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County Commissioners approve additional funding to help the homeless this winter.
Media Release
For Immediate Release
Contact: Nancy Leuenhagen
PR 14-193

Reno, Nev. Oct. 28, 2014. The following report highlights several important agenda items from the Washoe County Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014. Videos of County Commission meetings are replayed regularly on WCTV (Charter Ch. 193). You may also watch videos-on-demand-online.

Presentation of Crossroads Program and additional funding for City of Reno winter overflow shelter: Item 32.

The Board approved a request from the City of Reno for an additional $48,000 to help pay for the winter, overflow homeless shelter.

Last year, the Board approved a cooperative agreement to help fund the Homeless Community Assistance Center between the County, city of Reno and the city of Sparks. Washoe County pays $1.2 million a year to help support the Community Assistance Center. Washoe County also pays for three full-time case managers to be at the shelter.

Interim Director of Washoe County Social Services, Ken Retterath, gave the Board a presentation about Crossroads, which is a benchmark housing program founded in 2011, that assists local men and women in making a successful transition from substance abuse and homelessness into a productive and fulfilling lifestyle. Currently, 114 men and women are housed at Crossroads, which offers on-site substance abuse treatment and counseling, a supportive, live-in community, and ongoing care and social services resulting in significant cost savings in the areas of indigent expenditures to include incarceration, medical, and community indigent services.

Three residents of Crossroads, along with Deputy Shawn Martson, shared their stories about the success of the program. Scott Reid has been at Crossroads for three years. He said he appreciates his new life compared to when he lived on the street.

"The only way I can thank you guys and thank those who help us at the Crossroads Program is keep on the road to recovery and do what I have been doing," said Reid.

"When I took a tour of Crossroads, it made me really proud," said Washoe County Chair David Humke. "Many people said to me thank you for giving us another chance at sobriety and a place to live. It was heartwarming and one of those peak moments in Washoe County history."

Other community partners of the program include Catholic Charities, Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, Join Together Northern Nevada, Northern Nevada Adult Mental Health Services, WestCare, Reno Municipal Court and Reno Justice Court.

Watch a video produced by Washoe County TV about Crossroads here.

Presentation on Enterovirus D68 and Ebola Preparedness Activities: Item 17. The Health Officer for Washoe County, Kevin Dick, gave the Board a presentation about Enterorvirus D68 and Ebola. Dick said the United States is currently experiencing a nationwide outbreak of Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) associated with severe respiratory illness.

From mid-Aug. to Oct. 24, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and state public health laboratories, have confirmed a total of 998 people in 47 states and the District of Columbia have respiratory illness caused by EV-D68. The CDC expects that, as with other Enteroviruses, EV-D68 infections will likely begin to decline by late fall. Dick said Nevada does not have any confirmed cases to date.

Dick said this year, EV-D68 has been the most common type of Enterovirus identified, leading to increases in illnesses among children and affecting those with asthma most severely. Other Rhinoviruses and Enteroviruses continue to be detected as well.

Dick said the other disease they are monitoring is Ebola. The Washoe County Health District is working with hospitals, healthcare providers, EMS and public safety responders and a variety of organizations in the community to be prepared to respond to, contain and treat any cases, or suspect cases of Ebola that may occur in the community.

“This preparedness activity is driven by the ongoing outbreak in West Africa, and the three cases that have occurred in Dallas, and the recent case of the doctor returning from West Africa that was diagnosed in New York City,” said Dick.

One of the travelers on the Oct. 13, 2014, Frontier flight from Cleveland to Dallas, on which the second nurse from Dallas to develop Ebola traveled, is a Washoe County resident. This individual is of very low risk of contact with the nurse or exposure to Ebola. Out of an abundance of caution, the Health District is monitoring this individual for fever and other symptoms twice per day.

“The individual has also been asked to avoid close contacts, public gatherings, use of public and commercial transportation, and to remain in Washoe County through Nov. 3, when the maximum incubation period will have passed,” said Dick. “The individual is cooperating with the Health District on these precautions.”

Dick said the Washoe County Health District will continue to monitor both viruses and update the public when necessary.

Commissioner Marsha Berkbigler said it is good to know Washoe County is preparing in case action needs to be taken.

"Our Health District, Washoe County Sheriff's Office and firefighters from the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District are taking a proactive approach to preparing for Ebola and we want our citizens to know that," said Berkbigler.

