Leaving Riverton, but not saying goodbye

Oct 10, 2017 By Craig Blumenshine, Staff Writer

Ron and Jan Murphy were the best neighbors a young couple who moved to the neighborhood 30 years ago could have hoped for.

And today, they are still wonderful neighbors. The absolute best, really. And we'll miss them dearly.

By the time the ink hits the newsprint for today's Ranger edition, my wife Tracy and I will no longer get our mail at the only home we have ever owned on Prairie Road in Riverton's Big Wyoming Addition.

We're heading south, kind of. We've called it the Great Migration. We're moving to Cheyenne.

Ron and Jan, who live across the street from us, watched Tracy and I bring two of our three kids home from the hospital to the only family home they remember.

They've helped us celebrate our lives, really.

And we didn't know it at the time -- we sure do now -- we couldn't have picked a better place to raise our family than in Riverton where we landed three decades ago.

And our neighbors were the reason why.

Our kids had plenty of neighborhood friends, all of whom pitched in when our dog Barney would sprint away from us when the gate wasn't closed quickly enough.

Barney's adventures provided Ron and Jan with years of good comedy.

I thought the game "Butts Up" was invented in our neighborhood (it wasn't) but our driveway hosted epic battles of the game played with a ball on a paved surface against a wall. The Cornejo and Burns kids and others played with our kids for hours on end. Our siding took a beating (wonder why it was replaced?) and the good news is that Rosie Neiberger, who we shared a short chain link fence with -- she lived in the house just north of ours -- was nearly deaf in her later years and never complained.

Rosie was wonderful to our kids as they learned themselves what it meant to be a good neighbor, helping shovel snow and assist Rosie with other minor chores when needed.

Every time I mowed our yard and saw neighbors Van and Leona on their front porch across the street, I was envious. I've always wanted a front porch, and our home in Cheyenne will have one.

Tracy and I have tried to be good neighbors, too.

Tracy, forever the team mom and me the coach, plus we were both involved and met many friends on boards of just about every youth sport Riverton had to offer.

But we are most proud of bringing a recreation program back to Riverton. We called our Teton Athletic Club based recreation program Recreation For Riverton and with wonderful school and community partners, we served thousands and thousands of local kids and adults in our programs and assisted other youth sports by providing a one-stop sign-up spot, open seven-days-a-week.

It was a public-private partnership that was inexpensive -- we had an average annual subsidy of just $18,000 -- and we at least brought recreation back into Riverton's conversation. We hope someday Riverton can do more with its parks and trails and recreation planning, which is now woefully-inadequate for a city that needs to stay competitive and adapt to ideas that are important to a younger generation.

Riverton's schools were great neighbors for our kids and provided them all with a perfect foundation to grow and become successful in their chosen fields against global competitors.

What began as a conversation in Wolverine Field's parking lot with Ruby Calvert after a soccer game has become a central focus for our move to Cheyenne to improve what we can do covering state government. Best of all, I'll still get to travel border to border, telling the stories of our state on WyomingPBS - Wyoming's only public television station.

And, the Ranger has been a great neighbor not just to Tracy and I over the years, but to Riverton and Fremont County. I've been blessed to have been a small part of of a crew of hard-working journalists who value hard work, ethics, quality writing, and, at its heart, the desire to tell the truth. We see Riverton's worst and best, and do our best to bring it to you every day. My role at The Ranger will diminish, but not totally disappear, and I'm thankful to be able to keep my connection to what will forever be my hometown, packed with good neighbors.

Have a great sports week. Go Big Red!