From the pages of
Pinedale Roundup
Volume 105, Number 37 - September 11, 1008
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County hires attorney over sheriff complaints

by Jonathan Van Dyke

The Sublette County Commission held a public hearing regarding issues surrounding complaints against Sheriff Wayne “Bardy” Bardin during its Tuesday meeting.

On August 25, a range of complaints were filed at the County Clerk’s office by Detective James Schmidt and former Patrol Sergeant Daniel Jensen citing alleged misconduct, including a possible DUI coverup and sexual harassment.

“Our office needs to declare a conflict,” County Attorney Lucky McMahon said. The County Attorney’s office had requested the advice of the State Attorney General’s Office in how to proceed. Deputy Attorney Meredith Oakes Peterson is the wife of Interim Undersheriff Mike Peterson. Because of the conflict, the commission chose to hire its own attorney. By a unanimous decision the commission chose to retain the council of David Evans, from the practice of Hickey and Evans in Cheyenne. Evans has previously counseled the commission on similar matters in the past.

“We need to then consult with our attorney Mr. Evans [before proceeding with the complaints],” Commission Chairman William Cramer said.

The week before the complaints, Undersheriff James Whinnery and Lieutenant Hayes Randol were both terminated from the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO). Whinnery sent a letter to the County Attorney’s office stating that he will not be seeking an administrative hearing on his termination.

Randol, however, will proceed with the hearing process, according to the County Attorney’s office. An administrative hearing requires that a board of three members be chosen, one chosen by each side and then a mutually decided third member, to oversee the hearing and pass judgment. The County Attorney’s office will be representing the SCSO in this hearing.

In other commission news:

— The commission gave the OK for Chamber Design-Build, Inc. to put plans for a new Southwest Sublette County Pioneers Senior Center building to bid.

“As long as our budget has enough to cover this until the next budget [I’d support moving this to bid],” Commissioner Joel Bousman said.

The proposed estimated budget for the project total is estimated at $8,326,001. “This is an all encompassing estimate,” said Tony Chambers, representing the firm. “We have a desire to put it up to bid and start it this fall.”

Chambers estimated that the project would take about 14 months to finish. The foundation of the building could be laid in October with a shell in place by December. The project could then be completed close to mid-summer of next year.

The commission has a $2.6 million capital facilities reserve for senior housing and a $3.2 million in operating reserves for such a facility.

“It sounds doable,” Cramer said.

Cramer noted that it might be better use that $3.2 million on the construction of the building now because of increasing construction inflation. While the building and site development couldn’t be fully funded by the reserve accounts, the commission agreed that it could start the project, with an eye toward next year’s budget helping to finish it.

“Your heaviest costs are usually at the end,” Chambers said.

— The commission and the Sublette County Rural Healthcare District (RHD) discussed the funding and possible repayment of the county for the new Pinedale and Big Piney/Marbleton Medical Clinics.

“There seems to be some confusion as to whether that was the case,” Cramer said, in regards to whether the RHD was expected to pay the county back for the two clinics.

Former RHD board member Mary Lynn Worl was present at the meeting to discuss the end of her time with the RHD. According to Worl, she and fellow members were looking for funding, and had discussion with the commission about “fronting” the money for the clinics. However, nothing in writing ever materialized, and the RHD saw a somewhat large turnover.

“Because of John’s [Commissioner Linn] and Betty’s [former commissioner Betty Fear] comments, it died with us,” Worl said.

Cramer disagreed, noting the fact that the newly constituted RHD board continued forward with the construction of the clinics, knowing it did not have the money unless the county paid for them.

“This was a gentleman’s agreement between two boards,” Cramer said. “We had no intent in mind to build the clinics and own them.”

Lawyer Doug Mason, counseling the RHD, noted that there was no written agreement between the two boards, not even on a “napkin.”

“We have a two-mil levy, but we’re spending it all right now,” Mason said.

RHD Chairman Bill Budd spoke to the idea that the RHD could pay back the county to some degree, but did not want to agree on any specific payment plan.

“We have absolutely no idea whether the money is going to be there or not [for the RHD to pay back a specific dollar amount each year],” Budd said. “We’re doing a lot more in the county than before.”

The RHD suggested that a deal could be struck, with an agreement that the RHD would pay back money in years it did have some kind of surplus funds, or that instead of paying back money, the RHD could put money into a reserve account that would go toward renovating the old Pinedale Medical Clinic.

“We’re going to need room up there for offices,” RHD Member Dave Racich said.

Both Commissioner John Linn and Cramer expressed no problem with incorporating a unique repayment plan that would ease pressure off the RHD. Linn also earlier noted that he felt the commission should own the two buildings, although he was overruled on the previous commission.

Commissioner Bousman wondered how the RHD would ever pay back the county if they were so stretched in their budget as it was. Each side agreed to think more on the issue and what solutions could be drawn up, but Cramer still felt the issue boiled down to one specific point.

“They either pay us back or they don’t,” Cramer said.

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