Commissioners seek to improve county departments
Commissioners select committee roles, hear update from library
GOSHEN COUNTY – Goshen County Commissioner Chairman Michael McNamee, Vice Chairman Justin Burkart and Commissioner Aaron Walsh vowed to work with the Goshen County Sheriff’s Office (GCSO) to reconsider a way to improve pay for its officers. Commissioners also selected its committee roles and heard from several other county departments at its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday.
Both GCSO Sheriff Kory Fleenor and GCSO Lt. Wesley Deen appeared before Commissioners McNamee, Burkart and Walsh during Tuesday’s meeting in presenting the monthly earnings and commissary reports. Additionally, once again, the department made a plea to commissioners to reconsider the county budget and look for ways to provide the sheriff’s department with more funding to retain and recruit employees in an effort to continue serving the county.
The board agreed to work with the department in finding solutions after a pay grade study is completed for the department, which is expected to be presented at the February commissioners meeting a month from now.
Commissioners briefly heard from Goshen County Treasurer Leticia Dominguez when she presented the county’s monthly report for the month of December 2022.
In her report, Dominguez told commissioners the county currently has just over $18.1 million in assets with roughly $14.4 million of that being reserved funds, which gives the county roughly $3,677,009 in spendable cash. However, the county is also holding onto $1.2 million in a contingency reserve as requested by the county attorney and auditor contractors in case of emergencies; this brings the county’s total spendable cash to $4,877,009.
Dominguez reported the county earned roughly $1,446,686 dollars during December and the last 90 days, of which includes some early taxes coming into the county.
Per Dominguez’s monthly report to commissioners, the county is expecting roughly $1.5 million in tax collection, which was due to be paid on Dec. 31, 2022.
Goshen County Clerk Mary Feagler presented the county’s updated clerk and warrant reports in addition to county employee bonds which required commissioner’s signatures at Tuesday’s meeting.
In her report, Feagler said the bills her office was requesting payment for were typical monthly bills with a few past due bills from the previous month, which came in after the first commissioners meeting in January.
Goshen County Library Executive Director Cristine Braddy presented several programs the library is working on, including various funding initiatives it is working toward in providing residents an outdoor space and described the process in which the library is bringing back the homebound book program.
Braddy shared a letter she wrote to the community, which appeared in the library’s recent December mailer.
In her letter to Goshen County residents, titled ‘Flourishing Together,’ Braddy wrote:
“When I look back on the many celebrations for our 100th year, it is not the events that are foremost in my mind, it is gathering as friends to paint, arrange flowers, play mini-golf and listen to music.” Adding, “It is laughter and reflecting on the past while dreaming about the future.”
“Our focus this year was celebrating the foundations built in the past,” Braddy wrote. “Now, it is time for us to dream together about the future of the library in Goshen County.”
Echoing much of what she reported to commissioners, Braddy further wrote, “As we look forward, our priority is you, the people of Goshen County. Our vision is to cultivate a place that is the gathering space for our community where folks have access to books, information, technology, experiences and so much more.” Continuing, Braddy stated, “The library is a space where community members develop friendships, have a space to let kids play, meet to enjoy conversations, complete puzzles, build businesses, record podcasts, create crafts, bring kids to learn to code, print documents, challenge each other to chess, play board games, check out their favorite authors and read the newspaper.”
Braddy reiterated to commissioners her ending thoughts to the community she had written in her letter, “We will continue to build our collection of books, technology and services, but we know that our collection alone is not what makes us ‘a never-failing spring in the desert.’ Rather, these are the tools we use to build a flourishing community.”
Adding to her letter to the community, Braddy told commissioners, “Right now, we’re in the middle of doing the strategic plan – as soon as we have that done, we will get that to you as well.”
“One of the things that keeps coming up is more hours – evening hours – at the library,” Braddy explained. “It’s hard to get to the library by five if you have a job or if you don’t live in Torrington city limits.” Adding, “The dilemma is we kept it as is because that’s how we managed the budget that we have.”
“So, more hours also mean the library needs more funds to work through those hours,” Braddy explained. “That is probably a conversation that is coming.”
