County enters into opioid settlement agreement

County officials listen to a presenter during the last commission meeting of the year. Pictured are Uinta County Deputy Clerk Kim Goble, along with Commissioners Eric South, Brent Hatch and Mark Anderson. (HERALD PHOTO/Kayne Pyatt)

EVANSTON — Before the Dec. 21 meeting of the Uinta County Commissioners began, six additions were added to the agenda: Clerk Amanda Hutchinson had three additional topics, Public Works Director Clay Baird added two items and county attorney Loretta Howieson added one item. 

Hutchinson was first on the agenda, asking the Commissioners to sign a letter of support for the Lincoln Solar 1 project with Broad Reach Power, LLC, with the intent of constructing a solar project near Cokeville in Lincoln County. The letter of support will be sent to the Department of Environmental Quality, Industrial Siting Division and also asks that Uinta County become a partner to the permit proceedings. 

“The industrial siting people reached out to us and asked if we wanted to be a part of the group that supports the solar project,” Hutchinson said. “Being a part of the group may involve public meetings if any of our finances become involved but essentially it is just a show of support. If the county wants to join in the support for the solar project, you just need to authorize Chairman South to sign the letter.”

Commission member Brent Hatch said he had received a similar letter, and added that it looked like the project would involve approximately 130 acres south of Cokeville. He then made a motion to approve signing the letter and the motion was seconded and passed.

Hutchinson then moved to her next item and stated that the conflict-of-interest disclosure statements required by law are available for public inspection in the County Clerk’s Office.

The next three items Hutchinson addressed required simple actions by the Commission. The first was approval of a resolution requiring the county to follow federal procurement guidelines whenever they are spending federal grant money. 

“If we put this into a resolution, it will protect us during any auditing and it just guarantees that we are following the federal requirements for ARP and any other grant monies,” Hutchinson said.

The second request from Hutchinson was that the county sign a letter to the Bureau of Land Management agreeing to become a cooperating agency with the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposal to withdraw the Sage Grouse focal areas from location.

Hutchinson’s third request was for the Commission to approve the Resolution supporting the Connect Wyoming Broadband Access Grant Application of All West/Wyoming Inc. to construct a fiber optic network in Uinta County.

“All West is pursuing a grant from the state for this and they are asking that we show our support in a resolution,” Hutchinson said. “They hope to extend fiber optic to the sheriff’s office and meet other county needs. This is not necessarily an exclusive resolution if another company came along and wished to construct fiber optics. It will just state that we support the construction of a fiber optic network in the county.”

The Commission voted to approve all three of the requests made by Hutchinson.

“My last item has to do with the county’s prescription benefits,” Hutchinson said, “Things have come up that show a definite need to make a change, and Welldyne offers better benefits for the more expensive prescriptions. So, you would approve moving the prescription benefits package to our prescription manager starting Jan. 1, 2022, and the new contract beginning Feb. 1, 2022, pending contract approval from the County Attorney once she has reviewed it.”

The motion to approve a change from OptumRx to Welldyne, pending the county attorney’s approval, was passed.

Public Works Director Clay Baird asked for two contracts to be approved.

“The first contract is for a chiller replacement for the courthouse,” Baird said. “We received two bids: Tom’s from Evanston and the other from Carrier in Salt Lake City, Utah. The best was for a new Carrier 30RBX chiller for the air conditioning system from Carrier for $103,745.00. The bid quote came in on Nov. 21, and we will save approximately $45,000 to $50,000 with their bid.”

The second contract to be awarded was for tearing off and replacement of a section of the County Complex roof, over the old holding cells. 

Baird said, “We received three bids: One from Pete’s Builders out of Cheyenne, from Broken Arrow out of Ephraim, Utah and one from RA European Roofing LLC out of Salt Lake City, Utah. RA European met all the requirements we requested, and their bid was the best at $95,000.00. We need to get the contract approved as soon as possible to lock in the prices, as it will take six months to get the supplies.”

Both contracts requested by Baird were approved by the Commission. 

Last on the agenda was county attorney Loretta Howieson, who asked the commission to approve a resolution entering Uinta County into the OneWyo Opioid Settlement Memorandum Agreement. This agreement is part of a nationwide settlement with the pharmaceutical supply chain participants and/or Johnson & Johnson. 

Howieson explained, “As you know, the U.S. is in an opioid crisis. Wyoming’s attorney general has signed an agreement with this memorandum. Many years ago, drug manufacturers asserted that opioids were not addicting and we now know that they knew that that was not the case. They were aware that the opioids were habit forming and we now have a crisis.”

Howieson told the commission that the state of Wyoming will likely receive $44 million from the federal government in relation to the crisis, of which $26.8 million will go to local counties. Uinta County’s share will be 4.39% or $1,255,540.  Allocated to Evanston will be approximately $667,280.

Monies will be used for treatment, needs of the criminal justice system, prevention and education, addicted pregnant women’s programs, law enforcement, training of first responders and children’s programs, among other programs.

“I’m asking that you sign this resolution entering the memorandum of agreement and appoint me as acting agent for the county,” Howieson said.

The commission approved the resolution entering Uinta County into the OneWyo Opioid Settlement Memorandum of Agreement as part of nationwide settlement with the pharmaceutical supply chain participants and/or Johnson & Johnson.

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