County officials stay busy with business as usual
Lusk- The monthly update by all elected officials at the county commissioners meeting revealed all departments are busy with audit prep and business as usual. Assesor Teri Stephens was happy to report that Lori Himes has completed all required testing and is permanently certified starting in 2024. Commissioners expressed their congratulations for Lori. Stephens’ office is finishing up on their well reviews and it looks like there will be more drilled in 2024. The office is having some mechanical issues with their 2007 vehicle and she wanted to let the commissioners know about them and asked that they and the sheriff keep an eye out for the potential for a new/used vehicle.
Treasurer Keri Thompson said her office had been steady and that they are continuing to get ready for audit and finishing up state reports.
Chrissanna Lund reported a successful case management system migration. This one appears to have gone much better than the previous and there are not lingering balances that will cause problems for balancing in the future. Lund has also chosen to resign from her position on the WyoHELP board.
Becky Freeman, county clerk, echoed Thompson that the offices were busy and just conducting business as usual while getting ready for auditors.
Sheriff Randy Starkey reports that his department is staying busy and making progress on painting and the justice center updating. They continue to try and increase patrols out on county roads. The new truck is in Denver however it cannot yet be delivered because of the autoworkers strike. In addition to the patrols already schedule Starkey, upon advisement of Fred Thomas, will be increasing patrols to the east along Node and McMaster roads.
Darcy Bozanzen with public health was present as well as the new PHRC Monica Wilcox. Public health is hoping to finalize the hiring of the administrative assistant soon and that person will be able to start and assist with the move into the new building which will hopefully occur in November. Neil Holmes is hoping to be able to do a walk through at the end of October. Commissioners communication to Bozanzen that it is their preference not to advertise for the prevention position until after Katie Krein’s last day.
Bozanzen also gave an update that the flu shot clinic at the senior center was successful with over 20 immunizations given. There will be another vaccine clinic at the fairgrounds shooting sports building on October 26 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Influenza and COVID vaccines will both be available. The COVID vaccine is private bill as the government is no longer providing that. The cost of the vaccine goes to public health and the county receives the administration fee. Eventually they would like all vaccines to be ordered through Niobrara county instead of transferred over from Converse.
Commissioner Griffith also reported that the landscaping and water runoff plans around the new public health building worked as hoped and during recent rains the water runoff was much better.
During commissioner updates Commissioner Midkiff reported that at a recent conference WYDOT reported they have a total of 300 vacancies state-wide. Those kind of numbers do not bode well for snow removal this winter There is also discussion around how to obtain funds from electric car drivers for road maintenance since they are not paying a “tax at the pump.” There is talk of some legislation to address this.
Commissioner Wade discussed the ongoing issues with the Rock Springs BLM RMP. Niobrara continues to offer their support to the county commissioners over there. During recent meetings the Sweetwater county sheriff made it very clear that he would not enforce the current proposed restrictions.
Linda Frye attended the meeting to update the commissioners on the town’s recent attempt to secure emergency funding from SLIB for a new ambulance. The city had requested around $300,000 for a new ambulance having already set aside $147,000 for the purchase. They were informed that the need was not considered an emergency. Frye also communicated to the commissioners that governor Gordon asked several times, “I would like to know what the county has invested in this.” Ambulance director Mike Mayville tried to explain to the board how the service worked being run by the municipality but serving Niobrara and beyond. Frye also communicated that she knows that all small towns and even the larger counties are facing difficulties related to the staffing and financing of ambulance services. The town is also looking at some alternate funding options through USDA and other grants. They will also apply again in February though there will be more competition at that time.
Fred Thomas’s road and bridget report echoed previous discussions regarding damages to Divide and North Mahnke road from 1876 Resources related to fracking and then future drilling activity. The company has been in touch since additional damages sustained during the last rain storm. Thomas will be working out a payment/labor agreement with the company to assist with fixing and graveling the road.
A reported fire at the county shop was found to be someone spinning cookies in the parking lot causing a large amount of dust to rise and hang in the air. The suspected individual was discussed with the Sheriff’s department and town.
The Sheriff’s department accepted sealed bids on six vehicles that were up for bid. The seventh vehicle did not meet the reserve. Those who won the bids will be notified by the Sheriff.