Feb 6, 2012 - By Emily Etheredge Staff WriterImagine growing up in an area where each street corner has a memory -- the tree you climbed as a kid, the spot where you cheered against the high school rival, the restaurant where you took your first date, the home you bought, the children you raised, the community that helped mold you.
Riverton For Mayor Ron Warpness, living in Riverton for 69 years and watching the various seasons of life helped shape his first year as the city's mayor.
"I would have never thought I would have become the mayor over a town that helped raise me, but I have been privileged to have the opportunity and could not be more thankful," said Warpness.
He recalls his family coming to town after his grandparents left Kansas during the Dust Bowl in 1937.
"My grandparents came along with my mother and six kids," he said. "We showed up in this town with six kids and $60. Riverton has always been very good to us."
On Jan. 4, 2011, Warpness was sworn into office, and while he reflects on the past year, he looks ahead to the new one and what he hopes to accomplish in 2012.
"I think one thing I learned my first year is people think I am the mayor, so I am supposed to know all things and be able to do all things, and this is just categorically untrue," he said.
One of the biggest surprises during the first year came when former city administrator Carter Napier decided to step down from his position.
"One of the reasons I felt comfortable running for this office was that I didn't have to know everything, so when he stepped down it was a little like being thrown to the deep end of the swimming pool," he said.
"I was just a man off of the street and had some life experiences from dealing with people, but I definitely had a lot to learn."
Although that particular surprise came fairly soon after being sworn in, Warpness found his groove and was able to usher in the new city administrator, Steven Weaver. Warpness said is doing a "wonderful job" for the city.
"Last year was definitely a growth experience for me," he said. "There are a lot of people out there who will ask me a question and get mad when I don't have an answer. That level of expectation from people on issues I need to research sometimes has been hard. I have tried to remember the old adage of 'to analyze is to paralyze.' I try to remember that when my tendency is to think long and hard on something."
For the mayor, highlights of 2011 included being sworn in and approving the new Christmas lights on Main Street.
"I loved seeing the lights during the Christmas season, and I think it was simply beautiful for Main Street," he said. "It was a project we had waited for six years to make it happen, so seeing them lit up was a really neat experience."
Goals for 2012
The mayor said 2011 was a learning year, and he will have a better grasp on issues that might come up in 2012, which will help him to continue learning.
Warpness said his goals for the 2012 year include having the Wind River Job Corps Center come to fruition, passing the 1 percent optional sales tax, and working on a better relationship with the other council members.
"Wyoming currently is the only state that does not have a Job Corps, and we have $3 to $5 million invested in the project with energy companies that want to hire people that will come out of the job corps," he said.
Warpness also wants to see the former Daisy Cleaners property on East Main Street downtown turned into public restrooms with a small park area for citizens to enjoy. He has been working on a sketch of what he would like to see happen complete with lettering from the original Riverton High School that he purchased at a yard sale.
"Someone was selling the lettering that spelled 'Riverton' for $1, and I snatched those letters up because I have a friend that laid the concrete for those blocks," he said. "It is a part of my history and the city's history that I wanted to salvage and hopefully turn into something useful that everyone can enjoy."
Warpness has several of the letters sitting in his office and hopes to be able to use them as the greeting on a partition in front of the proposed park.
One thing Warpness said he enjoys most about his job is being involved in the many projects for the city with the highly skilled people who are working on them.
"I love to do things with my hands, and I enjoy being a part of helping Riverton be the best city it can be," he said.
In his spare time, Warpness enjoys collecting antiques with his wife, Helen. He said he enjoys spending time with his six grandchildren, and he loves poetry and is reading from a book titled, "Best Loved Poems of the American People."
The mayor said he hopes to make an impact on Riverton.
"I would like to be seen as a strong advocate for the best interests of the city of Riverton, not any one group, but the general population at large," he said.
"I would hope that honesty, integrity and fair play are all a part of that growth, and I want to provide a stable and positive base for all of our citizens to prosper in a fair, safe and attractive environment."
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