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Riverton's new public services director starts work July 14

Jul 2, 2014 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

Kyle Butterfield will start work as Riverton's new public services director on July 14.

He was the only finalist for the spot, which was vacated last year by the late Bill Urbigkit.

Urbigkit left the job in July 2013 to seek medical help for a brain tumor. He suffered a stroke during surgery for removal of the tumor and died in April during his recovery process. He had served the city for almost a quarter-century.

"A lot of department heads and other staff had to step it up," city administrator Steven Weaver said of the past year without a public services director. "It's been a long time."

He commended utility division manager Dawn Wilhelm, who filled the director role in the interim, and airport division manager Paul Griffin, who took on more responsibility at Riverton Regional Airport after Urbigkit left.

"Bill was really experienced in airports quite a bit," Weaver said. "He provided a lot of oversight and direction for that."

Utah experience

Butterfield has limited experience with airport operations, but Weaver said the new hire will bring plenty of technical knowledge to Riverton. When he applied for the job, Butterfield was the public works inspector in Cottonwood Heights, Utah, a city of about 35,000 people. He worked there for four years after spending five years employed in West Valley City, Utah.

He also earned a master's degree in public administration from the University of Utah in 2012.

"I wasn't expecting that," Weaver said. "We weren't even requiring that. But I think that will be beneficial."

In particular, Weaver said Butterfield knows how to analyze local roadways in order to prioritize needed repairs.

"They've had plans where he came from for lining out streets that need to be done," Weaver said.

"We've never really had a plan --we've come up with lists of streets that need to be worked on, but they actually have a scientific way of determining all these types of information."

Butterfield's methods will be helpful in deciding how and when to spend optional 1 percent sales tax funds, Weaver said. The city has pledged to use the money for infrastructure projects.

Learning curve

Despite his credentials, Butterfield still will have a lot to learn when he starts work at City Hall this month. Weaver said Butterfield's previous jobs were in larger communities in the Salt Lake City metropolitan area, where many services are provided by private companies or shared among neighboring towns.

"Here we don't have that option, (so) it is going to be a different experience that way," Weaver said. "But I think he'll catch on rather quickly. ... He's got the skills to accomplish that."

Public role

Butterfield also will have to learn to handle public complaints regarding local utilities and infrastructure.

"Those are the skills you have to develop through the years," Weaver said. "You can take a negative approach to be it and be cranky back, or you can listen and talk them through it."

He believes Butterfield will be approachable but firm when dealing with residents.

"He is confident in his abilities," Weaver said.

Some members of the citizen panel that interviewed Butterfield wondered if the young candidate would be able to stand up to older contractors who have worked in the area for decades. Weaver said those concerns were addressed during Butterfield's visit.

"They felt he had that ability ... to speak and be understood," Weaver said.

Selection process

The search for Riverton's new public services director drew about 25 applications. The list was pared to 10 people, then four. Weaver said two of the finalists withdrew, and another dropped out after accepting a job elsewhere.

Butterfield, the lone candidate, was interviewed by two different panels of city staff and department directors. Weaver sat with Butterfield privately, and the candidate was given a written exercise as well as a tour of public works projects in Riverton.

A few days later, Weaver offered Butterfield the job, contingent on a background check, which took several weeks to complete. Weaver said the Riverton City Council approved the hire June 17.

Since then, Weaver said Butterfield has visited Riverton looking for a place to live. The new public services director plans to move to town sometime next week so he has a chance to get settled in before starting work mid-July.

"He's going to try to rent for about six months, (but) his ultimate goal is to buy a place," Weaver said. "He was real excited to be here."

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