Caughlin Fire update


Morning update (4:20 a.m.): Crews from across the region continued their efforts to secure property and the fire area throughout the evening. The fire crews made great progress last night. Crews were able to extinguish a good portion of the hot spots and secure homes, and power has been returned to residents affected by the fire.

Power has not been returned to homes that have been damaged. Residents displaced by the fire are expected to be able to return at noon today. This will apply to residents only. All other traffic in affected areas will be diverted.

U.S. Senator Dean Heller and U.S. Congressman Mark Amodei will be briefed, tour the disaster site and meet residents this afternoon. If you would like to be a part of the tour, please contact us.

Clarification: The 211 (775-337-5800) Call Center will continue to answer inquiries; however, they are not returning calls when it is safe to return home. Please monitor the local media and for more information.

Clarification: Yesterday the city of Reno, Washoe County and state of Nevada declared a state of emergency allowing the state to obtain funds to fight the fire. The Fire Management Assistance Grant funds are awarded federally only to obtain resources and equipment to fight the fire. The state of Nevada is now eligible to receive funding for firefighting assistance.

Washoe County Animal Control has taken in about 15 pets. Some of these pets may have been left at the evacuation center at Reno or Galena High School. Pets can be claimed today at Animal Control (2825 Longley Lane) starting at 11 am. Call 322-3647 during that time to make arrangements as Animal Control is normally closed on Saturdays.

To volunteer, contact the Red Cross at 775-856-1000.

To make food donations, contact Salvation Army at 775-856-1000

Sandoval statement on potential available state funds


CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval made the following statement this afternoon after being briefed by the Department of Administration on possible state funding available for the Caughlin Fire:

“I am satisfied the state has the ability to provide assistance to Reno and Washoe County following today’s fire. The state has in excess of $3 million available for local government and state agency grants or loan reimbursement. The funding, subject to a process through the Board of Examiners and the Interim Finance Committee, can be used toward the 25 percent state match to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant Nevada was approved for this morning.

“I would like to commend the work of local, state, federal and National Guard officials in responding to today’s events. They have valiantly stepped forward to assist their fellow man today, exemplifying the resilient spirit of our state.”

Northern Nevada Government And Business Leaders Gather To Push Forward On Economic Development

By Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau

RENO – Officials and business leaders attending a regional summit on economic development here on Thursday emphasized the need to work together regionally to bring in new employers and create jobs.

The summit, called ReCharge Nevada, was attended by about 300 government officials and business representatives to help create a unified front on efforts to help reverse the state’s highest-in-the-nation unemployment rate.

Reno Mayor Bob Cashell said his hope is that all the western Nevada communities will learn to work together on economic development and diversification. It’s not just Reno-Sparks anymore, but job creation efforts have to encompass the counties and cities from Fernley to Yerington, he said.


Reno Mayor Bob Cashell speaks at ReCharge Nevada. / Nevada News Bureau.

“Businesses have to quit undercutting each other,” Cashell said. “And we need to work together. Businesses need to work together. Because what’s good for your business is good for my business. There’s a lot of hard work in front of us now.”

Mike Kazmierski, the newly appointed president and CEO of the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada who came to the job from Colorado Springs, said the meeting is an important first step to getting everyone to work together.

“The first thing we need to do as a region is accept the fact that together we’re going to be stronger,” he said. “And it’s really not just an agency’s responsible to do economic development, it’s every single person’s responsibility.

“And people while they are flying, while they are talking to friends, and neighbors and businesses, need to talk about why they live here,” Kazmierski said. “That’s all they need to say because they live here for a reason.”

At the same time officials were gathered at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center to work on economic development strategies, Gov. Brian Sandoval was in Las Vegas making a similar pitch to the Nevada Development Authority.

The emphasis on diversification and job growth come just as a new report on how to achieve the state’s goals was released on Monday to Sandoval and the members of the newly constituted Board of Economic Development, created with bipartisan support from the 2011 Legislature.

The report, a joint effort by the Brookings Institution and the Stanford Research Institute, now known as SRI International, identifies seven economic sectors, some already in existence such as gaming and tourism, and some emerging such as clean energy, where Nevada should focus its efforts.

The state has put some green, in the form of cash, into the effort as well.

Steve Hill, executive director of the Governor’s Office on Economic Development, said the state has established a $10 million Catalyst Fund to help firms relocated or expand in Nevada. The money will be used to provide grants to local governments for economic development projects.

Hill said it is important that the money be spent efficiently and strategically to pursue the types of economic sectors the state is targeting.