Finalizing of water merger between Washoe County Water Utility (WCWU) and the Truckee Meadows Water Authority (TMWA): Items 28-31.

These items reflect a series of activities necessary to finalize the consolidation of the WCWU with the TMWA. Teams of employees from both organizations have been working diligently since the March 19, 2014, joint meeting of the governing boards to complete due diligence in regards to the consolidation. 

The Board considered the addendum and schedules to the Interlocal Agreement for consolidation of the water utilities, which specifically identifies transferred assets, excluded assets, assumed and excluded liabilities, and disclosures of conditions of the Washoe County water system. A resolution was adopted which authorizes the County Manager to complete the closing transactions necessary for the consolidation.

First readings of three ordinances occurred, one to revise Washoe County Code (WCC) chapter 40 (water and sewage) to revise the department structure and name, one to repeal ordinance number 1470 (water rates and charges), and one to adopt rates and charges specific to the Golden Valley Artificial Recharge Program.

Finally, a second reading of an ordinance amending WCC chapter 40 allowing TMWA to participate in the Washoe County Water and Sanitary Sewer Financial Assistance Program.

With these actions, Washoe County staff has the authority to complete the work necessary for full consolidation of the WCWU into the TMWA, which will provide water service to the combined customers beginning January, 1, 2015.

Performance Evaluation of Washoe County Manager John Slaughter: Item 34.

The Board extended Washoe County Manager John Slaughter's contract four more years through 2018.

Washoe County Chair David Humke said he is constantly reminded why Slaughter was a good choice when he was hired last November.

"Mr. Slaughter has his own style, he has values and good work ethic," said Humke. "I work well with your team and you are doing everything about as well as it can be done."

Commissioner Vaughn Hartung said he couldn't be more proud of Slaughter.

"There is never a day that goes by that I am disappointed that we hired you," said Washoe County Commissioner Hartung. “Your ability to work with our regional partners and do it in such a seamless manner has really made us proud. Everything you touch has been the right decision."

Commissioner Kitty Jung said she has nothing but good things to say about Slaughter.

"You have been terrific and you have done a great job in helping assemble an amazing team."

On November 12, 2013, Slaughter was appointed and entered into an employment agreement as Washoe County Manager.

“This position is all about bringing together the right team and putting my trust in those team members that work so hard every day to make Washoe County the best place to live," said Slaughter. "Every day I wake up and I'm humbled by this position and the opportunity I have to work for our community."

Appointments to Washoe County Board of Equalization (BOE): Item 24.

Commissioners appointed James Ainsworth and Benjamin Green to serve on the BOE. Their terms will expire June 30, 2018. Eugenia Larmore was appointed as an alternate member and her term will expire June 30, 2015. The BOE is comprised of five members appointed by the Washoe County Commission. The BOE hears appeals filed by property owners who do not agree with the value placed on their property for tax purposes by the County Assessor. The County Board hearings are held from late-January through February of each year.

Proclamations: Items 7 and 8: The Board proclaimed October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Nearly 300 local women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year. Since 1998, Susan G. Komen Northern Nevada has raised more than $3.2 million to fund local breast health programs.

The Board also proclaimed November as Family Caregivers Month. More than 500,000 family caregivers in Nevada provide unpaid assistance equivalent to 348 million hours and an estimated value $4 billion each year.

Resolutions: Items 9-13: The Board commended Reno Mayor Bob Cashell and city of Reno Council members Dwight Dortch and Sharon Zadra on their commitment to service to the City of Reno and wished them well in their future endeavors.

The Board celebrated the nonprofit Tahoe Fund for the Nevada Stateline to Stateline Bikeway Project. Tahoe Fund is raising private funds for projects surrounding the Lake Tahoe Basin. The money is being used to improve lake clarity, enhance recreation, and inspire environmental stewardship in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

The Board announced their support for the goals of the Mayors’ Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness and is committed to ending veteran homelessness in our community before the end of 2015.

Robin Mason, the Economic Development Coordinator Intern for Washoe County Community Services said, "Thanks to the collaboration and support from the cities of Reno and Sparks and the beautiful County of Washoe, we are on track. I am thankful to say we are reducing the number of homeless veterans in our area."

The Board announced its full support for the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office Prescription Drug Take Back Program.