The County Commissioners’ meeting was called to order on this date at 9:01 a.m. with Chairman Patrick H. Wade, Vice-Chair John Midkiff, Commissioner Elaine Griffith, and County Clerk Becky L. Freeman, present.
Chairman Wade led the group in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Road and Bridge- Foreman Fred Thomas met with the Commissioners to discuss road and bridge business.
Mr. Thomas said that work on the 2019 Road Rehab Project is moving along and barring any problems, the project should be completed by the end of next week.
He said that the road and bridge operators had fixed several washouts last week and cleaned out auto gates.
He discussed the McConaughey Road and acknowledged that it needs fixed, but wasn’t sure how to justify spending a lot of money on a road that serves one family. Foreman Thomas said he could install a 12” pipe and that would help some, but no real work could begin until summer. He also noted that if work was to take place, they would have difficulty with their large equipment and trying to turn around while not getting on the landowner’s grass. Chairman Wade felt that right now there were roads that with a higher priority that served more people. Both Vice-Chairman Midkiff and Commissioner Griffith were not in favor of working on this road right now for the same reasons voice by Chairman Wade. Vice-Chairman Midkiff thought that perhaps they could revisit the matter later on.
Josh Harkins with BenchMark of Torrington joined the meeting and presented two change orders for the 2019 Road Rehabilitation Project. He said that one change order is for adding the additional mile of road and the second change order was to change the specs for the material placed on the road.
Change Order #1- Commissioner Griffith moved to approve Change Order #1 for the 2019 Road Rehabilitation Project which provides for an extension of the contract work to include an additional 1.1 miles of Cheyenne River Road rehabilitation work at a cost of $93,170.00. Vice-Chairman Midkiff seconded, motion carried. The new contract amount is $296,921.60.
Change Order #2- Commissioner Griffith moved to approve Change Order #2 which provides a change in the Special Provision regarding the Aggregate Specifications. Vice-Chairman Midkiff seconded, motion carried.
Fair Board President Tandy Dockery, Extension Educator Denise Smith and Extension Secretary Erin Smith met with the Commissioners to discuss the “wish list” for the fairgrounds grant project. Some items included updating the sound system in the auditorium as well as in some of the meeting rooms. They would also like to have better WI-FI capability, a technology upgrade which would include projectors, a Zoom conferencing system, and installation of a security system as well as updating the chair storage room.
County Attorney- County Attorney Anne Wasserburger met with the Commissioners and discussed county business. She discussed the Corona Virus and steps the Commissioners might need to take to develop plans of action.
Regional Public Health Supervisor Dr. Melanie Pearce and Community Prevention Specialist Kerry Steward joined the meeting. Dr. Pearce said she is going to recommend opening the emergency joint operating command. She said she has not been receiving communication from anyone here regarding things in Niobrara County pertaining to the Corona Virus/Covid-19.
She said that public health is open and they have been directed to keep all services going including immunizations and LT101 screenings.
Old Business- Chairman Wade updated the group on a Tri-County Joint Powers Board Broadband meeting he attended.
Wyoming Child & Family Development- The Commissioners received a funding request of $1,000.00 and a property tax waiver request from Wyoming Child and Family Development, Inc. for FY 2021. Commissioner Griffith moved to approve this request. Vice-Chairman Midkiff seconded, motion carried.
Sheriff’s Office- Jail Lieutenant Gwen Riter and Detention Officer James Frye met with the Commissioners to continue discussion regarding the commissary account and to provide a general update on the jail, inmates, and best practices as they pertain to the Corona Virus. Wildland Fire Management Plan- Vice-Chairman Midkiff moved to sign the Wildland Fire Management Operating Plan between the USDI BLM, Wyoming State Forestry Division, USDA Forest Service and Niobrara County. Commissioner Griffith seconded, motion carried.
Ken Dockweiler, Director, Land Government and Compliance with Belle Fourche Pipeline met with the Commissioners to update them on pipeline activities. He said that a portion of the pipeline located on private land had been accidentally damaged by a pipeline employee. He said approximately 500 gallons of crude oil were lost, but they were able to repair the damage quickly and be operational by the next morning.
He said that the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration had been notified. He also noted that the contaminated dirt had been removed and stockpiled and that they will work with DEQ and the landowner on any further issues.
He said everything else was progressing as planned.
The Commissioners held a meeting with Emergency Management Coordinator James Santistevan, Regional Public Health Nurse Supervisor Melanie Pearce, Public Health Officer Dr. Joleen Falkenburg, House Representative Hans Hunt as well as the attendees listed on the attached sign in sheet to discuss the Corona Virus and actions that should be taken regarding closures and health and safety.
1% Tax Meeting- Town of Lusk Mayor Doug Lytle, Lusk Town Councilman Dean Nelson and Town of Lusk Public Works Director Todd Skrukrud met with the Commissioners to discuss the 1% tax question that is tentatively scheduled to appear on the Primary Election ballot in August. Also in attendance was House Representative Hans Hunt.
Treasurer Keri Thompson, Assessor Teri Stephens and Clerk of Court Chrisanna Lund met with the Commissioners to discuss a plan of action on whether or not the Commissioners should authorize the closing of the courthouse to the public over concerns regarding the COVID-19 outbreak.
Both the Treasurer and Assessor said they could operate via online and the County Clerk said she could make it work, but the Clerk of Court had concerns about child support and her WY User system. After much discussion, all agreed they could make this work, either through online services, the mail, email or curbside assistance.
Commissioner Griffith moved that in response to the current Covid -19 virus, the courthouse will be closed to the public as of 8:00 a.m. March 18th 2020 until at least April 7th, 2020, however, offices will be staffed. Vice- Chairman Midkiff seconded, motion carried.
Employees are expected to be here unless they feel the need to stay home. If they choose to stay home, they must use accrued sick leave and if they run out, they can use comp time or vacation time.
Energy Efficiency and Lighting Grants Extension Request- Commissioner Griffith moved to sign a letter requesting a grant extension for the Energy Efficiency Grant and the Lighting Grant, which were awarded through the Wyoming Business Council State Energy Office, for the Niobrara County Fairgrounds Main Building Upgrade and Enhancement Project. Vice-Chairman Midkiff seconded, motion carried.
Credit Card Letter- Vice Chairman Midkiff moved to sign a letter authorizing the Niobrara County 4-H Council and Niobrara County Fair Board to apply for credit cards through First State Bank of Newcastle with credit limits of $7,500.00 and $5,000.00 respectively. Commissioner Griffith seconded, motion carried.
Consent agenda- Vice-Chairman Midkiff moved to approve the consent agenda. Commissioner Griffith seconded, motion carried. Items on the consent agenda were the minutes of the March 3, 2020 meeting.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 6:30 p.m.
NIOBRARA COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
Patrick Wade, Chairman
Becky L. Freeman, Clerk
Public Notice No. 5424. Published in The Lusk Herald on April 15, 2020.