Commissioners hear about projects in 6-hour meeting

PINEDALE – The Sublette County Board of Commissioners conducted more than six hours of business during its Jan. 19 meeting in the Sublette County Public Library’s Lovatt Room.

Elected officials and department heads introduced themselves to the board and fielded questions to help new board members understand jurisdictions and ongoing projects.

One of the typical commissioner updates, project updates from Rio Verde Engineering, brought commissioners up to speed on sewer piping. Representatives said output needs to move and they plan on going to the Town of Pinedale for possible routes. It’s company preference to do gravity line instead of a pressure line because it’s less maintenance but the depth of installation provides logistical hurdles. Currently, the line pumps 100 gallons per minute, it was said – or 100,000 gallons of accumulated wastewater every day. Commissioners noted the expenses with the project and ultimately decided to contact the town of Pinedale for help in completing the project’s next steps.

County administrator Matt Gaffney brought a few items up to commissioners, including the county’s federal land use policy. Gaffney said he’d put together a review group and then invite federal partners (Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service) into discussions since they were disappointed in the amount of public comment.

Chair Joel Bousman stressed communication and cooperation on the project with federal partners. He said the economic wellbeing of the county depended on it, since 80 percent of the county is federally operated.

Commissioners thanked outgoing sanitarian Alan Huston for his efforts. They determined to advertise for a replacement for 30 days, which will lead to a gap in coverage since Huston’s resignation is effective at the end of the month.

Gaffney and county clerk Carrie Long also brought up an item to the commissioners about county employees’ insurance. Under current rules, Blue Cross Blue Shield doesn’t grant life insurance to county employees if they’re not on the county’s health insurance plan. Gaffney and Long suggested changing that, since it saves the county money if an employee is on their spouse’s health insurance plan. Commissioners made a motion to allow county employees to get life insurance even if they’re not on the health insurance plan, and that motion passed.

Doug Linn of the Pinedale BLM told the commissioners there’s a private landowner who has expressed interest in selling 160 acres to legacy elk hunting grounds. Linn said he’ll gauge interest with Lincoln County commissioners as well but he’s received a positive response from his superiors on a national level. That would require written consent from local and state governments.

Todd Hurd of Forsgren and Associations said construction at Daniel Fire Hall has been delayed three weeks. Overhead doors are nearly ready and ground heaters are the next big phase of the project. Hurd also gave an update on the fairgrounds, which should be ready to move ahead to the next phase. It was determined the county’s attorney should sit in on the rest of the meetings, as this is the second full season of the project’s duration.

Following a lengthy discussion on updates to the Big Piney Library, the commissioners unanimously voted to reaffirm its commitment to renovations.

Jeff Goltz of the Children Discovery Center came before the commissioners to talk about buying back land after redrawing a plot for use by the CDC. Commissioners decided to check out the plot and see if the offered amount of $50,000 would be sufficient.

Mike Henn from the Sublette County Conservation District said the district would be conducting water quality tests at 51 sites throughout the county and a request for proposal has been out for 35 days. He said the advantages to using River Continuum Concepts for the project is to gauge alkalinity in the system to rivers like the Green, Hoback and Big Sandy. The project only measures quality in surface water just below mountain lakes in watersheds. Commissioners unanimously approved the motion for the allotted $166,334.56.

County treasurer Emily Paravicini said the county has to meet a state statute that requires a “reasonable fee” for copies of delinquent property taxes, property tax sale and other items. The commissioners adopted that resolution.

Commissioners also signed accounts payable and signature certification. Commissioners signed agreements on a new helicopter and a new telecommunications system. It was brought up to clear the air that the helicopter purchased has never crashed, which was disputed by another entity during bidding.

The commissioners also discussed the status of the New Fork Irrigation District and if the U.S. Forest Service can legally charge an annual fee. Bousman said he’s asked Connie Brooks, natural resources lawyer often used by the Coalition for Local Governments, and she was optimistic implemented fees would be repealed. Bousman said he’d continue to press the Forest Service on the issue with the goal of avoiding litigation. Commissioners chose not to dedicate money to the project without speaking with the New Fork Lake Irrigation District on the issue.