Articles written by Kathleen Stinson For The Saratoga Sun


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  • New hires and recreation grants

    Kathleen Stinson for the Saratoga Sun|Apr 11, 2024

    The Town of Saratoga recently hired two new full-time police officers who started on April 1. At the Saratoga Town Council meeting on April 2, Mayor Chuck Davis administered the oath of office to one of them, Casey Lehr. For several months, the police department has been operating with only three full-time officers which has stretched the department’s resources, said Police Chief Mike Morris in a later interview. He said the department has been “busy answering calls and doing what was nee...

  • Long term solutions for short term rentals

    Kathleen Stinson for the Saratoga Sun|Apr 11, 2024

    Some cities and towns in tourist destinations like Wyoming and Montana have been capping, or are looking at capping, the number of allowable short-term rentals as a way to increase the number of long-term rentals for workforce housing. Some of these cities say requiring a permit through the ordinance gives the fire department authority to make safety inspections. This ensures properties are safe to occupy with working smoke alarms and other safety protections for the guests. The ordinance permit process gives towns a way to track the number of...

  • 'No statutory requirement'

    Kathleen Stinson for the Saratoga Sun|Apr 11, 2024

    The number of short-term rentals operating in Saratoga is unknown, unless the town creates an ordinance to track those with a permitting process. Airdna and another website which tracks these statistics do not agree, as previously reported in the Saratoga Sun. AirDNA and Key Data are the only two websites that provide this data information. Key Data, a vacation rental market data company based in the United Kingdom, cannot provide numbers more specific than Carbon County. The town does not require short-term rentals to have a business permit an...

  • Housing in Hulett

    Kathleen Stinson for the Saratoga Sun|Apr 4, 2024

    About 23 years ago, another small town in Wyoming faced similar obstacles to building low-income housing like the Town of Saratoga. Hulett, Wyoming, with a population of 323 at the 2022 U.S. Census, is that town. James S. and Sally Ann Neiman, owned the Neiman Mill in Hulett, which cut pine for lumber. According to their daughter, and former manager of the Hulett Community Housing Authority, Connie Lindmier, her parents led the effort to find low-income housing for Hulett. They wanted to provide affordable housing for their employees. Ultimatel...

  • 'Not a bit different'

    Kathleen Stinson for the Saratoga Sun|Mar 28, 2024

    The Saratoga Town Council discussed on March 19 whether to bring back for consideration a short-term rental ordinance which would regulate vacation rentals after a group of residents expressed their interest and the planning commission indicated it wanted to pursue this. Town Planning Administrator Emery Penner said in his report the planning commission had “a long conversation” with the public about an ordinance to regulate short-term rentals, such as AirBNBs. Four members of the public came to the meeting, he said. McCall Burau, chairman of...

  • Taking the first step

    Kathleen Stinson for the Saratoga Sun|Mar 21, 2024

    The Wyoming State Legislature passed two senate bills aimed at incentivizing the recruitment and retention of volunteers for emergency medical services (EMS) this session, but neither address the need for a revamp in the reimbursement system that financially supports the service. The local director of South Central Wyoming Emergency Medical Service based in Saratoga, Stayton Mosbey, said these bills are “small steps in the right direction –everything that helps to attract someone to volunteer is worth it.” However, Mosbey said, there is anoth...

  • Prop tax bills await Gov's signature

    Kathleen Stinson for the Saratoga Sun|Mar 21, 2024

    Five different versions of a property tax relief bill, which passed the Wyoming State Legislature this session and offer substantial savings to the citizens, are on Governor Mark Gordon’s desk as of Tuesday awaiting his signature. House District 40 Representative Barry Crago said he is not sure which bills the Governor will sign. He may look at how they work together as a group. He has 15 days from Friday to decide. House Bill 45, sponsored by Crago, proposes to cap the maximum allowable increase in property taxes each year at 4 percent in i...

  • Might not pencil out

    Kathleen Stinson for the Saratoga Sun|Mar 14, 2024

    One way to provide lower-income housing to residents is to use Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) through an IRS program administered by the Wyoming Community Development Authority (WCDA) for the state of Wyoming. One of these LIHTC developments is currently under construction in Jackson, Wyoming, said Mark Feilmeier, state director with the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The LIHTC program has also helped fund the building of three developments in Rawlins, said Christopher Volzke, Deputy Executive Director of the Wyoming...

