Infrastructure at forefront of commissioners' meeting

PINEDALE – Infrastructure and projects were the running themes during the Sublette County Board of Commissioners’ meeting on Aug. 17 with agenda items scattered throughout the meeting’s 3 hours.

County Road & Bridge Supervisor Billy Pape, along with representatives from Rio Verde Engineering, started the meeting by telling the board about various maintenance projects and the possible adoption of new county roads. Pape said maintenance crews have been focused on blading roads but have encountered problems with drought conditions. Roads have been too dry to blade, so they required added moisture.

Commissioners revisited discussions on taking over control of roads in Antelope Ridge and Carmichael Hills subdivisions. The Antelope Ridge road in question was built to the county’s specifications and is dedicated to public use. The road in Carmichael Hills would need to be brought up to county roads regulations and dedicated for public use before that moves further along.

Pape said he could handle the added maintenance labor between these two projects in the immediate future but he did have worries down the road if the county took on more roads like those. County clerk Carrie Long reminded the board that the state has funding available if work came out of the county’s maintenance budget.

Commissioners weighed the possibility of setting a precedent and would like to set a more solid standard before the county takes on more roads. Some of the possible criteria could be average traffic, school bus traffic, county resident homes served and maintenance costs.

The board accepted the Carmichael Hills application to accept three-quarters of a mile of road pending that road reaching county specifications and declaration of public use. Board members encouraged those involved with the Antelope Ridge to get with county officials to clarify predicted maintenance costs before returning to the commission after questions with corners and easements were discussed.

Members of the public then spoke up to thank the commissioners, as well as the Road & Bridge Department, for work maintaining county roads – including on the Boulder Lake Road – over the past two decades.

A change order was also asked regarding Phase 1 of the Cottonwood project. Doug Linn, field manager of the Pinedale BLM office, said a question from upper management caused a hiccup in the process but a new packet would be provided to Rio Verde Engineering shortly so the project could meet its new schedule.

Commissioners also adopted a motion that would allow the county to take on roadkill from Teton County at $63 per ton – that doesn’t concern carcasses from the national parks. Teton County estimates moving 120 tons per year, which is where the commissioners decided to cap its agreement. (Sublette County estimates about 300 tons per year, for comparison.) That amount would be weighed in Teton County and again when it entered Sublette County. It would also be separated before arriving in Sublette County.

Todd Hurd of Forsgren and Associates returned to give an update on ongoing projects. He said the plan is to overlay the existing roof at the Sublette County Fairgrounds and then ask for costs to eliminate the cupolas.

Hurd asked for a time extension on the Daniel Fire Station project with no extra cost. The board agreed to that extension. Although, during discussion, it was determined the project would surpass the allotted budget. That was largely attributed to the building placement, as the old dump would compromise the northeast corner of the building. Commissioner Doug Vickrey said he asked for some costs to be tabulated and it was determined the project cost $393,000 at this rate. Hurd said it was a group effort among himself, the board and Sublette County Unified Fire officials to determine the location of the new building.

Long explained extra costs would likely ultimately come out of reserves.

Aspen Grove

Members of the Sublette County Hospital District joined the meeting to answer questions.

District board chair Tonia Hoffman said ongoing discussions indicate the Sublette Center would prefer to no longer operate Aspen Grove apartments. District administrator Dave Doorn said it’s the district’s desire to maintain the status quo as much as possible.

It was explained that because Aspen Grove was among the Sublette Center’s assets, the hospital district’s legal counsel felt it needed to be included in the Eide Bailly forecast as a potential source of revenue. Doorn said there was no legal reason found for why the district could not claim it.

It was agreed among commissioners and hospital district members that the intent of Aspen Grove revenue to be devoted to health care. Noble shared his hope that its revenues fund the hospital’s nursing wing, which Hoffman and Doorn agreed.

Ultimately, the board carried a motion to approve revenues generated from Aspen Grove would transfer to the new long-term care facility upon approval of the USDA loan to build a long-term care facility for a 10-year period. Doorn said they have been in close contact with the USDA and expect to hear a decision on the loan in a few weeks. 

Other items

  • The board accepted applications to the new Sublette County Tourism Board from Tawnya Miller of Big Piney, Roger McMannis of Marbleton and Matt Murdock of Pinedale. The remaining two vacancies were filled by commissioner Noble and county administrator Matt Gaffney.
  • The board granted approval to form a standing committee concerning the new SIRS radio system. Gaffney brought that forward as a way for all working parts to stay in communication.
  • The county approved a contract with the Town of Pinedale for law enforcement services. That amount, set at $10 a year (same as fire services), will likely be revisited next year.
  • Commissioners also approved a new lease for Rendezvous Pointe. That included the four easternmost bays of the garage that was damaged in this spring’s fire.