Major changes for police department
Council accepts resignation and introduces new K9
LUSK - Police K9 Xana (Zah-nah), a 2.5 year old German Shepherd was introduced to the Lusk town council at the September 5 meeting. Xana is the new K9 officer for the Lusk department with partner Jake Gordon. Xana replaced K9 Loki who was relocated to a larger department with higher case load near Las Vegas. Xana is trained for tracking and narcotics. She comes with impressive credentials and training including national certification. She has a three day scent window, though as Gordon said, “Being called in sooner rather than later is still better.” Xana’s position, training and all of Gordon’s work with her are being covered through grant money that Gordon has worked to find and secure. The K9 program in Lusk will continue thanks to Gordon’s work and Chief Bo Krein’s support and advocacy.
In addition to the new K9 Krein also reported that a conditional offer has been extended to a new officer pending final paperwork and checks. The contract for animal control was approved by council pending the signature and acceptance by Animal Control Officer Doug Jergenson.
According to Chief Krein’s department report, officers responded to 297 incidents in August which is up from 240 the year before but down from July with 21 new cases being opened.
It was with regrets that the council accepted Chief Krein’s resignation effective September 13, 2023. Krein was thanked for his time on the department and as Chief to which he responded, “It was an honor to serve.” Sargent Jake Gordon was appointed interim chief until a new one can be hired. The position will be advertised per town policy.
Jim Hollon presented council was a map outlining the lots which he owns and which he anticipates seeking zoning changes on in the near future. A total of six lots in the area of the hospital including four between Mayes and Ballancee and two more not shown on the map will be presented on an application for zoning changes from limited residential to general residential. Hollon feels that this will improve the potential of those lots for sale since it will allow the individual purchasing more flexibility for the purpose of the lots.
Hollon mentioned that one lot near the hospital has been sold to an individual from Cheyenne who intends to build “some kind of clinic, but I have never met the individual in person” as Hollon phrased it.
The council currently serves as the zoning board and Hollon stated that he just wanted to give the council the chance to ask questions and he wanted to address any concerns or questions they might have as he works through the process and paperwork to request the zoning change.
Greenskeeper Trevor Barner has been busy with his crew. The golf course sign has been repainted and set back up. They have finished replacing all the sprinkler heads back to the original nozzles so the system should have correct spacing and should run more appropriately. They have been spraying for grubs as well as widening fairways and the rough. They have also almost finished putting divet mix bottles on all the club carts and some member carts.
Linda Frye has submitted the mineral royalty grant application for the ambulance. She continues to follow up on the TAPS grant with no response so far. She is also continuing to look for additional street money. There is potential through the DOT which would be federal funds.
EMS Director Mike Mayville reported that there were 46 patient contacts out of 41 calls in August. A new EMT who moved to Manville from Oklahoma and has two years of experience has been approved and another EMT is part way through the process of finishing up certifications. Mayville still does not have a firm timeline on how long it could take to get a new ambulance from order date to delivery. Most companies will not provide an estimate until the bus itself is specced out.
Pool Manager Joyce Hammer gave her final report of the season. The pool’s last day to be open was September 4. Of the 90 days that the pool could have been open 48 of them the pool was either closed the entire time, or had to close early for inclimate or cold weather. The new PE teacher inquired regarding swimming lessons and she would not be surprised if next year an agreement is reached about extending the season for additional PE classes, though they did manage to get two days of class in. Most of the minor injuries at the pool involved kids cutting their feet on the bottom of the pool due to corrosion. Hammer is working with Todd Skrukrud to find a company to sandblast and repaint the pool after draining.
Desirea Matthews-LeLeux, Town Clerk/Treasurer let the council know that anyone who attended the mandatory HB60 training would be receiving their certificate via email. Her office is working on reports an the audit and has started the process for the phase 2 sewer interim financing which will require some bonding resolutions to be passed quickly which will in turn require some special meetings for the timeline. The new website is up and going with IT working to get everything migrated as quickly as possible. The web host and email host were changed because the cost had gone up from $660/year to $4,000/year. The town will be advertising on the front page of the paper as well as social media about the power outage on September 17 from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. They also printed this outage on the most recent round of utility bills.
Connie Starkey interjected to ask what the town’s policy was regarding notification to business owners about utility changes or outages. Council reiterated that this outage was beyond their control and something that was handled by Western Area Power. They were only able to publicize a concrete day and time starting August 15 because that was the first date that it was completely confirmed by Western. Typically the town tries to publicize an outage or changes as soon as possible. Starkey expressed her concern that outages, particularly the outage on September 17 has a negative effect on businesses and, in turn. the community because it prevents businesses from being able to meet the needs of their patrons on those days. Without electricity tourists and travel groups cannot eat or get gas in Lusk and they may be less willing to stop in Lusk again. Starkey stated, “I don’t know how busy the office is but maybe they could call all the businesses in town to let them know.” about any time there will be a utility outage or change. Starkey didn’t feel there were so many businesses in town that this should be burdensome or an unreasonable request. Council agreed that notification as early as possible is important and reiterated that they had publicized the information as soon as possible.
Public works director Todd Skurkrud reported that he had “touched base” with Jim Pontarolo regarding the sewage backup issues that Pontarolo had brought to council the previous month. Pontarolo had installed a check valve in the service line that Skrukrud will be inspecting to ensure it is serviceable. If it is, it will be left and a second check valve installed by the town. If it isn’t serviceable it will be removed and replaced with one that is. The town will also continue to investigate why the system takes on extra water during heavy rains.
The rate increase ordinances for water and sewer were passed on third reading. Mayor Lytle once again emphasized that this was only done to meet financing requirements for the infrastructure project and for financial solvency projections.
Under new business the interim financing option approved by council was through Lusk State Bank, a division of Banner Capital. The interim financing is required for USDA funding for anything over $500,000.00. The sewer portion of phase 2 is projected over $700,000 and requires a local interim financing. Lusk State Bank was the most competitive bid offering 3.45% with no origination fees or prepayment penalties.
A capital improvement plan to improve both financial planning along with making it easier to obtain financing for projects and large purchases in the future was approved by the council.
Ordinance changes to three ordinances regarding minors in bars were tabled for another month to give council more time to research and obtain public feedback.