  • Mayor Davis lists council's success

    Kathleen Stinson for the Saratoga Sun|Mar 14, 2024

    At its March 5 meeting, Mayor Chuck Davis described the Saratoga Town Council’s accomplishments over its first year, saying he is proud of how the council has “come together.” “I think we have made some accomplishments in the first year we’ve been here and I’m very proud of that,” Mayor Davis said. The council worked on many new projects and hired several people. He enumerated each of the accomplishments. Referring to the period between January 2023 and January 2024, he said the council hired a new treasurer, Corina Daily; a new Department of...

  • More density, more affordability

    Kathleen Stinson for the Saratoga Sun|Mar 7, 2024

    *Editor's Note: The online version of this article has had the headline updated to more accurately reflect the nature of the City of Cheyenne's ordinance* As part of an effort to make housing more affordable, the City of Cheyenne, Wyoming, passed a group of ordinances in December that eliminate lot area minimums and density requirements for some types of housing. The changes make it easier and less expensive for developers to construct housing. As a result, the city expects more housing will be built and the greater the supply compared to the...

  • Cleaning up the code

    Kathleen Stinson for the Saratoga Sun|Feb 29, 2024

    The Town of Saratoga is working on making its subdivision ordinance easier for developers to understand and access. This is one of the planning commission’s recent set of goals, said Emery Penner, town zoning administrator and public works director. Rewriting the ordinance in this way will be a lengthy process and involve several public hearings before both the planning commission and the council before the new ordinance can be adopted, Penner said. The town’s subdivision ordinance is located in Title 17 and 18 of the town’s code of ordin...

  • Helping people into housing

    Kathleen Stinson for the Saratoga Sun|Feb 29, 2024

    Residents in Carbon County are eligible for United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) low-interest home loans, if they meet the income eligibility requirements, according to the state director of rural development. State Director of USDA Rural Development Glenn Pauley spoke to the Saratoga Sun on Friday about the low-interest loan program. “We have a low-interest loan at 4.625 percent and if the income is low enough, it can go down to 1 percent,” Pauley said. The terms are typically for 33 to 38 years and are USDA rural home loans. In Car...

  • Get the lead out

    Kathleen Stinson for the Saratoga Sun|Feb 22, 2024

    About three weeks ago, the Town of Saratoga Public Works Department started collecting data to inventory all water service lines in order to meet a requirement by the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA is requiring all communities to inventory their water service lines for lead content by October 2024. “In 1986 Congress Amended the Safe Drinking Water Act, prohibiting the use of pipes, solder or flux that were not “lead free” in public water systems or plumbing in facilities providing water for human consumption,” as stated on epa.gov...

  • The challenge of rural EMS

    Kathleen Stinson for the Saratoga Sun|Feb 15, 2024

    In recent years, some emergency medical services in Wyoming have struggled to stay in business. According to Dirk J. Dijkstal, Health Readiness and Response Section Chief for Wyoming Department of Health, at least 11 agencies have been replaced by another, consolidated or closed their doors since 2015. The State of Wyoming does not mandate county government to provide emergency medical services. As a result, these operations have to find other ways to fund their businesses. Emergency medical service is a high-cost industry and healthcare...

  • Council moves forward on projects

    Kathleen Stinson for the Saratoga Sun|Feb 15, 2024

    The Saratoga Town Council voted to move forward on two public works projects at its February 6 meeting. One of the projects is the River Street Project, which will “roughly start at Elm Street and head south just across the Hugus Ditch,” said Public Works Director and Zoning Administrator Emery Penner in a later interview. “It will also include a section that will loop Walnut and Maple streets to the east of River Street as well as a new piece of pipe to the swimming pool.” In his report to the council, Penner said the River Street Project...

  • Davis: Consider Consequence of Property Tax Relief

    Kathleen Stinson for the Saratoga Sun|Feb 8, 2024

    With the 2024 Budget Session convening February 12, a number of bills are aimed at providing property tax relief to Wyoming residents. House District 47 Representative Bob Davis (R - Baggs) said the ramifications of some of the residential property tax relief bills being proposed for the upcoming legislative session need to be weighed against a loss in funding for essential government-funded services. For example, counties get 17.23 percent of property tax revenues, which they use to provide essential services. Some legislators are talking...

  • Cost saving and time saving?

    Kathleen Stinson for the Saratoga Sun|Feb 8, 2024

    The Town of Saratoga may be considering switching contracting with the Carbon County Sheriff’s Office for dispatch services following the January 16 meeting of the Saratoga Town Council. Currently, the Town operates its own dispatch services and contracts for the Town of Encampment. The City of Rawlins and the Carbon County Sheriff’s Office also have their own dispatch. All other municipalities such as Hanna, Medicine Bow and Baggs contract with the sheriff’s office. Some other parts of Wyoming have made the change to a joint dispatch syste...

