Top headlines from the Board of County Commissioners Meeting

by | Nov 15, 2022

The following are highlights from today’s Washoe County Board of County Commissioners meeting:

1. Washoe County receives Nevada Division of State Parks Land & Water Conservation Fund grant to install new, all-inclusive playground at Rancho San Rafael Regional ark: The all-inclusive playground will include the redesign and replacement of an existing playground in Rancho San Rafael Regional Park to provide recreational opportunities to better serve the community and provide play opportunities for all children, regardless of ability. The Nevada Division of State Parks Land & Water Conservation Fund grant in the amount of $455,250 will be matched by the county, with final execution of the new playground anticipated in the summer of 2025.

Existing conditions at the site include outdated play equipment, picnic tables without shade or accessibility, and only one ADA parking space. The existing playground equipment, surfacing, and surrounding amenities are not accessible, especially for wheelchair use. J&A Design Studio was contracted by the county to develop preliminary site and concept plans using the latest innovations in “all-inclusive” play. Inclusive playground equipment goes beyond ADA accessibility to address all elements of inclusive play which are identified as social/emotional, physical, sensory, cognitive, and communication.

This project is consistent with the goals, objectives, and strategies outlined in the 2019 Washoe County Regional Parks and Open Space Master Plan and the Rancho San Rafael Regional Park Master Plan.

2. Board hears from Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority CEO on upcoming renovations: Daren Griffin, CEO of Reno Tahoe Airport Authority (RTAA), shared the vision for renovations to the Reno-Tahoe Airport that will include a multi-year infrastructure modernization program that will bring the airport into 2040. Noting significant deficiencies in the existing airport including hold rooms designed for smaller aircraft loads, the need for necessary maintenance to continue operations for the next 20 years, and the desire to provide an improved experience for passengers, employees, airlines and tenants, the RTAA expects to invest $1 Billion over the next seven years.

The Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority is financially independent, receiving no state or local funding, and this renovation investment is estimated to generate $2 Billion for the local economy and 4,000 jobs.

Griffin promised that the Reno Tahoe Airport renovations will enhance what people already love about the space and highlight what our community has to offer, “The concourse will be wider, taller, offer better views of our dramatic mountains, allow more natural light, as well as access to outdoor spaces, which is a huge improvement for people who can go outside while waiting for aircraft. With 315 days of sunshine here every year, we need to do a better job of taking advantage of our natural environment. This project will allow us to do that.”

Commission Vice-Chair Alexis Hill gave credit to the Reno Tahoe Airport Authority on how environmentally conscientious the proposed project is, given the inclusion of electric car charging stations and other planned green features. Commissioner Kitty Jung echoed Vice-Chair Hill’s admiration for the expansion and renovation, noting the importance of the airport to the community. She further expressed appreciation for the current concourse art display featuring the Stewart Indian School, to remember the individuals who were a part of the school, their sacrifices, their art and their contributions to Washoe County culture stating, “I might take a flight just to see this display.”

3. Increase of in-demand downloadable library materials on the horizon thanks to a grant from the State of Nevada: The board approved the State Public Library Collection Development Project Grant-In-Aid Award from the State of Nevada in the amount of $17,879 for the purpose of purchasing books and library materials. Washoe County Library System submitted an application for the grant called Shorten the Wait, which will augment the existing digital collection. The goal is to reduce hold ratios and decrease patron wait times for in-demand digital titles by purchasing additional copies of digital titles, which will directly benefit library patrons by making it easier and faster to obtain popular, in-demand eBooks and downloadable audiobooks.

Washoe County Library Director Jeff Scott noted, “Our library system has seen a huge demand in e-book usage in the past two years. Grants like these allow us to keep up and meet that demand. We are thrilled to be able to offer more e-books and downloadable audiobooks for those on-the-go.”

4. Board recognizes Veterans Day, National Apprenticeship Week, and Lung Cancer Awareness Month with proclamations: The board recognized three separate groups with proclamations at the Board of County Commissioners meeting:

Veterans Day,
National Apprenticeship Week, and
Lung Cancer Awareness Month

Washoe County employees who are veterans were invited to Washoe County Chambers to receive the Veterans Day proclamation presented by Commissioner Jung, whose father and spouse are also military veterans.

“If you look at the Veterans with me here, this is the highest form of civil service, the military. You will also notice these civil servants, my favorite people in the world, are also public servants, because it gets into you,” Commissioner Jung said. “I humbly thank you and want you to know we will never forget.”

Brian Pratham of Northern Nevada Apprenticeship Coordinators Association was present in Chambers to accept the National Apprenticeship Week proclamation and shared the importance of apprenticeship programs for the future of the country. “As we move forward, our skilled craft workers are going to start retiring. We are opening jobs for people who want to learn these skills.”

Vice-Chair Hill noted that apprenticeship positions are good for women, offering great pay, advancement opportunities and rewarding work. Commissioner Jung added that trades offer excellent pay and “Cadillac” benefits programs that protect both the individual worker and their families.

For Lung Cancer Awareness Month, the proclamation was presented by Commissioner Jeanne Herman to members of the Nevada Cancer Coalition.

Darcy Phillips of the Nevada Cancer Coalition shared with the board, “Only one percent of eligible Nevadans get screened for lung cancer, which contributes to our incredibly high death rate of people diagnosed with lung cancer. We are trying to spread awareness to encourage people to get screened.”

5. Board accepts grant to aid Washoe County Sheriff’s Office Forensic Science Division to reduce backlog of DNA analysis: The board approved a grant awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance to the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office in the amount of $400,000 to fund the DNA Capacity Enhancement and Backlog Reduction Program. The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office Forensic Science Division will use these funds to pay costs associated with overtime needed to eliminate and prevent future bottlenecks in the DNA analysis of cases and offender samples, travel and training, equipment, and supplies.

Vice-Chair Hill stated how important this grant will be, sharing, “This is very exciting, and life-changing for many people in our community who have been victims.”

6. Washoe County Green Team benefits from Commission District Special Fund allocation: Commissioner Alexis Hill allocated $2,500 of Commission District Special Funds to benefit the Washoe County Green Team, to aid in supporting the team’s awareness of green initiatives within the county. The mission of the Green Team is to encourage, inspire, and support Washoe County’s efforts to build a sustainable community for the benefit of current residents and future generations.