Meet Your Merchant: All for the animals

An ongoing effort to clean up the capital city has resulted in an unlikely partnership.

The Carson City Chamber of Commerce is working hand-in-hand with the city's Department of Alternative Sentencing to rid the city of as much trash, weeds and graffiti as possible to help the city put its best foot forward.

"When companies or people come to the city, we need to make a good impression, or they aren't going to want to move here - even visitors won't want to stay," said Ronni Hannaman, the chamber's executive director.

"The city just seemed to be getting dirtier and dirtier, and we all need to work on this together," she said.

The chamber has assembled a group of volunteers who regularly go out to clean areas of town where trash and weeds seem to accumulate, particularly along Highway 50 East.

"We've cleaned it up a number of times, but two weeks later, it's a mess again," Hannaman said.

The partnership with alternative sentencing came about because Claudia Saavedra, community service coordinator for the department, regularly assigns offenders to paint over graffiti as soon as it's reported, as part of the terms of their sentencing.

"Ronni and her volunteers are our second set of eyes for graffiti, but also for trash now," Saavedra said.

"She really cares about this town, and if she finds areas that need cleaning, I send out the CS (community service) workers. It's been great for both of us," she said.

Of an estimated 3,000 community service hours performed by offenders each month, 60-100 go toward graffiti.

Hannaman agrees that the program is working well.

But Hannaman said that after meeting with Saavedra, it became clear that while community service could supply the manpower, paying for paint could be a problem. So Hannaman went to AT&T of Nevada, which came up with a $950 donation.

Stephanie Tyler, president of AT&T Nevada, presented the $950 check to Hannaman last week during a Board of Supervisors meeting, and Hannaman, in turn, gave it to Saavedra.

"When we see a need in this community, we like to step up," Tyler said.

Of the 300 gallons of paint needed each year to cover graffiti, Saavedra said, the donation will pay for about 50 gallons.

Shelly Aldean, Carson City supervisor and chairwoman of the Redevelopment Authority, said money will be also be allocated from redevelopment funds for graffiti abatement in the redevelopment districts, which should help in the fight to keep the city clean.

Hannaman said she has volunteers who let her know when someplace in town is looking bad with trash or weeds.

"I have my scouts out there who report on areas needing help, so we're sort of a weeds/graffiti/trash central. Our volunteers have been very helpful," she said.

Hannaman said many groups also have stepped up to help, including Boy Scout troops, which help with the Carson River cleanup, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Nevada, which routinely keeps the area near its facility on Russell Way picked up.

"I realize we are a very windy city, but everyone needs to keep their trash lids on tight, and it doesn't hurt anybody to bend over and pick something up," Hannaman said. "The white trash bags are really a problem. What we really need is pride."


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