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our community with emergency services. We invested in our democracy by supporting standard operating procedures and additional staff for our Registrar of Voters office. We approved the Envision Washoe 2040 Master Plan to support future development and conservation in our community. We have been recognized for our county-initiated programs like Washoe County Leadership Academy, our conservation and sustainability programs, and our homeless services initiatives. It is the joy of a lifetime to serve you and work to make Washoe County the most livable place in our country. Happy holidays and Happy New Year – we cannot wait to continue the good work in 2024!

wishing you happy holidays from washoe county

Fall foliage at Washoe County Administration Complex

washoe county leadership academy at the halfway mark 

In its current session, the Washoe County Leadership Academy (WCLA) has embarked on a transformative exploration of the diverse facets that add to Washoe County’s unique character. As we reach the halfway mark of this enriching experience, participants have witnessed firsthand the interconnected tapestry of services that sustains our county. This includes visits to crucial institutions, including Northern Nevada Public Health, the Regional Medical Examiner’s Office, the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Museum, Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District headquarters, and the South Truckee Water Reclamation Facility, among others.

One highlight of this session is the class project undertaken by WCLA participants! The goal of the class project is to identify and address a pressing community issue, and to utilize their new and existing knowledge and skills to implement innovative strategies to alleviate or resolve the issue.

This year’s Academy has chosen to channel its collective

energy into making a lasting impact on the lives of children in need by addressing the gap in recruiting and retaining foster care families. Our County and the Academy participants recognize the importance of a strong and supportive foster care system.

As the WCLA progresses, it continues to exemplify the power of informed leadership and community engagement. By immersing themselves in the challenges and opportunities within Washoe County, participants are not only broadening their perspectives but actively contributing to positive change.

As these emerging leaders continue to channel their passion, knowledge, and newfound perspectives, we are confident that their efforts will contribute meaningfully to the well-being of children in need. Together, we look forward to witnessing the positive impact their projects will have on our community, reinforcing the WCLA’s commitment to nurturing leaders who drive positive change. 

looking ahead, washoe county defines priorities for 2024 and achieving them with dignity

The Board of County Commissioners convened at the Sparks Branch of the Washoe County Library in October for a special workshop to provide direction and discuss priorities for the upcoming year. Staff and members of the public came together to see firsthand their elected officials determine which projects should take precedence in the upcoming year, with senior services, mental health initiatives, and assessing and repairing county facilities at the forefront.

Washoe County Leadership Academy class of 2024

Washoe County’s senior population is already higher than the national average and is only expected to grow. Vital services identified for seniors included meal sites, homemaker services and case management. Identified gaps include the need for mental health and peer support to prevent senior isolation, enhanced nutrition services, quality of care, facilities, and transportation, among others. This gives staff important strategic direction going into 2024.

On a different note, multiple departments within the county encounter individuals displaying unstable and often dangerous behavior, from the justice system to the foster program. Discussions circulated around the root cause of these problematic behaviors: mental health. The role of the county in addressing mental health was examined to see how resources may be best allocated, such as strategies in accessing existing mental health resources when the county interfaces with those exhibiting a mental health crisis, and working collaboratively with regional partners.

Students learning at UC Davis Science Center

Large capital improvement projects were identified by county staff and presented to the Board for discussion and direction, with the goal of recognizing the priority of projects where funds need to be allocated. The board directed staff to focus on the detention center and mental health expansion to the 911 Parr Boulevard facility, the West Hills mental health hospital rehabilitation, and the needs associated with the downtown judicial center.

And with the priorities set for 2024, Washoe County staff and elected officials have a new tool in their toolbox to help them achieve their goals: the Dignity Index. As the workshop began, attendees at the meeting were introduced to a numerical scale that helps identify tone of language and ease division with those with whom we disagree. The idea? Find common ground and treat each other with dignity so that solutions and values may be identified for the greater good.

As we say goodbye to 2023, we are confident the goal is to use the guide to treat each other with dignity throughout the upcoming year.

No time on Tuesday? Send an e-comment instead

Fire fighters put out a fire.

