Negotiations begin between Nevada County, Sammie’s Friends | TheUnion.com

Negotiations begin between Nevada County, Sammie’s Friends

Sammie's Friends plans this Friday to meet with Nevada County officials for the second time as both sides work toward a new animal shelter contract.

The two sides met last Friday and began negotiations on the contract that will detail the local shelter's operations. It was the first time they met since Sheriff Keith Royal said he'd forego negotiating with Placer County, as a Nevada County panel recommended, and instead work with Sammie's Friends.

"The tenor of the meeting was quite pleasant and nice," said Cheryl Wicks, a cofounder of Sammie's Friends, which has operated the local animal shelter since 2010.

Mali Dyck, interim deputy CEO with the county, called the initial discussions productive. Both sides will work toward a short-term solution — ensuring a new contract is prepared before the existing one expires June 30.

According to Dyck, discussions about a longer-term solution will include the new sheriff and director of Sammie's Friends.

Royal's term ends this year, and a new sheriff — who like Royal will have oversight over animal control — takes office in 2019. Additionally, Wicks has said she'd like at some point to step away from the day-to-day operation of Sammie's Friends.

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"That's why we're looking at something short term," Dyck said.

Sheriff's Capt. Jeff Pettitt, who also attended the meeting, said he'd like a draft contract prepared by early June. That would provide enough time for it to reach the Board of Supervisors for a vote before the June 30 deadline.

Controversy erupted after the community learned that a local panel recommended Placer County adopt out some local animals at its Auburn facility. Nevada County would have operated the McCourtney Road facility.

The proposals submitted by both Placer County and Sammie's Friends aren't public record. Wicks said she wants to know what led the local panel to recommend Placer County, especially in light of the overwhelming support the community has for her organization.

"They'll come back with some numbers and some proposals," Wicks said of the county.

Last week Wicks told a crowded town hall that her proposal called for $743,000 in county dollars. Sammie's Friends would contribute funds from various sources, upping the total to around $1.1 million.

Wicks called the $743,000 a "bare bones" amount needed to run the shelter, though she emphasized her willingness to work with county officials on a new contract.

"I think there's a good shot at us reaching some kind of agreement," she added.

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email ariquelmy@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.