Incoming data center hits minor utility delay

Trenton and Brady Thornock with Hyperscale CUP Data Center talk to commissioners about changes in the project during last week’s Uinta County Commission meeting. (HERALD PHOTO/Kayne Pyatt)

EVANSTON — Representatives working to build a data center in Uinta County attended the county commission meeting last week when commissioners met on Tuesday, Sept. 7.

County planner Kent Williams asked the commission to approve a change of location for the already-approved conditional use permit for the Hyperscale CUP Data Center. Company representatives Trenton Thornock and Brady Thornock then addressed the commission.

“I made a mistake, and an expert engineer found that the original location did not provide a good foundational base for the data center,” Trenton Thornock said. “Also, the power line would be 9.8 miles long and expensive so we are asking to be able to make a slight move to another corner within the same parcel.”

Thornock provided the commission an updated report on the proposed data center. He said their system will use no water for the cooling system and will utilize new technology and liquid bio cooling methods. Thornock said they have a board of advisors that includes an expert in AI (artificial intelligence) from Washington, D.C.; a capital investment attorney from New York; Douglas Miller, the founder of Straight Edge Tech; and third-party financial backers. Thirty individuals are working on the project, Thornock said, adding that he had personally invested six figures in the project.

“The property tax range for the county will be $1.2 to $1.3 million annually. The lowest paid position will be over $53,000 annually and the higher wages will be $100,000-plus. The project will hire 13 employees which does not include sub-contractors, security, and more,” Thornock said. “The main engineer for the project is John Gross who is an expert in the field. Our data center will have the capability to go across the world and is growing beyond our original vision.”

The commission approved amending the original resolution for the data center to provide for the change in location.

Prior to that discussion, Williams opened public hearings for changes to the KT subdivision and then the Sawyer and the Windy Ridge subdivisions (owned by the same person and discussed at the same time). The only comments during the hearing were from Fred Coles of Wasatch Engineering in support of the subdivisions. The public hearing for each closed and the commission approved the requests for the three subdivisions.

Commissioners appointed Bernadette Ottley to the Uinta Health Care Trust Board at last week’s meeting.

The appointment came before a discussion concerning employee benefits. Uinta County Clerk Amanda Hutchinson reminded commissioners they had already approved paying an additional 7.2% on a benefits package for full-time law enforcement employees and a 4.31% additional payment on benefits for non-law enforcement full-time county employees.  Hutchinson asked the Commission to provide some compensation for permanent part-time employees.  The Commission voted to give a $500.00 thank you gift to each of the County’s permanent part-time employees since revenue downturn has limited pay increases.

Ami Barker, Fair Manager, asked the Commission to approve fee increases for the Youth Camp.  She reviewed the suggested different fees for local residents; non-residents; and for commercial groups for both the lodging with cabins and for the river area.

“We hope the increase of 37% overall will allow us to get some revenue back after costs for maintaining the camp,” Barker said. “The lodging area can hold up to 250 people and has an additional kitchen area, a fishing area and a shooting range.  The river area has 23 campsites plus an amphitheater.”

Commissioner Mark Anderson said the area needs to be kept in good condition and made a motion to approve the fee increases. The motion was seconded and approved.

Leisa Reiter with the county benefits committee asked for approval and authorization for optional blood screenings of Uinta County employees at the Wyoming Health Fair to be billed to the county insurance. She said blood draws were from Sept. 8-11 and by appointment only. She added it is important the public is made aware there will be no health fair this year due to the COVID virus. The results of the blood tests will be emailed or mailed to the individual. The commission approved the agreement with the Wyoming Health Fair to bill the county insurance for employee blood screenings.

The commission approved a request for commission chair Eric South to sign the voucher for the first partial payment to the contractors for the work already completed at the Fort Bridger Airport. Public Works Director Clay Baird reported the project should be completed by the end of September and a final payment request would come in following that completion.

The last few items consisted of the commission approving: a catering permit to the Ft. Bridger cash store for a Sept. 25 wedding, a permit for the Wyoming Business Council to lease an office space at the Uinta County Agricultural office for the southwest regional representative and four airport hangar leases.

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