Monday, June 2, 2014

Conversation with our Sheriff's Office and UPDATE

Being a citizen trying to understand the issues in my part of the neighborhood, I asked for and was given an interview by both Sheriff Deputy John-Michael Mendoza and Sheriff Gerald Antinoro during the last week of March. Issues discussed were far ranging and both public and personal. I will cover what I can remember in this blog post. Your Comments are asked for and essential. A June 4th UPDATE is below.

As over 60% of the Lockwood population is over the age of 65, it seems appropriate to discuss Senior issues first. Most of the population is concerned with incidents of crime in the area, events that may include their families or persons, and the general welfare of "our little hamlet." We are next to two of the most important transportation conduits in the country: Interstate 80 and the BNSF railroad line. As such, we pose a potential target and possible catastrophic location. Keep aware and report suspicious activity.

We are into election season. Three candidates are on the ballot for sheriff of Storey County. Sheriff Gerald "Jerry" Antinoro is up for re-election. The two other candidates, Deputies Tim Guthrie and Shawn Mahan, have had events in the Lockwood area and have shown to be qualified and personable. 
One more than the others? You decide. It is both your right and responsibility as a citizen to VOTE! Don't vote and you harm our whole way of life. Regardless, there will be undercurrents and rumors: this is an attempt to clear the air somewhat; to make your vote more informed.

