The Road Ahead: An Inside Look at Fernley’s First Community Network Meeting 

Meeting room in Nevada

Community meetings are a vital part of many rural towns. They’re an opportunity for people to voice their opinions on everyday issues and work together to propose solutions.  

For the town of Fernley in Nevada, their first Rural Partners Network (RPN) Community Network meeting on February 3rd, 2024, was a milestone moment to do just that. 

The Community Network meeting convened Fernley residents, USDA Rural Development program staff, and rural representatives, including Amy Barnes from the Northern Nevada Development Authority, Christine Brandon from the Western Nevada Development District, Greg Zegas from the Nevada Clean Energy Fund, and Bridget Harris with the Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC).  

Fernley-based attendees ranged from the City Manager to local business owners, there to discuss and identify community issues and solutions. Over the course of the meeting, eight to ten different potential projects addressing unmet needs in Fernley were raised. 

“It was great to see community and essential partners come together to strengthen development,” said Sunny Brothers, RPN Community Liaison for the Fernley Community Network. 

RCAC’s Bridget Harris listened intently as local farmers described the plight of their wells drying up, forcing them to find assistance. Other Fernley residents described their love for the town, and their desire to revitalize Fernley’s main street. A key topic of discussion was how major freeways and on-ramps could play into increasing the influx of traffic in Fernley. 

“We don’t just want people to stop in Fernley,” the attendees repeated over the course of the meeting. “We want them to stay there.” 

Main Street Fernley, a group focused on the Main Street Revitalization Project, was present for the Community Network Meeting. Much of the discussion emphasized the residents’ desires to beautify the town, including sidewalks, parks, and outdoor eating spaces, but also preserve Fernley’s small-town cultural feel. 

During the Community Network meeting, Fernley residents identified the need for a citywide strategic plan, emphasizing concerns that as Fernley grew, without a clear vision for the future of the town, it would be overtaken by industry.  

Other critical and unmet needs were revealed over the course of the discussion, through key questions from RPN partners like Christine Brandon, Greg Zegas, and Amy Miller. Fernley needs mental health and other emergency services and lacks a food pantry. 

The Community Network meeting highlighted its importance as a place to organize a community’s challenges and priorities, giving residents a platform to voice their opinions. With action items structured and a list of needs, projects, and challenges, Sunny Brothers will start bringing together funding resources and connecting with federal and state agencies to jumpstart potential project ideas. 

“This is a young, vibrant community,” said Brothers. “These baby steps will come together into something bigger.” 


Community Development

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