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.
Fernley is an interesting place. I guess I am so used to living in it that it’s tough to know what being an “outsider” is like. I have become accustomed to the strange idiosyncrasies that come with being a Fernley-ite or “Ferntuckian” as we are often called (I still haven’t figured out if that term is really derogatory or not). My college friends at the University of Nevada always question me about why I moved back to my hometown after college. None of these big city friends would ever consider it, they tell me. Even most of my friends who grew up with me in Fernley would never move back. I guess some of the reason for the return to my hometown was dumb luck, but a lot of it was by design. Even in a small city the size of Reno, you can get lost. Walking through the grocery store without seeing anyone you know was an expected occurrence there. Not in Fernley. “Everybody dies famous in a small town” is the way Miranda Lambert puts it. That is probably more relevant in my wife’s hometown of Round Mountain, population of just under 2,000 located right in the middle of our great state. That would have been a little too small and too “famous” for my taste, I think. Fernley is about the right size for us now and has some of the world’s greatest people. I certainly do not claim to be the spokesperson for Fernley – someone else can take that job – but the combination of my pride in Fernley and history here (and willingness to try my hand at writing) at least minimally qualifies me for the volunteer position of the new monthly opinion writer for the Fernley Reporter.
I first want to thank Robert Perea for allowing me the opportunity to do this. My first memories of Robert are of his professionalism and commitment to covering Fernley during my own high school athletic career, so I think it’s fair to say that he has covered news specifically in our town at a higher degree than likely anyone ever has. I don’t know that he’s had a lot of competition, but his commitment to this job is undoubtable. I sometimes feel like some other media outlets tend to give Fernley an unfair shake with some of the press coverage around our town, but Robert’s writing has always been fair and honest, and I think we can all appreciate him for that.
Through this monthly commentary article, I hope to accomplish several objectives. My first priority is to use this as a platform to promote our community. I can’t promise everything will always be completely positive. There will be times that criticism of various entities, organizations, or people will be necessary. But I do plan to make thoughts expressed in this column as “solution-oriented” as possible, as opposed to lingering on complaints about past mistakes. Another objective is to try to provide some education and facts for our residents in as objective of a manner as I can. Unfortunately, one of the unique aspects of Fernley (and maybe it isn’t that unique in small-town America right now) is that a majority of the opinions of our citizens regarding important matters are formed based on social media, particularly these giant Facebook groups that always amaze me at their number of members. There is no doubt that these groups provide the most effective free avenue for communicating to the most Fernley residents at one time. The downside is that you have to literally have the time to fish through hundreds of posts and thousands of replies to really get any information. And, believe it or not, people can write just about whatever they want on Facebook, true or not – and not everyone always grasps that fact. I hope to provide a better platform for actual information to get out to people that don’t have the time to sort out fact vs. fiction in the mysterious Facebook universe. The final objective I have is to try to highlight some events around town. I am not going to be writing about every little thing. But the idea is to try to prove to the “there’s nothing to do here” crowd that there are some very worthwhile things to do and organizations of which to be a part. Here are my hot takes for this month:
- Fernley High’s varsity softball team had another immensely successful season with another league championship and state runner-up finish. For over a decade now, the program has undoubtedly been the most winning program in our community and deserves recognition as such. It really starts with the parents and girls investing lots of time into the youth leagues and travel ball to develop excellent high school players. Congratulations to the coaches, administrators, parents, and most-of-all athletes themselves for creating such a strong and proud program!
- Recently, Fernley’s Tyler Roemer was signed by Jon Gruden and the Oakland Raiders, making him the first Fernley High graduate to sign a professional football contract. That is pretty special, especially considering that he was also the first Fernley graduate to play Division I college football. It would be naïve of me to not mention that his career at San Diego State did end in some well-publicized turmoil. But Tyler will always have a soft spot in my heart, as he was on the first team I ever coached at the high school level, the 2012 freshman boys basketball team. We were not very successful in the win-loss column, but it is nice for all the coaches who ever worked with him to think that we might have had a small part in helping him build to a professional athletic career.
- This past month, the Fernley Rotary Club had University of Nevada head football coach Jay Norvell out to one of their weekly meetings as a guest speaker. Norvell has always impressed me during the several encounters I’ve had with him. He spoke about personal character and having high expectations for his team. His program has been overshadowed by the success of the basketball team during his tenure so far, but I believe that he is leading Nevada football towards some really special seasons. Congratulations to Kelly Brye and the rest of the Rotarians for convincing a head collegiate coach from a major program to come out to Fernley for the first event like that I can ever remember happening in our community.
- And congratulations to the Fernley Funday Sunday Food Truck event this past weekend for absolutely surpassing any reasonable expectations for attendance. Over 1,000 visitors were counted, but just from watching people come in and out all day, I would bet there were even more than that. I always find it interesting to see what excites the Fernley residents. There have been events in the past that I thought were well-publicized and had some momentum and good ideas that ended up being duds. Apparently, food trucks are something that really excite our community. Congratulations to the crew that organized that event.
Fernley Things to Do
- Fernley High School graduation: Friday, June 14th. Congratulations to the Class of 2019!
- Fire in the Sky LanternFest: Saturday, June 22nd. This is different from the past events in our community. Dan Simpson, new owner of the 95A Speedway, has made a real effort to reach out to non-profit organizations around our community to provide some great fundraising possibilities. He has also lowered the ticket price to a reasonable $45 for adults and $9.15 for kids to participate and help. This has the potential to be a huge draw for our community as a regular event that could be a big one-day economic boost for businesses.
- Fernley 4th of July: Parade, Fireworks, and of course the Fernley famous Greased Pig Contest. Come out and support this great event!
Next month, I hope to jump into more commentary about politics around Fernley and provide some more information about the big deal everyone seems to know something about but no one really fully understands: Consolidated Tax for the State of Nevada.
If you have events that you would like to be highlighted or issues you would like to see me discuss, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will never guarantee content, but I will try to cover things that I feel are important for Fernley.