  • Deputy Mendosa said that he was working on several program projects that target benefit to the seniors here: Of these, the most interesting to me was Life Alert. We have all seen the television ads ("I've fallen and can't get up!"). I have dismissed pursuit for any number of reasons, mostly money. I recently tripped over the oxygen lines I depend on 24/7.  It occurred to me that I could have really hurt myself. It may have been hours or days before any help came. I wondered about Life Alert when I mentioned it to the Deputy. He said there was work being done toward offering this life-saving service for free to local participants. He will keep me posted. I will pass on any information as it comes.
  • A Emergency Preparedness Plan has been enacted county-wide. I asked Sheriff Antinoro about the recent Wildfire Evacuation Drill event May 17th in Virginia City. It made the local broadcasts. He recognized that a similar program practice needs to happen in the River District and will be scheduled when money becomes available. The main concern here, from my conversations with my neighbors, is fire, with rail accident and flooding also taking credence in planning and preparedness. 
  • The Sheriff reported a Reverse-911 program is in effect now. With it people will be notified immediately by telephone in the event of an emergency. A call from Dave Ballard of Storey County Emergency Management revealed that his office (847-0930) will check to verify your information is correct. 
  • Sheriff Antinoro assured me that plans in the River District to cover emergencies are in place and standard operating procedure will cover foreseen emergencies. Common sense and keeping a "cool head" will  help you and First Respond-ers do what needs to happen to minimize the situation. Copies of the Emergency Preparedness Guide will be available at the Community/Senior Center in the coming weeks, according to Cheri Nevin, county liaison.
  • The 911 situation was discussed. For fire emergencies, including medical (stroke, heart attack) call 911. For sheriff's dispatch, in cases of criminal activity, call 847-0950. If you are a witness or victim of a crime calling 911 out here will cause delays. That may become very important. Put this number in your phone, on your refrigerator, and/or in your wallet.
  • The May 17th Wildfire Evacuation Drill in Virginia City yielded a very informative pamphlet. In it are common sense and instructive lists of what to do in a wildfire emergency. Wildfire is particularly dangerous this year because of the mild winter's low snow pack and dry air (humidity) making brush and cheat grass tinder that burns rapidly with any wind. Copies at the Senior/Community Center with lists pertinent to emergency evacuation are coming, too.
  • Since local newspapers are not daily and suffer of limited distribution access to most residents in the River District, an Incident Blog covering crimes occurring here was discussed. While those papers do publish events, their limited space and cost may be better served through a free access blog. (Like this.) Of course, the Sheriff would be the Ultimate Editor of any post.
  • When a prisoner escaped from the county jail in Virginia City last winter, several people remarked that he might be headed our way. He was captured and a full investigation of the incident was made. Two jail personnel were fired for not following proper procedure. While the Sheriff took full responsibility for the escape, he nonetheless is only one person. He depends on his Deputies following instruction and training to minimize negative events in the community. While a negative incident, this escape incident does show an effort to do his job thoroughly, and enforce penalties where appropriate..
  • There had been an incident at the Mustang Ranch brothel near Patrick that we also talked about. Two sex workers were working without the necessary medical clearance the law demands. Sheriff Antinoro fined the brothel even though it is owned by a highly placed County official who seems to have expected special considerations that were not forthcoming. Sheriff Antinoro summed this up by saying, "I enforce the law evenly as possible to everyone. No exceptions." The other candidates have also said as much; favoritism is root cause of past misdeeds in our county,
  • With regard to personnel issues, the Sheriff agrees that a roadway between Virginia City and Lockwood will be essential in making normal public safety operations run more smoothly. As is, one deputy is often in charge of the entire River District. If there is an arrest (say for drunk driving), he must travel to Virginia City to report and incarcerate the offender. This may leave the community without protection for several hours. A road will cut that time to a manageable factor. While this is but one reason to do that road, chances of getting it built are slim and none. This is due to state highways authority delegating all available monies to Southern Nevada. Let's hope some legislative change will remedy this too obvious need. He did mention a possible access through a development that is proposed; through or near Hidden Valley.
  • Lockwood has no prisoner lock-up facility. If the Sheriff's Office did have one, state law requires a full-time deputy monitor any prisoner being housed. This requires a deputy be taken off patrol or new full-time employees hired. Rather than hire new employees, with the various costs involved, Sheriff Antinoro has opted to "do more with less." This is reflected in his coming "in under budget" regularly. However, often our county has to pay Washoe County fees to house prisoners at Paar Blvd. On balance this is more cost effective. NOTE: This has been a long standing practice. It will probably continue until the population base in the county grows enough to support better facilities. Even then, a Sheriff's Substation Jail will probably go into the Reno Tahoe Industrial Park area; especially if a proposed 850-home development in Painted Rock is built.
  • Witnessing the return of obnoxious early morning whistle blowing, it seems the railroad remains oblivious to our community's interests. With two serious accidents east of us, they pose a real threat to life and property here. Attempts to quell their behavior have been taken seriously in the past, only to have their bad-neighbor behavior taken up again and again. Communication with federal authority to declare our stretch of rail a "No Horn Zone" has gone ignored. Letters to our federal representatives are answered courteously but with no action to help our slumber. As the tracks are in Washoe County in Lockwood, the Sheriff can do little to remedy this long standing annoyance.
June 4th Update:
S.O.S. (Seniors of Storey) are directed to the "Red, White and You" Senior Event scheduled in Louise Peri Park `1000 Peri Ranch Road, in Lockwood, at 1:00 pm on June 21st. Food and drinks will be served. Bring you own lawn chair. There will be music! opportunity to get some notorious persons wet in the infamous Dunk Tank! 
The 2nd Annual Pie Baking Contest will be a major feature of the day. Contestants need to make 2 pies (fruit or nut filling) and bring them to the event. Winners for "Closest to Grandma's," "Most Original," and "Best Looking" will receive a ribbon, recognition in the newspaper (and maybe here), and bragging rights for a full year! WE CARE will sell the pies in slices for charitable maybe its deductible, too!
Contact Denis Victorine at 246-3722 for details. The event is sponsored by the Storey County Sheriffs Office and WE CARE.

On June 22nd, the annual Senior Awareness Poker Run will be gathering between 8 and 9 AM at 205 South C Street in Virginia City. Raffle prizes and refreshments will be available. This will be a fun way to raise awareness and provide for county senior citizens in need of help. Come in your car, truck, or on your bike...however you like to travel on a nice summer day.
This event is sponsored by the Fraternal Order of Eagles Comstock Aerie #523, the Eagle Riders, and WE CARE. Donations may be tax deductible:  FEIN 23-715853401.