Outgoing Mayor Gard thanks community for ‘the blessings of working for his fellow citizens’

More local community members expressed their appreciation for outgoing Riverton Mayor Richard Gard this week during a regular meeting of the Riverton City Council.

The agenda for the Tuesday meeting included an official opportunity to recognize Gard, who was elected in 2018 after a successful write-in campaign.

“Some people put their name in to lead, and some people are asked to lead,” Councilmember Kristy Salisbury said to Gard this week. “You were asked by many citizens to lead us because you’re a man of integrity. You make decisions. You’re true to your word. People can count on you. And I appreciate all the time and work you put in to make Riverton better.”

Advertisement

Economic development

One area of focus for Gard during his time as mayor has been economic development – a priority that did not go unnoticed by Riverton’s economic development arm, IDEA Inc.

The organization has been in existence for decades, through multiple mayorships, and over that time, board member Alan Moore said members of the group have come to learn that “in any administration, the tone is set by the people at the top.”

“In this case, the tone, I think, for the City of Riverton, with regards to economic development, has been set by Mayor Gard,” Moore said. “He has shown a presence that I think is pretty amazing. Because when you go to most any event that is public or semi-public, you will find Mayor Gard there. He will be talking to people, and he will be taking the pulse of the community – and when he can, he reduces friction and eliminates wasted motion.”

Gard has also worked to support commercial air service at Central Wyoming Regional Airport during his time as mayor, city administrator Kyle Butterfield said, recalling his “favorite Rich Gard story,” which took place during an air service meeting in Lander about four years ago.

Advertisement

Gard had offered to attend the meeting, Butterfield said – but what the new mayor didn’t know was that Butterfield’s baby daughter would be there as well.

“(My wife) was taking the Cub Scouts swimming and felt that it was a bad idea to take our brand-new baby to the swimming pool and still try to watch our 1.5-year-old daughter,” Butterfield explained. “So I said … ‘I’ll bring (the baby) to the Lander City Council meeting. It’ll be fine.”

Unfortunately, Butterfield said, “it wasn’t fine.”

Advertisement

“As soon as I stood up to speak to the Lander City Council, (the baby) started screaming,” Butterfield said. “And I’ll tell you what Rich Gard did. He took my baby and soothed her. … He took her in the back room and took care of (her) while I was begging and pleading for money from the Lander City Council.

“That’s who Rich Gard is,” Butterfield said, choking up as he told the story. “He stood in and took care of my daughter. And he’s taking care of the city of Riverton.”

COVID-19

It would be “impossible” to highlight all of Gard’s accomplishments over the past four years, Butterfield said, but he did take moment to note that, early in Gard’s term, “the world turned upside down” due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and even though “nobody knew how to deal with” the virus, “Mayor Gard … went to work.”

Advertisement

“He was kind to people, but he went to work and responded,” Butterfield said. “Riverton didn’t close. We all came into work. He worked hard to make sure that businesses didn’t close, and I think that’s a highlight.”

When it was his turn to speak, Gard focused on more recent opportunities he has had to serve the community – like participating in Central Wyoming College basketball competitions and attending an event for a Special Olympics athlete who is heading to Germany this summer to “carry the torch for the games.”

He referred to those kinds of occasions as “the rewards that you get when you’re the mayor.”

“A mayor doesn’t get paid monetarily – he gets paid through the blessings of working for his fellow citizens,” he said. “You get invited to participate in things that are only uplifting in every way. …

“(I) thank the community from the bottom of my heart for the opportunity,” he concluded. “I really did appreciate it, and I will continue to do my very best to help.”

Advertisement

Related Posts

Have a news tip or an awesome photo to share?