County reshuffles for Union broadband

The Board of

Sublette County Commissioners tackled business

items and budget requests on Tuesday,

June 4, with the meeting moved from Big Piney

back to Pinedale

Commissioners Doug Vickrey, Tom Noble,

chairman David Burnett, Joel Bousman and

Mack Rawhouser dressed in jackets and ties for

a photo session with Cat Urbigkit.

Out of county hands

Noble updated commissioners on Union

Wireless’s recent unexpected announcement

that it had received federal grants sought by

Sublette County for a fiber-optic backbone

throughout the county.

“There are two issues,” Noble said. “Nothing

is on paper yet but verbally, (Union) is building

out what the consortium designed.”

This means the county consortium with its

proposed joint powers board is no longer needed

and would have no control over the project or its

timeline, he confirmed. “They would prefer to

work with an informal partnership.”

Union will bring its maps and permits to

meet with the county and Big Piney, Marbleton

and Pinedale officials “on a friendly basis,” plan

a public meeting at Pinedale Library and break

ground “all toward the end of this month.”

The second issue is that Union has facilitated

power to the “green site” for the new communications

tower, he said. “Union went out of their

way to get us that power and start a partnership.”

He said Union has verbally committed to extending

its fiber-optic to Pinedale and Pinedale

businesses and then build out in LaBarge, Big

Piney and Marbleton.

“They will lay it out for us before the public

meeting – they are doing all of this with their

own money; we don’t have a say in this now.”

Noble made a motion to notify AllWest,

which was interested in the county’s wider

broadband initiative, to release the company

from further obligations to the county.

Rawhouser asked if Union will work with

current wireless providers.

“Union has agreed verbally to work with the

local providers already here for the last mile,”

Noble said.

Vickrey asked about Union’s timeline

“down the road.”

“Union is probably two years ahead of where

the consortium would be (if it received that

grant money),” Noble said. “Build-out would

probably be two years ahead because they got

the grants and permits. I think it will be better

service around the county.”

Noble suggested maintaining a temporary

relationship with CTC Technology, contracted

by the county to guide the project “to be able to

talk to them if needed.”

Long said the contract account still has

$21,000. Commissioners expressed concerns

about being billed “down the line.”

Deputy County Attorney Matt Gaffney said

commissioners can “keep it open or wind it up

– it’s up to you.”

Wildlife crossing support

Wyoming Game and Fish Pinedale Wildlife

Coordinator Brandon Scurlock, Migration

Specialist Jill Randall and Commissioner Mike

Schmid talked about the potential for a scaleddown

Dry Piney wildlife highway crossing with

two underpass bridges.

Scurlock explained when Game and Fish

designates a new migration corridor, it has “no

detrimental effects to private property rights”

and is not used to comment on grazing environmental

assessments. He added, it does not impede

energy development and lease sale parcels

that contain 90 percent or more of the corridor

can be drilled horizontally.

“Number one, this is science,” Rawhouser

said. “We seem to be running into problems

with emotions and science.”

Scurlock said a deferred lease parcel might

not be nominated again.

“What you’re saying is almost ‘buyer beware,’”

Rawhouser said.

Bousman said the issue has “come a long

way since that (February Game and Fish migration)

meeting in Pinedale.” He said some

such as Lincoln County felt Game and Fish

was moving forward without local input.

Since then, the DOI (Department of Interior)

and BLM have said they will defer to Game

and Fish and Gov. Mark Gordon to resolve

energy issues.

“The good news is, we’re not going to

have a top-down approach.”

Scurlock said WYDOT is leading the Dry

Piney crossing project and hopes to fund a

much larger statewide project.

Schmid said an internal highway-crossing

team identified projects in Dubois, Kaycee

and Dry Piney as the top three. “There are

a lot of reasons why Dry Piney makes sense

– the amount of animals identified is a very

diverse group of animals.”

He said elk, pronghorn and moose use the

mule deer corridor as well. “We’ve got a lot

of money invested in this Wyoming Range

mule deer herd. … We just need to find some

help to get this done.”

Burnett cited public safety and resource

protection as reasons why the county is “interested

in moving forward in an as-yet undetermined


In other news:

• Road and Bridge and Waste Management

supervisor Billy Pape reported two

more houses were brought to the county

landfill. He said deputies are writing speeding

tickets during Meadowlark Lane construction.

• Resolution 19-100361B names Sublette

County Clerk Carrie Long as the public records

contact for requests. The board also approved

bonds for Spencer Nichols of the Big

Piney Cemetery District Board, Bob Jones

for the Pinedale Airport Board and David

Nemetz for the Hoback Ranches Service and

Improvement District.

• Commissioners discussed the “annual

contribution agreement” between the county

and the University of Wyoming Extension

Office. Bousman moved to approve the contract,

asking for a second to open discussion.

Several commissioners said they have not

met the new employees.

“We pay the salary of the secretary and

half the salary of the 4-H person and provide

the office,” Bousman explained. “Let’s table

this until they can come in and update us on

what they’ve been involved in. I don’t think

it would hurt to put a little pressure on them.”

Noble agreed: “I think that’s a good idea.”

Burnett removed the motion; Long will

invite employees to be on the agenda.


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