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South Valley Riverton Journal

From receptionist to department director: Sheril Garn celebrates 25 years with Riverton City

Mar 01, 2024 01:59PM ● By Peri Kinder

Sheril Garn celebrates 25 years serving Riverton City. As the director of events and operations for Riverton, Garn has created activities and programs to build community. (Photo courtesy of Riverton City)

Sheril Garn marks a significant milestone this year as she celebrates 25 years serving Riverton City. What started as a receptionist job in 1999 quickly became much more as city leaders realized Garn had talents and skills that could be put to good use.

The city manager at the time suggested that Garn could create a recreation department. With her background teaching swimming lessons and coordinating her sons’ baseball teams, Garn accepted the challenge and began to research recreation departments in other cities. 

Now, as the director of events and operations for Riverton, she’s introduced activities and programs to the city to help build community. 

“They moved me from full-time receptionist to part-time receptionist. Half of the day was spent on recreation and community events and the other half was being a receptionist,” Garn said. “The City Council wanted me to create events that had the feeling of a small town. They told me they wanted the events to feel like when I was little, growing up in Riverton.”

As a life-long resident of the city, Garn took that challenge to heart and went about developing the department. Starting with three interns, Garn now manages a staff of 14 employees. Together they plan and hold monthly events that include the popular Halloween Bash, Riverton Town Days, the September 11 flag display and the Christmas music concert.

One of the difficulties Garn faces is accommodating growth as the events gain popularity. For the Easter event, the city did away with the traditional egg hunt because it was over in seconds and not everyone was able to get a treat. Instead of 30 seconds of chaos, the Bunny Hop event features 30-50 stations where kids can participate and receive a prize.

“Most every one of our events are free,” she said. “We try really hard, for our community events, that a parent doesn’t have to spend any money. I love the fact that the city council and the mayor have been so generous with me for my events.”

Garn has worked with six city managers and four mayors in Riverton. She appreciates what each one of them brought to the city and has learned something new serving under a variety of leadership. Current city leaders often express their gratitude for the recreation department and the way Garn leads her team. 

“Sheril is the heart and soul of the city,” Riverton City Manager Craig Giles said. “She contributes so much to our success and makes us all smile in the process.”

Garn and her husband, Terry, raised five boys in Riverton and have 16 grandchildren. She doesn’t know what comes next for her, but she still enjoys creating fun activities, events and programs for city residents. 

“Usually, when I’m done with something, I walk away and don’t look back,” she said. “I tease about being in politics one day, but that’s never been in my future. I think it would be hard for me to stay on as a politician and not micromanage this particular department.”

Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs commended Garn on her quarter-century of service to the city and her efforts to build a sense of community. 

“Sheril is an exemplary public servant and often is the catalyst of success for Riverton City’s events,” Staggs said. “She works hard to maintain our community’s hometown feel. The years of experience and institutional knowledge she brings to the conversation is invaluable. Riverton residents are served well by her tireless work over these past 25 years.”