Real Estate in Pine County Nevada by xzg98350

VIEWS: 17 PAGES: 136

More Info
									                State of Nevada
           Ninth Judicial District Court

             Douglas County Grand Jury
                    Final Report

               Submitted to the People
                   Douglas County

                      August 31st 2001

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report   Page i
                       Douglas County Grand Jury

                               Jury Members

                               Susan Anderson
                               William L. Arnold
                              Kay-Ellen Barcellos
                                 Nancy Cauley
                              Carole A. Freeman
                                Janet Hawkins
                                Gerald Hoover
                                Louise Johnson
                             Susan Joseph-Taylor
                               Jeffrey Knowles
                                 John McCall
                              Diane Olpin-Gross
                               Janey Pumphrey
                                 Philip Rhodes
                                Timothy Slater
                               Carolyn Treanor
                                Patricia Welze

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report          Page ii
The Douglas County 2000/2001 Grand Jury represents the third
impanelment of a grand jury by the Ninth Judicial District Court within the
last decade. During the same time period, the population growth across the
United States of 32.7 million people was the largest cen sus-to-census
population growth in American history. While California, New York, Texas
and Florida represent the largest concentration of people in the 2000
Census, Nevada was the fastest growing state in the nation with an increase
of 66.3 percent in population. Clark County, Nevada experienced an 85
percent increase over 1990 figures as it saw a booming migration of people
seeking the warm climate and attractive real estate values of the high
desert (Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Census 2000).

Douglas County is among those counties in Nevada experiencing rapid growth
with its 49 percent increase in population over 1990 figures. The most
dramatic growth occurred in the unincorporated towns of Minden and
Gardnerville. Minden's population grew by 96.8 percent and Gardnerville's
grew by 54 percent. By comparison, neighboring Carson City only grew by 29

Douglas County's growth, a steady 4 percent annual rate, reflects the
continuing attractiveness of the county for those seeking the beauty of lush
green valleys framed by the Sierra Nevada mountains and Lake Tahoe on the
west and the Pine Nut mountains on the east. There is much to be offered

With an increase in population comes an increase of demands on
infrastructure and on government services. N ew residents to the area as
well as native born or long-term community members want quality local
government services and responsive local government officials.

The 2000/2001 Grand Jury's task has been to take a look at local
government, to examine both the type and quality of services provided and
to make recommendations for improvement where warranted.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                  Page iii
Forward - continued

The results of the jury's efforts are within this report and include not only
a look at how things are presently but how they might be in the future. The
report is respectfully offered to the people of Douglas County as a blueprint
for community improvement.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                   Page iv
The Douglas County 2000/2001 Grand Jury would like to acknowledge and
thank a number of people who facilitated the work of the jury by virtue of
their dedication and professionalism.

District Judges David R. Gamble and Michael P. Gibbons of the Ninth
Judicial District Court deserve our thanks and appreciation for their judicial
oversight of the jury. Each provided the right balance between supervision
and appropriate neutrality in the conduct of our work. The grand jury was
allowed to conduct a thorough investigation of county government without
judicial interference or influence. The citizens of Douglas County should be
pleased that every complaint presented to the grand jury through the
District Court was assigned to the jury without hesitation or direction.

As a group, we especially want to recognize Constable Paul E. Gilbert for his
tireless efforts in providing guidance, advice and counsel throughout the
entire jury tenure. Constable Gilbert, as the official Sergeant-at-Arms for
the jury, has provided assistance to several grand juries for Douglas County
in the past. His work ethic, personal reputation and expertise are above
reproach and the completion of our work is in large measure a result of his
dedication to the hundreds of details imposed by a grand jury. We thank him
and congratulate him on the successful conclusion of his latest assignment.

District Attorney Scott Doyle, through his staff, provided appropriate legal
opinions on a number of questions that arose during the grand jury's term
and we thank him for his timely and helpful responses.

Comptroller Claudette Springmeyer supplied numerous requested reports
and audits that assisted the jury in understanding county government. The
jury appreciates and thanks her for her professional attention to detail and
comprehensive responses to the jury's inquiries.

Court Stenographers Joan Dotson, Suzanne Rowe, Joan Wilder and Kat hy
Jackson worked many, many hours recording the testimony of the numerous
witnesses the jury called in the course of its investigations. Their work
involved taking testimony outside the normal hours of court operations,
often on short notice and, in at least one instance, at great personal
sacrifice. The grand jury thanks them for conducting themselves "above and

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                    Page v
Acknowledgements - continued

beyond" the call of duty and for doing so in a most professional manner. It
was a pleasure to have Ms. Dotson, Ms. Rowe, Ms. Wilder and Ms. Jackson in
the presence of the grand jury.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                 Page vi
Table of Contents

Foreword....................................................................................................................... iii

Acknowledgements ................................................................................................... v

I. Introduction ..........................................................................................................1
   A.     Grand Jury Process/Impanelment ...................................................................1
   B.     Grand Jury Charge ..............................................................................................1
   C.     Grand Jury Officers / Committees ............................................................... 2

II.       Douglas County History and Structure.............................................. 5
   History .......................................................................................................................... 5
   Excerpted From the Pine Nut Chronicle ............................................................... 5
   A. County Structure-Elected Offices ................................................................ 7
   B. County Structure-Directed Services ............................................................ 7
   C. County Structure-Advisory Boards, Special Districts and General
       Improvement Districts ...................................................................................... 8

III. Grand Jury Methodology ........................................................................... 9
   A.     Community Outreach........................................................................................ 10
   B.     Accountability..................................................................................................... 11
   C.     Risk Management ............................................................................................... 11

IV.       Community Generated Complaints ...................................................... 13
   A.     Community Development Department .......................................................... 14
   B.     Operational Services Department, Airport............................................... 47
   C.     Public Offices, Clerk-Treasurer .................................................................. 49
   D.     Public Offices-Town of Genoa ....................................................................... 51
   E.     911/Communications Department................................................................. 55
   F.     East Fork Swimming Pool District ............................................................... 59
   G.     Jail Operations .................................................................................................. 61
   H.     East Fork Justice Court - Probation ........................................................... 62
   I.     Public Offices-Sheriff ................................................................................... 63
   J.     District Court ................................................................................................... 65
   K.     Public Offices-Redevelopment Agency ....................................................... 66

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                                                                Page vii
Table of Contents - continued

  L. School District ................................................................................................. 69
  M. Public Offices-Board of County Commissioners ........................................ 71

V.      Grand Jury Review of Jail Management and Conditions ........ 74

VI.     Grand Jury Indictments ......................................................................... 76

VII. Grand Jury Generated Reviews .......................................................... 78
  A.    Countywide Emergency Operations Management..................................... 79
  B.    East Fork Fire District
        East Fork Paramedic District
        Tahoe Douglas Fire District .......................................................................... 84
  C.    School District ................................................................................................. 90
  D.    Sheriff's Department .................................................................................... 98
  E.    Clerk-Treasurer‟s Office..............................................................................106
  F.    Assessor‟s Office ........................................................................................... 110
  G.    Administrative Services Department - Human Resources Division ..... 111
  H.    Board of County Commissioners .................................................................. 113
  I.    Tahoe Douglas Bomb Squad .......................................................................... 116

VIII. General Findings, Conclusions and Recommendations ......... 118

IX.     Glossary of Terms and Definitions ..................................................124

X.      Referenced Web Sites ...........................................................................128

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                                                       Page viii
I.    Introduction

A.    Grand Jury Process/Impanelment

The grand jury is an independent group of citizens empowered by the
District Court and the State of Nevada to investigate the workings of
county government operations and to serve a s a catalyst for corrective
actions when warranted. The grand jury has the power of subpoena, can
compel testimony, hears all evidence in secret, and can indict to initiate
criminal prosecutions of crimes within the county. These characteristics
make the grand jury uniquely suited to inquire into official corruption,
misfeasance and criminal activity on behalf of the citizens of Douglas

On September 7, 2000, a 17-member Douglas County Grand Jury was
impaneled by the Honorable David R. Gamble and Michael P. Gibbons, District
Court Judges for the Ninth Judicial District Court, Douglas County, Nevada.
Members of the grand jury were selected as specified in Nevada Revised
Statutes 6.120. The Douglas County Clerk/Treasurer randomly selected
names from a list of all qualified voters within Douglas County. Thirty -six
people are required to be able and willing to serve.

The District Judges summoned a preliminary group of community members
before the Court and selected a total of 17 jurors and 12 alternates for

B.    Grand Jury Charge

The 2000-2001 Grand Jury was impaneled because it appeared to the
District Court that a substantial period of time had passed since a grand
jury reviewed the operation of Douglas County government. The District
Court further recognized the recommendation of the 1994 Grand Jury that
a jury be impaneled periodically. On May 3, 2000, the Ninth Judicial District
Court ordered that a grand jury be impaneled for the statutory purposes
including, but not limited to:
       To inquire into the condition and management of the various
       departments and districts of county government.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                   Page 1
Introduction - continued

      To inquire into the case of any person imprisoned in the Douglas
      County Jail on a criminal charge, against whom no information or
      complaint has been filed, and no indictment found, and
      To inquire into to all public offenses triable in the Ninth Judicial
      District Court.

The charges for a general grand jury are set forth in Nevada Revised
Statute 172.175 and specifically provide that:
      Each grand jury that is not impaneled for a specific limited purpose
      shall inquire into:
              (a) The case of every person imprisoned in the jail of the
              county, on a criminal charge, against whom an indictment has not
              been found or an information or complaint filed.
              (b) The condition and management of any public prison located
              within the county.
              (c) The misconduct in office of public officers of every
              description within the county, which may constitute a violation
              of a provision of chapter 197 of NRS. (Chapter 197 addresses
              Crimes Against the Executive Power.)
      A grand jury that is not impaneled for another specific limited
      purpose may inquire into any and all matters affecting the morals,
      health and general welfare of the inhabitants of the county, or of any
      administrative division thereof, or of any township, incorporated city,
      irrigation district or town therein.

C.    Grand Jury Officers / Committees

At one of the first meetings, four former members of the 1990 and 1994
Grand Juries spoke to the jury about their experiences and offered their
guidance as to organization and process. Their insight was most helpful to
the newly formed jury and provided the basis for timely organization,
committee assignment and election of officers.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                    Page 2
Introduction - continued

The 2000/2001 Grand Jury appointed a temporary foreman a nd planned its
immediate agenda, which was to invite members of Douglas County
management to appear before it. The first meetings were scheduled for
September 12, September 26, and October 6, 2000. Subsequent to these
dates, a foreman, deputy foreman and a secretary were selected.

Based on the nature of community-generated complaints the jury initially
received, a number of committees were formed with chairpersons assigned.

Investigations began along with a review of previous grand jury reports.
Interviews of county government officials began in earnest and the jury,
composed of a diverse cross-section of the community, settled in to its role
as an investigative body of the Court.

The community from which the jury was drawn, although growing, is still
small and rural. It was recognized early on that some jurors might be
involved in community work or be familiar with some of the issues presented
to the jury for investigation. The jury recognized this potential conflict of
interest and dealt with it ethically. Jury members who were associated with
or who had personal knowledge with any area the jury was to investigate
quickly recused themselves from the process and from decision-making.

A grand jury term of impanelment is one year. Community members selected
for this task do so voluntarily and the current grand jury was no exception.
The commitment to serve was apparent among the jury members as they
dedicated themselves to producing a quality final report. As is the case in
any lengthy period of time, things change. While commitment, dedication and
hard work remained constant throughout the jury's tenure, individual jurors
did not. On four separate occasions, alternate jurors were selected to fill
the position of a permanent juror. Each replaced permanent member left
jury service reluctantly due to serious medical problems or overwhel ming
personal priorities. Their prior work is greatly appreciated and is included in
the final product.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                     Page 3
Introduction - continued

Their replacements were afforded assistance from individual jury members,
who, acting as volunteer mentors, provided documents, briefings and
procedural guidance to bring them up to speed with jury work. The new
jurors quickly displayed the same enthusiasm and hard work of their
predecessors. The quality of the jury's investigative work continued

Throughout its inquiry into government practices, the jury found no evidence
of activity that would warrant a criminal indictment against any government
official or county employee. The criminal indictment presented in this report
was a result of a presentment by the Douglas County District Attorney's
Office and is described for the reader in Section VI of this report, Grand
Jury Indictments.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                   Page 4
II.   Douglas County History and Structure


Douglas County, Nevada is one of nine counties created by the Territorial
Legislature on November 25, 1861 after Nevada was separated from the
territory of Utah. The newly formed county was named after Stephen A.
Douglas, a popular U.S. Senator from Illinois who was an eloquent orator in
the historical debates of 1858 with Abraham Lincoln.

Excerpted From the Pine Nut Chronicle
The following is excerpted from The Pine Nut Chronicle, The History and
Adventures of Mining in Douglas County, Nevada,(1991) with permission from
the author, Nyle N. Nation:
Douglas County is situated directly south of Ormsby County (renamed Carson
City County in 1969) with Clear Creek denoting the boundary line. The major
portion of arable land lies in the Carson River basin and (is) titled Carson
Valley. It is commonly known today as 'The Garden Spot of Nevada.'

Carson Valley contains 80,000 acres, of which approximately 8,000 acres lies
within the limits of California. The valley is elongated in a north-south
direction with 35 miles in length and 18 miles wide. The Carson Valley floor is
situated at 4,700 feet and attains an altitude of over 6,200 feet at the
Tahoe lake level. The valley is surrounded with mountain peaks above 9,000
feet, and is a county of truly sensational contrasts. The headwaters of the
West Fork and East Fork of the Carson River originate in the Sierra Nevada
range and flow north through the valley. The Carson River forks unite near
Genoa, which lies near the base of the Carson Range in west central Carson
Valley. The river winds eastward near Carson City and terminates at Lake
Lahonton, Lyon County. The Carson River was named by Lieutenant John C.
Fremont for 'Kit' Carson.

The southern extremity of the county extends into the Walker River basin
at the southern limits of the Pine Nut Mountains. At this point it adjoins the
northern boundary of Antelope Valley and Topaz Lake, which extends south
into California.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                     Page 5
Douglas County History and Structure – continued

Verdant and picturesque Carson Valley divides the majestic steep Carson
Range on the west and the ascending Pine Nut Mountains on the east. Most
of the Sierra Nevada range was formed with a single crest throughout its
entire length. The exception is exposed where the mountain chain at the
north end of Hope Valley (South Lake Tahoe) divides into two branches, the
main Sierra branch on the western side and the Carson Range on the eastern
side. Between the two ranges lies Lake Tahoe. Douglas County includes a
portion of the Carson Range and approximately ten miles of shoreline on
Lake Tahoe.

The Pine Nut Mountains is the first range east of the Carson Range and is
the largest and most complex mountain mass in the area. It is separated
from the Carson Range by Eagle Valley and Carson Valley, a broad alluviated
basin. The Carson Valley contains the towns of Genoa, Gardnerville and

Douglas County contains three arable valleys; Carson, Long and Jacks Valleys
with Carson Valley being the largest and given its name by the Carson River.
Long Valley lies between the east and west forks of the Carson River. The
valley is a long narrow depression extending into California at its southern
extremity. Long Valley contains an abundant supply of water and rich
productive soil and is approximately five miles in length. Jacks Valley is a
small depression that lies at the base of the Carson Range approximately six
miles north of Genoa.

The twin communities of Minden (county seat) and Gardnerville are centered
in the rich fertile Carson Valley that is noted for its productive farming,
dairying and cattle ranching.

Gardnerville came to life in 1879 when Lawrence Gilman moved a building
from Genoa to a plot of land near the East Fork of the Carson River located
in the center of the valley. John M. Gardner sold seven acres of his
homestead land to Gilman for $187. Gilman named the building the
'Gardnerville Hotel' after his friend Gardner. Six years later, Gardnerville
had become a bustling center for commerce and social life.

Minden sprang up in 1905 and was built mostly by the Dangberg Land and
Livestock Company. A year later, Minden became the southern terminus of

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                  Page 6
Douglas County History and Structure – continued

the Virginia and Truckee Railroad. In 1916 the county seat was moved from
Genoa to Minden after construction of the new courthouse was completed.
Millerville was merely a spot settlement that divided the twin towns (of
Minden and Gardnerville). Alexander Miller, a blacksmith, moved a house to
this location from Virginia City in 1883, hence its name. Minden lies 15 miles
south of Carson City and 45 miles south of Reno. Topaz Lake is split by the
California border and lies 20 miles south of Gardnerville.

A.    County Structure-Elected Offices

As outlined in Nevada Revised Statutes, Chapter 244, the county is governed
by a five member Board of Commissioners, elected at large, who utilize the
services of an appointed County Manager to perform administrative
functions of county government. The commissioners elect a chair of the
board who presides over public meetings. The East Fork Fire and Paramedic
Districts, which serve the valley, are directly overseen by the Board of
County Commissioners. The Tahoe-Douglas Fire District which serves the
Lake Tahoe area has a governing Board of Directors elected at large.

Other public offices elected by county voters include the County Assessor,
Clerk/Treasurer, Recorder, District Attorney, Public Administrator, District
Court I Judge, District Court II Judge, East Fork Justice Court Judge,
Tahoe Justice Court Judge, East Fork Constable, Tahoe Constable and
Sheriff. The unincorporated Towns of Gardnerville, Genoa and Minden are
governed by their own separate elected boards in those areas for which
authority has been granted to them.

B.    County Structure-Directed Services

The County Manager, under the direction of the Board of County
Commissioners, oversees a number of Departments in the delivery of
services to the public. These Departments include Administrative Services,
Communications/911, Community Development, Community Services and
Operational Services.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                    Page 7
Douglas County History and Structure – continued

C.    County Structure-Advisory Boards,
      Special Districts and
      General Improvement Districts

A number of advisory boards exist within the county to provide community
services with direct input from residents. Volunteers are appointed by the
Board of Commissioners to serve in an advisory capacity and to make
recommendations to the Board on matters of community importance. Some
examples are the Airport Advisory Committee, Law Library Board, Parks and
Recreation Commission and Senior Services Advisory Council.

Special Districts such as the East Fork Swimming Pool District are formed
by law for a specific limited purpose and are comprised of elected board
members who serve for a term of office and who direct the operations of
the district.

General Improvement Districts are formed by law as well and serve a
specific community area for a specific purpose with elected officials who
make decisions affecting the health and welfare of the community. Examples
of G.I.D.s are Minden-Gardnerville Sanitation District, Topaz Ranch Estates
GID, Indian Hills GID, Marla Bay GID, Tahoe-Douglas Sewer and
Gardnerville Ranchos GID.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                 Page 8
III. Grand Jury Methodology

Overview: The C.A.R. Model-A Systems Approach to County

The grand jury was given the task to inquire into the conditions, operations
and management of the various departments and districts of county
government. As a result of the inquiry, the grand jury was to make
recommendations that would reduce costs, increase efficiency or result in
better service to the public, or perhaps include recommendations for all
areas of improvement.

Members of the grand jury recognized, at the outset of their tenure, the
importance of conducting a thorough inquiry. An important part of the
inquiry was the conduct of a well-balanced, unbiased and consistent method
of questioning for each major area of government. An even-handed mindset
formed the basis for a management template that came to be known as the
C.A.R. model. The C.A.R. acronym translates into three major areas of
inquiry: Community Outreach, Accountability, and Risk Management.

County officials were given the opportunity to respond to each management
area with their own examples of current practices in place, planned or on-
going improvements, short and long term goals and lessons learned in
management histories. Absent any specific community complaint, the C.A.R.
model provided a framework for an objective audit of county operations and
comparison between departments. Applied during the investigation of a
community complaint, the C.A.R. model assisted the grand jury members as
they took a closer look at a specific problem area.

The C.A.R. model, as it was applied to each county operational area, consisted
of the following general management questions:

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                    Page 9
Grand Jury Methodology - continued

A.       Community Outreach

Mission Statement/Value Statement

        Does the department/division have a published statement articulating
         its values and commitment to serving the public?
        Is the statement widely known among employees and embraced by
        Is the statement widely disseminated to the public?

Public Education

        What materials does the department/division publish and distribute
         to assist the public in understanding its services?
        Are materials current and readily available?

Information Dissemination

        How does the department/division distribute its message of service
         to the public?
        Is it solely confined to countertop brochures or is there a multi-media
         approach to their efforts?


        Is there an ombudsman or other advocacy group or individual in place
         to assist the public in dealing with department/division service?


        Does the department/division actively recruit and utilize volunteers in
         providing services?
        What type of training does the volunteer group (if any) receive?
        How are volunteers supervised and rewarded?

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                     Page 10
Grand Jury Methodology - continued

B.       Accountability

Complaint Procedures

        What procedures are in place to enable the public to make complaints
         and to have them investigated thoroughly?
        What is the typical length of time to investigate a complaint?
        How is the client notified of the outcome of the complaint?

Internal Disciplinary Procedures

        Is there a record of disciplinary measures taken against employees
         who violate policies?
        Are disciplinary causes ever reviewed for training purposes?
        In disciplinary cases, are union or association officials involved in the

Review of Policy

        Under what circumstances are department/division policies reviewed?
        Who is responsible for recommending policy changes and how are
         changes accomplished?
        How are department/division managers held accountable for
         enforcement of policies and what evidences are used as a
         measurement of accountability?

C.       Risk Management


        What is the department/division's lawsuit history?
        What are the costs associated with lawsuits and what percentage of
         the total county costs does the department/division portion

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                       Page 11
Grand Jury Methodology - continued


      What licensing / certification requirements are there for department
       / division employees?
      What measures are in place to verify the currency of licensing /
      How are lapses in licensing / certification of employees handled?

Personnel Training

      What department, county, state or other jurisdiction requirements
       are there for training of personnel?
      How are mandated requirements for training met and tracked?


      Are there management audits and inspections regularly conducted by
       department / division supervision to ensure compliance with policy and
       to reduce risk?

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                   Page 12
IV. Community Generated Complaints
During the tenure of the grand jury, a total of 52 complaints covering 26
complaint areas were received from community members. These complaints
were delivered to the grand jury through the district court and were
properly signed, notarized and submitted on a legal form designed for the
purpose. Announcements regarding the forms and locations where they were
available were published in the local newspapers periodically throughout the
jury's service.

