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The City Journals

Herriman recognizes event manager’s ‘legacy’

Dec 06, 2016 02:36PM ● By Tori LaRue

Herriman City officials gather around Danie Bills and her family to present her with a framed aerial photograph of the park she helped the city create. Bills worked for the Herriman for more than 13 years but decided to take a new job at the Salt Lake County Sherriff’s Office, much to the dismay of Herriman officials. (Destiny Skinner/Herriman City)

By Tori La Rue | [email protected]

After more than 13 years of working as Herriman’s events and recreation manager, Danie Bills took a job as a graphic designer the sheriff’s office, leaving her friends, associates and acquaintances sad to see her go. 

Some council members, city staff members and residents shed tears as Bills was honored during the Nov. 9 Herriman City Council Meeting. Bills’ recognition continued for more than 45 minutes and included two video presentations and remarks from nine people. 

“I want you to know that you are leaving a legacy for this city,” Councilman Craig Tischner said, referencing the park that wouldn’t exist without the contributions of Bills and her family. “It is very much appreciated.” 

In 1997, Bills’ daughters participated in mini-rider shows in Draper, and her grandfather Wayne Butterfield argued that they shouldn’t have to travel to watch the girls ride. He donated a 60-acre parcel to Herriman in 1999, before the city was incorporated, hoping to provide rodeo grounds for the local children. 

Bills became the volunteer champion of the park, bringing physical labor and collaborative planning to the project before Herriman hired her full time as the events and recreation manager in 2003. She had her hand in every facet of the park creation, said City Manager Brett Wood. 

“Sometimes when I would work with Danie, she’s the one changing the teeth on the harrow for the arena—laying underneath it with an impact gun,” Wood said. “The next moment she’s doing schedules for our events, and the next minute cooking people lunch and breakfast in the department. I tried to think of all of the things that she’s done, but there are too many.” 

Danie executed the project not because it was part of her job description but because it became her passion, Wood added. 

Bills expanded her grandfather’s vision for the rodeo grounds by including other amenities in the park design. The park, which is now home to Fort Herriman Days, Pedal Palooza and other annual festivities, includes three football/soccer fields, volleyball courts, four baseball fields, two small pavilions, one large pavilion with a stage, restrooms, concessions and a playground in addition to its rodeo amenities: three rodeo arenas, a stall barn, concessions and restrooms. 

“Because of you, my kids—and many kids—learn to play baseball, football (and) lacrosse,” Trischner said. “Anytime a kid is having a time of their life on the playground, it is because of you.” 

Bills said the W&M Butterfield Park is the thing she is most proud of, concerning her time working for and with Herriman City. She expressed her gratitude for the council and staff supporting her self-described “crazy ideas.” 

Clint Smith, who knew Bills from his position as Herriman Planning Commission Chair and former position as Unified Fire Fire Battalion Chief, said it was ironic that Bills thanked Wood, himself and others for supporting her ideas when they should be the ones thanking her. 

“There are some truly amazing, special things that have happened in this city because of Danie,” Smith said. “The truth is that those opportunities wouldn’t have been there if Danie wouldn’t have had the foresight to start them.”

Bills acted as a liaison to the Herriman Arts Council and oversaw the annual holiday events, Fort Herriman Days three-day celebration and the Endurocross challenge. While attending, planning and supervising these events, Bills noticed a gap in the activities they offered. She created an Easter egg hunt and rodeo experience specifically for children with special needs. 

Herriman Resident Jeremy Green and four of his children, who participate in the special needs rodeo each year, attended the Nov. 9 meeting to express how the adaptive activities have impacted their family. 

“Some of our children have the challenge of added difficulties,” Green said. “It’s really been such a neat opportunity to go to this function every year. It is a day where they don’t worry about anything that they have to do that’s a little bit different or out of the ordinary. They can relax and have a wonderful time.” 

To recognize Bills for the events she planned and the people she touched, city officials presented her with a large, framed aerial picture of the W&M Butterfield Park. The council signed the matting to personalize the gift. 

Bills said she looks forward to pursuing a new passion of graphic design at the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office, but she said she will miss being heavily involved in Herriman activities. 

“I still plan on volunteering for years to come,” Bills said. “Herriman city has been more than just a job—it has been a family.”