Meeting in the Valley

Carbon County Commissioners meet at Platte Valley Community Center


August 28, 2019

The Carbon County Commissioners met at 2 p.m. on Aug. 20 at the Platte Valley Community Center.

All the commissioners were in attendance.

The agenda, minutes from the regularly scheduled meeting on Aug. 6 and financials that totaled $1,179,212.78 were approved in the first few minutes of the meeting.

Emily Kaluzny, Carbon County Emergency Response Coordinator, told the commission the public health department was working with Wyoming Game and Fish Department (Game and Fish) in putting dispensers of sun lotion at different recreation areas.

“I have been working mainly with Game and Fish and the conservation district and we are going to have bug spray and sunscreen at four test sites,” Kaluzny said. “They (Game and Fish) gave us a special use permit at Baggot Rocks, Treasure Island, Pic Bridge and Foote. It will be a clear acrylic box that will have a bottle of each. It will be a honor system, that if people use it, they will put it back into the box.”

She said the funding for the sunscreen came from Wyoming Cancer Resource Services. The conservation district will be donating posts and their time for this project. She said Game and Fish will keep her informed of how quickly product is being used. Kalunzy is hoping to have a permanent sunscreen dispenser in the towns of Saratoga and Rawlins. She said there will be two mobile units that could be used for special events.

Sid Fox, Carbon County Director for Planning and Development told the commissioners he was working with the Town of Riverside on a memorandum of understanding (MOU).

“This MOU is very similar to what we have entered into with the Town of Saratoga and the Town of Encampment,” Fox said. “Basically this was all triggered by some changes in the state law concerning extra-territorial jurisdiction where, in the past, some towns had the ability to exert jurisdiction with respect to planning, zoning and subdivision.”

He said the law change occurred two years ago.

“So now that authority is only granted within unincorporated Carbon County through the board of county commissioners,” Fox said. “The way we have approached that is by entering into voluntary agreements with some of the towns and this one was requested by the mayor of Riverside, Leroy Stephenson.”

Fox said the MOU would alert Riverside if any development was occurring. He noted because, the towns of Encampment and Riverside were so close, there could notices that could overlap.

Kandis Fritz, Road and Bridge Office Manager, was approved to be the interim director for Road and Bridge.

She said there had been only one bid received for the County Road 291 gravel hauling bid.

The commissioners decided to wait for more bids. The formal bidding process will take approximately two weeks.

The same formal bidding process was discussed for County Road 499, north of Rawlins, until Commissioner John Espy pointed out there were roads that were more traveled that needed repair.

Fritz said she would prioritize in each district the roads and an overall priority list including all the districts.

She said the reclamation of County Road 121 around the bridge area will be done by Oftedal Construction at the end of fall and the seeding alongside the road by the county.

Fritz suggested to the commissioners that they hold off hiring the superintendent position held recently by Bill Nation and get one or two operators for the Rawlins area. She suggested having a north and south operator.

“Communication is key with me,” Fritz said. “If there is a problem, I will get it addressed and follow up.”

She said school bus routes were the priority during winter, with mail delivery routes not being far behind.

The commissioners contemplated setting up an advisory board from the public in helping with the hiring of the new superintendent. Carbon County Attorney Ashley Davis cautioned the commissioners on having too many involved in the hiring process.

“Too many cooks can cause trouble, particularly in the hiring process,” Davis said. “When you do it for one department, are you going to do it for every department. I would be cautious about setting this precedent.”

Carbon County clerk Gwynn Bartlett said a job description had to be assembled.

The timeline for the hiring was left open in order to get the best candidate.

Commissioner Sue Jones stepped down as liaison for the Road and Bridge.

“I don’t know why we have to limit ourselves,” Jones said. “There are connections that we all have, so I don’t know what the problem is with having more than one, two or three.”

Espy and Byron Barkhurst were the new commissioners approved to be liaisons for Road and Bridge. Fritz will use Johnson as the point of contact.

Craig Kopasz from Engineering Associates said the Medicine Bow Road and Bridge and Sheriff complex would cost more than anticipated.

To build living quarters in the complex for the deputies and an employee for Road and Bridge equipment building, drove the cost up. The sprinkler system that would be required to be in the complex because of living quarters could be reduced significantly if the buildings were split.

“I am not happy with where we are at, to say the least,” Johnson said. “The scope of the project has been extensive and we narrowed the scope down to get it under budget and then it was over budget by $800,000 which blew me away. Usually those bids come in pretty close.”

Kopasz said he understood Johnson’s frustration.

When Johnson asked what the new design cost would run, Kopasz said it would be $75,000, although he said there could be some savings of work done.

