Commissioners discuss planning and zoning RFP

LUSK – The Niobrara County Commissioners met with engineering groups during the regular meeting on Tuesday to discuss the request for proposals (RFP) regarding a new planning and zoning manual. 

Representatives from Benchmark of Torrington, AVI in Cheyenne, Ayres Associates in Fort Collins and Bureau of Community Consultants joined via Zoom and in person as the commissioner provided background for the RFP and answered questions as well. 

Chairman Pat Wade explained the reason for the RFP started with the potential green hydrogen project which expects to have a large wind energy component. Since the current planning and zoning manual does not address such projects, the commissioners felt it is necessary to address the entire manual which has not seen any updates in a while. 

Wade also said the policy will need to fit the entire county and added public participation will be vital to the process. 

In response to a question of the format for the updated policy, the commissioners agreed the same manual format will work the best as it is easy to read and to amend. 

The parties interested in submitting a proposal must do so by June 30 as the commissioners will read them during the first meeting next month on July 5. 

In other business, the commissioners met with Road and Bridge Foreman Fred Thomas and Josh Harkins with Benchmark and discussed updates on the North Lance Creek Road project. The commissioners received a second pay request from JW Services and were informed the project, including the part from the change order, is almost finished. 

University Extension Educator Kellie Chichester introduced Mandy Marney who is the Associate Director for the University of Wyoming Extension to the commissioners. Marney discussed plans for 4-H education in Niobrara County and how to blend traditional and not traditional topics to help the community learn more. 

During the commissioners meeting with elected officials and department heads, Emergency Manager James Santistevan recommended to table the courthouse generator project until they hear back about their historical information proposal. Santistevan said they will have the grants to pay the current cost of the project but the longer they wait the higher the price will go. The commissioners agreed to table the project until a later date. 

Clerk of District Court Chrisanna Lund gave an update on her end regarding the recent ransomware attack which hit the entire courthouse. While the issue has been almost fully resolved aside from some more security updates, Lund is unable to access some of her accounts until the Wyoming Supreme Court is provided with a letter stating a “clean bill of health.” 

In terms of the attack itself, here was no indication of a ransom provided to the county. 

The commissioners commended Chantry Filener for his work to get the courthouse back up and running again. 

The commissioners also met with County Attorney Anne Wasserburger and Sheriff Cary Gill to discuss the sheriff’s resignation as he requested to rescind it and finish his current term. According to Wasserburger, Gill is allowed to rescind his resignation since he is an elected official and a vacancy was not yet declared. 

The commissioners moved to executive session with Wasserburger to discuss a real estate purchase. 

During action items, the commissioners approved an agreement with Lime Rock Resources for a sale and purchase of real property for a new Public Health building. The commissioners also approved an extension contract with Jameson Cleaning and Maintenance for the fairgrounds, reappointed Sena Pearson to the Planning and Zoning Board, signed a memorandum of understanding with the University of Wyoming, appointed Rick Luchsinger and reappointed Valerie Wasserburger to the Library Board, ratified a contract with Kroll Associates for information security, ratified a 24-hour catering permit for the Hanson/Cass wedding on June 4 and signed an authorization letter for domain registry. 

The next commissioners meeting is June 21 at 9 a.m. 


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