Rouses Point Mayor George Rivers says you have to have an open mind and know you cannot please everyone.
George Rivers steps down as mayor of the Village of Rouses Point this March after 14 years.
To watch him on the job he doesn’t seem near the end of his term, taking calls, checking on various aspects of the village, he never seems to take a break from work. Just before the morning of his interview with Denton Publications, he was checking water levels after a snowfall as the rain steadily pounded the ground.
“There’s always something to do,” said Rivers, 76.
He first ran for office 16 years ago after spending 19 years as the fire chief. There were a couple of openings on the village board.
“I didn’t really want to run,” Rivers said between phone calls. “I was retired from Wyeth and was just gonna play around in my garage. But they talked me into it.”
Two years later the mayor at the time stepped down and upon the urging of friends, Rivers successfully ran for that office.
“I didn’t really want to do that either.”
About six years later, his workload increased when the village administrator resigned and those duties were shifted to Rivers.
“We have done tremendous work,” Rivers said. “We just started building the railroad state into a museum.
“We have got 13 different grants in 14 years.”
Rivers said he’s done some things in the job that have never been done before, and one was to get himself out there and establish political contacts.
That helps, because when the village has problems and the senator knows the mayor, the outcome is results.
For example, Rouses Point had been having difficulty for years establishing senior housing. Rivers made a trip to Washington, sat down with former Congressman John McHugh, and three weeks later obtained the money.
Results energize Rivers.
“You get a high out of getting things accomplished.”
For example, Rouses Point enjoys the lowest municipal electric rates in the nation. When that contract came up for renewal, Rivers helped Rouses Point become part of a program that provides rebates to residents for energy efficient purchases and changes.
“These are the kinds of things I like doing.”
But he cannot please everybody. Sometimes he has to say, “Sorry, it can’t happen.”
“You can’t let it bother you because if you do, you’ll make yourself crazy.”
The closing of Pfizer, formally known as Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, was a shock. It was the biggest employer in the area, supplying roughly 1,200 jobs.
“I never expected it,” Rivers said.
But he looks forward.
“That’s done,” Rivers said. “All those jobs can come back.”
His wife is his biggest supporter.
“It’ll make it or break it for you,” he said. “She helps me get through things.”
He thinks he’ll miss being mayor, but it’s time.
“I’m 76,” he said. “I wish whoever steps in this chair the best of luck in the world.
“It’s not going to be an easy time with the economy and Pfizer. Just keep an open mind.”