Apr 18, 2014 - By Alejandra Silva, Staff WriterRiverton's mayor and city council gave appreciative and heartfelt farewells to three retiring city employees on April 1.
Gold watches were presented to former council member Lars Baker, retiring streets and alleys supervisor Paul Throckmartin and former public services director Bill Urbigkit who left in July to seek medical help for a brain tumor. Urbigkit died April 4.
Mayor Ron Warpness first praised Baker for his work on the council. Baker was appointed to a vacant seat in 2006, and Warpness said Baker would provide him with lengthy responses when he sent out inquiries or notes to staff and council members on an issue.
"From Lars, I would get two pages, (and) I really appreciated that," Warpness said. "He took serious his council duties ... I'm optimistic that he will choose to run again."
Baker retired from the Fremont County Weed and Pest District at the end of 2013 and had to remove himself from the council seat because of the state retirement system required him to do so. He served a required 30-day separation from the council, and then submitted his name for reappointment. In the end, the council selected Martin Cannan to represent Ward 3.
"I learned a lot about how the city works," Baker said after accepting the watch. Warpness told Baker he would miss the mosquito reports Baker would often give during a council meeting.
"I'll phone them in," Baker responded.
Throckmartin served the City of Riverton an exact 37 years and eight months were counted before retiring. Acting public services director Dawn Willhelm informed the attending public that Throckmartin worked in every department with the city's public services department.
She said he started as a sanitation driver; Throckmartin called it "dumping barrels," which were actually 55-pound steel drums. Before retiring, he was the lands division manager for the city.
"I want to thank the good people I've worked for through the years and all the good people that's worked with me," he said. "It's been a nice ride, but it's time to get off the horse."
"This next one is probably going to be the toughest," Warpness said before his presentation of Urbigkit's watch. He paused breifly.
"Don't worry, it's tough for us too," said Urbigkit's daughter Nicci Urbigkit who was accompanied by Urbigkit's niece Dani Cooper.
Urbigkit filled several positions with the city, Warpness said, and a final agreement to his contract was dated for Feb. 28. But a brain tumor forced Urbigkit to leave his position early to undergo surgery.
"We really appreciated his dedication to his job," Warpness said, adding that Urbigkit's work was always in the best interest of the city.
Nicci Urbigkit added that her father loved working for the city and the community. Administrative services director Courtney Bohlender said city staff misses him "terribly."
"I told his daughters there's not a day that goes by that we don't hear his name around the office," she said. "It's as common as the word 'and.'"
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