Greetings from Chair Vaughn Hartung

Local government truly is “of the people, by the people, for the people,” and Washoe County is proud of its community engagement programs and public boards and committees. These are vital avenues by which residents can make a real impact on their community and work for the benefit of their friends and neighbors.  

There is a board or committee that advises on nearly everything that Washoe County does, from emergency response to child care to debt management and even street naming. 

My own path to public service began with involvement in my local Citizen Advisory Board (CAB). These boards are excellent training grounds for greater involvement and even public office. Whether you live in Warm Springs, Gerlach, or Incline Village, you can be involved in issues affecting your neighborhood.  

Later this year, Washoe County is launching its new Leadership Academy (WCLA). This is another great opportunity to learn how the county works, how it interacts with other governmental and private entities, and how decisions are made that affect your everyday life. The only investment in the academy is your time. It’s a free program, one full day per month for eight months. Graduates will learn valuable leadership skills and make personal and professional connections that will benefit them no matter where their careers may lead.  

Learn more about the WCLA in this newsletter, and watch for more ways to get involved in the county and provide valuable insight into its future. 

Washoe County Leadership Academy: Ready to Inspire Future Leaders – Applications Available Now 

As we proceed to the launch of the Washoe County Leadership Academy, we are excited to bring you some enrichments to the program.   

Kicking off in September, the 8-month long program will provide participants a geographical tour of Washoe County with day bus tours, including:        

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  • Rural history day including Gerlach and surrounding areas 
  • Law and Order Day featuring the Sheriff’s Office and Courts 
  • Heart of the County: Helping Vulnerable Populations 
  • Incline Village and Bowers Park Day 

Throughout the course, the University of Nevada, Reno Extended Studies program will provide lessons on Leadership.  The leadership topics will be: 

  • Leadership Skills and Civic Engagement  
  • Civility in Community and Government  
  • Collaboration in Government  
  • Managing Conflict Constructively  
  • Leadership in Action and Self-Reflection    

Applications are available to the public now.  The deadline to submit an application is August 1.  There is space for 25 participants.   

Excitement is building up for the September 23rd opening day.  If you or someone you know is interested, please fill out and submit your application now.  You may obtain an application at

Our Place Turns Two 

This August, Our Place celebrates two successful years serving Washoe County’s women and families experiencing homelessness. Our Place provides an innovative approach to homelessness, offering a safe and stable campus for currently 280 guests, with approximately 42% of the children living there being under the age of five. Since opening its doors, Our Place has removed the top three reasons residents didn’t seek shelter: ability to have pets, have proper storage for property, and stay with their families. 

In addition to providing single case management and daily access to a clinician, the campus includes child/daycare, mental/substance abuse services, domestic violence advocacy, parenting classes, peer support, separate pet/family/senior wings, and a 2.6 acre community garden that was partnered between Washoe County Human Services Agency and Soulful Seeds. 

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Our Place was awarded this year’s 24th Annual Cashman Good Government recognition, honoring the campus for governmental programs that are innovative, and for implementing models with ingenuity. 

“I get overwhelmed to think of what it would be like to not know what tomorrow will bring. Washoe County provides the very basic needs, in the form of shelter, and nutrition, so our residents can focus on healing and gaining independence. Everyone’s path from homeless to housed is paved with different material, but all outcomes and wishes are the same, which is to be safe, secure, and healthy” – Washoe County Human Services Agency Director Amber Howell. 

For more information on additional homelessness initiatives such as the accomplishments of the Nevada Cares Campus, please click here.

Fun in THE sun with washoe parks

With summer officially upon us, Washoe County Regional Parks and Open Space is well underway in creating exceptional recreational opportunities for all to enjoy. July is Parks and Recreation Month, which means area parks are in full swing with fun ways for your family to get outside and enjoy the best the area has to offer! Here are just a few ways for you to explore new horizons this summer: 

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  • Washoe County signature park, Rancho San Rafael, celebrates 40 years in 2022, with endless opportunities to explore the 580-acre landscape. Learn more about this dynamic park by watching this video, highlighting the past and present of the park we all know and love. 
  • Dragon Lights Reno opens July 1 and extends through mid-August. This popular, cultural ticketed event benefits the May Arboretum, where a portion of your ticket purchase goes.  While at Rancho, please visit the May Museum for their summer exhibits.   
  • Do you love music and the great outdoors? Experience both this summer at the Lazy 5 Summer Music Series. Running through August 17, enjoy tunes, food trucks, and more. These events are free, so grab your chair and join us there. 
  • Farther south in the valley, visit the Hawkins Amphitheater where Artown comes alive at Bartley Ranch Park.  Please join us at the Galena Campfire Program Series, featuring a variety of cultural and music experiences, plus fun programs and marshmallow roasting. Fridays are made for fun! 
  • Ranger Walks are also taking place throughout the summer, where you can discover new trails and learn more about your local environment from experienced guides.  

