Courthouse security project nearly complete

BY BARBARA ANNE GREENE

County Engineer Willie Bridges told the Big Horn County commissioners at their Oct. 3 meeting that the courthouse security project should be done in two weeks. 

Bridges presented a change order for a different door into one of the judge’s offices. This led Commission Chairman Felix Carrizales to ask Bridges why the project appears to be costing more than was budgeted. “Where did we go wrong? What has happened?” Carrizales asked, adding the commissioners are the overseers of the budget and need to have an understanding of why so they can answer the public’s questions.

Bridges said that whenever you do a remodel there are always some unexpected things that happen. “But in this particular project we went in with a particular design to do the things. Then the project evolved as it went along and things were changed. That’s where the cost started to add up.”

He gave an example of a change that happened on the basement level. After the remodel had started they realized that changes needed to be done to best serve the departments and public. 

The commissioners continued a discussion from the last meeting regarding if the county should bid out gravel crushing. Commissioner Deb Craft said she had spoken to other counties and that Big Horn was the only one she found that still did its own crushing. Bridges will put out a request for bid. He will bring them to the next commissioner meeting. Both road/bridge supervisors said that if the county does bid out the gravel crushing they were comfortable with one less staff person on their crew. 

There was also a discussion about a business in the north end of the county that has many vehicles in the county rights-of-way on Road 13. The commissioners have been receiving complaints including one that said the business had parked a vehicle in the middle of the county road. The Big Horn County sheriff has spoken to the business on previous occasions. 

Bridges asked if assistant county attorney Jennifer Kirk could look in to the incident where a construction company destroyed a bridge over Crystal Creek and never paid to fix it. The county paid $140,000 to fix it. 

PREVENTION/P.H.E.P. UPDATE 

Chad Lindsay gave an update on County Prevention and Public Health Emergency Preparedness. He is the coordinator for both. 

Lindsay said he went to the Wyoming Suicide Symposium. Ron Salyer from the county’s Visual Observation Specialist (VOS) program also attended. Lindsay said he was able to talk directly to the state prevention office about the county’s plan that was submitted to the office. This included what the county’s prevention office could and couldn’t pay for. Unfortunately the VOS training cannot use these funds as training funds. 

However, the money can be used to train VOS members in other areas to give them additional tools to use as a VOS. 

He did note that there was CONNECT training coming up. The Connect “post-vention” training helps service providers respond in a coordinated and comprehensive way in the aftermath of a suicide or any sudden death. Since knowing someone who has died by suicide is one of the highest risk factors for suicide, post-vention becomes an integral part of suicide prevention efforts, according to Lindsay. 

He told the commissioners that he had received RSVPs from each of the school districts in the county as well as from law enforcement. Public Health and Big Horn Basin Counseling were notified of the training as well. He said there should be 20 people at the training. 

Lindsay has talked to the state about using the prevention funds to train a local person how to conduct the CONNECT training. This will save the county in the future. 

Carrizales said that he was glad to hear that the school districts were attending the training and that in the future the school resource officers (SROs) should attend. Lindsay said some SROs are attending. 

Lindsay will be amending the county’s prevention plan that was submitted to the state by the previous county prevention specialist. He added that suicide rates are down this year. 

On the public health side of his job, Lindsay said he had spoken to Public Health’s Hillary Mulley and the county’s emergency management coordinator, LaRae Dobbs.  They are worried that this winter is going to be a rough one as far the forecast goes. There may be some large blizzards that might cause power outages. He asked, what can the county do for the at-risk population that can’t get out to do things for themselves? 

He said they had a good talk about organizing volunteers but also how to divvy up the various needs that might arise. Lindsay spoke to one town administrator who said that his town does not have an emergency plan. He has also heard other towns say their plan is to call Dobbs. 

“We are working on templates on how to work with different people, municipalities or faith-based agencies to make sure that all of our residents are taken care of, especially those who can’t take care of themselves. This is going to be a really good process,” Lindsay said.  

He said he has heard different agencies say they would use school buses to move people but what happens if everyone in the county is planning on using the same buses at the same time. Lindsay said he has contacted the senior centers and Bonnie Bluejacket Memorial Nursing Home to talk to them about their buses. 

Lindsay added “Its not just transportation. Its needs … mental health needs … those issues will need to be addressed as well.” 

Commissioner Dave Neves asked Lindsay if things are working out for the duel job and shared hours Lindsay has been doing. Lindsay replied it is working. 

OTHER BUSINESS 

• Pab Good addressed the commission about a concern of the Scott family regarding the Upper Beaver Creek road maintenance and access. The commission directed the county engineer and road/bridge south end supervisor to research the matter more. 

• The commission voted to designate the GP road outside of Lovell a major collector road. 

• Three executive sessions were held to discuss personnel and potential litigation. Action was taken on one of the sessions. It was to increase a salary due to promotion. 

• Land planner Nick Kruger gave a department report. 

• Fair manager Sheila Paumer gave a department update. She also expressed her concerns that the issue of water condensation in the multipurpose building has still not been resolved. 

• Representatives from Cloud Peak Drag Races discussed the signing of a contract between the county and them for a land lease at the south airport. Airport Manager Wes Huber presented the contract. 

• The north and south end road/bridge supervisors gave their department reports. 

• The commissioners, County Clerk Lori Smallwood, Sheriff Ken Blackburn and County Maintenance Supervisor Jeremy Pouska went to the jail to look at the infrastructure. Pouksa had brought a worn out part for the hot water circulation system to show the commissioners. He said that he believes some of the infrastructure issues need to be addressed sooner rather than later. 

•Land Planner Nick Kruger updated the commissioners on the Planning and Zoning meeting held the week prior as well as other department updates.