Sammie’s Friends secures new contract with Nevada County |

Sammie’s Friends secures new contract with Nevada County

Sammie's Friends was formed after Curt Romander and Cheryl Wicks moved to Grass Valley in 2000. Here, Romander holds Debbie's leash while Wicks holds Taffy.
Submitted photo

Cheryl Wicks, cofounder of Sammie’s Friends, triumphantly threw her hands into the air after the Nevada County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a new contract for the animal shelter.

The unanimous approval of the $739,000 contract ended an arduous, months-long process in time to beat a Saturday deadline — when the existing contract ends. It also ensures Sammie’s Friends will operate the shelter for another two years, contingent on certain requirements being met.

Both sides expressed gratitude toward the other at Tuesday’s supervisors meeting.

“We want to thank the board for being there for us,” said Curt Romander, the other cofounder of Sammie’s Friends. “We’ll be there for you.”

“In many ways, this is the will of the people.”— Supervisor Ed Scofield

The new contract will provide $739,000 to Sammie’s Friends, which operates the county McCourtney Road animal shelter. The contract, which calls for an automatic one-year renewal for fiscal year 2019-20, is almost $350,000 more than the existing contract price of $392,630.

Wicks initially said she needed a “bare bones” amount of $743,000 to run the shelter.

“I’m ecstatic,” Wicks said after the contract’s approval. “I am very happy. I’m happy that it’s all done, that we’re ready to go forward, that it came close to what I wanted. We didn’t get quite as much money as we wanted, but I’m OK with that.”

Sammie’s Friends, through donations and other efforts, plans to raise $250,000 each year in addition to the county funds it’ll receive. Those dollars will pay for medical expenses.

Under the new contract the county will provide $85,000 for a shelter director and $65,000 for a financial officer. Filling these positions is necessary for the automatic contract renewal.

The new hires will enable Wicks and Romander to step away from the day-to-day duties of the shelter. Wicks said she’ll soon write a job description for the director position.

Supervisor Heidi Hall questioned the increased contract price for Sammie’s Friends. Sheriff’s Capt. Jeff Pettitt, part of the county’s negotiating team, said Sammie’s Friends was asked during negotiations the true cost of operating the shelter.

Months ago Wicks tagged $743,000 as a base cost.

Supervisor Hank Weston said Wicks and Romander have donated their time over the years. Wicks has said she and Romander earned salaries of $12,000 each over the years. More money was required to make new hires.

“I think it’s all good,” Weston said.

Supervisor Ed Scofield said the new contract in some aspects stemmed from the community’s involvement.

Supporters of Sammie’s Friends grew outraged when they learned the county earlier this year intended to work with Placer County on a new contract. Sheriff Keith Royal later opted to negotiate only with Sammie’s Friends.

“In many ways, this is the will of the people,” Scofield said.

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email or call 530-477-4239.

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