From the pages of
Pinedale Roundup
Volume 104, Number 43 - October 25, 2007
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Pinedale hires new ‘Enforcer’

by Alecia Warren

After going into executive session at the end of its meeting on Monday, the Pinedale Town Council approved hiring local Jennifer Gocke as the new Town Enforcer.

“I’m happy with the choice we made — when it came down to the final two candidates, both were well qualified and it was very difficult to make a decision,” said Mayor Steve Smith after the meeting, though he didn’t want to offend the other candidates by discussing what set Gocke apart. “The sheriff is stretched pretty thin, so this should help.”

The council has recently discussed creating the Enforcer position to handle various ordinance violations that the sheriff “doesn’t have time for,” said council member Nylla Kunard, and uphold regulations that aren’t specified under any law enforcement official’s jurisdiction.

Definitions of Gocke’s duties remain somewhat vague, but will include planning and zoning violations and parking tickets. “She’ll have to come in and study up on ordinances, it might be awhile,” Kunard said. Gocke will start as soon as she feels ready, Kunard added.

The Town Enforcer will not be considered a peace officer and won’t carry a weapon. Gocke will receive the same wages as an entry-level public works employee, though council members couldn’t recall the exact number, and public works employees weren’t available to estimate.

— In other council news, the state might eventually cut tax revenues from local oil and gas production that pay salaries for such new positions, however, as well as fund new facilities that Pinedale and other Sublette County towns build to support boom growth, said mayor’s assistant Lauren Mc-Keever at Monday's meeting.

A State Legislature Select Committee on Local Government Financing that met on Oct. 11 and 12 discussed writing a bill to “equalize funding coming from all Wyoming counties,” said McKeever, who attended the committee’s meeting in Cheyenne.

“It was pretty clear what the committee planned,” she said. “The long and short of it is, I think there will be less money coming in from the state, regardless of revenue coming in from mineral activity. They’re looking at greater control centralized in the legislature, and will ask for more requirements from towns like us to apply for royalty grants.”

The committee’s next step will be a lobbying effort before proposing a bill in the winter 2009 legislative session, McKeever said. The mayor’s office will keep close watch of the issue for now, she said, but locals can help prevent the potentially dramatic loss of state revenue by communicating with their elected representatives. “It would be wise for locals to keep abreast of this issue and make their wishes known,” McKeever said.

— Animal control officer July Early gave a monthly update on animal pickups, as well as the town’s status after passing ordinances penalizing nuisance dogs and dogs not kept on leashes.

Early hadn’t heard any complaints about barking dogs, and has only given one warning for a leash law violation on Pine Street. She has, however, given several citations for “dogs at large,” or dogs wandering alone, which costs the same $125 fine as a dog without a leash, if the pet is neutered. If the dog isn’t neutered, the fine rises to $150.

— The council also gave a third and final reading of the Master Plan, which took affect immediately afterward. No members of the public criticized any of the plan’s contents, including replacing valley pans with sidewalks and curbs as resources allow, and annexing the Split Diamond Meadow subdivision. The first update to the town Master Plan since 1985, the plan operates only as a set of guidelines and not as law, and will be updated annually to accommodate the growing community.

— Judge Ruth Neely reported a dramatic increase in parking tickets. “In years past, I’ve had no parking ticket, I’ve had two, or one, or three — this year, I’ve had 48,” Neely said. “Never in the town history, ever, have there been that many parking tickets.” Smith responded that the town was asking for them, as residents often park vehicles in no-parking zones.

— Laurie Latta and Jeffrey Jacquet also gave an update on the Sublette Community Partnership, an organization dedicated to studying and responding to impacts from oil and gas development in Southwest Wyoming.

“We have more definitive gals than we did last year,” Latta said, listing plans to hire an after-school teacher for third through eighth-graders in Pinedale, as well as develop a program funded by grants and En-Cana contributions to reduce substance abuse relapse after working with treatment provider Curran-Seeley.

The partnership will also aim at improving workforce education by encouraging Big Piney and Pinedale schools to share vocational training and bringing career fairs to all county schools.

More programs might develop once the partnership looks over data from a countywide housing study currently being conducted by Jackson firm Collins Planning Associates, as well as a fiscal impact study by Ecosystem Research Group, an analysis group based in Missoula, MT.

“I think it’s revolutionary for this community to be able to put this much information together, to really be ready if things do change,” Latta said.

— Town Engineer Eugene Ninnie also advised the town to hire TischlerBise, a fiscal consulting firm based in Maryland, to prepare an impact fee analysis of the energy boom’s projected effects on town infrastructure, such as parks, municipal facilities and fire protection. The firm could also later prepare a fiscal impact analysis for an additional price, to assess the costs of future boom effects, Ninnie said.

“What’s important to remember is with these studies and reports, the town’s in a better position to argue in favor of grant funds and revolving loans for agencies that manage them within the state; without factual support, the town’s chance for any of these grants or loans are low,” Ninnie said. “This’ll put us at the head of the class for those funds.”

The council passed a resolution to request a contract proposal from TischlerBise for an impact fee analysis, with an expected price of $80,000.

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