Out of the 52 separate forms received from individuals, 23 of them were
identical and were related to the East Fork Swimming Pool District. Four
complaints were related to the county's handling of a special use permit, two
were related to an affordable housing project and two were related to the
jail operations. Except for the complaints regarding the jail operations, the
related complaints were grouped and investigated as single complaints.

When compared to previous juries, the total number of complaint areas
appears to be similar. The 1990 Grand Jury investigated 22 community
complaints and the 1993-94 Grand Jury handled 27 complaints making the
average among the three juries a total of 25 complaints.

It is interesting to note that, in spite of the dramatic influx of people
moving to Douglas County over the last ten years, there hasn't been the
commensurate percentage increase in community generated complaints. This
could be viewed as good news for elected officials in understanding
community satisfaction with government service. The grand jury cautions
those officials, however, against resting on mere population-to-complaint
ratios as the sole indicator of community health. Along with the population
change in the last decade have come changes in the social, economical,
political, technological and environmental conditions within the county. As
county officials prepare to meet the challenges these changes create, they
must rely on a more in-depth understanding of what the governmental
service needs of the community are and prepare to meet those challenges.
All of the complaints submitted to the grand jury were reviewed and
investigated and are included in this report with the following

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                  Page 13
Community Generated Complaints - continued

A.    Community Development Department
Basis of the Complaint (Complaint #21)
A complainant alleged that the Community Development Department's
selection of a private engineering company to conduct engineering studies
for the Genoa Sewer Project was a conflict of interest because the firm was
also involved in other county projects related to the sewer project. The
complainant also questioned the engineering company's sloppy billing
practices that caused an increase in the overall expenditures for the
Identified Issues
At issue is the selection of an outside private vendor to perform engineering
services for the county and whether or not the selection created a conflict
of interest. A secondary issue is the impact of billing errors by the vendor
on the overall cost of the project.
Investigative Findings
The grand jury interviewed the complainant, reviewed Nevada Revised
Statutes relating to contracts for services, reviewed bidding documents and
procedures for selecting service providers and for correcting charges or
adding charges in a contract.

The investigation revealed that the county, under Nevada Revised Statute
322.115, is exempt from the requirement of competitive bidding when
selecting highly technical and professional skills such as engineering and
accounting services. It may contract for such services based on local needs,
availability of services convenient for the county, past performance of
service providers and other determinations related to the service need.

The engineering company in question had performed professional services
competently for the county on a number of projects in the past and was
currently involved in multiple engineering projects for the county as well.

The fact that the engineering company was selected to provide specific
technical services for a number of county projects concurrently does not
rise to the level of conflict of interest any more than an accounting firm
would in similar circumstances. The Nevada Revised Statutes applicable to

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                  Page 14
Community Generated Complaints - continued

these services were written in recognition of the established technical
standards applied in both disciplines. These services are based on analysis
of objective rather than subjective data.

With respect to billing errors, it was learned that there was a single billing
error committed by the contract-engineering firm and that it was the firm
itself that discovered the error and notified the county. In a letter dated
August 3, 2000, the firm's owner notified the Board of County
Commissioners that he had discovered an error while he was attempting to
reconcile the project billing summary sheet. An amount of $11,876.00
representing man-hours budgeted for permit applications was not carried
over in the project totals. The Board of County Commissioners approved an
amendment to incorporate the costs in to the project totals.

The additional costs did not cause the project to go beyond the original
amount funded for engineering services.

The grand jury found no evidence of improper contracting by the county, no
evidence of conflict of interest, and no evidence of illegal billing.

The billing error, while unfortunate and embarrassing to the engineering
firm, was handled forthrightly by the firm. The Board of County
Commissioners were the ultimate decision makers in approving the pay ment
of the additional funds. They did so after determining the amount was a
legitimate expense that normally would have been a part of the contract
regardless of the vendor selected.
The grand jury makes no recommendations regarding this complai nt.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                   Page 15
Community Generated Complaints - continued

Basis Of The Complaint (Complaint #1)

A garage type building was built close to the complainant's house and the
complainant believes it was built in violation of County Codes as to location and
set backs, and that a building permit was given by the Community Development
Department without the required variance hearing. Further, that the building
does not comply with the requirement that it be architecturally compatible
with the residence and neighborhood, all to the detriment of the
neighborhood. The complainant also alleges that a business was allowed to be
run out of the garage in violation of County Codes.

Identified Issues

Were County Codes followed as to the location and setbacks when the
accessory structure was built? Did the County allow a business to be run out
of a garage located in a residential neighborhood in violation of County

Investigative Findings

The parcel is what is known as a flag parcel; however, after the house was
built, at the rear of the parcel, there was a boundary line adjustment, which
added a 30-foot extension moving out the rear property line. The home was
located in the far rear corner of the property and the only rear yard was the
minimal set back requirement leaving no room for an accessory structure to be
located in the rear yard.

Sometime prior to when grading began in January 1998, the then property
owner applied for a building permit to construct an accessory structure. The
accessory structure is a 2,400 square foot garage with siding that is much like
that on the main structure, but with a flat roof. While the siding materials
may be compatible with the main structure, architectural compatibility with a
Victorian house is a very subjective standard. This is a rural county changing
to one that is more urban, but this grand jury is not ready to be the arbiter of
architectural compatibility.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                     Page 16
Community Generated Complaints - continued

The building permit was governed by the provisions of Title 20, effective as of
November 21, 1996. (Title 20.01.040.) Title 20 declares that it was adopted,
among other reasons, to enhance property values. (Title 20.01.010.) Title 20
provides that in the interpretation and application of the Title, that its
provisions shall be held to be the minimum requirements for the promotion of
public health, safety, morals, convenience and general welfare, and that the
regulations are to be construed broadly to promote the purposes for which it
was adopted. (Title 20.01.050.) Title 20 further provides that in the event
the title requires interpretation, the director may make the interpretation or
refer the matter to the planning commission for action, except as otherwise
provided. (Title 20.01.080.) Title 20 also provides that any activity contrary
to the provisions of the title is declared to be unlawful and a public nuisance.
(Title 20.34.010.)

In order to determine whether or not the garage type structure was built in
accordance with County Codes, the grand jury reviewed Title 20. Title 20
provides that accessory structures in residential zoning districts must be
compatible with the materials and architecture of the main dwelling of the
property; however, if it is less than 15 feet in height it may be located no
closer than five feet from a side and rear property lines within the rear yard,
provided that the structure is no closer than ten feet to any other structure.
It further provides that in areas zoned residential, no more than 50 percent
of the rear yard area may be covered with the accessory structure. (Title

Yard areas are defined in Appendix A to Title 20, as:

A yard is open space on a parcel of land, other than a court, unobstructed and
unoccupied from the ground upward, except for projections permitted by the
current development code. (Ord. 97-763, 167.)

A front yard is a clear, unoccupied space on the same lot with a building,
extending across the entire width of the lot and situated between the building
and the front lot line of the parcel. The narrowest street frontage shall be
the front yard in agricultural and residential land use districts. (Ord. 97-763,

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                     Page 17
Community Generated Complaints - continued

A rear yard is the area extending across the full width of the lot between the
rear lot line and the nearest line of the building. (Ord. 97-763, 167)

Title 20.690(Y)(1)(d) provides that notwithstanding anything in Title 20 to the
contrary, all yard setback requirements may be varied by the procedure in
chapter 20.606.

Title 20.060.010 provides that applications for variances in building setbacks
or open space requirements which is 20% or less of the required setbacks or
ten or less of the open space requirements are minor variances and may be
approved administratively by the director.

Title 20.606.01 provides that applications for variances may be approved by
the director in certain circumstances, but that applications have to be filed.
Title 20.606.040 provides that upon applications for minor variances
Community Development shall send notice of the filing to all contiguous
property owners, and they also have a right of appeal pursuant to 20.606.030.

The home owner was using the garage solely and primarily for the home
occupation in that the 2,400 square foot building contained an office with a
telephone for the business and was used to store ice machines, refrigerators,
refrigeration equipment, tools and other items for the business. Refrigeration
equipment was repaired inside the building. Company and employee vehicles
were seen daily. This issue as to home occupation was heard by the Planning
Commission in a public hearing, which included the complainant‟s full
participation and the complainant's assertions were rejected by that body.
The grand jury makes no finding as to the commission‟s decision, particularly
since the home occupation is no longer taking place.

The District Attorney and the Director of Community Development gave
different opinions as to what constituted the front line of the property. Using
either definition, the accessory structure is located in the front yard in
violation of County Code, which requires accessory structures to be located in
rear yards. The District Attorney's response to the complainant was
incomplete. It contained pages of definitions from the dictionary as to
determining what was the front line of this property, but never addressed
their real issue as to the fact that the accessory structure was not located in
the rear yard as required by the County Code. In the opinion of the grand

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                    Page 18
Community Generated Complaints - continued

jury, the location of the structure was not in compliance with the County Code.
Title 20.606.01 provided that an application for variance had to be filed, and if
it was considered to be a minor variance, Community Development was required
to send notice of the filing to all contiguous property owners. This process
was not followed. This is not an insignificant issue, the provisions of Title 20
were not carried out.


The grand jury recommends that Community Development Department follow
county code provisions when considering future accessory structure location
decisions, and to fully carry out the provisions of Title 20. It should be
recognized that the County Code was not followed in placement of the
accessory structure on the lot. Title 20 provides that it was adopted, among
other reasons, to enhance property values. Those are not only the property
values of the person asking to build the accessory structure, but all citizens of
Douglas County.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                      Page 19
Community Generated Complaints - continued

Basis Of The Complaint (Complaint #8)

The Sheridan water system is a small, independently owned water service
provider with which the complainant is not satisfied, but which the complainant
does not want Douglas County to take over.
Identified Issues
The complainant is concerned why Douglas County did not pursue federal
funding to assist with problems with the Sheridan water system. The
complainant expresses concern that Douglas County may take control of the
Sheridan water system, does not want Douglas County to take control of the
water system, but wants Douglas County to provide assistance with the
problems with the water system.

The complainant is concerned why 100 homes have been allowed on the system
when it was originally planned for 60 homes, but then wants to know why
Douglas County is not allowing further development of property that would be
connected to the Sheridan water system.
Investigative Findings
The Sheridan water system is a small, independently owned water system that
is regulated by the Public Utilities Commission, and is presently in receivership
pursuant to a court order. The water system is in disrepair.

The complainant does not want Douglas County to take over the water system.
However, to be eligible for federal funding, water systems must be owned by a
public entity such as Douglas County.

The complaint was somewhat contradictory, and the complainant did not
provide a clear indication as to what direction she wished the grand jury to
take in this matter since Douglas County does not own the water company.
The grand jury makes no recommendation regarding this complaint.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                      Page 20
Community Generated Complaints - continued

Basis Of The Complaint (Complaint #9)

A parcel of land on Foothill Road contains a mound of dirt that is wide and
long in nature, but not high. The complainant reported that there were
difficulties in selling property nearby because of the mound of dirt. The
complainant had conversations with the Community Development Director
and was not satisfied with the response. She reported that the Community
Development Staff had been instructed not to discuss the matter with the
complainant any further. The complainant further suggests that the owner
of the dirt mound was getting special treatment.
Identified Issues
Material was stored on the property identified by the complainant but the
status of the mound versus any existing zoning regulations needed to be
established. A second concern was to determine if the Community
Development responded appropriately to the complainant and finally, should
the property owner be required to remove the mound of dirt.
Investigative Findings
The grand jury viewed the property by both aerial and ground photographs
so the issue could be observed in relation to the surrounding area. The
existence of the mound was verified and it was not nearly as high as was
asserted. There appeared to be no recent activity at the time the photos
were taken.

It was determined that the property was zoned SFR -2 (single Family-two
acres) by the 1994 master plan. A written response from the Planning
Manager informed the grand jury that that outside storage of the material
was not allowed in this zoning. The Community Development Director
testified that the mound of dirt was a “pre-existing” non-conforming usage.
No mitigation was or could be required, however the owner could not
continue to add to the usage.
The grand jury makes no recommendation regarding this complaint. Zoning
rules were properly enforced.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                 Page 21
Community Generated Complaints - continued

Basis Of The Complaint (Complaint #6, 12, 14, and 18)

There have been many long-standing issues between Community Development
and residents living in the vicinity of the Bing Construction operations. The
grand jury received multiple complaints concerning past and present
compliance with the Special Use Permits (SUP), community health issues and
the future financial integrity of the community should Bing Construction fail
as a business venture. The complainants feel that communication between
Community Development and residents concerning the Bing Construction
operation has been incomplete or inaccurate.
Identified Issues
The complainants believe there is a violation of the SUP in pit depth, and
breach of the water table. The cost estimates based on pit depth are
assumed to be erroneous resulting in an equally erroneous Bond amount. Then
there is concern over the methods used to test water quality. The
complainants believe the water should be tested to drinking water
Investigative Findings
In investigating these complaints, the grand jury took sworn testimony from
two concerned community members, the Director of Community
Development, The County Manager, Manager of Planning and attended the
March 15, 2001 County Commissioners hearing regarding the Bing
Construction operations. A substantial number of documents from community
members and Community Development were reviewed also.

As of January 25, 2001 a pit depth survey completed by a licensed
Professional Land Surveyor sets the pit depth at three places and this can
be used as a basis of continuing discussion of pit depth between Community
Development and concerned residents.

As of January 26 ,2001, Thiel Engineering Consultants provided Community
Development a full definition of The Safe Drinking Water Act as amended in
1986 and asserts that Bing Construction monitors for some 83 constituents
that are considered harmful to humans. This monitoring is completed on a
quarterly and/or annual basis. These are in accordance with Nevada Division
Of Environmental Protection certification listing that is provided to the
testing laboratory used by Bing Construction.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                  Page 22
Community Generated Complaints - continued

Bing Construction did not comply with the terms of the 1994 SUP. Bing had
not met the bond requirement, had not cleaned up rubble around the site,
and had not hired a Certified Environmental Engineer. It appears Community
Development was not fully enforcing the terms of the SUP. The 2000 SUP
was issued without full compliance with the terms of the 1994 SUP. Bing
had not hired a Certified Environmental Engineer, no reclamation plan had
been created and rubble clean up was still not done. Correspondence from
the Community Development Director to the Board of Commissioners, dated
August 21, 2000, established conditions of the SUP to Bing Construction.
The non-compliance items were clearly spelled out in the document and Bing
agreed to correct the issues.

The Community Development Director acknowledges to the grand jury Bing
construction‟s previous non-compliance and the lack of Community
Development enforcement.

By review of current documentation and correspondence, the grand jury
believes that the County Manager and Community Development Director have
responded to concerned residents in a factual and professional manner.
Issues like an understandable and documented measurement of real pit
depth and the requirements and nature of water pollution management have
been a handicap to communication.

During the March 15, 2001, County Commissioners hearing the grand jury
believed that proponents of each side of the issue were given equal time and
opportunity to present arguments and evidence. This meeting was attended
by a very large number of concerned residents, Bing Employees and
community business representatives. This underscores the importance of the
issues. The Commissioners found that Bing was in compliance on six SUP
issues. These issues were depth of excavation, ground water monitoring,
type of ground water testing, phase I of the reclamation plan, report from
Bing on status of reclamation plan and the earth berms. The grand jury has
no evidence that would be contrary to County Commissioners decision to find
Bing Construction in compliance with these six requirements.

A review of a 1997 Nevada Division of Environmental Protection report
clearly documents an overflow of wash water from Bing Construction into a

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                  Page 23
Community Generated Complaints - continued

nearby irrigation ditch, but also states that Bing Construction was “timely
and appropriate” in providing a remedy for the situation.

It is believed by the grand jury that the progress toward resolution of the
SUP compliance issues is due primarily to the continuous participation of
concerned community members in the process of County Government and
finds this commendable. Secondarily, it is clear to the grand jury that the
Community Development processes of issuing and enforcing SUPs has grown
significantly along with recognizing the need to be more proactive in
important issues where community health is perceived to be at risk by
members of the community.
The grand jury believes the Community Development steps taken to enforce
the requirements of the SUP, gain a professional survey and defining the
water monitoring standards will assist in overcoming communication
handicaps. The grand jury recommends the continued adoption of certified
and fixed measurements in all aspects of Bing Construction SUP compliance,
enforcement and quality communication on issues of contention / perceived
health risk with the community. Where possible and/or practical the grand
jury recommends that Community Development develop an opinion from a
Certified Engineering Professional as to the water table level in and around
the Bing Construction operations and use this as a community
communications tool.

The grand jury believes that unless measures are taken to improve
communications, the conflict will continue. We therefore recommend that
the County sponsor regular facilitated meetings between representatives of
the community, Community Development and Bing Construction. The grand
jury also recommends that periodic status reports on the Bing Construction
SUP be part of the County Commissioners meeting agenda.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                  Page 24
Community Generated Complaints - continued

Basis Of The Complaint (Complaint #20 and 25)

A parcel of 58 acres bordering on Elges Lane in Gardnerville was purchased
for the purpose of constructing affordable housing. Five acres were sold to
Picerne Development to be used for multi-family housing complex. The
complainants assert that the project was approved over the objections of
many Douglas County Residents. The complainants also believe that the
project lowers the value of their property due to the loss of open space and
poor exterior color choices for the housing complex. As well the
complainants believe the project will raise local taxes due to greater
demands for water, law enforcement, fire protection and schools. Noise and
dust due to construction have been a concern and they wish to be
compensated for their perceived lower property values and stress.
Identified Issues
Did government agencies consider and react appropriately to citiz en
concerns? Was development consistent with the Master Plan and other
policies and were the provisions of the Master Plan properly applied?
Investigative Findings
The complainants submitted a considerable number of newspaper articles
and these were reviewed along with any other newspaper articles that could
be found. The Master Plan was used to determine the zoning facts. Grand
jury testimony was not taken.

The area in question is zoned as a receiving area in the Master Plan.
“Densities are anticipated to be urban ranging from 2.01 to 12 units per acre.
Generally, the predominant land use will be single family with a density at 3 -
6 units per acre and some limited multiple family with densities at 6.01 –12
units per acre”.

In early 1998, the Gardnerville Town Board reviewed the proposed project
and agreed with the residents in opposing the project. Over these
objections the Planning Commission and Community Development
recommended zoning to allow construction to proceed. Subsequently the
County Commissioners refused this zoning.

In the summer of 1998, the developer, the Town and residents worked
together to modify the development plan. The results provided setbacks,

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                    Page 25
Community Generated Complaints - continued

traffic changes and other changes. Hearings before the Planning Commission
and the County Commissioners adjusted lot size and open space requirements
and this resulted in project approval in November 1998.
The grand jury makes no recommendation regarding these complaints. The
County Planning staff and elected officials performed in accordance with
policy and within their discretionary authority.

The Gardnerville Town Board, in particular, is to be commended for its
concern with and responsiveness to resident concerns.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                Page 26
Community Generated Complaints - continued

Basis Of The Complaint (Complaint #22)

This complaint relates to the re-zoning of the western portion of the
Pleasantview Subdivision, and the alleged failure on the part of the Planning
and Economic Division of the Community Development Department to give
proper notice to the residents of the area.
Identified Issues
Did the Planning Division of the Community Development Department mail
notice in compliance with Nevada Revised Statute §278.260 when the
relevant property was re-zoned during the master plan process from 2-acre
parcels as set forth in the development agreement to 1/2 acre parcels?
Investigative Findings
The law requires that zoning ordinances observe state and federal
constitutional requirements, including due process, and the State Legislature
has prescribed the notice which is due in zoning matters. The governing body
of a county has the power to change land use classifications, but regulation
of this type may not become effective until after notice has been provided
and a public hearing held at which interested parties have an opportunity to
be heard.

In 1996-1997, the statutory notice requirements for a public hearing on
zoning or re-zoning were set forth in Nevada Revised Statute §278.260 and

   a. Published notice of the time and place of hearing at least 10 days
      before hearing in the official newspaper for the county;
   b. Mailed notice of the time and place of the hearing at least 10 days
      before hearing to each tenant of a mobile home park if that park was
      located within 300 feet of the property which was the subject of the
   c. Mailed notice of the time, place and purpose of the hearing at least 10
      days before hearing, as well as a physical description or map detailing
      proposed change be sent to:
          The applicant,
          The owner of each piece of real property located within 300
             feet of the boundary of the property which is the subject of
             the change,

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                  Page 27
Community Generated Complaints - continued

             The owners of at least the 30 parcels nearest to the
              boundaries of the property which is the subject of the change,
             Any county established advisory board.

In March 1990, Douglas County approved a development agreement for the
Pleasantview Subdivision project consisting of 191 - 12,000 square foot lots
and 8 - 2+ acre lots on the western portion of the subdivision for a total of
199 lots. In late 1995, the draft Master Plan text and maps were issued,
which showed the western portion of the Pleasantview Subdivision being
depicted as a Rural Estate designation with lot sizes of 1/2 to 1 acre.

The Planning Commission established January 19, 1996, as the deadline for
written comments or corrections to the M aster Plan land use text and maps.
By mid-February 1996, the Master Plan consultant prepared revisions to the
land use element as requested by the Planning Commission. This changed the
Rural Estate designation to Single Family Estate, but retained the 1/2 to 1-
acre lot sizes. On February 21, 1996, the Planning Commission discussed the
land use designations and the consultant indicated that the 1/2 acre lot
sizes in a Single Family Estate designation would be in the more urban areas
and would require access to community water and sewer systems.

In mid-March 1996, the Planning Commission adopted the Master Plan with
lot sizes as small as 1/2 acre if the area was within an urban service area and
was provided with centralized water and sewer systems. By mid-April 1996,
the County Commission adopted the Master Plan; however, all references to
1/2-acre lot sizes in the Single Family Estate designation were removed and
lot sizes were established at 1 - 2 acres.

In the fall of 1996, the draft final zoning map wa s issued, which shows the
land in the western portion of Pleasantview Subdivision as being designated
as Single Family Residential-2 (2 acre lots). In December 1996, the
developer of the Pleasantview Subdivision wrote the planning director
expressing dismay at the Single Family Residential-2 designation mentioning
that 1/2 acre lots were contemplated throughout the entire Master Plan

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                    Page 28
Community Generated Complaints - continued

In a meeting with the District Attorney, the developer indicated that he was
going to ask for a hearing. However, the District Attorney told the planning
staff they should process the request for hearing as a mapping error in lieu
of requiring the developer to submit it as a Master Plan amendment. In
January 1997, a notice was sent out as part of the Master Plan process to
18,000 residents, which indicated that property within 1,320 feet of their
property was subject to re-zoning, but this notice did not contain a map or
specific physical description of the properties to be re-zoned. The District
Attorney indicated there were so many zoning changes resulting from the
Master Plan process that specific notices would have caused a lot of
duplicate mailing and much confusion. Therefore, in lieu of specific notices
residents were directed to maps and meetings.

