Commissioners hope to continue serving

Rick Grant and  Mike Colling seek to retain their seats on the county commission.

Nick Balatsos

Colling, 68, seeking third straight term

Converse County Commissioner Mike Colling says that he’s in the business of getting things done. 
Colling, 68, has served as commissioner for a little more than seven years, and he recently announced his bid for another term. 
If elected, he says voters will get an honest, conservative commissioner who is approachable, who is willing to listen and who understands the county governing process and who won’t need to be brought up to speed.
“It takes about a year to be brought up to speed,” he said.  
Colling also brings with him many years of public service.
After graduating from high school in Nebraska, Colling enlisted in the Navy. 
He served for 18 years, completing two tours in Vietnam where he carried out rescue missions in the Gulf of Tonkin. 
When he got out as a petty officer, he moved to Wyoming and worked in the oil field and construction industry for a few months before getting a job with the Casper Police Department. 
He served there for 39 years, rising to the rank of captain and becoming an interim police chief. Before retiring, he also served as chief of the Glenrock Police Department. 
He says the experience has taught him a lot about leadership and public duty, and as commissioner, he’s tried to embody the same ethos, even if it has meant displeasing some people. 
“You wish you could make everyone happy, but there are some people you make happy and there are some you don’t,” he said of his role as commissioner. 
To that end, Colling said he’s proud of what he’s been able to help achieve.
Over the years, he’s played a hand in adding the two county libraries on the ballot, providing county workers with a liveable wage, helping manage finances, and cutting employment turnover. 
He also helped bring the new $33.8 million Joint Justice Center project to fruition. Officials last month broke ground on the project, which will be paid for using savings. 
By upgrading the communication system and adding extra space, the new center will help improve the community’s law enforcement agencies, which he said is important. 
But he’s not done. There’s more he wants to accomplish.
Right now, with the economy in the dumps, he says the county budget needs to be a top priority. 
And the community needs someone like him who understands the process, not a newbie.
When it comes to the budget, Colling said that he’s not afraid to dip into savings to the extent needed, but he said it’s also important to be fiscally responsible.
As far as diversifying the economy goes and not relying  so much on the energy economy, he says that it’s not really the commissioner’s role.
But he said what they can do is make sure that economic develop organizations such as CANDO Wyoming in Douglas have the funding they need to bring about opportunities.
Over the next several weeks, he said he will be talking to people in the community, putting “little things” in the newspaper and putting out signs. 
He said he hopes he gets another term. 
“I enjoy it ... I’ve always liked doing things for my county and  community,” he said. 
There are two commissioner seats up for election and four people running for them. Each seat has a four-year term.

Grant wants 4 more ‘whole-hearted’ years

Converse County Commissioner Rick Grant knows a thing or two about public service. 
Heck, the phrase is practically ingrained in his DNA. 
After watching his grandfather serve on the Glenrock school board for 60 years, the fourth-generation Boxelder resident decided in 1989 to throw his own hat in the ring.
Back then, he wanted to improve the school system.
So he figured he would serve a couple years on Glenrock’s school board, help make some changes and get out. 
But then something funny happened: he found himself liking it. The years whizzed by.
Grant finally stepped down from the school board 20 years later in 2010 to make a run for state office. 
He ended up losing to Richard Cannady by 11 votes. But that didn’t discourage him. 
“If you’re going to do something, do it whole-heartedly,” he said, relaying advice from his grandfather.
A couple years later, in 2012, a county commissioner seat opened up. He applied, and he got it. 
He served from February until the general election in November, when the public voted for him to stay another term. 
That term is just wrapping up now, and he’s running for another one. 
If elected, he said he would leverage his experience to best serve the county. 
His approach to leadership is hands on, he said. 
“If I get a call, then I make an effort to see the problem first hand,” he said. 
That way, if a person comes back, he knows intimately what they are talking about and can help craft a solution. 
“If you don’t know the problem, you can’t fix it,” he said. 
Like most people running to become commissioner, one of the most important issues to Grant is the economy. 
He said Converse County is more fortunate than most because it was able to get in a couple good boom years before the bust, which allowed it to catch up on a lot of different things. 
Now, he said, he wants to make sure the county stays fiscally sound. 
He said knowing the history and having tackled the budget before makes him a better candidate than others.
He said it’s also important to have the ability to say “no” to people, which he has. But whenever that happens, he stressed the need to present clear reasoning to the public. 
The past two years, Grant has also served as chairman of the commissioners. That experience will also prove valuable, he said.
If elected, Grant would like to see the new joint justice center to completion. Depending on the economy, he’d like to see the second phase of that project finished as well. And he wants to continue to improve the roads.
Grant’s seat is one of two four-year commissioner seats up for election. Grant hopes voters will give him the opportunity to serve again in the fall. 
When Grant isn’t handling county issues, he’s working on his ranch in Boxelder, just outside Glenrock. 
His family has been in the area since 1886 and now operates a 10,000-acre ranch with 350-plus cows and 200 yearlings. 
Grant said that he’s glad his son is now old enough to help out because being a commissioner is more than a part-time gig. Not that he’s complaining.
“The more time you’re able to commit, the better commissioner you are,” he said.



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