Newly-elected members sworn in at city council

A large crowd attended the Jan. 3 meeting of the city council to honor the newly elected members of the city council and the mayor.  The ceremony took place before the beginning of the regular business meeting.

The two new council members, Jesse Lind and Jen Hegeman, along with re-elected council member David Welling and re-elected mayor Kent Williams stood before City Clerk Diane Harris and vowed to support the constitution of the state of Wyoming and uphold the duties of their office.  They were congratulated by loud applause from the audience.

During council comments, which followed the approval of the agenda and the previous meeting minutes, several council members thanked the public works department for the quick removal of the heavy snow in the streets.  Hegeman thanked everyone and said it was amazing to watch the community come together during the snowstorm the last few days. She added that an elderly woman had put out a request for help—she could not get out to feed her chickens during the storm and many people came to help her.

Mayor Williams said, “I want to thank the community as well. Tim Lynch ran for the office of mayor and I want to thank Tim for a good and fair campaign. Congratulations to all.”

The Council then approved and confirmed the following appointments to city offices: Chief of Police – Mike Vranish; City Clerk – Diane Harris; City Treasurer – Trudy Lym; Community Development Director – Rocco O’Neill; Director of Engineering and Planning – Dean Barker; Public Works Director – Gordon Robinson; City Attorney/City Prosecutor – Amanda Kirby; Municipal Court Judge – Mark Harris and Alternate Municipal Court Judge – Clayton Thomas.

Evan Perkes was nominated and elected as the city council president for the year 2023.

A public hearing was opened by City Attorney Amanda Kirby to solicit public comments on proposed modifications to the budget for fiscal year 2023.

Treasurer Trudy Lym explained the modification of $56,000 under General Fund Capital, “We did not budget for the Parks and Recreation pool deck but it is becoming somewhat dangerous so we are adding it to the budget and using reserves we have for the recreation center building maintenance to cover the cost.”

The second modification under General Fund Street Overlays was for $825,000 and Lym said, “The street overlays cost more than what we had budgeted because we did the extensive repairs to Aspen Grove Drive and to the top of City View Drive. So we decided not to do the slurry seal project to cover some of the overlay costs as well as some funds from our reserves.”

Explaining the third modification of $155,276.89 under General Fund Operating, Lym said, “With the retirement of Dennis Boal, the city decided to appoint Amanda Kirby as the full-time City Attorney and Prosecuting Attorney. These two positions were separate and contract positions in the past. Amanda is now a full-time employee so we just transferred some of the budgeted money we had for their contracts to line items to cover her payroll.”

Lym said the last modification to the budget, $121,550.00 under Lodging Tax Fund, was a grant the Evanston Lodging Tax Board received to build a website and to create materials to promote tourism in Evanston.

There were no public comments on the modifications to the budget so Kirby closed the public hearing.

Kirby then opened a second public hearing on the application for a transfer of ownership of a retail liquor license from 1945 Harrison Drive, LLC, dba Homestretch Bar, to Wyoming Horse Racing LLC, dba Horse Palace.

Eugene Joice, representing the Horse Palace, addressed the council and said he would be happy to answer any questions. There were no questions and no other comments from the public and the hearing was closed by Kirby.

The council voted to approve the motion to transfer the ownership of the retail liquor license to Wyoming Horse Racing LLC, dba Horse Palace.

Joice returned to the podium and said, “It has taken some time to get all of the paperwork completed so we could get this liquor license active and bring an economic benefit to the community. We are now looking forward to getting going. Thank you.”

Under unfinished business, the council approved removing Ordinance 22-05 from the table as requested by Senior Planner DuWayne Jacobsen. Jacobsen explained that the applicant was going to go back to Planning and Zoning with a new plan on changing boundaries.  The council then approved a motion to kill the ordinance on second reading.

The modifications to the budget for fiscal year ending June 30, 2023, was approved by the council as requested by Lym.

The council then approved the renewal with Delta Dental of Wyoming to provide dental insurance for city employees as requested by treasurer Lym.

Last to be approved were three resolutions authorizing applications to the State Loan and Investment Board for three individual grants through the water and sewer ARPA funds.  The first grant would be for replacing and upgrading the antiquated North Grass Valley wastewater lift station with a generator to provide consistent and high-level service.  The second grant application is for the purpose of replacing aging 4-inch water main lines in 18th, 19th, and W. Summit Street with 8-inch PVC piping to improve fire flow and reduce service outages.  The last grant application is to replace an aging 4-inch water main line in Sage Street with 8-inch PVC piping to improve fire flow and reduce service outages.

Attorney Kirby explained the city’s request for ARPA funds last year had been denied.  There were 119 applications for ARPA grants and only nineteen were funded across the state with only a little over $2 million to be distributed.

Public Works Director Gordon Robinson said, “They use a point system to determine who get the grants.  We are allowed to apply again this year. The Sage Street project was already completed this past summer but funding is still available for it.”

Councilmember Hegeman said, “It looks like all together this will amount to about $2 million for the projects. Are local contractors used and do they hire local workers?”

Robinson confirmed that Lewis & Lewis out of Rock Springs is the contractor and they do attempt to hire local people.

The council approved all three resolutions authorizing the applications to the State Loan and Investment Board for ARPA grant funds for the water and sewer projects.

Robinson then thanked the council for the compliments to the public works department and said the snow crew appreciated the recognition.  He also thanked the council for the reappointment to the position of director of public works.

Following Robinson, all of the department heads and officers thanked the mayor and the council for being reappointed to their positions.  A welcome was also given to the new members of the council and the new city attorney.

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