EVANSTON — To begin the Uinta County Economic Commission meeting on March 27, Alma Harmon, the new representative from Mountain View was introduced. Harmon will serve a three-year term.
Under old business was the final presentation date for the results of the Thomas P. Miller market study. Steering committees met on Wednesday, April 10, to go over the latest copy of the study and make final comments to give to the Miller representatives on April 11. Thomas P. Miller will review and complete the final report on April 22. There will be a public meeting on April 29 at 2:30 p.m. in Kemmerer, and another public meeting is set for 5:30 p.m. at the Roundhouse in Evanston, where Miller’s associates will present their final findings.
The study was funded by a grant, and aimed to identify viable industry and business opportunities in Uinta County and south Lincoln County.
Wyoming State Sen. Wendy Schuler, R-Evanston, then presented a legislative update for the commission. Schuler gave an overview of important bills that were passed. She said she was especially happy about the bill that provided for more transparency within government, and government entities now have a 30-day limit to respond to public records requests.
Others she mentioned included the Hathaway Scholarship, which now allows students who are going into tech or trade training to get scholarships without a foreign language requirement; the school bus bill, that states if someone passes a stopped school bus, whoever owns the car is liable for the fine; a bill that makes fleeing from a law enforcement officer a felony; and the physical therapy bill that now allows people to self-refer for treatment. Schuler said she is also pleased about the hospital costs study that will be done to determine why rural areas experience higher costs.
“The corporate tax bill never got to the Senate,” Schuler said, “but I think it will come back again. At first, I thought that 7 percent was too high until I did some research concerning other states that have a corporate tax. I look forward to working on it again. I also think there is a possibility of taxing beer sales. I plan to take that one on.”
Attendee Phil Peterson asked, “Why isn’t education a priority for the legislature? Will it be business as usual towards education?”
Schuler said the House seems to be friendlier toward education issues than the Senate.
Another concern raised by the public was raised as to why state employees haven’t had a raise in two years and the fact that the minimum wage in Wyoming has not been increased. There were other concerns mentioned by guests, such as the high suicide rate in Wyoming, expunging juvenile records, the State Hospital buildings, Westmoreland employees losing benefits, and banking laws.
Schuler said she agrees these are all problems and she is new and learning the system but will keep those issues in mind.
She said 300 bills were brought up this session and she feels like she is back in college.
“I stay up late at night reading and researching and get up early every morning,” she said.
Schuler said the committee she is on will work on Medicaid expansion in the interim and also look at decriminalizing some offenses due to overcrowding of prisons.
The commission thanked Schuler and moved to member comments.
Craig Welling said that the improvements on the rodeo grounds are moving forward. They have received the bids and are working with the state for approval. The Uinta County Commission is also working on the courthouse security system and improving the 911 system.
Brian Stokes said they have potential flooding problems in Bear River and are trying to keep the water out with sand bagging efforts.
Tib Ottley said Evanston Mayor Kent Williams is in the process of interviewing three candidates for the city administrator/clerk position, following Amy Grenfell’s departure several months ago. He also said Evanston Planning and Zoning is working on a plan for revamping downtown Evanston.
Brent Hatch informed the commission that the building that once housed Daylight Donuts will be reopening very soon and selling hamburgers and shakes.
Alma Harmon said the Mountain View Shopko that’s closing next month is in bankruptcy and they don’t know how that will play out yet, and that Benedict’s is putting in a pharmacy in cooperation with Evanston’s City Drug. He also said that TOC Oil is revitalizing wells on the Utah side of the mountains and that will bring business to Mountain View. He also said the Maverik owner bought the Wagon Wheel complex in Fort Bridger.
Owen Peterson said U.S. Forest Ranger Rick Schuler is hauling lumber out to a mill there in the Valley and one in Utah. The snowpack in the mountains is 125 percent above normal and the forest is coming back big time, he said.
Gary Welling said he is still in contact with Management and Training Center (MTC) regarding the proposed immigration detention facility near the Bear River State Park. He also said the 2020 census is approaching, and he is in charge of that. If anyone knows folks who will help with it, he asks that they contact him. People will be able to fill out the forms online, by mail or by phone. However, if they don’t do any of those, they will be contacted by a knock on their door.
“We need to educate the public as to the importance of answering the census,” Welling said. “It helps us get grants and other funds.”
Public comments included the Evanston Chamber of Commerce Awards Luncheon on May 9, all new appointments made by Gov. Mark Gordon, an upcoming job fair held for the solar industry, the empty JB’s building and a concern that the Bear Meadows area is possibly a swamp and what can be done about it.
Ron Wild of Rocky Mountain Power said the Next Gen Sector Partnership will next focus on the medical and health industry and that the Department of Workforce Services has money for training. If anyone knows someone from that industry who would participate, he encouraged them to contact Gary Welling.