County commission gears up for summer

Rhett Breedlove
Posted 5/10/24

TORRINGTON – The Goshen County Commissioners met at the courthouse at 9 a.m. Tuesday morning for the mandatory discussion of agenda items, official reports, and reasonable concerns and ideas …

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County commission gears up for summer


TORRINGTON – The Goshen County Commissioners met at the courthouse at 9 a.m. Tuesday morning for the mandatory discussion of agenda items, official reports, and reasonable concerns and ideas for upcoming months.

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

County clerk, Mary Feagler, was also present in providing crucial assistance in the morning’s agenda items.

In contrast to eventful meetings in recent months, most county reports were short and simple without major matters of concern or issues at this time.

In light of a rather simple agenda for the day, chairman McNamee utilized the time to share meaningful personal matters as well as a valued appreciation for all county officials as busy summer months quickly approach.

However, before engaging too far with the business of officials, the commission acknowledged the moment to be appropriate in congratulating annual county scholarship recipients Kyler Clark, Kylee Llewellyn, Mason Sorensen, and Klacie Groene.

“We as commissioners give away three scholarships each year to graduating seniors,” McNamee said. “We give out three with one renewal scholarship, this year being Ms. Klacie Groene. I would like to congratulate the winners on behalf of my fellow commissioners as we had several great applicants.”

“Reading through those essays and going through the process of selecting them was quite interesting,” commissioner Walsh added. “The kids who put in for scholarships wrote very interesting essays, and all did a very good job. It’s very nice to see kids stepping into their own thought process and express themselves through essays as far as their grades and achievements throughout high school. They all did a great job and are very good young students.”

“It’s kind of a light agenda this morning, so we will roll right through this,” McNamee continued. “I wanted to make a couple of comments from my chairman position. First of all, my wife and I are very proud to announce the recent arrival of our grandchild, a little boy. Everyone is happy and healthy, so we are pleased to announce that addition to our family.”

After being greeted with congratulatory applause in honor of his new grandson, McNamee quickly turned his attention to discussing recent conversations with other county chairmen in neighboring counties. 

According to chairman McNamee, such discussions once in a while can be very reassuring for all officials as well as residents.

“I think we feel like we are all sheltered sometimes,” McNamee continued. “We are fighting battles we don’t think anyone else is dealing with, and then we find out we are not in the same boat. There is strength in numbers, and this prompted conversations on so many things we have going on in our county. We are not alone and are on the right track with a lot of things we are dealing with.”

The commission moved forward with the report of the county road and bridge department, presented by department officials Boyd Wagner, Bob Taylor, Mike Tietjen, and Val Hankins.

According to Taylor, future projects for road and bridge are presently in the works and should be coming to fruition sometime within the next year or so.

“We talked to you a few months ago about a WYDOT bridge project,” Taylor said. “Finally, we are getting the cooperative agreements for that. We had one revision which suggested to the county what was needed for additional right of ways. It took a little while to get it done but we did it. It will be probably given the nature of the project to be about a 1.2 to 1.5 million dollar project. The grant money is a little over 90% to match off of that, which should be in three to four years. All our major structures are inspected every other year for safety and conditions, and we had some suggestions. This probably will not be constructed this upcoming fall, but the fall of 2025.”  

Receptive of the department’s report, the commission was remindful such future projects are always going to be a necessity in keeping roads and bridges functional. However, public comment and input must always be taken into account.

“Obviously we have certain time limits and windows of opportunity we have to work in,” McNamee said. “We just want to make sure as rookies we are allowing time for public comment and would allow us to go through and visit about it. You all have the background knowledge and the experience; I just want to make sure we have a written timeline. There has been probably a notion we either accept them as a whole or reject them as a whole, but there is so much in there to be applied. There are always things we can agree need to be changed.”

Additionally, McNamee pointed out the extensive hard work the department has been doing judging by recent conversations had with notable county residents.

“Sometimes we as commissioners get phone calls from certain areas of county roads or situations that are concerning,” McNamee explained. “I am 100% confident I can pass those contacts on to you. I recently received a call back from a concerned citizen who very much appreciated your quick response. It is imperative residents know they can call with issues to be dealt with, and you will do all you can to help them out. With some of those concerns and issues, we appreciate that as well.”

Just prior to the commission heading into the executive session, county assessor Debbi Surratt gave a significant presentation regarding recent state legislation and its effect on local tax relief or exemption.

“As you probably know it has been a little crazy just based on legislative changes,” Surratt said. “We still are required to set everything at market value, but because House Bill #45 legislation set limitations, calculation is at the bottom if you will on that assessment. From your standpoint, this has not been terribly concerning for our budgeting purposes. With evaluations looking at preliminary or local sides, we are probably going to see more changes. It will be next year with the long-term taxpayer relief, but there really is not a way to engage that. It’s an interesting piece of legislation. We will start signing up in the fall, but right now for me, I’m still trying to figure out how to navigate or get it worked out for taxpayers. So again long term is what I am most concerned about, and I don’t think we will know until this time next year. If you have any questions about any of those, please send people my way.”

The meeting closed for executive session at 10:02 a.m. and will reconvene on May 21 at promptly 9 a.m. at the Goshen County Courthouse.