Friday, July 18, 2014

July 2014

Having been Mayor for the past year and a half has been a good experience.  People ask me how I like it and I can honestly answer that I have really enjoyed my time in office.  
Our council is a diverse group.   They represent different religions, different backgrounds, different working/home life situations and are a good cross section of the community.   My responsibility is to carry out the council directives and administrate the town government.

I made it my goal, to spend the time in the office necessary to really see first hand on a daily basis how things are and what needs to be done.  Hours were spent going over legal documents and past council actions so I could get a sense of the past decisions and why they were made.  

When I came into office, there were three paid staff in the clerks office.  We now have one very capable clerk who handles all responsibilities including, parks, recreation, water, sewer and the Police Department clerk duties.    We also did away with some of the positions which were on a monthly retainer situation and made them an "as needed" position.  This has saved the town thousands and is working well.  

For the first time we have our budget and finances in a form that is suggested for municipalities.  There is transparency in each department.  Our water and sewer are now true enterprise funds (meaning self sustaining)  as required by Wyoming State Statute.  We have set up reserve funds for replacement and maintenance of water and sewer which are key to having a community that is secure in its future offerings of services to "we the people".

We are now in a position to strongly advocate for our town and receive the grants and or loans that are available for improving our town.

Making the changes in these budget items has freed up many thousands of dollars in our general fund to attend to the investments that have been made by your tax dollars such as streets and improvements in our infrastructure.  

The immediate goals for the town are based on studies done a few years ago with the communities input.  We have addressed the many pot holes in our streets and will soon be doing the crack seal.  Our streets are an improvement that every citizen was assessed for and some have just in this last year finished paying their assessment.  Streets are a large investment for a community and we cannot afford to let them continue to deteriorate.  We want to pave the rest of the streets in town but there are some underground drainage issues that we will need to address first and we are in the process of working with the drainage board to do just that.  

The sewer system on main and south of main is still the old clay tile and we will look at replacing those areas that are compromised beginning with each end of Main street.  When that is done we will then be ready to work with WYDOT on the resurfacing of main street and will work to improve the look of our street through town.

We are working with the Wyoming Business council on helping us make our community more business ready and investment worthy.  

Our recreation department has grown to be a great addition to our community for pre-school through senior citizens.  We now have a well equipped weight room, access to the gym for after school activities, the auditorium for area events such as the candidates forum, dance recitals, and family movie nights.    We have rented many areas such as the cafeteria for birthday and other celebrations.

We just had Byron Days and are pleased that for the first year, we were able to put on this wonderful event without spending any of the Rec. budget or money from general funds as has been done in all previous years.  The fireworks are still an expense however, and our goal is to make them self sustaining through sponsors rather than the town paying for them.  This is a goal that is already being implemented through area businesses.

We are looking forward to have a Mobile medical unit in our community to meet the needs here.  We will be doing a health fair in August to introduce the public to what this Mobile unit can offer, such as lab screenings etc.  

We were able to finally finish the Memorial park which is an attractive entrance to our town.

So, as you can see it has been a busy year and a half and good things have taken place.  There is not a way to govern a town where every single citizen is happy all of the time, but I hope that when looking at the decisions that have been made by the council for the overall good of the community and in response to being in compliance with all state statutes, you will not be a one issue voter and will re-elect me to this position to be able to finish these projects and work with you to make our town the best it can be.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Lovell Chronicle Campaign Bio

Note: this was published in the Lovell Chronicle during my campaign for Byron City Council in 2012
Fourth generation citizen of the Town of Byron
Married to Glen S. Hopkinson;  five children;  fourteen grandchildren
Business:    Worked in Cozzen’s Grocery Store from an early age
Owned two Art Galleries in Cody, Wyoming
Taught Seminary - released time from Rocky Mountain School District
Owned and managed a print development, production and distribution business in Mesa, Arizona
Supervised a group of process servers as well as court recordings and filings for a Law firm in Tucson, Arizona
Property manager for Cozzen’s Rentals
Partner in Hopkinson Studio - a new business to the town of Byron

