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Urbigkit's death a great loss to city, and insensitive remark hurts

Apr 18, 2014 - Ron Warpness, Mayor, Riverton

Editor:

The passing of Bill Urbigkit, a good friend and loyal employee, makes this one of the hardest letters I will write in my tenure as mayor.

Mr. Peck's recent editorial in The Ranger describing the paper's interaction over the years with Bill, past public works director, was just excellent. Thank you, Steve.

With that as introduction I would like to make the following comments: Bill was a valuable and loyal employee in a very critical position in the city. When it became apparent due to Bill's physical condition that he was not going to be able to perform his required duties, the city had to move forward and fill that position with a staff member as acting director.

At no time did we take off the table the possibility of a miracle recovery for Bill and, if that had happened Bill would have stepped back into that position -- much to the relief of the city.

All of this came at a time when Bill, his family and those of us who knew, loved and worked very closely with him were most vulnerable. It was in this time of a whirlwind of emotion that I read a rumor posted at an online site stating that "it was too bad the city fired Bill from his job."

I don't have the skill or vocabulary to express how deeply I was offended by that off-hand and ignorant remark, and the hurt that it may have caused to those of us that had to deal with this situation from a human resources standpoint.

Out of respect for Bill, his family and those of us that had to get through this terrible and unfortunate situation, while dealing with confidentiality and legal issues, I can assure you that Bill was not "fired from his job." For a person to even suggest such a thing only serves to demonstrate the level of ignorance as well as insensitivity some people are willing to put on display.

Those of us who worked with Bill and knew of the valuable job that he performed would give anything to have him back. Unfortunately, that was not to be or within our power.

I can only hope and pray that his family is receiving God's healing grace. I can tell you the staff is still hurting over this great loss to the city.

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