  • Short term rentals, long term issues?

    Kathleen Stinson for the Saratoga Sun|Jan 25, 2024

    Short-term rentals in the Town of Saratoga have increased by approximately 100 percent from January to December 2023, according to airdna.co/vacation-rental-data. Saratoga does not currently have an ordinance that regulates short-term rentals, according to Emery Penner, director of public works and the town’s planning and zoning administrator. The Town of Saratoga, which has a population of 1,727 at the 2021 census count, currently has 145 available short-term rental listings, according to the airdna website. Sixty-six percent of these are A...

  • 'You have to grow yourself out'

    Kathleen Stinson for the Saratoga Sun|Jan 18, 2024

    Buying entry-level housing in Saratoga is challenging. Teachers take a job in Saratoga for a year and then move on to a town with more affordable housing. Bryan Drake builds homes in Saratoga. He said he would like to see people take a job in Saratoga and stay. Bryan and Kathy Drake, co-owners of Triple D Construction, are looking for ways to make constructing housing in Saratoga affordable to the entry-level buyer. The Drakes have been building in Saratoga since they came to town in 2013, Bryan said. About a year and a half ago, the Drakes...

  • Mr. Davis comes to Saratoga

    Kathleen Stinson for the Saratoga Sun|Jan 11, 2024

    House District 47 Representative Bob Davis (R - Baggs) updated the Saratoga Town Council on some key legislative issues at its meeting January 2. The representative said a Bureau of Land Management Resource Management Plan is underway in Medicine Bow. “We need to keep our eye on what’s happening in Rock Springs,” Davis said. He said the Rock Springs Resource Management Plan controls 3.8 million acres of public land and the federal government is trying to conserve an additional 1.8 million acres it contends is of “critical environmental concern...

  • Studying transportation in Saratoga

    Kathleen Stinson for the Saratoga Sun|Jan 11, 2024

    The Town of Saratoga was awarded a state grant to pay for a study to determine what transportation improvements residents want. “The Transportation Alternatives Master Plan study is an opportunity for staff, residents and the planning consultants to investigate opportunities to alter, increase and/or improve pedestrian connectivity and accessibility through the community,” said Public Works Director Emery Penner. “This is just a study.” Last summer, the town hired Denver-based OV Consulting to do the study, Penner said. The grant money paid for...

  • Supply and Demand

    Kathleen Stinson for the Saratoga Sun|Jan 4, 2024

    The Town of Saratoga’s lack of a sufficient supply of affordable housing is affecting the ability of local businesses to hire employees. In this series, the Saratoga Sun will examine the lack of affordable housing in Saratoga and its effect on the town’s ability to grow its economy. Wendy Barkhurst, owner of White Stone Realty based in Saratoga and Rawlins, is a broker and property manager. “I have not had a rental vacancy that I have had to advertise for more than two years,” Barkhurst said. “I have people calling about rentals even before th...

  • A Body of Work

    Kathleen Stinson for the Saratoga Sun|Dec 28, 2023

    While it is known unlicensed and unregulated tattooing is going on in Carbon County, neither the county nor the City of Rawlins regulates the activity at this time. Megan Cragun, Communicable Disease Unit Outreach Coordinator for the Carbon County Public Health Department, said the county does not have any regulations or policies on opening a tattoo shop or on tattooing. “Anybody can tattoo a person in their garage or wherever,” Cragun said in an interview. “Some counties have funding to suppo...

  • Police Department still working on staffing

    Kathleen Stinson for the Saratoga Sun|Dec 28, 2023

    Police Chief Mike Morris made a presentation on staffing issues in dispatch services under reports from his department at the December 19 Saratoga Town Council meeting. Morris said his new full time dispatcher, Joshua Mathieu, has been hired and is in training. “So far he is doing very well,” Morris said. He said he got the two dispatch call takers, Tiffany Moore and Tana Davi, hired as well and they have worked “a couple of shifts.” “Lieutenant (John) Moore and I have worked in dispatch a bit from time-to-time,” he said. “We’re a li...

  • County clerk to comment on drop box rules

    Kathleen Stinson for the Saratoga Sun|Dec 28, 2023

    County Clerk Gwynn Bartlett told the Carbon County Commissioners at their December 19 meeting she is going to submit a comment on Secretary of State Chuck Gray’s proposed new rules on drop boxes. The county drop box, located at the courthouse, is a way after hours to submit to the clerk’s office such items as child support payments and vehicle registration, for example, Bartlett said. She said the Secretary of State is proposing absentee ballots be submitted to the clerk inside the office. He wants the box to be placed inside the clerk’s offic...

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