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Council approves funds for Community Triage Center
by Garrett Valenzuela
Oct 22, 2012 | 2877 views | 1 1 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
SPARKS — The Sparks City Council became the first local government Monday to support WestCare Nevada in its operation of the Community Triage Center, which aides the chronically inebriated, mentally ill and those who do not have access to medical care or emergency services.

WestCare has been operating the center in Reno since 2008, largely with funds from local hospitals like Renown Regional Medical Center. It now has run into a budget deficit after last year’s operations. Amy Roukie, regional vice president of WestCare, said the agreement with the city would alleviate stress on the Sparks Police Department in handling homeless and continually inebriated citizens.

“In the past, people arrested for habitual public intoxication would be taken straight to jail,” she said. “Now we are providing services to them and we only refuse those who are too violent for us to handle. In doing that, we are saving time for law enforcement and doing a medical screen on them. They are required to have a medical clearance before they can be booked into jail so they would have to wait at the hospital, which wastes the time of the officers.”

Roukie said the goal of the Community Triage Center is to streamline the efficiency of handling habitual offenders while offering them useful treatment. The City of Sparks entered into an agreement — pending the approval of the county and City of Reno — and will pay $86,121 to WestCare for its operation.

Sparks Police Department Deputy Chief Brian Allen said the exact dollar amount that would be saved at SPD could not be calculated at the time, but the department would benefit from a decrease in repeat offenders. Mayor Geno Martini said paying the some $86,000 is worth it to save money in other areas.

“These people need help. They need assistance and in the long run some of those hospital rates might end up being lower because they won’t be treating these people on a daily basis,” he said.

Councilwoman Julia Ratti said the problem of homeless people on Victorian Avenue has become an increasing problem and that “it makes sense to (partner with them) now.” The council approved the agenda item with a 3-2 vote.

Also approved on the council’s agenda was the awarding of a construction contract to Northern Sierra Construction to renovate the Shadow Mountain Sports Complex concession building and main bathroom.

Council documents show the concession building and main bathroom, which were built in the early 1980s, have been given minor improvements since initial construction, but the bathroom must be brought up to ADA standards and “the roof, mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems” of the facility need to be renovated to handle the “high use of the facility.” The project will cost about $158,000 and will come from the Parks and Recreation Capital Projects Fund.

The board also approved a contract with Reno Tahoe Construction to improve the North Truckee Drain-Kiley Ranch South Reach Realignment project, which will remove unwanted and excessive vegetation in the area between Tree Swallow Lane and Los Altos Boulevard.

The area is seeing ponds of water collect enough to make the channel’s “conveyance capacity” hindered, according to City of Sparks Senior Planner Andrew Hummel. He said the project would improve a 3,100-foot area and allow the system to work similar to the stretch of the drain north of Los Altos Parkway.
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Anita Shapiro
October 23, 2012
Kudos to Westcare and its leadership in the community for this project and many other facilities so badly needed for this population.
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