Salting county roads reduced ‘slime’

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SUBLETTE COUNTY – After Sublette County commissioners gave Road & Bridge supervisor Billy Pape the green light on Jan. 17 to eliminate sand from his snow-control road application formula, Pape reported the positive outcome at their Friday, Feb. 2, meeting.

Commissioners Tom Noble, Dave Stephens, chair Sam White, Doug Vickrey and Mack Bradley had discussed the county department’s longtime use of applying a salt-sand mix, with Pape saying at the January meeting that sand is what caused the icy “slime” adhering to vehicles.

Vickrey had mentioned that citizens complained about the dirty chunks that gathered behind tires, fell off in a garage and had residue tracking throughout a home or garage. Pape turned that question around, explaining that sand really is not effective for snowmelt or friction and blows away.

Instead, he proposed trying just salt, rather than adding 8 percent sand to the Iceslicer solution. Storing sand also encouraged weeds in warmer seasons, he said.

Commissioners agreed and on Friday, White asked Pape how the experiment turned out.

After the last snowfall, Pape said, “We used straight salt.”

Where a driver usually uses eight loads of the sand-salt mix, this time it took just one load of salt, he said. There will be “a learning curve” for drivers to fine-tune how much is needed.

“So we’re using way less salt too … and we didn’t have the slime,” Pape said. “I think it’s going to work pretty well.”

Bradley asked about WYDOT’s brine-spraying technique. Pape said he watched the brine being mixed in LaBarge, mixing water with 35-percent Morton salt to fill a tank.

Pape then asked about working out budget numbers for bike path repairs where they are in bad shape.

“If we’re going to do a major road project, I would like to tie (bike path repair) in,” White said.

Noble said the worst is the Soda Lake path and asked if it could be added to an adjacent road project. He also asked about “ownership” – if towns might take on maintenance after the county’s repairs.

Stephens advised planning any work that could be done before the budget sessions in late spring.

Avoiding voids

In his waste management role, Pape explained that construction and demolition (C&D) trash takes a lot of dirt to layer, pack down and cover to avoid “void space.” The voids contain air that fed a trashed battery’s spark into a fire several months ago that was contained to the pit, he reminded commissioners.

Covering the layers takes a lot of dirt – “We have a lot stored but we have to cover each layer” –  and compaction is currently increased at the landfill with current personnel putting C&D materials through the county’s grinder, he said.

“We’re going to save 40 percent of dirt going back into the pit;” the grinder has been used for municipal solid wastes

“Last year we had enough C&D to use a 3-acre pit,” White said. “With the grinder you’ll only use 3 and a half acres?”

Each 10-acre pit could accept much more ground trash and use less dirt, Pape said.

He predicted an increase this year with calls from C&D haulers in Teton County, mainly.

Around the county

Eric Sackett of Rio Verde Engineering brought up a one-year renewal of the Forest Service and county’s “free-use” rock permit along Skyline Drive; commissioners approved the resolution.

He switched to fixing ongoing pump problems at Rendezvous Meadows Golf Course with Teletractors Inc. bidding a low $99,840 for the project.

Stephens told Sackett he talked to a well driller who advised the county to consider drilling a couple new water wells in the future with plenty of water available.

“I think we’re just putting bandaids on this thing,” Stephens said.

White asked Sackett to discuss that with the county golf course board, saying the budget has money for the golf course and $100,000 for the building. Long clarified the golf course total budget is $475,000.

Commissioners approved awarding the bid to Teletractors, 4-0, with Noble abstaining.

Sublette County Fairgrounds’ managers Jay and Brianne Brower updated commissioners on maintenance and events.

She has updated the calendar to show annual events through August and reported working with Clint Gilchrist for the Sublette Centennial Committee’s requested mural to use the last of that funding. She and Gilchrist chose three local artists asking for their ideas, she said.

The committee hopes to have the mural installed by the end of August. Commissioners asked her to send them all three designs.

Also, Art in the Ag Center is now a nonprofit organization and the original photo images mounted on metal and displayed there will come up for auction; proceeds would benefit a scholarship, Brower said.

Stephens said committee chair Mary Lankford suggested the mural be installed on the new building’s west wall. Brower said they “never really talked about it.”

At 10 a.m., commissioners went into executive session with human resources manager Andrea Jean and Sheriff KC Lehr to discuss personnel. They returned at 11:15 a.m. with no action taken.

WyoLink

Sublette County Unified Fire Chief Shad Cooper appeared with WYDOT’s WyoLink for an update on the county’s SIRS emergency connections.

Chief engineer Nathan Smolinski said the problematic Kismet and White Pine transmission towers are critical “to build out system support for first responders.”

They plan to duplicate the Kismet model for the White Pine version and “are a little slow on it,” he said.

He stressed the “very beneficial” working relationship between Sublette County and WyoLink. “It is a little new for us working for Sublette County in the manner which we are,” Smolinski said of the state agency.

WyoLink progress “suffered for not getting the funding needed” until the Wyoming Legislature and federal acts provided funds. The system’s 365 units need to be replaced to move into the next phase, Smolinski said.

Also, more than 100 smaller rural agencies requested radios provided with a $1.9 million grant.

The system’s microwave is about 18 years old and needs to be upgraded, along with new connections that will cost an estimated $20 million, he said. WyoLink is expanding its capabilities with Verizon and AT&T and working with T-Mobile.

“Our job is to make sure the platform works (with the wireless companies,” Smolinski said. Training will be the most important aspect in the near future.

Noble said Sublette County “is kind of an island here,” filling a gap between other counties.

The county needs more of a partnership for its investment – “We are funding the state system without state money; we should be acknowledged for that.”

WyoLink has a “compact remote deployed” device that can direct internet traffic during a massive emergency, which Noble said could be “a huge asset this summer” in case of wildfires.

JFR

The Jackson Fork Ranch request for county commissioners to find that its proposed subterranean 100-car resort parking garage is “similar” to an industrial storage facility, and the application for a conditional use permit (CUP) to build it, were postponed until their April 3 meeting.

Sublette County Planning and Zoning Board members at their Jan. 18 meeting were unable to find a majority opinion on the similar use or to approve the CUP application.

The topic and votes were planned for the Feb. 2 meeting but Jackson Fork Ranch owner Joe Ricketts cited a scheduling conflict.

The 10.1-acre parcel proposed for the underground garage was the site leased by a previous owner for Chevron to dump waste drilling fluids; Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality’s water-quality division issued a 1983 notice of violation and ordered Chevron to take action.

(See this edition for more about Jackson Fork Ranch “construction,” public comments and the Chevron Pit’s history.)

P&Z

P&Z Board Chair Chris Lacinak addressed commissioners about work on newly drafted bylaws, that go with revised regulations, that the board will review at its Feb. 15 meeting.

Two issues arose, he said. One is that the county was supposed to appoint a secretary to assist the board.

“That’s never been done,” he said. “Tess (Soll) has been very gracious” but it’s not clear if the county commissioners are to appoint a secretary. He asked if that county employee would report to county commissioners “and also serve as staff.”

Those bylaws wouldn’t include that staff’s job description; Lacinak said that needs clarification.

“It’s your decision, no matter what the answer is to that question. “It’s not critical but it’s an important one.”

Lacinak stressed “job descriptions,” adding, there were times when it was impossible to say what P&Z staff needs to do to support the P&Z board, or not.

White said commissioners could provide guidance on boundaries and asked to see the drafted bylaws.

Noble called the draft bylaws “a work in progress” that might need to “go back and forth a few times.”

“Thanks for your time and effort,” Bradley told Lacinak.