County commissioners discuss range of topics

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GOSHEN COUNTY – The Goshen County Commissioners met early Tuesday morning for the discussion of business concerning all residents of the county.

Commission chairman, Michael McNamee, was present along with fellow commissioners.

The meeting touched base on several recent matters including the ongoing discussion of recent industrial meetings, positive relations with local business entities, and preparations regarding emergency management.

Chairman McNamee began with addressing a recent digital meeting regarding the Industrial Site Council, as well as ongoing positive relations between Eastern Wyoming College and the county.

“I wanted to thank everyone who took part in the Zoom meeting with the Industrial Site Council on Friday,” Chairman McNamee stated. “It was interesting and has been the case for the entire process. We continue to learn the parameters with that council, and what it looks like. We were a part of the next quarterly meeting as I requested at the end of that public comment period. We need to know then where we stand, the direction of the situation involving the Industrial Site Council and what Goshen’s approach will be moving forward. As they say in broadcasting, stay tuned and we will see what becomes of it. Everything is new and different with something like that.”

The Goshen County Chairman further made it a point to give kudos to one particularly local educator and community leader. According to the Chairman and his fellow commissioners, the relationship between the two appears to be an enthusiastic breath of fresh air.

“I do want to talk about a recent meeting I had with Dr. Jeff Hawes,” McNamee continued. “If you don’t come out of a meeting with Dr. Hawes feeling refreshed and revived, there may be something wrong with you. He is full of energy, is 100% about Eastern Wyoming College, about Goshen County, about this region and what the college means to the whole package. I want to thank sincerely Dr. Hawes for that opportunity, and I look forward in bringing him back to this meeting with partnerships between EWC and Goshen County.”

After giving positive public acknowledgements, the commission chose to address concerns regarding illegal immigration brought to attention by members of the Goshen County Republican Party.

Chairman McNamee reviewed an open letter recently sent by the party in which it expressed a sense of apprehension, or even fears that undocumented illegal immigrants would become a problem within the county.

The letter further illustrated a worry that Goshen County would become a haven for individuals who are not documented citizens of the country, and strongly requested the Goshen County Sherriff’s Office act more thoroughly to possibly prevent this. 

“We believe that our Goshen County Sheriff’s Department needs to develop communication of suspected violators of immigration laws. Those local measures further define Goshen as a rule of law community when it upholds our immigration laws.”

While acknowledging illegal immigration has and perhaps always will be a problem in the United States, the commission made it a priority to assure residents that fear, anger, and misinformation about undocumented aliens is not an accurate representation of the tolerant accepting nature of Goshen County.

“The conversation that had surrounded the presentation of the resolution indicated was presented by the Goshen Republican Party,” McNamee said. “We as commissioners needed to personalize that resolution to represent Goshen County, while making it a bipartisan effort that speaks on behalf of the county and the protection of the county. The initial resolution that had come from the Republican Party was read at the last meeting, and we as commissioners made a few changes to the resolutions. It’s worth noting that our fear in the conversation that surrounded that resolution would’ve indicated that Goshen County is not a welcoming county, and that we are not a county that is not unlike the rest of the United States. We are made up of people who have immigrated to this country. It is the position of the board of commissioners that it needs to be done legally. To do so in any other way puts our county, its residents, members of the Sheriff’s Department and in general our public health safety in jeopardy. So, I believe that is what makes this resolution necessary that we as commissioners feel is important to bring to the county as a resolution.” 

Commissioner Burkart concurred firmly with the Chairman, citing previous experience in law-enforcement as a prime factor on his position regarding illegal immigration in Wyoming.

According to Burkart, the issue is a very crucial one, and something that can be handled legally and appropriately by law-enforcement when a situation arises.

As far as Goshen County becoming a haven for illegals, the commission noted the prospect of that perception is unlikely and is perhaps a bit irrational.

“As far as this resolution we are already doing this on a day-to-day basis,” Burkart stated. “It’s nothing new to us, and it’s not going to change the way we do business. We have no information that we have had a large transportation of illegal immigrants in Goshen County. I know that rumor is going around, but we have no evidence of that. If that were happening that would deplete our resources rather quickly. I do not want to put out misinformation and add additional fear to our community. We have zero evidence that this is happening. From my previous law enforcement experience, we may do something locally to detain or deport while going through the procedures in the court system. My past experience has been a catch and release type of situation. With the way things are now, I don’t see that being any different. It doesn’t give us any legal authority over anything. Although it shows that the commissioners do not support the unlawful transportation of illegal immigrant in Goshen County, it does not give us legal grounds for anything.”

The meeting continued while shifting focus to matters regarding the Goshen County Fairgrounds, as the facilities and property will be in high demand for rentals as the weather continues to warm up headed into spring.

Fairgrounds general manager, Stephanie Bumguardner, addressed the commission with the discussion of the financial report.

“You can see we ended the months with all accounts in good standing,” Bumguardner said. “Some of those are still marketing partnership renewals. As far as our accounts payable, there’s nothing out of the ordinary on that report. We can see that the facility associated revenue is due in part to the marketing partnership renewal programs. We ended the month with a net income of over $8,000 which is really good for January. Again, you can see the escalated revenue in our expenses are significant, and are non-budgeted expenditures. We are still renovating the house trying to get it up and running, and that’s the explanation for those costs. January is typically our coldest month. A lot of people don’t rent that time of year as it’s just too cold. February is typically warm here so that has encouraged a lot of rentals, which is awesome. We agree going into a very busy rental season for the entire fairgrounds, the Rendezvous Center starts getting busy in the spring.”

Bumguardner mentioned further when it comes to crucial business revenue at the fairgrounds, it all comes down to one simple business saying.

“We’ve been very busy, and what I would say is this, ‘supply and demand.’ Several years ago, when the commission came to the Fair Board, our schedule was so full we couldn’t fit anyone in the barn. When we talk about sports or FFA, the same things happen with people who are in rodeo events. It appears to now be on the incline. Those things fluctuate, people move in and out of town, the weather changes things and we can’t be so firm to say that this is what it will be now and forever. I would like to think people using the facility now appreciate these things so we can continue to do it. Sometimes it will be a year-by-year, or a month-by-month decision.”

“We are trying to reach individual renters that want exclusive time in the barn,” Bumguardner added. “On Sunday, March 17, which is St. Patrick’s Day, we will give that day to the Goshen County Roping Club. They have been on many levels as a club and as individuals very supportive of our facility, and this is one way we can say thank you.”

The meeting adjourned promptly at 10:32 a.m. and will reconvene March 5 at 9 a.m.