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Business Profile: Ninja Tree Care

April 27, 2022 | Kayla Anderson

In 2016, Kathrine “Sunshine” Rieger started Ninja Tree Care in Incline Village and has been helping residents with their tree removal and yard cleanups in the IV/CB community ever since. Living in Incline for 17 years, she has experience in firefighting, working for other local tree companies, and climbing towers with NV Energy to get more climbing experience before opening her own business. 

Sunshine likes showing people how to take care of their own trees and creating defensible space to keep things more affordable for them, stepping in and doing a job only when necessary. 

“I explain to people what the fire department is exactly looking for on taking care of those trees and how to remove branches safely without damaging them. You’re looking to create defensible space in the first 30 feet next to your house. Pine needles can be done year-round; keep in mind that the fire department is looking for that fine flammable forest fuel next to your home to be cleared. It’s about protecting your house from the forest and protecting the forest from your house.”

She says it’s ideal to look at the property when the snow is melted out, especially for new homeowners because they may not know what’s underneath. The North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District is also a valuable resource for how to create defensible space. 

“The more houses we get in compliance then the better it is for all of us. It doesn’t matter if you use us or another tree company, the most important thing is we’re getting defensible space done on every house in the community,” she says. 

For more information on Ninja Tree Care, call 775-629-2687 or visit its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ninjatreecare.

*This article was originally published in the Spring 2022 issue of LIVE.WORK.PLAY.* Read all issues here: https://inclinevillagecrystalbay.com/about-us/communications

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Business Profile: High Community Gardens Nursery

April 27, 2022 | Kayla Anderson

With more than three decades of experience in landscape design, High Sierra Gardens owner Dan Yori has learned a thing or two about helping people freshen up their homes, yards, and gardens to impress their friends and neighbors and keep things blooming regularly throughout the summer. He has worked on more than a thousand homes in Incline Village over the years, from Lakeshore Boulevard up to Upper Tyner. 

Yori bought High Sierra Gardens in 1984 and when asked what his advice is for people getting their home ready for summer, he replies, “Number one: don’t do anything until the snow melts. Heavy snowstorms this past winter caused a lot of small bushes and shrubbery to break. You want to evaluate what you’ll need to do to fix that but, in the meantime, anticipate more storms.”

His main advice is to just be patient. 

“I’ve had the nursery for 39 years and people are coming in asking when we’ll get things in. I learned my lesson by bringing things in too early and having to move all plants inside when temperatures drop, or it snows again. There are so many new people here who come in and want to buy plants now, but they don’t know the mountain climate; what grows when, where, why, and how.”

Visit High Sierra Gardens Nursery at 866 Tahoe Boulevard or online: https://www.highsierragardens.net

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The Local Lens: Bunny Trail Community Egg Hunt

April 13, 2022 | Linda Offerdahl

It wouldn’t be the first time the kids need to wear boots to find Easter eggs in the snow on Saturday, April 16 from 11-1. The umpteenth annual Bunny Trail Community Egg Hunt is held on the Championship Golf Course starting at the Chateau. It is one of IVGID’s signature events that invite community nonprofits and businesses to participate by hosting a table with goodies for kids along the trail. Registration is required.

Easter is celebrated by our strong faith-based community this week. See the community bulletin for all the services, particularly on Easter Sunday. We have many reasons to celebrate our churches. They “Build Community” by creating church families that can be so important to newcomers trying to get acquainted. Seniors can find companionship and support. In a small town, churches are often the “first responders” to people who are food or housing insecure. 

