SILVER SPRINGS - The first administrator of the Western Nevada Regional Youth Center may get fired before the juvenile treatment/detention center opens.
Steve Mathews was put on administrative leave Dec. 14 by the center's Operations Committee, following a Nov. 22 arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.
If Mathews is fired, the Operations Committee also faces hiring a new administrator to finish writing policies, hire employees and finish buying furniture. Mathews was hired from a list of 80 applicants and seven finalists.
The committee, composed of city/county managers and chief juvenile probation officers in the five counties served by the center, unanimously recommended terminating Mathews' employment. He was hired Oct. 4.
"We just thought the credibility of the program needs to be very healthy," said Lyon County Manager Steve Snyder, chairman of the committee. "This had a negative impact on the program and it had an impact on the credibility of the program."
The $1.5 million youth center in Silver Springs will serve primarily as a drug treatment facility for youth convicted in Carson City, Storey, Douglas, Lyon and Churchill counties.
The center's Oversight Committee, composed of three judges from the region's three judicial districts, will meet Dec. 30 in Carson City to determine whether to fire Mathews. This committee has the final say, said Third District Court Judge Archie Blake, who is chairman.
Mathews was arrested at 12:15 a.m. Nov. 22 while traveling north on Highway 95A at Ninth Street in Silver Springs. He was pulled over for driving left of the center line, according to Lt. Jeff Page at the Lyon County Sheriff's Department.
The arrest was Mathews' first for alleged drunken driving.
Mathews could not be reached for comment. His Fallon home phone number is not listed.
Mathews arrived in Silver Springs in early October after working in the juvenile justice system in Yreka, Calif., for nearly 15 years. He became superintendent of the Siskiyou County Juvenile Hall in 1988.
Mathews planned to open the Western Nevada Regional Youth Center in early February. Snyder said if the judges fire Mathews the opening could be pushed back 30 to 60 days, possibly into April.
Mathews had interviewed dozens of potential employees but no one had been hired at the time he was put on leave. The youth center will have 15 employees - 10 counselors, two supervising counselors, a senior administrative clerk, a mental health therapist and a cook.
The interview process will start over, Snyder said.
"I'm sure we will revisit the finalist list we already have," Snyder said.
"It's disappointing (that Mathews was put on leave), but we will have the center up and running as soon as we can."