Police chief honored at City Council meeting

Mayor Brooks presents Sundance Police Chief Todd Fritz a plaque in recognition for his 20 years of service to the City of Sundance at the December council meeting. (Sarah Pridgeon photo)

By Sarah Pridgeon

The focus was on completing unfinished business at this month’s regular meeting of the Sundance City Council, which took place on the evening of December 6, but, before the meeting began, Police Chief Todd Fritz was honored for 20 years of service to the city. With friends and family congregated to watch, Fritz was presented with a commemorative plaque by Mayor Paul Brooks.

Kenny Rathbun of Bearlodge Ltd. confirmed that, after two weeks of curing, the barricade had been removed from the alley beside the Dime Horseshoe Bar, re-opening it to the public. A change order for $5200 was requested by the contractors, DRM Inc. of Gillette, for export and import of soil and to cover the cost of changing the material used for the pavement from asphalt to concrete.

Rathbun also reported that work has begun on the creek crossing section of the walking path to Clarenbach Memorial Park, using blankets to keep the concrete dry. Timberline Industries plans to continue working on the project throughout the winter, on all but the coldest days, he said.

The council discussed a proposed street dedication for Fuller Road, currently a county road, to make it a public right of way from the boundary line between the Croell property and the city’s property in Section 19. City Attorney Mark Hughes advised that this be done in order to enhance the value of all properties in that area and to encourage development; the council agreed to allow Bearlodge Ltd. to begin creating a plat for the dedication.

Clerk-Treasurer Kathy Lenz reported that the punch list for the Sundance Kids Daycare Center has been completed and occupancy has been received from the Fire Warden. On the recommendation of Hughes, a motion was passed not to pay the extra money requested by CTA Architects Engineers for the project as they have “no legal right to it whatsoever.”

Pam Thompson, Executive Director of the Crook County Museum District, appealed to the council for help in applying for the Wyoming Association of Municipalities and Wyoming County Commissioners Association joint Energy Lease Program. As applications must be submitted by a city or county, the museum board requested that the council sponsor the loan of $100,000, which is intended to contribute to the cost of repairing broken windows at Old Stoney and bringing the remainder up to current energy efficiency standards.

As highlighted by Lenz and Hughes, submitting the application would obligate the city to make the $10,000-per-year repayments for the next ten years, should the museum district default. The loan would also be an unfunded liability, said Hughes, and would require the council to budget for the potential repayments.

When asked whether the county would be able to sponsor the loan instead, Thompson responded that, when the county donated Old Stoney, they indicated that “that’s all they’d be doing.” Her reasons for approaching the council included that the city had come to the museum district with the idea for the loan in the first place, that the museum district is happy to work with the city, and that Old Stoney sits within city limits.

Although Council Member Klocker was of the opinion that, with a $200,000-per-year income, the museum district would be able to afford the repayments, Hughes pointed out that ability to pay does not necessarily mean confirmation they will pay. He also mentioned that there is legal precedent for a city council not being permitted to obligate itself past its current members’ terms for something that is “not a necessity,” but added that there may be room to argue that completing Old Stoney is “a necessity for economic and cultural growth” and that he would do his “level best” to support it legally, should that for any reason become necessary.

Hughes was asked to investigate whether supporting the loan would be legal. A motion was passed to support the museum district’s application for the Energy Lease Program, contingent on Hughes’ confirmation that it can be done.

Dick Proctor approached the council regarding his proposed land exchange, swapping his lot near the creek with a city-owned lot in town. Explaining that Hughes had informed him that the city believes his land may be of lesser value and an appraisal will be required, Proctor told the council that he would like to protest this on the basis that his land “has a great view, a live trout stream and a park-like meadow.”

The council informed Proctor that the appraisal is necessary not for aesthetic purposes, but to come up with an exchange that is close in value because the public will have the right to comment on whether the swap is in the best interests of the city and may have issue with a complete disparity in worth. In response to Proctor’s query as to why he should have to pay for the appraisal, when the exchange is in the interests of both parties, the council explained that they have already invested $2800 in paying for surveys to be performed.

Fritz reported that a resolution for deer control has been sent to the state and advised the council that culling must take place “more or less” in hunting season, therefore cannot be performed between the beginning of the year and the fall. He also confirmed that the new emergency siren is being funded by Homeland Security and that the only expense the city will be required to cover is for an electrician to wire it.

Mayor Brooks informed his fellow council members that Gary Mattox of the Denver field office of the United States Postal Service has protested the recent post office move, on the basis he feels they were forced to do so and that nobody has the right to move a federal post office. Brooks mentioned that he has spoken to the postmistress, Danette Wilson-Ruff, on the matter and that she is “emphatic” that they have no desire to move again.

A re-subdivision of Sundance View Estates, Lot 1, was approved, following a joint hearing of the city and county Land Use Commissions. The city commission had already taken action to recommend approval to the council and, according to Tim Lyons, the county was set to do so the following day.

In departmental reports, Fritz informed the council that 53 calls have been responded to this month and Public Works Director Larry Schommer reported water accountability of 78 percent and described a potential bleed-back in the eastern wells that may be contributing to accountability problems. He also confirmed that snow removal is going well and that the city is working with businesses to keep the sidewalks clean and attempting to solve the issue of some residents cleaning their entire yards and dumping the snow back onto the street after the blowers have been through.

The next regular meeting of the Sundance City Council will take place on January 3 at 7 p.m.