Johnson said he felt the county was paying twice for the same thing.

“That is not sitting well with me,” Johnson said. “I probably need some time to gather my thoughts.”

Jones said there were many reasons the project had turned out the way it had. An employee for Road and Bridge to run the building was living in Hanna. When the project started, this person was not at Road and Bridge. He has been contracted for three years.

“Currently, the situation in the last few months has changed as to what we really need in Medicine Bow compared to what this originally started out to be,” Jones commented. “There really doesn’t need to be housing for an employee for Road and Bridge, which there was when we first started. So in that time frame, the whole project has changed.”

She said all the changes that had occurred were not in any person’s control.

“All this mind changing and changes that we have had no control over costs money,” Jones said. “Those people are doing their job, so its no one’s fault and it is upsetting, I totally agree, but we need to back up here and get a shop in Medicine Bow because that is what we started out to do and we also need to get whatever the sheriff needs that is adequate for him, not on this scale, because we have gone beyond this scale.”

Davis said it was important for the reputation of Carbon County to honor the project concerning the housing for law enforcement. She suggested maybe it wasn’t a bad idea for housing to be separate from the Road and Bridge building.

The commissioners rejected the bid on the Medicine Bow Road/Sheriff Complex bids.

Jones said Kopasz needed to come back on Sept. 3 with plans.

Johnson said he wanted to have a meeting with reps from the concerned agencies and discuss the project at the next meeting.

The Board approved the contract between the Division of Victims Services and Carbon County Sheriff.

Saratoga resident Sally Patton told the board that the Victim Services helped many people and thanked them for signing the contract.

Davis said Sandy Levingood, a representative from the Medicine Bow Rural Health Care District, was asking if they could own the building the county had been providing.

The board was agreeable. Davis said she will look into the legalities for the purchase.

Novo Benefits renewal schedule of services and fees were approved. It will be a flat fee of $3,330.

The commissioners approved the purchase of bulk office supplies from Simple Distributors for $15,800. Bartlett the purchase of these office products usually lasts several years. Simple Distributors was the least expensive of three bids put forth.

She also recommended Simple Distributors for the purchase of bulk toilet paper at the price $10,700 and board approved the purchase. The purchase will save the county $5,000.

The commissioners appointed Lindsey West, and Bartlett as the alternate, to the Specific Purpose Tax Joint Powers Board.

The authorization of a $5,000 grant from the State of Wyoming State Lands and Investments Forestry division was approved to have the chairman’s signature.

The commissioners approved the Dixon Airport Runway Repair Grant application. The board approved the renewal of the contract with DBT Transportation Services for the automated weather observation system and national airspace data network.

Saratoga resident Richard Hodges asked a question in the citizen discussion.

“It appears we have two entities trying to provide health care in the Valley and Memorial Hospital said they would provide us with a doctor in 60 to 90 days if they had a facility to go into and they are all ready to go and it wouldn’t cost us anything, whereas the other proposal is going to cost a whole bunch,” Hodges started. “I asked Memorial hospital in a public comment, ‘If you are so flush, that you can provide this medical care at no cost, how about paying the commissioners back the million, million and half bucks they gave you a few years back to keep the lights on’. Their comment was ‘You haven’t asked.’ So all I am asking is how about you asking for it back.”

Johnson thanked Hodges for his words.

“That was interesting,” Johnson said. “I think we should put our heads together and I thank you for it.”

Under the commissioner’s reports, Jones said she had sat in on the meetings of the Dixon and Rawlins airport boards. Espy said he had just finished working on the migration corridor task force that the governor had set up.

“Basically, what we recommended was, instead of going through the federal process, it is going to be more of an executive order (E.O.) process, similar to the sage grouse E.O. on how we will develop in that migration corridor, more specifically mule deer, that seems to be the big issue out there that effects the big counties,” Espy said. “It is in the governor’s lap and we will see what he does with it.”

He said the Western Governors Association wanted to get together with some counties in Wyoming and Colorado and see about constructing a platform for their social economic data. It will be used for federal land management processes. The date for the meeting is to be determined.

Johnson went over the meeting of municipalities for impact funding concerning Lucky Star and Two Rivers wind projects that will go before the Wyoming Industrial Siting Council (see “Coming to an Understanding” on page 9 of Aug. 21, 2019 Saratoga Sun).

“We came in well under the cap,” Johnson said. “I think, for the benefit of Carbon County, our requests were legitimate and defensible, so I signed the MOU.”

The next scheduled regular meeting will be at 2 p.m. on Sept. 3 at the County Courthouse.


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