County commission says farewell to respected official

‘I have been amazed with what is required of you and the entire department’

Rhett Breedlove
Posted 4/19/24

TORRINGTON – The Goshen County Commissioners met promptly at 9 a.m. for the required meeting of county official reports, revisiting old business and taking on new topics.

Present at the …

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County commission says farewell to respected official

‘I have been amazed with what is required of you and the entire department’


TORRINGTON – The Goshen County Commissioners met promptly at 9 a.m. for the required meeting of county official reports, revisiting old business and taking on new topics.

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

County clerk, Mary Feagler, was also present in providing information and assistance to both the commission and the attending public.

The meeting began with chairman McNamee speaking in sincere appreciation for the road and bridge department. Led by county officials Valorie Hankins, Bob Taylor and Boyd Wagner, the department was able to provide extensive help and support to both Goshen and southern Niobrara Counties despite severe recent weather.

“To begin with here, I really want to thank our crew from the road and bridge department with the weather situation here almost two weeks ago,” McNamee began. “With all the heavy snow up in the northern part of the county, we received calls from Niobrara requesting some help up there. Boyd and Val, thank you very much for getting people up there to help. We dodged a majority of that, but it sounded like northern Goshen and southern Niobrara was a mess. They wanted to pass along their appreciation.”

“We are pretty much business as usual,” Wagner responded. “Except for hiccups we had from the storm, we’ve had a lot of roads to fix up for the northern end of the county. Our guys will get it done, and we’ve got a real good crew. So hopefully we will get some good information out on that. Like I said the other night, we will just keep working to get the roads in good shape.”

“That’s a never-ending project,” McNamee said. “But we definitely appreciate all your hard work. It’s nice to know our neighbors around can call for help if they need it, and if we are in a similar position, it is good for you to provide it. A year ago, we were looking for help from Laramie to the south and Niobrara to the north, and everyone was in the same position.”

The chairman also announced an upcoming special event on the way and in the works, which will confidently be of interest to many county residents.

Particularly those who are avid fans of rodeo.

“This is kind of one that is near and dear to me,” McNamee said. “Having been on the National Board of Steer Roping, I bring it up because it is going to be a national-level event. We will have contestants from several different circuits around the country including Texas, Oregon, and all over. They will come from everywhere, and I appreciate the work of the committee in bringing people to Goshen County.”

A notable moment during the meeting occurred with the presentation of the Sherriff’s Office Report. Longtime lieutenant, Wes Dean, along with colleague and county investigator, sergeant Herbie Irons informed the commission of important, yet recently anticipated news.

Dean would be making his final appearance before the commission as Lieutenant, with understandable and supported intentions to retire at the end of April, with Irons graciously accepting responsibility for filling Dean’s shoes.

“Sergeant Irons will be taking my place on the first of May,” Dean began. “He will be the new Lieutenant and in charge of the detention center, so you might be seeing him in here from time to time.”

Dean was met with applause from all in attendance, along with kind words of gratitude from each commissioner.

“Let me first give a huge thank you to all you’ve done,” chairman McNamee said. “The sheriff’s department is losing a good hand. During my time as a commissioner, I have been amazed with what is required of you and the entire department. This guy has done everything from being a plumber to a cook. He has worn a lot of hats over there. Thank you for your service.”

“I always enjoyed working with you and your professionalism,” commissioner Burkart added. “And the service you’ve provided to Goshen County for so many years.”

Acknowledging the thoughtful recognition, Dean quickly returned to current business matters regarding the sheriff’s office presumably for the last time. Dean maintained a calm insistence of the office’s crucial need for more staff, while also advocating for future pay increases.

“We were thankful for the transport vehicle; however, we may have to find another resolution with it. We can’t find a cage for it anywhere,” Dean continued. “If we did get a cage, I don’t know if we could fit anyone in the back seat. We may have to go another avenue with that. The other thing which brings me to my closing is I had three people from the prison who wanted to come work for us and put in applications. I told them [salary-wise] this is what we would start them at. They said they would love to work with the sheriff’s office but couldn’t afford the pay cut. We are still having issues with pay and keeping up. So, I have no dog in this fight anymore, and you guys always do an awesome job. But if we got a raise this year, we could probably get some new people. That’s my last request for you guys. It was my honor.”

The commission was optimistic and understanding in hearing Lieutenant Dean’s request for a pay increase on behalf of his office staff.

“I think it would be ideal, obviously, to come up with salaries which would make us more competitive,” McNamee responded. “Would you be willing to work with us in an advisory position and help us explore a little bit? Any information we can gather. If it’s because of an issue of salary, how do we sweeten the deal? I would greatly enjoy a conversation regarding some of that.”

“I sure would work with you on that,” Dean replied. “I’m not going anywhere; I’m just going to not be here. After 19 and a half years, it’s been a fun job, and someone had to do it.”

The meeting continued further with an appreciated presentation by the UW Extension’s Agriculture and Natural Resource Educator, Amy Smith.

Smith notified the county of upcoming plans and details for assisting in the Torrington Summer Farmer’s Market while briefing the commission on dates, finances, time frames, and locations.

“Agriculture and natural resources are ramping up and getting prepared for the market,” Smith said. “This summer we are trying to change it up and would like to have our startup date be Fair Day. We have one of our farmer’s market board members working with Stephanie [Bumguardner]at the fairgrounds, but that would be a great day to just kick off. If it gets more people to the fair, we feel it’s a partnership that would be a win-win. We will still hold it at Jirdon Park through October, weather permitting. Another thing is trying to offer a second Saturday of the month market. We’ve had a lot of comments on why we don’t do it on a Saturday. Well, we have to compete with Morrill, Scottsbluff, Laramie, and Cheyenne with those markets. We thought we would pilot them, and we are not real sure as far as time frames. We had talked about maybe 7-9:30 a.m. The other option is 8-10 a.m. It’s not written in stone yet, but we do want to offer a Saturday market.”

The meeting adjourned at 10:37 a.m. and will reconvene on May 7, 2024, at 9 a.m. at the Goshen County Courthouse.