BY BARBARA ANNE GREENE
The second official act as a Big Horn County Commissioner for Deb Craft was to nominate Felix Carrizales as the chairman of the commission. Craft’s first act was to lead in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Craft made the motion at the January 3 meeting, prefacing it that she believes both Carrizales and commissioner John Hyde are both qualified and that she has known Carrizales for a lot of years. The final vote was two to one. Hyde voted no.
The first item of discussion was a gravel pit at Eagle Pass. The county currently uses a community pit at this location. They have approached BLM for a new permit for an additional pit at the same location. The permit is a joint request from Big Horn County and Park County. The new location was previously used by WYDOT. It has been reclaimed and now according to the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) and Game and Fish Departments is a habitat for sage grouse.
The gravel available at Eagle Pass is made of limestone and is better for surfacing, according to engineer Willie Bridges. The county has another gravel bid named Table Mountain. The gravel in that pit is made from granite rock and is not as good a product to use for surfacing.
South Big Horn County Road and Bridge Foreman Shannon Hovey stated that he and Carrizales met with the BLM about the pit.
“I know that Mr. Hyde and Mr. Grant were talking to the BLM about it, too,” Hovey said. “They told us basically we couldn’t get it. We could do all the paperwork, but it would pretty much be a no go.”
“We didn’t like that answer and we went back and got a different answer,” Hyde said. “It’s not a done deal yet, Shannon, but we have the workings going that I think we can accomplish it. It’s going to come down to what the Game and Fish thinks, but we presented them with some material. It’s back on the table.”
Carrizales expressed some concern to Hyde that comments had been made to the BLM that the Table Mountain pit was not as important to the county as the Eagle Pass pit. Hovey expressed that he was surprised that the comment had been made. He went on to discuss how he had been told that the habitat was a general population sage grouse area, not primary, also that BLM said that if they give the county 35 acres the county would then have to buy shares in 70 acres.
Bridges said it would be up to Game and Fish to determine and that the BLM will go along with that determination. He also said that Eagle Pass was more important because it is a surfacing pit. There are other places besides Table Mountain that have pit run. Eagle Pass is the only place to get the surfacing pit.
Hyde agreed with Bridges that it would be up to the Game and Fish but said there is a provision in the BLM rules and regulations that says anything started before the Wyoming governor’s order on sage grouse could be grandfathered in. He was told that information on that would be sent to him and he would pass it along to Bridges.
“There is no reason why that area has any sage grouse bearing material,” he said.
Other business discussed was the railroad crossing on Road 3, runoff on the bentonite plant haul roads in the Crooked Creek area, change of flood maps in Greybull for the town’s dike certification and the cattle guard at Odessa Cemetery.
•Fair manager Sheila Paumer discussed that the heating of the new building was still an issue. She passed on information and bids that she had received from local businesses. Another issue was that people were taking advantage of the rental rate. The rate is hourly per person. She has observed that often individuals who have paid for one person are bringing additional people in during their time. She will be looking into getting cameras for inside the building to help keep track of the rentals.
•Carl Meyer presented the airports reports. The report included information on the repainting of runway 7/25, airport zoning and a business that was interested in relocating to the south airport. He will be working with the Wyoming Business Council on a possible Business Committed Grant.
•County Attorney Kim Adams brought a special prosecutor resolution.
•Sheriff Ken Blackburn discussed a State Loan and Investment Board (SLIB) grant for the County Security Funding Resolution.
•Land Planner Joy Hill’s report included flood plain developments west of the Scharen subdivision and for BNSF repair; a draft MOU for address and road information sharing between the county and towns; septic permitting/DEQ delegation agreement; permit non-compliance fees for retroactive permits for development, floodplain development and septic systems. After the commissioners agreed that an additional $100 fee for retroactive permits was reasonable, Hyde said that the county needs to do significant public outreach to educate the public about this proposed fee change and give them an opportunity to weigh in on the decision before a resolution is made.
•Weed and Pest Control District Board appointments were made.
•Commissioner representatives for various boards were determined.
•An issue with the holiday schedule was discussed. The commissioners had voted to give the county employees Jan. 2, 2017. This was an additional day to the approved holiday schedule.