The Saratoga Sun -

Airport board ordinances pass

Saratoga Town Council hears ballfield, well updates


April 24, 2019

The third and final readings of the trio of ordinances aimed at restructuring the Saratoga Airport Board as an advisory board were held during the April 16 meeting of the Saratoga Town Council and were passed unanimously. Council member Steve Wilcoxson was absent, but made known his support for the ordinances in a letter read by Mayor John Zeiger. Ellie Dana, Saratoga Airport Board member, was in attendance and voiced her opinions on, specifically, Ordinance 851, again.

Council members also heard from Ben Spaulding, representing Platte Valley Little League, and Saratoga resident Karon Wilson. The council also approved a State Homeland Security Program (SHSP) grant application for a backup generator for the Town of Saratoga’s well field.

Originally introduced during the March 19 Saratoga Town Council, Ordinance 850, 851 and 852 repeal chapter 14.08 of the municipal code, replace chapter 14.08 and adopt the “Minimum Standards of Shively Field” by resolution. As was reported previously (see “Airport board back on town radar” on page 1 of the April 10 Saratoga Sun), when the town council held their second reading of the ordinances, Dana rose to speak to the council about Ordinance 851. In part of her address to the council on April 2, Dana stated that the language was flawed.

During the April 16 meeting, she restated her comments and asked about her ability to stand in front of the council.

“Last time I was here, I’m sorry Mr. Wilcoxson isn’t here tonight, but last time I was here, Mr. Wilcoxson questioned my ability to stand and make comments and the remainder of the council remained silent. I would like some clarity on whether people outside the town limits can speak before the council,” said Dana.

Zeiger informed Dana that Wilcoxson’s comments from the April 2 meeting, in which he called Dana’s standing with the council into question, were his own and not supported by the council. Following Zeiger’s comments, Dana informed the council that she wanted to reiterate her comments, which led to an exchange between Dana and council member Jon Nelson as he addressed her comments from the previous town council meeting.

During that discussion, Dana expanded on her claim of defective language by stating that the term “hangar lessee” was incorrect. Technically, those who maintain hangars at Shively Field own their structures and lease the ground they are built on from the Town of Saratoga.

As Nelson continued to address Dana’s previous comments, he stated that he believed he had performed his due diligence by consulting with the Town of Saratoga’s airport engineer, Dave Schultz, fixed base operator Bob Maddox, and separate members of the airport board. Nelson also stated that, in regards to Dana’s comments about there being no language authorizing the airport advisory board to speak with or interact with the Wyoming Department of Transportation or the Federal Aviation Administration, such language did not exist in the previous municipal code, either.

Following Nelson’s comments, Dana stated that, due to her belief that the Saratoga Town Council would not address the issues she saw with the ordinance, having a discussion about the document was not productive.

“We can have this discussion and debate if you want here, but I don’t think that, since I don’t believe you’re going to go back and do anything about this ordinance, that this is productive for you or for me,” said Dana.

“As an official who’s elected by the citizens of this town, who provided me with the opportunity to sit here and engage in debate and discussion in this room, I think this is the perfect place to have this discussion,” replied Nelson. “I just wanted to address some of your comments from the last meeting and assure this council and other … members of the public that what you stated at the last meeting was not completely accurate and that many conversations and much due diligence was had.”

Before being passed on its third reading, the term “hangar lessee” in Ordinance 851 was changed to “ground lessee.” Additionally, all references to “town council” were modified to read “Saratoga Town Council” to provide consistency in the document. All three ordinances were passed unanimously on third reading. Resolution No. 2019-07, which formally adopted the most current minimum standards, was also passed.

While the ordinances passed their third reading, according to Wyoming State Statute 15-1-116, the ordinances will not be effective until publication in the Saratoga Sun. Town of Saratoga attorney Tom Thompson informed the council that, while the ordinances were not in effect yet, they could begin advertising for positions on the airport advisory board. Appointments, however, could not be made until the ordinance went into effect.

Under items from the public, the town council heard from Spaulding and Wilson on two different matters. Spaulding approached the town council about the possibility of using the west baseball field that sits on the hill behind the Saratoga Branch Library for practice and, eventually, games. Following discussion between Spaulding and the council about the number of teams and limited practice time, the council requested Jon Winter, director of Department of Public Works (DPW), to begin the process of making the west baseball field practice ready

Wilson, meanwhile, stood in front of the council to offer a public rebuke of former Acting Police Chief Robert Bifano.

“I am just here to put to rest a situation that’s been going on for way too long. I want to issue a public rebuke to former Acting Chief of Police Robert Bifano because of a situation that happened on April 24, 2017. He called me at my home and he accused me of slandering the police department while I was at work and threatened to go to my employer, which I consider an abuse of office, and, to me, it was evident he was trying to intimidate me. I was speaking at the city council meeting on May the 2nd. I spoke anyway. Then, I filed a complaint with the mayor and I asked for records and I filed other complaints and, to this point, nothing has been dealt with. So, I’m tired of it,” said Wilson. “So, I’m here to issue the rebuke myself and I have paperwork with all of my requests, all of my notes from the meetings that I’ve had, everything. If you want to review it, I’m fine with that. If you have any questions, I’m fine with that, but this has gone on too long. The last request for records was Dec. 21, nothing yet. The statute under which I requested those records requires a written response within 21 days. Thank you for your time.”

The May 2, 2017 council meeting Wilson referred to in her public comments was one in which, during a discussion of the Saratoga Police Department, she publicly expressed her disappointment with how officers involved in her case had handled the situation.

Under DPW, the council unanimously approved the application for an SHSP grant for the purchase of a backup generator to be used with the Town of Saratoga’s water well system. The only public comment in regards to the grant came from Randy Raymer, who asked why the generator was being purchased nine years after the water well system had been installed and made operational. Nelson answered Raymer, stating that a recommendation for a backup generator had been made following the project, but that previous town councils had not acted upon that recommendation.

The next meeting of the Saratoga Town Council will be at 6 p.m. on May 7 at Saratoga Town Hall.


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