Letters to the Editor – August 2

Letter to the Editor:

This letter is intended to clear up confusion and rumor about my resignation from Crook County School District.

There were several issues over the last three years that concern me, including the resignation of Kathy Hood, but two incidents directly involving the Superintendent in which he demonstrated lack of respect and professionalism were the “final straws” in my decision making. The first incident was the treatment of my husband Rick and Sundance Elementary teacher Blake Hunkins during the May school board meeting. Rick and I, along with other concerned parents and community members were there to support Kathy Hood, whose resignation the school board was considering that night. The Superintendent’s treatment of Blake Hunkins for asking a question related to Kathy Hood’s resignation, and to Rick for shaking his head in disagreement with something that was being said, was extremely unprofessional. Members of the school board apologized to Rick and told us that the Superintendent would be reprimanded for his actions that night and that they were working on things with him. It is my feeling that qualities like respectfulness and professionalism should not have to be “taught” to a Superintendent, those should be traits they already possess. This first incident is what prompted me to look at openings in Campbell County. I saw an opening for a job that I thought I would enjoy and put in my application.

The second incident occurred on May 29 when the Superintendent called a staff meeting at Sundance Elementary and told the elementary teachers to change their attitudes or find another place to work. This was the second display of unprofessionalism by the Superintendent which prompted me to accept the position I was offered in Gillette later that week. I made the decision for my family and myself that the Superintendent was not a man I wanted to work for and would take myself out of a position where he had any power over me. It was not an easy decision for me as I loved my students and the staff at Sundance Elementary.

Once again, I want to thank the parents of my students for allowing me to have worked with their wonderful children. I will miss each and every one of them. I also want to thank the staff for embracing me and making the last three years very rewarding. I will miss all of you, but know that I am fighting for you and for what is best for all staff and students of Crook County School District.

I would encourage all of you who are reading this letter to get involved and find out for yourselves what is happening in our school district. We all have a stake in the education of our children.


Shelby Gill

As many of you have noticed, we have Police Officers from Gillette working here. The Mayor and Council of Gillette have loaned them to us because the Hells Angels are having their annual meeting in Spearfish. We don’t anticipate a problem, but we want to be prepared should something happen.

Kathy was in Casper last week attending a DEQ meeting concerning our landfill closure. She also attended a school facilities meeting and we now own the real estate under the pool. Since we now own the property, we can install a manhole to do ground water mitigation and lower the chance of a pool failure.

The pool attendance has been running 60 people a day and on the hot days, we are serving 120 people. I don’t think the pool will ever pay its own way, but it is much closer than I ever recall.

Steve Lenz and the Land Use Planning board, with the help of Community Builders Inc., are reviewing and updating our land use planning rules. They haven’t been looked at since the early nineties and need some updating.

I am currently working on a detour in the Industrial Park. We will have to close Industrial Park Road when we replace the culvert there and that means the businesses and the landfill will need an alternative route.

Paul Brooks

Sundance Mayor

To whom it may concern:

I get frustrated with the fact that people no longer show appreciation to agriculturists. It is not like they’d ever ask for it. But that is just the beginning to their problem. Now, there is an entire plethora of people raising havoc and saying that what we producers do is inhumane and that our product is unhealthy. In reality, the group that is determining the variety of food selection we should have is less than two percent of our population, yet we listen to them. I wrote these thoughts to address just that. I hope you enjoy!

If you’ve ever eaten home raised beef, hog or lamb.

If you’ve enjoyed a branding or spent evenings playing “kick the can.”

If you’ve helped in the garden or an orchard or a feed store.

If you’ve never had to starve at the table when you asked for more.

If you’ve bumped down a dusty road on a bike or in a car.

If you’ve stood on a hilltop and seen nothing but God’s country for afar.

If you’ve got to ride on a horse pushin’ cows or just for fun.

If you’ve sat on a hillside after your long ride and watched the setting sun.

It’s the dew in the morning. The knowledge that red sky’s are a warning. The feeling of accomplishment after a hard days work.

It’s the oak tree a swayin’. The show shine a sprayin’. The smell of fresh coffee at 4 am as it starts to perk.

It’s swimming in the water tank or jumping in the dam.

It’s malts on the deck in the evening and a snack of homemade cheese and homegrown ham.

We aren’t a very loud mouthed bunch. We pride ourselves on minding our own.

But if one of these ideas took you back in time or sparked a memory. Then please nod to a farmer or a rancher because it’s not just food, it’s a lifestyle they’ve grown.

