Fire Ban declared, road issues discussed by commissioners

Lisa Phelps
Posted 6/12/24

WHEATLAND – Fire warden Aaron Clark said due to the fuel conditions and forecasted hot, dry weather, a fire ban for unincorporated areas will be in effect as of noon on June 14. The …

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Fire Ban declared, road issues discussed by commissioners


WHEATLAND – Fire warden Aaron Clark said due to the fuel conditions and forecasted hot, dry weather, a fire ban for unincorporated areas will be in effect as of noon on June 14.
The commissioners accepted his proposal, enacting the ban for an indefinite time period. Violators can be fined $100 and sentenced to 30 days in jail.
Commissioners discussed the need to crack down on regulations requiring irrigators in the county to prevent water from their operations running onto or hitting county roads. Commissioner Kayla Mantle said people need to realize it costs a lot of money to repair damaged roads and it takes resources and manpower away from other projects they could be working on.
“It’s supposed to be beneficial use, and watering the road is not a beneficial use,” Commissioner Steve Shockley said of water rights.
The commissioners realize there are occasionally times events occur that cannot prevent water from spraying or running on the road, but it should be the exception. The commissioners stated their concern is with repetitive, consistent disregard for the road assets of the county by negligent irrigators.
The commissioners are tasking Road and Bridge superintendent Chris Bookout with completing an actual cost-breakdown of costs accrued from preventable road repairs. The commissioners will visit this issue again to determine future action when the full data is compiled.
Road and Bridge budget requests included an improved software system to track all work orders and man hours, freeing up valuable time for the superintendent to do other tasks. A part-time position to assist with office tasks and answering phones would also give more regular hours in which people could contact the department.
Complaints about Whalen Canyon Road were also discussed. Bookout said he has assessed the road’s usage along with the sheriff’s department, and they have approved speed changes and will be enforcing the lowered speed limits once the new signs are posted on the road.

In a report on behalf of Platte County Economic Development (PCED), director Tracy deRyk said she is pleased to report there is good interest in PCED, signified by new and renewing memberships. She also said Dan Brecht has purchased the old 307 Roots Salon building, there is a new pizza place going in at the corner of Gilchrist and 9th streets, Drube’s is working on an Italian eatery and charcuterie facility, Cowboy Drug is building a new facility south of Legacy Home, and a bakery is planned for the former Natural Reflections building on Gilchrist Street. She also said she is pleased with the progress of the Make Glendo Great committee, who is writing a grant to help their community. She mentioned one of the larger businesses in Guernsey, Crazy Tony’s, had a grand re-opening after being purchased by Doug and Lana Swingholm.
Tom Davis, CEO for Hoskinson Contracting, updated the commissioners on projects undertaken by the Hoskinson family, both in Platte County and in Gillette. Davis said he has hired 75 people in the last three months, most of them are from Wyoming. Managing the day-to-day operations at the Twin Pine Bison Ranch west of Glendo is Kevin Gross of Hartville.
Hoskinson Contracting has been approved to complete the second phase of upgrading Harris Park Road. They are in a bidding process for some of the construction and will be working with Platte County Road and Bridge department to improve areas of the road that have a 12 to 14 percent grade.
Davis also said plans are on track to renovate the former restaurant at Wheatland Golf Club. He informed the commission the outside of the building will be repaired first, but details for interior use of the building are still being determined.
Jordan Ham of WyoLogic was on hand to discuss information-technology (IT) budget requests with commissioners.
Ham first addressed issues he has had in communication with the Guernsey police department. The Town of Guernsey has an agreement with the county IT department to take care of IT so they have proper communication with dispatch, etc.
Mayor Ed Delgado of Guernsey said in a later communication with the Record-Times, he will be at the commissioner’s meeting on June 18 to address what is needed to solve the communication situation between the Town of Guernsey and the county’s IT provider.
In the budget for IT, clerk Ervin said the proposed budget reflects the idea 20 to 25 percent or less of computers should be replaced annually. There is also included in the budget $10,000 to cover the cost to add WiFi and firewall services at the Agriplex.
The discussion included ways the county has adjusted spending to cover increased costs for IT services, and the fact that costs are at the point they will have to start increasing the budget for those services.
The subject of ensuring continued accurate and fair elections was brought up at a previous commissioner’s meeting this year, and subsequently a workshop conducted by the Platte County Republican Party (PCPR) in March brought up questions and skepticism by commissioners and attendees about proposed hand-counting of ballots. The proposed hand-counting is not because of any accusation of currently insecure elections, but to protect from future attempts of tampering with elections, potentially from entities outside the county, according to PCRP committeewoman Jill Kaufman.
Speaking before the commissioners at their June 4 meeting, Kaufman said in response to questions raised by commissioners at a previous workshop hosted by the Platte County Republican Party, they will two experts at the Agriplex on July 20 and 22. Presenting information will be forensic investigator and cyber security expert Clay Parikh. Parikh, who has a master’s degree in cybersecurity and is a certified ethical hacker, has been subcontracted within major government agencies and is trained to find vulnerable points of entry for hackers in multiple electronic system types. He will outline and discuss election machine / tabulator vulnerabilities from a voter’s perspective. Computer security expert Rick Weible will explain election machine vulnerabilities and hand-counting ballot counting, according to a flyer Kaufman handed to commissioners.
In other business, the commissioners approved scholarships for Simon May, Jacilou Ciz, Ryland Petroski, and Hadley Paisley; the transfer of 262 hours of sick leave donated by seven employees to a fellow employee who needs recovery time after being injured in a vehicle collision; an increase for chief election judge wages to $18 for the 2024-2026 term of office to offset the additional responsibilities required for the security changes planned for future elections; grant agreements for the maternal and child health funding, community prevention programs, and community prevention program. The community prevention program will create an information and assistance hub for the public get assistance with information on programs available in the county to support families
Following an executive session for security planning, the meeting was adjourned.
The public is welcome to attend commissioner meetings the first and third Tuesdays of each month, beginning at 9 a.m. at the Platte County Courthouse or online via zoom.