Washoe County manages over 10,000 acres of open space. If you have a favorite outdoor activity, chances are it can be done in a Washoe County Park. We hope to see you outside this summer! 

Have a Heart

One of the most uplifting projects of the Washoe County Human Services Agency is its foster parent program, Have A Heart. With the mission of providing safe and stable foster and adoptive homes for children in need, Have A Heart recognizes that every child deserves a home filled with love, support and permanency, despite the ability for a family to maintain a child in their native home environment. This is where the foster program comes in, to provide the stability and support necessary to lead a child along their best path.  

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Many families and individuals in Washoe County have already found room in their hearts by offering foster homes to children in need. While it sounds daunting at first glance, you may be surprised at how easy it is to become a foster parent. The stay of the child can be short- or long-term, foster parents can work full time, and can come from any background or marital status. If a potential foster parent is over the age of 21, will pass a background check, and wishes to provide needed support and a stable home environment, you too may find room in your heart and home for a foster child. Best of all, with the goal of reuniting children with their native family, foster parents can experience the reward of seeing a child through what may be one of the most challenging times in their life, with care and compassion as they become the stability in the space between separation and reunification.  

If you think that you can find the room in your heart and home, visit the Have A Heart website today to learn more.  

Local and Federal Government Agencies Collaborating on Target Shooting on Public Lands    

Washoe County, Bureau of Land Management, and the United States Forest Service are working together to ensure recreational shooting access in Washoe County continues as a recognized, legitimate use of public lands while ensuring protection of resources, safety of public, and compliance with local, state, and federal laws.  Some of the focused core issues are trigger trash, degradation of resources, hazardous materials, fire danger, safety of public, lack of access to developed shooting ranges, and non-compliance and agency alignment with local, state, and federal laws.   

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The first step was to create a public survey.  Over 1000 residents have taken the survey, asking the public to weigh in on target shooting on public lands in Washoe County.  The survey solicits a variety of questions to help understand the public’s perspective.  The 16 questions focused on five objectives: 

  • Identify current recreational shooting use patterns on public lands within Washoe County.   
  • Determine if existing rules and regulations for recreational shooting on public lands in Washoe County are clear to public users.   
  • Determine if public users desire additional developed shooting ranges, and if so, determine who is best equipped to manage the ranges.   
  • Identify what resource, public health and safety, and wildfire concerns exist (trigger trash, shooting trees/rocks, shooting caused wildfires, shooting in unsafe manner).   
  • Identify interest in volunteer opportunities (range masters, adopt-a-range) to help mitigate impacts to resources and public health safety).   

To participate in the survey please click on the following link.   

For more information on the Washoe County Congested Area/Firearms, please view the discharged map at 

Be Fire Aware 

Here are a few steps that residents can take to be prepared for fire season:

Creating a Fire-Resistant Environment
Adopting defensible space and home hardening techniques to prepare your property: 

  • Click here for 5 steps to creating effective defensible space 
  • Choosing the right plants can also make a difference 
  • UNR Extension: “Living with Fire” has a Wildfire Home Retrofit Guide to show best practices for reducing the vulnerability of a home to wildfire. 
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Making a Plan 

A fire can occur anywhere and at any time. Creating something as simple as a home fire escape plan, community evacuation plan, or any advance preparation can make the difference between life and death for you and your family.  

In the event of an evacuation, have a checklist ready, with a to-go bag, be aware of special needs of vulnerable individuals, prepare for pets, and know how to stay informed. 

Staying Informed 

Local public safety officials have several methods to keep the public informed: 

  • Local radio, television, newspapers, online maps, and via social media channels. 
  • Make sure to follow Washoe County and Truckee Meadows Fire & Rescue on Twitter for the most up-to-date alerts.
  • Emergency Alert System (EAS) and/or the Code Red Regional Notification System – which delivers information directly to residents via email, text, and/or phone call for those that sign-up here. 
  • Residents are encouraged to contact Washoe311 by dialing 3-1-1 or 775-328-2003 for information, allowing 911 to remain clear for emergency calls.