SHERIDAN — David Hough loves to change communities. This retired community development director wants to share his passion and his skills for community improvement with local leadership in communities throughout Wyoming. And he is doing so as a volunteer.
“(I like) the opportunity to make a difference and make things better,” said Hough, pronounced “huff.”
Wayne Schatz, a member of the Northeast Wyoming AARP Chapter in Sheridan, invited Hough to present on April 14 about his work with the AARP Livable Communities and Age Friendly Communities initiative. Members, guests and the community were invited. The meeting was held in the dining room at Heritage Towers.
Hough held a lifelong career in community planning for communities throughout North Dakota, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming. He retired six months ago from the city of Casper.
While in Casper, Hough oversaw the development of a new bike route system, a fixed bus route, the development of five recreation parks, improvements for pedestrian walkways and new benches along walkways.
Hough points to the development of a new pathway between Casper’s Conwell Park and the Wyoming Medical Center hospital. The project included new exterior lighting along the path and a new gazebo. Hough points to another project that developed a walking path and benches between Casper’s Park Place assisted living facility and the Casper Senior Center in Casper’s Highland Park. The benches are set on oversized concrete pads with room for wheelchairs for all ages to use.
Hough oversaw the installation of what he calls an “exceptional” intergenerational playground in Casper’s Wells Park.
“I’ve seen grandparents there with their grandchildren,” Hough said. “There’s even a swing where you can put a wheelchair on the swing. You’re actually in there playing with the kids instead of off to the side sitting on a bench.” Either children or adults in wheelchairs can use the swing.
As a volunteer, Hough wants to share his skills and passion with communities. He is serving on the Wyoming AARP Executive Council with an interest in the organization’s Livable Communities initiative.
Hough was introduced to AARP’s community initiative when he called their state office in Cheyenne for help with an assessment project. When funds were not available for paid positions to take rider surveys on the Casper bus system, Hough was directed to contact the AARP state office in Cheyenne for help. He spoke with state staff member, Renee Gamino, who connected Hough to volunteers who filled the need. It was then that Gamino shared with Hough about AARP’s community initiative. Hough saw a fit for his passion.
Hough is interested in visiting with communities who invite him.
“Sheridan is the first community I’ve visited to discuss Livable Communities,” Hough said.
Hough took time to visit some of the green areas in Sheridan.
“I love to see the benches that are in Whitney Commons,” Hough said. “People don’t realize how critically important benches are. It’s important to get out for a little bit. For those who can’t walk very far, benches give them a change to get out, listen to the birds, and the feel the breeze.”
The initiative can provide either a supporting or lead role for communities for communities with current plans or beginning the planning process. Volunteers can be an active component of the project.
“I see AARP’s role is to provide information on what has been done in other communities and making connections,” Hough said. “The other thing I see AARP doing so well is to provide training and information.”
Hough offers an additional advantage with his connections to professional organizations he has developed through his career.
Livable and Age Friendly communities are closely complementary to the Dementia Friendly Initiative in Sheridan that seeks to transform communities.
“Seemingly small, insignificant things may not seem big, but they are,” Hough said.
Hough looks forward to visiting Sheridan again to speak with stakeholders and community leaders about the possibilities for Sheridan communities.
By Lois Bell
Sheridan Senior Center