Opinion: A celebration of Fernley’s achievements and future

By Cody Wagner

Editor’s note: Cody has been a resident of Fernley for most of his life and is the Chair of the Fernley Community Foundation. The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the Fernley Reporter, the Fernley Community Foundation, or the City of Fernley.

I begin this month’s column with an apology, both to the citizens of Fernley and the Fernley Reporter. I originally intended to provide one column per month, but I completely failed to do that in August and September. I’ll try to make up for it this month. As the old saying goes, I sometimes have a tendency to bite off more than I can chew. In this case, my excuse is trying to help raise my first child, who turns six months on Saturday, in addition to the other activities that I have taken on. As all who have gone through the parenting of a toddler know, free time comes as an extreme rarity, so all I can ask is for forgiveness and vow to be a more responsive author in the future. I will readily admit that toddlers require much more attention and energy than I might have anticipated (how is that even possible?), and I would like to extend my admiration to all of those who have successfully navigated this part of their children’s lives. Despite my personal excuses and craziness, August and September have been great months in progressing Fernley and bring me lots of hope for the future.

Cody Wagner

I will write first about all of the positives I have been seeing in these last couple months for our community. It’s easy to overlook progress and focus on what still needs to be done (and it is a lot), but it is equally as important to celebrate achievement, so I’ll try to dedicate some space to do that. Most notably, the Hardie Lane project turned out fantastic after a lot of years of behind-the-scenes work from many people who all deserve praise. I’ve seen lots of reactions about it “only taking 30 years” on the vicious social media cycles, but the reality is without the individual efforts, this project could have taken another 30 years. I am incredibly grateful as a Fernley resident for all of the dedication that has led to the increased level of safety provided to our children who are using that street to get to and from school on a daily basis. When I was young being raised in Fernley, my mother had three pet projects that really stand out to me in my memory. The first two were a full field dedicated to youth soccer and an improved Hardie Lane, particularly bike paths and sidewalks for our schools. I am incredibly thankful to see those first two come to life. The third was a fully functional youth/community center, on which there is more progress being made than has ever happened in the history of Fernley – encouraging on all fronts.

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Other community positives from the last couple months include the progress of two businesses opening in Fernley who have already proven to be great community partners in Greater Nevada Credit Union and Grocery Outlet, a fantastic turnout for the public outreach meetings and a beautiful but ambitious final design for a new community center, some major announcements about big developers taking a substantial financial interest in Fernley, and the news that the new Senior Center being built by Lyon County, which has been in the works for quite a while now, is moving forward at the same location as the future new community center behind the Depot building like it was originally intended when the groundbreaking ceremony was held almost a year ago. As reported in a recent news article, work is supposed to begin in October with the new Senior Center opening in September 2020 and tying into the sewer line to the north of their project. I can’t tell you how many questions I’ve personally fielded about that project in the last year without having real news or information to provide, so I was ecstatic that there was finally a public update. I continue to hold my breath every time I drive by the old Depot building on Main Street, hoping to see some progress. The bottom line is that this new Senior Center would positively impact every resident of our community once it is done, providing a facility that is not available anywhere else in Fernley for any sort of large-scale event. We should all be rooting for this project to proceed on schedule. The political implications of seeing an investment as significant as this from our County and from the Pennington Foundation are almost as important as the building itself, which adds to the importance of seeing some progress out there to give us some hope.

Speaking of hope, another reason to be incredibly proud of Fernley is the hope that our high school athletes have provided this fall. For full disclosure, I have coached with the high school football program for six years, particularly coaching this year’s group of seniors when they were freshmen and sophomores, so I have more insight to offer on that program than any others. But from trying to follow along during the course of the fall season and talking to parents, it’s also important to recognize all of our high school’s programs that are having tremendous seasons, particularly with the volleyball and soccer programs challenge for league and state titles.

I would like to spend a few more words on our football program, because the varsity team has set themselves up to potentially have a really special season. For the seniors on the team, I can’t help but feel like this season has embodied their whole high school career. To be honest, we weren’t very good their freshman year when I was running that team’s defense (probably bad coaching by yours truly), and I am not sure many people gave the class a chance to do much by the time they got to the varsity level. During their JV season, we did see some improvement. A game that specifically sticks out to me is us going to play a Manogue JV team toward the end of the season that was absolutely loaded with athletes that should have already been playing varsity football. We were beaten badly, both on the scoreboard and physically, having a bunch of players injured by the end of the game. I do remember thinking that a lot of the team could have quit after that game or used injuries as an excuse to not play the rest of the year, but the players responded and bounced back to end the season beating Lowry 26-0, after having lost to them earlier in the year.

I use that story to help explain this same group that are now seniors at the varsity level – being a resilient team ready to finish the year as a much better team than where they started. After two close losses early in the year to defending state champion Churchill County and upstart Lowry, the season really could have snowballed downhill. Instead, this group responded with dominant wins over South Tahoe, Elko, and Sparks. Then came last week’s trip to Spring Creek, a location where it is particularly difficult to win, due to a variety of factors including playing a really good program, a long bus trip, and oftentimes questionable refereeing. I personally played on some solid Fernley varsity football teams in the early 2000’s, and we were never able to go to any school in Eastern Nevada and win during my whole career. But again, leaning on resiliency, our guys pulled out a 27-6 win in possibly the most important game of the season so far, putting Fernley in the driver’s seat to secure the second position in the league standings and host a playoff game to advance to the State Semifinals. Two years ago, we had a special team who also achieved a birth to the State Semifinal but ran into a really difficult opponent from a much larger school in Las Vegas. Since then, the Southern 3A has realigned to a fairer format where there is not such a discrepancy in school populations between the Northern and Southern 3A. This led to Fallon and Truckee both winning their State Semifinal games last year. I am not saying that anything is going to be given to this year’s team, but there is hope that if dominoes fall in the right fashion and Fernley can continue to improve, there is a direct path to a potential State title game and possible rematch with a Fallon team that our guys hung right with earlier in the season. And sometimes, especially for this group of senior football players, a little hope and resiliency is all they really need.

In my next article, I will revisit two issues that I do view as incredibly important to Fernley’s future: Redevelopment and Consolidated Tax. Unfortunately, I have run into a number of dead-ends and unreturned phone calls and emails looking into information about those issues, but I’ll continue trying to research information the best I can. But for this article, I am going to stay completely positive focusing on Fernley’s successes and appreciating everyone, young and old, for making our community a special place to be right now and end this with a list of a few of our community’s events coming up soon.

Fernley Things to Do

Chaos Corner Haunted House, hosted by Fernley ACES

October 25th, 26th, 31st – 6 pm

Shopping center at corner of Main St. and Center St.

A first-time event, this is a family-friendly haunted house put on by an amazing group of volunteers helping to bring arts and culture-related events to Fernley. All money raised will be going to support this nonprofit’s mission.

Spooktacular, hosted by City of Fernley

October 31st, 4 pm – 7 pm

City Hall, 595 Silver Lake Blvd.

An annual event hosted by our City leaders and staff, this is a great opportunity to bring your children to a safe environment for an evening full of fun and trick-or-treating inside City Hall.

If you have events that you would like to be highlighted or issues you would like to see me discuss, please email me at fernleycommunityfoundation@gmail.com. I will never guarantee content, but I will try to cover things that I feel are important for Fernley.

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