Braddy explained to commissioners she hopes the Goshen County Library Foundation can help her complete a report with detailed information regarding what sort of funding would be needed to extend library hours among other needs. She also said between the programs the library has brought in and continues to bring in, the foundation continues to also help with funding initiatives through various events.
One thing the library is working to fund is an outdoor space in the parking lot for library goers which will have a water feature, sand and other outdoorsy activities. The Telegram has previously reported on a number of events the foundation and library have hosted in working toward funding this particular project.
“Our vision is to make this outdoor space a community gathering place,” Braddy explained.
Braddy also reported that despite having inclement weather closures, the library remains “on track to see about 10% more people” through its doors this fiscal year.
“I’m feeling really happy about where we are with the library and the ways we are reaching Goshen County,” Braddy added.
The executive also explained to commissioners how the library issued a winter community reading challenge aimed at all Goshen County residents from age 4 and up, including adults.
“From Jan. 1 through Jan. 31, Goshen County Library is participating in the ‘All the Feels,’ a winter reading challenge sponsored by Beanstack,” Braddy explained. “We challenge our community to read at least 100,000 minutes during the month and keep track of their reading on our Beanstack site at goshencounty.beanstack.org, or on the Beanstack mobile app.”
A few ways in which the library is encouraging and helping older residents participate in the reading challenge and expand access to the library is via adding kindles, Bluetooth speakers for audio books and relaunching its homebound book program.
The Bluetooth speaker idea came from a prisoner of war (POW) book relating to some real-life stories from residents in Veteran of which Goshen County residents were interested in reading, however, due to poor vision and the book not being an audio book, Braddy and the library were able to get it as a streaming book, allowing residents to be able to listen to the book via the speakers.
“This is how we solved the problem, and it works for a lot of different things,” Braddy explained. “We were able to get newspapers on there so they can listen to the newspaper versus reading it – so we are working on getting that out.”
However, it’s the most requested service to return, which excites Braddy and the library.
“The other thing we’re doing for older adults is we are starting our homebound books service,” Braddy explained. “This existed before COVID – and it was really hard to get out to people due to the pandemic – especially since a lot of our service was going to Evergreen.”
Adding, “We are working on getting books to people who cannot leave their homes.”
Braddy further explained the library is helping residents of all ages navigate the tech world and keeping the library current with latest tech trends to continue to be a thriving cornerstone in the community.
“We are doing some adult tech classes,” Braddy told commissioners. “Technology is always moving faster than people. We have a tech services staff member, and you would not believe he is the most popular staff member in our community here.”
Braddy explained how Tech Manager “Andy” fixes all sorts of technology for residents of all ages, but he is the most requested person at the library.
Most of all, Braddy told commissioners her and the library are most excited about being able to complete the outdoor space for residents to continue to utilize the library as a central meeting space and other activities where community members can bond, make memories and come together as a community. It is her goal to make the library a part of the heart in Goshen County.
In separate stories, the Telegram will detail the county’s new Youth Alternatives program and a resolution commissioners passed in funding the program after hearing from members of the Goshen County Youth Alternatives board. A future story will also include the interview process and selection of Goshen County Fair Board members.
Prior to adjourning, commissioners decided which committees they would be the county commissioner liaison for.
Chairman McNamee will be the liaison for the Wyoming Association of County Commissioners, the Joint Powers Board and the Goshen County Fair Board.
Vice Chair Burkart will be the liaison for Goshen County IT, Goshen County Youth Alternatives Board and Goshen County Economic Development.
Commissioner Walsh will be the liaison for Goshen County Library Board, Goshen County Urban Assistance and as needed liaison for the Goshen County Fair Predator Board.
In a month, at the commissioners regularly scheduled meeting in February, commissioners will hear from Megan Brittin, the liaison for the University of Wyoming Extension program regarding a special project and memorandum of understanding (MOU) the program is hoping to get commissioners to approve.
McNamee stated it is his hope that he and the other commissioners can start making visits to county departments to learn more of departmental needs, concerns and grievances to better address those at future meetings.
The next Goshen County Commissioners meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 13, at 9 a.m. at the Goshen County Courthouse in Torrington.