Move Over Vegas, Here Comes Fernley

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Clark County's growth supremacy is no more.
Census figures for 2004-2005 show that three of the nation's Top
10 fastest growing counties are in rural Nevada.
Lyon County, paced by rapid growth in Fernley, was third fastest
growing in the country. It's the fourth year in a row that Lyon has
led all counties in Nevada.
Also making the Top 10 in census figures released last week were
Storey and Nye counties, all with growth rates of 7 percent or
More than six of every 10 new Lyon County residents between July
2004 and July 2005 moved into Fernley, according to estimates by
State Demographer Jeff Hardcastle.
Fernley has grown by 4.3 percent or more each year going back to
1996, Hardcastle told the Reno Gazette-Journal. He said Fernley
used to grow because it was a bedroom community to Reno. Now its
growth is because of industrial parks being developed in Fernley
and in Storey County.
Fernley Mayor David Stix Jr. said evidence of Fernley's booming
population includes more retail development and projects by the
Nevada Department of Transportation to deal with increased traffic.
NDOT is building a traffic roundabout in Fernley and is widening
U.S. 50 Alternate.
"I grew up here," Stix said. "It used to be you could pull up
onto virtually any road without looking. But those days are over."
Dick Jackson operates the Fernley insurance business his father
started during World War II on Fernley's main street. As little as
a few years ago, the traffic on the street was calm during the
middle of the day, Jackson said. "Now they're backed up in the
middle of the day as far as you can see."
Traffic also is backed up onto Interstate 80 as far as a mile in
late afternoon and early evening as workers return home, Jackson
The sleepy farm town where he used to harvest hay as a boy has
turned into a driver's nightmare as it takes as much as 25 minutes
to drive two miles across town through all the traffic, he said.
Jackson said he sees two types of newcomer walk in to buy
insurance. The young families are one type. "They're 27-year-old
married couples with two kids, two jobs and two jet skis," he
said. They're attracted to Fernley because housing prices are too
high in the Truckee Meadows."
The others are older couples, usually from California, age 51 to
65, whose youngest child probably is in college. They sold their
home for a million dollars or close to it.
"They can come to Fernley and buy a bigger, nicer house for
$300,000 or $400,000," Jackson said.