TORRINGTON – The Goshen County Commissioners held their bimonthly meeting at the Goshen County courthouse Tuesday morning where they accepted the regular department reports and heard the concerns of several citizens from South Torrington.
The meeting began at 9 a.m. sharp with the usual approval of the minutes from the last meeting and the agenda for the current meeting. Commissioners John Ellis, Cody Cox and Justin Burkart approved reports from Goshen County Road and Bridge, the County Assessor’s Office and other departments within the county.
The Goshen County Library presented its goal to get every elementary, middle and high school student to have a library card by the end of the year. Library Director Cristine Braddy has visited schools across the county to offer presentations on what all the library has to offer for young students. The library will also be celebrating its 100th birthday starting in November and will hold a different event every month for the next 12 months to mark the occasion.
The commissioners then turned the floor over to Albert Lira.
As a volunteer at the Torrington Volunteer Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services worker, Lira sees several problems with the numerous abandoned vehicles left in South Torrington. The vehicles block fire hydrants and make it impossible for children walking home from the bus stop to be able to walk safely off the road. Unleashed dogs also roam the streets and make it dangerous for first responders like Lira to do their work.
At a previous commissioners meeting in June during which Lira also shared his concerns, County Attorney Eric Boyer suggested the easiest option would be to annex South Torrington into city limits, thus giving the City of Torrington power to deal with the problem. In Tuesday’s meeting, Lira showed the signatures of people living in South Torrington that did not want to resort to annexation. Lira presented another petition urging the county commissioners to take action and enforce the current laws.
“This is not something that annexation is going to fix,” Lira told the commissioners.
Lira passed around pictures he had taken the day before the meeting so the commissioners could see firsthand how worrying it would be to live and drive in South Torrington. Some of the vehicles have been there for several months, blocking the way for residents to live their daily lives. Lira also shared letters of support for the petition, including one from the county coroner’s office noting how difficult it was to retrieve the bodies of those who have passed away in houses blocked by abandoned vehicles. Another letter from the Senior Friendship Center made mention of how difficult it can be to provide assistance to seniors living in South Torrington because of the abandoned vehicles and animals running around without leashes.
Several concerned citizens showed up in support of Lira and in support of the petition to enforce current statutes prohibiting the abandonment of unlicensed vehicles in residential areas. One woman tearfully noted how another woman sick with cancer living in South Torrington can’t get in and out of her house, much less get anyone else in to help take care of her.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” Lira said. “I don’t think you want [the consequences] on your shoulders. I don’t want it on my shoulders.”
The commissioners thanked Lira for his comments before moving on to discuss potential solutions. Burkart mentioned looking into different nuisance statutes with Boyer, who was absent from the meeting. One member of the public mentioned the idea of sending out letters from the county commissioners’ office to all affected residents which would point out the illegality of leaving abandoned, unlicensed vehicles in residential areas. The commission moved into executive session soon after to discuss personnel.
The next Goshen County Commissioners’ Meeting will take place Tuesday, Oct. 19 at 10 a.m. at the Niobrara County Fairgrounds in Lusk. The change of venue for the meeting is occurring due to a joint meeting of Goshen, Niobrara and Weston County Commissioners who will be appointing a legislative representative to complete the term of Rep. Hans Hunt who recently resigned.