You now have a new way to provide input to Washoe County decision-makers on topics that are important to you through the SpeakUp platform. SpeakUp allows those who may not be able to attend Washoe County Board of County Commissioner meetings on the second, third, and fourth Tuesdays of the month to participate in policymaking by providing eComment on board agenda items. This new platform levels the playing field and allows all residents to participate in the democratic process, whether they can attend a meeting in person or not. Even those without internet access at home or on a smartphone are encouraged to visit a local library and use the computers to make an eComment, free of charge.

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How does it work? Online Board of County Commissioner meeting agendas will now have an eComment option where residents can sign up to speak in person at the meeting or provide their eComments online. Comments will be limited to 2,250 characters – the approximate equivalent of three minutes of speech, the limit for public comment in meetings. Commenters cannot respond to other comments and can only comment once per item. The commenting period begins the day of agenda posting and closes 18 hours before the start of the meeting.


Those who wish to appear in person to speak during meetings can register to speak through the same portal, eliminating the need to queue up at the meeting and fill out a comment card. The option to sign up to provide public comment will still be offered in Chambers the day of the meeting.   


Email has long been an option for those who cannot attend meetings in person, and those emails are available to County Commissioners and entered into the record. However, they are not read aloud at meetings, meaning that many may need to be noticed by officials or the public. SpeakUp makes the online comments publicly visible so elected officials, fellow residents, and other decision-makers can read them at any time and better understand residents’ range of thoughts and views. Commenters can also select a stance on topics, marking “Support,” “Oppose,” or “Neutral.”  


This commenting opportunity launched in the summer and is already experiencing substantial community participation in local government. Democracy works best when all voices are heard, and SpeakUp allows for that. 

let’s keep the giving going

Commissioner Clark using fitness equipment.

This time of year tends to inspire each of us to give more. More volunteer time, more donations, and more of ourselves to the things that matter most. Let’s keep the giving spirit going well into 2024! Below are just a few ways that Washoe County is keeping the giving going, and ideas on how you can become more involved in helping our population’s most vulnerable and keep that holiday spirit year-round.

Help for senior citizens:

Are you a senior, or do you have a senior in your life you care for? At the Washoe County Human Services Agency’s Senior Services Division, the team is dedicated to improving the health and well-being of our community’s residents, regardless of age. They proudly offer free blood pressure clinics at seven convenient senior centers throughout Washoe County, making it easy for you to bring your favorite senior in for this important screening. Learn more and see a full list of locations online.

Also, the successful Congregate Meal Program already functioning in various parts of the community will now be available in Lemmon Valley. There is a new meal site for seniors at the Westbrook Community Center, open weekdays. The goal of Washoe County’s Congregate Meal Program is to provide lunch for seniors in a group setting, providing them the opportunity to socialize and enjoy a healthy meal. Spend some time with seniors at these congregate meal sites to help prevent isolation, all while enjoying a meal together.  View the menu and complete list of Washoe County meal sites.

Help for those experiencing homelessness:

With many formerly houseless individuals finding permanent housing, this holiday season the Washoe County Housing and Homelessness team is focusing donation needs for household items that one may need when setting up a new place to call home. These individuals and families are looking forward to setting up their new homes and we want to be able to support this. Will you help?

We have a list of household and various items on our Amazon Wishlist, but please note that every item must be new and unused. If you are interested in donating, contact our Housing and Homeless Services team by emailing And while we can accept large-quantity ground coffee, we generally do not accept food donations.

In the near future, there will also be volunteer opportunities, including assistance in setting up and working a clothing closet for the participants at the Cares Campus, and assembling donated furniture from community partners. If interested in volunteering, sign up here: Volunteer Application.

Help for animals:

What about our furry friends? The Washoe County Regional Animal Services just wrapped up its Petsgiving season, but there are many other ways to help vulnerable animals all year long. One area of particular need is veterinary care for the pets of those that qualify through a referral program. In partnership with Washoe County Regional Animal Services, Options Veterinary Care is a nonprofit organization that provides veterinary care to at-risk pets in our community. If you want to donate to benefit pets, this is an excellent choice. Want to read some inspiring success stories? Click here.