Newly elected council representative Dane Nealson had an idea of how city leaders could increase communication with residents.


This past Saturday morning, that idea became a reality, as the first Coffee With Council time kicked off at Nevada’s Farm Grounds coffee shop on main street.


“I think that communication is extremely important for us as council members and mayor, and this (an informal opportunity to sit down with city leaders to discuss anything one wants) will increase engagement with our community,” said Nealson, who was present at the first event with Mayor Brett Barker, as the first two city representatives to take part.


The goal, Nealson explained, is to always have a couple of council members or the mayor present, from 9-10 a.m., on at least two Saturdays a month. Even though the first event didn’t fall directly after a council meeting, Nealson said they will schedule most to be on Saturdays that directly follow Monday council meetings. The meetings are generally held on the second and fourth Mondays of each month.


Coffee With Council was a great opportunity for Nevada resident Leora Jarnagin to approach a couple of city representatives in an informal way about a subject that is near and dear to her heart — increasing awareness and action about bullying.


“At a council meeting, I’d almost feel like I was asking, ‘What are you guys going to do to help me?’” Jarnagin said. She took note of the announcement of Coffee With Council, because it was a perfect opportunity for her to make city leaders aware of what she wants to do without a formal presentation. Janagin said she downloaded a “community action tool kit” from the website, stopbullying.gov, and on the top of the list of people to talk to were “city leaders.”


“I just asked them if they were interested (in being part of the discussion or any future initiatives) about bullying,” she said. She also has a meeting coming up soon with school leaders about this issue. Jarnagin is parenting an autistic son, who has been bullied. Nealson and Barker found it to be a very worthwhile conversation.


“It’s something we should be talking about,” Barker said. He shared that bullying has always been an issue in communities, going back to when he was a kid, too. He was bullied, especially on long bus rides to and from school, for being quiet and overly academic. “As elected officials, we have a platform to support things like this,” Barker added.


All three, Barker, Nealson and Jarnagin, said the issue of bullying has a lot to do with the lessons that are (or maybe aren’t) being taught by parents in homes. “It takes every person in town looking in the mirror and saying, ‘What can I do better?,’” Nealson said.


Coffee With Council was a great place to start a discussion with Jarnagin, and city leaders hope that by offering the opportunity, it will be a place where those who can’t always make it to a Monday evening council meeting will feel comfortable coming if they have a need to talk about something having to do with the city.


Nealson said council representatives will rotate on being present for coffee, and eventually, they may reach out to other businesses to host it. For now, watch social media for the announcement of the next Coffee With Council, and whether you want to just say “hi,” discuss one of the city’s ordinances or an some issue you are having that involves the city, this will be an casual setting in which to have your voice be heard.