Airport to close briefly for renovations


PINEDALE – Ralph Wenz Field in Pinedale is buzzing with activity this summer as the airport undergoes significant upgrades. Two projects – constructing a new fuel farm and enlarging an apron – are already underway.

Abram Pearce, Pinedale’s director of public works, told the town council a third project, the runway rehabilitation, was pushed back approximately two weeks. The runway is slated to close on Monday, Aug. 9, and reopen on Saturday, Sept. 4, Pearce confirmed.

Pearce was optimistic that the company working on the runway rehabilitation, HK Contractors, could finish before or on Sept. 4. Construction crews developed a “fast and furious” plan to get in and complete the work quickly, Pearce said.

At the May 18 Sublette County Board of Commissioner’s meeting, Mayor Matt Murdock emphasized the benefit to moving the Pinedale Airport project to this summer to take advantage of possible increased air traffic during the closure of the Jackson Airport next summer.

The first step involves tearing up the top 2-inch layer of old asphalt on the runway, Pearce said. The ground-up material will be used to build a perimeter road at the airport for maintenance vehicles, Pearce added.

Once the surface layer is removed, crews will come in and overlay the runway with a new layer of asphalt and check for any imperfections, Pearce said.

During the runway closure, airport facilities will remain open for emergency helicopter traffic, Pearce explained to the council. In the event of an emergency requiring an airplane, town staff, the contractors, Sublette County Emergency Management and first responders would do their best to collaborate on a workable solution, Pearce told the Roundup.

Pearce reported progress on the apron expansion was going well. HK Contractors is working to double the size of the airport’s outdoor parking lot to allow room for larger jet planes, Pearce said.

Construction crews are compacting the apron’s surface with water, Pearce explained. Dry environmental conditions this summer required the contractors to use more water than expected to reach acceptable moisture content, Pearce added.

The new fuel farm was slightly behind schedule, Pearce reported to the council. T-O Engineers, the firm administering all three projects, was busy fixing glitches in the process, Pearce said.

In the meantime, Emblem Aviation set up a temporary fuel farm consisting of two tanker trucks located near the hangars. One tanker contains AVGAS aviation fuel and the other is holding jet fuel, Pearce stated.

Food truck and trailer ordinance update

The Pinedale Town Council hosted a special workshop on Thursday, July 22, to discuss Ordinance 686 on food vendors.

The workshop was intended for the council to address topics of concern brought up by food truck and trailer owners and members of the public at the council’s regular meeting on July 12.

Initial progress was made in defining food handling and fire safety guidelines, although disagreement remained over the definition of “self-contained” and the length of time food trucks and trailers are allowed to remain in one spot.

Following a contentious two-hour discussion, Mayor Matt Murdock and the council agreed to host a second workshop with details to be announced.

Sticking to the agenda, the council did not take any action on the ordinance at the July 22 workshop.

The ordinance passed on the first two readings but requires a third and final reading at a regular council meeting before becoming code.

Additional town news

  • The council unanimously voted to renew the town’s annual law enforcement contract with Sublette County. Councilmembers thanked Sheriff K.C. Lehr, present at the meeting, for the hard work put in by the Sheriff’s Office.
  • Councilmembers approved the submission of an application to receive federal CARES Act money for the airport.
  • In a unanimous vote, the council accepted an underground right of way easement for Rocky Mountain Power for the airport fuel farm project.
  • Councilmembers approved a grant agreement between the town and Wyoming Game and Fish for new interpretive signs about the Fremont Lake watershed to install in the area. Pearce told the council Game and Fish volunteered to submit the grant and were “awesome team players” to work with.
  • The council passed a motion appointing Mayor Murdock to represent the town on the Sublette County Visitor Center Board. The board oversees the county’s visitor center and county lodging taxes, Murdock explained.
  • Councilmembers approved dedicating a plaque to acknowledge the Mollring family’s donation of a pathway easement at Melody Bridge.
  • Pearce reported that the Wyoming Department of Transportation approved a $50,000 grant to carry out a traffic impact study in Pinedale. The first step involved establishing a group of stakeholders to develop the scope for the study.

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