Commissioners offer support for rising new business

‘We feel like we can save the community money’

Rhett Breedlove
Posted 7/5/24

TORRINGTON – The Goshen County Commission met at the courthouse promptly at 9 a.m. Tuesday morning to hear crucial biweekly agenda items. Notably the meeting concentrated on recent volunteer …

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Commissioners offer support for rising new business

‘We feel like we can save the community money’


TORRINGTON – The Goshen County Commission met at the courthouse promptly at 9 a.m. Tuesday morning to hear crucial biweekly agenda items. Notably the meeting concentrated on recent volunteer firefighting efforts near Pine Ridge, motivated expansion efforts by a youthful and ambitious local business, and essential road and bridge projects soon to be on the horizon.

Present at the meeting were chairman Michael McNamee, along with fellow commissioners Aaron P. Walsh and Justin Burkart.

County clerk Mary Feagler was also in attendance and provided imperative guidance and provisions to ensure all meeting procedures would move smoothly and efficiently. 

The first notable item on the agenda involved chairman McNamee giving much-deserved praise and recognition for a recently contained wildfire near Pine Ridge, which according to Goshen Emergency Management Coordinator Thomas Bozeman burned just over 12,000 acres of spread.

Fortunately, no injuries or structural damage occurred.

“First of all, I want to commend everyone who was involved with firefighting efforts up on Pine Ridge,” McNamee began. “It could’ve been substantially more than that. It’s impressive to me when you consider efforts of all the different fire departments, particularly those rural departments who joined in to help out. It’s pretty amazing as far as the organization of it, and I want to give a big thank you to them.”

“The fire ended up burning officially 12,090 acres of land in the Fort Laramie Fire District,” Bozeman added. “Our response was a big one and took everyone in the county working together as well as the neighboring jurisdictions of Guernsey and Hartville. The winds grew quickly but were 100% contained by Wednesday morning.”

Bozeman added although the entire situation was handled appropriately with immense teamwork from all-volunteer fire departments, the situation was costly in addition to recent severe storms near and around Yoder.

“Although it was a big fire which took a lot of resources, there won’t be any reimbursement from that,” Bozeman said. “While there were some good expenses, the storm we had which went through Yoder was a pretty quick one. It started out with a ground spout and looked as though it turned into a tornado as the ground spouts went away. Another tornado started in the exact same area, and the National Weather Service (NWS) changed the terminology in their official report as it did in fact turn into a tornado. It wasn’t on the ground very long and caused damage mostly to fences with a loss of vegetation. That storm went on to create a bit of havoc on the state line in Nebraska.”

Bozeman added further in light of an expensive wildfire, the recent severe weather and dry windy conditions would be an ideal time now for the commission to instate an understandable fire ban i, to prevent more occurrences for the duration of the summer months.

“We are very dry and having a lot of dry winds with low humidity,” Bozeman continued. “According to the NWS Fire Danger we are considered moderate with the activities we have been having. Pine Ridge was quick, but within just a few hours it went up to a thousand acres and it took a while before we moved ahead of it due to the dry winds. We need to move the county into a Stage One fire ban. In addition, Niobrara, Platte, and Natrona counties have also put into effect fire bans, so we have fallen into the same area. We need to do so due to our own fuels as well as the fact we are not getting sustained moisture. We were doing everything we could to stop the northern movement of the fire, and it could’ve been way worse than what it was. We did structural protection with three different residences, but none of them were damaged. So, hats off to the volunteers who were out there for as long as 24 hours without going home trying to keep everything safe.”

Chairman McNamee agreed consistently with Bozeman, citing residents want to be able to get out and enjoy the summer holiday, however at this point in time should give substantial consideration to volunteer firefighters.

“I looked at the situation in Pine Ridge and the cheatgrass,” McNamee said. “Of course, I know everyone enjoys fireworks and campfires on the Fourth of July. That being said I would greatly encourage everyone to think about our firefighters and the burden it places on them if it gets out of control. Keep those things in mind while participating in these activities. It’s a group effort to be commended that’s for sure.”

The meeting moved forward with a memorable presentation by local business entrepreneurs Jared and Jacob Hatley, owners and operators of local waste management company, Gorilla Waste Solutions.

Both brothers spoke before the commission while earnestly expressing a desire to soon expand their steadfast business with an official operating facility within the area.

According to both Hatley’s, the project would be a strong turning point in taking their business to a new height while also laying to rest any hearsay reservations about the new waste management company.

“We started our company about a year ago and quickly found we are helping people in the community with disposing things,” Jacob said. “People have been believing there is going to be a landfill here, and this is not the case. We will not be disposing of anything on anyone’s property. Our proposal going forward is to work with state departments, do everything correctly off the board, and eventually build a transfer station. If people are worried it’s going to create a ‘dump’ for lack of a better word, truth be told if you are not paying attention, you probably aren’t even going to notice. This is a process, and we are not there yet. We intend to work with road and bridge to make sure our roadways are handled and currently have access to our property just off a private drive. Truthfully that’s our main goal to just run an operation out in the middle of nowhere where no one is paying attention, and where it doesn’t affect anyone around us. We feel like we can save the community money by handling and disposing of things properly, and we want to offer the community a cheap and affordable way of disposing things while generating more income. We had a very good first year and look to continue putting money back in the community.”

“We want to thank everyone and feel we can be a good asset in our community and can be good neighbors while running a business people want to be a part of,” Jared added. “We want people in Goshen to look at us as an asset, and this is a great opportunity for us to fit into that niche. We are always working to make sure we are crossing our t’s and dotting our i’s. We are learning quickly and trying to do our best to be good neighbors and keep the people around us happy. We are fairly flexible with that. There’s just a lot of moving parts right now and things are changing rapidly. We are looking at a minimum of four months, but I feel like a six-to-nine-month timeline would be more realistic. People don’t want to see piles of trash, and that’s definitely not what’s going to happen out there. We want to make this a contained facility, make everyone happy, keep it clean, and use something state of the art to go way above and beyond what a traditional facility may look like.”

Chairman McNamee responded to the Hatley’s shortly before the adjournment of the meeting. McNamee would note although communication, trust, and partnership will be essential in the progression of Gorilla Waste Solutions, the commission has no intention of micromanaging the business in any way.

Quite the contrary, McNamee noted appropriate autonomy and independence would be the right approach in regard to helping a local economic and environmental venture grow.

“These conversations are imperative, and as I mentioned earlier with you guys it’s not our business to know your entire five-year plan or all the ins and outs,” McNamee said. “We do have a responsibility to the people of the county to make sure the permitting piece involves one who needs to be a part of the conversation and what has been taken care of. We don’t need to crawl down your throat and have knowledge of your day-to-day operations, but it’s always important to be aware of what’s going on. Just for those in attendance, we had a great conversation with Jared and Jacob with a Department of Environmental Quality representative who met with us out there. Hopefully, this offers a piece of mind to those who question whether the proper channels are being followed on your part and our involvement with it at the county level. I think everybody just wanted to make sure this was on the radar, and you answered all the questions which exist right now. I really appreciate you guys coming in today.”

The meeting adjourned at 11:31 a.m. and will reconvene promptly at 9 a.m. July 16 at the Goshen County Courthouse.