Sandoval and local government officials around the state are focusing on economic development and job creation as Nevada continues to suffer from the recession that first emerged in December 2007. The state has lost 170,000 jobs in that time.



Audio clips:


Nevada economic development official Mike Kazmierski says unity is important for economic development efforts to succeed:

111711Kazmierski1 :18 single person’s responsibility.”


Kazmierski says everyone can help in the effort:

111711Kazmierski2 :09 for a reason.” 

Sandoval declares state of emergency


CARSON CITY – At 8 a.m. today, Gov. Brian Sandoval, under his constitutional and statutory authority, made a state declaration of emergency which qualifies local governments for federal assistance associated with the Caughlin Ranch fire.

Sandoval is onsite with local officials, and the state emergency operations center has been activated.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have been and are being affected by this fire,” Sandoval said. “Declaring a state of emergency ensures that every resource from the local, state and federal level is available to assist. I have asked the National Guard to be on alert, and state resources are supporting Reno and Washoe County officials.”

Additionally this morning, Nevada was approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for a Fire Management Assistance Grant. As a result, Nevada is eligible for up to 75 percent funding assistance for eligible costs. The request was made by the Nevada Division of Forestry on behalf of the city of Reno at the onset of the fire this morning.

Nevadans wishing to assist may make financial contributions to the Red Cross designated for this event. Residents of Reno and Washoe County should remain on alert, stay informed and should stay out of the area if at all possible. Residents in non-affected areas should stay informed and review their family evacuation plan, ensuring they have all necessary supplies.

Best of local public relations programs, tactics and professionals honored



The Sierra Nevada Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) recognized northern Nevada’s outstanding programs and top professional for the past year at the Annual Silver Spikes Awards on Thursday, Nov. 17.

“Our industry has advanced because of the exceptional professionals at work throughout the community,” said 2011 PRSA Sierra Nevada Chapter President Annie McFarland. “The Silver Spike Awards ceremony is an opportunity to acknowledge those who set the standard and inspire others to communicate with effectiveness and integrity.” McFarland is also marketing specialist for International Game Technology.

Connie Wray of Alice 96.5 FM emceed the awards ceremony at the Atlantis Casino Resort. Three Silver Spike trophies, the organization’s top honors, were handed out to recognize the best public relations programs, plans, tools and tactics. In addition, 10 Awards of Excellence were awarded (a complete list of winners follows).

Twenty-four entries were submitted by public relations professionals throughout northern Nevada. Entrants were able to select from 23 different categories ranging from special events and ongoing PR programs to media relations and special purpose videos. Entries were judged by professionals from the Maine Public Relations Council, who rated each entry on its research, strategic planning, execution and evaluation.

Members of PRSA also selected four local professionals for their contributions to the public relations profession and the community.

Kenneth Furlong, Carson City Sheriff, was honored with the Mark Twain Community Service Award, given annually to an area newsmaker who has demonstrated integrity, honest and sincere concern about the community. Past recipients include Frankie Sue Del Papa, Joe Crowley, Mike Houghton and Trooper Chuck Allen, who introduced Sheriff Furlong.

Sheriff Furlong was recognized for his role as a community leader who has demonstrated a high standard of excellence in communicating with employees, the public and the media. As a public official, he is frequently called upon to be the face and voice of Carson City’s public. This was dramatically evident recently when Furlong was, in just a few hours, thrust into the international spotlight after a gunman entered Carson City’s IHOP restaurant and killed four people and injured 11 others. Furlong was one of the first on scene and remained as the spokesperson for international media from early September through today. He faced media openly and was very accessible in providing up-to-date information during the crisis.

Adam Mayberry, community relations manager for the city of Sparks, was presented with the Gold Spike Award. The annual award recognizes a public relations professional who uses professional skills in public service activities, providing a positive service to the social and economic well-being of the community over time. At the City of Sparks, Adam is responsible for nearly all public relations functions of the city including spearheading the city’s branding and marketing efforts and government relations. In addition to serving the community in his professional capacity, Adam has been very active in the community serving on various boards and committees. He is currently a board member for Secret Witness, and is past chairman of the Legislative Affairs Committee for Northern Nevada Chamber of Commerce and past commissioner of the Sparks Centennial Committee.

Bob Conrad, public information officer for the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, was honored with the chapter member award, Mark Curtis Sr., Professional of the Year Award. The award acknowledges a member of the PRSA Sierra Nevada Chapter who has demonstrated excellence over the past year in their chapter role as a public relations professional. As chapter vice president of communications, Bob created the communications plan for the chapter, including the redesign of the website and e-newsletters. He excels in online and social media, science writing, higher education administration, branding and identity, crisis communications, marketing communications, science communications, agricultural communications and environmental communications.

