(Riverton, Wyo.) – It’s one of those secrets that everyone in town seems to know about, but it will be made official tonight when Riverton Ward I City Councilman Eric Heiser publically announces his resignation. He has already resigned from his faculty position at Central Wyoming College. Heiser told his colleagues at City Hall about his upcoming move several meetings ago during a city council executive session on personnel.
Heiser has accepted a position as Associate Dean in the School of Applied Technology and Professional Development at the Salt Lake Community College (SLCC) in Utah. The third largest community college system in the country, SLCC has 11 campuses in and around Utah’s Capitol on the Wasatch Front.
“It will be a little bit of a culture shock to move from a college of 1,500 students to one that has 67,000 students,” Heiser told County10.com. “ Heiser said he will call the South City campus on State Street his home base and from there he will manage programs there and at two other campuses.
“I was seeking to move up and this opportunity presented itself; I applied and was accepted,” he said.
For Heiser, the move will be bittersweet. A Riverton native and a 2000 grad of RHS, Heiser said he will miss his home town, and his home state, “but I’ll always be a Cowboy.”
Heiser said he plans to take a Wyoming brown and gold flag with him to post outside of his rental home in Salt Lake, right across the street from a neighbor flying a red and white Utah Utes banner. “Wyoming will always be home to me, it never leaves you.”
Riverton City Council
Heiser was appointed to the city council in April of 2005 to fill a vacancy and won his next two elections running unopposed. He’s spent nearly 9 years on the council and serves on its Finance Committee and is one of two council appointees on the School District #25 Recreation Board. Heiser was already on that board when he was appointed the council, and he’s served that board as a vice chairman for the last eight or nine years. He also served on the National League of Cities’ and on the Wyoming Association of Municipalities’ respective Community and Economic Development Steering Committees.
“I’m glad to see the Job Corps getting started. We fought hard for that and now it is underway. I feel bad that I won’t be here to see it finished,” he said. Among the council’s accomplishments during his nine years, Heiser pointed to the partnership the city has established with CWC and “R” Recreation to run the city’s recreational programming. “I ran on a platform of recreation for kids and R Recreation is a great thing for the community’s kids to be active.” While he is pleased that program came into being, he said his biggest regret on the council was not getting a city recreation center built. “Something like that you can’t get accomplished without broad-based community support and it’s not that residents here don’t agree with recreation, but they are always suspicious of taxes.”
A proposal to build a city recreation center in collaboration with the college failed in a landslide when put to the voters four years ago.
At the same time, Heiser said he was very pleased that the optional one-cent tax for city infrastructure passed. “I can’t believe it got through, but I believe it will be long lived after people see what the extra dollars are doing. No one likes to be taxed, but when they see the benefits, so long as the city continues to publicize where the dollars are going, I see the tax being renewed time and time again like it is in Casper.”
Heiser said he wasn’t perfect as a council member, “I made some mistakes, but I learned from those and didn’t repeat them,” he said. “I’ve learned and grown a lot on the council, it’s not an easy job.”
“When I got in, I was thinking I could change the world, but you get in and discover that’s there’s very little you can do to effect major change, so you have to concentrate on what you can do.”
He said his most interesting time on the council was during the mayoral term of John Vincent. “When I look back on that, the ability of the council to get things done for the betterment of the community even though we did not see eye-to-eye on everything is something I’ll always remember,” he said.
Heiser’s career began in high school
Heiser started working in local radio when he was a junior in high school and continued that work through his college years, becoming the sports director at KTRZ radio and doing Fremont County high school play-by-play. Heiser has also spent 17 years officiating prep football and basketball games around the state, something he said he will continue in Utah.
He obtained his Associate of Science degree at CWC in Business Education and his bachelors and masters degrees from the University of Wyoming in Adult and Post Secondary Education. He is on the cusp of earning his PhD. in Higher Education Leadership from Colorado State University. “I’m a PhD.-ABD,” he said, saying the ABD refers to All But Defending his thesis, which he will do in the spring of 2014.
Heiser jointed the CWC staff in October of 2005 doing workforce training and he became a faculty member as an Assistant Professor in 2008 teaching entrepreneurship, criminal justice and homeland security courses. He also became the Director of CWC’s Rural Justice Training Center in 2011.
“My varied background really helped me land the job in Utah, and SLCC has a law enforcement training program through the RJTC as well, and my experience here was a big plus.”
Heiser credited the college for his upward mobility. “I would not have been marketable if not for all the opportunities presented to me here at CWC. I have them to thank for being a place where opportunity exists,” he said.
Heiser said he would be moving his family to Utah on the 19th of December. He and his wife Amy have a two-year-old daughter, Sophie.