Leading in an adopted hometown

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SHERIDAN — Robert Briggs never had a hometown growing up.

The city of Sheridan director of planning and development was an Air Force brat, moving almost every 2-3 years. But when he took a job at the city of Sheridan 12 years ago, he knew he had finally found a home.

After traveling with his family, which included a seven-year stay in England, Briggs’ family settled in Utah. He then graduated from Utah State University, where he earned his degree in sociology.

“I’ve always been interested in people and their interactions with each other,” Briggs said. “I needed to fine tune that (degree) though.”

From there, he made his way across the country to the University of Albany in upstate New York. It was there he earned his degree in regional planning. He eventually took that degree and applied for a job in the planning department for the city of Sheridan.

When he interviewed for the job, he got off the plane and walked from the Sheridan County Regional Airport to Sheridan City Hall — thinking it was much closer than it actually was. But in that 2.7-mile hike across town, Briggs knew that Sheridan was the right place for him.

“I got to explore the community,” Briggs said. “I was really drawn to Sheridan; it was small but I knew it had enough going on in town for activities to do.”

The role of the city planner isn’t always an easy one. While his job description says that his department is in charge of implementing long-term growth, affordable housing and economic development among many other things, Briggs said one of the most important parts of his job is conflict management.

Part of being a planner is trying to be open and fair, Briggs said. But the problem with being open and fair is that not everyone is going to be happy all the time.

“You have to approach it with a little bit of humor and some thick skin and with that service mindset,” Briggs said.

If you are at any city of Sheridan board meeting, there is a good chance that you will run into Briggs. Not only is he at every Planning Commission meeting, but he frequently attends city council meetings to answer questions from elected officials and the public.

He’s also on the Wyoming Economic Development Association board, the Advocacy and Resource Center board and the Sheridan Economic and Educational Development Authority board. Briggs also participated in the Center for a Vital Community Poverty Study Circles, the CiViC project and is also the leader of the youth group at his church.

Sheridan Mayor John Heath said that Briggs is an excellent supporter of the community. He said Briggs brings a level knowledge to planning and zoning that is a huge asset to the city of Sheridan.

“He’s top shelf,” Heath said. “He’s a great part of our team. The success of our community has a lot to do with what he has done through his work.”

Briggs still enjoys his home and his job. He’s married with three children and enjoys traveling, camping and getting outdoors.

“Living in Sheridan is like being invited to an incredible party,” Briggs said. “There are people here that are very passionate about things and are willing to devote their time and energy to do that. This job, for me, is an opportunity to help them.”

By |October 7th, 2016|

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