, and admitted it was meant to be a joke. He drew the inspiration after watching podcaster Joe Rogan’s interview with Bob Lazar and filmmaker Jeremy Corbell about alleged alien technology being tested in the desert near the Groom Lake base. Roberts; post about a then-fictional event went viral, and generated world wide media coverage.
As interest grew, he partnered with Inn owner Connie West. Eventually, the two they went separate ways, and local animosity toward Roberts grew. Residents of Rachel were vocal as Storm Area 51 got started last year — they didn’t want Roberts there.
Roberts, who moved his Alienstock event to Las Vegas as logistical problems mounted, was named in a complaint in District Court. West alleged that Roberts and other organizers withheld funds from a sponsorship. It also alleged that they defamed West in statements that said West’s event was canceled.
Lincoln County officials reacted last year to an “emergency” need for response. They won’t treat 2020 as an emergency, and they’ll require organizers to pony up the money up front. That could kill any planned events.
A copycat Facebook event from “Aliens & UFOs” posted with the message, “Let’s storm Area 51 in 2020. They can’t stop all of us!” has a mere 16 people “going” and another 50 “interested.” But the 2019 event didn’t go viral until July. Last year, the event had nearly 2 million people interested before the page was taken down and later restored.
“We’re not going to do it on the backs of the county taxpayers again,” Higbee said. “If they can make money at it, fine, but we’re not going to pay for it.”