To say that our families are essential parts of our lives, maybe a bit of an understatement. They often serve as the primary motivation for why we get out of bed and put forward a long day’s’ work in the first place. Our families matter. However, is the Elko area a good place to raise and family? Is the Elko area adequate for parenting children, growing relationally as spouses, career/personal advancement? You (the reader) may have your own opinion on this topic; however, AAT decided to talk through this question with a local family and see what they had to say. In this family, we have one member who has called Elko home for most of their life, and we have another member who has recently adopted Elko as their home. What are their thoughts? Let’s find out!
Today we’re joined by Nate and Anna Fluellen. Nate works as a project safety manager for Ames Construction, and Anna works at the Ruby Mountain Resource Center and is the newly appointed president of Elko’s Rotary Club; together, they parent their beautiful daughter Gwen. Before we talk to them about Elko family life, let’s hear about how they even became a family in the first place! Let’s start with you, Nate! “I’ve lived in Elko for about four years now; I’m originally from Texas. I served in the US Navy for close to four years, and since I’ve lived here, I’ve only worked for two companies, Coach USA and Ames. I’m currently working on our Salt Lake City Airport project; we’re building all the new runways, jet fuel lines, and sewer lines. Coming to Elko was a positive culture shock because, much like the South, the people here are very friendly and value a hard work ethic, more than I’ve seen in a lot of other communities. So now, this is home.”
Thanks for sharing, Nate! What’s your story, Anna? “I’ve lived in Elko a little over half of my life; my dad was forced transferred here from Utah with the railroads. It was interesting for me because my mom told my dad that if we hated this place after a year, we were going to move back to Utah, and here we are thirteen years later! I graduated from Elko High School and then went to college for a year, in Utah. I was one of those kids who said they would never come back to this tiny town and a year later I did and finished my associate’s degree. Nate and I met in 2015; we met in January, and we were married in July. We had been talking over the internet for about six months before he came out and met my family, and two weeks later, he moved here. We’re just some crazy kids!”
Thank you for talking with us today. So, as a family that’s working in and staying very involved in our community, what makes you excited to do all the various things you’re doing here in Elko when you could do great work anywhere else in the world! How would you answer that question, Anna? “This area has so much potential! There’s a lot of things here that can/will attract many people to our town and not just touristy things. There are people here now with ideas and fresh takes on things to where we can expand beyond just being a “mining community.” I mean, I’m glad that we have that, but this is such a wonderful place I would hate to see everything dry up if something unfortunate did happen in the industry.”
What would you say to this, Nate? “Our community really does have many potentials. The community is diversifying in a lot of ways; however, it ‘s still maintaining a lot of the positive aspects of being a small city as it gets bigger. Being a young man, I have a lot of drive to better myself, and this community actually gives you that opportunity.”
Have you given any thoughts to what your hopes and desires are for Elko going into the future, as you raise a family here? Anna? “I actually think there are a couple of things. The first being that we have this influx of population to where we no longer have an appropriate amount of reasonable childcare, and the second being having stuff for kids, between several different age ranges, to do. Growing up in Elko through my teenage years, I knew a lot of really smart kids who got into trouble simply because they were bored! I would like to see these aspects expanded on, but I know that Elko is working on this issue in a couple of different ways.”
“I kind of had the same problem where I grew up.” Added Nate. “I came from a town of about five thousand people; there were more cows than people in the area, and yet we had the highest teenage pregnancy rate in the state. It was in the very Bible-Belt region, but the kids didn’t have anything to do, so they ended up putting that complication into their lives.”
So, Nate. As someone who has come to make Elko his home over the last few years, let’s say someone comes up to you and says, “Hey, Nate. I’m looking at moving my young family to Elko, but I’m not sure about it. Would it be a healthy/positive place for my family to live, work, and grow?” What would you say to this person? “I would say it’s definitely a great place to raise a family. The community is very close-knit; when the floods happened on the Southside, many people were affected, but the community came together during that time. If you’re a hard-working, good American, you will be respected here as such. There’s a lot of positive things economically in Elko; there’s a lot of great jobs and venues to learn a new trade. It’s growing in the areas it may lack in right now, and I think it’s a stellar place to raise a family.”
Nicely put, Nate! Now, it’s your turn, Anna. As someone who has lived in Elko for most of your life, what would you say to someone if they came up to you and said, “Anna, we’ve lived in this town for a long time. I have a family, and I think we need to get out and see what else is out there. I’m not sure about staying in Elko for the long haul. What do you think?” What would you say to this person? “Well, for me, I tried to do that (leave), and I ended up right back here! We have this idea that by living in a small town you’re not going to have the ability to move up; you’re just going to be stuck doing the same thing your whole life. However, it’s not like that here. Things are expanding, and people recognize the need to see certain types of growth. If you needed things to change, we’re living in a unique opportunity to change them! I know at least ten couples who have moved away from Elko and ended up right back here.”
Thank you for your well-worded answers, Fluellen Family! Is there anything else you’d like to share before we let you go? Nate? “I’m very appreciative of this community. We plan on being here the rest of our lives, and we want to expand into being able to do more in the community. We believe that stronger families make stronger communities and stronger communities make a stronger country!”
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See you around, Elko!