Sublette County takes over grant for Hoback Ranches

A tanker attacks the Roosevelt Fire from the air in September 2018.

Citing new information,

an extended deadline and a desire to help

Hoback Ranches residents, Sublette County

Commissioners called a special meeting

Friday, April 19, and voted to take over and

manage a grant.

The $562,000 grant, if received, will

pay for the costs of installing culverts and

other infrastructure needed to mitigate potential

flooding and landslides following

last September’s Roosevelt Fire. As part of

the grant, the county will be responsible for

$144,000 or 25 percent of the funds. Commission

Chairman David Burnett and commissioners

Doug Vickrey, Tom Noble, Joel

Bousman and Mack Rawhouser were all in

attendance at the special meeting.

Absent from the April 2 meeting, representatives

from Hoback Ranches as well as

Sen. Dan Dockstader and Reps. Jim Roscoe

and Albert Sommers attended the special

April 12 meeting.

The special meeting was called after

commissioners refused to sign “assurances”

demanded by the federal Homeland

Security agency during their regular April 2

meeting. At that point, it appeared the grant

would fall through.

The Hoback Ranches Special Improvement

District was not eligible to apply for

the grant because the entity has not signed

on to the Sublette County Hazardous

Mitigation Plan that was approved by the

county and all three municipalities about a

year ago.

When commissioners discussed taking

over the grant application and management,

they questioned why the district had

not signed on to the Hazardous Mitigation

Plan when it was offered.

Hoback Ranches representative Dave

Nemetz said perhaps it was due to the revolving

nature of the district’s board, but

members did not remember being offered

the plan.

Sam Sumrall, also on the improvement

district’s board, said that after some discussion,

the board would consider signing

onto the plan when it comes up again for

approval in two or three years.

Another concern was that other special

improvement districts in Sublette County

should get an opportunity to sign on to the

plan in the future.

Burnett explained when opening the

meeting that the commissioners had agreed

to support the grant application back in November,

but thought it would be a “passthrough

grant” with the county receiving

funds and Hoback Ranches administering

the grant. However, after the initial application

was turned in, the county was asked to

make more assurances, including a requirement

for a full-time engineer be on site. It

appeared other requirements could obligate

Sublette County taxpayers if the grant was

not properly administered.

Burnett said after refusing to sign the

document, a phone conference call took

place among Homeland Security representatives

and Deputy County Attorney Matt

Gaffney.

From that he said there were three options:

not participating, signing the grant

with a memorandum of understanding between

the county and Hoback Ranches or

taking over the entire grant to ensure it is

managed correctly.

Bousman added, at the last meeting the

commission was under the impression that

April 1 was the “drop dead” deadline. In

fact, that was the “soft” deadline and May 1

the true deadline, which gave commissioners

an opportunity to respond.

Rawhouser explained, “If we take option

number three, I want the taxpayers to understand

the money, except for the 25 percent,

comes back to the county – if we do

it correctly.”

Following the brief meeting, four motions

were made.

The first made by Bousman and seconded

by Rawhouser was to submit all necessary

documentation to apply for the grant.

The motion passed, 4-0, with Burnett abstaining

from the vote since he is a property

owner in the Hoback Ranches subdivision.

The second motion was to have Sublette

County take sole financial responsibility for

the grant. That also passed, 4-0, with Burnett

not voting.

A third motion designated Sublette

County to administer all aspects of the

grant, which passed, 5-0.

A fourth motion designated Sublette

County Clerk Carrie Long as the point of

contact for the grant and distribution of

fund. That also passed unanimously.

When opened to the public, legislators in

attendance said they were pleased everyone

was able to work together.


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