Trinity Holland

Dear Editor,

The citizens of Crook County elect their County Commissioners and entrust them with the power and duty to preserve and enhance our county for the general welfare and public good. The Commissioner’s responsibility is not only for today but for our future generations. To allow Oneok NGL pipeline to come through this high risk area putting our environment (air, land and water) at risk to the point of endangering the public health and safety would be a huge violation of that trust.

At the April 4, 2012 Commissioner’s Meeting Commissioner Dennis spoke out loud and clear about Oneok needing to relocate their pipeline west to the pipeline corridor and gave good common sense and realistic reasons. All the geological and hazard studies and even Oneok’s April 12, 2012 letter to the commissioners support him. However, money seems to be more important to Oneok than the health and safety of people in this area stating they had too much invested to move and didn’t want to lay pipe in November (showing their great concern about people health and safety). Commissioner Whalen told about all the geological problems that the new tourist center had and stated that they should have had a geological study done. So, why hasn’t Oneok been required to do a geological study north of I-90? The center has lost its well three times since opening, something wrong here! Chairman Hadley stated he did not want the pipeline moved to the west side of Bear Lodge Mountain because it would come through his ranch. Could this be a conflict of interest? In listening to Oneok at the Commissioners Meetings and reading their 4/12/12 letter to the Commissioners the question needs to be asked; is Oneok intentionally trying to mislead the Commissioners and the public due to disrespect or just showing their own lack of knowledge and their greed? They did not address the public concerns.

Oneok hired Ground Engineering to do a hazard study from I-90 – south and their report rated it as a high risk area. Assuming no change in the land or water conditions Ground estimated that in a half mile on each side of the 5.7 miles of a high risk stretch of pipeline 110 new sinkholes will occur threatening the safety of this pipeline. The report states that 74% of all new sinkholes would be high risk and 24% moderate risk to this pipeline. Ground issued their recommendation and then stated a disclaimer “Ground makes no warranties, either express or implied, as to the Professional data, opinions or RECOMMENDATIONS contained herein.”

Reasons given to the public for Oneok NGL pipeline (NGL is considered a Hazard material) 1. Oneok chose this route because it was the most financially feasible to the company. 2. Oneok  doesn’t want to relocate the pipeline to the west of Bear lodge Mountain because of the overall impact to the project a route change of that magnitude would have (including money and not wanting to lay pipe in November). 3. Chairman Hadley doesn’t want the pipeline on his ranch (Commissioners Meeting 4/4/12). 4. Oneok will sue the County Commissioners for condemnation (for trying to protect our environment and protect the health and safety of the public) if they don’t approve the pipeline (County Attorney). Good, we can prove to the court that the hazards are dangerous and Oneok is aware that the pipeline could put thousands of people’s health and safety at great risk and there is a shorter, safer route. This could make national news. “Small Wyoming County Commissioners get suited for protecting the health and safety of their county’s citizens”.

None of these reasons meet the requirement that is stated in the National Association of Counties news release; County government’s responsibility is to protect the health, welfare and safety of their citizens by insuring safe pipelines (Oneok NGL pipeline will not be safe according to all studies including their own). Th Commissioners need to call the National Association of Counties to get involved for safe pipelines should be everybody’s concern. Accufacts Inc. reports that an NGL pipeline release in this high risk area will have very serious and permanent consequences to the karst aquifier. Scientific test shows that the sinkholes in this area are directly connected to the Madison Aquifier. Once the aquifiers including the Madison Aquifier are contaminated it will be too late, except for teh lawsuits. Learn the facts by reading the reports for yourself as information in the news reports in The Sundance Times are not all accurate and are misleading. Towns in Wyoming have already had their water contaminated, unfit to drink, they fear for air pollution and gas explosiions. Is this what you want for Sundance?

If the Commissioners would sign any legal papers with Oneok before the landowners’ eminent domain trial it would have to be for personnel reasons, pecuniary benefit or maliciously to cause harm to these landowners. They will not be representing the majority of the citizens in Crook County as over 100 people (people caring about this area future) have signed letters objecting to the Oneok NGL pipeline.

The governor did not reply to our commissioners when they wrote for help. Over 50 people signed a letter to the governor asking for help but he would not issue a formal reply. He did send word it was not his concern (great leadership). Thus, supporting the Casper paper headlines; Wyo Falls Flat in integrity study. Wyoming is the third worst state in the nation when it comes to laws preventing corruption or promoting openness and accountability, according to a newly released national study. This leaves the responsibility and trust to our County Commissioners to protect our water and the Black Hills of Wyoming for future generations. Let’s all work together and tell Oneok to move to safer ground. Are the Black Hills not more important than Oneok pocketbook? Why should this and future generations pay for their mistake?

Les Turgeon