Natural gas heats meeting up


The town of Encampment held its monthly town council meeting on Thursday where it appointed a new South Central Wyoming Emergency Medical Services (SCWEMS) member, and discussed other ongoing business.

The council had a long agenda, but for the most part quickly moved though the list, but did stop to spend time on discussing the appointment of the SCWEMS representative, and listen to public concerns about getting a natural gas supplier for the town to allow for construction of senior apartments.

Resident Sandy Martin brought up the issue of a lack of a natural gas distribution grid in the town, saying that the lack of such a system was a key impediment to developers who had expressed interest in building new housing in the town.

The lack of a natural gas distribution system in the town means that such developments would be stymied, Martin told the council.

Riverside Mayor Greg Salisbury entertained the notion, but stated that this is not the first time the council had heard the issue. Several years earlier, the council had looked at ways to bring natural gas distribution to the town, but none were economically feasible.

One option was to bring gas in from Walden, Colo., Salisbury said. Another potential source would be a pipeline running into the town from Saratoga. The difficulty with such plans proved to be that the town’s small population made it economically unfeasible for a gas distributor to make such an investment, he said.

“You gotta have people that’ll buy,” Salisbury said. “That’s the problem, you have to be able to make money, you need jobs.”

Salisbury also noted that obtaining right-of-way to run a line from Saratoga to Encampment would take a, “Long, long time.”

Martin and the council also discussed the use of electricity for heating proposed new homes or using biomass. The council said that it would like to discuss the issue, but noted that it was fraught with difficulty and that no solution would present itself overnight.

The town also appointed a new SCWEMS representative for the town, Jeb Steward. Steward, a former state legislator who represented his district from 2007-2012, said he had once been a paramedic but that he, “no longer wanted to carry a pager.”

The opportunity to serve on the SCWEMS council would allow him to continue work he started at the state level as a representative to improve rural access to emergency medical services, Steward said.

Council members said that the town needed someone who could work with the SCWEMS council who could transcend some of the political difficulties that had taken root in the council. Steward said he was aware of some, but not all, of those issues but was committed to working with the SCWEMS council.

The town council voted to approve Steward as the towns representative to the SCWEMS council.

The next meeting of the Encampment Town Council will be held 7 p.m., June 9 at Encampment Town Hall.


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