Gallaway's Service to Sidney Celebrated in Warm Send-off
July 6, 2023
After the announcement of his retirement from Sidney High School as teacher in business and computers earlier this year, Roger Gallaway made his retirement from public office official as he stepped down from his position as Vice Mayor for the Sidney City Council at last week's meeting.
After the council meeting, a retirement party was held for Gallaway at the Sidney Elks Lodge where he had some time to reflect on his educational career and time in government service. Gallaway was born and raised in Loup City, and then got his first experience of the western Nebraska lifestyle when he attended Chadron State College. He graduated with a double major in Business and Library Science. Gallaway also played football while at Chadron State College, where he missed playing with future Buffalo Bills standout receiver Don Beebe by one season.
Upon graduating from Chadron State, he was offered a teaching position at Bridgeport High School in 1990. He was also offered a position at Cozad to teach and coach at their junior High School, but he passed on the offer to work and coach at a Class B school.
"I had gotten to know the panhandle area well during my time at Chadron State, and enjoyed the pace of life and the people, so I decided to go to work at Bridgeport. The people in the Panhandle area make it easy to stay around and very hard to leave," said Gallaway.
Gallaway had gotten married just before he left Chadron State College and was now teaching at Bridgeport, coaching and raising a family. During his tenure at Bridgeport, he coached football and the team made the playoffs one of the two years he was there, and he also started coaching Track and Field.
While he was working at the Kindergarten though 12th Grade Library Media at Bridgeport, he saw an ad for a job at Sidney High School. "It was a big step up, going to a Class B school, and I had the opportunity to coach football coming in, then coach Track the next year. One of my goals when I came here was to coach a group that could break the 4X100 Meter Relay record, and when you look now, that old record is like number 17 on the list, so I had the chance to coach a lot of great athletes during my time in Sidney."
When Gallaway moved over to Sidney, he had just gotten divorced and had two sons that would spend the summers with him. Gallaway made sure to get his children involved in activities and sports while in Sidney so they would never feel like outsiders. "Although they're technically not from Sidney, the city has a special place in their hearts," he said.
In his position with Library Media, Gallaway has seen the technological advancements brought forth by computers first-hand, and has had to adapt to the changes in real time. In fact, one of the reasons he was able to get the job at Sidney high School was that he had working experience with the Novell systems that Sidney used from his time in Bridgeport. "I didn't think I was going to get the job here because the ad said they were looking for someone with a Master's degree, but I had the experience of working with the systems they were putting in, so it worked out for me."
As time progressed, Gallaway's attention turned towards local government. "I kind of grew up with it, as my dad served on the County Board of Supervisors in Sherman county, and my mom had served as a City Clerk for 30 years in Loup City. I built a bit of a foundation by getting involved with the Sidney City Planning Commission and Housing Authority, and all of the coaching I was doing and community theater, so it was always important for me to be involved in the community. An opportunity to get on the city Council happened when their was a vacancy and I threw my hat in the ring. They wanted to know if I was interested in running for a council position after the term was over and I did. But it took four times for me running to actually get elected." Gallaway was appointed two times to the council prior to actually getting elected, and he was elected three times. He was selected as Mayor for two terms, after Joe Arterburn, after serving as Vice-mayor.
"When I was Mayor, one of the hot topics were the streets, and we put a lot of work into improving the city's streets and thoroughfares. I was also Mayor when the Cabela's sale came through, and although there were a lot of predictions about Sidney going down because of the loss of Cabela's, but as you can see, Sidney is very resilient and has recovered and will continue to recover," he said.
"You hear about empty businesses in the downtown area, but we're coming back and activity is trending up. You can travel around to other places in the area and find towns in much worse circumstances than Sidney. One of the big reasons that Sidney has rebounded is the talent, creativity and resiliency of the citizens here."
Part of the reason Gallaway is retiring is to take advantage of the Public School system's "Rule of 85" which means that if you are at least 55 years old and have 30 years in the public school system, you can start to draw your pension.
"That's a big part, but I also got an opportunity to relocate to another school that's about an hour a forty minutes from my son and grandsons. It's a private Catholic School, David City Aquinas, and because it's not public, I could still draw my pension while working there. But to be honest, the big draw is that I can be out of school at 3:30, and still make it to my grandson's football game at 5:30. That's really important to me. It was the hardest decision to make, but I'll be closer to my boys," he said.
When asked what he would say to people in his new town when they asked about Sidney, he replied, "It's one of the toughest most positive places you can be, with some of the most resilient people you will find." Coming from Gallaway, that's high praise as he has lived in city for decades, was a fixture in the public schools and in coaching, and served the community in multiple ways from community organizations to local government. If you needed a person to explain Sidney and all of its qualities, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better ambassador than Gallaway.