Douglas leaders ‘look ahead’ |

Douglas leaders ‘look ahead’

by Amy Alonzo
Western Nevada College Vice President Mark Ghan talks at the Looking Ahead event.
Brad Coman |

Douglas County community leaders shared their vision for the future at the Partnership of Community Resources’ second “Looking Ahead” event Wednesday.

Background checks for gun sales, county growth and health care were among the topics discussed. The event was modeled after speed dating and discussions by community leaders were limited to 10 minutes each.

This year’s speakers were commissioner Dave Nelson, Western Nevada College Vice President Marc Ghan, Deputy District Attorney Zach Wadle, Carson Valley Medical Center CEO Preston Becker, Bently Enterprises Heritage Project Director of Government Affairs Carlo Luri, Douglas County School District Superintendent Teri White, Douglas County Undersheriff Paul Howell and Social Services Manager Karen Beckenbauer.

The event drew about 75 community members to the Douglas County Community Senior Center.

■ Nelson, on growth and infrastructure:

“If we can follow the master plan, we can stay rural,” he said. “That’s my vision for the county, that it remain rural.”

Nelson advocated for attracting small businesses to the area while still retaining agricultural land and said the county should focus on attracting technology companies with 50 employees or fewer.

He also said the county’s budget is its largest challenge.

“We need to work on the infrastructure really, really bad and we’re having the trouble coming up with the money to do that,” he said.

■ Ghan, on career and technical education programs, dual credit instruction and transfer degrees:

“We’re really in tune with what industries need and what our communities need,” he said.

Of the 42 nursing students who graduated last May, 20 were hired at local medical facilities.

More than 500 degrees were awarded last year. About 67 percent of those students transferred to a four-year college afterward.

Dorms being built at the college should be finished by the fall of 2018.

■ Wadle, on the legalization of marijuana in Nevada:

While it is now legal to have up to an ounce of marijuana, it is not legal to give it to someone under the age of 21, to drive under the influence or to smoke it in public. It is, however, legal for employers to declare their businesses drug free zones and local governments to prohibit the use of marijuana on certain properties.

For anyone who does use marijuana, it lingers in the bloodstream.

“You’ll test positive for days and days,” he said.

■ Becker, on the challenges faced by the hospital and goals for the future:

The facility has a hard time attracting physicians and nurses — it has been two years since a physician was hired.

“We’ve tried to get really innovative with our recruitment efforts,” he said.

He also said the facility is looking for ways to grow.

“We can’t offer any new services right now because we don’t have anywhere to put them,” he said. “We need to look at how to strategically grow.”

He said the facility is also looking for ways to better serve younger populations.

■ Luri, on the construction of the Bently Distillery in downtown Minden:

“It will be kind of a unique tourist destination for Minden,” he said.

The ranch has been growing grains, hops and fruit for the products for about two years and production should be underway by the end of the year. A restaurant is not in the plans.

“We’re not planning on getting into the restaurant business at this time,” he said.

■ White, on the school district’s achievements and the challenge of hiring teachers:

The district is the second-highest performing in the state, she said. It is looking at expanding its Jump Start College program, which would allow students to earn associates degrees while still in high school.

Despite its successes and growth, the district does have a hard time recruiting teachers.

“Teacher recruiting has become a big deal for us,” she said. “Our teaching population is veteran.”

■ Howell, on fears about Nevada’s Background Checks for Gun Purchases Initiative:

“Governments are not allowed to pass a law we as citizens can’t follow, and that’s what this law says,” he said. “Although it passed, it’s non-existent.”

■ Beckenbauer, on behavioral health resources in the county:

“Mental health care is very limited across our county and our jails have become a repository,” she said. “They may have committed a crime, but the mental health issue is there.”

Beckenbauer said a mobile outreach safety team was created to connect with people after they are released from jail and that Behavioral Health now refers citizen patrol officers to meet with people.