Rhonda Kippen is the newest member of the Morgan County Council. Kippen was appointed by the council to finish the term of Rodney Haslam after he resigned for health reasons.
Kippen’s family has been lifelong residents of Morgan, going back a few generations. She married another Morganite and settled in their hometown to raise their three children who now range in age from 18 years old to 13 years old. About her hometown, she is enthusiastic and describes Morgan as, “an amazing community to raise children…”
She grew up in Milton and was very involved working on the family’s dairy farm. She kept early farmer’s hours and started her days at 2:30 in the morning, after which she headed off to school.
After school, she went right back to doing her farm chores and she would help care for their livestock. By the time she had done her homework after that, it would be time for bed.
She would need that rest to maintain this schedule throughout the entire school year. Dairy cows with full udders need to be milked and they let you know it. Cows don’t ever take a day off, so she learned early on about hard work and says that it is what “gave me my work ethic.”
As an adult, Kippen went to work for several different companies which have all added to her learning and knowledge for which she has a strong desire to attain. Throughout her career she has been drawn towards jobs involving the different aspects in the managment of land. She says, “There is something very intriguing about land and the governing of land…I love it.”
This career path began with a job at Wardell Brothers where she worked in title and escrow which introduced her to the intricacies involved in handling land transactions. She learned quickly the importance of monitoring for the accuracy in each detail. She also gained a better understanding for issues involving titles, land descriptions and contracts.
While still at Wardell Brothers, Kippen went on to work in areas that taught her about finance, budgeting, and office management. She spent a significant amount of time dealing with the issues surrounding the creating and managing of budgets.
She also gained a strong understanding and appreciation for the importance of bonds in the development process. At Wardell Brothers, they were required to provide performance bonds that guaranteed the completion of their work. Her on the job training and education was added to once again when she learned about the structuring of contracts and about lending when her career path took her to Goldenwest Credit Union.
One more area in which Kippen wanted to gain knowledge through experience was in planning and zoning. She had learned some things about the policies used for planning and zoning while still working at Wardell Brothers but wanted to further her understanding.
So, when Morgan County posted a position to work for the county in a role that would be worka ing mainly with planning and zoning, she went after what she wanted by pursuing this opportunity. Kippen became the Secretary for the Planning and Zoning Department of Morgan County.
Her job description includes receiving the applications submitted to the county for planning and building, scheduling inspections, coordinates meetings, managing the public notices from the Planning Department and works with the Morgan County Engineer to provide needed research on projects. She is essentially the glue that holds all of the pieces together and keeps the planning and zoning office running smoothly, and able to fulfill their purpose to the county.
Kippen recognizes that there are some inherent challenges in being a county employee and also serving on the council. She has shared the experiences she had of when she was considering applying for the position initially. She spoke with her supervisor, Grant Crowell, the Director of Planning and Development for the county. She says that Crowell was very supportive and expressed that he saw no negatives or conflicts if she were to be appointed. In fact, once Kippen had applied, all of her co-workers also rallied behind her and gave her a lot of support.
Her reputation as a hard worker and excellent employee… along with the vast knowledge and experience she has gained… certainly meet the qualifications required of the position and would benefit the council and county. Councilmember Karen Sunday commented on her reputation as one with high energy and a very strong work ethic. Councilmember Kelley expressed that Kippen’s experience with the council and the knowledge she has of their policies make her confident that Kippen will do a great job for the county. These factors, along with her work experience, the amount of knowledge she has on subjects beneficial to the county, and the current experience she has working with the council were all key considerations of the Council members Sunday and Kelley in their decisions to vote in favor of Rhoda Kippen.
One factor that influenced Kippen’s decision to run for the council is the great desire she has to assist in fixing problems of the county. For example, the county has experienced problems with bonds from developers; the knowledge and experience Kippen has will all be assets to the council in getting these types of issues resolved. She has stepped up because there is a need in the county. She is passionate about Morgan County and wants to give where she can with what she can and make a difference.
Kippen’s employment with the county started in February of 2010. Since then, she has been laboring to clean up the “mess” that was left after the county was caught off-guard and unprepared by the county’s significant growth in development. The main focus that Kippen has had since she was hired in February has been to identify developers that have problems with their bonds and /or their performance against their contract.
Kippen attributes the problems of the past to the rapid growth, the county being unprepared with ordinances to address growth, and the lack of personnel who had experience in dealing with growth. She speaks in glowing terms of Crowell and his knowledge. Her experience with Crowell is that he will be the right person to help the county manage through the growth that is in the county’s future and to provide good advice to the council.
Kippen’s priorities, not surprisingly, are to ensure that development agreements in the future are constructed to protect the county residents from bearing a financial burden from development. She hopes to participate in sharing her knowledge and expertise in this area to shape county policy and help to inform other members of the council on the key issues surrounding development.
Kippen also would like to see economic development. She was encouraged by the comments from Snow Basin at the meetings for the general plan. She is candid about the fact that she does not have all the answers as to how to bring more business into the county, but expressed that growth from Snow Basin and at East Canyon were good areas to focus on to bring additional tax revenue into the county.
Kippen sees the need for the council administrator position. While she is still considering how the role should function, she expressed her view that there has been real value in a direct reporting relationship between the department heads and the council member assigned to oversee the departments since the departure of Garth Day. She expressed support for the department heads continuing to report to the assigned member of the council even after the council administrator is hired. She also communicated that she sees a need for regular coordination meetings between the elected department heads, the employee department heads, and the council.
There has been some controversy about the appointment of Kippen. About this controversy Kippen says, “people have chosen to jump to conclusions, listen to rumors instead of taking time to come in and ask me why I chose to put my application in.” She continues, “At the end of the day I have to go home and look my three children in the face and I have to know that I did my best.”
Kippen finished the interview saying, “I put my application in because I wanted to serve the community I love. I wanted to help out the people in this community… The only way I know how to do that is by getting involved.” Kippen has certainly taken that step to get involved and worked to make a difference.