First Lady Carol Mead touted parental involvement in opening Riverton’s new Child Development Center

Lori Morrow cut the ribbon at the Grand Opening as Wyoming’s First Lady Carol Mead, Riverton Mayor Ron Warpness and Wyoming Senate President Jim Anderson assisted. To the right of Morrow is Riverton Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jim Davis. (Ernie Over photo)

By Ernie Over, managing editor, county10.com

(Riverton, Wyo.) – Wyoming First Lady Carol Mead said Tuesday the importance of parental involvement in raising children “cannot be overstated.” Mead spoke at the grand opening of the new Child Development Services Center building in Riverton, along with Wyoming State Senate President Jim Anderson of Glenrock and Riverton Mayor Ron Warpness. “I cannot say enough that the services you provide are essential for the betterment of children,” Mead said before a ribbon cutting ceremony. “Children are our greatest asset and to the extent that we can, we are securing the future of Wyoming, the country and the world here.”

Referring to a starfish balloon that would be released as the building was opened, Mead recalled the story of starfish stranded on a beach that needed a helping hand to return to the ocean where they could thrive. “That is a truly inspiring story and Child Development Services is much like that starfish with caring and capable individuals serving the youngest and most vulnerable among us,” she said.

Wyoming First Lady Carol Mead said she had made children’s issues her focus of service to the state. (Ernie Over photo)

Anderson said early childhood development is an important investment in the state. “What in this world has greater value than a child?” he asked rhetorically. Noting his 12 years as a second grade teacher, Anderson said he knew “the value of a good start, and here we add value to our children.”  The Senate President said the educational system begins at the beginning to produce lifelong learners, “and the success of children to become successful citizens hinges on parental engagement. We cannot point our finger at teachers, or school board members, it is all of our responsibility,” he said. “Parents, we need your help. You become important partners in educating childre,  you are a significant and important part of that process.” Anderson said the challenge is to maintain and sustain programs such as CDS “to put children on the path to success.” He noted that budgetary concerns are resulting in cutbacks in state government funding, but he urged the crowd in attendance to step up to the plate. “Become involved and state your case,” he urged.

Riverton Mayor Ron Warpness recalled that the new facility was replacing a vacant lot with a burned out metal building standing on it. “This is a great opportunity to celebrate a heartfelt new addition to our community with a fantastic modern facility,” he said. In a rare show of emotion, Warpness recalled his long career working with the families of  children with developmental delays or whose children were blind or physically handicapped. “At that time we met mostly in church basements across the state and there were few college trained staff or equipment, unlike the professional staff that we have now,” he said. “This is a great thing and I’m proud to be here representing the city.”

Wyoming Senate President Jim Anderson, a former school teacher, spoke emphatically about the parental role in developing lifelong learners. (Ernie Over photo)

CDS Executive Director Lori Morrow recounted the nearly decade-long effort that resulted in the new building and expansion of services in Riverton. She thanked all who were responsible and who worked on the project.

A large crowd of supporters and clients gathered at the new CDS facility for the ribbon cutting Tuesday evening. (Ernie Over photo)

Mayor Ron Warpness and First Lady Carol Mead shared a story and a laugh before the ribbon cutting ceremony Tuesday evening (Ernie Over photo)