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CWC board to choose candidate Wednesday

Feb 20, 2013 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

The Central Wyoming College Board of Trustees will select one of seven candidates Wednesday night to fill an open Subdistrict 2 seat representing Riverton and Shoshoni.

The position was vacated last month by Judy Pedersen, who resigned after being elected in November 2012 to four more years on the board. Her replacement will fill the spot through November 2014, when an election will determine who serves out the rest of the term.

Phil Christopherson

Riverton's economic development director Phil Christopherson said he always includes CWC in tours of the city. He called the college a "marvelous institution" and an "incredible resource" to the community.

"I have worked closely with CWC in the past on various economic development projects and will bring the unique perspective of an economic developer to the board," Christopherson wrote in his letter of interest.

He recently completed his second term as president of the Wyoming Economic Development Association, and in 2010 Gov. Matt Mead appointed Christopherson as a board member on the Wyoming Workforce Development Council. He also has served on the board of directors for the Wyoming Business Alliance since 2007.

"I have served on numerous boards in the past and understand and support the need to be unbiased, fair-minded and a team player," Christopherson wrote.

Locally, he has managed several economic development projects, including the creation of the Brunton Outdoor Group building in Riverton and the construction of the BTI Railcar Repair facility in Shoshoni, as well as the rebuild and renovation of the IDEA building that now houses Legacy Moulding and a Bealls department store in Riverton.

The Wyoming native attended Natrona County High School in Casper, graduating in 1979. He grew up working for his family trucking business, PC Transport. Christopherson attended Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho, and Casper College and graduated with an associate degree in business administration before moving to the University of Wyoming to study computer engineering. He graduated from UW with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering in 1987.

Christopherson spent 11 years working for the Boeing Company in Seattle before deciding to move back to Wyoming. In 2000 he took a position as a field engineer with the UW Manufacturing Extension in Riverton, where he continues to work in partnership with IDEA Inc. He has been IDEA's executive director since 2004, and in 2006 he earned a master's degree in business from UW.

Robert Heuermann

Robert Heuermann of Riverton has been associated with education throughout his 40-year career. He spent 20 years as a music educator with an emphasis on arts administration before becoming an insurance agent specializing in retirement planning for educators. Now retired, he serves as a coordinator in Wyoming for the American Association of Retired Persons Driver Safety Program and as Riverton's chief service officer for volunteerism.

"I am confident that my background and training, my strong commitment to lifelong learning, and my unswerving belief in the vital role of the community college in our society would enable me to be an asset to the CWC board," Heuermann wrote in his letter of interest. "I am aware of nothing which would impede my service in a fair and impartial manner."

The retired U.S. Marine Corps sergeant went to high school in Cody and earned his associate degree at Northwest Community College in Powell. He earned his bachelor's degree in music education and his master's degree in secondary education from the University of Wyoming but also has studied at Denver University, Northwestern University and at the University of Northern Colorado. He said he believes in contributing, as able, toward the betterment of society and said he is "dedicated to the pursuit of excellence."

Jack Hildner

As a medical instructor and former assistant professor, Jack Hildner of Riverton said he will be able to contribute to discussion about CWC's curriculum, staff and business if he is chosen to sit on the board.

"Maintaining creativity (and) remaining technologically astute in the development of a current and progressive curriculum I believe to be paramount to meeting the needs of all students," he wrote in his letter to the board.

He also is a certified state and college football official and said athletics are a beneficial part of campus life.

"Sports draw students, teach commitment, and discipline, strengthen their ability to handle challenges, and serve as an accepted form of physical and mental outlet for young adults," Hildner wrote.

He named his employer as Canyon Properties and said he currently runs businesses that require political involvement as well as sound business sense.

"I have numerous years of experience in hiring, supervising employees, overseeing accounting practices, and reviewing constant changes of the federal, state and local laws regarding businesses," he wrote.

He was born in Michigan and attended schools there, earning his medical technology certificate at Western Michigan University and his radiologic technology certificate at St. Joseph Hospital in Flint, Mich., where he also served as an emergency medical technician. He was an administrator at the Industrial Medical Center in Flint, Mich., for six years, then earned his Bachelor of Health Science degree at the University of Kentucky School of Allied Health. For four years he was an assistant professor and coordinator for the university's training program for physician's assistants in the school of allied health, and he was an instructor at the UK college of medicine during the same time period. He worked as an instructor at the Lexington Technical Institute from 1974 to 1978.

He has served as a school board member and chamber of commerce member in Michigan and was a registered lobbyist in Kentucky.

His time in Riverton includes almost 30 years as a physician's assistant at Fremont Radiology, where he still works. Before that, he was at Western Radiology in Lander from 1978 to 1984. He has been chairman of the advisory council to the Wyoming Board of Medicine for the past 12 years, and he was a member of the board of directors for Child Development Services of Fremont County for 12 years, including four years as chairman.

John W. Mercer Jr.

John W. Mercer Jr. of Riverton is a board certified obstetrician/gynecologist, but he said he originally wanted to be a teacher.

"I have always had a love of education," he wrote to the board. "As a citizen of Riverton I'm proud of the educational opportunities offered by CWC and feel it's my responsibility to offer my time and experience to its continued success."

He said he is particularly interested in being involved with the construction of the Health/Science Center that is expected to be completed this summer at CWC.

Born in Louisiana, Mercer earned his bachelor's degree from Louisiana State University in 1993 and became a doctor of medicine in 1997 through LSU, where he also completed his residency.

He served the U.S. Navy from 1982 to 1988, then spent time as a wilderness instructor and a bicycle mechanic before returning to LSU to be a research assistant. In 2001, he became medical director for a perinatal transport service, entered private practice in Shreveport, La., and became a clinical instructor at LSU. He moved his practice to Monroe, La., in 2004, then moved to Riverton in 2008 to be the medical director at Rendezvous Medical.

He became chief of the Riverton Memorial Hospital surgical department in 2009, and in 2010 he moved to his current position as chief of the RMH department of obstetrics/gynecology and pediatrics. He has been on the board of directors for RMH since 2010 as well, and in 2011 he started working as the medical director for Family Planning of Fremont County.

"I continue to provide educational opportunities here to residents and to nursing students," Mercer wrote, adding that his background in private practice taught him to handle fiscal and administrative issues that can confront any business.