Riverton Public Works Director Bill Urbigkit is shown as he made a presentation to the city council just two months before he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. To concentrate on his recovery, Urbigkit is stepping down from his city position. (Ernie Over photo)
(Riverton, Wyo.) – Nearly 24-years to the day after he first went to work for the City of Riverton, Bill Urbigkit will be “retiring” as the Public Works Director. In a mutual agreement, Urbigkit and City Administrator Steven Weaver are working out the details of his separation. Urbigkit underwent brain surgery for a tumor at the end of July and has been away from city hall in the five months since working on his recovery.
Urbigkit said he first went to work for the city on December 10th, 1989. In an interview with County10.com today, the popular city employee said he must focus on his rehabilitation, even though he wants to go back to work.
Weaver made an announcement at a city hall carry-in holiday luncheon yesterday. “I’m sure most of the city employees were a little shocked, because they hoped he could come back. He has such a wealth of knowledge, he’s done so many great things and put so much work in, this was difficult,” he said. “While Bill has to look out for his his own health and recovery, we have to look out for what’s best for the city, and his is a critical position.”
“It was time to turn the page,” Urbigkit said. “From the beginning, I’ve wanted to get back to work, but at a point and time you realize that maybe it’s somebody else’s turn. I’ve been doing it for 24 years. A lot of good people work for the city, and they’re waiting in the wings.”
Urbigkit said he and Weaver are “now working through the complexities and legal issues” surrounding his separation.
“In no way do I want this to be seen as a termination,” Weaver said, “he has to focus on getting his health back, and the city has to focus on what’s best for the city. We need to fill that position.”
Urbigkit said he made a good living working for the city and he’ll surely miss it. “I don’t plan on going away soon. These type of serious medical issues happen to people every day. My employment with the city provided me with a decent lifestyle and health coverage and the care I’ve needed now, otherwise I’d be in a world of hurt.”
Ever since the baseball sized tumor was removed, Urbigkit has been undergoing extensive radiation and chemotherapy. He’s now on a maintenance regime of chemo that started on Thursday “to make sure it doesn’t come back.” In the interim, Urbigkit said his rehabilitation has to be his main focus now.
In a way, his friends and colleagues at city hall have helped in that regard too. “They came over (on their own time) and have done remarkable things to my house so I can be here and get around and work toward being independent. Therapists come over and help me work on walking and work on my left arm. I already had a nurse and two therapists here today,” he said Friday. “If it wasn’t for them, my family at city hall and my daughters, I don’t know what I’d done.” But he already has his sights set on his next goal, that of driving his beloved four wheeler around.
“The city is like a family and every day I would go out and be among 10,000 of my best friends. A lot of them don’t have a job that they love that much,” he said. “I tried to be an asset and a help to each mayor and city administrator and we’ve done a lot of great things that I’m proud of. Riverton has always had leaders with a progressive attitude and the way they try to move the community forward.”
He said he plans on being in the audience at future city council meetings, and he said he can always watch them on TV. “I’ll stay informed and through the miracles of email, I’ll stay in touch with everybody using my iPad.”
Weaver said the city will begin looking for a new public works director after the first of the year when the position will be advertised in the region.