Meghan Wagonseller, business development coordinator at EDAWN, received the Outstanding New Practitioner Award. This award recognizes someone who has been working in the profession for less than five years and has not only demonstrated a high level of commitment to the profession and the chapter, but a sincere desire toward making our community a better place to live. Since graduating from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2010 as the Outstanding Public Relations Student, Meghan has continued to excel. In her numerous roles at EDAWN, starting with an internship and progressing to her current role, she has written, edited and disseminated local news releases and announcements for EDAWN, assisted with media pitching, event planning, research and media database maintenance, new member recruitment and retention, developing value systems that introduced new sponsorship and partnership opportunities for member companies, and managed member networking events as well as updated EDAWN’s website. She currently supports EDAWN’s business development team to recruit, expand and retain quality companies that bring good-paying, skilled jobs to the Greater Reno-Tahoe region.

The Sierra Nevada Chapter of PRSA was established in 1984 by a dozen public relations practitioners in northern Nevada. It was the second PRSA chapter in the state, complementing an older chapter based in Las Vegas and aimed at providing public relations practitioners in northern Nevada and the Lake Tahoe area with a closer professional connection to each other and to national public relations activities. The Chapter has been recognized as a leader in PRSA from its beginnings. Formal recognition of that leadership was accorded in 1995 with the national “Best of Chapter Excellence” award. The Chapter is active in professional development for its members and community-service service programs for organizations without formal public relations departments. It maintains a close working relationship with the Theodore E. Conover Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) at the University of Nevada, helping the student organization toward a number of regional and national awards, including the prestigious Bateman Case Study championship.

For more information about the Sierra Nevada Chapter of PRSA, go to

Complete list of Silver Spike 2011 Awards

Public Relations Programs

Special Events & Observances, Budget less than $10,000

Award of Excellence:

  • Washoe County School District for “Countdown to Graduation”

Special Events & Observances, Budget more than $25,000

Award of Excellence:

  • Weidinger Public Relations for “Golf the High Sierra Media Tour”

Ongoing Programs with a Budget more than $25,000

Silver Spike:

  • The Glenn Group for “The Summit Public Relations Program”

Award of Excellence:

  • Weidinger Public Relations for “American Century Championship – Tahoe Celebrity Golf”

Community Relations

Award of Excellence:

  • University of Nevada, Reno for “National Merit Scholars: Signing the state’s best and brightest academic athletes

Marketing Communications

Award of Excellence:

  • R&R Partners for “Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum-Believe in Up”

Overall Campaign, Budget more than $25,000

Award of Excellence:

  • Weidinger Public Relations for “Amgen Tour of California”

Tools & Tactics

Publications – Annual Reports

Award of Excellence:

  • Nevada National Guard for “Nevada National Guard Biennial Report”


Award of Excellence:

  • Nevada National Guard for “ Nevada National Guard Battle Born Magazine”

Internet-based Communications

Silver Spike:

  • Washoe County School District for “WCSD Facebook Snow Day Snowman Contest”

Award of Excellence:

  • City of Sparks for “It’s Happening Here” website

Media Relations

Silver Spike:

  • Abbi Public Relations, Inc. for “ Media Relations”

Award of Excellence:

  • The Glenn Group for “50/50 Tribute Ride”

Judge’s Choice Award: This award was determined by the judging chapter from all eligible entries in both the “Programs” division and the “Tools and Tactics” division.

  • The Glenn Group for “The Summit Public Relations Program”
  • Washoe County School District for “WCSD Facebook Snow Day Snowman Contest”

Student’s Choice Award: This award was determined by public relations students at the University of Nevada, Reno

  • RKPR Inc. for Ascent Douglas “Tweet for Chips”

Prescribed fire operations resume in the Angora area

U.S. Forest Service fuels management crews are scheduled to resume prescribed fire operations in the Angora area today, November 17, 2011.  Fuels reduction crews are expected to conduct operations on a total of approximately 40 acres near Mule Deer Circle.   Operations may continue through the week.

Residents and visitors can expect to see smoke from this prescribed fire project area.  Smoke may be visible on Lake Tahoe Blvd.  The Forest Service strives to minimize the impacts of smoke on local communities.  Smoke-sensitive residents should consider staying indoors and keeping doors, windows and outside vents closed.   To directly receive prescribed fire updates, send an email  Forest Service staff will post road signs around areas affected by prescribed fire, and update the local fire information line at (530) 543-2600, #6.   Other federal, state and local fire management agencies may also be conducting prescribed fire work during this period.