In January 1997, the County's Planning and Economic Development Manager
indicated that the developer's issue would be reviewed as a mapping error at
the March 1997, regular meeting of the Planning Commission. The March 27,
1997, staff report indicated that changing the zoning for the western
portion of the Pleasantview Subdivision to 1/2 acre lots was consistent with
the development agreement; however, that development agreement has
those lots designated as 2+ acre lots.

By letter dated July 30, 2000, the Director of Community Development
basically admitted the re-zoning was not adequately noticed.

The grand jury determined that the re-zoning of the western portion of
Pleasantview Subdivision was not noticed in accordance with Nevada Revised
Statute §278.260 because no physical description or map was included in the
The grand jury recommends that Community Development ensure that all
noticing is done in accordance with the letter and intent of State law.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                  Page 29
Community Generated Complaints - continued

Basis of the Complaint (Complaint #13)

Beginning in 1984, Douglas County and a group of businesses located at the
Airport proposed development of sewage and water facilities to serve the
northern section of Douglas County. The complaint concerns the sewage
plant, North Valley Wastewater Treatment Plant (NVWTP).

Complainant alleged that the County Commissioners overbuilt the plant,
ignored the needs and wishes of local residents and provided service to the
Airport users at the expense of residents.

Complainant feels that monthly charges are exorbitant. He asked for better
communication with the County and that he be informed how many users will
be required to bring rates in line with the surrounding areas and when that
might occur.

A related complaint (#49) questions the NVWTP expansion plans as part of
Redevelopment Area 1
Identified Issues
Are the NVWTP monthly and connection charges significantly different than
in surrounding areas? Are the charges as required by County policies?

Was the initial plant size properly determined? Were expansion plans and
development properly developed, sized and executed? Did the development
and rates subsidize the Airport commercial customers at the expense of
residential customers and County taxpayers? Is there an established build
out scenario that will lead to equalization of rates in the Carson Valley? If
so, what is the expected schedule and final cost?

Is the NVWTP under Douglas County management an appropriate way to
provide current and future sewage services to the service area? Does the
County have the expertise, staff and resources to be in the sewer business?
Investigative Findings
The grand jury reviewed numerous documents. Testimony was taken from
the County Manager and from representatives of the Minden-Gardnerville
Sanitation District and the Indian Hills GID.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                  Page 30
Community Generated Complaints - continued

This matter is extremely complex. Documentation is incomplete – either due
to missing or non-existent documents. For example, the only rate study
documents found are from 1988 and 1997. Key data such as plant capacity
and number of customers is often missing and must be inferred – with
attendant likelihood of error. A full understanding of the history and the
planned future of the NVWTP require background and expertise in finance
and engineering.

These findings are based on what the grand jury understands the documents
and testimony to show. The recommendations below deal with future
refinement and resolution of the issues and conclusions.

Documents reviewed by the grand jury detail the development history of
NVWTP. They are presented here in chronological order and indicate the
development of capacity and the related cost and fees:

          November 1984: An agreement was reached to develop water and
          sewer services for the Douglas County Airport. The agreement,
          between Douglas County (“DC”) and Develop Douglas Airport Industry,
          Inc. (“DDAI”), a consortium of five commercial firms, provided for
          payment for legal, engineering and planning fees. Costs were shared on
          an acreage-proportional basis (DC = 27.4%).

          March 1985: Industrial Master Plan. Only a drawing has been located.
          No capacity, cost, or rate estimates. Drawing shows plant at current
          location (see May 1990, below).

          December 1985 and September 1986: Agreement to pay. Each of five
          participants gets 5 Kgpd 1. DC gets an additional 11.7 Kgpd of “excess
          capacity”. Total capacity to be 40 Kgpd. DC costs to be $334K. DDAI
          share to be $376K. There was also a $450K grant from the E.D.A.

          August 1988: Rate analysis. Capacity 40 Kgpd treatment but, only 25
          Kgpd disposal. DC‟s cost was some $500K. Recommended rate of
          $10/month, $3261 total for new service hookup. Expansion plans
          developed costs estimated for expansion to 250 Kgpd.

    Kgpd is “thousands of gallons per day” sewage treatment capacity

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                             Page 31
Community Generated Complaints - continued

          May 1990: Agreement to pay. Capacity stated as 26.5 Kgpd. DC cost to
          be $985K. This included reimbursements to DDAI of $182K for
          “relocation costs” and $276K for additional land.

          August 1992: Expansion planned to 230 Kgpd to serve Wildhorse and
          Saratoga Springs. 2 Capacity will serve 800 additional EDUs. Will serve
          216 plus 294 “intent to serve”. Approximate cost to be $2 million.
          Additional expansion to 500 Kgpd in 1995 and 1000 Kgpd in 1998

          January 1993: DC Auditor‟s Report. Detailed the funding of NVWTP.
          DC used some $1.2 million from the Room Tax. This is to be paid from
          the connection fee and will require some 2000 hookups.

          February 1993: Capacity and connection fees rose to $4130 and $604
          for debt reduction and expansion to 1500 Kgpd by 2010.

          June 1997: Sewer Rate Study. A “full cost” rate was determined to be
          $66.98 per month. The current (1996) rate was $34. The full cost
          model actually assumed county subsidy of overhead costs. Without
          this, the full cost would have been nearly $83 per month. The County
          directed that the study develop an “Adjusted” model, which would
          phase in fiscal policies and continue a decreasing overhead subsidy.
          This lead to a recommended rate of $42/ month, rising to $57 in 2001.

          January 1998: Board of County Commissioners issued Financial
          Policies. Included was:

                   “Utility user charges for each of the County utilities will be
                   based on the cost of providing the service (i.e. set to fully
                   support the total direct, indirect and capital costs) and
                   established so that the operating revenues of each utility are
                   at least equal to its operating expenditures, reserves, debt
                   coverage and annual debt service obligations, and replacement
                   of the utility‟s facilities.”

    Note that one residence (“Equivalent Dwelling Unit” or EDU) is defined as 250 gpd

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                                         Page 32
Community Generated Complaints - continued

      In testimony, it was stated that the County does not subsidize
      NVWTP user monthly fees.

      August 1998: The consultant who prepared the 1997 rate study
      prepared an “addendum”. The report was prepared to maintain the
      $42 per month rate and the $5800 connection charge. The consultant
      observed “The near term stability of these rates is achieved through
      the „assumed‟ consumption of reserve balances. This implicit subsidy to
      the true cost of service can not continue in perpetuity”.

      A number of assumptions were adjusted from the 1997 study. Most
      significantly, debt service is to be funded by a transfer of $960,402
      from the capital fund. This fund would be exhausted by 2001. Further
      deficits would be funded from a “rate stabilization fund” of
      approximately $400K until that is exhausted in 2005. At that time,
      significant rate increases were anticipated.

      1998-1999: A series of technical memoranda detailed problems in the
      design and operation of the plant. A principal cause was low flow.

      October, 1999: Current use is some 100 Kgpd, capacity 300 Kgpd.
      Expansion planned in five stages to 1600 Kgpd – sufficient for 6400
      homes or 19,000 population.

      May 2001: Foothill Rd. Sewer Project construction bid approved.
      Removes some 400 actual/planned customers from Indian Hills GID
      plant. No documents have been discovered studying whether this is
      the most effective solution. No rate study was done either before or
      after the expansion to determine the required rates and/or necessary
      subsidy. Testimony was received that this alternative was considered.
      It was rejected based on uncertainties over expansion of the IHGID
      facility and easement questions.

Testimony and documents were received regarding rates charged by
neighboring sewer facilities. These facilities have widely varying funding and
accounting. An attempt to make an apples-vs.-apples comparison yielded a
cost of service per EDU. Three service costs were determined: (a) all

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                   Page 33
Community Generated Complaints - continued

personnel and supply costs, (b) plus interest and (c) plus any principal
payments and depreciation.

                 Users   Monthly    Opera ting    Cost of   Cost of   Comments
                (EDUs)    Charge     Cost of      Service   Service
                         plus Tax    Service       plus      plus
                         Subsidy                 Interest   Capital

Minden-         5144      17.81       12.42       12.42     26.60     Some tax subsidy,
Gardnerville                                                          large deprecia tion
Sanita tion

Indian Hills     1561     17.60       26.04       28.43      31.16    Large hookup fee
GID                                                                   income

Tahoe Douglas   2108      48.06       41.20       41.20     49.90     Tax subsidy, few
                                                                      hookups. Must
                                                                      pump out of Tahoe
North Valley     839      42.00       32.50       64.73     89.02     Large bonded debt.
Wastewater                                                            Hookup charges
Trea tment                                                            being used to

For the NVWTP, in addition to the cost, including capital charges, there are
bonds in the amount of $5.665 million on which no principal payments are
being made at present. Assuming amortization of these bonds over 20 years,
the full cost of service from NVWTP would rise to $105.61 per month per

From the above documents and from testimony, the grand jury finds:
    The monthly user charges for NVWTP are significantly higher than
      those in surrounding areas.
    Operating costs are not out of line, especially considering the current
      low number of users and the large service area.
    The county financial policies are not being followed. Operating
      revenues, although high are not sufficient to support direct, indirect
      and capital costs. The fund is balanced by using connection fees and
      some draw down of reserves.

Testimony was received that the county expected user monthly charges to
be in the high $20‟s to low $30‟s within 5-8 years.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                            Page 34
Community Generated Complaints - continued

The initial development was driven by a desire to serve the airport
commercial customers. Subsequent development of residential service and
the much slower than expected growth of commercial demand has
transformed NVWTP to a primarily residential facility. Expansion and
service costs since 1992 have overwhelmed any influence of the commercial
users or any real or perceived favoritism. There is a question of the
“relocation” cost paid to DDAI.

The decision to remove Foothill Road users from the Indian Hills GID was
made by the Board of Commissioners. In the absence of documentation or a
detailed cost-benefit analysis the grand jury cannot express a finding on the
appropriateness of this decision. It appears that both the monthly cost and
hookup charges will be greater than would have been charged by IHGID. The
loss of these current and future customers, and the similar loss of future
service area north of Jacks Valley Road, may cause a negative impact on
Indian Hills and may result in a raise in its rates.

There was a pervasive and consistent over-estimation of future demand and
necessary expansion. See the 1988, 1992, 1993 and 1999 documents.

A full understanding of the fiscal and engineering issues related to Douglas
County sewer facilities requires specialized expertise. The one-year term of
the jury precluded chartering a full investigation by experts once the issues
had been identified and analyzed.

The grand jury recognizes that the current County Commissioners and the
Community Development staff inherited the NVWTP situation and are
attempting to address the issues.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                  Page 35
Community Generated Complaints - continued

The grand jury recommends that a comprehensive financial audit be
conducted of the NVWTP. This should examine all historical commitments,
costs and fund flows. Models of future service area growth should be
independently verified. The ability and plans of the county to expand
capacity and service levels while retiring existing debt should be confirmed.
The audit should create a review schedule to allow the Board of County
Commissioners to monitor this process.

An engineering review should be made of past and future plant
developments. Given the history of overestimation of future capacity needs,
this study should determine if past designs were and still are appropriate
and plan for future growth. This engineering study should be carefully
coordinated with the fiscal audit above.

The county should continue efforts to reduce monthly charges if possible
such that they are comparable to rates of similar systems. The next grand
jury should review the NVWTP for progress.

The County Commissioners should review their enterprise model as it applies
to the NVWTP. As part of this review, and taking into consideration the
results of the recommended fiscal and engineering reviews, they should
consider if having the county “in the sewer business” is to the benefit of
Douglas County residents.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                  Page 36
Community Generated Complaints - continued

Basis Of The Complaint (Complaint #7)

The Utilities Division of the Community Development Department was
reviewed for several reasons. Previous grand juries had not delved into the
area, and this lack of review was notably absent, issues were raised by
citizen complaints filed with the 2000-2001 Grand Jury, and Douglas County
has been and is faced with challenges as it finds itself in the utility business.

The 2000-2001 Budget indicates that some of the most significant challenges
facing the county are public safety upgrades and utility upgrades. Several of
the small water systems continue to be challenged due to the user base not
generating the revenue necessary to fund needed capital infrastructure
improvements and fund current operations.
Identified Issues
Was it unreasonable for Douglas County to decline the Glenbrook Homeowners
Association's proposal to merge their water system with the Uppaway system?

Was it an unreasonable decision for Douglas County to decide to drill
groundwater wells instead of building a surface water treatment plant?

Zephyr Water Utility District:
Did Douglas County provide competent engineering assistance in the building of
the ozone treatment plant for the Zephyr Water Utility District?

Was it unreasonable for Douglas County to proceed with the building of the
ozone treatment plant when design deficiencies were found and it was
determined by SPH Engineering that the Kennedy Jenks' plans were

Cave Rock/Skyland:
Has Douglas County demonstrated engineering competency in the decisions
made regarding maintenance, design and operation of the facility?

Are the facilities at Cave Rock/Skyland water systems being adequately

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                      Page 37
Community Generated Complaints - continued

All Water Systems:
Is Douglas County adequately funding and staffing the Utilities Division?

Is the present Utilities Division staff competent to handle the tasks being
assigned and are the water systems being adequately managed and maintained?

Is the management style at all levels of supervision within the Utilities Division
serving the citizens of Douglas County?
Investigative Findings
The Douglas County 2000-2001 Budget provided the grand jury with a starting
place as to Douglas County water-related entities. However, the budget is a
confusing document in this area. For example, in one place it indicates that at
least eight water-related entities are associated with the County, those being:
Douglas County Water District; Douglas County Water Authority; Ridgeview
Water; Zephyr Water; Genoa Water; East Valley Water; Cave Rock Water and
Skyland Water. However, in another place it indicates that six smaller water
systems are operated within the County, those being: Ridgeview Water;
Mountain View Water; Sierra Shadows Water; Zephyr Water; Cave Rock
Water and Skyland Water.

The 2000-2001 Budget provides the following information as to operating
costs and capital projects as to County water entities:

Projects                                 Operating          Capital
Douglas County Water District
Douglas County Water Authority                $ 55,174           $0
Ridgeview Water                                    $0            $0
Zephyr Water                                 $ 239,758           $0
Genoa Water                                  $ 155,988       $ 7,500
East Valley Water                            $ 288,659     $ 337,000
Cave Rock Water                              $ 224,635           $ 0
Skyland Water;                               $ 154,709           $ 0

The 2000-2001 Budget further informs the citizenry that there is no funding
proposed for capital outlay, but there is $599,503 set aside for capital
projects. The Budget is again somewhat confusing; in another part it indicates
that there is $441,000 set aside for capital projects.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                      Page 38
Community Generated Complaints - continued

The last grand jury indicated that development should bear its own burden,
and Utilities Revenue Policy No. 5, found in the 2000-2001 Budget, provides
that utility user charges will be based on the cost of providing service, but
several water systems are not achieving this goal.

Douglas County for years refused to admit it was in the utility business;
however, water systems that were in trouble - both physically and financially –
required County assistance. It apparently was not to the benefit of the
County that it had to step in and take over these water systems, as they came
with significant problems both functional and monetary.

At Lake Tahoe, federal legislation establishing water quality standards
required significant upgrades to water systems, which had not been designed
for year round use, and had been in existence for decades. The customer base
for the water systems at Lake Tahoe is relatively small in proportion to the
cost to upgrade these systems, and in order to take advantage of federal
grant money for the upgrade of these lake water systems, the entity seeking
the money had to be a public entity.

Time was lost in the process of upgrading these plants due to the fact that
citizens and members of a former County Commission attempted to by -pass
the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act arguing that the water
quality of Lake Tahoe was so good that system upgrades were not needed.

The water facilities at Lake Tahoe are completely different from those in
Carson Valley. However, both Lake Tahoe and the Carson Valley facilities have
similar issues whether there is adequate funding to maintain, improve and run
the systems the County now owns, much less perform upgrades on the systems.
For example, replacement of the piping that has outlived its intended lifetime
in the Cave Rock/Skyland area is indicated.

A complainant was misinformed as to the issue of it being Douglas County who
declined to merge the Uppaway system with the Glenbrook system. It was the
Glenbrook homeowners who declined Douglas County's suggestion to merge the

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                    Page 39
Community Generated Complaints - continued

It was believed that the user base at Uppaway (24 homes) was too small to
attempt to build a million dollar surface water treatment plant, which could be
operated as a self-sufficient enterprise; therefore, Douglas County decided to
drill groundwater wells at a cost of $400,000. These groundwater wells
originally produced around 260 gallons per minute, but information indicates
that perhaps the rate of production from those wells has dropped off over
time or the demand on the system is outstripping the production of the wells.
The users of the Uppaway system use inordinate amounts of water, but have
begun to practice conservation, which has made the wells capable of handling
the demand by allowing the water levels in the wells to recover. The grand
jury finds it is undecided as to whether the decision to drill groundwater wells
instead of building the more costly surface water treatment plant was a good
or bad one. If the water production of the wells is going down, then of course
the decision was not a good one, but if they do adequately serve those citizens
over time it was a reasonable decision not to double the cost of providing
water to residents.

Zephyr Water Utility District:
The Zephyr Water Utility District ozone treatment plant originally had serious
design flaws and problems with sub-standard materials and construction. The
plant operated only for a short amount of time as anticipated, and then
required significant re-engineering and re-construction. The design flaws and
problems with sub-standard materials and construction were not the fault of
the Utilities Division, since the work had been hired out to a reputable
engineering company. Douglas County believed it had addressed the concerns
of SPH Engineering as to the Kennedy Jenks' design of the plant. The grand
jury finds that Douglas County Utilities addressed the ZWUD issues as best it

Cave Rock/Skyland:
In 1991, the County hired Corollo Engineering to design and construct a
surface water treatment plant for the Cave Rock/Skyland water systems. It
took Corollo two years and $159,965 to recommend an ozone treatment plant.
While the grand jury believes that Douglas County was lax in pursuing a
recommendation from Corollo and also recognizes that this took place prior to
the employment of those now in charge of the Utilities Division or the

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                     Page 40
Community Generated Complaints - continued

During the time Corollo was working on the project and in anticipation of an
ozone treatment plant being built, Douglas County had new intake pumps
installed at the cost of $293,000 instead of repairing the old pumps that were
in Lake Tahoe. These pumps had to be discarded when a micro-filtration plant
was eventually built. While ozone treatment was the treatment of choice by
other water systems at Lake Tahoe, the citizens of Cave Rock/Skyland around
1993 decided Corollo Engineering was wasting money and asked Douglas County
to terminate the relationship and hire Gilmore Engineer to investigate the
building of a micro-filtration plant. Micro-filtration was and is state-of-the-
art, cutting-edge technology. It was the citizens' choice of switching types of
plants that caused the pumps to become obsolete.

The micro-filtration plant was completed in 1997. Gilmore Engineering
suggested that Douglas County add an additional storage tank, but Douglas
County has declined to do so at this point. The county believes the tanks in
place can handle current capacity, with the qualification that if the system
failed the tanks could be emptied in half of a day.

There are members of the community who do not believe the county is
stocking adequate spare parts for the water systems at Cave Rock/Skyland,
because the manufacturer of the micro-filtration plant recommended that
Douglas County keep an inventory of spare parts for the system. Selling spare
parts is a revenue generator for manufacturers and staff believes that it is an
unnecessary expense to stock parts that are unlikely to fail, especially in light
of the extremely tight budget under which the county utilities function. This
is not an unreasonable position to take.

There are issues as to whether Douglas County sought all the grant money it
could for the building of this plant, since it did not include $156,000 dollars
needed for permits. A substantial portion of the early money granted out of
the AB 198 program went to water treatment plants at Lake Tahoe.

The two main computers at the Cave Rock/Skyland water system have been
recently replaced and are redundant, that is, both computers are of the same
size and capacity so that one can be programmed to run the other. There are
plans to replace the computers every couple of years. No one in Douglas County
is trained to handle anomalous computer behavior. Conflicting testimony was
received as to whether the redundancy is really in place or not.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                     Page 41
Community Generated Complaints - continued

The intake filters on the Cave Rock/Skyland water system are in need of
inspection and maintenance; however, there is a consistent theme that there
are not sufficient funds to perform the necessary preventative maintenance
needed by the county water systems.

During the summer months, various Lake Tahoe residents have issues with
chlorine odor. These problems are due to several facts, those being that
water is used at a rate which requires relatively fast processing through the
system; residual chlorine must be found at the last house on the system so the
first few houses on the system are going to have higher chlorine levels; and
there is no ability to automatically switch chlorination between high and low
flows. Douglas County is addressing the problem by looking at solutions such as
baffling or automated equipment.

North Valley:
A groundwater well was drilled on Heybourne to serve the Johnson Lane area
and cost approximately $500,000. The well began to experience problems
with sulfur odor. To address the problem, the county has chosen to drill
another well at significant expense. The county is also looking into treatment
for the Heybourne well in order to use that well during peak capacity times.
The water system using the Heybourne well also has a water discoloration
issue. The discoloration results from the chlorination precipitating out
minerals. While not harmful to the residents, the Utilities Division, in
communication with the public, blames the source of the problem on the fire
department opening the hydrants.

The Mountain View water system in the Johnson Lane area has had a
significant problem with sanding, and flushing regularly takes place to attempt
to deal with the problem; however, it continues to be an on-going issue. The
entire system is flushed annually, and in certain trouble areas, monthly. The
water pressure issues in the Johnson Lane area will hopefully be somewhat
alleviated near the new well being drilled by the airport.

The 2000-2001 Budget indicates that one of the significant achievements of
1999-2000 was to implement improvements to the airport fire suppression
system (fire driver). However, the Budget later indicates that while 100% of
the planning has been accomplished only 10% of the project is complete.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                    Page 42
Community Generated Complaints - continued

The grand jury received conflicting testimony on the issues surrounding the
airport fire drivers. In a document dated December 2000, the Utilities
Division was informed by the Fire Department that sprinklers in older buildings
in the airport area would not work properly under the current operating
pressures. This was the most recent of a series of similar documents. Other
documents showed conflicts between the two organizations and a feeling by
the Fire Department that Utilities did not respect or respond to Fire
Department concerns. Testimony received from within the Utilities Division
was inconsistent and contradictory.

