Carson juvenile counselor retures after two decades | NevadaAppeal.com

Carson juvenile counselor retures after two decades

JIM SCRIPPS

It was all hugs and tears at the Carson City Juvenile Detention Center Tuesday as co-workers bid farewell to one of the center’s first employees.

On her 60th birthday, Marge Westover celebrated the first day of the rest of her life as a retiree, a title that she says is welcome after almost 35 years of working with children.

Westover, a Fernley native who now lives in Washoe County, spent the past 20 years as a youth counselor, running the swing shift at the Murphy Bernardini Regional Juvenile Justice Center in Carson City. At a party in her honor, she turned the tables, honoring her coworkers with words of praise.

“Some of you are like my family,” she told the group of 25. “I’m going to miss you so much.”

Bill Lewis, facility director, said Westover was one of the first employees to come on board with him when the center was built 20 years ago. She and Lewis have the longest tenures of any employees in the building.

Her influence is so prevalent, said Juvenile Services Program Coordinator John Simms, that she was his supervisor when he was a college intern in the late 1970s. Almost two decades later, he was her supervisor.

“She’s such a good-hearted woman,” he said. “The people who read the paper would really want to know what she has done for the children of this community.”

Simms said Westover acts as mother to the kids in her care, keeping their behavior in line with everything from supervision and counseling to cooking and scolding.

He added that she has survived a role that takes a large toll on most people, eventually driving them into other work. “She has a sincere interest in the welfare of these kids,” he said.

Tuesday’s gathering included the presentation of a plaque that commends her long commitment to the center and the thousands detainees who have been under her wing. Her coworkers also pitched in to give her several farewell gifts including a birdbath for her yard and some Dallas Cowboys clothing, her favorite NFL team.

Westover said she spends some of her spare time feeding the thousands of birds that flock to her back yard.

After taking the rest of the winter off, Westover expects that she will probably be back, working in some capacity at the center on a part-time basis.

“I’m the type of person who always has to be busy,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed working here more than anything else I have done. I’m sure I will be back.”

After 20 years of tough love, Westover looks forward to the free time that her retirement will afford her. “I used to stay three jumps ahead of these kids, now I am lucky if I can keep up with them.”

Simms lamented the center’s loss, shaking his head. “She is sure going to be a tough act to follow.”