by nathan oster
There was a changing of the guard on the Greybull Town Council Thursday night, as Bob Graham was sworn in as mayor and Myles Foley and Clay Collingwood began their four-year terms.
Gavel in hand, Graham thanked the outgoing council members, Kay Fleek and Jan Johnson, as well as Mayor Frank Houk. “I just want you to know, I appreciate all of you, how you’ve helped me grow on this council and with the town,” said Graham. “It’s a little different sitting on this side after spending 15 years on the other side (as a town employee).
“Thank you for your help and confidence in me. I hope I can fill those shoes and move the town forward for the next two years.”
Graham then turned to Foley and Collingwood, saying he looks forward to working with them. He lauded Foley for his concern about the community and desire to make it a better place, and said Collingwood, with his family’s deep ties to Greybull, would be an asset. “He has a lot of devotion to this town.”
Councilor Bob McGuire urged the two new council members not to be afraid to speak up, adding it’s all part of the learning experience.
After the meeting, Graham outlined a number of goals for the next two years.
One is to continue along the path of replacing water lines. “One of the things I take pride in for the last six years has been our water projects, and how we as a town have gotten back going with those and rebuilding infrastructure for our community. I think we’re down to only about 22 blocks left to replace.”
Graham said the town was planning to address them, but had to shift money away from the project to cover the cost of recertifying the dike. He is hopeful, however, that work on the remaining blocks will be completed by the time he leaves office.
“There aren’t five communities in the whole state that have completely updated water distribution systems,” Graham said. “Almost every one of them is way behind on infrastructure because they’ve had to spend money elsewhere.”
As for other priorities, Graham said he’d like to see more progress on the cleanup of the refinery site and that he views the dike recertification to be a crucial step, saying it will “ultimately keep insurance rates where people can afford to get loans to own a house.”
Lastly, Graham offered a big vote of confidence to the Greybull Police Department, which came under fire during the lead-up to the election. “I’m the last member of the council remaining that had to build that police department,” he said. “I really think we have built an excellent police department. We have an excellent staff, a great police chief.
“That was a real strain on the council when I came here — trying to build a police department from scratch after basically being told (by the sheriff’s office) that they wren’t going to continue providing the service. We were scrambling, trying to figure it out. It has all worked out very well.”
The meeting marked the end of the terms of Mayor Frank Houk and Councilors Jan Johnson and Kay Fleek.
Houk spent 10 years on the council, including the last six in the mayor’s chair. Town Clerk Kathy Smith presented Houk with a desk block, featuring thermometer, clock, hygrometer and photo frame.
Johnson spent eight years, or two full terms, on the council. For Fleek, it was one term, four years. Both received plaques in recognition of their service to the town.