Two large gifts totaling $12 million have pushed the effort to build and open Reno’s Jerry Smith Community Wellness Center over the top. Operated by Northern Nevada HOPES, the center will bring adult primary care, mental health care, substance abuse care and case management to thousands who need it.
The $36 million capital campaign to build the center from scratch included an unsolicited $6 million gift from national donor MacKenzie Scott and a $5.9 gift from the William N. Pennington Foundation. Funding from other philanthropists, the community and the federal American Rescue Plan Act also contribute to the center’s opening, planned for May 6.
At about 43,000 square feet, the Smith wellness center is on East Fourth Street near the Nevada Cares Campus, a Washoe County facility that provides services to the homeless.
Trudy Larson, vice president of the Northern Nevada HOPES board of directors, called the area a “medical health desert,” which means that health and wellness resources haven’t traditionally been available, especially for a vulnerable population.“It’s a well-known area for folks who may be having problems in their lives, complicated lives, unhoused, a lot of social issues that we see in people who may live in that area or wander through that area,” Larson said. “This is access right where they live, and same-day appointments make it possible for them to walk right in and receive care when they really need it.”
Larson also noted that the Smith center is ready to sign up patients for Medicaid services.
“Through our social services and team approach, we can make sure that we sign up people and really allow access to funds that support their health,” she said.
The Smith center also greatly expands HOPES’ services for mental health care, said Sharon Chamberlain, CEO of the organization. This includes an outpatient program now expanded to three-to-five times a week for patients who need behavioral health care and social skill services.“In addition to that, we have private individual therapists for people, as well as substance abuse treatment programs, which we know is really key and really lacking in our community,” Chamberlain said. “To be able to serve these people in a very holistic manner, in addition to our primary care programs, is really what this clinic is all about.”
Between 12,000 and 14,000 people are expected to receive care at the Jerry Smith wellness center every year. Chamberlain said that it will be ideal for people who have instead been using local ERs or urgent cares outside of that area.
“This allows them to have a medical home right there in their backyard,” Chamberlain said. “I think it is going to make a significant impact.”
Northern Nevada HOPES will still be operating its clinic on Fifth Street, which currently has waiting lists and also has dedicated pediatric care. It will close its temporary Bell Street clinic, although its services have been moved to the new, larger wellness center.
The Fourth Street facility is named for the late Jerry Smith, a Reno philanthropist who died in March 2023 and was an avid supporter of HOPES’ work.
“Jerry was an incredible friend,” Chamberlain said. “He was a strong believer in having agencies and people connect in order to support the populations we serve, to work much less siloed. I’ve never met anyone like him, and we miss him dearly, so we wanted to be able to continue his legacy.”
Up next for Northern Nevada HOPES is an $800,000 fundraising campaign for the first year of operations and services at the Smith wellness center.
“We also want to put the word out that we are hiring,” Chamberlain added. “We’ve got a lot of jobs in the community that are available, everything from front desk folks to security to medical assistants and other providers.
“If there are people that are compassionate and interested in our mission, and want to treat people with kindness and dignity, we’d love to talk to them.”
More information on Northern Nevada HOPES can be found at their website.
4A/3A boys state roundup: Sierra Vista advances to 1st title game
RENO — For the first time in school history, the Sierra Vista boys basketball team will play for a state championship.
The Mountain Lions, the No. 2 seed from the Southern Region, pulled out a 52-49 victory against North No. 1 Reno High in the Class 4A state semifinals Wednesday at Lawlor Events Center.
Sierra Vista (22-9) will play the winner of Wednesday’s late game between Somerset-Losee and Damonte Ranch in the state championship game at 9 p.m. Thursday.
The Mountain Lions built an 11-point lead in the third quarter, thanks to a dominant performance on the glass. Reno (23-6) was able to chip away at the deficit throughout the fourth quarter, eventually taking a 49-48 lead with 1:45 to go.
Junior guard EJ Dacuma drove for a basket to put Sierra Vista back in front, and he hit two free throws to extend the lead.
Reno missed a tying 3-pointer in the final seconds.
Sierra Vista coach Joseph Bedowitz credited guard play for the victory.
“Obviously, we have (7-foot-1-inch Xavion Staton) in the middle, which is a great defensive deterrent, but it has really been our guard play that has pushed us on the offensive end,” Sierra Vista coach Joseph Bedowitz said. “They get downhill, and there’s nobody that can really stay in front of them.”
No one from Reno could stay in front of the Mountain Lions’ guards. Dacuma and senior Khamari Taylor slashed their way through the paint all evening, finishing with 16 points each.
Now, Sierra Vista gets to spend a night dreaming about a state title.
“This means everything to the kids,” Bedowitz said. “We knew we had the pieces to do it, we just had to put the puzzle together, and we did.”
— No. 2S Democracy Prep 63, No. 1N Fernley 60: At Lawlor Events Center, sophomore Tai Coleman scored 20 points, and fellow sophomore Josiah Stroughter added 16 to help the Blue Knights (18-7) hold off the Vaqueros (26-3) in a 3A state semifinal.
