Donner Party’s courage

I loved the story about the Donner Party’s Christmas experiences in 1846 (RN&R, Nov. 25).  I had the pleasure of having Fred Horlacher as a teacher when I attended Swope Middle School. Mr. Horlacher made the Donner Party come alive, including one winter day when he opened the windows and had us all sitting on the floor in a circle around a fake fire pit and wrapped in blankets as he told about their ordeal. He was excited about the story and that got us excited. When the snow covers the Sierras and the wind blasts down the mountain to Reno, I also think about the Donner Party and their suffering and courage. We need more teachers like Mr. Horlacher who make history come alive with lessons students remember for the rest of their lives.

Mazie Rosen, Incline Village

Climate change is real

Most of us know that climate change is real (RN&R, Dec. 6), and vote accordingly, however, climate change deniers will continue denying until Lake Tahoe boils dry.

Monty Hansen, Reno

Stop the slaughter of pets

Animal shelters are quickly filling to maximum capacity, and many healthy pets perfectly eligible for homes are being euthanized. On average, 3 million shelter animals are killed each year despite many of them being perfect fits for families. Meanwhile, countless numbers of pets are being purchased from breeders instead.

Now, animal shelters nationwide are filling to capacity. Our local SPCA is a no-kill shelter, but many unfortunate animals are being euthanized elsewhere. Almost ten times as many animals as there are people in Reno are put down each year in U.S. shelters. While many people mistakenly believe that all of the pets euthanized are unfit for homes, most of these animals are killed simply because they could not find a loving family to care for them. With continuously high rates of euthanasia, now is the time to step in and lend a hand to these homeless animals. While buying from a breeder may get you the exact type of animal you want, shelters offer plenty of great pets at much lower costs. Each pet adopted means the difference between their life and death.

Pets are a great addition to any family, giving unconditional love while asking for nothing in return. Although I now live in Reno, my dog Mindi was adopted from the Solano County SPCA, one of the shelter organizations in my hometown of Fairfield, Calif. We first met her in an area outside of the kennels, where we decided to adopt her. The adoption process took about 15 minutes, and the fee was only $300, a fraction of the usual maintenance cost for animals in a shelter. In the two years that we have had her, Mindi has been a very low-maintenance dog with very few health issues. Furthermore, when we adopted her, she already had some training. She has definitely filled an empty spot in our family, and no dog from a breeder could match her spunky and lovable personality.

Even if you are not interested in getting a new pet, there are plenty of ways you can help with the shelter crisis. Getting your pet spayed or neutered will help prevent unwanted litters. You can also help by volunteering at your local animal shelter, many of which are currently short-staffed and would be glad to receive your assistance. I have found that volunteering with animals is a fulfilling experience because it is always fun to form bonds with them. Shelters also accept donations, which can help them expand their facilities or host adoption events to help pets find homes. Your help will mean the world to these animals.

Kevin P., Reno

Adaptive Cycling Center survey

The City of Reno’s Adaptive Recreation team is piloting an Adaptive Cycling Center this summer at the Rosewood Nature Study Area, formerly known as the Rosewood Golf Course. This membership-based program will allow people with disabilities to access the City’s many adaptive bikes and go directly on the trail, eliminating the need for bike transport. 

The City is looking to gauge community interest in this type of adaptive cycling program and determine the best hours of operation. Community members are invited to take this survey and share their feedback. The deadline to complete the survey is January 10, 2023. 

The Rosewood Nature Study Area is a 219-acre wetland habitat currently being restored by Truckee Meadows Parks Foundation with approximately 2.5 miles of trail. It is a convenient launching point to access the SouthEast Connector trail as well as connect to the Tahoe-Pyramid Bike trail. To learn more about the City’s adaptive and inclusion programs, visit or contact April Wolfe at

April Wolfe, City of Reno

$4 million in funds available

The City of Reno, acting as the lead agency for the Washoe County HOME Consortium, is currently seeking funding applications from eligible organizations supporting individuals and families experiencing homelessness, at risk of homelessness, and victims of domestic violence, as part of the HOME Investment Partnerships Program – American Rescue Plan (HOME-ARP). The application for funding is open now through Jan. 9.

Eligible projects include: Supportive services, such as child care, education services, employment assistance and job seeking; homelessness prevention services; and housing counseling services; tenant-based rental assistance, including rental assistance, security deposit payments, and utility deposit assistance to qualifying households; acquiring and developing non-congregate shelters for individuals and families who meet qualifying populations; nonprofit organizations paying operating expenses that will carry out activities with HOME-ARP funds; nonprofit capacity building; and the development of rental housing within Reno, Sparks and the unincorporated area of Washoe County.

To find out if your organization qualifies for funding, visit or contact Hettie Read at This is a competitive application/award process and applicants are not guaranteed funding.

Hettie Read, City of Reno

Join the Conversation


  1. Good article about the Donner Party, told in the spirit of Stewart’s Ordeal By Hunger. One correction, though – the camp would not be buried under I 80 – it may be buried under Historic US 40. I 80 is a steep climb uphill, and a distance from Donner Lake.

    Thanks, Happy New Year

  2. It was the Graves Cabin site (that was located where the old agricultural station used to be on I-80), not the Donner camp, that was covered by the Interstate. The Graves family camped there (according to CF MacGlashan, who wrote the first history of the Donner Party), while the Murphy clan built a cabin next to the large rock in what is now the state park and the Breens claimed a cabin that was already there — built by members of an 1844 party — a site believed to be under the park’s monument. And yes, the Graves were a distance from the other 2 family cabins at the lake camps. The 2 Donner families, delayed by a wagon accident, were even further away, 6 miles behind on the trail at the Alder Creek camp, now a Forest Service picnic ground on Rt89.

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