From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 9, Number 3 - April 9, 2009
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Commissioners, local business owner discuss development grant

by Tiffany Turner

After more than a year, the Wyoming Business Council (WBC) grant that Callahan Cabinets’ co-owner and operator Chopper Grassell has been working on with the county is no longer a sure thing.

The WBC’s community development grant program was started to help business owners and local governments stimulate the local economy by providing jobs, workforce training, community facilities and other infrastructure.

Grassell applied for the grant to expand the cabinet-making portion of his business, which would in turn create more jobs for Sublette County. The grant would include monies from the business council as well as a property loan from the county commissioners. The original plan was for the project to be located near the Pinedale airport; however, in November Grassell decided to expand on his current facilities located near the Pinedale rodeo grounds.

Grassell said this not only lowered the cost of the entire project, but also allowed him to create a larger addition than the separate location would.

Since November when the location change was made, Grassell said he was under the impression the grant was moving forward.

However, two weeks ago he and the county commissioners were informed that the WBC staff was recommending against the approval of the grant in its present form.

The staff cited several reasons for the denial, Grassell said, but its main concern was that the present project application was not provably in the public interest.

Grassell was present at the County Commissioners meeting Tuesday to request their support in continuing the application for the grant, despite the WBC staff’s statements. Grassell added that he had heard from many other authorities around the state that many times the WBC board overturns the staff’s recommendation and grants the money.

Commissioner Joel Bousman said he was against opposing the WBC and said he also felt that the new project lacked public interest.

“In my opinion this project has gotten to the point it’s hard to prove public interest,” Bousman said.

Bousman said he was in favor of supporting economic diversification and development, but said he was not sure this was the project to do that.

“That’s not to say if we don’t support this project that we don’t support economic development… there may be projects out there we don’t know about yet,” Bousman said.

Chairman Bill Cramer disagreed saying he was unsure why the council was noticing issues at this late point, when so much time had passed and work had been done on the grant.

“The business council is wanting out of this for some reason I don’t understand,” Cramer said.

Cramer added that he had no issue writing a letter of support for Grassell to take with him to the next WBC council meeting.

With Bousman and Cramer in disagreement and Commissioner John Linn absent and unable to be the deciding vote, the issue was left unresolved until the commissioners’ next meeting.

Grassell requested that the commission keep in mind the amount of work that had already gone into the project and that they supported the project prior to the WBC staff’s letter of disapproval. He requested they continue to think over the situation and consider a letter of recommendation even if the project was to be scrapped at a later date due to economic difficulties.

“If we kill it now, I mean, we’re done,” Grassell said.

In other county news:

• Road and Bridge Supervisor Butch Penton reported that they are trying dry hydrants around the county for use by the fire department. He said they are currently working to install 10 hydrants.

• Aaron Seehafer with Rio Verde Engineering approached the council with private residents who were proposing use of their land for a county gravel pit, especially for the Class II Roads projects. The commissioners were in favor of the deal and requested that the group work with Penton and the County Attorney to develop an agreement and present it at their next meeting.

• The commission signed a resolution to transfer funds totaling $11,290,186.36. The funds were mainly from unexpected revenue and additional money left in depreciation accounts. The money was distributed among other projects and accounts.

• The commissioners unanimously approved a conditional use permit to allow a public facility in Rural Residential zoning. The public facility is Emmanuel Baptist Church, which will be located on lot nine of the Duck Creek subdivision. The Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs) for the subdivision allowed for a church to be located on that lot.

• Larry Berlin met with the commissioners to show the results of the space-needs assessment he was hired to put together for the old Pinedale Medical Clinic. Since the original assessment began, the commissioners had spoke with two of the entities they had originally planned into the building, Emergency Management and the Extension Office, and learned that they were uninterested in relocating. The commissioners discussed giving some of the additional space to the Rural Health Care District and also using some as evening meeting space for the community.

• Brad Clingman, who is in charge of the Transfer Station in Sublette County, updated the commissioners on the new systems and facilities in place. Clingman said one of the main problems the Transfer Stations face are uncovered loads from the public and unsorted loads from commercial haulers. The commission and Clingman agreed to create a new system of monetary penalties for not following Transfer Station rules that would be published soon.

“Right now we charge double for a load that is uncovered,” Clingman said. “But when you charge $1 a load, that’s $2 and that’s not enough of a penalty.”

Clingman said he also wanted people to understand stand that when they close at 4 p.m., people are expected to be unloaded and headed off the premises by 4 p.m.

• Groathouse Construction, hired by the commissioners to be a construction supervisor and project manager for all the counties projects, presented their contract for services to the commission. Despite a few legal changes made to the contract, the county found the contract acceptable.

“I guess once we sign the contract, you can set your man loose,” Cramer said.

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