Natrona to house Uinta County's juvenile offenders

EVANSTON — The agenda was light for the Tuesday, Oct. 3, Uinta County Commissioners meeting, with Uinta County Sheriff Doug Matthews being the only presenter listed on the advance agenda. 

Matthews’ first order of business was to notify commissioners of a contract renewal for grant funding to combat underage drinking. The second item Matthews brought before the commissioners was a request for approval of a contract with Natrona County Detention Center to house juvenile offenders.

Previously juvenile offenders have been housed in Sweetwater County while awaiting court appearances; however, recent staffing shortages in Rock Springs have resulted in Sweetwater County changing its policy. Sweetwater County will no longer take out-of-county offenders at its facility. Matthews said the only two remaining options are in Casper or Pocatello, Idaho. 

Matthews said they are pursuing a contract with the detention center in Pocatello because it is closer, but at the current time the only available facility is in Casper. 

Juvenile offenders are unable to be held at the Uinta County Detention Center because of requirements that minors be kept completely out of sight and sound of adult offenders, said Matthews. Additionally, staff working with minors must be completely different than those working with the adult population. The Uinta County Detention Center is not able to meet those requirements. 

Currently, minors are able to be held in a separate area for a brief period of time until an initial court appearance, which must occur within 48 hours of arrest. Uinta County Attorney Loretta Howieson said usually there are only five to 10 minor arrests per year that require transfer to another facility. 

Commissioners approved the contract with Natrona County Detention Center. 

An item added to the agenda was a request by Jed Olson with the Jehovah’s Witnesses to place a public witnessing cart to display informational material at the Uinta County Library. Olson said the information was “nice Bible-based literature,” as well as disaster preparedness material, and that the cart would only be set up for a few hours each week. 

Howieson said if the commissioners were to approve Olson’s request, they would have to afford the same opportunities to other religious groups if requested. Commissioner Wendell Fraughton said he did not think it was appropriate to grant the request to place the cart inside the library; however, he said it would be OK to set it up outside. 

Following Fraughton’s comment, the commissioners approved the request for the Jehovah’s Witnesses to set up the informational cart outside the library in Evanston.

Other items added to the agenda included approval of an agreement with the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality so Uinta County would be eligible to enter into the municipal solid waste cease and transfer program, which is a necessary step to put together the Bridger Valley waste transfer station. The agreement was approved. 

There was also a request by Uinta County Public Works Director Clay Baird to approve a grant from Wyoming Department of Transportation for maintenance fees associated with the Automated Weather Observing System at the Bridger Valley airport. This request was also approved.

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