The older sprinklers were rated for 125 PSI, but current water pressures
range between 60-70 PSI. Further testimony indicated that County Code
provides that water is not to be delivered over 100 PSI. In other testimony, it
was found that when the older buildings were built there was a closed water
system. When the Johnson Lane tank was built and the system was no longer a
closed system the boosters could not generate sufficient pressure for fire
flow (water flow). The first attempt to fix the problem was unsuccessful.
The grand jury finds it received conflicting testimony regarding problems
associated with the airport fire driver system.

The grand jury did not find a demonstrated lack of competency in the
decisions made regarding the design or operation of the water systems, but
finds that maintenance is suffering due to the lack of adequate funding and
management programs.

Approximately five years ago resources to carry out the function of utility
management were inadequate and it was management by crisis. Workload and
maintenance was dictated by equipment situations, and issues were addressed
as failures or forced outages occurred. Very recently preventative
maintenance (PM) appears to have come to the forefront. Currently, equipment
PM procedures are being established by the County.

The 2000-2001 Budget and testimony informed the grand jury that under
new Safe Drinking Water Act standards that may be enacted for regulating
arsenic levels, many wells in the County will not meet the standard and t hat a
$10 million dollar treatment plant may be necessary.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                    Page 43
Community Generated Complaints - continued

The grand jury finds it disturbing that conflicting testimony was received
regarding the operational status of the various water systems in the County.
For instance, conflicting testimony was heard as to how many pumps are in the
Cave Rock/Skyland system and as to whether all those pumps are working.

There was conflicting testimony by employee from the Utilities Department,
as to whether the redundancy built into the Cave Rock/Skyland systems is
operational. Also, there was conflicting testimony as to whether all the pumps
in the Lake Tahoe water systems are operational and how long certain
equipment has been non-operational. There appears to be a conflict as to
whether all water tank pumps are operational. There appears to be conflicting
testimony as to whether adequate maintenance is being performed on the
county's water systems. There was conflicting testimony regarding the
problems or lack thereof with the airport fire driver system and whether the
problems have been resolved.

The grand jury finds there is a lack of communication within the Utilities
Division and a style of management that is not readily open to fruitful
communication among the members of the staff. There appear to b e
significant issues with the management style in the Department in relation
to the Utilities Division. Input from staff, who have significant experience
and expertise, is stifled resulting in what this grand jury believes to be a
disservice to the citizens of Douglas County. There is an attitude in the
Utilities Division of "what they don't know won't hurt them" and it appeared
there were attempts to obfuscate the issues.

The grand jury is disappointed in the lack of forthrightness of certain
employees of the Community Development Department as to its inquiries
regarding utility issues in Douglas County, and is extremely concerned as to
how many times it repeatedly heard from various sources that staff of the
Community Development Department has been instructed not to talk to the
citizens of Douglas County.

The grand jury is disappointed that some of the staff of Community
Development did not take advantage of the grand jury process to help it point
out to the citizens of Douglas County the issues that have been faced already
and will be faced in the future.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                   Page 44
Community Generated Complaints - continued

The grand jury recommends the Utilities Division provide consistent, accurate
and reliable information regarding the functioning of the water systems to the
County Commission and Douglas County citizens. If equipment or plants are not
operating as intended, the Utilities Division should present solutions.

The grand jury recommends the Utilities Division improve its management
style within the department by creating an atmosphere of open communication
at all levels.

The grand jury recommends the County Commission engage an independent
engineering firm to give a full report regarding the status of county -owned
water systems, including historical and financial data.

The grand jury recommends that the County Manager ensure that the airport
is adequately protected by fully resolving the issues with the fire drivers at
the airport.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                   Page 45
Community Generated Complaints - continued

Basis of the Complaint (Complaint #51)

A complainant alleges violation of the Nevada State Law on open meetings,
NRS 241, by the County Commissioners in the matter of the paving of
Sullivan Street in 1999 and misappropriation of funds required for paving
the road.
Identified Issues
The complaint alleges violation of the Open Meeting Law and collusion on the
behalf of the County Commissioners in a meeting held to discuss the paving
of Sullivan Street in 1999.
Investigative Findings
The grand jury interviewed the complainant to determine the facts in the
case. The county‟s initial proposal to repair the culvert crossing Sullivan
Street met with objections by the citizens in the area. At this point the
county redirected the funds to other projects. Once an agreement for
repairing the road was found, the county proceeded to pave the road. Based
on the testimony received, the grand jury could find no indication of criminal
wrongdoing or violation of any laws by county officials.

The County Commissioners did not violate the Open Meeting Law NRS 241.
The grand jury makes no recommendation regarding this complaint. Based on
the testimony received and the documents reviewed the grand jury could
find no area of criminal wrongdoing by county officials or violation of the
Open Meeting Law.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                   Page 46
B.    Operational Services Department, Airport

Basis of the Complaint (Complaint #3)

A complainant believed that the county is at risk for liability as a result of
confusing documents published by the airport management regarding
overweight aircraft landing rules. The complainant requested an
Identified Issues
The identified issue of this complaint is whether or not the language in
existing airport documents is in conflict with Initiative Ordinance 19.02 as
amended in May 1995, and approved by the voters that expressly prohibits
all aircraft exceeding the weight limits, other than those operating in an
emergency, from landing at Minden-Tahoe Airport.
Investigative Findings
The grand jury reviewed Ordinances 19.02, 14.04 and 580 related to the
airport operations, the Airport Fee Schedule, Airport Rules and Regulations
and the Airport Master Plan. The jury participated in a tour of the airport
on November 16, 2000, conducted by Airport Manager, James Braswell who
explained the day-to-day airport operations.

The investigation revealed that there was indeed a conflict between the
requirements of Initiative Ordinance 19.02 and the Airport Fee Schedule
and Airport Rules and Regulations language as it related to overweight
aircraft landings and the penalties for such landings. The intent of the
airport documents, however misrepresented, was to allow for the periodic
landing of overweight fire suppression aircraft during emergency fire
incidents without violating the law. The government agencies whose aircraft
were involved in fire fighting duties paid the airport authority a fee for
each landing in order to supplant the maintenance budget for the runways.

The confusing language in one airport document created the erroneous
impression that even though overweight aircraft were prohibited from
landing at Minden-Tahoe Airport, except in emergencies, the payment of a
small penalty fee by the pilots of such aircraft would somehow excuse the

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                   Page 47
Community Generated Complaints - continued

violation. In another document, the same violation subjected the offending
pilot to misdemeanor prosecution irrespective of payment of the penalty fee.

The jury concluded that the complainant's concerns were founded and that
corrective action was warranted to avoid placing the county at risk of

The jury consulted with the District Attorney's Office to seek the
development of proper legal language for airport documents related to
overweight aircraft landings.

The jury directed a letter to the airport management outlining the conflicts
within the various airport documents and the need for corrective action.

The airport manager, shortly thereafter, sent a follow-up letter to the jury
advising that the airport policy, the Fee Schedule and the Airport Rules
related to overweight aircraft were re-written to comply with Ordinance
19.02. Included with the letter, were copies of the revised documents.
During the investigation, a recommendation was made to the airport
management by the grand jury to rewrite the policy and other related
documents regarding overweight aircraft landings.

Once this matter was brought to the attention of the airport management,
the recommendation to re-write the policy and other related documents was
welcomed and acted upon in a timely manner.

The grand jury wishes to thank Airport Manager, James Braswell for his
cooperation and helpfulness in correcting this matter.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                  Page 48
C.    Public Offices, Clerk-Treasurer

Basis of the Complaint (Complaint #2)

A complainant, a registered member of a recognized minor political party,
alleged that the Douglas County Clerk-Treasurer had denied her access to
political materials from her party of choice as a result of Nevada's closed
primary election law and her ineligibility to vote for partisan offices in
state/county primary elections.
Identified Issues
The identified issues of the complaint center on the Douglas County Clerk-
Treasurer's role in the election process, whether or not the office is
responsible for making political materials available to voters, and the legality
of the primary election process.
Investigative Findings
The Clerk-Treasurer, a duly elected public officer, administers the election
process within the county in accordance with Nevada State law. The grand
jury reviewed State and Federal laws related to Nevada elections.

Nevada recognizes two general groups of voters, those of major politi cal
parties and those of minor political parties. The major political parties are
Democrat and Republican. The minor political parties are Green, Independent
American, Libertarian, Natural Law and Reform. All states within the Union
are allowed by the U.S. Constitution to select their method of conducting
primary elections, either open or closed.

Nevada is a closed primary state in that a voter can only vote for offices
associated with the voter's party affiliation (either major or minor party),
along with nonpartisan offices and ballot questions that are applicable to the
voter's precinct. In other words, a member of a minor political party or a
nonpartisan voter is not eligible to vote for partisan offices in state/county
primary elections.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                     Page 49
Community Generated Complaints - continued

Although many political parties derive their mailing lists from county records
of registered voters, the Clerk-Treasurer does not supply political party
informational material to voters either directly or indirectly. Voters have
other avenues available to them to gain information from their specific
political parties.
The grand jury makes no recommendations regarding this complaint.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                   Page 50
D.    Public Offices-Town of Genoa

Basis of the Complaint (Complaint #16)

The complainant alleged that a member of the Genoa Town Board misused his
office in gaining paving services for his private driveway by "piggybacking"
onto a county contract. The complainant further alleged that she was told
"no" by the Genoa Town Board when she asked for permission to contract
with the same contractor for work on her own driveway. The complainant
alleged that she had tried to contact the contractor on several occasions to
request the same paving services as the town board member but had never
been called back by the contractor.
Identified Issues
Did a Genoa Town Board member misuse his position to obtain paving
services on his private driveway by "piggybacking" onto a county contract
while denying the same service to another town resident?
Investigative Findings
A special investigator from the Office of the District Attorney investigated
this matter. In a letter to the Town of Genoa, dated May 10, 2000, it stated
that, "Law governing the delivery of town services, like road maintenance,
makes it clear that town maintenance for roads is to be performed on town
roads-not private driveways. The same laws do not prohibit private property
owners from entering into private contracts to perform paving services on
their property with a contractor who is also under contract with the Town of
Genoa." The letter further stated that, "What is not permitted is for the
private property owner to "piggyback" their work on the scope of work being
bid by the town and either paying for it personally or reimbursing the town
for the work done on private property after the town pays the cost of the
entire work." It was determined that the board member solicited the paving
services from the contractor separately from the contractual arrangement
between the contractor and the town and paid for the work with private

Regarding the town resident asking for these same services, the letter
stated that if she was asking to "piggyback" on the town's road bid, she was
correctly denied permission to do so by the town board member. If the town

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                  Page 51
Community Generated Complaints - continued

resident was merely asking for authorization to enter into a completely
separate agreement entailing a separate payment process using private
funds with the contractor, the resident did not need to ask permission of
and should not have been told "no" by one of the town board members. While
the jury is unable to discern the context in which the original question was
posed and answered, it is clear that there was no violation by the town board
member nor was there an incorrect denial to the town resident.

The grand jury further found that the Town of Genoa does not have control
over whom the contractor may or may not contact.
The grand jury makes no recommendations regarding this complaint. There
was no evidence of misuse of town resources by the Genoa Town Board
memb er.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                  Page 52
Community Generated Complaints - continued

Basis of the Complaint (Complaint #19)

The complainant alleged that the Genoa Town Board discriminated against
certain community members by requiring liability insurance for fund raising
events for some entities but not for others. The complainant further
claimed that she was under the impression that the fund raising activities
she had planned had “the blessing” of the Genoa Town Board and that
insurance was not required. She subsequently received a notice from the
town board stating that liability insurance would be required.
Identified Issues
Does the Genoa Town Board discriminate against some entities by requiring
insurance for fund raising events and not requiring it of others?

Did the Genoa Town Board misrepresent to the complainant the need to
obtain insurance for her fund raising event?
Investigative Findings
The grand jury reviewed the rental agreements from Douglas County Parks
and Recreation, the Town of Minden and the Town of Genoa. The grand jury
found that these rental agreements include language that describes the
discretion of the rental body in deciding whether or not liability insurance is

The jury was unable to discern whether or not the complainant was told no
liability insurance would be required for their fund raising event. It was
learned that another county agency ultimately provided liability insurance
for the complainant's fund raising event.
The grand jury makes no recommendations regarding this complaint. The
Genoa Town Board can exempt the requirement for liability insurance at its
own discretion.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                    Page 53
Community Generated Complaints - continued

Basis of the Complaint (Complaint # 24)

The complainant alleged that the minutes of a Genoa Town Board meeting
were edited improperly.
Identified Issues
Did the Genoa Town Board violate any statutes regarding elected officials
conduct towards public meeting laws?
Investigative Findings
The grand jury found that the Genoa Town Board does not have a standard
format they follow for the recording and acceptance of the town meeting

After the jury reviewed several months of meeting minutes, it was apparent
that the Genoa Town Board does not, as a matter of course, follow the State
of Nevada's Open Meeting Law, NRS 241, regarding the recording and
acceptance of meeting minutes.
The grand jury recommends that the Genoa Town Board establish a format
for recording the minutes of their meetings. The board should formally
review and approve minutes from previous meetings.

The grand jury recommends that the Genoa Town Board comply with the
State of Nevada's Open Meeting Law, NRS 241, as described in the Nevada
Open Meeting Law Manual.

The grand jury further recommends that the Genoa Town board obtain a
copy of the manual from the Nevada State Attorney General's Office if it
does not already have a current copy for its use and reference.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                 Page 54
Community Generated Complaints - continued

E.    911/Communications Department

Basis of the Complaint (Complaint #4)

A complainant alleged that the department head of the 911/Communications
Department is absent from his assignment an extraordinary amount of time
attending numerous training seminars. Additionally, it was alleged that
certain budget expenditures for the department appeared to be
Identified Issues
The 911/Communications Department Director's position is responsible for
managing three divisions: 911/Communications, Emergency Management, and
Animal Control. The director, who reports to the County Manager, oversees
the emergency communications services for Douglas County as well as
manages the county disaster preparedness planning services. As such, the
director attends meetings, seminars, training classes, and other emergency
services related conferences away from the job site on a regular basis. How
much travel away from the day-to-day responsibilities occurs and what
impact it has on the quality of the department management is one of the
identified issues of this investigation.

Budget expenditures are an additional responsibility of the department head
within the confines of an approved budget allocated by the Board of County
Commissioners through the County Manager. Items purchased for use by
department personnel and the appropriateness of such purchases is an
additional identified issue of this investigation.
Investigative Findings
Members of the grand jury took an impromptu tour of the
911/Communications facility. During the tour, the jurors observed two
dispatchers and one supervisor in the course of their work. Emergency calls
to 911 were monitored and the supervisor on duty explained typical
procedures in dispatching emergency personnel to calls for service. At the
time of the tour, the number of dispatchers on duty along with a supervisor
serving as supervisor/dispatcher appeared to be adequate to handle the
volume of calls. The facility appeared to be clean and orderly and was
dedicated to the sole function of emergency communications and disaster

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                 Page 55
Community Generated Complaints - continued

planning. It was learned that the emergency dispatch function, at one time,
was housed in a smaller, more cramped space that it shared with the
Sheriff's Department. Dispatch employees expressed their opinions that
the current facility, while not ideal, was a great improvement over the
previous arrangement.

To get a better understanding of the inner workings of the department,
jurors took testimony from the complainant, the department head, the
County Manager, numerous dispatchers, administrative personnel and
supervisors to name a few. Additionally, jurors reviewed numerous
documents including the county budget, department budget expenditures,
department head job description, dispatcher job descriptions, training
schedules, pay schedules, records of emergency calls, employee turnover
rates and emergency operations plans.

During the investigation, it was learned that the department head was
indeed absent from his responsibilities a greater amount of time when
compared to other department heads. These absences, while clearly related
to the duties of the department head, were not routinely reviewed by the
County Manager for cost/benefit effect on the department.

There was no evidence to indicate any improper budget expenditures for any
items requested by the department. All items appeared to be related to the
responsibilities and needs of personnel.

Other investigative findings included several areas of concern. Currently,
there is no formal back-up plan in the event of a 911-system failure. An
informal agreement for this responsibility was discussed in testimony but
was not made clear.

As part of a state mandate, dispatchers are required to receive recurrent
training and re-certification. The training must be documented for state
records. It was learned that several dispatchers either had not received
training or had not had their training recorded on official records in a timely
manner. As a result, dispatchers were locked out of the computer system as
part of built-in security. They were then allowed to use other employee log-
on codes to override security in order to begin dispatching.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                    Page 56
Community Generated Complaints - continued

Since the relocation of the 911/Communications Department, opportunities
for personnel to work collaboratively with law enforcement members have

The 911/Communications Department has one of the county's highest rates
of employee turnover and expends a large amount of overtime to fill
positions. The department head has requested additional dispatcher
positions in yearly budget requests but has not received approval for such

Current protocol involving the recruitment of dispatchers does not include
the participation of in-service dispatchers in the process. Experienced
dispatchers are not utilized to review applications, participate on interview
boards or act as mentors.

The Emergency Management section of the department does not produce a
comprehensive multi-agency yearly training schedule. These schedules are
the responsibility of the department to coordinate and distribute among the
emergency services providers.

Jury members heard numerous complaints regarding the quality of
communications for emergency personnel including hand held radios, car -to-
car communications and repeater station reliability.
The grand jury makes the following recommendations regarding this
complaint and other issues identified during the investigation:

The County Manager should review all travel/training functions requested by
the department head for its cost/benefit effect on the department
management. This review should be conducted even when another entity and
not the county pays for the cost of the training or seminar. The County
Manager should conduct this review for all department head requests for
travel. The review and County Manager's approval should be clearly indicated
on a document developed for the purpose in order to create an appropriate
audit trail.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                  Page 57
Community Generated Complaints - continued

The County Manager in conjunction with the department head should develop
a formal memorandum of understanding between Douglas County and an
appropriate county designated as the back up to the 911 system. The
identified county would provide switchover service for Douglas County
should a failure in 911 occur. Periodic tests should be conducted to ensure
the integrity of the system.

The practice of allowing dispatchers to use other employee log-on codes
must stop immediately. The department head should ensure that all training
records and employee certifications are current and meet state mandates.

The department head should develop and implement a program of job
enrichment for dispatchers such as job rotation between Douglas County and
other cooperative counties (perhaps with the designated back-up county to
911 as an example), ride-a-longs with fire/paramedics/sheriffs, and
participation in recruitment interview boards.

Including dispatchers as mentors and recruiters would enhance the
recruitment efforts of 911/Communications Department.

In-service training should include the participation of sheriff's deputies and
fire/paramedics in dispatch issues.

In order to impact the significant overtime expenditures within the
department, funding should be sought to support an additional full -time
dispatch position. A contract or reserve position that is paid and part time
but without employee benefits should be explored and, if feasible, adopted
as part of the department budget.

The quality of communication transmission and equipment should be a top
priority of the department. To that end, it is recommended that the
department head make weekly status reports of conditions and corrective
actions being taken in communication quality. Weekly reports should continue
until measurable improvements in the sy stem are accomplished. These
reports should be directed to the system users as well as copied to the
County Manager.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                   Page 58
Community Generated Complaints - continued

F.    East Fork Swimming Pool District

Basis of the Complaint (Complaints #11 and #26 through #48)

Numerous complainants alleged that taxpayer monies are being used
improperly to fund the East Fork Swimming Pool District's (EFSPD)
remodeling and additions to the complex.
Identified Issues
The complainants asked that the EFSPD bond be paid in full and removed
from the Douglas County tax bill. The complainants also asked that there be
no additional tax monies spent on expansions to the pool. Additionally, there
was concern expressed that there may not be adequate safety measures in
place or proper lifeguard supervision.
Investigative Findings
The EFSPD has a managing board of directors, who are elected officials
voted in to office by the citizens of Douglas County. The grand jury initially
received complaint #11, followed later by complaints #26 through #48
listing the same allegations. The common allegations throughout these
complaints were the issues of appropriate spending of tax dollars for
improvements, full payment of the construction bond, and safety and
supervision. The 23 complaints were investigated as a single complaint.

After reviewing numerous audits of the district, the jury learned that there
are two separate swimming pool funds on the Douglas County tax bill.

The first fund is the Construction Bond Fund with a current tax rate of
.0225. This bond will be paid in full in 2006.

The other fund is for operation and improvements, which is supported by a
combination of ad valorem tax, currently at the .0874 rate, and by user fees.

Both of these funds appear to be managed properly by the Board of
Directors. Expenditures appear to be drawn from the appropriate fund for
legitimate, district related reasons.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                   Page 59
Community Generated Complaints - continued

During on-site visits, jury members observed that the safety of swimming
pool users and supervision is appropriately handled by staff.
The grand jury makes no recommendations regarding this complaint.

Previous grand juries received similar complaints regarding the East Fork
Swimming Pool Board of Directors and the manner in which they managed the
district. No previous jury, including this one, found fiscal improprieties or
other evidences of misfeasance in their investigations of the swimming pool
district. The community elects members of the board of directors. Through
the election process, the make-up of the board has changed several times
over the years. It is hoped that those in the community, who are dissatisfied
with the legitimate decisions made by or the lawful conduct of any member
of the board, will exercise their franchise rights to support or deny office
to those members.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                  Page 60
Community Generated Complaints - continued

G.    Jail Operations
Basis of the Complaints (Complaints #5 and #23)
Two separate complaints from former inmates of the Douglas County Jail
were received in which they each alleged that their constitutional rights
were violated numerous times while they were in custody.
Identified Issues
The issue of each complaint is whether or not law enforcement personnel
denied an in-custody individual any rights available to him under the law.
Investigative Findings
The grand jury invited each complainant to appear separately before it to
provide specific details of his allegations. Both complainants were
uncooperative and refused to provide any information that would assist the
grand jury in its investigation. The grand jury was unable to determine if any
constitutional rights violations occurred that were related to either

Although the complaints covered similar allegations, each was reviewed as a
separate investigative task with individual areas of concern.
The grand jury makes no recommendations regarding these complaints.

