From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 3, Number 1 - April 3, 2003
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Commission talks roads

by Cat Urbigkit

The Sublette County Commission met for its regular business session Tuesday and spent several hours discussing various road issues throughout the county.

Road Superintendent Dan Holgate told the commission his crews have been busy opening roads for the season, and have completed such work on North Cottonwood, New Fork, Muddy Bench and the Boulder Lake road to the forest boundary. He said crews are currently working in the Big Sandy area.

Frank Grimes with Nelson Engineering reviewed the bid process for the construction of the turning lane for the new access road into the Pinedale Industrial Site. Grimes explained that the bid opening occurred March 20 and involved bids from three general contractors. Grimes said with the apparent low bidder being R.S. Bennett Construction with a bid of $208,867, he recommended Bennett be granted the contract.

The commission agreed, with Commissioner Betty Fear declaring a conflict of interest and declining to participate in the discussion or decision. Bennett is Fear's husband.

The commission also worked on some record-keeping issues with Paul Scherbel. The commission formally appointed Scherbel as the official county surveyor for a one-year term. The commission reviewed the job description Scherbel has been working under for the last 20 years, as well as the state statute regarding the appointment of a county surveyor. When it was pointed out that the state statute calls for the surveyor to be compensated at a rate of $30 per day, Scherbel said, "I won't work for that."

Commissioner Bill Cramer continued reading the statute, noting it also said the county road supervisor was to be paid $6,000 per year.

"Some statutes we choose to ignore," Cramer said.

The commission discussed the possibility of initiating condemnation proceedings on the Little Mountain Road. The discussion was the result of area resident Linda Smittle's statement that absentee landowners in that area haven't been cooperative about pooling resources to improve the road.

"We would like to see the road condemned," she said, so the county could take over the private road and assess the property owners for road improvements.

The commission said they would discuss the issue with County Attorney Van Graham.

Later in the morning, Graham said the county does have the authority to condemn the road and assess landowners for improvements, adding, "You assess all those who benefit from the road, not just the landowners who adjoin."

Graham also cautioned the commission, "If you condemn for public use ... you must provide just compensation."

Graham explained to the commission that it couldn't take private property without compensation for the loss of private interest.

Graham said while a majority of those landowners would concede to the condemnation, those who don't agree with the measure have the right to compensation to the taking of their property interest. No decision on this issue was made at the commission meeting.

Bargerville resident Bob McCarty discussed the possibility of improving Meadowlark Lane to get a bus turn-around to get the school buses off the highway. He said he owns 10 acres in that area and would be willing to donate part of his property for the turn-around. McCarty was given information about county road standards and estimated costs for road improvements.

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