Conversation continues on 307 Horse Racing

Goshen County Commissioners Aaron Walsh (left to right), Justin Burkart and Chairman Michael McNamee considering the resolution concerning 307 Horse Racing. Cynthia Sheeley/Torrington Telegram

Commissioners to hold special meeting on Monday

GOSHEN COUNTY – The Goshen County Commissioners convened for its second September meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 19 at the Goshen County Courthouse. 

Chairman Michael McNamee was present with fellow commissioners Justin Burkart and Aaron Walsh. 

During the meeting, Kyle Ridgeway with 307 Horse Racing and Jan Harvey with the Bucking Horse were present to continue the conversation about the resolution concerning whether 307 Horse Racing can establish a business in the county. Harvey was accompanied by Rex Johnson and Brian Artery, two Platte County attorneys, who are representing her as she negotiates her contract with 307 Horse Racing. 

The party’s goal was to continue the conversation and hopefully get a final vote from the commissioners.

“We have spent a considerable amount of time trying to negotiate a contract with 307 that would solidify her business and give her the opportunity to economically proceed forward with what she wants to do,” Johnson told the commissioners. “We are very interested in the need for the appropriate resolution for this county commission to adopt.”

Johnson explained that they are now ready to move along with the contract but are waiting for the approved resolution from the county. As a result of the upcoming holidays, Harvey is in a position where she needs to know sooner rather than later. If the county decides to pass the resolution, they would like to have the contract begin Oct. 1. 

“We need to know if it’s a go or not because Jan’s business is such that if she’s going to make it this year doing what she is currently doing, she needs to be making reservations now,” Johnson said. “She is in the process of deciding what’s going to happen in November and December.”

“Does she tell people who are calling that this is going to be 307 Racing and there is going to be a change in the way the operation is going to be conducted,” he continued. “That doesn’t mean that there’ll be a change in the restaurant, there’ll still be a restaurant, it’s just whether or not Jan is the one actually in charge.”

According to Johnson, the contract that has been drafted between Bucking Horse and 307 Horse Racing is a long-term lease agreement. If signed, 307 Horse Racing will cover all expenses of the company, do necessary remodeling and essentially run the restaurant as a steak house just with the addition of the pari-mutuel betting side of the business. 

“Jan is going to stick around and make sure the transition period with the restaurant and bar is smooth,” Johnson said. “Then there is a period of time, either a year or two years, that there is an option to purchase.”

During this time, 307 Horse Racing would transfer the current liquor license into its name. If for some reason, plans change the license will refer back to the Bucking Horse. 

“The basic model [is similar to our] location in Douglas, the Ranahan location,” Ridgeway said. “It’s now referred to as the Derby Club, but it still has the restaurant with the same kind of food, the same kind of steak house, and we host a lot of events in that space. We would do the same kind of model here.”

Ridgeway said this would be the company’s fifth restaurant facility that they operate. The plans are to keep the gambling aspect separate from the dining area in the building. At the very least, there will be a natural separation, however, the plans may change to remodel a completely separate area. 

As long as there is a separation, the facility will be able to facilitate underage guests. The regulations from the Wyoming Gaming Commission state that there cannot be flow through the gaming area. 

Ridgeway said he believes with the current design of the Bucking Horse that there should not be any problems with this. 

At this point, Johnson said the issue boils down to whether the county wants 307 Horse Racing or not. If the county wants it, they need to sign the resolution. If they don’t, they need to let the parties involved know so they can proceed forward with other plans.

The commissioners each voiced their appreciation for Ridgeway’s constant cooperation as they have worked through this process. Since the company originally came to the commissioners last year, the commissioners have had several informative discussions with Ridgeway, the county’s attorney and the public. 

The last thing the commissioners were waiting on before calling a vote on the resolution was a specified definition of “just cause.” McNamee read the recently updated resolution including the definition for the record. 

It read, “During any term, the Board shall have the right to revoke this or any other subsequent resolutions for only good cause. Examples of good cause include, but are not limited to, a determination by the commissioners that the operator has a history of gross violation of Wyoming statutes or local ordinances inside the county or the welfare of the people residing in the immediate vicinity of the permit premises is in fact adversely or seriously affected.” 

While the commissioners are satisfied with this change, they explained that they would like a third party to look over the resolution one final time before making a vote. 

One of the things, making the commissioners proceed with immense caution is the recent lawsuit between Campbell County and a few gaming facilities. After the county dissolved its current resolution, the facility sued them, and they had to pay a $2.5 million settlement.

Ridgeway and Johnson explained that while this incident did not include 307 Horse Racing, they did research to understand what happened. 

“What happened in Campbell County was they had passed what I call blanket resolutions,” Ridgeway said. These resolutions allowed them to be in the county without any specifications. “The county decided that they wanted to revoke them because they wanted to change the requirements in the county to require you to have horse racing in the county in order to have gaming.”

After they passed the resolution, the locations were immediately closed, and it resulted in litigation. According to Ridgeway and Johnson, the county did not go through the proper channels and even passed the resolution even though their county attorney advised against it. 

Ridgeway said the way the commissioners have set up the resolution if 307 Horse Racing or a future company violates it, they should not have any problems enforcing it. In fact, the county would only have to take its evidence to the Wyoming Gaming Commission and the commission will pull the company’s license. 

The commissioners each voiced their understanding of the time line, and they were ready to make a final decision on the issue. However, they were still reluctant to make an immediate vote.

“We’re trying to do our due diligence to protect our county,” Walsh said. “We are not trying to stop the progress in this county. We just want to make sure that our citizens are protected and that everything is put in place how it should be to make sure that this goes without any hiccups.”

McNamee did attempt a motion to see if the group could come to a vote, however, it failed to get a second. 

The Goshen County Commissioners will hold a special meeting on Monday, Oct. 25 in the Goshen County Courthouse to call a vote on this issue. This extension will give the commissioners a chance to consult a third party and be fully prepared to make their decision. 

There will be a public hearing held in the middle of October for the Goshen Solar Project. 

The county is still looking for applications for a supervisor position at the Goshen County Road and Bridge. There are also several other positions available within the road and bridge department including grater operators and mechanics.

During the chairman’s opening comments, McNamee announced that Walsh, County Clerk Mary Feagler and himself will be at a conference next week in Casper. 

The next meeting of the Goshen County Commissioners will take place Tuesday, Oct. 3 at 9 a.m. in the Goshen County Courthouse at 2125 East A Street.

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