FACES: New chief continues family legacy

Sheila Banister hasn't changed desks yet in her new position as chief probation officer at the Juvenile Probation Department.

She figures, why bother? There's a new building on its way on the detention center's grounds at Fifth Street and Saliman Road, and she would have to move again anyway when it opens in two months.

Although the papers and file folders are starting to stack up, Banister, 43, feels confident taking over where retired chief Bill Lewis left off.

After all, it's in her blood.

"The facility is named after my father, Murphy Bernardini," she said. Bernardini was partly responsible for the construction of the original center which created an alternative to the county jail for arrested juveniles.

Lewis extended that legacy, growing the center to include new buildings and youth-oriented services. Now Banister takes the reins.

"Right now, I'm going to review every part of the department," she said. She officially started last Monday. "He (Lewis) did outstanding things for the community. And I think change is good. A lot of our philosophies are the same."

Currently the center, which is designed as a temporary holding facility for about two dozen teens, offers alcohol and drug rehabilitation services, self-esteem classes and after-school programs.

"Community-based programs are where it's at," said Banister.

Banister comes to the position with a lengthy background in juvenile justice. Out of the University of Nevada, Reno, she worked for the school district as an attendance monitor, then as a youth counselor in 1979 at the detention center.

In 1984 she became a probation officer and, in 1994, moved up to senior probation officer.

She was born and raised in Carson City and has a daughter and two sisters who live in the area.

One of the more difficult parts of Banister's new position will be procuring funding for the center, a process that Lewis became familiar with over the last few years in his search for grants.

She attended a seminar and has taken some instruction on the subject from Lewis. "I'm becoming familiar with grants that we have and we'll give that a full review."

In 1999 the department handled 420 juveniles under formal probation supervision.


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