The Deacon’s Food Pantry at Village Church on McCourry prepares food boxes for Thanksgiving and always has a box on hand for those in need. St. Francis on Mt. Rose Highway took a proactive stance on the housing crisis by hosting a meeting last week with presentations by Pastor Clare Novak of United for Action and Cathie Foley of the North Tahoe Truckee Homeless ShelterSt. Patrick’s Episcopalian Church on Village has numerous outreach programs, notably the Grief Companions and the Knitters Guild, which are unique in Incline Village. Cornerstone Church on Country Club Drive has a popular youth ministry and is famous for its music. It’s no surprise that it hosts most TOCCATA concerts in its sanctuary. Note: TOCCATA presents Bach’s St. Matthew Passion in concert on Good Friday at 7 pm at St. Patrick’s. Angel and Ruby at the Open Door Foursquare Church on Mays Blvd. welcome everyone. For those celebrating Passover, which happens to coincide with Easter this year, the North Tahoe Hebrew Congregation invites the community to join in a second night Seder being held Saturday at Granlibakken, in Tahoe City. Please visit the church and congregation websites to see their extensive list of outreach programs. They are too numerous to mention all of them.

The faith-based community joined with our family advocacy nonprofits, our schools, and agencies in the Washoe Tahoe Community Collaborative Summit today. Sponsored by IVCBA and the Parasol Tahoe Community Foundation, Washoe County joined with these local groups to identify and address the complex issues facing our community. The workforce housing crisis and the daycare crisis are just two of them. This collaborative summit can advocate for change within our community and join with others in the Tahoe Basin.

The Washoe Tahoe Housing Partnership reconvened last week under the guidance of Tahoe Prosperity Center which conducted the housing study last year. They are gearing up to form action plans that can address the housing crisis our community faces. We all know someone who moved to the valley because their rent became unaffordable, or their home is being converted to a short-term rental. IVGID is worried that they won’t be able to hire staff for the beaches. With steep gas prices, fewer people are willing to commute to the Lake. Solutions are nearly insurmountable. The Washoe Tahoe Housing Partnership brings our local leaders from IVGID, IVCBA, Incline Village Realtors, and the Hyatt together with Washoe County and TRPA. Extensive community engagement will be undertaken. Stay tuned.

SHOPPING!  Incline Village is famous for its thrifting and attracts people from around the Lake.  All of them support our community. The Mecca is the Village Center. On the Upper Center are the Village Christian and the Tahoe Family Solutions thrift shops. Go down to the Lower Center for the Pet Network Thrift Store. Look a little harder for the Tahoe Forest Hospice Gift & Thrift located near the Starbucks’ garage entrance off Tanager. Even though it’s not a thrift store, be sure to check out Karma Tahoe, a consignment boutique in Christmas Tree Village. 

About the Author Linda Offerdahl

Linda Offerdahl, IVCBA’s Executive Director, is a 34-year resident of Incline Village. After careers in education and computer product management, she and her husband Richard moved to Incline Village to raise a family and support the community and its endless recreational and business assets. 

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The Local Lens – Incline Justice Court

April 1, 2022 | Linda Offerdahl

If you don’t recognize Judge Alan Tiras on the cover of LIVE.WORK.PLAY., it might be a good thing. That is, you haven’t met him in the Incline Justice Court on a professional basis. However, you might know him from Raleys, your neighborhood, or from Incline High School. He has been a coach for the We The People Constitutional Debate Team ever since his own kids were in the program. The feature article in LIVE.WORK.PLAY. is on Judge Tiras and the Incline Justice Court. Read it online here.

Incline Justice Court was started in 1980. Jim Mancuso was its first judge. He and his wife Stephanie raised their family in Incline Village and still live here today.  Alan Tiras, pictured on the cover of LIVE.WORK.PLAY., took over in 2007. Alan and his wife Natalie are an integral part of our community, also raising their family here. 

The court is the reason for the creation of the Incline Village-Crystal Bay Township, under the governance of Washoe County. It is a symbol of our desire to have some autonomy and provide direct services to our residents. These include handling traffic violations, evictions, and temporary protection orders. A local judge like Alan Tiras, who is familiar with our community, is in a far better position to interact and affect positive outcomes, particularly for youth. 

The status of the Incline Justice Court is being threatened by the recent loss of its Constable position and the movement of the court from the Centerpointe building on Tahoe Blvd to the old library building at 855 Alder.  During the last two years of the pandemic, Alan Tiras was a leader in providing court services via zoom to maintain continuity of service. Those efforts are just one of the forces that lead to consolidating courts in Washoe County. 

