Washoe Commission: Homeless help, lantern fest, dogs at restaurants

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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - The following highlights several agenda items from the Washoe County Board of Commissioners meeting February 27, 2018:

1. Commissioners approved the creation of a Community Homelessness Advisory Board to help the homeless population. Washoe County currently provides $6M in funding to support homeless efforts in Northern Nevada, and is joining efforts in a new regional initiative.

Commissioners approved the formation of a Community Homelessness Advisory Board, or CHAB, to review and provide recommendations on homeless matters including funding, community-wide homeless strategies, and other issues determined by the CHAB. The CHAB will consist of six members, two each from the cities of Reno and Sparks and two from Washoe County.

Vice-Chair Kitty Jung and Commissioner Bob Lucey were appointed as voting members, with Chair Marsha Berkbigler as an appointed alternate member, of the CHAB representing Washoe County. Commissioners also approved each member serve a two-year term on the CHAB.

“This move to create a new board is to broaden the scope and our impact on this issue,” says Berkbigler. “Through this board, all three entities will be represented and gives opportunity for a high-level of collaboration for our regional homeless issues.”

2. Chinese Lantern Festival event comes to Washoe County in 2018. Commissioners unanimously approved an agreement between Tianyu Arts & Culture and May Arboretum & Botanical Garden to host the Chinese Lantern Festival at Rancho San Rafael Regional Park. The festival will feature illuminated lanterns and a variety of displays and performances. The event will take place June 30 through August 5, 2018.

“This is a truly unique event that we are excited to bring to Rancho San Rafael Regional Park,” says Eric Crump, Operations Division Director. “It will be a welcomed addition to all of our other fantastic signature park events throughout the year.”

3. Commissioners approved mandated increase of Washoe County Recorder fees. In the 2017 Nevada Legislature, Senate Bill 305 (SB 305) requires funding to abused and neglected children in need of legal representation. Under SB305, County Commissioners can increase the Recorder fees to cover this unfunded mandate.

February 13, 2018, the Board of County Commissioners introduced the first reading of a new ordinance that would increase Recorder fees from $3 to $6 to cover costs associated with the assignment of legal representation to 100 percent of abused and neglected children in Washoe County.

Commissioners approved the final reading of the new ordinance increasing fees, and the new fee increase will become effective April 1, 2018.

4. Commissioners approved a grant to fund dog-friendly patio signs for approved local restaurants. The Washoe County Health District has received a $3,000 grant from the Food and Drug Administration to print “Dog Access Approved” signs for local restaurants and bars that meet Health District approval to allow non-service dogs in their outdoor dining areas.

Currently, only designated service dogs are allowed in restaurants or bars due to the highly-trained nature of the animals. With today’s approval, dogs will be allowed in designated outdoor dining areas of approved establishments and will be marked accordingly with dog-friendly signs.

5. Commissioners approved several grants for Human Services Agency to promote reunification and adoption. Commissioners approved a Child Welfare Collaboration Agreement with Casey Family Programs, which included a $35,000 grant. The funds will go toward promoting family reunification and permanency for children, which will reduce foster care reentries. The Human Services Agency (HSA) partners with Casey Family Programs to implement the Quality Parenting Initiative, an innovative approach to strengthening foster care, including kinship care, using branding and marketing strategies.

Commissioners also approved a $10,000 supplemental Social Services Block Grant award from the State of Nevada, Department of Health and Human Services for HSA. Funding will be used to promote reunification, safety and educational support and normalcy for children in foster care.

Commissioners approved a $118,948 grant from the State of Nevada, Division of Child and Family Services to help HSA with the Adoption Incentive program. Adoption is pivotal in providing a stable home for children in foster care, and the Adoption Incentive program provides services to children and families waiting for adoption to be approved, post adoption services and specialized recruitment/training. Funds from the grant are used to cover several expenses such as travel and transition costs of adoptive placement and non-Medicaid covered medical expenses.

HSA finalized 144 adoptions in Fiscal Year 2017.

“We thank all of our partners for supporting our mission of providing a safe home for Washoe County’s children,” said HSA Director Amber Howell. “These grants will help us continue to build on the Agency’s recent success by expediting permanency all while providing a stable, long-term, family-centered plan for children.”

6. Friends of Washoe County Library Donation was approved. Friends of the Washoe County Library joined the Library Board of Trustees and the Board of County Commissioners to present a donation check in the amount of $120,000. The funds raised will be used to provide programs and technology, equipment and library materials.

Over the past 36 years, Friends of the Washoe County Library has raised more than $2.9M for the Washoe County Library System.