It should be noted that the grand jury is charged with the responsibility to
examine the operations and management of county jail facilities as outlined
in Nevada Revised Statutes. These responsibilities were performed
throughout the jury's tenure and are detailed in Section VII of this report
under Sheriff's Office and includes a review of constitutional compliance.
Additional reporting on other county incarceration facilities may be found in
Section V of this report entitled Grand Jury Review of Jail Management and

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                   Page 61
Community Generated Complaints - continued

H.    East Fork Justice Court - Probation
Basis of the Complaint (Complaint # 10)
A complainant alleged that he was harassed by his probation officer and
spied upon by him over a commercial television program at the complainant's
mother's home in California. The complainant also alleged that while he was
conducting business at the local Department of Motor Vehicles in
Sacramento, California, an image of an insurance representative appeared on
a computer screen he was viewing. He believed that his probation officer
was responsible for implanting the image in the computer.
Identified Issues
The identified issues of this complaint are whether or not a probation
employee conducted himself improperly in supervising a person on probation
and whether or not the allegations are plausible.
Investigative Findings
The grand jury reviewed the official probation report of the complainant and
learned that at the time of his complaint, he had completed his probation for
a minor crime and was no longer under the supervision of Douglas County
Probation. The report indicated that the complainant met all the
requirements for completing his probation. The report was otherwise not
extraordinary in content.

The complainant alleged other "mind controlling" instances wherein he
believed his probation officer was attempting to control him and teach him a

The investigation revealed no evidence to support the occurrence of any
"mind controlling" incidents or the improper conduct of any probation
The grand jury makes no recommendations regarding this complaint.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                  Page 62
Community Generated Complaints - continued

I.    Public Offices-Sheriff

Basis of the Complaint (Complaint # 15)

A complainant alleged that the Sheriff failed to act upon her report of a
crime in which a house was being "ransacked" in Douglas County by relatives
of a deceased couple with whom she had a friendship.

The complainant further alleges that public officials outside of Douglas
County failed to act upon her suspicions regarding the couple's death in an
airplane crash in Alpine County, California. The complainant also criticized
law enforcement authorities for failing to act on her information regarding
the couple's business property in Carson City, Nevada.
Identified Issues
Whether or not the Sheriff failed to act upon the report of a crime is one
identified issue of this complaint while the complainant's dissatisfaction
with the conduct of authorities in other jurisdictions is another.
Investigative Findings
The grand jury learned during its investigation that a couple residing in
Minden had been killed in an airplane crash near Markleeville, California on or
near October 26, 1997. Their bodies were not discovered until
approximately November 5, 1997, by authorities in California.

A review of court documents relating to the probate of the couple's estate
was conducted. Documents supporting the accidental death of the couple,
numerous documents indicating the public sale of the couple's extensive
personal property as well as the lawful sale of their home in Minden were

The complainant, who had no standing in the distribution of any property
belonging to the couple, had insisted that the couple's death was not
accidental and that the decedents‟ heirs had no right to access the couple's
house upon their death, thus her complaint against the Sheriff for failing to

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                    Page 63
Community Generated Complaints - continued

The complainant's insistence that the family members be prevented from
accessing any and all personal property led to her being asked to leave the
location where the county public administrator was lawfully conducting the
business of a probate sale. During the sale, the complainant attempted to
interfere with the sale of jewelry and other personal items belonging to the

There was no evidence found indicating that the Sheriff failed to perform
his duty in this complaint. Based on the information given by the complainant
to the Sheriff at the time the deceased couple's family members were at
the Minden house, it is reasonable to assume no crime was in progress and
that the complainant had her own agenda regarding the couple and their

With respect to the authorities in Alpine County and the complainant's
allegations that they failed to properly identify the bodies or determine the
cause of death, the grand jury has no jurisdiction to investigate. The grand
jury also has no jurisdiction to investigate allegations against authorities in
the adjoining county of Carson City, Nevada.
The grand jury makes no recommendations regarding this complaint.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                    Page 64
Community Generated Complaints - continued

J.    District Court

Basis of the Complaint (Complaint # 17)

A complainant alleged that the judges of the district courts regularly fail to
impose appropriate sentences on those persons found guilty of driving-
under-the-influence crimes. He further alleged that repeat offenders
routinely are given light sentences.
Identified Issues
There were no issues identified with this complaint.
Investigative Findings
The grand jury did not conduct an investigation into this complaint, as it was
determined that it was not within the jury's authority to do so as a c ounty
body. The judges of the district courts, who oversee the grand jury, made
this complaint available to the jury as part of their policy of bringing all
community complaints to the attention of the grand jury.

The sentencing practices of the district courts for driving under the
influence cases are mandated by state statute and involve little discretion.
The grand jury makes no recommendations regarding this complaint.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                   Page 65
Community Generated Complaints - continued

K.    Public Offices-Redevelopment Agency

Basis of the Complaint (Complaint #49)

Complainant asks if Redevelopment Area 1 (RDA1) was legally in compliance
with NRS 279, when it was formed. The complainant also asks that an
outside independent agency, such as the Douglas County Grand Jury,
undertake an analysis in determining if the projects were of financial
benefit to the county. The complainant questions whether the information
provided to the residents of Douglas County by the County Commissioners
was in support of a redevelopment district, and is valid from a fiscal
Identified Issues
Is RDA1 in compliance with NRS 279?

Are the projected revenues sufficient to retire RDA1 obligations?

Is there a need for a financial audit of RDA1?
Investigative Findings
The grand jury requested legal advice from the contracted legal counsel,
who is familiar with Nevada Revised Statutes.

The jury‟s attorney explained the Nevada State Legislature purposely left
the requirement of forming a Redevelopment District broad in definition.

The Douglas County RDA1 was established in fiscal year 98-99 after several
public hearings, and is in compliance with NRS 279.

The Douglas County Grand Jury requested information from and interviewed
the County Manager. The grand jury received information on funding
sources, restrictions in use, interests rates and payback requirements.

RDA1 has one loan from Douglas County for $800,000, pay back 06-01-03
unless extended. The interest rate is based on the average rate of return
earned by the County plus 2%. The second loan is also from Douglas C ounty
for $6.5 million, pay back 06-01-04 unless extended. The interest rate at

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                 Page 66
Community Generated Complaints - continued

this time is 2.5%. It is reviewed every six months and the interest rate is
expected to increase over time. The third funding source is the property tax
funds allocated to the Redevelopment area. The final funding source is
interest income.

The County Manager provided the grand jury with a worksheet for FY98-99
through FY00-01 on the projects charged to RDA1. The worksheet included
all the projects in RDA1, who was paid, and for what they were paid.

Foothill Sewer                                                  $ 554,602
North Valley Projects                                           $    25,936
Mica Dr. Waterline                                              $ 212,479
Vista Grand/Jacks Valley                                        $ 1,507,430
Hwy 395 Widening                                                $ 1,360,735
Ridgeview Tank                                                  $    19,602
Long Drive Sewer                                                $    16,272
Transfers purchase of Roberts Water system / Douglas            $ 3,050,000
County Genoa Water / Douglas County North Valley
Sewer to Foothill Water and Sewer
                                                 Total         $ 6,980,494

The previous numbers reflect only the cost that was charged to RDA1, not
the cost of the full project. The grand jury also looked at the
appropriateness of charges to the RDA1. The services and supplies portion
of the redevelopment cost include various expenses such a consultant,
insurance, printing, office supplies. Allocation of the Coun ty Manager‟s and
planning/economic development manager‟s time is 2.5%.

The majority of the projects are water, water storage, wells, sewer lift
stations, and sewers. Even though the water/sewer projects are not all
within the boundaries of the RDA1, the NRS 279 allows public improvements
that are of benefit to the redevelopment area.

The county commissioners have chosen not to use redevelopment funds and
to use a 3.7 million-dollar water sewer bond to build services to the west
side of Highway 395, even though it is in RDA1. Also, they are not using
RDA1 funds on the development of James Lee Park at this time.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                  Page 67
Community Generated Complaints - continued

The grand jury interviewed the assessor to find out exactly how the RDA1‟s
base year was established, and how the real property, improvements and
personal property are tracked from y ear to year.

The grand jury feels confident that with the checks and balances that are in
place, the RDA1‟s totals are and will be accurate.

Each year the Douglas County‟s outside auditor audits the RDA1.

At this time the revenues and projected revenues are sufficient to retire
the obligations of the RDA1.
The grand jury recommends that the next Douglas County Grand Jury, again,
look in to the RDA1.

The grand jury recommends that the next Douglas County Grand Jury,
undertake analysis in determining if the RDA1 was of a financial benefit to
the county, and that the charges to the Redevelopment Area 1 are still valid
from a fiscal standpoint.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                  Page 68
Community Generated Complaints - continued

L.    School District

Basis of the Complaint (Complaint #52)

A complainant alleges that the Douglas County School Board of Trustees
violated the Nevada State Statute on open meetings at its meeting of May
16, 2001.
Identified Issues
The issues identified are centered on the procedures used by the Douglas
County School Board in publishing its agenda. Items are discussed and voted
upon that are not clearly described or included in the agenda.
Investigative findings
The grand jury reviewed the published agenda and meeting minutes from the
Douglas County School Board meeting of May 16, 2001. The jury compared
the procedures followed by the board with the requirements outlined in the
Open Meeting Law Guide distributed by the Nevada State Attorney
General‟s Office.

The disputed agenda item was listed on the agenda, by the board under a
generic agenda topic entitled “Personnel Matters”. The law requires that the
agenda must have “a clear and complete statement of the topics to be
discussed during the meeting”.

The grand jury heard testimony from district personnel that the board
routinely adds personnel discussion issues to the agenda and votes upon them
because personnel issues are usually treated as time sensitive or emergency

Coincidently, while the jury was investigating this complaint, the Nevada
Attorney General‟s office issued a ruling that the May 16, 2001 meeting was
a violation of the Nevada Open Meeting Law NRS 241.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                  Page 69
Community Generated Complaints - continued

The grand jury recommends the district make a concerted effort to clearly
describe the contents of their published meeting agendas. The discussion of
important matters should not be routinely listed under a generic agenda
item. The habit of doing so weakens the board‟s credibility with its

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                 Page 70
Community Generated Complaints - continued

M.    Public Offices-Board of County Commissioners
Basis of the Complaint (Complaint #50)
Complainant alleges that the Board of County Commissioners has not
properly administered a 3.5 million-dollar bond to fix and repair roads.

The complainant also alleges that the money was inappropriately put in the
General Fund when it was allocated for specific road repairs.
Identified Issues
The appropriate management of funds by county commissioners is the
identified issue of this complaint.
Investigative Findings
The grand jury reviewed the written complaint submitted by the
complainant. The information provided was not clear and the jury was not
able to discern the specifics of the issue. As a result, a follow-up letter was
sent to the complainant requesting further details to assist in the
investigation. In process of looking for a 3.5 million-dollar bond to fix and
repair roads, the jury looked into bonds in general and highway bonds

The county may issue General Obligation Bonds by means of authority
granted to and by its electorate or the State Legislature or, under certain
circumstances, without an election as provided in existing statutes.

Douglas County has 6 different types of Bonds, General Obligation, General
Obligation Revenue Bonds, General Obligation Special Assessment Bonds,
Revenue Bonds, Medium Term Financing and Other Revenue Notes.

To issue a bond, the county commissioners write an ordinance authorizing
the bond.

The grand jury reviewed the ordinance designated as “12-1-89 Bond
Ordinance”. It is an ordinance authorizing the issuance of the “Douglas
County Nevada, Highway Improvement Revenue (Motor Vehicle Fuel Tax)
Bonds, Series 1998”. This bond issuance was not to exceed $3,000,000.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                    Page 71
Community Generated Complaints - continued

Specific information as to the use of the bond is included in the ordinance as
in the 12-1-89 Bond Ordinance.

The 12-1-89 Bond Ordinance state for example on page 17: (33) “the terms
“improve” or “improvement” means the extension, widening, lengthening,
betterment, alteration, reconstruction or other major improvement, or any
combination thereof, of any properties pertaining to the Facilities, or an
interest therein, or any other properties herein designate; but the term
does not mean renovation, reconditioning, patching, general maintenance or
other minor repair. “ (34) “ “Improvement Project” means the street and
highway construction, as delineated in the Plan including, without limitation,
the acquisition and improvement of: (a) Any street, avenue, boulevard, alley,
highway or other public right-a-way used for any vehicular traffic, (b)
sidewalks designed primarily for use by pedestrians, (c) Grades, regrades,
gravel, oiling, surfacing, macadamizing, paving, cross-walks, sidewalks,
pedestrian right-of-way, driveway approaches, curb cuts, curbs, gutters,
culverts, catch basins, drains, sewers, manholes, inlets, outlets, retaining
walls, bridges, overpasses, tunnels, underpasses, approaches, sprinkling
facilities, artificial light and lighting equipment, parkways, grade separators,
traffic separators, and traffic control equipment, and all appurtenances and
incidentals, or any combination thereof, and (d) All types of property
therefore.” (35)” “Improvements” means those Facilities acquired for
improved by the Improvement project. (47) “Plan” means the Douglas County
Street and Highway Plan, as from time to time amended a nd supplemented."
This bond document is 84 pages, and does not name specific projects.

The proceeds of a Bond Ordinance are deposited to the corresponding Fund,
as in the case of 12-1-89 Bond Ordinance, a bond to fund highway
improvements to the Regional Transportation Fund. Douglas County has one
bank account through which the expenses of each fund are paid. Payment of
this bond is pledged by $ .04 of the $ .0635 per gallon gas tax.

There is a yearly audit of all funds by an outside accounting firm. The
results of these audits are public record, available to the residents of
Douglas County.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                     Page 72
Community Generated Complaints - continued

The complainant did not respond to the jury‟s letter for additional
information. The jury found no evidence to support the allegation that the
county commissioners mismanaged the Regional Transportation Fund.
The grand jury makes no recommendations regarding this complaint.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                Page 73
V.    Grand Jury Review of Jail Management and Conditions


The grand jury is charged with the duty to inquire into the conditions and
management of any public prison located within the county (NRS 172.175).

During its term, the jury inspected the county jails at Minden and Lake
Tahoe, facilities that are under the supervision of the Douglas County
Sheriff's Department. The details of those inspections and resulting
recommendations to county officials are described in Section VII of this
report under Sheriff's Office.

The grand jury also inspected China Spring Youth Camp and the Lake Tahoe
Juvenile Detention Center. These are youth facilities under the supervision
of the district judges. The results of the review follow.
Identified Issues
The appropriate management of incarceration facilities and their physical
plant conditions are the identified issues of this inquiry.
Investigative Findings
The grand jury inspected the China Spring Youth Camp Facility located
approximately fifteen miles south of Gardnerville on Highway 395.

It was learned that the facility, under the supervision of the district courts,
has approximately ten full-time employees with a budget of just over $1.3

Juvenile offenders housed there are afforded medical, psychological, and
individualized counseling services along with recreational and vocational
instruction. In addition, they are mandated the continuation of their
education through the auspices of the school district, which provides a full -
time school teacher on site. Graduation requirements meet the same
standards as other school district facilities. Students receive earned
credits under the name of Jacobsen High School rather than under a
detention facility name, thus separating the stigma of incarceration from
educational achievement.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                    Page 74
Grand Jury Review of Jail Management and Conditions -

Grand jury members visited the facility and noted that it was clean and well
run. Staff members were knowledgeable and responsive to questions, citing
examples of successful intervention in youthful offender behavior. At the
time of the jury's visit, 44 juveniles were housed at China Spring, which is
the maximum for the facility.

Offenders are sent to China Spring from courts within Douglas County and
throughout the state including Lyon, Churchill and Washoe counties.

Plans to house female offenders at the currently all-male site are under way.
Funding sources have been obtained and preliminary construction is under
way. The jury views the opportunity for female juvenile offenders to receive
rehabilitative services at China Spring as a positive one.

During one of the tours of the Sheriff's jail facility at Lake Tahoe, the jury
inspected the temporary holding facility for juveniles that is located
adjacent to the jail. This facility is under the supervision of the Douglas
County Juvenile Probation Office. The jury was briefed by staff on the
programs offered to juveniles incarcerated there. Both males and females
are housed at the facility. At the time of the tour, educational classes were
underway and all juveniles in custody were in attendance.
The grand jury makes no recommendations regarding this inquiry and thanks
staff at the China Spring and Lake Tahoe facilities for their cooperation and

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                   Page 75
VI. Grand Jury Indictments

Summary of Criminal Complaints

On February 12, 2001, Douglas County Deputy District Attorney Mark B.
Jackson brought a proposal for indictment before the grand jury in a
criminal investigation against two Gardnerville residents accused of
operating a methamphetamine laboratory.

When the District Attorney's Office seeks an indictment of a target under
investigation from the grand jury, the grand jury does no t try the case.
Instead, the jury hears the evidence as presented by the prosecuting
attorney and then determines whether or not the evidence justifies an

The standard for indictment as outlined in Nevada Revised Statutes
172.155(1), 172.135(20) and 172.145 states that a grand jury should find
grounds for the issuance of an indictment when all the legal and best
evidence before them, taken together, without considering defenses to the
charge, but considering exculpatory evidence, establishes probable cause to
believe that an offense has been committed and that the target of the
investigation has committed it.

Deputy District Attorney Mark B. Jackson, in his presentation, alleged that
Douglas County residents Rebecca Carol Martin-Wilcox and Gary Peter
Patellaro, Jr. willfully and unlawfully manufactured a controlled substance in
violation of NRS 453.322; maintained a place for unlawful use of a controlled
substance in violation of NRS 453.316; trafficked in a controlled substance
in violation of NRS 453.3385(1); possessed a controlled substance in
violation of NRS 453.336 and possessed drug paraphernalia in violation of
Douglas County Code 9.453.566.

The jury heard the testimony of witnesses from Douglas County Sheriff's
Department, Nevada Division of Investigation, Drug Enforcement
Administration and witnesses from the private sector. The prosecuting
attorney presented both exculpatory and inculpatory evidence.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                   Page 76
Grand Jury Indictments - Continued

The grand jury deliberated with a quorum present and returned a true bill on
each count for each accused. The true bill charged Ms. Martin-Wilcox and
Mr. Patellaro, Jr. each with five counts of drug related offenses. The true
bill was presented to the prosecuting attorney.

In the presence of the prosecuting attorney, the grand jury foreperson
signed and presented a true bill before the Honorable Judge David R.
Gamble of the Ninth Judicial District Court on February 12, 2001, accusing
the defendants of drug related crimes.

Arraignment for the pair was scheduled for March 19, 2001, in Douglas
County District Court before the Honorable Judge Michael P. Gibbons and
each subsequently plead guilty.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                  Page 77
VII. Grand Jury Generated Reviews


The grand jury did not rely solely on community complaints to direct its
review of county government. A s outlined in Nevada Revised Statutes, the
jury may look in to any aspect of county government affecting the morals,
health and general welfare of the community.

During its investigation of community complaints, the grand jury was led into
other areas of government services to review. Some areas were chosen to
review as a follow-up to previous grand jury reports and their
recommendations. Other areas dovetailed with both the historical reviews
and present community interest.

The following areas of jury initiated reviews were investigated and resulted
in the following recommendations:

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                  Page 78
Grand Jury Generated Reviews - continued

A.    Countywide Emergency Operations Management
On November 4, 1999, the Board of County Commissioners adopted the
Douglas County Emergency Operations Plan. The comprehensive emergency
management guide was developed as part of the county commissioner's
responsibility to respond to and deal effectively with any emergency that
might impact the county. The plan was distributed to all Douglas County
agencies, departments and organizations for incorporation into their
respective operational plans.

Guidelines for the handling of emergencies from pre-incident needs
assessment, mitigation, incident control and post-incident recovery are
detailed within the plan and cover a myriad of potential disasters that most
likely could occur.
Identified Issues
A plan, no matter how comprehensive, is just that, a plan. It becomes an
effective working document once it is exercised and all responsible parties
are not only aware of their duties, but are sufficiently trained to carry out
their charges.

During a review of this aspect of county government, several issues were
identified in the area of emergency management that the grand jury
members felt were of importance to the community. One such concern was
the exercise of the Emergency Operations Plan. Since its adoption, the
number of multi-department tabletop exercises, drills and/or full-blown
exercises has been almost non-existent. To be sure, individual departments
including the Fire Districts, the Sheriff's Department and the School
District have conducted training for their own personnel within their own
areas of responsibility. The grand jury attended a number of emergency
training sessions of these entities and found the quality to be outstanding.

The grand jury examined the county's preparedness in handling a major
disaster. The identified issues in this review are the county's adherence to
its own Emergency Operations Plan and the exercising of the plan.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                  Page 79
Grand Jury Generated Reviews - continued

Investigative Findings
In addition to interviewing the County Manager, the grand jury interviewed
personnel    from the Emergency         Management Division of the
911/Communications Department, the Fire Districts and the Sheriff's
Department. Documents reviewed included the job description of the
Emergency Management Director, the Douglas County Emergency Operations
Manual, the 2000/2001 schedules of emergency exercises, the course
curriculum for designing an emergency exercise and the Hazardous Materials
Emergency Response Plan.

It was learned that, although it is the responsibility of the Emergency
Management Division to coordinate and publish a schedule of emergency
training exercises, the schedule for year 2000/2001 was lacking in any
documented multi-agency drills or training exercises. A few individual
emergency agencies were listed as conducting their own in-house training
exercises. Many other individual agency exercises were not included in the
schedule. For example, the East Fork Fire District conducted a training
exercise in February utilizing Boy Scout volunteers from Carson City acting
as victims in a terrorist caused poison gas scenario. The Douglas County
Sheriff's Department conducted a comprehensive training exercise at
Douglas High School in a scenario designed to deal with a Columbine,
Colorado type school take-over.

The grand jury attended one of the high school take-over classes conducted
by the Sheriff's Department, observing the classroom instruction and rol e-
playing sessions. Each of the eight-hour classes of instruction was presented
over a weeklong period and included Nevada Highway Patrol Troopers,
paramedics and Sheriff's deputies as class participants. High school
students provided realism to the scenarios by volunteering as student
victims. The grand jury was impressed with the professional classroom
presentation by Sergeant Dan Britton of the Douglas County Sheriff's
Department and his hands-on instructions to students during role playing.

