Incoming, outgoing council members discuss future

By: 
Nathan Oster

A changing of the guard will occur in the coming days with the swearing in of new Greybull Town Council members Terra Robbins and David Bernard, which will officially end the tenures of Clay Collingwood and Marquerite VanDyke.

No special meeting is planned, as Robbins and Bernard plan to visit Town Hall informally after the first of the year to take the oath of office.  Newcomers on the town’s political scene, they were the top two vote-getters in the November general election.

VanDyke, who was beaten by Robbins and Bernard in the general election, has logged six years on the council and admits that she’ll miss it.  “I’ve truly enjoyed the whole experience,” she said. “It’s nice when the town council works with the mayor and (administrator/finance director) Paul (Thur) to get things accomplished — it gives you a great feeling.

“Also, seeing how Greybull has turned things around and how nice things are starting to look again.”

VanDyke was asked what she was proudest of, from a standpoint of accomplishments. “Nothing really stands out, but I was happy that we were able to get the pool dong and that kids are able to use that now,” she said. “And I think it was a good thing, getting that archery range developed.”

Now that she’s lived it, VanDyke said one of the thing she learned was “that the whole group needs to work together — you can’t, as a council member, go out and tell someone you will do something because you are a part of a team.  Working together is very important. It’s not a one man show or who can talk the loudest.”

Unlike VanDyke, Collingwood did not seek re-election. He is wrapping up his second term.

“Eight years was enough for me,” he said.  “You have some council people who put a lot of personal time into it, some who don’t put any time in or very little time.”

Collingwood said he took the job seriously from day one.

“I had three objectives when I went in — the pool, another business park and a residential subdivision — and we’re mostly there.  

“Sure, there are some other things I’d have liked to see get done, but that’s the other problem with government. The speed in which government moves is exhaustingly slow.”

Collingwood said he felt a sense of fulfilment when the swimming pool opened last summer.  He recalled a conversation with fellow councilmember Marvin Hunt that took place the day after voters rejected funding proposals to build and operate one.  Even in defeat, they believed that people were in favor of a pool — they just didn’t support the funding proposal that was put to them.

“When you’re elected, it’s not just to speak for the people who vote, but also for those who don’t — for instance, our kids,” he said. “I believe the pool will be a great asset to this town for many years.”

Another reason Collingwood didn’t pursue re-election is because he felt it was time for fresh ideas.  “More people should run for office,” he said. “That’s the other thing. You get people in there who just like to be there, but you need people who want to accomplish something. 

“I’ve seen too many who just like to be there and I don’t agree with that approach.”

Collingwood was asked if he had any advice for the two new councilmembers. 

“It would be, ‘Ask as many questions as it takes to understand the issues.’”

 

Fresh start

After their election wins, Robbins and Bernard attended the next two council meetings in an attempt to help them get up to speed on town business.

Robbins said nothing to this point has surprised her, noting that she’s been a faithful reader of the council minutes published in this newspaper.  She admits that she has a lot to learn, but emphasizes that she’s ready to take it on.

“If we aren’t learning all the time, we aren’t growing as human beings,” she said.

Bernard shared similar sentiments about the learning curve, adding that the council is “losing a great wealth of knowledge” with the departure of Collingwood and Van Dyke.

One area in which he’d like to see improvement is in communication and follow through.  He cited as an example the lack of progress since the November meeting on a get-together to look at proposed improvements at the library.   

“We will have to come up with game plans and stick to them and make sure that things are getting done in a timely matter, rather than waiting until the last minute and rushing things along,” he said.

And while appreciative of the economic development director’s efforts to create more things for residents to do, Bernard said, “I feel that we need to take things a little slower and focus on trying to get businesses here to fill up the industrial park.  

“I don't think that we need to grow to the size of Cody but i feel that we need growth in order to help support the businesses we have now.  I am very grateful to see all of the recent businesses that have moved in and seem to be doing well.”

Robbins and Bernard were also asked about their priorities for the first six months.  While recognizing that they are just two voices on the five-person governing body, each of them have ideas that they’d like to pursue.

Robbins said, “One of my main reasons running for council was to address the way citizens drive in residential areas. I as well as other families in this community have children who are very active outside. This is something I would like to pursue sooner than later.”

Bernard, meanwhile, said has grown tired of seeing items on the agenda that get tabled over and over.

“We either need to dress up ordinances or scrap them,” he said.

One that he’d like to quash early in the new year is the proposal that would prohibit town residents from parking their RVs in town limits. 

“If someone could justify a legitimate reason for a ban, i would be more than open to listen to each and every complaint, but i am not going to issue a ban on trailers just to support a trailer storage area in the industrial subdivision that will not create any jobs and help our community in any way.”

Likewise, he would like to see some type of resolution to the ongoing discussions about possible dog and archery ordinance.  “I am unsure where we are at on the dog ordinance but we need to get that finalized along with the archery ordinance as well,” he said.

The first meeting of the town council is set for Monday, Jan. 11.