Pine Bluffs Post - Serving all of Eastern Laramie County since 1908

By Charlene Smith
Pine Bluffs Post staff 

Full house to hear staff changes

 

Charlene Smith

More than 60 people attended the Pine Bluffs Town Council meeting, Monday evening, to voice their concerns over the assumed forced resignation of Police Chief Robin Clark.

Also in attendance were the third grade classes from Pine Bluffs elementary.

Mayor Bill Shain welcomed the students as well as the other guests and the council introduced themselves and gave a brief history of their work with the council.

After approving invoices for work being done on the streets and the water loop, and a permit to serve alcohol at a private party, Shain got down to the business everyone was waiting for.

“I received a letter of resignation from Police Chief Robin Clark effective today,” Shain said, “I will need a motion to accept it.”

It was difficult to hear many of the comments made by the council during the meeting due to the large number of guests in the audience. At one point a guest asked the council to “speak up,” and Shain replied that it was “as loud as it gets.”

Shain moved quickly on to appointments for the Police Chief position. Some of the guests spoke up and wanted to have public comments. Shain and the council moved on with their business not acknowledging the comments.

The council accepted Shain's recommendation to appoint Don Taylor as interim Police Chief.

“I spoke to Don and he is on board to do this as an open ended term,” Shain explained.

Shain went on to discuss the realignment of town office staff.

He explained they had appointed a Town Administrator. But said he put “careful thought” into the situation and advised the council to “do away with” the administrator and go back to a Town Clerk which was “more in line with the state statutes.”

Shain also recommended Caryn Miller be employed as the Town Treasurer and Carleen Graves as the Town Clerk. The council concurred on all of Shain's recommendations and passed the appointments unanimously.

Members of the audience appeared to grow restless when the council didn't open the appointments up for public hearing.

Town Attorney Alex Davison cut off a guest when they began remarking on the record of a town employee and a possible criminal history.

“I just hope you do background checks,” said the Pine Bluffs resident after he was cut off.

Towards the end of the agenda, the council, as it always does, opened the floor up for public comment. Shain reminded the public this was a “listening time” and no responses would be given.

Leonard Anderson, the mayor prior to Shain for many years, addressed the council with his concerns.

“I wasn't sure I was going to speak but I felt something needed to be said,” Anderson explained. “There is such turmoil in the police force and with the interpersonal issues. These are red flags that need addressed. There is dissension between the council and the community members. Just look at this room.”

Anderson added he was concerned about the dispatch being moved to Cheyenne.

“It's all about location,” Anderson said. “I don't know where John lives or many addresses in town. I believe dispatch needed to stay local.”

Anderson also had some concerns about the lack of “trained staff” to take care of the utilities and the town “paying High West to do this work.”

Shain stepped out of his silent mode to address some of Anderson's comments. He reminded Anderson the town hadn't had a “qualified utility person” since his term.

An older member of the audience said he wasn't planning on talking either, but he felt something needed to be said.

“I think you all know what the problem is,” he said. “I think you need to take care of the problems. Maybe have an outside source, someone with no connections to the town come in and identify the problems for you. The problems aren't going to go away. This was a cohesive community and these people are telling you it isn't anymore.”

Another guests asked the council why Pine Bluffs had a difficult time keeping police officers to which Shain only said, “next comment.”

Pine Bluffs elementary Principal Sue Stevens said she may be commenting too late but she appreciated all the extra effort Clark did for the school and the students.

“She came in and helped us with our safety plan, she talked to the students about bullying and offered training for the school on safety,” shared Stevens. “I really appreciated all her efforts and I hope the next chief is as supportive as Robin.”

A community member said Clark had a high integrity and wondered why a “personality conflict” resulted in a “forced resignation.”

“If it was a conflict, you are the mayor and you should have handled it,” said the community member.

Another member of the community asked why the council chose to “get rid of someone because she didn't fit in.” He went on to ask the council why Clark “didn't fit in.” Shain and the council never offered any answers or commented on their actions.

As Clark left the meeting a collective, “Thank you Robin,” was heard from all the guests.

In other agenda items, the Laramie County Community College talked briefly about the programs offered at the satellite sight at the Pine Bluffs Historical High School. The staff of LCCC reminded the council they wanted to “serve you better.”

Shain said they often included survey's in the utility bills and they would be willing to put a survey in for LCCC in one of the mailers to see what the community wanted.

Shain said he received a building request from High West Energy, more for the town's information since the building is outside of city limits. High West will install a 45 by 125 foot metal storage building west of the existing buildings at 6270 Road 212. The council had no objections to the building.

An involved community member asked if the council or town would be willing to start a Chamber of Commerce again. She also wondered if any of the council members were going to the Wyoming Business Forum in Cheyenne later in the week. Shain said no one from the council would be attending. The community member thought it would have been a good idea and wondered why Pine Bluffs wasn't sending “someone to represent us.” Shain didn't have an answer for her.

In committee reports Councilman Tom Mohren said the day care center had a high of 45 children one day in October, with a low of 28 and an average of 38 children each day. Mohren added 56 families are using the center with 74 different children.

Shain reminded the council he attended the Wyoming Water Development Commission joint meeting with the Select Water Committee last week in Casper. Shain said the staff recommendations from WWDC was to only fund $1.2 million for the Kimzey land purchase, which wouldn't cover the cost of the land purchase.

Charlene Smith

“After much discussion and the reality of buying water somewhere else would cost $10 to $30 million, the commission agreed to give us $1.3 million with a loan on the rest for 30 years at 4 percent,” Shain explained. “We also could also get some funds from SLIB with a 50/50 loan and grant at 2 percent for 20 years.” Shain said there would be more meetings and time to decide where the town would get the funds but he wanted to update the council on the latest developments. Shain also reminded the board the Sept. 30, 2014 closing date would come soon.

Councilman Mike Ragsdale said he had spoken with Tom McDonough about all the streets that were still asphalt and needed paved.

“We called the contractors and they said they would be out tomorrow and should be finished in the next couple of days,” Ragsdale said.

The next council meeting will be Monday, Dec. 2 at 7 p.m.

 

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