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Sierra grad in thick of Nevada news coverage
Associated Press reporter Michelle Rindels poses at a fundraiser auction she helped organize for the Nevada chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists on Feb. 3. Rindels, who grew up in Manteca and now lives in Las Vegas, is a national board member for the organization. - photo by Photo Contributed

Northern Nevada received a major economic boost earlier this month with the announcement of Tesla Motors locating its huge battery ‘gigafactory’ in Reno.

The news broke from the Associated Press bureau in Las Vegas. Manteca product Michelle Rindels discovered that nugget of information on Tesla via social media.

“Twitter is one of the most important tools for my work,” she said.

As reporter and breaking news staffer, Rindels, who is a 2005 graduate of Sierra High – she was salutatorian of her class – was able to cull for this story by relying on her sources.

At the same time of the Tesla news conference, she had another breaking story as Hillary Clinton appeared at the seventh Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas.

The former secretary of state was at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino where she all but announced her candidacy for president in 2016.

Adding to Rindels’ busy day was word of an explosion at The Discovery Museum in Reno, where 13 people were injured from a science experiment gone awry.

“Officials told the Associated Press that a methyl alcohol and boric acid is used during the exhibition known as a ‘fire tornado’ conducted regularly at the museum to create a whirling effect,” according to ABC News.

That AP reporter was Rindels, who noted that those involved were treated for minor burns and smoke inhalation at a Reno hospital. “Fortunately, the injuries weren’t anything serious,” she said.

Rindels is no stranger to a busy news day.

The first day as a full-time employee for AP – September 2011 – she was on duty when a P-51 Mustang airplane crashed into the edge of the grandstands during a stunt at the Reno air show, killing nine people including a 47-year-old Washington state man. In addition, 69 others were injured.

“My shift was ending when that happened,” Rindels recalled.

A few days went by when the head of the San Jose chapter of the Hells Angels was killed in a gunfight at John Ascuaga’s Nugget. She was there to chase down leads.

Rindels also reported on the 2011 shooting incident in an International House of Pancakes restaurant in Carson City and the shooting at a middle school in Sparks.

In addition, she mentioned the December 2013 shooting at Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno that left two people dead and two wounded.

She even has covered a Manteca connection to Las Vegas when Manteca youth pastor Rob Cox was arrested for murder stemming from a confrontation outside a restaurant. Rindels also did follow up stories to the case including when the Clark County District Attorney dropped all charges after determining there where as no evidence a murder had occurred.

Rindels is the daughter of Mark and Yvette Rindels, formerly of Manteca, but currently residing in Grass Valley.

She’s a 2009 graduate of Biola University, where she earned a double major in Journalism and Spanish.

Rindels grew up in Manteca. She attended Brock Elliott Elementary School, discovering the wonderful world of journalism at an early age.

Back then, the Manteca Bulletin published a children’s section called Betty Bear. Michelle Rindels was a regular contributor. She enjoyed drawing not to mention the prizes she won along the way.

She soon became hooked on newspapers.

At Sierra, she had to do a report on careers after high school. “It was a way for us to use the library,” Rindels said.

She was interested in journalism and interviewed then Bulletin reporter Brandon Bowers for her report.

Rindels worked as copy editor for her school newspaper.

After graduation, she had the first of her two stints as an intern for the Bulletin – the other time was after her first year at Biola. Part of her work was writing a weekly family / youth interest column. She also worked the religious beat.

Rindels had reporting internships with Religion News Service and AP. From there, she moved in with her folks at Grass Valley, where she spent over a year at the Union Newspaper.

She spent several months covering the Nevada Legislature in Carson City when she first worked for AP in 2011. That July, Rindels moved over to the AP bureau in Las Vegas.

She described her typical day as showing up to work at 6 a.m., spending time writing up briefs or readers for broadcasters about what’s going on in Nevada and Utah.

There are times when those stories require more reporting, in which case, Rindels will hand off the work to her co-workers in Las Vegas, Carson City, Reno, or Salt Lake City.

She’ll also scour the news outlets for stories impacting Nevada and Utah.

Rindels has enjoyed her time in Las Vegas. Although not a gambler, she does enjoy the restaurant scene, including the new Giada restaurant in the Cromwell.

No surprise that Rindels and her boyfriend Leo will usually order something different to better sample the menu.

She’s also active with the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. Rindels, who is a quarter Mexican – her last name may be German but her ethnicity includes Swedish, English and Czechoslovakian – is a board member and a past president of the Nevada chapter.

She’s fluent in Spanish and even studied abroad in Costa Rica.

With work and her parents now living in Grass Valley, Michelle Rindels doesn’t get back to Manteca too often.

But she is planning to visit her hometown in November to attend the wedding of her best friend Johanna Bakmas.

The two go back to their days at Brock Elliott and playing in Sierra High band.

She’s looking forward to visiting the place she still calls home.