Big Piney mulling summer hiring needs

SUBLETTE COUNTY – With students poised to apply for summer jobs, the Big Piney Town Council and staff talked about perhaps hiring fewer and paying more at its April 19 meeting.

Parks-streets supervisor Kara Losik said it’s time to advertise summer positions and proposed “restructuring” the seasonal work. She suggested spreading out a certain responsibility to one worker instead of pairs as the town did last summer.

“We could cut back and hire four,” she told Mayor Tyler Maxfield and councilmembers Sherri Redden, Tawnya Miller, Stafford Polk IV and Sierra Banks.

“Last year we hired everyone who applied,” Losik explained.

With many of her “bigger projects” being completed over the past years, she suggested a smaller specialized crew – 16 or older to mow, one 18 or older to drive the town’s water truck and one to help water-sewer manager Mike Wagstaff after July 4.

Over the holiday, Big Piney staff and seasonal employees pitch in for the longtime annual Chuckwagon Days, with the parade, community breakfast, rodeo, fireworks and other holiday events.

They could all pitch in for special town projects, Losik said.

“Sometimes we paid two kids to get the work done,” Maxfield said. “I’d rather hire a few less and pay more.”

In other business, code enforcer Greg Eiden related a municipal court process with town attorney Doug Mason and Sheriff KC Lehr, in an effort to bring property owners’ attention to maintaining municipal codes.

One property on Budd Avenue is cleaned up to town standards and another owner came to municipal court to work through a citation.

“Doug Mason and Sheriff Lehr did an excellent job of representing the town’s needs,” Eiden said.

Maxfield said he noticed improvements to the Miller Way property. “The end result is, we got what we wanted – ‘clean up your stuff.’”

The sheriff said he will continue working closely with Eiden to help enforce Big Piney’s ordinances.

House Rep. Albert Sommers of Pinedale gave the council an overview of the Wyoming Legislature’s redistricting and state budget updates.

In the state’s final redistricting plan, the House District No. 20 seat includes all of Sublette County and the “Sublette 9” portion of LaBarge in Lincoln County.

“I think it puts Sublette County in a good spot.” Sommers said. This will be his last campaign for the seat.

During the legislature’s budget session, of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, more commonly referred to as ARPA, Sommers said smaller town governments will receive more money. Millions will be available for grant programs including broadband, water, wastewater and other expenses – “There are some pretty good pots of money out there for you to take a look at.”

For Big Piney, with less than 500 residents, estimated funds of about $54,000 increase to $90,134.

“Every little bit helps,” Maxfield said.

Sam Bixler asked the council to support a resolution to resume sales of public lands’ oil and gas leases for “responsible sustained production of oil and gas on public lands and in Sublette County.” He said President Biden’s moratorium is costing Wyoming jobs and revenue.

“It’s an opportunity to show the people in power … and our delegation in Washington we really support it as a community,” Bixler said.

The council voted unanimously to pass the resolution.

In other Big Piney news:

  • Dezi Saathoff, new violence prevention coordinator at SAFV Task Force, presented Maxfield with the town’s proclamation of April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Maxwell read the proclamation and the council approved it.
  • Union Wireless requested its second 10-year lease renewal as of May 15 for equipment on the town’s water tower. The company pays $6,000 a year; Maxfield asked someone to check what Marbleton receives and he would OK the renewal is the amount is “the same or close.”
  • Recreation manager Eddy Delgado reported that Will Hampton of WH Services LLC asked to meet with the council to discuss the rec center’s faulty boiler system.
  • The council adjourned into an executive session about personnel with no action taken.

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