Democracy Prep will face Southern champion Mater East for the state championship at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
After Fernley rallied from a 14-point deficit in the third quarter to tie the game at 58, Democracy Prep sophomore Jamarion Taylor drove to the rim and converted a three-point play to put the Blue Knights in front 61-58 with under two minutes remaining.
Democracy Prep locked down on defense the rest of the way, with Fernley’s final basket coming with only 4.3 seconds left.
A coast-to-coast layup from Charles Williams put the Blue Knights in front 47-33 in the third quarter, but the Vaqueros trimmed the lead to 47-40 by the end of the frame.
— No. 1S Mater East 59, No. 2N Elko 37: At Lawlor Events Center, Lonnie Bass Jr. scored 16 points, and the Knights (16-6) held the Indians (18-10) to 13 points in the second half to turn the 3A state semifinal into a rout.
Mater East led only 27-24 at halftime, but put on a defensive clinic in the third quarter, with several steals leading to easy fast-break opportunities. Kendon Jones scored all of his 11 points in the quarter to help the Knights pull away.
Outdoor Nevada: Take a Ride!
The conflict between hikers and mountain bikers is no secret. If you’re a Southern Nevada hiker, who frequents areas such as Buckskin Cliffs in Red Rock and the east side of Deer Creek Road in Mt. Charleston, then chances are good you’ve been startled by a mountain bike barreling up behind you in recent years.
In this episode of “Outdoor Nevada,” host Connor Fields makes a case for peace, arguing that mountain biking is as good for the body as it is for the mind — but to truly flourish, it needs to be good for the earth and its fellow trail users, too.
Describing the ad-hoc trail system at Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area as a “bowl of noodles,” Fields points out that, while — yes — these are public lands (implying they’re for everyone’s enjoyment), chaos would ensue if everyone did whatever they pleased. Hence the need for the Bureau of Land Management’s rules, such as those requiring environmental review for approved trails. He brings together the BLM and Southern Nevada Mountain Biking Association to discuss the need for sanctioned trails — and for users to both help build and maintain them, as well as stay on them.
Riding the McCullough Hills Trail between the Anthem Hills and Mission Hills Trailheads is a great way to get a taste of mountain biking on sanctioned trails in Sloan Canyon. You can foster goodwill among your fellow trail users by using proper trail etiquette, while enjoying what Fields calls a “pristine desert landscape rich in natural and cultural treasures.”
Route Name: McCullough Hills
Getting There: To do this trail as an out-and-back, begin at the Mission Hills Trailhead, also sometimes referred to as the McCullough Hills Trailhead. It’s on the far west end of East Mission Drive off East Horizon Ridge Parkway in Henderson. If you have two cars, then you can do this trail one-way. Just leave your first car at the Anthem Hills Trailhead (near Del E. Webb Middle School), and take your second one to Mission Hills to start the ride.
Distance: 8 miles one-way; 16 miles out-and-back
Equipment Needed: Ample water, sunscreen, and standard mountain biking gear, such as helmet, pads, and emergency repair kit
Pro Tip: Be on the lookout for snakes, which trail users have spotted in this area between late spring and early fall. Also know that there is no shade, so this is not a suitable route during hot summer months.
First Reno Starbucks, fifth store in Nevada, announces effort to unionize – Nevada Current
The first Starbucks location in Reno filed a petition this week with the National Labor Relations Board seeking to unionize, joining four other Southern Nevada locations that have sought to unionize in recent years.
The Reno store, located on McCarran Boulevard and Lakeside Drive, was one of 21 stores across the county that announced efforts to unionize on Tuesday.
Starbucks Workers United, the national organization that has helped coordinate Starbucks union drives across the country, said it is the largest number of stores to file in a single day.
Fenrir Larsen, an organizer at the Reno Starbucks who has worked as a shift supervisor for eight years, said the location wants “to be a part of changes moving forward together as a team.”
“We’ve had a hard time being noticed as individuals but with collective bargaining we get to have a seat at the table and be heard by management,” Larsen said in a statement.
Four stores in Southern Nevada have previously voted to unionize since December 2022.
Companies across the country including Starbucks, Trader Joe’s and Amazon have attempted to unionize in recent years in an effort to secure stronger worker protections.
Starbucks Workers United has sought to reign in unpredictable schedules, secure low wages as well as pushback against unfair discipline policies and racism and sexual harassment.
The group is proposing a base wage of $20 an hour with a 5% cost of living adjustment and requiring full-time status for those working an average of 32 hours per week along with benefits for those working less than 20 hours per week.
Around 400 stores representing more than 9,500 baristas have voted to unionize since 2021. However, no store has successfully negotiated or signed a contract so far.
In a letter to Starbucks CEO Laxman Narasimhan on Tuesday, workers from those 21 stores reiterated that they deserved “fair pay, clerk communication with all partners, a say in the decisions that affect our day to day, better power balance, and manageable expectations.”
“Across the country management is cutting hours, writing inconsistent and unreliable schedules, and placing more and more work on fewer and fewer partners,” the workers wrote. “We ‘partners’ demand a say. We are the face of Starbucks. As employees, we deserve the same respect and dignity as the CEO.”
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