For more information, visit our website at  To learn more about the efforts to reduce catastrophic wildfire risks in the Tahoe Basin read the Lake Tahoe Basin Multi-jurisdictional Fuel Reduction Plan found at

Take a few moments to visit an excellent web site and learn about Prescribed Fire vs. Wildfire at:

Washoe County 2002 animal services ballot initiative


Washoe County today clarified the 2002 ballot question and 2003 interlocal agreement for Regional Animal Services among Reno, Sparks and Washoe County.

The voter-approved ballot question called for an increase in the tax rate of up to 3 cents for animal welfare services, noting that the tax increase would be offset by Reno and Sparks each lowering their tax rate by 2 cents. The ballot question further clarified that nothing in the question would prevent the local governments from raising taxes for other purposes. The city of Sparks lowered its tax rate, but the city of Reno did not, and Reno continued to retain the tax rate for the eight years since then.

As a result of the ballot language, nothing that the city of Reno did in declining to lower its tax rate is illegal, nor is it illegal for the county to impose a tax rate for Animal Services that is less than 3 cents.

The county is proposing to use a portion of the accumulated reserves that are restricted in the Animal Services Fund for Animal Services operations for one year and lower the taxes that are collected for Animal Services for that year.

The county is also proposing to apply a portion of its available tax rate for other critical needs that are underfunded, such as Senior Services and Child Protective Services, which also had voter-approved overrides but those are insufficient to adequately fund the services. Those services have been subsidized by the general fund for more than a decade.

These changes are proposed to be considered in May of 2012, for the 2012-2013 budget year. The proposed tax rate change will have no effect on the budget for Animal Services for the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

“We are extremely proud of the work of our Regional Animal Services team,” said County Commission Vice Chairman Bonnie Weber. “They have one of the best animal save rates in the country at 94 percent, compared to 58 percent for the most recently reported national average. The proposal that the commission will consider would not adversely affect their budget or their operations.”

For more information, please download the animal services budget frequently asked questions online.

The Facts about Medicare Premiums


By David Sayen

You may have heard rumors lately that Medicare Part B premiums are shooting up – by as much as 200 percent.

Those rumors are completely false, I’m happy to say.

In fact, for most people with Medicare, the Part B premium will rise by $3.50 per month in 2012. That means the total monthly premium will be $99.90.

Medicare is divided into four parts, A, B, C and D. Part A pays for hospital inpatient care, skilled nursing care, hospice and some home health care.

Part B pays for doctor services, outpatient care and some other types of home health.

Part C, also known as Medicare Advantage, finances managed care plans, like HMOs and PPOs, operated by private companies approved by Medicare. And Part D is the Medicare prescription drug program.

Only about 1 percent of people with Medicare pay Part A premiums, since they paid enough in Medicare taxes over their working lives to qualify for premium-free Part A. We expect Part C premiums to be 4 percent lower, on average, next year. And Part D premiums will be about the same next year as this year.

People with Medicare pay 25 percent of their Part B premiums; the government picks up the rest. The actual amount of the premium is set each year based on expected care costs for all Medicare beneficiaries.

The “standard” Part B premium of $96.40 – the amount paid by most beneficiaries – had stayed the same since 2008, under a law that prohibits increases in Part B premiums in years in which there’s no cost-of-living increase in Social Security payments.

But retired workers will receive an average of $43 more each month in their Social Security checks next year. That will more than offset the $3.50 per month rise in standard Part B premiums.

The Part B deductible for 2012 will be $140, a decrease of $22 from this year.

The Part A deductible paid by beneficiaries when admitted as a hospital inpatient will be $1,156 in 2012, an increase of $24 from this year’s $1,132. This change is well below increases in previous years and general inflation.


I also want to remind everyone with Medicare that the end of open enrollment season is drawing near. The deadline for choosing a new Medicare health or prescription drug plan is Dec. 7.
People with Medicare should check their current plans to make sure they’re still a good fit. Can you still afford the premiums? Does your plan still cover the medical services and drugs you need?

If you’d like help sorting through all the choices, take a look at the “Medicare & You” handbook that was mailed to you recently. It lists all the health and drug plans that offer coverage in your area.

You also may want to check out Medicare’s online Plan Finder tool at Among other things, Plan Finder lets you enter the names of the medications you’re taking and find a plan that covers most or all of them.

