By Sarah Pridgeon
Local rancher and Crook County Natural Resource District chairman Wayne Garman has announced that he will run for a seat on the County Commission at the upcoming elections. If elected, he says, he will strive to bring a common sense and conservative approach to county issues.
“I was born and raised in Crook County and I think that some common sense and some conservative views are needed.”
With so much activity either underway or proposed, he adds, it’s important to have somebody on the County Commission who is familiar with the region’s workings.
“The environment, the communities – I think we need someone over there in that office who has been a resident of the county their whole life to know what this county actually is,” Garman explains.
Garman graduated from Sundance High School in 1977, earning an Associate of Science degree from Sheridan College in 1982 and a Bachelor of Science in agricultural business from the University of Wyoming in 1990.
“In between those years, I worked on local ranches,” he says.
“Since 1990, I’ve been a local rancher based around the place that I grew up, out on Miller Creek.”
Garman was appointed to the Crook County Natural Resource District in 1996 and then elected in 1998.
Garman is also currently a member of the board of directors for the Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts, representing area one comprised of northeast Wyoming’s five conservation districts.
He has been a member of the Wyoming Natural Resource Foundation and the Crook County Fair Board and has served as part of the county’s volunteer fire department for several years.
“The one thing I would like to see maintained is our way of life. I think there’s going to be change, it’s going to be inevitable, but I think we also need to make sure that change is positive, not negative,” Garman says.
“I would like my daughter and my nieces and nephews to have the opportunities that were there for me and, in a certain sense, the same climate. There’s a reason people move to Crook County and what’s being proposed could change that.”
One of the concerns he mentions as driving his desire to be elected to the County Commission is that the big picture always be considered for new developments, such as the Strata Energy uranium mine.
“It’s been my experience with the conservation district that you get people who are not looking at the overall picture. There’s people that are for it and they’re looking at one aspect of it, but they’re not directly affected by what is actually going on,” he explains.
“I would hope that those people are looking forward to those improvements and the economic value that comes with that, but they’ve also got to understand the views of the people who are going to be directly affected and I would hope that people are tolerant.”
Garman points to Oneok’s Bakken Pipeline as an example of certain individuals experiencing direct effects from a development.
“A lot of people said it was great for economic development and we were going to get tax revenue, it’s going to be a good deal, and they’re not being in my opinion overly considerate. You need to be considerate and tolerant to those people that are directly affected,” he says.
“I would hope that I can bring to the table the concern of the little guy who is going to be affected.”
Garman also believes that a common sense approach would behoove the county in its own developments.
“There are some things that have happened in this county or are proposed that, to me, you’ve got to sit back and take a common sense look at what’s going on. Is it actually the best thing for Crook County?” he questions.
Garman highlights the suggested fairground land swap, asking why three new constructions have been suggested when only one was necessary.
“I’m not opposed, if you can do it at no expense and as long as you’re building it bigger and better…but I’m going to go back to why in the thunder are we building a new school and a new fairgrounds and a new football field when all we needed to start with was a new school. Where is the common sense in this?” he asks.
“They told us it’s a done deal, but the fairground was there when they put the high school there and the fairground was there when they proposed to put a grade school on top of a football field. That’s a school board deal but, to me, where’s the common sense in this?”
The chance to bring a common sense approach to happenings is, says Garman, one of the main reasons for his bid. He believes that, while serving on boards, he has been able to take limited funding and reap big benefits for industry and the county’s residents.
“People need to look at stuff in a common sense sort of way: does it make sense? Is that the best value for your dollar you’re going to get?” he says.
He pledges to bring a conservative and transparent approach to the County Commission if he is elected, just as he feels that he did for the fair board.
“One of the biggest things I’ve done on any board that I’ve been on is that the newspaper starts getting the minutes. I’m a very big advocate of transparency – one of the reasons I put my name in for the fair board was that it was the ‘secret society’ and everyone wanted to know what was going on,” he explains.
“I felt that was one of our accomplishments – it bit us in the butt because we got chewed on for everything that we did because everyone knew what we were doing, and that’s fine. I’m a big advocate of transparent government, because government has its place but there are some things it needs to stay out of.”
Garman invites any member of the public to contact him with questions or issues on 283-2076.