Mayors reflections of 2019 and what is to come in 2020

BY BARBARA ANNE GREENE
& JESSICA ROBINSON 

Basin’s mayor CJ Duncan was asked what challenges face the town in 2020. He responded with “Thanks for the chance to talk about the future of Basin.   I’m excited about getting to take over the portion of the old high school and make the change into a center for our community to meet and come together.   It will hopefully give us a place to get to know one another again.” 

As far as projects go for 2020 Duncan said,  “The Town if Basin should be starting phase one of the sewer system upgrade, in order to get our treatment facility into compliance with federal regulations.  This is expected to be a multi-year project, with at least two phases.   

“We are still working with the state to get the dilapidated Eagles building torn down.  It’s a slow process and very frustrating at times.  I feel that the eventual outcome will be worth it when it’s finally completed.  I don’t have much confidence that it will be completed in 2020 but will continue to push forward.” 

Duncan was asked to look back and comment about 2019. He said, “2019 was a year of learning and growth for me personally as a new mayor.  I hope to continue to learn new things to better serve our community and with your help, we can make Basin bloom.”

Looking forward to 2020 the mayor said “This being an election year, I would like to say how much I have enjoyed working with our current council.  We have in-depth discussions and actively seek out community input as we move forward.  With that said, I am looking forward to see who may run and want to be an active part in our community.   If you want to be involved but not have to run for office, I would strongly encourage you to volunteer.   Our Planning and Zoning Commission is currently seeking another member; if you’re interested please submit a letter of interest to the town office.  Our recreation district is also accepting letters of interest to serve on the board and are always looking for activity coaches and leaders.”

Town of Burlington 

Burlington mayor Gerald “Jerry” George said he spent 2019 as a new mayor struggling up a steep learning curve. “I have enjoyed getting to know the wonderful town employees we have and how our operations work. I have enjoyed looking for things we could do to make things better.”

George said he has also gained an appreciation for all the leaders of the town in the past. “Burlington has been served well for many years by dedicated people,” he added.

George lists several accomplishments that were made in 2019 including: 1) rewriting and updating some of the town ordinances; 2) joining the Big Horn Regional Water system; 3) completing a GIS map of the town; 4) remodeling the town shop so it is more useful; 5) constructing a storage building for the recreation committee’s use; 6) and starting an engineering study of the town sewage treatment system.

In 2020, George is looking forward to continued progress with Big Horn Regional Water for drinking water for Burlington. He said the Town of Burlington wants to prepare to hook up to the Big Horn Regional Water system.

As for other projects, George said they need to decide what needs to be done to their sewage system in order to keep it functioning well, and establish priorities for future efforts. 

George said he is grateful to live in Wyoming. “The state provides towns and their leaders critical support which enables regular citizens to be effective leaders,” he said. 

George is also grateful for the leadership of Big Horn County and said, “I believe the commissioners do the best they can to work with towns in the county.”

He is most grateful for the people of Burlington. “They are good people who volunteer man hours serving in our emergency services, on the cemetery board, irrigation district board, school board, recreation committee, town council, et cetera. Without their dedicated service our community wouldn’t be what it is.”

Town of Manderson 

The future of the former Cloud Peak Middle School is the number one topic on the mind of Manderson Mayor Dennis Chambers. He said that he hopes that someone will purchase the building to create a business or make into apartments. “Anything that will help us keep the building and keep the town alive.” said Chambers. The town lost income when the school closed. 

Some of the other options would be to make at least a portion of the school a community center and town hall. Housing is also a concern as Chambers noted that the school district is considering selling the houses they own in Manderson. 

Chambers added that with the sale of the school building, the football field would be included in the sale and could be a viable site for apartments as well. 

Looking back at his first year as mayor, one of the challenges was the police department because it was new and there were complaints from drivers about the tickets they received for speeding. Chambers said one complaint was from someone who was going over 50 mph in a 30 mph zone. The person didn’t think they deserved a ticket. 

Another challenge with the police department in 2019 was getting the vehicles up to speed. Despite the complaints Chambers feels that the department is a good thing and gave kudos to former Mayor Tim Patrick for getting the department going. 

Looking forward to 2020 Chambers has hopes for more community input, more community spirit and bringing back things like an Easter egg hunt, clean-up day, town barbecue, etc. He would also like to get all the city vehicles in good condition, the “M” back on top of town hall and a viable use of the school.