We’ve come a long way since our beginning in Winter 2001 when I received what I understood to be God’s confirmation that he wanted me to build a teen ranch for at-risk youth in our area. After hearing me share the dream during a church service at Wittenberg Hall, a local businessman gave seed money saying that he wanted to be a part of the vision. That began a quest for gathering information; and after visiting faith-based teen ranches in California, we decided to model Valley Teen Ranch in Madera, CA. Connie Clendenan, CEO of Valley Teen Ranch, and her board have provided invaluable assistance.
The name of Sierra Nevada Teen Ranch was decided upon by my wife, Jan and myself. Jan developed our mini-mission statement of “Rescue, Redeem, and Restore Young Lives”. What an inspiration!
We filed our Nonprofit Article of Incorporation and By-Laws with the State of Nevada, and received our Corporate Charter the following month.
We filed an application for 501(c)3 (tax-exempt) status with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). After months of additional questions from the IRS, and answers from us, we received our tax-exempt status. While working toward our legal status as a non-profit, tax-exempt organization, we started conducting fundraising and sharing the vision.
We held our first major fundraiser (“Cast the Vision”) at the Atlantis Casino Resort with Napoleon Kaufman as our keynote speaker, Mike Alger, emcee, and guest speaker, Connie Clendenan from Valley Teen Ranch. The evening was great fun and a huge success.
Robert George, real estate broker and developer of most of the land in the Red Rock and Rancho Haven area had been closely following the newspaper articles in RGJ about the unwarranted opposition by the Palomino Valley residents, with great interest. In his own words, “The Lord put it on my heart to find a place that would be large enough for you and where you would not have the problems you are now facing.” Bob (Robert), went on to tell me that he had what he believed was a perfect place and asked if he could show it to me. Well, in my mind, these were the “marching orders” I had been waiting so long for. Today we own the property, free and clear, paying only a fraction of what the Palomino property would have cost. We have no immediate neighbors, in fact, we are surrounded on all sides by over 40,000 acres of BLM land.
Having purchased the land on faith, we needed to now make sure that we could build the Ranch in its entirety on that land. Inadequate water and proper zoning became an issue. I met with Washoe County zoning officials on and off throughout the year and filed an application to appropriate public waters with the State of Nevada.
October 2006 – Ranch Location Approved
We heard from Mike Harper, planning manager for Washoe County Department of Community Development, that he had received word from their legal advisor that our land is located in an area that is zoned for ranches such as what we propose to build. We have the legal go-ahead!
November 2006 – SNTR Water Rights Approved
After a long wait, we were permitted enough water to do everything necessary for the building and operation of the Ranch. It took 11 months, but it was well worth the wait for I am told that if we would have had to buy the water rights it would cost between $100,000 and $200,000. We spent only $900 on a licensed water surveyor, application, and permit fees.
SNTR Meets BBB Standards
Along the way, we were admitted to the Reno Better Business Bureau and they issued a statement certifying that Sierra Nevada Teen Ranch meets their standard(s) for a charitable organization. We completed extensive paperwork and personal interviews regarding our legal status, financial record keeping, business plans, and operation.
Do I hear a few praise God’s out there – well, you sure hear them in my house!