Participants, from millennials to baby boomers, shared reasons they signed up for the city’s third biennial Citizen Academy.

Jennifer Gould, 43, has lived in Cody her entire life. Employed at a local call center and restaurant-bar, she applied for the academy wanting to learn more about local government and thinking she may one day run for some type of office.

Alison Winkler, who works for Cody Lodging Company, said the academy caught her attention when it was established four years ago.

“Learning more about the community I grew up in has always been of interest to me as I hope to assist with the community for years to come,” said the 24-year-old Cody High School and University of Wyoming alumna.

Cody native Katie Johnson, who earned a master’s degree from UW in 2018, was curious about city operations.

“Having always lived outside of the city limits, I was interested in learning more about the overall functioning of the city as well as the interconnections and organization of city departments,” she said.

Traci Hodgins attended Cody Schools grades K-12 before leaving the area. An aviation planner for T-O Engineers, she returned to Cody nearly six years ago.



Hodgins had already delved into city accounts while completing a class project for a master’s in public administration degree from UW when she decided she’d like to learn more.

“I just graduated (in May) and during the (master’s) program, we learned how budgeting reflects the priorities of the organization,” she said.

Examining the city budget prompted a desire to further delve into city priorities and to learn about the people who set those priorities.

Miles Hollowell, another proud CHS alum and longtime resident, already had a number of connections to City Hall.

His dad ran the Cody Auditorium convention center for 20-some years, and he had worked there for a couple of years himself.

Having worked for the city at its outdoor pool that no longer exists and later its indoor pools at the rec center, Hollowell said he’d developed a deep appreciation for the organization. But he wanted to gain a better understanding of how each department operates, the challenges presented and how the departments interact with each other and the community.

Retired BNSF Railroad conductor and locomotive engineer Greg Deppert and his wife have lived in Wyoming for more than four decades. They moved from Sheridan to Cody almost 25 years ago.

A member of the post World War II baby boom generation, Deppert grew up in a time when infrastructure such as highway systems, schools and dependable electricity was taken for granted.

“So I guess I just was curious about how the system worked on a local level and what it takes to run a small city,” he said.

Also retired, Kent Dryer, born and raised in Cody, returned slightly more than a year ago. An interest in his new home and hometown prompted him to participate in the academy.

After her parents returned to Cody in the early 1990s, her father Bruce Jones served on various boards.

“I saw Citizen Academy as an opportunity to learn more about all that helps to keep Cody the unique community it is,” she said.

Another cadet, Pia Trotter of Powell, saw a professional benefit to attending Citizen Academy sessions and learning about city government and its issues.

“Selling real estate touches most of these (city) entities at some point and it is very helpful to know more about each one,” she said. “Looking behind the scenes and being able to share facts and having knowledge will profit me daily.”

A para-educator at Livingston School, Nicole Gallagher moved to Cody from Gillette five years ago when here husband Nick was hired as a school principal.

Attending a council meeting last spring on behalf of an Eastside School Walkathon street closure request, she watched the governing process and the interaction between the public and council.

“It was interesting to hear the political dialect being used in such a professional manner, and the importance of feedback from the community to keep a town running,” she said.

All politics is local, and the government is really just down the street, said Marko Ruble, entrepreneur and Cody native.

“Government is not only the will of ‘the people’, it is the people,” Ruble said. “It’s our friends, family, and neighbors.”

He joined Citizen Academy to meet some of those neighbors and to share a common role in managing the city.

Jeff Bales, hired as Cody Regional Health’s new facilities director, and his wife recently moved from Idaho to Cody.

Knowing he would be interacting with the city in his new job, Bales wanted to learn about the city processes as well as develop positive working relationships with city staff.

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“I always have respect for the Public Works staff of any City since it is a job that can be thankless,” Bales said.

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