In reviewing the county's Emergency Operations Manual and the Hazardous
Materials Response Plan, the jury learned that no single county agency can
bring to successful conclusion all the impacts of a major disaster. It takes a
coordinated effort of many agencies working together toward a common

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                   Page 80
Grand Jury Generated Reviews - continued

Members of the Board of County Commissioners, the County Manager and
every county department head are listed in the plan as having command
responsibilities in a succession of authority during a major emergency. The
grand jury was disappointed to learn that no county officials or emergency
management personnel were present during the past y ear's exercises. The
only officials present were those whose department was conducting the

The emergency operations manual describes the exercise requirements as
one in which the plan or some portion thereof is exercised annually or more
frequently as conditions warrant. At least one training exercise is to be
conducted every five years that is a full-scale exercise. Other years require
functional exercises such as tabletop sessions or drills.

During testimony, it was learned that no full-scale exercises have been
developed or conducted since 1997. In that year, the county's major flood
disaster served as the hands-on exercise for county officials. The handling
of the disaster by county officials met the funding requirements for federal
reimbursement and the community soon recovered.

It was also learned in testimony that no funding source exists to support the
full-scale exercise of the emergency operations plan.

It is the opinion of the grand jury that major disasters are difficult to
manage for any community. It requires the concerted effort of many people
and agencies. Planning and preparedness is essential and so is funding. The
community and county officials are not served well by a learn-as-you-go
approach to disaster preparedness.

We are fast approaching the fifth year time period described in the plan
and the requirement for a full-scale countywide exercise. Plans should be in
place already and tentative dates established for the exercise.
The grand jury makes the following recommendations regarding the review
of countywide disaster preparedness:

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                  Page 81
Grand Jury Generated Reviews - continued

The Board of County Commissioners should immediately direct the County
Manager and the Emergency Management Division to plan, prepare and
coordinate a full-scale training exercise involving all county agencies that
have emergency responsibilities in disasters. The full-scale exercise should
meet the requirements of the Emergency Operations Manual as approved by
the commissioners in 1999. The commissioners should recognize the need for
timely training and not rely on counting the five-year requirement from the
date they approved or modified the plan. The exercise should occur within
the five years since the 1997 flood, the last full-scale exercise. If the
county wishes to meet both the intent and the legal requirements of the
plan, it is clear that an exercise is needed soon. Otherwise a full -scale
exercise would not occur until year 2004 or seven years after the flood.

The County Manager should direct the Emergency Management Division of
the 911/Commmunications Department to prepare and publish a
comprehensive training schedule of all county agency exercises. The
schedule should be distributed to all county commissioners, department
heads and other elected officials who have responsibilities as incident
commanders or play a role in any disaster operation.

The Board of County Commissioners should direct all department heads with
responsibilities in disaster operations to qualify as incident commanders by
attending specific classes for that purpose and to attend at least one
training exercise per quarter conducted by county departments. County
officials who observe quarterly training exercises thus reinforce lessons
learned in incident command classes. County officials should attend incident
command training periodically to maintain their skills.

The Board of County Commissioners should direct, within the scope of their
authority, that disaster related training exercises involve at least three
county agencies whenever they are conducted. The Sheriff's Department
and the Fire Districts do a very good job of working together in training.
What is needed is the involvement of other county departments in disaster
exercises from tabletop to full-scale.

The last recommendation the grand jury makes concerning disaster
preparedness is the identification of funding for emergency operations. The
Board of County Commissioners should identify funds to support the

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                  Page 82
Grand Jury Generated Reviews - continued

exercise of the Douglas County Emergency Operations Plan and make those
funds available countywide. No individual department can or should bear the
budgetary burden of emergency response.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                 Page 83
Grand Jury Generated Reviews - continued

B.    East Fork Fire District
      East Fork Paramedic District
      Tahoe Douglas Fire District
Douglas County fire and paramedic services are operated under three
separate operations. The Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District provides
coverage in the Lake Tahoe area of the county. East Fork Fire and
Paramedic District (EFFPD) provides services in the Carson Valley. The
boundaries for the fire district are from the California State line at Topaz
Lake proceeding north along the Lyon County line to Carson City. The
eastern border of the district is to the east of Foothill Road and Jacks
Valley Road excluding Indian Hills. The Nevada Division of Forestry (NDF)
operates the third district as part of the Sierra Forest Fire District that
lies within the county lines. Its boundaries cover Indian Hills and the
eastern slope of the Sierras to Foothill Road and Jacks Valley Road. The
East Fork Paramedic District covers the entire Carson Valley.

A five member Board of Trustees elected at large governs the Tahoe
Douglas Fire Protection District. The Board of County Commissioners acting
as the Board of Fire Trustees governs EFFPD. Some of the services
provided by these agencies are fire suppression, fire prevention, emergency
medical services, hazardous materials teams, and rescue to name a few.
These agencies are funded by a combination of ad valorem tax, c onsolidated
state tax, and user fees.

Tahoe Douglas is fully staffed with career firefighters and paramedics. It
has four fire stations, Kingsbury Grade, Roundhill, Zephyr Cove, and

EFFPD is a combination department with ten volunteer fire departments, one
combination volunteer/career department, and one paramedic station. The
career staff consists of one district chief, three deputy chiefs, one training
captain, one fire inspector, three shift captains, twelve paramedic /
firefighters, and six EMT-II / firefighters. There are approximately 250
volunteer firefighters enlisted with EFFPD.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                   Page 84
Grand Jury Generated Reviews - continued

NDF operates a combination career/volunteer department. Their station is
manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week with career firefighters with
support from the volunteer ranks. Beginning in January 2002, additional
staffing will include a paramedic/firefighter and an EMT II/firefighter on
each shift.
Identified Issues
In reviewing the fire/paramedic services provided in Douglas County, the
grand jury came across several areas that were felt to be of significance to
the community at large. With a full time staff at Tahoe Douglas, it is felt
that community needs are being adequately met in this part of the county.

While services provided in the EFFPD and NDF areas are essentially the
same as at the lake, the majority of these services are provided by a
volunteer system that has served our county well. EFFPD has developed
minimum standards and established a comprehensive training program for all
of its members. The grand jury views EFFPD as a department in transition
trying to meet the needs of a growing community. With that in mind, it
should be noted that the major focus of the grand jury investigation was
with EFFPD as it serves the largest geographical area of the county with the
fastest growing population base.

The volunteer sy stem of emergency services has been an effective and
financially feasible means of meeting community needs in this county since
the early 1900s. The dedication and commitment of these volunteers cannot
be applauded enough, many of whom have been actively involved with the
district for many years. In a rural setting such as Douglas County, a
volunteer system has been, and will always be, an integral part of the
provision of emergency services.

With the rapid rate of growth and commercial development the community is
experiencing, it is time to look at expanding fire/paramedic services in the
valley. This expansion should focus on using the new combination department
in the Ranchos as a model. Other counties in the area have already or are
currently experiencing these types of changes and lessons can be learned
through open communication with these communities.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                  Page 85
Grand Jury Generated Reviews - continued

Investigative Findings
The initial process of this investigation was for jury members to tour all of
the fire/paramedic stations in Douglas County. Testimony was taken from
the Chiefs of each district, the County Manager, employees from the career
staff (fire and paramedic), and representatives from the volunteer ranks. A
thorough review was made of all budgetary documents, strategic plans, policy
/ procedure manuals, and training manuals.

Past practices indicated that a large part of accrual of equipment was based
on want versus need. The grand jury found that EFFPD is well equipped to
handle any type of emergency in the county. The current administration at
EFFPD has taken an assertive stance in controlling spending and introducing
programs to improve the services provided to the citizens of the county.

The Chief has instituted an aggressive program to improve fire protection
grading to raise Insurance Service Office (ISO) ratings for the benefit of
the citizens. They are forward thinking in terms of recognizing the impact
that growth and development have had on the feasibility of continuing with
the status quo. The introduction of a combination paid/volunteer station in
the Ranchos area is just one example. This change in staffing has improved
response times in the southern area of the county by 8-10 minutes. Plans
are in progress to expand services in the North Valley area to provide 24-
hour service with East Fork paramedic/firefighters, NDF, and volunteers.

During the tours of the individual stations it was discovered that alcoholic
beverages were being stored at a number of volunteer stations in the valley.
Although the majority of the stations toured were well maintained with
equipment and apparatus clean and neat, there were a couple of stations that
were lacking in those areas. The potential for injury was present because of
this. Several stations also presented a hazard with improper storage of
flammable materials. These issues were subsequently corrected.

Because of the commitment required to be a volunteer firefighter, the
district has experienced difficulty in the recruitment of volunteers. There
are presently the same number of volunteers within the district as there
were 15 years ago. It was learned that volunteers are not presently allowed
to serve in more than one department. Changes in the by-laws should enable
a change in this practice. The recent completion of a volunteer recruitment

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                  Page 86
Grand Jury Generated Reviews - continued

handbook should help inform the public of the need and hopefully the
enrollment of volunteers should improve.         Interested residents are
encouraged to look into this exciting opportunity to volunteer to serve their

Testimony revealed that there are many practices that are in need of
change or improvement. Although improvements have been made since the
last grand jury convened, personnel practices remain inconsistent within the
volunteer ranks. While each department has their own set of by -laws in
place, many have not been updated for a number of years. The practice of
limiting volunteer enrollment to single departments is an ineffective use of
personnel where there is already difficulty in recruitment efforts. There
are issues also pertaining to cross-jurisdictional conflicts between different
departments, volunteers, and career staff.

One area that could tend to cause some confusion to the public is that each
volunteer department has its own identifying logos and colors for their
apparatus. The development of a standard EFFPD logo for all equipment is a
good first step in creating unity within the district.

It was also learned that while Station 14 is staffed full time with career
paramedic/firefighters, there is no fire fighting apparatus at that station.
Even though they respond to fire alarms, they must rely on a volunteer
engine to be dispatched with them.

When the jury requested documentation concerning the response times to
calls it was discovered that there is no comprehensive tracking of this
information. There was also no schedule set up in regards to the mapping
and maintenance of fire hydrants. It should be noted that the district chief
has requested funding in the FY2001-2002 budget for part time help to
accomplish this goal.

The grand jury would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who
assisted in investigating this aspect of county government. The cooperative
nature, honesty, and education received are greatly appreciated. The grand
jury would especially like to thank Chief Carlini and Chief Smith for the time
and efforts put forth in assisting in the investigation.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                   Page 87
Grand Jury Generated Reviews - continued

The grand jury makes the following recommendations in regard to fire and
paramedic services in the county:

The East Fork District Chief should immediately implement and enforce a
written policy prohibiting the storage and consumption of alcoholic
beverages at all fire facilities except during fund raising activities. This is
in accordance to current county policy and the lack of its enforcement
presents a potential civil liability risk to the county.

Although Station 14 is identified as a paramedic station, it is staffed by
career paramedic/firefighters. This station should be equipped with a fire
engine or some type of fire fighting apparatus to enable the staff to do all
of the tasks required.

Although all of the volunteer departments have established their own by -
laws, some have not been updated for many years. Consistency in the by -
laws of all departments needs to be the focus of all volunteer chiefs.

Allowing members to volunteer at multiple stations would attain better
utilization of volunteers. Personnel practices within the volunteer ranks
must be consistent and in accordance with Douglas County policy.     This
would be supported by benefits (current and planned) and the industrial
insurance coverage provided by the county.

The Board of County Commissioners and the Volunteer Fire Chiefs Advisory
Board needs to give their full support to the District Chief, allowing him to
guide the department forward with support from the volunteer ranks. The
future focus of EFFPD should be towards establishment of more
combination (career and volunteer) departments in the core population areas.
This is absolutely necessary to provide the services needed to our growing

Having multiple departments with their own identifying colors and emblems
is confusing to the public. The newly created EFFPD logo has helped
eliminate this problem but a formal schedule should be established to
convert markings to a universal identification on all district apparatus and

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                    Page 88
Grand Jury Generated Reviews - continued

vehicles. Future purchases of apparatus should be the official color adopted
by the district.

A policy should be established that would eliminate cross-jurisdictional
conflicts, as this practice is self-defeating and could possibly result in
unnecessary loss of property or injury to residents or firefighters.

Further recommendations are that the chief should institute a schedule of
station inspections on a monthly or quarterly basis to ensure that cleanliness
and safety standards are being met. He should also work with the Director
of 911/communications to establish a system of tracking response times. A
formal schedule of inspections should also be established regarding fire
hydrant maintenance, flow testing, and mapping.

A source of future consideration should be the establishment of an elected
Board of Fire Commissioners to ease the burden of the County
Commissioners. The difference in boundaries for the fire and paramedic
districts may pose a challenge in considering an elected board. This is an
area that the next grand jury should look into.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                   Page 89
Grand Jury Generated Reviews - continued

C.    School District
The Douglas County School District (DCSD) consists of 13 schools: three
High Schools, three Middle Schools, and seven Elementary Schools.

Approximately 7160 students attend the schools in Douglas County.
Recently, the School District has experienced a decline in student
enrollment. The School District employs approximately 500 employees. The
district spent an average of $6,100 per student in 1999-2000.

The School Board of Trustees consists of seven members, elected to 4-year
terms. The Board conducts an open meeting each month. Each trustee
represents a community district and is elected at large from the county.
The Board is responsible for setting policy and procedures, approval of the
budget, textbook adoption and/or changes to curriculum, approval of new
hires and renewal of employee contracts and other responsibilities that
meet district policy and state mandates.

The 2000/2001 Grand Jury decided to investigate the Douglas County
School District. An inquiry into DCSD had not been conducted by any grand
jury in the past decade; a review seemed appropriate and timely. The State
of Nevada Board of Education and all the laws pertaining to public education
govern the DCSD. The grand jury does not presume to impose its review
outside of its jurisdiction.
Identified Issues
The identified issues of this review was the School Board of Trustees, their
authority and policy making procedures that ensures effective and efficient
management, the DCSD governing documents, curriculum, strategic plan and
the newly implemented competencies. Further identified issues included
safety at the facilities, teacher compensation, and the level of volunteerism
of parents and community members and the communication tools used by the
school district.
Investigative Findings
The grand jury interviewed teachers, administrators, district office
personnel, the superintendent and members of the School Board. The jury -

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                  Page 90
Grand Jury Generated Reviews - continued

reviewed documents including the mission statement, strategic plan,
budgets, graduation requirements, accountability reports, state education
board documents, and other documents related to this inquiry.

The DCSD has a mission statement that guides the overall goals and sets the
tone of their philosophy concerning the education of students. The mission
statement is:

      “The Douglas County School District, in partnership with
      parents and community, will ensure that all students are
      competent in the basic skill areas and are prepared to be
      productive, responsible citizens.”

The DCSD should be commended for their powerful mission statement. It
speaks of accountability to the community, public service and public

The goals, assurances, statement of beliefs and commitments were
developed from the mission statement. These statements can be reviewed
in the document called the “Strategic Plan”. The Board of Trustees adopted
the plan in 1994. The Strategic Plan outlines 11 strategies consisting of
Competency Strategy, Graduation Strategy, Communication Strategy, Career
Strategy, Technology Strategy, Family Strategy, Fine Arts Strategy, Hiring
Strategy, Cultures, Environment and World Issues Strategy, Facilities
Strategy, Community Service Learning Strategy. Personnel are assigned to
complete the developed goals and objectives of the strategies. The
Strategic Plan is a document that is reviewed annually by a large group of
interested parents, community members, teachers, administrators, district
staff and the School Board. The School Board adopts revisions at an open
meeting each spring.

The DCSD has been in the forefront of an innovative education system,
creating a new standard of student achievement called Competency Based
Education. The school board foresaw a need for a systemic change and
improvement to the education system. This change was driven by years of
social promotions resulting in students graduating without adequate skills in
reading, writing, and arithmetic.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                  Page 91
Grand Jury Generated Reviews - continued

The grand jury understands and supports the goals espoused by the
Competency Based Education System now being implemented into our school
system. The jury believes that a high school diploma from the DCSD should
reflect a level of education the parents, teachers, administrators and the
community can be proud of.

Currently, to receive a high school diploma from the Douglas County School
District, a student must complete four general requirements:

   Earn 23 Credits for successful completion of classes, which must include
   English, language, mathematics, physical education, health, public
   speaking, science, fine or perfor ming arts, social studies in world
   geography and world history, American history and U.S. government,
   computer literacy and 6 1/2 units in electives.

   Pass State Proficiency Testing in reading, writing, mathematics, and

   Pass Achievement Level Tests (ALT) Assessment – District Competency
   testing in Reading Language Usage, Mathematics, Integrated
   Algebra/Geometry I, Science, American history, and U.S. government.

   Complete Performance Assessments Competency (developed by DCSD)
   that includes assessments in communications (oral and written), foreign
   language (oral), science, social science, technology and employability.

There are also ALT and Performance Assessment Competency in the
elementary and middle schools with benchmark assessments at the 3 rd and
6th grade, and 7th and 8th grade levels. The students are tested with state
proficiency tests and district generated assessments. The assessments
include competency in reading, writing, listening, speaking, foreign language,
math, science, social science, technology, and employability. These
competencies are a method to ensure that a student is capable of
demonstrating a skill or understanding a concept.

DCSD has conducted numerous open meetings over the years with parents,
teachers and members of the community and sent home written
communication with the students. However, according to testimony, the

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                   Page 92
Grand Jury Generated Reviews - continued

district has not demonstrated an ability to effectively communicate to
parents and teachers the importance of the changes and impact of the
competencies.     The lack of effective communication has resulted in
increased confusion and frustration. Testimony indicated that parents are
generally unaware of the new requirements for promotion/graduation.
Publications are given to students, but may not always be received or read by
parents. Parents have relied on their child‟s grades on the report card to
determine their current status. Currently, report cards are being revised to
clearly communication the requirements for promotion/graduation and
competency achievements.

Due to the numerous changes to the curriculum and the competencies,
teachers indicated they have adjusted the way they teach. Some teachers
believe that too much time is being spent on testing. As a result, testimony
indicated a resistance on the part of those teachers to fully implement the
competencies and other portions of the Strategic Plan.

If was further learned that vocational training programs at the high schools
are minimal and are difficult to develop as part of the curriculum due to
changing technology and lack of involvement of community businesses to
create job training programs, which would promote apprenticeships for older

District personnel and the School Board were unable to give a ballpark cost
for the development and i mplementation of the competencies.

The grand jury heard testimony concerning student instigated violence,
vandalism, and abuse of drugs and alcohol on school grounds. Some of the
violence was directed at support staff and teachers. School staff is
commi tted to safety and has an excellent working relationship with the
Douglas County Sheriff‟s and the Juvenile Probation offices. The Sheriff‟s
office provides a District-wide Drug and Alcohol Resistance Education
(DARE) program afforded to all 5 th grade students. The purpose of the
program is to provide information about the harmful effects of drugs and
alcohol. An officer is shared between two high schools to ensure staff and
student safety. The cooperative effort between the Sheriff‟s office and
the DCSD often results in a responsive and collaborative approach to
handling offenders. The installation of video surveillance equipment at

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                  Page 93
Grand Jury Generated Reviews - continued

Douglas High School, as well as the pending system at George Whittell High
School, will further ensure a more complete approach to preventing or
curtailing school violence.

In testimony, we heard that the State Legislature controls the funding of
schools through an “equalization” formula called the Nevada Plan. According
to state documents, approximately 35% of the state budget was given to the
17 state school districts in fiscal year 2000. Teacher‟s unions and school
district representatives lobby the legislature to increase funding.

The DCSD spends 87% of the budget on employees‟ salaries and benefits.
The starting salary for a teacher with a bachelors degree is $28,730 in
Douglas County. The remaining budget is spent on instructional and
operational costs.

In spite of the recent teacher salary bonus awarded by the State
Legislature, every teacher and administrator interviewed expressed
concerns about the level of compensation for teachers. The potential for a
teacher to earn a higher salary in a neighboring state poses a threat of
migration to the school districts that offer a greater opportunity of
increased monetary support for their families.

It was learned that there is a declining population of young people willing to
pursue a career in education. This could be attributed to low compensation
after completion of higher education degrees.

The district office provides training for teachers and some staff members
in the Professional Development Center (PDC). The PDC is also a regional
training center for five surrounding counties. The majority of courses
offered specifically pertain to district curriculum, competen cies and re-
certification credit.

Overall, the perception by the grand jury is that teacher morale is low due
to the changes caused by the competencies, student discipline and violence,
lack of parent involvement and salary compensation. Most of the teachers
expressed satisfaction with their school‟s principal and staff. However,
there seems to be some frustration due to lack of communication and
participation from district administration and the School Board. The

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                   Page 94
Grand Jury Generated Reviews - continued

teachers feel that there is a one-way communication path between the
district and the teachers. Their ideas and concerns are not given full

Parent volunteerism at the elementary schools was high. Teachers indicated
cooperation between parents and school staff and many of the elementary
schools have active parent/teacher support groups.

It was learned most teachers of middle and high school students believe
there is a reduced commitment on the part of the parents to stay actively
involved in the education of their children. It should be noted that parent
involvement is essential to their child‟s success at every level of their
academic career. Even if parents are not directly involved in their child‟s
classes, teachers and district personnel strongly encourage and welcome
parents to volunteer whenever possible.

There are many published documents concerning the DCSD education
system, state requirements and information on individual schools. The school
district website has not been kept current and it lacks much needed

During testimony, school board members expressed concerns in a number of
areas. The need to develop strong leadership at all school sites, improvement
of communication at all levels and the resistance to the competencies by
some teachers, were just a few of the stated concerns.

It was further learned that members of the School Board have been asked
to make appointments before visiting schools. Some of these visits are
formal meetings with district staff present; other visits are less formal
with conversation between board members, staff and students. The jury
believes the request for the school board members to make an appointment
unnecessarily restricts their oversight function.

School Board members expressed that there is little or no communicati on
between the School Board and the State Board of Education. School Board
members communicate directly with State Legislators concerning school
district issues. During sessions of the legislature, board members testify on
behalf of the DCSD.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                   Page 95
Grand Jury Generated Reviews - continued

The grand jury wishes to thank those teachers, administrators, district
staff and trustees who participated in the interview process.
The grand jury recommends those students, parents, teachers and
administrators, as they struggle through the implementation of the new
education system in this transitional period, be granted flexibility to prove
their skills, not exclusively by a test, but also by their everyday work with
teachers and curriculum. The grand jury does not support favoritism or a
lowering of the standards in the ALT Assessments or Performance-Based
Competencies. Creating Personalized Education Plans for at-risk students,
and increasing communication between students, parents, teachers and
administrators, will be key to producing a student who has become
competent in the basic skills identified in the Strategic Plan.

