TORRINGTON – The Torrington City Council convened for their regular meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 3, during which the council proclaimed Nov. 8-14 as National Apprenticeship Week.
According to the proclamation, National Apprenticeship Week is celebrating its sixth anniversary of raising awareness of the vital role apprenticeships provide in creating a qualified and highly skilled workforce in diverse industries in the city of Torrington and across the nation.
Torrington Electric Superintendent Dana Youtz told the council he had two apprentices currently working with him. The two apprentices, Michael Schuler and Wyatt Miller, have been working under a four-year program with 8,000 hours of on the job training.
Youtz told the council the electric department had run into issues before with retention of staff as it was commonplace for staff to complete their apprenticeship and move on to other areas. Youtz credited the moves primarily with the employees wanting to be closer to their hometowns and seeking employment with agencies offering better pay and benefits.
Regardless, Youtz expressed his delight with the two apprentices’ performances and looks forward to working with them in the apprenticeship program.
A last-minute amendment to the agenda added a request by Water Utility Supervisor Tom Troxel for an approval for an apprenticeship program for Torrington’s water department. Troxel said there were several older people who would be leaving the trade and there was no young personnel coming in.
Troxel said there would be a hit to the budget, but he and other city administrators had discussed offsetting the budget to accommodate the change.
The program would provide on-the-job training to newly hired staff for the water department.
Troxel also discussed partnering with Wyoming’s Water Development Commission. The water development commission is part of a national water development program and would provide 16 hours of payment to the new apprentice. In turn, the city of Torrington would be responsible for providing the apprentice with three days of pay, 24 hours, while other communities would pay the additional 16 hours.
Troxel cited some of the benefits of the cooperative agreement. Troxel said the agreement would be a good training program for the new apprentice as the program would allow the trainee to work with various systems and gain an overall better understanding of the trade.
Torrington Clerk/Treasurer Lynette Strecker told the council the 2021 budget would see an expenditure of about $40,000 for the new employee’s wages and benefits. Troxel added there would be two people retiring from the city water department in the relatively near future, as well.
Councilman Bill Law said he believed the apprenticeship program would be a “failsafe” to the city as they consider employees retiring in the future.
Mayor Randy Adams said he had also spoken with Vehicle Maintenance Supervisor Tom Werkele about similar matters. According to Adams, Werkele is looking to retire in a couple of years but is having a challenging time finding someone to replace him. There has been discussion of setting up a program.
Adams said Streets and Sanitation Supervisor Ed Hawley has discussed many of the same issues with him regarding the streets and sanitation department
In other business, council members discussed a proposal for a catering permit from Patrick Zimmerer of Table Mountain Vineyards, LLC. The permit would be for a Moose Mercantile Sip ’n See event to be held on Nov. 12 from 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at 134 East 21st Avenue.
Councilman Ted Kinney voiced concern over the fact that business owner Taryn Kilty was not present at the meeting. Kinney pointed out that it would be her business that would be hosting the event and he wanted to be sure that she would be enforcing COVID-19 procedures.
Kinney further clarified that his concern was whether the city would be held liable if the event were to cause a surge in the transmission of COVID-19 cases.
City Attorney James Eddington told Kinney that both the individual and the premise owner could be held responsible if there was a clear violation of state health orders.
Councilman Rick Patterson said Zimmerer would be taking all responsible precautions as he has maintained a reputable standing in the past.
The council granted the permit.
The council held the third and final readings of two ordinances, one relating to water hook-up fees and the other relating to sewer hook-up fees. Both readings passed unanimously and will become effective as soon as they are published, according to Strecker.
The council also heard a request from Torrington Building Official Dennis Estes to have three areas properly zoned. According to Estes, the locations were never zoned by ordinance and he is only trying to “clean-up the zoning map.” Estes said he had heard no public comments on the zoning issue and both property owners had been made aware of the proposals.
Adams opened the meeting to public comment. During this period, Dennis Kelly of Torrington asked the council if the Panhandle Coop situation was still in progress. Kelly asked if the facility would have hazardous materials in it and if the city would be responsible for dealing with the response to a spill or the company.
Eddington told Kelly the agreement with coop states the coop would be responsible for any hazardous materials spills.
Kelly also asked if there would be a clean property inspection of the location before the city would buy it.
Eddington said this matter would be subject to the appraisal. He added the appraisal is in the works, but that would be part of the condition of the property report in the appraisal.
The council adjourned to an executive session and later returned to vote on one of the matters discussed during the session, approving the addition of a part-time streets and sanitation employee.
The next meeting of Torrington’s City Council will be Tuesday, Nov. 17, at 7:00 p.m.