COTTAGE GROVE – Tomorrow, city manager Richard Meyers will trade in office keys and responsibilities for more grandpa-related activities as he is able to spend more quality time with his four children, 10 grandchildren, and cat Toothless.
Although Meyers has worked in city government for 32 years, 26 of those being in Cottage Grove, his first jobs were actually landscaping for a dentist and shampooing carpets in a care center. He also worked in a bowling alley, at a pizza parlor, at a gas station, and DJed dances during undergrad at Brigham Young University (BYU).
He continued at BYU to earn his master of business administration, which is when Meyers first got a taste for city government as an intern at the City of Orem in the city manager’s office. He then worked for the League of Arizona Cities and Towns in Phoenix, Ariz., for two years prior to becoming Myrtle Point’s city manager – a position he held for seven years.
“That was a fun, nice community. It’s a beautiful place. I still like to go back and visit and see people and see what they’ve done,” Meyers said.
Meyers then left Myrtle Point so his young kids could have a better education, which is why he was selective in where he applied for city manager jobs and how his family settled in Cottage Grove.
“I wasn’t applying just if there was a vacancy. I was applying (thinking), ‘Hey, that’s a place that I could live, and the family would live, and we’d have fun opportunities for us to go do things,’” Meyers said. “So I came here, and the rest is 26 years of history.”
Meyers said that city managers are often told to not become friends with anybody on the council or staff so friendships don’t conflict with decision-making. Yet he added that the hardest part about leaving this job is leaving his staff, bringing up John “Pat” Patterson, who passed away on Jan. 3, 2020.
“Pat was a great friend. He was fun to have on the council, a character, just great,” Meyers said.
Meyers recalled the last episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”
“Piccard walks to his senior staff, and they’re playing poker, and he says, ‘Can I sit down and play?’ And they said, ‘Yeah, you’re always welcome,’” Meyers said. “It just kinda summarizes that whole feeling that they’re friends, but I can’t. It’s this other relationship. It’s got to be professional all the time, and I’m looking forward to being able to be less professional.”
He mentioned having a great relationship with public works and development director Faye Stewart, who described Meyers as someone who is incredibly supportive and approachable.
“I value his friendship and the opportunities that he has given me,” Stewart said.
Jake Boone, assistant to the city manager, said he quickly learned that Meyers is honest and trustworthy. When thinking of the best memories he has made while working with Meyers, he was reminded of some Christmas festivities a few years ago when Meyers was the photographer for an evening where kids could meet Santa.
“Richard was tirelessly taking zillions and zillions of photos and making sure to put them on the city website so the families could download the photos, and it didn’t cost anything,” Boone said. “It was just a really nice thing to do, and he did it after hours. It wasn’t like he’s getting paid for it or anything. It was something he did because he’s such a nice guy, and it was always fun.”
In his time as city manager of Cottage Grove, Meyers has accomplished much, as the wall of awards in his office showcases. From Cottage Grove earning its second All-American City award to Meyers creating the Youth Advisory Council, he has left his mark on this city – but it’s time for Meyers to step into a new chapter of his life: retirement.
He and his wife host Grandpa and Nanny Camp each summer for their grandchildren, but his work schedule has been a constant conflict.
Next summer, though, Meyers will be all-in.
“I’m looking forward to next year’s Grandpa and Nanny Camp because I get to be with them the whole time and do all the crafts and do all the things with them, and that’ll be a hoot,” Meyers said.