2019 WIR Conference

Conference

2019 WIR Conference

The NACo Western Interstate Region (WIR) Conference brings together county officials from across the nation to focus on pressing issues facing counties and our residents. Each year the conference provides attendees with the opportunity to interact with federal, state and regional policymakers, participate in educational sessions and take home tools to address challenges. All conference activities (with the exception of off-site evening receptions and mobile tours) are taking place at The Davenport Grand Hotel.
Tue. May 14
8:30 am

Built between 1933 and 1942, Grand Coulee Dam is the key to the development of power on the Columbia River and with a nameplate-capacity of nearly 7,000 MW of electricity, it is still the largest power station in the United States. Grand Coulee Dam forms Lake Roosevelt, which extends 151 miles upstream to the Canadian border and provides water to irrigate approximately 600,000 acres in the Columbia Basin Project. In addition to its irrigation and power functions, Grand Coulee Dam is a primary factor in controlling the floods on the Columbia River. Join us on this special tour provided by the United States Bureau of Reclamation and get a behind the scenes look at this man-made marvel. Lunch will be provided.

9:00 am

The A to Z pilot project is the result of years of collaborative work among elected officials, federal agencies, environmental groups, tribes, the timber industry and community groups. Through a unique partnership that has attracted national attention, the United Stated Forest Service and private industry have teamed up to thin and restore 54,000 acres of the 1.1 million-acre Colville National Forest. The 10-year A to Z sale includes selective logging, controlled burns, stream restoration and road maintenance work. Some of the logs will be turned into lumber at Vaagen Brothers’ Washington sawmills and other logs will be chipped and burned for wood-fired electricity. During this interactive workshop, hear from the leaders who turned this vision into a reality. Lunch will be provided.

Wed. May 15
7:30 am

Public Lands Trust Fund Trustees Meeting

Invitation Only

Wed. May 15 | 7:30 am to 8:15 am
8:00 am

WIR Conference Registration

Wed. May 15 | 8:00 am to 4:00 pm
9:00 am

WIR Board of Directors Meeting

Wed. May 15 | 9:00 am to 12:00 pm

The WIR Board of Directors meets on a quarterly bases including at the WIR Conference. We encourage all attendees to come and participate in the Board meeting. In addition to conducting WIR business, the WIR Board agenda includes remarks from the following special guests:

12:00 pm

LUNCH BREAK

Wed. May 15 | 12:00 pm to 1:15 pm

State Executives Lunch

Invitation Only

Wed. May 15 | 12:00 pm to 1:15 pm
1:00 pm

Agriculture and Rural Affairs Policy Steering Committee Meeting and Mobile Workshop

Wed. May 15 | 1:00 pm to 5:15 pm

Proceed directly to the main hotel entrance to board buses and participate in the mobile workshop. Due to limited capacity on the tour, priority will be given to Steering Committee members if demand is greater than availability.

Departing from Spokane and traveling south through the rolling hills of the Palouse towards Steptoe Butte, this tour will give participants an up-close look at one of the most fertile wheat and lentil growing regions of the world. Once at the top of Steptoe Butte, participants will have a 360-degree birds eye view of much of the Palouse and hear from Alex McGregor, local business owner and historian about the history of the Palouse and the dynamics of agribusiness in the region. After his presentation participants will then head a few miles north of Steptoe Butte to the Palouse Wind project, to learn about a new crop being harvested on the Palouse—the wind.

Joint Public Lands Policy Steering Committee & Energy, Environment and Land Use (EELU) Policy Steering Committee Meeting and Mobile Workshop

Wed. May 15 | 1:00 pm to 5:15 pm

The groups will meet in Grand Ballroom C at 1:00 p.m. for a briefing before proceeding to the hotel lobby to board the buses. Due to limited capacity on the tour, priority will be given to Steering Committee members if demand is greater than availability.