The grand jury recommends additional vocational opportunities be explored
for those students who are not going on to higher education. If possible,
acquire Federal and State grants to support vocational education.

The grand jury further recommends the school district develop a plan that
will involve community members as volunteers, and encourage them to
become mentors of students who are exploring various occupations.

The grand jury recommends the DCSD produce and publish a report on the
expenditures related to developing and implementing the ALT and
Performance Competency Assessments.

The grand jury recommends the DCSD be more actively involved with the
Douglas County Sheriff and Juvenile Probation Departments in the
development of safety procedures and control of violence at all schools.

The grand jury recommends the district utilize the expertise of judicial and
law enforcement officials concerning needed equipment, programs and
methods to impact and control students anti-social behavior.

The grand jury recommends the Board of Trustees develop a plan to educate
the community on the need for competitive teacher‟s salaries.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                  Page 96
Grand Jury Generated Reviews - continued

The grand jury further recommends the Board of Trustees exercise its
authority, where appropriate and when funding is available, to increase
teacher salaries through budget allocation.

The grand jury recommends the DCSD develop a plan to encourage parents
of middle and high school students to be mor e actively involved with their
children‟s education.

The grand jury recommends the DCSD update and maintain its website.
Include publications for promotion/graduation requirements, school news,
calendar of DSCD events, board meeting‟s agendas, minutes, addendums,
accountability report, etc. on the website.

The grand jury recommends the DCSD develop credited leadership -training
classes through the Professional Development Center.

It is also a recommendation of the grand jury that the School Board explore
a relationship with the State Board of Education to assist with the
recruitment process and fiduciary support.

The grand jury further recommends the School Board increase informal
conversation and school visits with school staff and students.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                 Page 97
Grand Jury Generated Reviews - continued

D.    Sheriff's Department
The Douglas County Sheriff's Department provides law enforcement
services for the entire county. The department head is an elected official
who serves a four-year term after each election. For fiscal year 2000/2001,
the department was comprised of 113 fully funded personnel members
assigned to four divisions; Administration, Jail, Investigations and Patrol.

The grand jury began its review of the Sheriff's Department as a result of
the mandate to inquire in to the operations and management of the county
jails. The oversight of the county jail facilities at the Minden and Lake
Tahoe Sheriff's Stations is the responsibility of the Sheriff's Department.
Identified Issues
The identified issues of the grand jury's inquiry into the jail operations
were the examination of the conditions of the facilities and the
determination that they were being managed efficiently and within the law.
Additionally, the jury reviewed those cases where persons were
incarcerated but were not yet indicted or against whom a criminal complaint
had not been filed.

In reviewing the operations of the jails, the jury learned that there was a
significant problem in personnel response to potential fire in the jail and the
use of emergency equipment. The jury also learned that there were three
inmate suicides that occurred over the last year, an unusual number based on
historical records. Both of these conditions and events became the priority
issues of the jury's work in addition to meeting its statutory mandate
regarding the jails.
Investigative Findings
During the past year, two separate complaints from the community were
submitted to the grand jury alleging violations of constitutional rights by
former inmates of the county jail. These complaints are discussed in this
report in Section IV, Community Generated Complaints under Jail

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                    Page 98
Grand Jury Generated Reviews - continued

The grand jury conducted a total of seven inspections at the Minden and
Lake Tahoe jail facilities. Visits to both facilities occurred with little or no
prior notice to staff on duty. Grand jury members inspected housing cells,
medical observation cells, recreation areas, dining rooms, and laundry
facilities. The jury interviewed male and female inmates who were sentenced
as well as pre-sentenced and inmates who performed work trusty duties.
Jurors were briefed on the booking process and officer use of force

Documents reviewed by the jury included jail policy and procedures manuals,
inmate rules, completed booking forms, inmate meal schedules and menus,
inmate medical request forms, jail officer training records, and probable
cause declaration forms.

At each inspection, the jail appeared to be clean and well maintained. The
kitchen was organized and sanitary. Booking documents were accurate and

At one of the first jail inspections, the jury inquired in to the operation of
the emergency self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) that is the
responsibility of jail personnel to use in the event of a fire evacuation. Not
only was some of the equipment expired in certification, but also staff was
unable to articulate its use or competently demonstrate its function in an
The situation was serious enough to prompt the grand jury to notify jail
administration of its need to take action prior to the completion of any
grand jury report. The safety of both officers and inmates depended upon
timely follow-up.

Jurors learned that action was indeed taken later in the form of certified
training classes for personnel in the use of the SCBA. These classes
occurred over a period of several months and involved many but not all of
the jail staff. Previously, there appeared to be no plan in place to
incrementally train officers as certifications expired. The East Fork Fire
District provided re-certification instruction on the SCBA for deputy
personnel. In their letter to the Sheriff's Department, the fire district
asked for assistance in any future training on the SCBA because the sheer

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                     Page 99
Grand Jury Generated Reviews - continued

number of students over a short period of time was a burden to the fire

Jail administration was notified that there would be unannounced follow-up
visits to the jail by grand jury members and that the focus of the
inspections would be the competency of staff in the use of the SCBA. Two
additional inspections by the grand jury took place.

The jury discovered that, although some training had occurred, not many
officers were certified. The second inspection revealed that no one on duty
was able to successfully operate the equipment. The third inspection was
only marginally better in that one officer out of four on duty, including a
supervisor, was able to demonstrate the equipment with skill. The jury finds
this troubling.

It was learned that the administration was cooperative in solving this
shortcoming in the jail by immediately initiating training classes. There were
numerous memoranda directed from administration to line personnel advising
of the importance of becoming competent in equipment usage.

It should be noted that when the jury refers to competency or skill, it is not
an arbitrary standard imposed by the jury but simply the ability of personnel
to don the equipment and successfully use it. The department is required to
train to the standards imposed by the Peace Officer Standards and Training
and the Fire District's level of competency in emergency equipment.

In other reviews of the Sheriff's Department, the jury was much more
favorably impressed.

As discussed in Section VII under Countywide Emergency Operations
Management, the grand jury attended a full-day training class conducted by
the Sheriff's Department at Douglas High School. This class was an
excellent example of the cooperative relationship that the department
enjoys with its counterparts in handling disasters and high risk incidents.
The training involved handling a Columbine, Colorado type take-over of a high
school by violent suspects. The Sheriff, in particular, should be applauded
for his support of this training. We live in different times and sadly no
community is immune from tragedies of this type.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                   Page 100
Grand Jury Generated Reviews - continued

In other demonstrations of the Sheriff‟s Department readiness to handle
critical incidents, the jury was fortunate to observe two examples of the
excellent quality of training personnel receive. The jury attended a
demonstration of weapons usage at the Sheriff's Weapons Range. The type
of weapons an officer might come across in the course of his duties in the
field was shown to the jury. Each juror was given the opportunity to handle
these weapons, under the qualified supervision of the Special Oper ations
Response Team (S.O.R.T.). Additionally, each juror experienced what it is
like to handle a critical incident as seen from the ey es of an officer when he
or she participated in the shoot/don't shoot scenarios of a weapons
simulator. The instruction was top quality and the instructors were

Another demonstration on another date involved the Sheriff's bomb team
and their explanation of bomb handling incidents. This outstanding
demonstration occurred at the weapons training facility and was presented
by the Tahoe-Douglas Bomb Squad with the assistance of the East Fork Fire
District staff. It was very evident that all the officers and fire crew
involved knew their jobs and worked well as a team.

The grand jury would like to thank the training staff at the weapons center
for their presentation, their expertise and their enthusiasm.

With respect to the suicides in the jail during the grand jury's term, it
should be noted that the Sheriff's Department requested that the Washoe
County Sheriff's Department conduct an independent criminal investigation
into each case. The completed criminal and administrative investigations with
supporting documentation were made available to the grand jury near the
end of its term.

Of the three cases, the first two were completed and presented to the
grand jury for review. Jury members reviewed the entire investigative
report from Washoe County. Those reports coupled with the Douglas County
District Attorney's report determined that each inmate died at their own
hands and not as a result of any criminal conduct. The jury conducted follow-
up interviews of personnel and concurs in those findings.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                   Page 101
Grand Jury Generated Reviews - continued

In testimony and in reviewing documents regarding the supervision of the
jail, the grand jury heard time and again that the primary cause for concern
was the staffing of the jail and the lack of personnel to run the facilities
properly. Administration offered in testimony that they had requested an
additional jail deputy in numerous annual budget reviews without success.
The jury heard from administration that the funding of a single deputy item
would cure the ills in running a jail operation. In other testimony, the jury
heard that the solution would be found in the hiring of three deputies. In
budget documents, the department indicated their goal for fiscal year
2000/2001 was to hire five jail deputies.

A review of the criminal investigation documents regarding the suicides,
along with the administrative review and follow-up interviews of personnel,
revealed a deeper cause for concern.

In testimony, the administrators characterized the three suicides as
unfortunate but not surprising given the critical shortage of personnel
available to run the jail. The view was that another suicide could occur at any
time and that all that could be done was being done. It was explained that
the jail is accredited by the National Commission on Correctional Health as
meeting the minimum national standards for facilities of Douglas County's

Although the report by the National Commission on Correctional Health,
dated October 27, 2000, accredited the Douglas County Jail, it indicated
that the jail did not meet standards in two critical areas.

In the section on mental health evaluation, the standard was not met
because the mental health assessment form did not incorporate all the
elements of the standard. There was no documentation of the nurse having
received in-service training regarding the mental health assessment. To
date, there is no evidence to indicate that this documentation ha s been

In the section on suicide prevention, the standard was not met because a
revised suicide prevention policy was not submitted to the accreditation
body. The report, at the time of printing, went on to state "the standard is
now met because revised policy changes have been submitted and shared

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                    Page 102
Grand Jury Generated Reviews - continued

with staff." The grand jury followed up on this information and learned that
the suicide prevention policy changes referred to were incorporated into the
jail manual, a single copy of which was placed in the central control booth of
the jail. From the time the manual was placed in the control booth to the
time of inmate Soria, Sr.'s death, there was no evidence to indicate that jail
personnel were aware of the policy or had read the policy. Subsequent to
Soria, Sr.'s death, administration directed that each deputy receive his own
copy of the manual, read the contents and initial a control document that he
had done so.

The grand jury heard testimony from several departmental personnel that
the handling of inmate Soria, Sr. was one of "hands off" as directed by
supervisors. Deputies were instructed to leave the inmate alone and not
annoy him for fear of receiving complaints from his attorneys. They were
told to keep him "happy". The instructions were clear and unambiguous with
the added caveat that the supervisor would call deputies at home if
complaints were heard. It is understandable, then, that the report by
Washoe County investigators revealed that deputies never conducted
searches of Soria, Sr.'s cell for contraband. Only one deputy claimed to
have conducted a search but it was not logged, as is policy. Follow-up
testimony revealed that the overriding feeling among jail deputies was that
short of any security breach, Soria, Sr. was not to be upset or disturbed.

As part of a desire to accommodate Soria, Sr.'s wishes, deputies granted his
request, just before his death, to have his cell lights dimmed and to have a
sheet of paper placed over his cell window. Soria, Sr. had asked that his
lights be dimmed because he was having trouble sleeping, a request
apparently lost on personnel who were administering sleep medication to him.
He requested that paper be placed over his cell window because other people
were staring at him.

Inmate Soria, Sr. took his own life by ingesting a lethal amount of sleeping
medication that he was able to hoard over a period of time.

The Washoe County Sheriff's investigation revealed that medication
leftover from inmates who were subsequently released from custody was
utilized to supplant the same medication prescribed for Soria, Sr. The
medication for Soria, Sr. was, in effect, "refilled". The person who

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                   Page 103
Grand Jury Generated Reviews - continued

replenished the medication was not a medical professional but was one of
several clinical social workers assigned to the jail. The medication was
routinely handled in this manner in a misguided attempt to save money.
There was no indication that the replenishment of medication had any
bearing on Soria, Sr.'s death. Administration has since ensured that this
practice has stopped.

Other identified medical issues involved the concern for staff safety during
inmate medical examinations. Currently, medical staff members are alone
with inmates without safety monitoring. A system that balances staff safety
with inmate medical privacy needs to be addressed.

In the July 2000 suicide case, inmate Odysseus was arrested for drunk
driving and brought to the jail in a highly intoxicated state. He was unable to
stand on his own and had to be carried in to the jail receiving area. Policy at
the time left the decision of accepting or rejecting a person for booking up
to the discretion of the receiving deputy. The policy directed that no person
who was injured, was unconscious or semi-conscious would be booked without
first being cleared by medical staff. A technician attempted to retrieve a
blood sample from Odysseus for evidence in establishing his blood alcohol
level but was unsuccessful. No other record was found that Ody sseus was
seen by medical staff or was cleared for booking based on a medical

Odysseus was later found dead in the holding cell having died from a
combination of alcohol and drug overdose ingested prior to his arrest.

Administration officials informed the grand jury that the Odysseus case was
the first inmate suicide in the Douglas County Jail since the early 1980s.
Subsequent to this suicide, administration said they encouraged deputy
personnel to exercise their discretion to refuse bookings until they were
medically cleared.

The third and most current suicide case involved an inmate who allegedly
hanged himself in his cell with his bed sheets. This case is pending the
conclusion of the criminal investigation from Washoe County and the
administrative review by Douglas County personnel. The grand jury does not
include this case in its review.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                   Page 104
Grand Jury Generated Reviews - continued

The grand jury agrees with the Sheriff's administration on the need for
additional jail deputies and supervisors. The jail facilities have been
operated at minimum staffing far too long. The Board of County
Commissioners should expedite the funding of additional deputy items.

In addition to staffing problems, however, the administration needs to pay
attention to and remedy the lack of leadership in the jail.

Most deputies assigned to the jail are new to the department and
inexperienced beyond basic training. Such personnel need the expertise of
on-site and involved supervisors. The jury is deeply concerned about the
lackluster guidance jail personnel receive.

The jury saw numerous examples of supervisory failure in handl ing critical
jail problems. Supervision is administered through memoranda, not by
example or instruction. Supervisors demanding that personnel take a "hands
off" approach in handling high-risk inmates is the same as ordering them to
ignore their basic legal duty. It places the department, the county and
ultimately the taxpayer in jeopardy. Failure to perform one‟s duty, if it can
be shown to have directly caused the death of an inmate, can result in civil
penalties beyond the cost of a full-time deputy's yearly salary. Deputies
need to handle all inmates in custody within the legal requirements of their
duty. High risk or high profile inmates require competent vigilance, not

It is hoped that the administration will take swift and appropriate acti on to
remedy the grand jury's concerns in jail oversight and leadership.

The grand jury makes the following recommendations regarding its review of
the Sheriff's Department and the jail operations. These recommendations
address the critical issues identified and discussed with executives in
testimony. The jury conducted follow-up interviews with department
administrators and learned that positive steps are being taken to impact the
identified problems in the jail operations. From changes to policies to
improvements in training, the administration is doing the right thing. It
needs to continue its work in implementing the following recommendations.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                   Page 105
Grand Jury Generated Reviews - continued

The grand jury recommends that the Sheriff hold jail administration and
supervision accountable for personnel adherence to policy. Accountability
should be demonstrated through on-site audits, inspections and skill
demonstration, not simply through the issuance of memoranda.

The grand jury recommends that the Sheriff ensure that supervision of jail
personnel include a full-time, on site sergeant at all times.

The grand jury recommends that the Sheriff create a policy that assigns
the responsibility for approving all bookings to a sergeant instead of leaving
it to the discretion of a deputy.

The grand jury recommends that the Sheriff seek a contract for mental
health and medical services from a competent private sector provider
(perhaps in a shared contract with other counties). Any licensing or
certification requirements for such personnel must be on file in compliance
with the National Commission on Correctional Health standards.

The grand jury recommends that the Sheriff improve security for medical
staff in the inmate medical examination area.

The grand jury recommends that the Sheriff create a revised policy
regarding the administering of medication to inmates. It should be one with
specific control procedures and heightened security in handling potentially
lethal medication. Administering potentially lethal medication to inmates
should include training in the behaviors of inmates who might hoard
medication to harm themselves or hoard to sell to other inmates. A
seemingly cooperative inmate is as much a risk as one who refuses his
medication. Greater vigilance of those inmates on potentially lethal
medication requires more searches not less as part of policy.

The grand jury recommends that the Sheriff take immediate steps to
increase the number of deputies assigned to jail operations. This should be
accomplished through an official budget request, personnel reallocation from
within the department, use of contract deputy items or all three measures.

E.    Clerk-Treasurer’s Office

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                   Page 106
Grand Jury Generated Reviews - continued

The Clerk-Treasurer's Office provides a multitude of services for the
public through the five divisions of the office; Civil Clerk, Election, District
Court Clerk, Treasurer and Tahoe General Services. The duties of the Clerk -
Treasurer include the issuance of marriage licenses, notary services, voter
registration, dog license issuance, processing of passport appl ications,
conducting primary, general and special elections, administration of county
investment portfolio, and the issuance of delinquent tax notices among many
other duties. The Clerk-Treasurer is elected every four years. The office is
staffed with approximately 21 full-time personnel and operates on a budget
of $1,104,167.
Identified Issues
The identified issue in reviewing the Clerk-Treasurer's Office is the
assessment of the condition and management of the office as part of the
grand jury's general duty to examine county government.
Investigative findings
The grand jury took testimony from the Clerk-Treasurer and reviewed
election procedures, dog licensing requirements and cash receipt collection

The Clerk-Treasurer provided detailed information on the election process
including a demonstration of the voting machines used within the county. The
jury learned that the voting machines used in Douglas County are the same
ones that were employed in Florida during the recent national elections.

The reason Douglas County did not experience the same difficulties as
Florida in the last election was because of the county's comprehensive
preventative maintenance program for voting machines.

Prior to an election, each machine is examined, tested and certified before
being utilized. Back-up machines are available at the precinct should a
breakdown occur.

Vote counting machines are also tested and certified prior to elections with
back-up machines available as well.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                    Page 107
Grand Jury Generated Reviews - continued

At the precinct, thoroughly trained volunteers assist voters with any
problems and answer questions. Voters who make mistakes in voting are
issued another ballot within specific guidelines.

Ballot counts are audited at each precinct and balanced against the register
book prior to being turned in to the Clerk-Treasurer's Office. Each precinct
is counted separately and must balance with the precinct count.

Plans to replace the current voting machines with advanced models are
underway in Douglas County. Funds are being set aside for the future
purchase of the machines, the type of which has yet to be determined.

The jury members were impressed with the Clerk-Treasurer's expertise in
the election process and wish to express their thanks for her excellent
presentation and demonstration of the election equipment.

The jury was also impressed with the outstanding web site available to the
public. The Douglas County Clerk-Treasurer's Office web site
( offers a myriad of information on the services

In other areas within the responsibility of the Clerk-Treasurer, the jury
learned that the policy regarding dog licensing appears to punish those who
comply with the law while allowing those who ignore it to benefit. The
collection of dog licensing fees is the responsibility of the Clerk-Treasurer
while the enforcement of licensing is part of Animal Control Division. It is
the Clerk-Treasurer's Office that hears the majority of the community
complaints regarding fees.

The dog license fee is $24 for any dog that is not spayed or neutered.
The cost is obviously designed to encourage dog owners to have their pets
spayed or neutered thereby keeping the unwanted pet population under

The dog license fee for a spayed or neutered pet is just $6 provided the
owner has the animal spayed or neutered by the age of four months, the age
the animal is required to be licensed. Most veterinary clinics recommend
that dogs be spayed or neutered no earlier than six months of age. Thus, a

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                  Page 108
Grand Jury Generated Reviews - continued

law abiding pet owner who wishes to follow the recommendation of his
veterinarian, must register his pet at four months of age at the full licensing
rate of $24, then have the animal spayed or neutered two months later. The
owner would not have the benefit of the reduced cost until the followi ng
year at renewal.

If county officials wish to encourage compliance with the law, this policy
should be revisited.

Another area reviewed by the grand jury was the cash collection procedures
at Topaz Lake Campground. The jury learned that the campground does not
issue receipts for cash transactions on a regular basis. This lack of cash
control and accountability creates the opportunity for abuse and theft.
The grand jury recommends that the Board of County Commissioners review
the policy and regulations on dog licensing. The policy should be one that
encourages compliance with the law and rewards responsible pet owners who
neuter or spay their pets. Consideration should be given to requiring the
first time licensing of a dog to be at age six months instead of four months.

The grand jury recommends that a procedure be put in place at Topaz Lake
Campground requiring receipts for all transactions, cash or otherwise.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                   Page 109
Grand Jury Generated Reviews - continued

F.    Assessor’s Office
The Douglas County Assessor is an official, elected every four years, who
provides inventory, appraisal and ownership records for all property in the
county subject to ad valorem property tax. The Assessor's Office is funded
for approximately 12 full-time personnel with a budget of $656,000.
Identified Issues
The identified issue in reviewing the Assessor's Office is the review of the
condition and management of the office as part of the grand jury's general
duty to examine county government.
Investigative Findings
The grand jury reviewed the Assessor's job description and the budget
document among other items. The jury heard testimony from the Assessor
who informed the members of her responsibilities and the general workings
of the office.

It was learned that the Assessor is currently working on updating the
computer information sy stem and the office web page to provide better
information to the public.

The web page, ( provides a
highly beneficial service to the public and the jury congratulates the
Assessor on the work completed to date.
The grand jury recommends that the Assessor continue with the excellent
work on the project to automate Assessor‟s Office records for public
access. This includes the expansion of the Assessor's web site and the
availability of information on property tax exemptions. Completion of this
project will make useful property tax information records more readily
available to the public.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                 Page 110
Grand Jury Generated Reviews - continued

G. Administrative Services Department
- Human Resources Division
Human Resources is responsible for the county‟s personnel management and
risk management/safety services. These administrative services include job
recruitment and employment, employee and labor relations, job
classification, records management, policy and procedure development and
administration, risk management and employee safety programs, benefits
and compensation, administration staff training and organizational
       Mission Statement:     To provide human resources, risk
      management/loss control and safety services to the County of
      Douglas that are customer focused, that emphasize quality and
      that are innovative. We strive for continuous improvement,
      teamwork and employee empowerment. We seek customer
      feedback and strive to be entrepreneurial.
Identified Issues
The grand jury interviewed the manager of the Douglas County Human
Resources Department and asked questions concerning Community Outreach,
Accountability and Risk Management for the department.

