Pieper retires from Rec Board
‘Recreation is critical’
TORRINGTON – After about 28 years of serving on the Goshen County Recreation Board (Rec Board), Dr. Tim Pieper retired this winter.
Pieper grew up on a farm just south of Mitchell, Nebraska. After high school, he attended the University of Nebraska for both his bachelor’s degree and dental school. In 1975, Tim married his wife, Joan. They have four children together.
In 1976, Pieper finished dental school and opened up his own practice in Torrington. This practice was called Family Dentistry.
Over the last couple of years, Pieper has been transitioning into retirement. After 46 years, Pieper completely retired from dentistry in January. The practice has merged into Platte River Family Dentistry.
“I just feel great that I was able to sell the practice to Britton Marsh,” Pieper told the Telegram. “Of course, he has also brought in a recent graduate Lance Lucas, and they both are amazing. They are so excited about dentistry.”
Pieper is on several different boards in the area, including, the ones for the Rec. Board, St. Joseph’s Children’s Home, Knights of Columbus and Rotary Club, along with a few different dental boards.
“I was always interested in recreation,” Pieper said. “I was the Little League president of the board, Babe Ruth president of the board, Legion baseball president of the board and girls’ softball president of the board. So, I was on all of these boards trying to figure out how we can raise money, how we can build fields and how we can improve the community in all of those ways.”
The local Rec Board was formed in 1994.
“It originally started because we were trying to find funding for a lot of recreation projects in the county,” Pieper recalled. “Everybody was doing fundraising and trying to figure out how to get money. (Around this time,) the state legislators passed an ordinance that would allow school districts to assess a mill levy for recreation.”
Pieper said he was among those who went to the school district and requested establishing the organization. After it was approved, he was one of its original members.
The Rec Board is made up of five people in total, three school board members and two at-large members. The two at-large members are the president and secretary/treasurer, and the school board members are regular members. During his time on the board, Pieper served as the president for all of those years except the first few.
“All the years that I was president, my office manager Leslie (Gubbels), did all of the day-to-day stuff, like receiving applications, making sure they’re okay and taking in the invoices,” Pieper explained. “I would sign the voucher which would go to the school board. My office manager did a lot of the legwork all of those years.”
According to Pieper, the Rec Board funds recreation projects, programs and services for the community. The statute states that the money must not be used for school expenditure products or activities, like the school’s regular sports teams.
Starting in December, the board opens its application process for funding. After the Feb. 15 deadline, the board holds its annual meeting where those who applied present their projects. Afterward, the board decides what funds they have available, which projects can be funded and which ones don’t fit the required criteria.
“(Before the Rec Board), we didn’t have a junior football league or shooting sports,” Pieper said. “We didn’t have a lot of those types of programs. The Rec Board has actually given those people a start.”
Throughout the years
“It’s probably one of the most fun boards that I’ve ever been on,” Pieper told the Telegram. “I mean, how wonderful is it to meet these people and give away a couple of $100,000 for needy recreation projects in the county; it’s fantastic. It’s so exciting because we’ve started so many groups and sustained so many groups throughout the years.”
Pieper said a few of his favorite projects they have approved include helping the community build the new ball fields, putting in new equipment in the parks, sustaining the swimming pools and helping provide equipment for the EWC and LaGrange rec centers. It has also been satisfying to see the different groups flourish and even attend regionals and nationals over the years.
One of the most trying times on the board, Pieper said, was when they were trying to get a YMCA-type facility built in Torrington. To build the facility, they decided to try to use the penny tax to raise the $10 million needed. The project could have been paid for in about 10 years. However, to use the penny tax it had to be approved by two-thirds of the municipalities affected before it could be put on the ballot.
“We spent five years getting the plans down to the details and then we couldn’t even put it on the ballot because we couldn’t get support from two municipalities,” Pieper recalled.
Overall, Pieper said it has been a great experience. While the work on the board hasn’t changed much over the years, they have had a more diversification of requests than they did before. The only other change has been receiving more money in the mill to use for projects. In the early years, the mill was only $50,000 to $100,000 a year, and now it’s over $200,000 a year.
“It’s been a great thing to evolve more and more people in the county; I think recreation is critical,” Pieper said. “We’ve spent, I think, it’s over three and a half million dollars now since 1994. That’s a lot of great things when you put it into perspective.”
Pieper and his wife have four children and nine grandchildren, who live in Cheyenne, Mitchell, Nebraska, Omaha, Nebraska and Boise, Idaho.
“Getting around to be with them and do things with them is time-consuming,” Pieper said. “That’s why I thought I better pass the baton on a couple of the boards I serve on.”
Pieper said his term on the board ended on June 30, however, he stayed on to help with the annual meeting and make a smooth transition for the new president.
“I’ve been enjoying (retirement),” Pieper said. “We’ve been traveling to see kids and friends. Before, my wife would go, and I would stay back and work. It’s exciting. I get to go play with the grandkids.”
In reflection, Pieper said, “We are all in great debt to the school board for assessing the mill levy for recreation, because they didn’t have to, and they don’t have to renew it every year. This is a great thing the school district is doing for the county. We should be appreciative the school board assessed the mill levy all these years.”
“I’m very appreciative of all of the people that work with recreation, like the coaches, and all of that, that do all their work through the year,” Pieper continued. “That’s so impressive that we have those kinds of people around that would give their time and do that.”
Wade Bruch with the Pinnacle Bank has been appointed by the school district to replace Pieper on the board and as the new president. For questions about the Rec Board, projects or applications, you can contact Bruch at the Pinnacle Bank at 307-532-2181.