From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 2, Number 36 - December 5, 2002
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Bleachers, contractors and mannequins?

by Cat Urbigkit

Sublette County Commissioners met for a full day of business in Pinedale Tuesday and did their part to try to end the controversy involving the bleachers at the Pinedale Rodeo Grounds and rendezvous grounds.

When the Sublette County Historical Society/Museum of the Mountain Man Board and the Sublette County Sporting Association ended their relationship earlier this year, the society board decided to give the 10 sets of bleachers on the rodeo grounds to the county fair board. This caused the folks using the rodeo and rendezvous grounds to be upset, since that meant the audience seating would be headed to the fairgrounds north of Marbleton. Five sets of bleachers were hauled to the fairgrounds, and the five remaining bleachers on the rodeo grounds were the subject of much consternation among the various groups.

Ken Marincic and Steve James, representing the fair board, spoke with the commissioners about the bleachers Tuesday, with Marincic stating, "We kind of got put in the middle of a situation we didn't want to be in."

While more seating is needed at the fairgrounds, especially in the ag center, Marincic said, maybe the best place for the remaining five sets of bleachers is to leave them where they are - at the rodeo grounds. But the fair board would have to give up ownership of the bleachers (which were "gifted" to the board) and turn ownership over to the commission, so the commission could do as it saw fit.

Commission Chairman Bill Cramer suggested the fair board give the bleachers to the commission and the commission would resolve the issue one way or the other, but with the intention of leaving the bleachers in their current location on the rodeo grounds. The commission also noted that the decision to leave the bleachers won't prejudice its consideration of an expected fair board request in its next budget to purchase bleachers for the ag center.

Cramer told the fair board, "You only have them because they were given to you," and added that if the gifted bleachers don't suit the fair board's needs, they could be used elsewhere.

Marincic said the fair board may want to do some shuffling of bleachers. The commission said it would accept ownership of the bleachers and work out the legal issues so they could remain available for use at the rodeo and rendezvous grounds.

Waste Management Supervisor Mike McGinnis was honored at the commission meeting by Eugene Wilson of the Wyoming Technology Transfer Center. Wilson presented a plaque to the county for McGinnis' winning the "You show us" 2002 state contest, which was awarded at the annual county road advisors conference in South Dakota recently. McGinnis won the contest for a short paper he authored about using soy oil to stabilize soil on roadways.

With pleasantries out of the way, McGinnis had another piece of good news for the commission: after more than four years, the county finally received its state permit for the Marbleton landfill. The permit is good for a four-year term, but the commission authorized McGinnis to begin the process of getting the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality to amend the permit to allow the county to move toward a balefill program.

McGinnis also requested that the commission authorize him to open the Marbleton landfill on Mondays, leaving it closed only on Sundays. The commission granted the request, with commissioner Gordon Johnston stating, "We're rich right now, and the county can afford to do that."

In other business, representatives of the newly merged Lincoln and Sublette county counseling services spoke with the commission about the need to move into a larger building to accommodate increased demand and the initiation of a drug court, due to begin in January. Vern Cox told the commission that about $60,000 is needed to finance the move and remodeling, but the commission told Cox to direct the request to the county rural health care board.

"We're not saying no, we're saying to try them," Cramer said.

The commission heard updates on several building projects, including the courthouse complex, Big Piney Library and plans for a new senior center in Pinedale.

Big Piney electrician Mike Olson and Pinedale painter Ben Davis spoke with the commission about their concerns with the bidding process used by the county in its building/construction projects. Olson pointed out that the county has been using an out-of-state architect, an out-of-state engineer and an out-of-state contractor in its major projects. Olson said he didn't believe using people from out-of-state is beneficial to the county or the state.

Cramer explained that in terms of the county courthouse complex project, the commission started out with an architect from Jackson. Unhappy with the result, Cramer said, the commission "canned him." Johnston said that experience cost the county $30,000, to which Cramer added, "and we got nothing for it."

Cramer said the commission ended up hiring architect Brad Waters of Texas, who had worked on the new library in Pinedale. Waters guided the county through a long planning process, Cramer said, which resulted in the design for the building complex.

"That's the choice we made and I think it was an excellent choice," Cramer said.

The commissioners and Waters then explained the process used to solicit general contractors and subcontractors for the building projects. This process used a variety of advertising and solicitation locally, and at the state and regional levels as well.

Davis explained that he went through the bid process on two phases of the courthouse complex project and detailed the problems he had encountered. In phase one, Davis said he was the only contractor to get his bid in on time, yet a contractor from Utah ended up with the job and Davis wasn't even contacted to be told he hadn't been awarded the bid.

Davis also said that in both phases in which he submitted bids, there were problems with the blueprints and specifications either not being specific enough or conflicting with each other. In phase two, Davis said his bid came in at $120,000, the winning contractor from Utah bid $96,000 and a third bid came in at $60,000.

With this wide discrepancy in bids, Davis said, "Obviously, you have a problem" with the bid process.

Davis also said when he questioned exactly what to bid on, he was told two different ways by two different people; the architect and construction superintendent.

The commission noted while it couldn't do anything about problems in the past, it was good for the commission to become aware of what those problems were. Cramer noted that this was the first that the commission had learned of some of the issues raised.

Davis said the county needs to be sure that "everybody is bidding apples for apples" in the bidding process.

"I would like to feel that I'm getting a fair chance in bidding," Davis said.

David said that he would like to see the county give more work to local contractors.

Commissioner Betty Fear thanked the contractors for generating the discussion to make the commission aware that there are problems in the bidding process, and in the specs specifically.

Lance Koppenhafer spoke with the commission about never-ending problems with the leaking roof on the new ag center building located at the fairgrounds.

"The roof is still not right," Koppenhafer said, and the roof on the lean-to is "horrible." The roof over the lean-to leaked badly enough to soak the ceiling tiles and cause them to collapse, Koppenhafer said. Efforts to work with the architect and general contractor in getting the problems resolved have continued, but the roof still isn't fixed, Koppenhafer reported. He suggested the county hire an outside consultant to inspect the roof and propose a solution. The commission directed him to start with the metal roof manufacturer and see if assistance could come from that direction.

The commission also spent about half an hour in executive session with Sheriff Hank Ruland and Undersheriff Henry Schmidt to discuss a personnel issue (at the request of Ruland and Schmidt). No explanation or action was offered when the commission came back into open session. (See related story on front page.)

Sublette County Clerk Mary Lankford spoke with the commission about Pinedale emergency medical technician Gary Wilson's request to have the county accept a $4,287 donation from the Wyoming Community Foundation to purchase educational mannequins for Wilson's use in providing educational seminars.

Although Wilson was formerly associated with the Pinedale Emergency Medical Services, the Sublette County Rural Heath Care Board severed its relationship with Wilson and ordered there be no association with RHCD property. Lankford explained that Wilson and other instructors currently borrow educational mannequins from other agencies.

Lankford said when Wilson contacted her to have the county be the conduit for the money, she contacted Johnston, who gave approval to accept the donation.

"It's a legitimate thing," Johnston said. "He's a legitimate instructor."

The commission briefly discussed whether Wilson could store the mannequins, which will be county property, or if he should check them out from the sheriff's department or medical clinic. The commission did not make a decision, and when asked, Cramer said, "We'll have to work something out with Gary."

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