My Community Service:
Served as Cody School Board Trustee
Church Service in many capacities
Past involvement Community service programs working with adults and children
Worked in US Senate Campaign headquarters in state of Montana
Founding member of the Byron Economic Development Group
Volunteer for the Byron Rec. Department
Member of the Byron Memorial Park Committee
My Qualifications:
- Understanding the importance of Business in a small community
- Appreciate the need for government and business to work together to build and respond to the needs of citizens
- A personal interest in helping our community to develop, beautify, and be a welcoming place for newcomers as well current citizens
- Involved in extensive research in the State of Wyoming and Wyoming Parks and Recreation
- Instrumental in working to bring recreation program leaders from various communities throughout the state to present their findings to our Mayor and Council
- Research and development skills
- Values friendship,  has concern for the underprivileged and often overlooked
- Willing to work hard, be involved, and listen
- Works well with others, happy, enjoys life, positive outlook
My parents were both civic minded, serving on school board, councils and participating in other town improvement organizations.  From their example,  I gained an appreciation for public involvement and dialogue.    I have learned the importance of researching the history and facts surrounding issues and listening to what others can contribute to the discussion.
Our government is designed to be responsible and responsive to the needs of the people governed.  It is our right as community members to attend meetings,  talk to our elected officials, be open to debate, and have our questions explored and answered as decisions are made.  That is democracy in action.  Of course, we elect people to represent us, but we certainly have a responsibility to expect honest communication and accountability from our elected servants.  
I want to thank both Marie McCollum and Gilbert Cordova for their service to our community.  Being responsible to the public is a pressure position, and they both have been willing to listen and make efforts to make good decisions.    I know from serving on a School Board, that these positions are often thankless and it is difficult to realize that ones decisions, no matter how good or equitable you feel they are, will make someone unhappy, even angry.   That is part of the job that isn’t pleasant.    They have served well and deserve a pat on the back for their time away from their families to serve.
My  hope is that we could address the needs in our community in a way that would help newcomers feel welcome and excited to be a part of living here.  Byron is a beautiful part of our State.  We are a town built on the vision of pioneers who saw a future here and began the process of building a place where families could be self sustaining.  Over the years we have watched as our greatest assets, our children leave the area to find employment.   We can build on that early vision of our founders and work together to help bring come commerce into the community so that other families can return.  
The communities in our state and others that are experiencing growth and security, have seen the wisdom of government and business working together to build a better place.  The third part of that puzzle is local recreation.  Having activities for Senior citizens, little league programs, art programs, and many others  for the youth and preschool can help establish a feeling of togetherness and friendship within our community that helps solidify the support for local and area families.    Our community needs to continue to build our recreation programs.  
I would hope that the town could take a look at Title 11, a master plan of land use and development regulations and see if it has worked as it was originally intended.    Is it addressing the problems it was designed to address in the way it was hoped?
I have concerns about the money that has been expended over the past few years for attorney fees to interpret this set of codes.  Perhaps there could be some simplification in these ordinances, so that a common man could understand and comply.
I support keeping our infrastructure in good condition and resolving problems to meet the basic water, sewer, street needs  of our current population as well as future growth.
I am fiscally conservative, and would make every effort to assure that as a representative of every local citizen, I will listen, and be available as a public servant.
Differences can be overcome.  We can begin where we are now today and let go of past grievances and unite in common goals.  Understanding that disagreement is a part of coming to a better answer is exemplified in the writing of our U. S. Constitution.   Many harsh words were spoken, many disagreements, much debate took place, but ultimately these men were friends and were able to come together in their cause and agree on what is an amazing document.  I would hope that the citizens of Byron can find the maturity, the caring for one another, the desire to  be a part of the unity that can come when we join efforts and work together.  I sincerely believe that until we find unity,  it will be a struggle to move forward.   We need to join hands with one another and build on the good, strong, foundation we have.
I would like to be a part of helping that process take place.