Employee turnover rates were discussed as well as the prevention of sexual
harassment and violence in the workplace.
Investigative Findings
The grand jury discovered that there are some departments that have a
higher employee turnover rate than other departments. For example, there
are fewer applicants applying for positions in the Senior Services
Department as well as the Parks and Recreation Department. This may be
due to other part time employment opportunities that are now available in
the county.

The Human Resources Department offers classes on Preventing Harassment
and Sexual Harassment in the Workplace. These classes are mandatory for
supervisors and strongly recommended for all employees.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                Page 111
Grand Jury Generated Reviews - continued

Out of the 600+ employees of Douglas County, only 34 supervisors and 41
employees attended these training sessions during the year 2000.

The grand jury recommends that the Douglas County Human Resources
Department institute a sy stem for tracking turnover by department. The
Human Resources department should work with each individual department
head to measure and determine the cause of employee turnover by
department. The Human Resources department should work with each
department head to develop goals for reducing employee turnover.

The grand jury is concerned about the lack of participation by supervisors
and employees in classes addressing Preventing Harassment and Sexual
Harassment in the Workplace, Illegal Harassment and Workplace Violence.
The grand jury recommends that more classes be offered and a variety of
class times and schedules be made available in order to accommodate the
work schedules of all employees.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                Page 112
Grand Jury Generated Reviews - continued

H.    Board of County Commissioners
The five-member Board of County Commissioners is the governing body of
Douglas County, elected at large by the citizenry to overlapping four-year
terms. Each year, the Board of County Commissioners selects one of its
members to serve as Chairman. The Board of Commissioners receives advice
from a number of advisory and citizen commissions.

The Board of County Commissioners is the legislative body of Douglas County
and also sits as the governing board of the East Fork Fire and Paramedic
Districts. As such, the Board of County Commissioners establishes policies
for the County, which are implemented by staff under the direction of the
County Manager or those persons reporting directly to the Board. Working
in conjunction with other elected officials, the Board of Commissioners
seeks to represent the interest of the residents in the development and
implementation of developmental, financial, administrative and other policies.
The Board has overall fiscal responsibility for the county and is charged
with maintaining the county‟s financial stability.
Identified issues:
How the public can have an item placed on the agenda, how complaints are
handled and tracked, departmental policy changes and implementation, Open
Meeting Law requirements, news media, and the population growth as it
pertains to full time equivalent (FTE) personnel numbers were also items of
Investigative findings:
The grand jury interviewed two of the County Commissioners and asked
questions concerning Community Outreach, Accountability and Risk
Management. The grand jury discovered that it is relatively easy to have an
item placed on the Douglas County Commissioner‟s Meeting Agenda. The
Commissioners cannot vote on an item unless it is placed on the agenda, as
an action item. To place an item on the agenda a citizen may contact the
Douglas County Manager‟s office or contact a Commissioner directly. A
citizen can also request an item be placed on a future agenda during a
commission meeting, during the public interest comment portion. The
Commissioners are easily accessible to their constituents.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                   Page 113
Grand Jury Generated Reviews - continued

When the Commissioners receive a complaint they direct it to the
appropriate department and/or staff member. Currently, they do not
receive an annual audit of complaints for each department.

The Commissioners review major policy changes. They are not directly
involved in making or implementing policy changes. Policy changes and
implementation are left up to the various department heads.       The
Commissioners do not micro-manage.

County Commissioners are required to comply with the Open Meeting Law.
The Douglas County District Attorney is available to advise the
Commissioners when necessary.

Some concerned citizens are unable to attend County Commissioners
meetings due to the times and place they are held. The public tends to react
to what is stated in the news as fact. Douglas County‟s public access channel
records most of the meetings to air at a later time. This provides the
citizens of Douglas County a chance to view their Commissioners in action
and the subject discussed.

In 1990, the population of Douglas County was 27,637, the 2000 population
figure was 41,259, an increase of 49+ percent. In the FY91-92, the full time
equivalent personnel (FTE) was one employee per 69.4 population. The FY01-
02 year FTE is one employee per 79.9 in population. There is a need to make
sure the quality of service to the public is not compromised. While advances
in technology has made some positions expendable others need to increase
simply because the amount of work to be done has increased. It is always
hard to justify and increase in personnel to a department that does n ot
generate revenue. For example in the departments tracked by funds, the
Room Tax Fund supports Community Services (Parks & Recreation / Senior
Services) Administration and Promotion (Chambers of Commerce) and
Library. It has increased total FTE by 25.27 personnel from 46.7 in 91-92 to
71.97 in 01-02. Senior Nutrition has increased by 11.4 FTE, 91-92 5.6 to 17
in 01-02,

The Road Operating Fund has increased only .43 FTE, less than half a person
from 13.6 in 91-92 to 13.17 in 01-02.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                  Page 114
Grand Jury Generated Reviews - continued

The grand jury recommends that the County Commissioners broadcast their
meetings and have them aired in their entirety two to three times on both
public access channels with a set schedule. Further, inform the public of the
schedule via an advertising campaign.

The grand jury recommends an annual audit of complaints, sorted by
department, be compiled by the County Manager‟s Office. Each complainant
should receive a call back to rate his or her satisfaction with how the
complaint was handled. The County Commissioners should receive the results
of that annual audit.

The grand jury recommends that the Commissioners pay closer attention to
the full time equivalent personnel ratio to Douglas County population growth,
so that quality of service is not adversely impacted by growth.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                  Page 115
Grand Jury Generated Reviews - continued

I.    Tahoe Douglas Bomb Squad
The Tahoe Douglas Bomb Squad was established in the 1970‟s to address the
increasing needs in explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) and threats to
businesses, organizations, and individuals. The team is staffed with FBI
certified Hazardous Devices Technicians. This is a joint organization
between Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District and the Douglas County
Sheriff‟s Department.
Identified Issues
The existence of the bomb squad was discovered during the grand jury‟s
investigations into fire and paramedic services in the county. This is an
excellent example of two county entities working together to provide a
service to the public. It was felt that this unique aspect of protective
services would be of interest to the community.
Investigative Findings
The grand jury attended a one-day lecture and demonstration by the bomb
squad. The subject matter covered was the training required of the
technicians, relationships to other agencies and communities, and the
services provided by the squad.

The team consists of four members of Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection
District and two members of the Douglas County Sheriff‟s Department.
They are required to attend an extensive training program with the FBI in
Huntsville, Alabama with periodic refresher courses. This is in addition to
the monthly training and in-house training required to maintain their FBI

The Tahoe Douglas Bomb Squad is one of only four squads statewide. The
other squads are located in Washoe County, Las Vegas, and Elko. They are
members of the Northern Nevada Bomb Technicians Task Force (NNBTTF),
which is one of only two task forces of its kind nationwide.

The services provided by the squad include explosive ordnance disposal,
incidents involving bombs, accidental explosions, bomb threats, and bomb

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                Page 116
Grand Jury Generated Reviews - continued

scene investigations to name a few. They also provide training to businesses
and organizations.

The Tahoe Douglas Chief and the Douglas County Sheriff manage the squad
jointly. Funding is a combination of grant money s and contracts (for services
provided to area communities). The FBI and federal grants that were
sought out by the Director of 911/Communications have supplied much of the
The grand jury makes no recommendations in this area.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                   Page 117
VIII.        General Findings, Conclusions and Recommendations

As described in Section III of this report, the grand jury used a
management template known as the C.A.R. model to question each
department head and official interviewed regarding three general areas of
quality. The results of the jury's inquiry follow.
Community Outreach
The jury was pleased to discover a number of excellent examples in county
government where service to the public was a genuine commitment. The East
Fork Swimming Pool District conducted a survey of community perceptions
and needs of the district's services. Not only were the survey results
published, but also negative feedback was acted upon. When the survey
indicated dissatisfaction with swimming pool employee attitudes, the district
contracted with an outside expert in customer service. The result is that
every swimming pool employee will be attending a special training class to
improve their communication skills. The East Fork Swimming Pool District is
to be congratulated on its commitment to customer service. Perhaps a
follow-up report of improved employee attitudes will appear in a future
edition of the district's excellent newsletter, "Splash."

The Minden-Tahoe Airport and the Douglas County Clerk-Treasurer's Office
both have outstanding web sites that provide current and detailed
information on their services. For the community's information, the Minden-
Tahoe Airport web site is The Clerk -
Treasurer's web site is Additionally, the airport
management should be recognized for the professionally designed and
comprehensive brochures and pamphlets. The newsletter "As The Beacon
Turns" is a wealth of information for everyone interested in aviation
services. Another example of the airport's community outreach excellence is
their regularly scheduled open house program. A popular event throughout
the community, it is attended by crowds of aviation enthusiasts. Both of
these government agencies provide detailed and useable information and
services for the public beyond mere publicity value.

The use of volunteers within county government is extensive throughout
Douglas County. Even though the grand jury did not review every
department, division or public office within county government, it is

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                   Page 118
General Findings, Conclusions and Recommendations - continued

recognized that volunteerism is fairly widespread and successful. Of those
agencies reviewed, the grand jury found that the Douglas County Sheriff's
Department and the East Fork Fire District have the best examples of
volunteer programs. The Sheriff's Department utilizes more than 300
volunteers comprised of reserves, explorers, search and rescue personnel,
sub-station service representatives and handicap parking enforcement team
members among others.

The East Fork Fire District has more than 250 volunteer fire fighters who
provide fire protection services to the valley residents and businesses. Both
departments provide comprehensive training for their volunteers and have
excellent records of volunteer recognition. The East Fork Fire District has
an excellent volunteer recruitment publication in their newly released
Volunteer Recruitment Handbook.

The Clerk-Treasurer's Office should be recognized also for its special use
of volunteers during periodic elections. It takes hundreds of volunteers to
assist as precinct workers. They reflect the professionalism and dedication
of that office and enjoy an unblemished record of ballot integrity.

During testimony received across county departments and offices, it was
learned that there is a genuine need for improvement in employee relations
as well as customer service. Previous grand juries have noted the potentially
costly risks associated with sexual harassment and hostile work environment
claims against the county by employees. This jury heard generalized
complaints on the same subjects. In spite of a formal process in place
wherein county employees may take their work related harassment
complaints, the issue of how employees are treated remains a continuing
problem. No ombudsman services exist for county employees to air their
complaints concerning how they are treated by supervisors and peers. There
is no mechanism to have those complaints mediated and resolved informally
as an ombudsman provides.

The same is true with respect to external customer service and the
commitment to problem solving. Most complaints against county department
service providers are handled legalistically with results often defended
through a written opinion by the District Attorney's Office. Again, there is

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                  Page 119
General Findings, Conclusions and Recommendations - continued

no advocacy or ombudsman service available to the public for the mediation
of service complaints.

The concept of an ombudsman's office or mediation center is not new to
government. Many counties across the nation have found success in such
programs. As an example, the Douglas County's Family Support Council, at
one time, offered an excellent mediation service in partnership with the
Juvenile Court Probation Office. In their program, victims and juvenile
offenders voluntarily agreed to meet to resolve conflicts and establish a
restitution plan. This process was in lieu of prosecution and was beneficial to
both victim and offender. Although the program is no longer funded, it
remains an example of how mediation can positively impact the community.
Mediation may be applied very easily to other parts of Douglas County
government with the establishment of an ombudsman service.
During testimony it was learned that, in almost every department, complaints
from the community are received, acted upon and answers are returned to
the complainant on an informal basis. Very little documentation regarding
service complaints exists except in egregious or lengthy problems.

The jury was not able to find examples of formal complaint forms or
procedures that the public could use to guide them in reporting their

The Douglas County Sheriff's Department has what might be the only
formal process of receiving a complaint from the community. Complaints are
received and assigned to the Professional Standards Unit, a unit comprised
of a chief deputy, two lieutenants, a representative from the District
Attorney's Office and a representative from the Human Resources Division.
The complaint is investigated by a team. Results are documented and any
discipline imposed is part of the final report. The complainant is contacted
and advised of the outcome without reference to the specific discipline
imposed. The unit maintains the records of the complaint and action taken
for future reference.

Other county departments could benefit from emulating this example.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                   Page 120
General Findings, Conclusions and Recommendations - continued

Risk Management
The most disappointing area in county government operations was in risk
management. Through testimony, documents and on-site inspections it is
clear that no department has a program in place to deal with risk issues. The
county's Human Resources Division is responsible for risk management and
safety issues but does not have the comprehensive program needed in
today's environment.

Most internal problems in county departments are solved after the fact,
after the lawsuit or after the damage. There was no evidence to indicate
that prevention of problems, application of lessons learned from lawsuits or
mitigation of damage is standard practice in Douglas County. Routine audi ts
and inspections are virtually non-existent as part of department managers'
behavior. The concept of risk identification, analysis and treatment options
is not woven into the fabric of county government management. It should be.

Just as the ombudsman programs have proven beneficial to governments
large and small across the nation, so have risk management practices. The
National Association of Counties has a pilot online training program for
county officials that will be available soon (fall of 2001) for all counties free
of charge dealing with risk management policy, practice and implementation.
It is worthy of the Board of County Commissioners‟ attention.
The grand jury recommends that a formal, standardized community
complaint process be established for all county departments to follow.

It is the jury's observation that the lack of established county standards in
handling community complaints escalates rather than solves problems.
Department heads, who step in to personally handle a complaint, run the risk
of appearing to stonewall the results regardless of their intent.

Handling of complaints should be formalized and documented throughout the
process regardless of the depth of the complaint. Results and follow-up
contact with the complainant should be documented on letterhead stationery
from the involved department. Even in cases where the problem is not
solved, a full investigation and documented follow-up goes a long way to
satisfy the complainant that he received a fair hearing.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                     Page 121
General Findings, Conclusions and Recommendations - continued

The grand jury recommends that an ombudsman office be established for
the county. It should be independent from any department and provide
separate services for county employees as well as for members of the
community in resolving complaints. The optional services of an ombudsman
complement the complaint process by allowing the complainant a choice of

Included in the structure of the formal complaint process for each
department should be an automatic offer of referral to the ombudsman's
office for internal and external complaints.

For an excellent article on ombudsman structure, the jury recommends
"Municipal Government Ombudsman" by Michael Mills, published by the
United States Ombudsman Association, ( The
article provides an excellent review and comparison of the ombudsman
programs in Portland, Oregon and Anchorage, Alaska.

The grand jury recommends that an office of risk management be
established under the direction of the County Manager and that each
department establish a liaison representative to that office. The county
should take advantage of the training offered in risk management from the
National Association of Counties.

Once a risk management unit is in place, department heads should be trained
in risk issues. They should then be required to prepare quarterly risk
management reports to the County Manager detailing those issues of
concern and mitigation plans. Department heads should be required to
include in their reports examples of risk prevention measures taken during
the previous quarter. Audits of high-risk areas such as employee disciplinary
actions, civil claims paid or lawsuits filed should be a part of the report also.

The grand jury recommends that the use of volunteers be expanded
throughout the county. Use of college interns should be considered in the
Community Development Department, for example, as was once the case.
Engineering students could provide much needed customer service while they
learn the inner workings of their host department.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                     Page 122
General Findings, Conclusions and Recommendations - continued

The grand jury recommends that the County Manager require each
department head to attend a course of instruction on the subject of sexual
harassment and hostile workplace prevention through the auspices of the
Human Resource Division. Further, each county employee should attend the
same training with an emphasis on proper workplace behavior. All county
employees should receive refresher training in workplace behavior at least
once every two years.

Lastly, the grand jury recommends that the Board of County Commissioners
set the example for all elected bodies within the county by providing
leadership in training for elected officials. Training is needed in compliance
with the open meeting law. A stumbling block for a number of elected
officials over the past year, the open meeting law contains specific
requirements with which some officials are unfamiliar. The Board of County
Commissioners should sponsor a workshop for all elected groups within the
county governed by the open meeting law. The State of Nevada Attorney
General's Office offers a comprehensive class on the open meeting law and
the jury recommends that the commissioners sponsor these classes. The
public, also, could be well served if the classes were recorded and aired on
public access cable television.

In conclusion, the Douglas County 2000/2001 Grand Jury is proud to have
participated in this review of county government. While a number of
problems were identified, the jury is confident that the proper measures
are being taken to correct them. Many other aspects of county government
were found to be positive and innovative and we congratulate those officials
for their leadership.     The community is well served by its county

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                   Page 123
IX. Glossary of Terms and Definitions

Admonishment: the cautionary advisement to a witness before a grand
jury that his/her testimony is secret and cannot be revealed except under
certain circumstances and that revelation of such testimony is subject to
criminal sanctions.

Ad Valorem: a Latin term often used in real estate meaning in proportion
to the value of the property. Tax rates are based on the assessed valuation
of the property.

Committee: a sub-group of the grand jury comprised of approximately
three to five jurors that focuses on a particular area for investigation. The
committee reports back to the jury of the whole with periodic updates. The
use of committees is a recommended process in order to divide and expedite
the workload of the grand jury.

Complaint: a formal request from a community member to the grand jury
alleging wrongdoing or requesting an investigation into potential wrongdoing
within the various areas of county government. The complaint is signed by
the complainant before a notary and is submitted to the grand jury through
the court.

Defendant: a person who has been named in an indictment by the grand

Deliberations: a discussion among grand jurors after all testimony and
evidence is presented in a criminal matter. A process of deciding if an
indictment will result. During deliberations, no one other than jury members
is allowed in the jury room.

Deputy Foreperson: an officer of the grand jury. A grand jury member,
elected by the jury to serve in the absence of the foreperson.

Evidence: data or material items, oral or written testimony presented to
the grand jury in proof of the facts in a criminal matter.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                   Page 124
Glossary of Terms and Definitions - continued

Exculpatory: that which tends to clear from a charge of fault or guilt.
Exculpatory evidence, if it exists, must be included in the presentation by
the prosecuting attorney to the grand jury when seeking an indictment.

Ex Officio: a Latin term meaning by virtue of office or official position.
The term is used in reference to the grand jury foreperson position and the
duty the foreperson has to be a member ex officio of all committees of the

Foreperson: an officer of the grand jury. A grand jury member elected by
the jury to preside over meetings, prepare the agenda, appoint committees
and make changes to committees when necessary, sign all communications
and indictments, administer oaths and coordinate the business of the jury.

Grand Jury: a jury consisting of 17 members and 12 alternates selected
from the community and designated to inquire into alleged violations of the
law in order to ascertain whether the evidence is sufficient to warrant trial
by a petty jury. The grand jury is also designated to inquire into general
practices of government and to make recommendations for improvement
where warranted.

Inculpatory: that which tends to incriminate. Inculpatory evidence is that
data, testimony or material items that is presented by the prosecuting
attorney to support the facts of a criminal charge.

Indictment: a formal accusation of a criminal charge against a defendant
presented by a grand jury.

Immunity: exemption from legal liability. The grand jury, under law, does
not have the power to grant immunity from prosecution to witnesses that
appear before it.

Impanelment: the process of selecting and seating a grand jury as
determined by state statute. Once jury members are sworn in to service,
the jury is considered impaneled.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                  Page 125
Glossary of Terms and Definitions - continued

Misfeasance: the wrongful performance of a normally lawful act; the
wrongful and injurious exercise of lawful authority.

Motion: a formal proposal made to the grand jury by a jury member and
which the jury then votes upon.

Nevada Revised Statutes: NRS – the laws enacted by the Nevada State
Legislature that apply to grand juries and elected or appointed offices
within state, county or municipal government and their employees.

Oath: a promise to speak the truth before a legal body. The grand jury
foreperson or committee chairperson is responsible for administering oaths
to witnesses appearing before the grand jury.

Ombudsman: a person appointed by a legislative body to hear and
investigate complaints by private citizens against government officials or
agencies. Such a position may also be created by a governmental agency to
ensure community complaints are thoroughly addressed within the operations
of the agency.

Perjury: the willful utterance of a false statement, under oath to speak the
truth, before a grand jury. Uttering such statements is prosecutable under
the law.

Presentment: the proposed indictment presented to the grand jury by the
prosecuting attorney. Once determined by the grand jury to be founded, the
presentment becomes an indictment.

Probable Cause: a term in law that refers to the establishment, through
hearing of all evidence, taken together, that a crime has been committed and
that the accused is most likely the one who committed it.

Quorum: twelve jurors of a total of seventeen constitutes a quorum. A
quorum is required, wherein the jurors concur, to return an indictment.
Additionally, a quorum is required to consider motions during the conduct of
business at grand jury meetings.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                 Page 126
Glossary of Terms and Definitions - continued

Recuse / Recusal: the process of a juror excusing or removing
himself/herself from participation in any issue in which he/she finds that
there is a conflict of interest, a potential conflict of interest, or bias.

Secrecy Rules: Nevada Revised Statute 172.245 requires that no person
involved in the grand jury process may reveal information about the
activities of the grand jury while it is still investigating a matter.

Secretary: an officer of the grand jury. A grand jury member elected by
the jury to take attendance, record the minutes of meetings, and to record
the votes of jurors in every indictment. The secretary presides over the
grand jury in the absence of the foreperson and deputy foreperson.

Sergeant-at-Arms: an assistant to the grand jury. An appointed member
by the court assigned to the jury to ensure that no person, except those
permitted by law, is allowed to be present at any grand jury meeting. The
sergeant-at-arms carries out lawful orders of the foreperson.

Statute: See Nevada Revised Statues above.

Subpoena: a legal document signed by the grand jury foreperson by which a
witness is compelled to appear before the grand jury.

Target: a person who is the focus of a grand jury investigation and who has
yet to be accused in an indictment.

Template: a pattern or guide used to ensure consistency. Example: the
C.A.R. model employed by the jury in questioning government officials.

Transcript: an official recording by a court appointed stenographer of the
proceedings before the grand jury in an investigation or in an indictment.

True Bill: a legal document signed by the grand jury foreperson charging a
crime or crimes against a defendant.

Witness: any person, who upon being sworn, appears before the grand jury
and gives testimony in a matter being investigated by the jury.

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report                   Page 127
X.    Referenced Web Sites

Douglas County Web Site

County Assessors Office

Clerk Treasurer‟s Office

Douglas County Airport

Douglas County School District

United States Ombudsman Association

National Association of Counties

Nevada Revised Statutes

2000/2001 Douglas County Grand Jury Report       Page 128

To top