NACO conference benefits Pershing County leaders

Pershing County leaders shared some insight into the three day gathering with other political leaders from around the state during the annual Nevada Association of Counties conference in Winnemucca.

Taxpayers might wonder if such events are worth the time and money but the county's three commissioners said the September event gave them new ideas and strategies for the county.

County Commissioner Rob McDougal listed some of the informative sessions on successful grant writing, public land recreation, cannabis establishments, emergency management and public safety.

“The conference provided the opportunity for the commissioners to network with commissioners and officials from all the other Nevada counties and attend various informational meetings,” he said. “Among the sessions were information about how to improve the county's ability to get grant money for county projects, making use of open lands for promotion of recreation, implications and options regarding cannabis legalization, best practices for emergency management and other helpful topics.”

McDougal commended Pershing County Commission Chairwoman Carol Shank for becoming a certified public official. Shank explained why the title was worth the many hours of online training.

“I would recommend the Certified Public Official certification to all public officials. It broadens your knowledge and makes you a more effective leader,” she said. “The certification requires over 70 hours on various topics such as budgeting and finance, leadership and governance, community development.”

For Shank, sharing ideas with other public officials was the best part of the conference.

“The NACO conference allows county commissioners to meet and network with public officials at all levels – city, county, state and federal. The networking is the greatest asset of the conference,” she said. “The workshops are composed of experts in different fields on timely issues and concerns.”

Shank said she learned the latest information on state and federal grants that could fund county projects and how data could be used to improve county services and programs. A workshop on emergency management showed how other counties have coordinated with federal, state and local agencies.

“On the last day of the conference, one of our speakers was Kathy Benedetto, Acting BLM Deputy Director,” Shank said. “We heard from her first hand the objectives of the Federal Director of the Interior and how he wants to improve the BLM's working relationship with counties.”

County Commissioner Larry Rackley attended six informational seminars in two days at the conference plus an all-day seminar on employment law, media relations and citizen participation. The continuing education seminars were offered by the University of Nevada, Reno. He did not attend outside tours.

“The seminar on marijuana, discussing laws of the State of Nevada, advised us on what we have to do, what we can do and what we are allowed to do in regards to allowing medical or recreational dispensaries and grow facilities in our community,” he said. “One of the seminars was on Recreation and Public Lands and how they can be a catalyst in our community. One idea is an ATV/OHV off-road system to be used for recreational activities. It would bring in room, food and gas sales along with the associated taxes that would benefit the entire county.”

NACO represents and lobbies for Nevada's 17 rural and urban counties at the state legislative level and it can inform county leaders as they formulate new ordinances and policies according to McDougal.