Welcome to our series, #WHYoming.
We are highlighting people from around our communities and asking them a few questions. We want to learn a little about them and see why they chose this great state to raise their families, start their businesses, or simply to ask — Why Wyoming?
For this week’s #WHYoming, I had a chance to talk with Jason Mower, the Chief Public Information Officer for the Sweetwater County COVID-19 Emergency Operations Center. Jason is also the PIO for the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office.
Jason has been working tirelessly to keep the community updated on the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic. Times are stressful, as well all know, but Jason wants to remind the community that it’s ok to take a moment to laugh.
Born and raised in Wyoming, Jason can’t really see himself living anywhere else. He has lived in Green River with his family for about 10 years now, and this community is his home. During his time at the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office, Jason has worked day in and day with the priority of keeping the community he loves safe and informed.
Jason, what is your role on the Emergency Operations Center? How did you end up in this role?
I’m assigned as Chief Public Information Officer for the Sweetwater County COVID-19 Emergency Operations Center. Sheriff Grossnickle recommended me for this role, and I was officially asked to fill the role by the EOC Incident Commander and Chairman of the Sweetwater County Board of Commissioners, Randy “Doc” Wendling.
Before we activated the EOC, I was working as public information officer for the Sweetwater County Community Resiliency Task Force.
The task force was a partnership among our local emergency first responders and community stakeholders. We convened the task force in anticipation of the arrival of the COVID-19 virus here in Sweetwater County.
Our goal was to serve as a consolidated clearinghouse for local public health and safety information as it relates to the coronavirus disease in our community.
Now under the umbrella of the EOC, the task force continues to operate at my direction as an intelligence gathering unit – the true eyes and ears on the ground who help the EOC keep track of relevant trends and developments in our community.
What has the average day been looking like since the EOC started up?
Honestly, it’s been an absolute whirlwind! My day is filled with nonstop phone calls, email correspondence, planning meetings, operational and intelligence briefings, media releases and press briefings. In my role as EOC Chief PIO, I’m trying to do everything I can think of to keep the public informed with accurate information that is readily accessible to everyone, and is delivered in a timely and responsible manner.
Now, with two weeks of EOC operations under our belt, we continue to streamline the process so it remains manageable and effective for everyone. I’m honored and humbled to work with such an experienced and talented group of people. I’m confident that, if we all continue to do our part by following current guidelines and recommendations, we are in good hands here in Sweetwater County, and we will all get through this crisis together.
What is your role in the Sheriff’s Office? How did you end up in that position?
I currently serve the sheriff’s office as our public affairs officer. I was assigned to the position when Sheriff Grossnickle took office.
How long have you been with the Sheriff’s Office? What does your prior job history look like?
I’ve been with the sheriff’s office for 11 years. I’ve been fortunate throughout my career to have walked my own path and worn many different hats. I started as the resident patrol deputy in Wamsutter before coming to town on patrol. I transferred to detectives where one of my first major cases was a homicide. I was part of a fugitive apprehension team for a few years. I’ve also worked as a patrol supervisor. My most recent assignment prior to my current position was as a supervising detective for our narcotics and fugitive apprehension task force.
How did you end up in Sweetwater County?
I’m a full-blooded Wyomingite, born in Casper and raised a few miles away in Kemmerer.
I graduated in 2004 with a bachelors in political science and in 2006 with a masters in political science from the University of Wyoming.
After a brief stint in sunny Southern California after college, I returned to Wyoming – where my heart is – to pursue a lifelong dream – a career in public service.
I’m grateful the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office gave me the opportunity.
I have now lived with my family in Green River for about 10 years.
What is something unique about you?
I started playing piano when I was six years old. I picked up a guitar at age 12 and never looked back. Making music is a huge part of my life; it’s spiritual for me, and it feeds my soul. I’m no savant or anything like that, but I enjoy writing songs and making music, and I’ve played guitar now for nearly 30 years!
I often joke with my music friends that I am a recovering closet songwriter, and to NEVER trust a man with a guitar!
What do you appreciate most about our community?
The people and our shared values. We are independent, savvy, resilient and rely on common sense. We have a long and storied tradition of caring for one another and putting others before ourselves.
What are your some of your hobbies?
Making music, reading, writing, photography, golf, enjoying the outdoors and spending time with my family.
If you could give one brief piece of advice, what would it be?
Don’t forget to laugh. Sometimes we all take ourselves and each other too seriously. It’s okay to joke and to laugh, even in times of crisis.
Where is your favorite place to hang out in Sweetwater County?
The Green Belt, the Green River, and Flaming Gorge.
What would you sing at karaoke night?
If I had to sing at karaoke tonight, I would wear a tinfoil hat, a face mask, and I would sing the Knack’s “My Sharona.” But, I would replace the word “Sharona” with the word “corona” throughout the song. Haha!
What is one of your proudest accomplishments?
Well, aside from being a husband and father, I’m proud to have worked together at the sheriff’s office with the Green River and Rock Springs police departments to start a joint peer support team for our community’s law enforcement officers. The mental health and well-being of our emergency first responders is often overlooked.
For at least the last three years, more cops are dying by their own hand than in the line of duty. That’s not okay, and we have to do something about it. Peer support is just one of those tools. It gives our community’s law enforcement officers an outlet where they can talk to other cops in confidence about work and cop life.
Who would you want to play you in a movie about your life?
Hmm, maybe Mark Wahlberg or Matt Damon. While not an actor, I’m not ashamed to admit that I think I have a small man crush on Brooks Koepka.
Why do you continue to live in Wyoming?
The people, our shared values, our way of life, our beautiful panoramas and our wide open spaces.
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