All but 1 liquor license renewal passes 1st approval

Council actions from Feb. 26 meeting

PINEDALE – Following a public hearing on liquor license renewals, all were approved by resolution on first reading, except one. The approval for E Hospitality, LLC., doing business as Stockman’s, was continued.

Stephen J. Elliott, operator and retail license holder for the Stockman’s Mountain Man Tavern 117 W. Pine St., is charged with five counts of buying alcoholic liquors and one count of buying malt beverages from sources other than the Wyoming Liquor Division or any licensed wholesale distributor. Sublette County Sheriff KC Lehr reported he has also been charged with a seventh misdemeanor charge of distributing alcohol without a proper catering permit.

Elliott holds a valid retail liquor license issued by the Wyoming Liquor Division and operates the business through his company, E Hospitality, LLC., after leasing the property from owner Virginia “Kay” Buston, records show.

Following the advice of Pinedale Town Attorney Ed Wood, the council voted unanimously to continue any action on that liquor permit. He advised they should get some “clarity” before acting.

Council member Tyler Swafford agreed saying he wanted to see how the charges “settled out.”

Matt Murdock agreed, saying, “Everybody deserves their day in court.”

However, Mayor Bob Jones warned council members the legal process was a “mushy” situation and could go beyond the April 1 renewal date for the license. “We need to take a good hard look at why we have these hearings and be prepared to make a decision before the case is adjudicated,” Jones said.

Steven Pfisterer, representative for the owner Virginia “Kay” Buston, questioned what would happen. He said they are going to be working through attorneys to try and cancel the one-year lease that expires in May and they don’t want to lose the liquor license.

“We don’t think he should be running it either,” Pfisterer said

Jones said, “Let us know if there is something we can do.”

A motion was passed to continue the hearing on the E Hospitality, LLC., license until the March 12 council meeting.

With no other comments on any other liquor licenses, resolutions were passed terminating the hearing and approving the licenses for all other establishments in the town, on first reading. The licenses will be considered on two more readings at the March 12 and March 19 council meetings. If renewed, the licenses will be extended from April 1, 2018, to March 31, 2019.

The Council also had a public hearing on the Pinedale South Fremont Avenue Rehabilitation Project to replace and upgrade existing sewer, water mains and streets.

Hayley Ruland, director of engineering and zoning, said many of the lines are cast iron or copper and are undersized. She added attempts to document the sewer lines using a camera resulted in the blockages being so advanced that a camera didn’t go through the lines. This area is the ninth phase of an ongoing replacement project that began in 1995 and one of the last areas of the town to get replacements. She added the water lines will be looped in order to provide additional pressure to water users in the area.

The town is searching for help in funding the project and has applied for loans and grants from three sources including the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, Clean Water State Revolving Fund and a Mineral Royalty Grant Program.

Upcoming hearings on the project will be April 12, June 7 and June 21. Once the applications are approved, and to what amounts, the town will know how much money Pinedale will need to come up with. The entire project is projected to cost $678,000, if none of the grant applications are approved. Funds for the project would need to be included in the 2018-2019 fiscal budget and work would not begin until later in the year after irrigating stops.

The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality requires the hearing. No one spoke for or against the project.

Other business by the Pinedale Town Council included:

• No action was taken following a closed executive session to discuss personnel.

• Swafford once again brought up concerns about the schedule that has been set for the upcoming May 8 election for Pinedale Town Council. The terms for Matt Murdock and Nylla Kunard as well as Mayor Bob Jones are up. Candidates can file March 14 until April 27. That leaves only 10 days for ballots to be printed, absentee ballots to be requested sent out and returned. Since all mail is directed through Salt Lake City, even mail across town can take five to six days.

He said he checked and during the last election 197 of 865 voters, just over 22 percent, used absentee voters.

“I was under the impression it was fewer than 50,” Swafford said.

The concern is that anyone requesting an absentee ballot will not have time to receive the ballot and return it in time for the vote to be counted. While ballots can be emailed to voters, they physically have to be returned in person, by mail, or by an overnight delivery service to ensure confidentiality.

• Sublette County Unified Fire Chief Shad Cooper gave year-end information for Pinedale. In 2017, there were 71 emergency responses and four fire investigations. The department focused on several community events for public education and installed 57 smoke detectors or carbon monoxide detectors.

• The town approved an agreement with Fireworks West Internationale for $10,000 to shoot off the annual Fourth of July fireworks show. In the past, the Sublette County Unified Fire Department would provide the show. However, last year a mortar backfired on the ground and another shell set a tree in the cemetery on fire. While no one was injured, the fire department declined to provide the service this year.

• Wind River Mountain Festival has formed a 501©3 corporation. In the past, the funds raised and spent for the organization were held by Pinedale to prevent management fees from being charged. The council approved moving those funds to the non-profit corporation after an audit is completed by the town clerk to confirm amounts.

• Phil Vrska was approved as the concessionaire for the ball field for upcoming summer events. As part of the agreement, he will pay a $200 fee to use the facility and a $500 cleaning deposit. His menu includes BBQ ribs, pulled pork, chicken, chicken wings, hamburgers, hot dogs and brats.

• The council approved a resolution adopting the Region V Hazard Mitigation Plan in conjunction with the county and other Sublette County communities.

• A permit was approved with the Forest Service allowing the town access to its water treatment facility.

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