Our unincorporated township is governed by Washoe County, often painted as an absentee owner primarily interested in the tax revenues we generate. We get those tax dollars back in the form of our schools (Washoe County School District), law enforcement (Washoe County Sheriff’s Office Incline Substation), fire protection (NLTFPD), the Incline Library, and the Incline Justice Court. Financial support also goes to IVGID, the general improvement district that provides water, sewer, and recreation. Although Washoe County provides numerous other services, they are harder to identify (and receive) because they are housed in Reno. The Washoe County Health District was very visible the last two years as it (very capably) addressed the COVID pandemic. 

IVCBA is working hard to make the work Washoe County does on our behalf more visible. We want to make it easier for them to engage with our community. On April 13, IVCBA and Parasol Tahoe Community Foundation are sponsoring a Washoe Tahoe Community Collaborative Summit. It is bringing local service providers together with Washoe County and our agencies to explore the complex problems facing our community that “take a whole Village and a County” to address. 

MORE NEWS: The Washoe Tahoe Housing Partnership is reconvening on April 7 to begin the next phase of addressing the Workforce Housing issue. Anyone interested should contact Linda@IVCBA.org.

About the Author Linda Offerdahl

Linda Offerdahl, IVCBA’s Executive Director, is a 34-year resident of Incline Village. After careers in education and computer product management, she and her husband Richard moved to Incline Village to raise a family and support the community and its endless recreational and business assets. 

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Community Profile: Alan Tiras/Incline Village-Crystal Bay Township Justice Court

April 1, 2022 | John Crockett

On a Wednesday morning, the Incline Village-Crystal Bay Township Justice Court has a full slate of cases.  The day’s schedule begins with Judge E. Alan Tiras working with clerks, lawyers, and the defendants before him.  And today he hears pleas and issues sentences for misdemeanors that occurred within Incline Village and Crystal Bay.   However, most of those appearing in court today are not within the township, they are before the court virtually.  

An Assistant District Attorney checks in to the hearing by Zoom from the Truckee Meadows.  The defendant is in custody in Reno but appears and participates virtually.  A defense lawyer joins with a blurred background.  Seated on the bench, Judge Tiras conducts this hybrid in-person and online court with the skill of a symphony conductor.  As camera focus shifts to those speaking at the time, the judge turns on and off mics confirming that all parties can hear and understand the proceedings.  One defendant requires a translator and Tiras calls on a court clerk to join in, adding to the complicated but smooth interaction.  

At the end of one case, he wraps up by confirming the defendant understands everything that has transpired.  “Now, don’t take this the wrong way but I hope I don’t see you again, at least not in this setting.”

Since 1980, the Incline Justice Court has provided a venue for residents and visitors to settle matters including traffic violations, evictions, and temporary protection orders, amongst others.  Tiras, who was elected to this position in 2006 and took office in 2007, explains that Justice Court is considered the people’s court.  

“The vast majority of interaction of courts and the public is at our level,” says Tiras.  “Generally speaking, we’re dealing with people that haven’t messed up too badly yet.  And it gives us an opportunity to help them so they don’t continue down the path to something more severe.” 

While the court hears citations and misdemeanors, cases can also involve more serious charges including felonies.  “What’s important is how can we help people…so they’re not making those same wrong decisions.  Punishment is a tool in the tool box but it’s the last one we want to use.”  

For Tiras, this position allowed him to continue a life of public service to the community.  In addition to his “wonderful relationship” with his wife of 41 years, Tiras credits his uncle as being, “a catalyst for my interest in public service.  His philosophy is that if he can work to make the community a better place then he is the beneficiary.” 

Following the public service lead of his uncle, Tiras served on the City Council of his hometown of Seminole, Oklahoma and was honored as Citizen of the Year.  Serving as an elected judge is “my way of trying to make things better,” says Tiras.

