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Commissioners schedule completion of water merger for end of 2014
Media Release
For Immediate Release
Contact: Nancy Leuenhagen

Reno, Nevada. March 11, 2014. The Washoe County Board of Commissioners held its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday, March 11, and took action on items including: directed staff to continue working on the merger between the Community Services Department’s Water Utility with the Truckee Meadows Water Authority (TMWA) which is scheduled for completion at the end of 2014; began the process of selling surface water rights on the Winnemucca Ranch that will be used in a public-private partnership for a conservation easement to protect sage hen habitat; approved an agreement with the City of Reno to enhance and restore a portion of the Truckee River Bike Path; accepted an update on the implementation of provisions of the Nevada Medical Marijuana Act; accepted donations of $80,000 for the District Attorney’s Office Child Advocacy Center remodel; and proclaimed March 19, 2014 as Nevada Moves Day and March 2014 as Social Work Month.

Water utilities merger: Item 17. Commissioners complimented staff on their hard work on the upcoming merger of water utilities between the County and TMWA, which is scheduled for completion in December 2014. “This has been a large effort and certainly a milestone we’re approaching,” said Chairman David Humke. At the direction of the Commissioners, Washoe County staff has been working on the merger since 2008 and entered into an interlocal agreement with TMWA the following year. Dave Solaro, the Director of the Community Services Department, said there are several outstanding items to complete prior to the development of the merger agreement, but many significant issues have been resolved. “That includes the merger between the South Truckee Meadows General Improvement District and TMWA, which is concurrent with the merger of Washoe County’s water utility into TMWA,” said Solaro. The Board of County Commissioners and the TMWA Board of Directors have scheduled a concurrent meeting March 19.

Winnemucca Ranch surface water rights: Item 18. Commissioners gave direction to begin the process of selling surface water rights holdings in Winnemucca Ranch to Buckhorn Land & Livestock, LLC. Buckhorn, the land owners of Winnemucca Ranch, said the acquisition of these water rights are critical for the approval and creation of three permanent wildlife conservation easements which will be located within the Ranch. Development of the easements is in conjunction with the federal government through a public-private partnership with the office of the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service, which will ultimately own and manage the permanent conservation easements. “This is a win, win, win situation,” said Commissioner Kitty Jung, District 3. “It’s good for the County, the property owners and the federal government, as well as the environment since this will protect critical sage hen habitat, wetlands and other wildlife habitat areas.”

West Truckee River Pathway Reconstruction: Item 15. Commissioners approved an agreement to authorize the design and construction of the West Truckee River Pathway Reconstruction Project, funded through State Question One (SQ-l) Truckee River Bond funds. Washoe County, through its Community Services Department, is the fiscal agent for $10,000 of the funding, with the matching project funds provided by the City of Reno. Reconstruction of this portion of the Truckee River Bike Path is located in the City of Reno's Schiappacasse Park. Washoe County has been actively working with a variety of community stakeholders on projects along the Truckee River, including the City of Reno and the Tahoe-Pyramid Bikeway to enhance recreation opportunities along the Truckee River Greenbelt. The West Truckee River Pathway Reconstruction Project will reconstruct a popular section of pathway through Schiappacasse Park (from the west end of Idlewild Drive, underneath the West McCarran overpass to Riverhaven Drive in the Edgewater subdivision).

Nevada Medical Marijuana Act: Item 19. Washoe County Manager John Slaughter updated Commissioners on the implementation of provisions of the Nevada Medical Marijuana Act, which is State Bill 374 of the 2013 Nevada Legislature. The Nevada State Board of Health meets March 14 to adopt the Nevada Administrative Code addressing medical marijuana establishments. The State will allow a total of 10 medical marijuana dispensaries to be certified in Washoe County including in the cities of Reno, Sparks and in the unincorporated areas of Washoe County. 

Draft changes to Washoe County Code (WCC) Chapter 110 (Development Code) necessary for implementation of medical marijuana were heard and approved by the Washoe County Planning Commission on March 4, 2014. Draft changes have also been completed to WCC Chapter 25 (Business Licenses) and WCC Chapter 53 (Miscellaneous Crimes). Those draft changes will be combined with the changes to WCC Chapter 110 and brought before the Washoe County Commission in a single ordinance for possible approval at a future meeting.

Commissioners concluded their discussion by reiterating direction from their January 2014 meeting to examine potential fees and/or charges for medical marijuana establishments based on their potential impact to public services and the community. Commissioners also gave direction to staff to look at best practices in other states that are implementing medical marijuana dispensaries.

Donations to Child Advocacy Center: Item 7.1. The Board of County Commissioners accepted $80,000 in donations for the District Attorney’s Office Child Advocacy Center remodel, equipment and operations. The Marie Crowley Foundation donated $20,000 and the William N. Pennington Foundation donated $60,000. The mission of the Child Advocacy Center will be to ensure the health and safety of the child through a neutral, child-centered environment designed to minimize trauma to the child, provide advocacy for the child and non-offending caregivers and support effective investigations. The project is a collaborative effort and is supported by the Washoe County District Attorney’s Office, the Reno Police Department, the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, the Sparks Police Department, the Washoe County Department of Social Services and the CARES/SART program (Child Abuse Response & Evaluations/Sexual Assault Response Team).

Proclamations: Items 5 & 6. Commissioners proclaimed March 19 as Nevada Moves Day to encourage citizens of Washoe County to walk, bike or participate in an athletic event with their children. Parents driving children to school can account for up to 25 percent of morning rush hour traffic in the vicinity of schools, and walking and bicycling to school reduces the number of vehicle trips, increases safety, improves air quality and lessens fuel consumption. Commissioners also proclaimed March 2014 as Social Work Month to recognize more than 100 Washoe County employees who use their education, training and commitment to strengthen individuals, families and the community. Washoe County Social Services received the prestigious Agency of the Year award in January from the Human Services Network for its work with the Kids to Seniors Korner Outreach Program, which along with several other local agencies, provides community-based outreach to at-risk populations such as low-income children, families and senior citizens. The department was also recognized for its work with the Crossroads Program, which helps homeless, abandoned and abused at-risk populations to lead healthy, productive lives.