A new Senior Center Director may be needed but Pershing County Commissioner Larry Rackley told the board he was not ready to advertise the job until “issues” are resolved at the facility. He did not elaborate but staffing has been an ongoing concern at the senior center.
In 2021, the board hired Gisselle Canales to fill the director position. In addition, office support staff, cooks and bus drivers were needed. Employee turnover, wages, volunteers, pandemic concerns and facility oversight have caused ongoing concerns and sometimes heated debate.
“There is an opening now for a director but I’m not ready to advertise it,” Rackley told the board last week. “When the time comes to advertise for a director, I will bring it to the commission.”
“We have things that we have to iron out at the senior center,” he continued but confirmed that the job opening could be advertised “fairly soon.” County Commissioner Carol Shank inquired about posting the job vacancy but Rackley accused her of “micromanaging” the situation.
“Don’t speak to me about micromanaging,” Shank responded. “What I am saying is, I don’t believe it is his (Rackley’s) decision alone to make that call.”
Commission Chairman Shayla Hudson told her fellow commissioners to “knock it off” and said the senior center situation will be discussed at the next county commission meeting.
“It is a board decision. We are policy makers,” she said. “We can ask Karen to move forward and place this on the next agenda. By that time, your things should be ironed out. Correct?”
Earlier, Rackley said meals are delivered to 20 to 25 homebound seniors per day and an average of 29 meals are served each day in the dining hall depending on the lunch menu.
“Our clients are not much in favor of fish but we have to do it twice a month,” he said. “They do like fish tacos and the hamburgers go over very well. We serve meals for 60 to 70 a day.”
Ambulance Coordinator Marti Nolan of the Lovelock Volunteer Fire Department reported there had been 23 ambulance calls so far in April including three rollover vehicle accidents.
“We’ve had three rollovers in three days so those are keeping us busy. One was at one in the morning,” she said. “We’ve had two (patient) transfers.”
LVFD Chief Rod Wilcox said the department now has 18 volunteers. The maximum allowed is 30 volunteers. Fire crews had also been busy this month with six fire calls in the last 19 days.
“One of them was a large brush fire out by the (Humboldt) Sink, we were out there for quite awhile,” he said. “We had two fires at the same time, one at the industrial park and right after we got that one out, we were on our way out by the Indian Caves. Actually, that fire was in Churchill County and still we’re going to respond to it.”
Wilcox said the Churchill County brush fire resulted from a controlled tamarack burn that went out of control due to a sudden gust of heavy wind.
“They had been piling up and burning tamarack,” he said. “What happened was one of the whirlwinds went through and caught it and they (the landowner) couldn’t catch it.”
Firefighter One training and testing continue as well as building fire safety inspections, Wilcox said. He will attend a pre-season brush fire meeting with the BLM in Winnemucca on April 30.
“I will meet with the fire chief in Fallon to talk about our mutual aid agreement that we have with Churchill County and how they want to work that,” Wilcox said.
Outdated supplies and equipment in the Hazardous Materials trailer will be replaced and the LVFD took official possession of a brush truck donated to the department by the BLM, he said.
Grass Valley Volunteer Fire Department Chief and Director of Emergency Management Sean Burke suggested the LVFD and the other three county fire departments upgrade their HAZMAT response capabilities from the awareness level to the operations level.
“We are currently listed as responding at the awareness level, which is the lowest level of response. Our trailer is outfitted to operate at the operations level or even higher. One of the issues we’re going to have to decide is how the fire departments collectively are going to staff HAZMAT response. I personally believe the operations level is the appropriate level for a remote rural county.”
Burke said a tabletop HAZMAT training exercise in July and a field HAZMAT training exercise in September will help the four county fire departments “work through some of those issues.”
A fixed Emergency Operations Center at the Lovelock Community Center and a mobile EOC trailer are in the works with funding from an Emergency Management Program Grant, he said.
OPTION SALES TAX
The board approved changes to the Option Tax Resolution as proposed by District Attorney Bryce Shields. The 2.5 percent county sales tax helps Pershing County pay for emergency fire, medical and law enforcement vehicles plus road department equipment, Shields explained.
“The option tax is for public safety and road maintenance work,” he told the board. “The legislature enacted this statute to enable counties, especially rural counties with a population under 100,000, to use that money to fund fire, ambulance, public safety and roads.”
Starting this fiscal year, the road department will get $100,000 in option sales tax revenues annually for “the financing, purchase/ lease of road maintenance and construction equipment,” Shields said. He reduced the sales tax funds set aside annually for a future law enforcement center from $125,000 down to $115,000 to increase tax funds available to the road department.
As a result, the board approved the road department’s request for a $345,300 John Deere articulated, all-wheel drive motor grader from Pape Machinery in Sparks.
“We’ve never had all wheel drive. I think it’s time,” said Road Department Supervisor Dan Hill.
From July, 2021 to March, 2022, the local option sales tax has collected $552,786 so far this fiscal year according to County Auditor-Recorder Rene Childs. With three months to go in the fiscal year, she estimated the total option tax fund could reach about $600,000.
According to Lovelock Fire Chief Rodney Wilcox, his department needs a new ambulance but 2023 ambulance revenues and/or the 2024 option tax could be used for that emergency vehicle.
The board approved a three year contract with Hoss Disposal for trash collection at the Grass Valley, Unionville and Imlay transfer sites. But, Hill was asked to check the cost of hiring a county worker to collect trash at the frequently abused and overloaded transfer sites.
“My only struggle with that is getting a person to do that job and pay them enough to keep doing that job,” he said. “The (Hoss Disposal) help right now makes more than my highest paid people. I’d love to keep that money in Pershing County and not give it to Humboldt County.”
Hill said he filled his department’s latest job vacancy for another landfill operator.
Cemetery Director Cheryl Hass said a new solution is sorely needed to solve the annual weed problem at county cemeteries. Spring weeds are again out of control and an eyesore, she said.
“We have a couple of burials coming up at the end of this month and in May,” she told the board. “I’m hoping the cemeteries are cleaned. That is an ongoing issue. We’ve been dealing with this for years. Everybody is working to make our cemeteries really pristine and then we come into springtime and they are horrible. When the weeds are this big, they need to be sprayed…People who are having their loved ones buried shouldn’t have to look at that.”
Hass suggested the county hire a worker to spray weeds before they are two feet tall.
“During the springtime, we could hire somebody who is licensed to spray and there’s multiple people here that have approached me and said, you know what, we’ll do it.”
Shank suggested a seasonal worker could be hired to address the spring weed problem.
The board approved a request by Mike Brooks to use the Courthouse Park for the Mustang 5K/Scavenger Hunt on Friday, June 5.