The workshop will begin at the Spokane Waste to Energy Plant - part of the Spokane community's overall comprehensive solid waste system that encourages recycling and waste reduction along with the recovery of energy. The facility burns municipal solid waste to recover energy in the form of electricity. The facility can handle up to 800 tons of municipal solid waste a day and can generate 22 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 13,000 homes. The power is sold to Avista, a local utility provider and earns about $5 million in power sales annually. Participants will then tour the nearby Aero-Flite facility to view the planes and visit with the CEO about their operations to suppress wildfires throughout the west. Aero-Flite has been in the aerial firefighting business since 1963. They operate Boeing B-17s, C-54, DC-4s and CL-215s as well as the Viking CL-415 and the Avro RJ85. They have grown from operating converted military aircraft into operating modern, purpose-built and engineered firefighting aircraft.

6:30 pm

WIR Board of Directors and NACo Board of Directors Reception

Invitation Only

Wed. May 15 | 6:30 pm
Thu. May 16
7:30 am

WIR Conference Registration

Thu. May 16 | 7:30 am to 4:30 pm
8:30 am

Presentation of the Colors: 92nd Air Refueling Wing Honor Guard

National Anthem: Mary Dunkley, Senior Airman, 92nd MXS, U.S. Air Force

10:15 am

Assessing Trends in Affordable Housing, Natural Disasters and More

Thu. May 16 | 10:15 am to 11:45 am

County assessors are critical to ensuring the growth and resilience of counties across the country. Natural disasters, affordable housing concerns and alternative energy initiatives all pose significant valuation and economic challenges for both rural and urban counties throughout the West. Join this workshop to hear from a panel of assessors about how they are navigating these challenges to better assess their resiliency and strengthen their communities.

Federal Agency Partner Session with the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Forest Service

Thu. May 16 | 10:15 am to 11:45 am

Federal lands make up around 35 percent of the more than 2 billion acres in the United States and comprise as much as 90 percent of some counties, particularly in the west. Resource and forest management plans, along with land use plans, provide direction to federal land managers for development and use of natural resources and can greatly affect the economic, physical and social landscape of local communities. This workshop will explore the opportunities for robust local government involvement to ensure the perspective of the community is reflected in resource and forest management plans and implementation.

12:00 pm
1:30 pm

Collaborative Forest Restoration: Actively Improving Federal Lands through Dialogue and Action

Thu. May 16 | 1:30 pm to 2:45 pm

Forest collaboratives bring federal agencies, state and local officials, industry and non-profit groups together to find solutions to landscape health issues. Throughout the West, county governments play an important role in planning and implementing forest health projects on the national forests. At this workshop, participants will learn about the challenges and successes of forest collaboratives and how their scale of use can be broadened moving forward.

Strategies for Better Serving People with Mental Illnesses Involved in the Justice System

Thu. May 16 | 1:30 pm to 2:45 pm

Jails across the country are struggling with too many people with mental illnesses in their jails. In this workshop, hear from county leaders about their policies, practices and programs to keep people with mental illnesses out of jails, provide appropriate care to those who are in jails and better connect them to community-based treatment and services after release.

Supporting Young Children in Underserved Communities

Thu. May 16 | 1:30 pm to 2:45 pm

Counties across the country are joining in a national initiative to champion efforts to promote early childhood development and make young children a priority. Recent brain science shows that the most rapid period of brain development occurs within the first three years of life – developing faster from birth to age three than at any later period. This builds the foundation for all future learning, behavior and health. Research also shows that high-quality early childhood development programs can deliver an annual return of up to 13 percent per child on upfront costs through better outcomes in education, health, employment and social behavior in the decades that follow; and economists attribute local economic growth and prosperity to high-quality early child care programs. Hear from Washington state counties on their efforts to reach young children from prenatal to age three to improve their outcomes and increase their access to services and supports in their community. Learn from western counties on how to engage your local stakeholders, increase public will, and support promising approaches in early childhood development to meet the needs of at-risk children and their families. This session is made possible by the National Collaborative for Infants and Toddlers (NCIT), funded through the Pritzker Children’s Initiative. We thank NCIT for their support.

