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KUNR Today: Sparks fire chief retiring, Our Place homeless shelter opens community garden

Gloved hands are pushing dirt around a small plant in a garden.
Courtesy of Soulful Seeds via Facebook

Read or listen to the news headlines for Friday, April 8 2022.

Sparks Fire chief retiring after firefighters union raised concerns
By KUNR Staff

The chief of the Sparks Fire Department, Jim Reid, has announced his upcoming retirement. The news comes after the Sparks firefighters union called for his removal and brought a list of complaints last month to a Sparks City Council meeting. Those complaints included the department not having enough staffing to keep up with the city’s population growth. The union also issued a no confidence motion against Reid.

Reid’s resignation letter says that after thinking and praying about the decision, he’ll retire on June 30 when his contract ends after 33 years in fire service.

City Manager Neil Krutz released a statement saying that he’s grateful for Reid’s service to the city over the past nearly 26 years.

Our Place homeless shelter opens community garden
By Nick Stewart

This week, the Our Place homeless shelter in Sparks opened a new community garden. Hundreds of women and families currently staying at the Our Place shelter will now have fresh food from this garden, which is roughly two and a half acres in size.

Soulful Seeds, is a partner on the project. The nonprofit aims to provide those in need with healthy food.

Washoe County Commission Chair Vaughn Hartung and commissioner Alexis Hill donated special district funds to the project. Hartung donated $10,000 while Hill donated $14,000 to build a fire-resistant structure to store tools and gardening equipment.

Our Place is providing lessons to guests on how to grow their own food so they learn how to provide for themselves and others.

Conservationists, Nevada tribe increase efforts to protect Dixie Valley toad 
By Kaleb Roedel

Earlier this week, Nevada’s Dixie Valley toad was temporarily declared endangered. That’s because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says a geothermal project near its habitat could cause its extinction. Now, the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe and the Center for Biological Diversity have filed a formal notice of intent to sue plant developer Ormat Technologies and the Bureau of Land Management, which approved the project. They say Ormat and the BLM are in violation of the Endangered Species Act by not stopping construction at the site.

The Dixie Valley toad is being provided federal protection for eight months before a decision to extend its endangered listing is made.

As a note of disclosure, Ormat is a financial supporter of this station.

Study: People who live in homes with handguns twice as likely to die from homicide
By Robyn Vincent, Mountain West News Bureau

The Mountain West is home to some of the highest gun ownership rates in the country and some of the weakest gun laws. A new study found people who live in homes with handguns are more than twice as likely to die from homicides.

Researchers at Stanford University looked at homicides among 18 million Californians. They also zoomed in on different kinds of homicides, like people killed by their partners, and they found women are at a particular risk. People living with handgun owners were seven times more likely to be shot by their spouse or intimate partner.

“When we think about the second-hand risks of gun ownership, we're really talking about a population that is predominantly female,” said Stanford’s David Studdert.

Montana, Wyoming and Idaho are among the states with the highest gun ownership rates. Studdert says the risk in much of our region could be greater than what the California study suggests. That’s because California has stricter gun laws than other Western states.

Reno-Sparks housing prices stay steady in March 
By Kaleb Roedel

Housing costs in Reno-Sparks have been climbing, but prices in March stayed relatively steady. The latest report from the Reno-Sparks Association of Realtors said the median price for an existing single-family home in the area came in at $575,000. That’s up 3 percent from February, but still nearly a 20 percent jump from a year ago.

And properties continue to be snapped up quickly. In fact, last month’s newly listed homes were going into contract in an average of just five days.

Lassen Fire Safe Council holding wildfire safety workshops
By Nick Stewart

The Lassen Fire Safe Council is kicking off a series of workshops held in Lassen, Modoc, and Shasta counties over the next few months. The goal is to promote wildfire safety and awareness to protect homes and communities.

The workshops will show residents how to determine the risk of fire damage to their properties, and minimize it. In a statement, the council says agencies have not been able to reduce the destruction of massive wildfires, so they want to educate individuals on being prepared.

The first seminar is being held in Susanville Friday night and Saturday. To learn more about these workshops, call 530-251-5560. Pacific Gas and Electric is providing grant funding to support these sessions.

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