County projects face standstills

Brady Oltmans photo Sublette County Commissioners, from left, Sam White, Doug Vickrey, Joel Bousman, Tom Noble and Dave Stephens look at a plot map to determine where easements are in the county.

MARBLETON – The Sublette County Board of Commissioners crammed updates and multiple executive sessions into a meeting that lasted over 4 hours on Nov. 16 inside Marbleton Town Hall.

One of the most anticipated items was an in-person visit from Forsgren Engineering’s Todd Hurd to give an update on ongoing projects in the county. Commissioners previously said they wanted a written update for every meeting with a strong request for Hurd to appear before the board at least once a month.

Hurd started with the Daniel Fire building update. He said the project is on COVID order, saying sprinkler pumps have been held up by the manufacturing bottleneck. It’s worth noting that sprinkler pumps were ordered and received earlier in the process but those were the wrong size for the project and had to be returned. Hurd said he’s not sure why that size of sprinkler pump was initially ordered.

Road & Bridge Department employees, who would share the building with Sublette County Fire Department volunteers, said they would have no problem going without a sprinkler system. Hurd said through discussions he had with fire warden Shad Cooper, Cooper was uncomfortable with the potential of not having a sprinkler system.

That project’s timeline was extended, although commissioners encouraged Hurd to seek compensation for the time and finances wasted on the sprinkler pump purchase, return and wait.

Quotes are still being gauged on removing the cupolas at the county fairgrounds. A lot of the issues with the project, it was said, pertained to the original plans.

“This was designed for Oklahoma and it would work great down there, just not for here,” it was said about the building.

The current plans are to have one contractor remove the cupolas and likely have a different contractor handle the overlay on the roof. One of the contractors is related to warranty work while the other would complete the entire project. The commission was comfortable with starting the project in the spring and working through. They all seemed comfortable with possibly losing one county fair event for the sake of the long-term structural quality to the fairgrounds.

Patchwork has been completed on the sewer lines of the Big Piney Library. Some items on order have been delayed, including tie beams and cabinets. Hurd said cabinets and doors are backordered as much as 14 weeks. The contractor on the project said they can’t build walls for the project until support beams come in, so the project is once again on the shelf.

There have also been some disputes with the insurance company in repairing the damaged bays at the Rendezvous Pointe garage in Pinedale. At the core of the issue, there is more damage to the trusses than the insurance company accounted for. Hurd said he had an idea to move trusses and fasten to the sturdiest parts of wood but was unsure if that was a possibility. They expect a long back-and-forth with the insurance company, enough to where Commissioner Doug Vickrey joked, “It would be easier if the whole thing burnt down.” 

Hospital District

Sublette County Hospital District Chairwoman Tonia Hoffman appeared before the board and gave a brief update on the district’s various endeavors. Deputy county attorney Clayton Melinkovich said a delegation agreement is being finalized with Public Health, that included which entity covers which cost in the temporary move for Public Health, and possibly for the future beyond that. Hoffman said the Hospital District was willing to go “above and beyond” in covering costs that would occur throughout the moving process.

It was once again reiterated that, in the event the Hospital District’s USDA loan is approved and all the hurdles to clear a critical access hospital have been conquered, Public Health would not move into its temporary home at the Allen Agency building until the latest absolutely necessary time. Public Health Nurse Manager Janna Lee explained the logistical issues with that, as Public Health continues to see patients – some related to COVID-19 – at a steady rate.

It was ultimately decided that the county would pay for Public Health utilities while the Hospital District will pay for insurance on the temporary facilities as of a date to be established. 

COVID leave

County administrator Matt Gaffney brought up an extension of COVID leave for county employees. This would basically allocate an extra 10 days of leave to county employees who test positive for COVID-19. The extension runs through the first part of 2022. Gaffney explained the intent of the extension is to prevent sick county employees, potentially with COVID-19, from coming into work and infecting others with the virus.

Currently, county officials’ unused sick leave does not carry over from year to year.

Commissioners brought up hypotheticals that Gaffney navigated. County employees couldn’t activate the COVID-19 leave and use it for extra vacation days. COVID leave days could only be activated with a positive test administered by a health-care entity, not by an over-the-counter test.

The board approved this measure, which will once again be considered when the extension ends.

Other commissioner items:

  • Billy Pape, Road & Bridge supervisor, said his department is working on drainages around the county, as it’s a busy time of the year for them. He also gave an update on the Skyline-Fremont Lake Drive project, which was said to be an estimated 70-percent ready.
  • The board tabled a vote to approve the sale of land to the Children’s Discovery Center, pending a future meeting with the CDC to make sure they all understood the plats and easements.
  • Commissioners talked about descriptions for the job advertisement of the county’s director of information technology. It was agreed a committee would handle the hiring process. That committee will consist of: sheriff KC Lehr, fire warden Shad Cooper, Gaffney, county clerk Carrie Long, commissioner Tom Noble and commissioner Sam White.
  • During executive sessions the board conducted interviews for the new county sanitarian. Gaffney said the county awaited an updated MOU from the state for the job and a hire would be made once that new MOU was finalized.
  • Commissioners also held executive sessions at the recommendation of Melinkovich. No action was announced following the resumption on the meeting.

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