Wyoming may be the Wild West, but this week’s Riverton city council meeting was anything but rowdy. It was downright calm. Sedate.
Even–as you’ll see–sad.
There was a glimmer of drama at the top of the hour, as some dum-dum booked the city council meeting AND the Finance Committee meeting for the same time. Great, now everyone has to wait on some loooooong, booooooring committee. Grab a pillow!
“I would move for claims to be paid in the amount of $189,402.59,” Council Member Martin Cannan began.
“I’ll second it,” responded Council Member Holly Jibben–coincidentally the second and only other person on the Finance Committee. “All in favor say aye.”
Two ayes–one bass, one soprano. “Meeting adjourned,” Council Member Jibben leaned back as the meeting fizzled after 55 seconds.
The camera zoomed out to reveal Mayor John “Lars” Baker with shirt sleeves rolled up. He tapped his pen impatiently as the first public commenter approached–a man with a bushy mustache and a shirt as red as the Wyoming sunset.
“My wife and I, we have a, uh,” the man started, suddenly bracing himself against the podium, his voice cracking. “Excuse me…two-year-old German Shepherd. My wife caught the dog eating a piece of tar paper in our backyard. There’s tar paper, fiber glass insulation, home insulation” from a nearby construction project.
“May 3, our dog had a seizure. Up to this date he’s had nine seizures.” The man clutched his mouth and fought back tears.
“They’ve got all kinds of stuff stacked–it gets shredded in the wind and blows right into our yard. I would hope something can be done. We had to put a dog down two years ago,” he broke down once more at the memory, “and I don’t wanna do it again.”
Mayor Baker uncomfortably attempted to play grief counselor. “Well, this has certainly been quite an ordeal for you,” he winced.
A staff member jumped in: “We do quite often talk to [construction crews] about a lot of that. But obviously we need to do it more,” she looked into the citizen’s tearful eyes sympathetically.
“We’ll keep plugging away,” the mayor mumbled, staring blankly at the man with the sick dog. “Okay? Thank you.”
His Honor didn’t exactly radiate empathy. But here’s the thing: Mayor Baker does not show any emotion. Calling him “low energy” vastly exaggerates the amount of energy he has. The man could put a case of Red Bull to sleep.
Look no further than his reaction to news that the airport just added a flight. “We need to encourage people to use the airport,” the city administrator cheerfully explained. “Many of us attended the ribbon cutting ceremony. I think we put five passengers on there and they all felt like celebrities!”
Terrific story, yes, your honor?
“We’re excited about this airplane and, uh…boy, I just hope that people will fly,” the mayor sighed, sounding neither excited nor hopeful. “If people respond to that and fly Riverton, we will be in the airline business again.” I cannot convey how truly funereal Riverton’s mayor sounded. Except to tell you–I’m not exaggerating–that he barely paused before adding:
“The other thing today…we had a funeral for Dianne Tippets.”