Roads, grants, and assessments for county commission

Rhett Breedlove
Posted 4/5/24

TORRINGTON – The Goshen County Commission returned to session at the courthouse early Tuesday morning for mandatory reports of numerous county officials and departments.

Present at the …

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Roads, grants, and assessments for county commission


TORRINGTON – The Goshen County Commission returned to session at the courthouse early Tuesday morning for mandatory reports of numerous county officials and departments.

Present at the meeting was the chairman of the commission, Michael McNamee, along with fellow commissioner Aaron P. Walsh and clerk Mary Feagler.

Commissioner Justin Burkart was unable to attend due to personal obligations.

Chairman McNamee began the meeting with the announcement of one special government-oriented meeting to be held in Yoder, which quite possibly would be of interest to county residents.

“There will be a meeting in the Yoder Community Building on Thursday at 1:30 p.m.,” McNamee began. “There will be representatives from Senator Barrasso’s office, which will be a great opportunity for the community. Then I also wanted to make a comment on those who continue to send us information regarding what the planning commission had done with the solar commission. This has been spirited, to say the least, but we have had a lot of good feedback with the draft proposal.”

The first item on the agenda for the meeting was the county road and bridge report in which county planner, Mike Tietjen, noted minor ongoing issues with various state road regulations and statutes.

“I imagine the commissioners received a letter from the law office of Aaron Beaver and his concerned representing his client on our regulations,” Tietjen began. “His proposals or underlying statements for the commission were taken into account. The effective date was wanting to give the impression of a retroactive requirement, which we do not. It’s a losing case and as far as other points they wish to make we can discuss those at a public hearing. I think we can make changes around adequately so we will not put ourselves in a jeopardized position. I think the planning commission will continue to make efforts and clarify anything that comes to our attention.”

The report continued with the possibility of purchasing new road and bridge vehicles for the foreseeable future, as well as various sanitary maintenance concerns regarding an old local shop previously used for county purposes.

Although chairman McNamee felt talk of new vehicular purchases should be tabled until Commissioner Burkart could be present, the response to the use of an old county shop was met with optimistic humor before all in attendance.

“We have had conversations about the shop you’re referring to, the ‘bat house’,” McNamee laughed. “After walking through there yesterday, it actually gives you some good shop space and is a great structure. It’s a good thing to see it being used, and it looks like it’s going to clean up well. Also, I appreciate the approach in going through and seeing what can be liquidated, traded, bartered, or just something useful to us. Some kind of a machine we can use for different projects would be a tremendous asset to the county, and we greatly appreciate what you are doing there.”

The meeting continued forward with emergency management coordinator, Tom Bozeman, who discreetly took note of temperatures beginning to rise with summer fast approaching.

As Bozeman was cautious in his approach to public safety, the notion wisely pointed to early awareness if Goshen County becomes too dry in the months to come.

“As far as fire bans, I don’t think we are in a position right now to issue one,” Bozeman stated. “We have had a lot of moisture over the last couple of weeks. If we get into a substantial period of dry weather, it may come forward with a fire ban, but right now we are sitting okay. It’s not the greatest, but it’s still okay.”

Just prior to finishing the report, commissioner Walsh inquired about a particular emergency system, First Net, which could conceivably be beneficial to local first responders, most notably the Lingle Volunteer Fire Department. 

Coordinator Bozeman spoke of said system with quality words of reassurance.

“The First Net system is very good,” Bozeman replied. “If you are too familiar with it, it’s a whole band of frequencies set aside by the government for us to use; first responders for the most part. They do allow use for city personnel like commissioners, also road and bridge would definitely be one of the top ones on there who would qualify. Anyone who doesn’t know is it prioritizes communication from first responders, and people who identify with our government.”

A significant report of high priority came with the monthly presentation of assessment, as provided by longtime county official Debbi Surratt. According to Surratt, this year’s county assessment could be considered challenging but coming along, nevertheless.

“Assessment has been a wild ride this year, but I thought I would let you know we did mail off our spreadsheets, and our assessments will be mailed before April 17,” Surratt said. “With all our stuff with the legislators, we were behind the times waiting for what we were going to do. All houses this year, if not being applied to property, had about 449 accounts which saw some sort of adjustments. Not a lot of tax dollar money, but all the houses. The only exception is if there was an ownership change from the prior year, they don’t qualify for that limit. Finding those was our biggest challenge, especially in the time constraints, and that was probably the biggest change. The form itself has changed, and the exceptions are all listed at the bottom. It’s been a wild ride, however, none of this has affected [Goshen County] commercially, industrially, or agriculturally. Again, that was an interesting piece of polling in getting it applied directly.” 

Lastly before the meeting’s adjournment, Cindi Kenyon, on behalf of Wyoming Child and Family Development noted before the commission the need for building an essential preschool within the town of LaGrange.

According to Kenyon, the time has come where residents of LaGrange need their own preschool to provide for their small children. As she duly noted, an extensive drive upwards of 30 miles for any sort of childcare would no longer be necessary if LaGrange merely had a childcare facility of its own.

“We are adding a preschool in LaGrange,” Kenyon said. “Bringing kids here in Torrington for screenings isn’t financially possible for those folks, and the administration fees for this grant are kept by the county. We’ve been keeping the 10% administration fees for the county, but if the commissioners wish to give that to applicants for their programs that would be fine. Last year it probably would’ve cost the county. If you would like I would separate those fees and would allow the applicants to use them which would be up to you guys. I ask your approval for the grant applications, otherwise, keep doing your jobs and keeping up with things that are so important.”

The meeting adjourned at 11:10 a.m. and will reconvene at 9 a.m. at the Goshen County Courthouse on April 16.