Beginning this year, Plan Finder also rates Medicare Advantage plans according to our Five-Star Rating System. A gold icon indicates plans that received five stars, the highest rating for quality of care and customer service. We encourage people with Medicare to enroll in plans with higher ratings — and we hope lower-rated plans will work hard to improve their care and service.

I also wanted to let you know that, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, people who fall into the Part D “donut hole” will be eligible for 50 percent discounts on covered brand-name drugs next year. About 1.8 million Medicare beneficiaries have gotten cheaper drugs this year through the discount.

Also thanks to the Affordable Care Act, Medicare preventive health benefits are now available for free. These services include cancer screenings and an annual wellness visit with your doctor.

David Sayen is Medicare’s regional administrator for California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii and the Pacific Trust Territories. You can always get answers to your Medicare questions by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

Forest Service Christmas tree permits available in rural areas



Christmas is fast approaching and tree cutting permits are now available, at your local Forest Service offices.  Permits are $5.00 per tree, with a limit of 5 trees per family.  Permits will be available for sale until Friday, December 23, 2011.

Permits for cutting trees on the Mountain City, Jarbidge, Ruby Mountains, and Ely Ranger Districts can be purchased at the Elko Forest Service Office at 2035 Last Chance Road in Elko.  Permits for the Ruby Mountains and Jarbidge Ranger Districts can be purchased at 140 Pacific Avenue in Wells.

Office hours at both locations are 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday

Permits are also available by mail as long as a check or money order is included, and made out to USDA Forest Service.

Mountain City Ranger District Christmas tree permits may also be obtained in Owyhee at:

Our Grocery Store

Highway 225

Owyhee, NV  89832

Hours for the store are Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Mountain Time, and Saturday and Sunday, 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Mountain Time.

Jarbidge Ranger District Christmas tree permits are also available in Twin Falls at:

Sawtooth National Forest Headquarters Office

2647 Kimberly Road East

Twin Falls, NV  83301

Office hours are Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mountain Time.

Permit holders may obtain directions to cutting areas at the issuing office.  Forest Service permits allow the cutting of pinyon pine or juniper in the Ruby Mountains south of Harrison Pass and on the south end of the East Humboldt range, in the Outhouse Draw or Arizona Springs cutting units; sub-alpine fir, pinyon pine, or juniper on the Mountain City Ranger District north of Elko; or, subalpine fir in the Jarbidge area, also north of Wells.

When heading out for your Christmas tree, remember to prepare for the unexpected.  Emergency equipment and supplies such as chains, snow tires, a first-aid kit, blankets, and extra food and water are recommended for winter traveling.  Always tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return time.

Both the Elko and Wells Forest Service offices will be closed Thursday, November 24.  Learn more about this release by contacting Tracie Winfrey at 775-738-5171.

Jessica Sferrazza honored as Public Official of the Year


Tomorrow at the Reno City Council meeting, David Fraser, executive director of the Nevada League of Cities and Municipalities, will present a trophy to Councilwoman Jessica Sferrazza. Sferrazza was named Public Official of the Year for 2011 at the Nevada League of Cities and Municipalities Annual Conference last month in Mesquite, Nev.

Sferrazza has served as the Reno City Council representative of Ward 3 for three consecutive terms. She was the youngest council member ever elected in the city’s history at age 27. Since taking office in 2000, Sferrazza has been actively involved in the Nevada League of Cities and Municipalities, serving as president in 2010.

While serving on the Reno City Council, Sferrazza has dedicated many of her efforts to revitalizing previously neglected areas of the city, with particular attention to the Wells Avenue corridor and, more recently, the Oliver/Montello area.

In 2002 Sferrazza initiated a bond question to construct a new regional animal shelter and consolidate regional animal services, with the question receiving 60 percent voter approval. Sferrazza has actively sought to engage the city’s youth in civic life, has advocated for the creation of affordable housing throughout the community and remains committed to improving government for the citizens of Reno.

The Nevada League of Cities and Municipalities has 22 member agencies and provides its members with legislative and research services, group insurance and benefits programs, training programs, workshops and conferences.

The Public Official of the Year program started in 1979. Past recipients of the award include former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, Henderson Mayor Andy Hafen and Elko Mayor Mike Franzoia. Former Wells Mayor Rusty Tybo received the award in 2010. Sferrazza is the fifth woman to win the award and only the second representative from the city of Reno to receive the award. Former Reno Mayor Jeff Griffin was Public Official of the Year in 2000.