The Special Meeting of the Niobrara County Commissioners was called to order on July 8, 2022, at 9:01 a.m. with Chairman Patrick H. Wade, Vice-Chairman John Midkiff, Commissioner Elaine Griffith, and County Clerk Becky L. Freeman present. Members of the audience included Heather Goddard of The Lusk Herald.
The purpose of the special meeting was to discuss the Sheriff’s Office hiring policies, budgeting for the library and fair boards and cyber security updates. Undersheriff Kelly Dean, Sheriff Cary Gill and Deputy County Attorney Doyle J. Davies were in attendance and County Attorney Anne Wasserburger attended via phone.
Undersheriff Dean provided several policies that the Sheriff’s Office uses for each department. For these and any new policies to be in effect, the Sheriff must sign them.
Attorney Wasserburger noted that when a department adopts new policies, in addition to being signed by the sheriff, the County policy and the other policies should be in harmony and not contradict one another.
The group discussed at length, the need for clear instructions and policies on hiring new employees and making sure all steps are completed through Wyoming Peace Officer Standards Training (P.O.S.T.)
Immediate steps to be taken when hiring include the supervisor taking the application of the potential hire and following a checklist ensuring the completeness of the application. That application is then submitted to the undersheriff to certify the accuracy and completeness of the application. At that point it is given to the sheriff, who has the final say on who is hired. He signs off on the checklist thus approving the application. The sheriff then gives the approved application to someone who has the authority to submit to P.O.S.T. If P.O.S.T. approves the application, then a P.O.S.T. number is granted that would allow the potential hire to complete necessary duties at the Sheriff’s Office. This was not done in the recent past, which resulted in a statutory violation, however, there is no provision in statutes for P.O.S.T. to assess a penalty.
The Commissioners asked if there were any pending offers of employment or applications and Undersheriff Dean said no. There are two positions open in detention and possibly two in dispatch. They have advertised on social media as well as traditional publications.
The group went on to discuss disciplinary action policies for Sheriff’s Office employees.
Currently, the policies state the rules for disciplinary action is under the authority of the Sheriff.
Executive Session- Vice-Chairman Midkiff moved to enter executive session at 9:39 a.m. to discuss personnel matters. Commissioner Griffith seconded, and the motion carried.
Commissioner Griffith moved to leave executive session at 10:40 a.m. Vice-Chairman Midkiff seconded, and the motion carried. There was no action taken.
Chairman Wade discussed the need for better communication from the Sheriff to the Commissioners and County Attorney.
Attorney Wasserburger said at one point in the recent past she was unable to reach the Sheriff or Undersheriff and dispatch was having phone problems and there was no clear determination of who was in charge or on call. She stated that if the Sheriff is going to be out of contact, he needs to alert dispatch and there needs to be a clear line of authority.
Chairman Wade asked Sheriff Gill if there are currently any other ongoing P.O.S.T. investigations that the Commissioners needed to be aware of, and Sheriff Gill said there were not.
Budget Discussions- Fair board member Tandy Dockery and Library Director Debbie Sturman, and library board members Virginia Pullen, and Kathy Coon met with the Commissioners to discuss how the fair and library boards would receive funding this budget year in lieu of the traditional mill levy. Treasurer Keri Thompson was also in attendance.
Because of the way mineral taxes are being levied, the commissioners suggested the boards be funded a flat amount and disperse it monthly or quarterly.
Both the Library and Fair Board were willing to consider a flat dollar amount for their budget instead of the mill levy.
Both entities thought that quarterly payments paid in advance i.e. July, August and September payments will be paid the end of July and so on.
Cyber Security Discussions- Chantry Filener met with the Commissioners and updated them on cyber security actions being taken. He noted that the Sentinel One end point protection was originally set to end July 9, but due to the second incident, the software will remain in place until August or until we have Crowd Strike installed.
We need to get new public facing terminals because the old ones won’t update to Windows 10.
Mr. Filener said that Crowd Strike will go on every computer and the State will monitor all of it for a while.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned.
NIOBRARA COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
Patrick Wade, Chairman
Becky L. Freeman, County Clerk
Public Notice No. 5807. Published in The Lusk Herald on July 27 and August 3, 2022.