TORRINGTON – The Torrington City Council convened for its first November meeting on Nov. 1 at the Torrington Council Chambers. Mayor Randy Adams was present with council members Ted Kinney, Richard Patterson, Dennis Kelly, and Kate Steinbock.
Jeff Harkins, the director of public works, discussed the airport consulting engineer’s five-year agreement with M.C. Schaff & Associates.
“The next five years will see a significant change at the airport with the construction of a new terminal building,” Harkins explained.
Currently, the terminal building is a converted garage. The estimated cost of the new terminal building is around $3 million. An application has been submitted through the BIL Act for the State of Wyoming and the FAA to help cover the costs.
“Year after year, there’s a lot of money spent on the airport,” Adams said. “The city of Torrington doesn’t have to spend much of it, we’re about four percent. That’s a pretty good deal when the State of Wyoming, or the federal government, is providing 96% of the funding, and we only have to provide four.”
The City of Torrington advertised a request for qualified companies to do the work, and two requests were received. Both companies were equally qualified to perform the necessary engineering services.
M.C. Schaff & Associates (MCS) located out of Scottsbluff was one of these companies. This company is already familiar with the Torrington Municipal Airport and is currently doing work there.
“MCS is currently doing preliminary planning regarding the construction of a terminal and submitted (the) application for funding of the project through the BIL Act,” Harkins said.
They have also been helpful in answering any questions in regard to the airport and its maintenance.
“It is my recommendation that the council approves retaining M.C. Schaff & Associates under a 5-year contract to perform engineering services for the airport and authorize the Mayor and Clerk to sign,” Harkins said.
The five-year contract is a no-fee contract and will give MCS the first right to any projects that happen at the airport until it expires.
“I have discussed my recommendation with both the Wyoming Department of Transportation-Aviation Division and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and neither has any issue with the selection,” Harkins added.
The council will have the opportunity to review any plans and approve or deny them as they are created.
The council unanimously approved the agreement.
The city council introduced a new proclamation for November. The proclamation is for National Apprenticeship Week in the city of Torrington on Nov. 14-20.
“National Apprenticeship Week is celebrating its 8th anniversary of raising awareness of the vital role registered apprenticeships provide in creating opportunities by allowing apprentices to earn while they learn and preparing a pathway to good, quality jobs and well-paying careers in the city of Torrington, WY and across the nation.” James Eddington, the city attorney, said. “Registered Apprenticeship programs enable employers to develop and train their future workforce while offering career seekers affordable paths to secure high-paying jobs.”
Dana Youtz, the electrical supervisor in Torrington, provided his experience with the apprenticeship program and Apprenticeship Week. Youtz was accompanied by one of his apprentices, Ben Kent.
“We love that week, we do it every year,” Youtz commented. “Ben has been with us for almost a year. We have one other apprentice, but he will be journeying out, to become a journeyman lineman shortly after the first of the year.”
Through this program, Kent has been able to learn and work under the supervision of professionals in this field.
“Ben has been a great employee and a great fit for the team,” Youtz said. “I hope he’s going to be with us for a long, long time.”
National Apprenticeship Week will bring awareness to this program.
The council unanimously approved the proclamation.
The mayor appointed the new deputy treasurer Christine Nichols.
Nichols will be replacing Amy Haas on the health insurance committee, investment committee, and wage committee. Silvia Anaya, the current deputy clerk, will replace Haas on the performance evaluation committee on Dec. 31.
The council unanimously approved the appointments.
City Clerk and Treasurer Lynette Strecker discussed the proposal from the health insurance committee regarding the 2023 renewal.
The health insurance committee met in regard to the city’s insurance 2023 renewal. The renewal plan was mostly the same, except for a slight increase and the addition of a stop/loss premium, totaling an additional cost of $30,000. After weighing a couple of options, the committee decided the best decision to cover this extra cost was to do a plan change.
“The committee chose to do a plan change,” Strecker explained. “The big reason for that is everybody’s paycheck is not going near as far as it used to. And we feel like the change to the actual plan, which would be changing the out-of-pocket maximum to $500 for singles and $1,000 for a family, would be a better option. It would affect about 30% of the employees instead of 100% of the employees.”
The council unanimously approved this proposal.
The council approved four catering permits at the meeting. Two for the Mint Bar for the Farm Girls Boutique holiday open house on Nov. 3 and the Goshen County Library 100-year celebration on Dec. 1. The other two for BZ Hospitality, LLC for the Goshen County start-up program event on Nov. 10 and the Goshen County Economic Development annual meeting on Nov. 17.
The council approved Strecker’s amendment to the 2023 budget regarding the parks and water departments. This amendment is in reference to the decision at the last meeting to transfer the building on Big Horn Street to the parks department.
Ethan Fitch, the owner of the Mint Bar, discussed the town’s need for late-night public transportation at the meeting. As the bar’s owner, Fitch has become aware that there is a lack of a safe transportation method in town for those under the influence of alcohol.
“I think part of the problem that Torrington has right now, is there’s not a safe ride home,” Fitch explained. “The system that we have now is incomplete, we need to add another ride home. I think Torrington needs a bus line. I think we need to look at Scottsbluff because they actually have one, but ours should run later. This would help keep the streets safer, and people out of jail.”
There was some discussion on this topic, any consideration or voting will be at a future meeting.
During the mayoral informational part of the meeting, Adams gave updates on the amount of COVID-related illnesses in the county.
“As of Friday, Oct. 28, the number of weekly positive COVID tests is increasing,” Adams said. “There are a few being treated at Community Hospital for COVID-related illnesses, and it seems we all know someone who has been recently diagnosed with COVID.”
Adams announced the next vaccination clinic that is to be held in the Pony Express room on Nov. 15. For more information or to make an appointment call Public Health.
Adams said, “The City, with the support of the Rotary Club, will be adding additional crosswalks and signage to be installed in the next couple of months. Please slow down and use caution in those new locations while the projects are being completed.”
The city has heard back on the ARPA grants for its four major water and wastewater projects.
“The city of Torrington was fortunate to receive our full request of $3.5 million to fund our waste-water treatment plant,” Adams said. “Three of the four requests were not funded. There were 113 applications from Wyoming municipalities totaling $225,481,861. There was $50 million in available funding. So, including our request, 18 projects were funded and 95 were denied.”
Also, Goshen County Economic Development announced their nominations for Community Awards. Chief of Police Matt Johnson was nominated for the Community Leader Award and Michael Schuler, an electrical department employee, was nominated for the Community Volunteer of the Year Award.
The next meeting of the Torrington City Council will take place Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. in the Torrington City Council Chambers at 436 East 22nd Avenue.