Top 5 things to know from the Washoe County Board of Commissioners meeting
County Commission appoints Dr. Laura Knight as Medical Examiner and Coroner.

Media Release
For Immediate Release

Contact: Amy Ventetuolo

Reno, Nevada. Jan. 10, 2017. The following report highlights several important agenda items from the Washoe County Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017.

1. Dr. Laura Knight appointed Medical Examiner and Coroner.

At Tuesday’s Board of County Commissioners (BCC) meeting, the County Commission appointed Dr. Laura  Knight to the position of Chief Medical Examiner and Coroner for Washoe County. Dr. Knight replaces Dr. Ellen G.I. Clark upon her retirement and will assume her position effective immediately.

Dr. Knight has been the Deputy Chief Medical Examiner for Washoe County since July, 2015. Before coming to Reno, she served as the Deputy Chief Medical Examiner at the Onondaga County Center for Forensic Sciences in Syracuse, NY.  Dr. Knight was on the faculty at State University of New York-Upstate Medical University and Syracuse University Forensic and National Security Sciences Institute.

Dr. Knight is triple board certified in Anatomic, Clinical, and Forensic Pathology. She received her medical degree from the University of Louisville School of Medicine. In addition to her Medical Examiner duties, Dr. Knight is an Associate Professor at the University of Nevada-Reno in the departments of Pathology and Pediatrics, teaching medical students and residents, and is an active member and committee chair in the National Association of Medical Examiners.

“Thank you for stepping into this position,” said Washoe County Commission Chair Bob Lucey (Dist. 2). “We are happy to have you and know you will serve the citizens of Washoe County and our neighboring counties well.”

Dr. Knight thanked the Commission for the opportunity and provided some insight into her plans for the future.

“This is a dynamic and energizing time for the Medical Examiner’s Office, with a transition in leadership and our upcoming relocation to a newly constructed, modern, state-of-the-art facility in January,” Dr. Knight said. “I am grateful both to Dr. Clark for her leadership of the office since its creation in 2007, and to the Board of County Commissioners for their support. I now have the opportunity to continue to improve and grow the capabilities of the Medical Examiner’s Office."

The Washoe County Medical Examiner’s Office serves 13 northern Nevada Counties and five California border counties, in addition to the citizens of Washoe County.

2. County Commission begins process of implementing sales tax increase for schools.

The County Commission held an introduction and first reading of an ordinance to raise sales and use taxes by 0.54 percent in Washoe County.  The increase in sales taxes will pay for the construction, repair and renovation of Washoe County School District facilities. The Commission is required to move forward with the sales tax hike following the passage of Senate Bill 411 and voter-approved Washoe County Question one, which was passed by voters during the General Election this past November.

The County Commission will hold a second reading at a future BCC meeting. The State Department of Taxation is expected to implement the tax increase April 1, 2017.

“I want to thank the public for resoundingly support this tax increase which will help our school district build new schools and remodel existing schools,” said Commissioner Kitty Jung (Dist. 3).

3. Commissioner Jung uses Commission District 3 Special Funds to fight sex trafficking.

The county Commission approved Commissioner Kitty Jung’s $16,000 Commission District 3 Special Fund Grant for the nonprofit Awaken to support efforts addressing sex trafficking, prostitution and commercial sexual exploitation through the Awaken Drop-in Center.

Awaken brings awareness to sex trafficking and provides housing and restoration for victims. Awaken works to provide the right opportunities and support for locally trafficked women and girls to help them overcome poverty, racism and gender-based violence.

At the Feb. 10, 2015, Board of County Commissioners meeting, County Commissioners adopted a resolution creating County Commission District Special Funds. Commission District Special Funds are separate from the budget but available to each Commissioner to use in a way that benefits the residents of Washoe County.

4. Washoe County’s Second Judicial District Court Awarded University of Nevada Pack Internship Grant.

The County Commission approved a Nevada Pack Internship Grant award between the System of Higher Education through University of Nevada, Reno for the Second Judicial District Court.

The Second Judicial District Court of Nevada was selected to participate in the University of Nevada Pack Internship Grant Program. This Internship program introduces University students to local employment opportunities while promoting skill development and professional experiences. 

Under the grant program, the University of Nevada will fund one student position in the Law Library and Self Help Center and one student position in the Human Resources department. The grant money awarded is used to fund the student wages. Another student internship will be funded by the court.

Each student will work 120 hours during their spring semester. With flexible schedules available at the District Court, students will be able to maintain their course requirements while advancing their careers.   

“This internship program is a dynamic way to mentor students and teach them about the Second Judicial District Court,” Court Administrator Jackie Bryant said. “We look forward to providing students with an opportunity to explore court operations and determine whether a career within the legal system is right for them.”          

5. Grant awarded to the Second Judicial Court for individuals with disabilities.

The County Commission accepted a grant award from the National Resource Center for Supported Decision-Making, through the Quality Trust for Individuals with Disabilities, to the Second Judicial District Court.

The Second Judicial District Court of Nevada, with the endorsement of the Nevada Supreme Court’s Commission to Study the Administration of Guardianships in Nevada's Courts and Justice James W. Hardesty, was selected as one of six national awardees to receive a $4,000 grant through the National Resource Center for Supported Decision-Making State Grant Program. This program awards grants for state-based projects that increase awareness of and access to supported decision-making by adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).

Supported decision-making agreements help a person with I/DD to make life choices regarding housing, healthcare, education, employment, social supports, etc. Used appropriately, this model supports and assists adults with I/DD without the need for a court-appointed guardian.

“Receipt of this grant is yet another sign of how far Nevada Courts, attorneys and stakeholders have come in demonstrated leadership reforming guardianship proceedings and educating the community about alternatives to guardianship,” Judge Frances Doherty said. “This grant will be a key part in promoting the independence and dignity of aging adults and those with disabilities statewide.”

Additional information on supported decision-making can be found at

NOTE: Videos of County Commission meetings  can be found online.

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