Residents vote to make Fernley an incorporated city

FERNLEY - Voters gave Fernley the go-ahead Tuesday to become an incorporated city.

Fernley will become Nevada's 19th incorporated city July 1 following victory of Question 14, where 55.5 percent of Fernley voters approved making the unincorporated town a full-fledged city.

Fernley will be only the second incorporated city in Lyon County and the first new city in Nevada since West Wendover incorporated in 1999. With its population somewhere around 10,000, Fernley from day one will be a medium-sized city.

"I think Fernley's a little bigger than Fallon and a little smaller than Elko," said Tom Grady, executive director of the Nevada League of Cities. "They'll be right in the middle."

Fernley needed three tries to become a city but this latest effort came following the arrival of huge manufacturing plants at Nevada Pacific Industrial Park. The assessed valuation in Fernley has soared from $91 million to $212 million since 1995.

Frank Luke, a committee member for the previous incorporation effort in 1997, wanted to share the news with fellow committee member Jim White, who died a year ago. Luke visited White's grave Wednesday morning.

"I promised I would let him know," Luke said. "It's just something I felt I had to do."

Luke said the 1997 committee's petition drive fell 300 signatures short in the initial phase. But much of the groundwork done by that committee was resurrected for this try.

For the third charge to cityhood, Debra Brazell took the lead and chaired the Fernley Incorporation Committee. She is president of HydroTech, a Fernley company that rehabilitates pipelines in Nevada, Oregon and California.

"I love the rural life," Brazell said. "I knew if we didn't get better control directly, we'd lose it."

She foresees the immediate goal of the new city to be maintaining the country charm while allowing growth. Brazell said she has not thought about running for mayor or city council.

"I know of several very good people that are looking at running," she said, not naming any of them. "There was a concern we would have the same people we have now on the town board."

Lyon County commissioners must set a special election for a mayor and city council between 60 and 120 days following the Tuesday election. Commission Chairman LeRoy predicts the election will come in February but it could be as soon as Jan. 7.

Once a council is installed, the members will have until July 1 to negotiate agreements with Lyon County to determine which services the city or county would supply.

Voters cast 1,588 votes (55.5 percent) in favor of incorporation and 1,271 votes (44.5 percent) against.

"I think it's good for Fernley," said Goodman, a long-time Fernley resident who said he won't run for city council since he just won a new term on the county commission. "I was proactive in the campaign. Fernley has the tax base and is getting too big for the county to administer."

Brazell and her committee and sub-committees presented a high-profile campaign for incorporation. For months, roadside signs have proclaimed: "Secure Fernley's Future" and "Local People Making Local Decisions." Then they set up a sequence of flashing red signs reading "Keep Your Dollars at Home," "Guide Our Growth," "It's Good for Fernley" and "Vote Yes on No. 14, Incorporation."

The flashing signs were changed Wednesday morning to read: "Welcome to the newest little city in the West: Fernley, Nevada, USA."


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