DAYTON -- While it successfully maintains the five current commissioner's seats, one geographically divergent district is raising some questions regarding Lyon County's recently adopted reapportionment plan.
Citing the widespread District 3, Dayton residents have argued the plan is not to their best interests or representative of the community's wishes. Commissioners have countered it was the fairest choice.
Redrawing political boundaries is never an easy process, but significantly greater growth in the northern portions of Lyon County during the past 10 years made the task of trying to satisfy everyone's concerns while dividing 2,000 square miles into five equally populated commissioner districts even more contentious.
More than 70 percent of the county's population resides in the Dayton, Silver Springs and Fernley areas. Smith Valley and Mason Valley to the south comprise the remaining 28 percent.
Saying the plan doesn't properly represent the county's population trends, residents of Fernley, Dayton, Silver Springs and Stagecoach expressed strong opposition to the board's choice over other possible choices. The commissioners, however, supported it with a 4-1 vote, Commissioner LeRoy Goodman voting in opposition.
The plan, known as Option B, resulted in District 3, represented by Commissioner David Fulstone stretching from Yerington's west side to a small section of central Dayton.
Prior to the 2002 reapportionment, all of Dayton was in District 1 (Commissioner Bob Milz). Due to its recent growth, regardless of which reapportionment plan was eventually selected, a portion of the town had to be placed into another district.
However, opponents are asking if the placing of sections of Dayton, beginning at the intersection of Highway 50 and Dayton Valley Road, in the same district as a portion of Yerington was necessary.
Residents living in a small sliver to the east of the Dayton stoplight, between Highway 50 and the Carson River, are in District 3. The district line crosses to the north of Highway 50 at Occidental Drive to also include those living east of a zigzagging boundary along Yellow Jacket, River and Ring Roads and Six Mile Canyon Road.
At 10-mile Hill, District 3 again crosses Highway 50 and continues along the south of Highway 50, east to the Ramsey/Weeks Cutoff. It follows Highway 95A to Seventh Street, to Angel Street to Eighth Street in a general line, then follows the shoreline of Lake Lahontan.
Traversing a sparsely populated area along the Churchill County border, through the Walker River Indian Reservation to the Walker River, it follows Highway 95A East to Highway 208 (Main Street, Yerington) south to Mason Road.
This places the portion of Yerington north of Mason Road, between Main Street and Highway 339 and north of Campbell Lane, within the same district as Dayton.
Because Option B was selected before county staff had time to apply state-mandated numbers, the map approved by county commissioners on Dec. 20 was a general drawing of districts based on estimated population figures. That map showed most of Dayton west of the Smith's Market area remaining in District 1.
However, when official boundaries were drawn to coincide with census block information, the official map approved on Jan. 3 reflected significant changes in Dayton. It also resulted in moving the east/west boundary line in Silver Springs farther south, from Fifth Street to Eighth Street.
The Census Bureau defines a census block as:
A "statistical area bounded on all sides by visible features such as streets, roads, streams and railroad tracks, and by invisible boundaries such as city, town, township, can county limits, and short imaginary extensions of streets and roads. Generally, census blocks are small in area. However, census blocks in remote areas may be large and irregular and contain hundreds of square miles."
The Legislative Counsel Bureau has a public redistricting workstation set up for use by the counties for redistricting and precinct boundary work, including census block boundaries for Lyon County.
Scott Wasserman, with the Legislative Council Bureau Research Division, on Thursday said there is no state mandate counties must follow census block lines, but "It is impractical for them (county officials) not to follow them. They need census population numbers and the only way they can do it is to follow the census block lines."
Once Option B was selected, it became more practical to include the "sliver" of central Dayton in District 3. County officials have indicated a very large census block north of Highway 50 made it unfeasible to, in its place, include more of that area. Even with the adjustment, Dayton's District 1 remains the largest populated district in the county.
All districts must contain (within 5 percent) one-fifth of the county's official 2000 census population of 34,500. The commissioners considered at least nine different reapportionment options before settling on Option B. The board opposed several options because they would have created an open commissioner seat, eliminating one current board member. An option of placing an area of Dayton south of the Carson River into a district with Smith Valley was vetoed when opposed by local residents. Option B keeps all seats intact.
Commissioners must reside within their district, but are elected by an at-large vote of the entire county. The changes will be in effect for the upcoming election season.
LYON COUNTY COMMISSIONER DISTRICTS BY POPULATION
District 1 -- Commissioner Bob Milz -- 7,144 Dayton, Mound House, Silver City
District 2 -- Commissioner Chet Hillyard -- 6,907 Silver Springs, Stagecoach, Fernley
District 3 -- Commissioner David Fulstone -- 6,916 Yerington, Silver Springs, Stagecoach, Dayton
District 4 -- Commissioner LeRoy Goodman -- 6,712 Fernley
District 5 -- Commissioner Phyllis Hunewill -- 6,822 Smith Valley, Yerington