Commissioners plan for new road project


LUSK – The Niobrara County Commissioners discussed plans for next year’s road rehabilitation project at it’s second meeting of November on Tuesday. 

Road and Bridge Foreman Fred Thomas and Josh Harkins from Benchmark of Torrington addressed the board about preliminary plans for a stretch of North Lance Creek Road. Harkins said the project is set for five and a half miles of the road, but also included the ability to do more or less of the road. 

“That gives you guys freedom if bids come in somewhat high and you don’t have the budget to do the whole thing you could shrink that down,” Harkins said. 

The commissioners discussed ways to encourage local contractors to bid on the project despite not having as much equipment or manpower as out of state contractors. 

Chairman Patrick Wade said they need to look at all options including local trucks bringing the gravel out to the road. Wade said they need to find the most economical approach due to the cost to drive all the way out to the road. 

Harkins suggested having and option A and option B for the bid to allow contractors to submit either to do the whole project or just do the trucking with the help of the county to do the blading. For option B contractors will have to include the cost of labor for the county to the bid. Thomas said it is very likely they will be working overtime in order to be out there for the full length of the project. 

Harkins also said contractors must have a certificate of Wyoming residency, and if they do not 5% will be added to the total bid. 

The commissioner agreed with Harkins and Thomas to accept bids for gravel trucks at an hourly rate. 

The pre-bid meeting will be held on Jan. 4 and it the project will be opened up to bids on Jan 18. 

In other road and bridge business, Thomas told the board the current project of North Lance Creek Road will be complete by the end of the week. 

The commissioners also held a public hearing at the beginning of the meeting for the approval of liquor licenses for Paleo Parks and Pronghorn Bar. There were no public comments for either issue, and the commissioners approved both licenses. 

In new business, the commissioners approved the authorization of County Clerk Becky Freeman to sign the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds award. Other actions included voting for municipal elected officials and a special district representative for the Local Government Liability Pool (LGLP) Board, approval of renewing the postage meter lease, reappointing Royce Thompson as a sportsman member on the Predator Management District Board and setting the safety meeting date for Dec. 11 at 5:30 p.m. 

The commissioners also agreed to pursue new options for a lawncare service plan from the previous annual plan with TruGreen Lawncare. Commissioner Elaine Griffith said she will contact Wyo Lawn and Tree for a bid.   

Before the lunchbreak, the commissioners moved to executive session with County Attorney Anne Wasserburger to discuss personnel and went into another executive session to discuss possible litigation. 

The commissioners also discussed with Wasserburger an invitation from the United States Bureau of Land Management to participate as a cooperating agency in the preparation and development of the Newcastle and Nebraska Resource Management, plans and revisions, and associated environmental impact statement. 

Patrick said this will allow them to have a seat at the table, but they needed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in order to do so. Wasserburger said it should be beneficial barring any extremes in the MOU. 

In other business, the commissioners met with Sena Pearson, James Kruse, Rick Bridge, Dan Henry Hanson, and Brian Zerbe of the Planning and Zoning Board to discuss updating the county’s regulations and general plan. 

According to Wade the county can adopt and make changes to other counties’ plans as long as they receive verbal permission to do so.

Wade also received contact information for a consulting firm to help with updating the regulations. 

Pearson said she has been in contact with Planning Director Amy Clark from Platte County who is working on updating her county’s regulations as well. 

“[Clark] said we could give her our proposal and she can do workshops with us, and she does all of [Platte’s] planning and zoning,” Pearson said. 

Pearson also said she has received a lot of information from Clark about other counties, and said she has case files from Teton and Park Counties who have been sued over its regulations. 

Wade encouraged the Planning and Zoning Board to attend the next commissioners meeting with the people from the green hydrogen project to hear their presentation. Wade also said they should invite neighbors and friends to the presentation as well to show strong base of support for it. 

The next commissioners meeting will be Dec. 7 at 9 a.m. at the Niobrara County Courthouse.

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