A meeting of the County Commissioners


LUSK – The Niobrara County Commissioners held their first meeting of the month Tuesday, November 2 at the Niobrara County Courthouse. It began at 9 a.m., with Patrick H. Wade, John Midkiff, and Elaine B. Griffith in attendance. Starting with role call and the pledge of allegiance, it followed this with calling the meeting to order.   

Road and Bridge

There is 5.5 miles from the well to the county line, on the northern edge of the north Lance Creek Road. Fred Thomas, foreman, for the winter project in identifying a stretch of road that needs work. They have been doing it for five or six years and have been setting the road projects up for bids, during the off season of the normal construction work to help them during otherwise inactive periods of work. They are seeing some bad stretches with scoria, that they say just doesn’t last. Scoria, is a red sharp rock, used in oil fields, said to be like shale. Depending on the bidding contracts, and estimating the bad spots of around four miles worth, they are considering offering the assistance of local trucks as well.

 

Public Health Response Coordinator

Melanie Pearce was present over a speaker call, allowing herself to be heard, and voiced her title as Regional Supervisor for Public Health Nursing, with the State of Wyoming. Her first item was to move forward towards hiring a Public Health Response Coordinator. Talking to the State, they will pay for it, so the county does not pay for the cost of the employee. The flexibility and hours are decided by a state employee. The contact, however, is with the county, typically with the county offices or stationed in the county. The state employs county managers that supervise the PHRC’s across the state. Currently, two people have expressed interest in this position, one is local, and another will be local, however both are said to have a background that benefits this position. After a good deliberation, it was decided the position should be offered with paid benefits. It will start at 32 hours a week, at $19 an hour. 

Secondly, with the supervision of Niobrara County, Pearce would like to have another manager supervise the employee and take over the things she has been doing. Pearce has been going above and beyond for this county, and things that are not in her job description, she has been stepping forward and covering for it. However, she is needing to step down, and is offering a new supervisor to essentially replace her, to better suit the needs of the County, in being closer, and has been trained and supervised by Pearce for the last five years. The replacement comes highly recommended, and is being considered for replacement by December 1.

Elected Official

James Santisteva, with Emergency Management, says the snowstorm a couple of weeks ago raised some hazards in the county and within the city limits. Had a lot of power outages, but everything was done by the book and most power was back on later that day if not the next. The only real issue they seem to have is enforcing the no travel ban. These guys are out in the road and just getting stuck. There’s no need to be out in that, and it can make it harder for Emergency Services to do what they need to do as well, if they need to get to where they have to, when there are stranded vehicles in the streets.

The Sheriff’s Office states they currently have seven inmates in jail, and they talked about needing a new DVR player and possibly 16 new cameras as the current ones are wearing out. Estimated cost between $2,300-2,500. They are the older surveillance cameras, having aged over time.

Jury trial went well, and was the first time using the clearview jury program for the supreme court for jury trials. Said to have another trial near Thanksgiving, and after the trial of last month, sadly they will go a bit over budget.

Draft plans have been submitted into our own region that are on the joint force committee. In December, they will begin the process of creating a new district plan. They have until the fifth, to get those plans submitted, however the plans were sent in a letter Monday. The new districting is done every 10 years, after the census, and it re-establishes a legislative district so the population is more even. This is to ensure that if one county grows, while others don’t, another redistributes the population so you have an ideal figure and percentage of House members. Historically, it has been 60 representatives and 30 senators which is what was proposed again this time.

The 4H just had their carnival on Sunday, and it went well. They had a nice warm place for everybody as it was a little chilly outside. Attendance was down a little bit, however, given that it was a Sunday and the first free weekend for the kids and parents, it was still the biggest fundraiser of the year. The 4H Fridays have continued, partnering with the schools, and going well, bringing in 30 to 35 kids every week out at the fairgrounds. They are starting the new 4H year, and re-enrollment is open once more.