First visiting Incline Village in the mid-1980s, he decided to make it home, moving here in 1990 with his wife, Natalie and two young children. Judge Tiras thinks the community is a great place to raise children.  “They had amazing educational opportunities and could participate in extra-curricular opportunities as well,” he says. 

“When we first decided to move here, we loved the mountains, trees and, of course the Lake, but what keeps us here is the people,” Tiras says.  “We met many of our best friends through the schools and school events.”  He continued to follow his passion for public service by taking on leadership roles with Rotary of Tahoe Incline and the Incline Village Chamber of Commerce among others.

Judge Tiras also participates in We the People:  The Citizen and the Constitution Program of which Incline Village High School’s team is a perennial state and national contender.  He finds assisting program advisor Milton Hyams “very rewarding” but also educational.

“Not a week goes by when they don’t teach me something,” he says.  “It’s interesting watching the student progress from uncertainty to true constitutional scholars.”  With students learning to research, speak, argue, and support their positions with evidence, some former We the People students may soon be representing plaintiffs or defendants before Judge Tiras’s court.

In 2019, Incline Justice Court became the first court in the state to offer virtual options for traffic court defendants.  Holding court virtually was initially challenging but the process was gaining momentum before the COVID-19 pandemic suspended court services state-wide.  With experience gained from virtual traffic court, Judge Tiras and his team soon took the full court calendar online, becoming the only one in the state for several months.

“The virtual program is an unqualified success,” says Tiras.  He questions why defendants should take time away from work or their families to plead not guilty to a parking ticket.  “I don’t need to make it inconvenient to them to have access to justice.”  Defendants might attend during a lunch break at a job site or when they are physically unable to travel to Incline.  If the parties are participating and present wherever they are, the court can adjudicate the matter.  

“At this level we have the opportunity to figure out what we can do to help them.  It’s a really rewarding position to be in,” says Tiras.

Michael McNulty is a licensed drug and alcohol counselor whose clients have appeared at Incline Justice Court.  He says the benefit of having a local court in Incline is, “the efficiency of justice being satisfied promptly.”  McNulty states that Tiras offers, “kindness but with a firm hand.  I often hear him encourage defendants to use all of the resources that the Incline Justice Court affords,” such as attending counseling or participating in victim impact panels.

With the success and benefits of virtual court proceedings will there continue to be a need for the physical location of Incline Justice Court?  Due to a lack of technology access, virtual is just not an option for some parties.  “We need to be accessible to those people too.  There needs to be a physical space for live trials, hearings, and payment windows,” says Tiras.

More changes are in store for the court this year.  In February, the Board of County Commissioners voted 3-1 to abolish the office of the Incline Constable through an amendment to Washoe County code.  Constables provide court security, pre and post trial services such as drug testing, and process serving in addition to other duties.  The move by a Commissioner outside of District 1, which includes Incline Village, surprised Tiras.  “What bothers me is the process,” says Tiras.  He thinks the change to abolish the office of the constable is not good governance.  “Let’s talk to the stakeholders, find out what the goals of this change are.”

Some see the elimination of the constable office by the County Commission as a step towards eliminating the Incline Village township and therefore the court.  “I don’t think it would be appropriate for a judge not from Incline to adjudicate Incline matters,” says Tiras.  “They don’t have the understanding of the community, the community standards, the geography.  It would be a huge step backwards if we didn’t have a local judge.” 

The court will also move to a new location at 855 Alder Ave., the former library building and current Incline Village Community Center.  Since 1982, the court has held space at the Centerpoint Executive Offices building at 865 Tahoe Blvd.  The court will now move into a county-owned building for the first time in its history.

As the Incline Village-Crystal Bay Township Justice Court deals with transitions over the coming year, the court continues to take each opportunity to help its constituents.  “Consistency is fair.  And justice is that people are treated the same throughout the process,” says Tiras.  By using innovations like holding court virtually, Judge Tiras can offer the consistency of access to justice from Incline Village that reaches beyond the community.      

*This profile appeared in the Spring 2022 issue of LIVE.WORK.PLAY. magazine.

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