NACo Board of Directors Meeting

Thu. May 16 | 1:30 pm to 4:00 pm
3:30 pm

Engaging with Federal Partners to Grow a Sustainable Outdoor Recreation Economy

Thu. May 16 | 3:30 pm to 4:45 pm

Millions of Americans visit our nation’s public lands for recreational activities such as hiking, camping, off-road vehicle use and much more. This generates a multi-billion dollar economic impact for gateway communities. This workshop will focus on the nexus of outdoor recreation on public lands, ways that management of recreation impacts tourism in gateway communities, and how local governments can engage to build and grow sustainable recreation programs.

Untapped Resources: Grow Your County’s Economic Development

Thu. May 16 | 3:30 pm to 4:45 pm

Wouldn’t it be great if you could provide the businesses in your county with business advising, financing options and other tools for growth without tapping into your budget and resources? At this workshop, you will learn how those exact resources are available to your community. You can hear about programs provided by federal agencies to help spur economic development and small business growth in western counties.

6:00 pm

Conference-wide Celebration Event

Thu. May 16 | 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Hosted by Spokane County and the Washington State Association of Counties

Join friends and colleagues for an evening reception with gorgeous views of the Spokane River at the Spokane Convention Center, located directly across West Spokane Falls Boulevard from the Davenport Grand. Exit the hotel on the 2nd Floor Mezzanine Level throug hthe skybridge and proceed toward the back of the building along the river. You may also exit the hotel on the lobby level and proceed along the breezeway to the convention center. Spokane County staff will guide you along the way.

Fri. May 17
8:00 am

WIR Conference Registration

Fri. May 17 | 8:00 am to 12:00 pm
8:30 am

The Annual Business Meeting is open to all attendees.

9:00 am

The General Session includes the Installation of the WIR Officers and the Presentation of the Dale Sowards Award.

Opioid Addiction in Rural America: Levering Federal, State and Local Partnerships to Solve One of Our Nation’s Most Pressing Issues

While no corner of our country has gone untouched by the opioid crisis, the impact of this issue on small towns and rural places has been particularly significant. In October 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that the rates of drug overdose deaths are rising in rural areas, surpassing rates in urban areas. Federal agencies such as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have joined forces to create avenues for federal, state and local partnerships in an effort to bring opioid prevention, treatment and recovery activities to rural America more efficiently. Join representatives from HHS and USDA in the state of Washington for a discussion on how these two agencies are coordinating efforts around the epidemic, and opportunities for local entities to engage in this work.

10:45 am

How Counties Take the Lead in Serving Veterans

Fri. May 17 | 10:45 am to 12:15 pm

America’s counties have a long and proud history of taking care of our nations veterans, a legacy that continues to this day as we work with our local, state, and federal partners to ensure every veteran receives the care and support they have earned through their service. Counties offer a broad range of services to millions of veterans and their families, from housing, employment and financial assistance to health care and substance use disorder treatment to burial services. Additionally, counties in over 30 states employ county veteran services officers (CVSOs) to directly assist veterans in filing for and appealing veterans benefit claims with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), access other state and local benefits, and to otherwise act as advocates for veterans in our communities. This workshop will serve as a forum to discuss some of the many ways counties are working to improve the lives of our veterans, including how these efforts might be replicated in other communities, both across the West and nationwide.

NACo Board of Directors Orientation

Fri. May 17 | 10:45 am to 12:15 pm

Open to all conference attendees, this session will provide an overview of NACo: our structure, governance and some of the NACo Financial Services Corporation programs.

Powering Local Economies and Forging the Future of a Smart, Resilient Grid

Fri. May 17 | 10:45 am to 12:15 pm

This session will explore the future of the power grid in the West and examine efforts in advancing toward a more resilient and reliable system, in the face of natural disasters, population growth, and rise of interest in renewable energy from customers and utilities. 

12:15 pm

Box Lunch

Fri. May 17 | 12:15 pm to 12:45 pm
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