For public health, there are 13 COVID cases in the community as of Tuesday, seven that are in the prison or at least part of the prison outbreak. The cases are less than last week, and they are hoping to continue to see a trend downwards. They have had quite a few break through cases, where someone was vaccinated in January or February and now test positive. There has been one that was more seriously ill and hospitalized in another town. FEMA has been here for the last two weeks, doing vaccines at the fairgrounds, and this last week was a really good turnout. More than 50 people have received their boosters. There are currently two National Guard helping out at the hospital. One business has completely shut down yesterday, due to testing positive to COVID.

Boosters have been approved for Maderna, 65 years and older people who have chronic conditions will put them more at risk and health care workers have occupational risks for COVID. Pfizer has been approved for ages 5-11, and will be coming as an option to the community; however, unsure how well it will be received. The Rawhide Clinic, as of yesterday, is in fact approved to give COVID vaccines. They have received their first shipments of Maderna and Johnson & Johnson. Finally, there is a Flu Shot clinic at the Senior Center on Thursday, November 4, from 9:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Meanwhile the RN position is posted, so anyone interested in part time employment, please apply at the state jobs website.

Zoning Board

According to Patrick H. Wade, the main focus with the zoning board is to keep Niobrara County whole, and he is hoping they are not at risk there because they just do not have a lot of people to split up. 

“It takes a really good candidate in Niobrara County to be able to be elected anyway, just because we are a small population. We did appoint J.D Williams to fill the rest of the House District 2 position until next year and then we are almost certainly going to be finding ourselves in a completely different district. So, things may change here quite a little. As commissioners, it is important for us to be connected with counties or areas that are similar to our own, and we are in a regional legislative concept set up for us so long as it holds but there’s all sorts of push to get away from that to get away from that and change it. In the beginning I was not sure I liked the idea of it, but as I looked, I think that the four counties do have a lot in common as much as we probably do with anyone. I guess I would just like to see the region held together, if we possibly can”

As far as the many options and plans to go forward in Regions and Zones, Griffith is quoted as stating “The Planning and Zoning Board met with the Commissioners to discuss revision and updating of the current plan.”

Fairgrounds

They have an estimate on updating the buildings, from Miller Construction at a total of $375,000. It would do the following: remove and replace all steel roofing on the main fairgrounds building and the concessions building, remove and decorate the bump synthetic stucco segments from walls on the main fairgrounds building and concessions building, remove all gutters and downspouts, remove brick from east and north sides, leave main flat surfaces of the synthetic stucco intact and installation of new surfaces. On the roof, a titanium underlayment, eye shield and valleys, 29-gauge ribbed roofing to match the existing roofs. All flashing and fasteners, siding through walls, eight-inch steel siding, aluminum softlets, commercial gutters and downspouts. Also, 120 square yards of roofing, 90 square yards of siding, with needed trims, and accessories. Finally, the removal of the canopy for the picnic table storage, which is back on the south west corner as well as a new steel roof. So, it’s a fairly extensive project to undertake, to say the least. There was no damage done recently, just around 35-years-old and due for updating. At this time, they are trying to consider all options to even consider how to afford such a costly task but are aware of its need and the discussions are being held on how to achieve it.

American Rescue Plan

The fire marshal came into the fairgrounds last month and gave his opinions on the grounds as well as occupancy of the buildings. To sum up the main points are that the main building is pretty good, with the fire system running well, and is able to run multiple events, up to date. The only real building of concern is the shooting sports building, because there are only two exits, no smoke alarms, no fire suppression, zero C02 detectors and he wrote everything out and he is going to mail all that out to Emergency Management. However, only 60,000 to 100,000 people MAX are safely allowed within if it is to be used as a shelter at this time.

 

Paleo Park Permit

The Boots & Bling Banquet, a fundraiser at Paleo Park submitted a permit to sell alcohol during their event and some might not know you needed such a large vote for this, but it was passed. It is a fundraiser on November 13, 2021, at the Niobrara County Fairgrounds. Now since fairgrounds are on County land, they have to be approved by Commissioners for 24-hour catering permits, for anyone wanting to serve alcohol. This fundraiser specifically is focused to help improve their fairgrounds, known as The Niobrara County Fairgrounds Foundation.

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