County considering South Torrington park renovation

Alex Hargrave/Torrington Telegram Commissioner Justin Burkart listens to City of Torrington Project Manager Mark Weis’ proposal for a renovation to South Torrington Children’s Park on Feb. 2.

GCPH provides COVID-19 vaccination update

GOSHEN COUNTY – The Goshen County Commission convened in person on Feb. 2 for the first time in two months after holding meetings via Zoom. Their meetings will still be broadcast online, but to participate, constituents must attend in-person.

City of Torrington Project Manager Mark Weis addressed the commission about the prospect of renovating South Torrington Children’s Park. Weis told the commission he will put in an application to the Goshen County Recreation Board if they want to make improvements to the park, which would cost the county roughly $1,000 for pea gravel and manpower to remove old equipment.

The rec board would reimburse the county for the cost for new equipment, including swings and a new hex dome. Weis said South Torrington has never requested anything from the rec board before, giving them a good chance of receiving funding.

“There are a lot of kids down there and it's a nice little park, they’ve got a little shade shelter, nice grass area, it's just the equipment is old and outdated,” Weis said. “My suggestion to the county would be get rid of that hex dome, do the removal of the swing set, then we’d have somebody else come in and install the new equipment.”

The grant application, he said, is due Feb. 15, and the rec board will convene on March 10. Weis estimated the project would require roughly between $24,000 and $34,000 from the rec board.
“I know everybody's money is tight, but it'd be a nice little improvement down there,” Weis said.

The commission acknowledged that the project would be beneficial. Still, GCC Chairman John Ellis said the county’s budget this year is “worse than we’ve ever seen it before,” so they will need to research before making a decision.

In other business, the GCC approved a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the department of health and the county for them to utilize grant funds, up to $161,256, for “COVID-19 disease surveillance and testing activities.” Goshen County Public Health Director Kelly Beard said she expects another contract to come through relating to COVID-19 vaccination efforts.

The county is set to receive somewhere around 1,100 Moderna COVID-19 vaccines this month, Beard told the GCC, and they will continue to administer them to priority group 1b via bi-weekly vaccine clinics at the Wyoming National Guard Armory.

The current plan is to administer second doses on Tuesdays and first doses on Thursdays, she said.

Once a vial of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is opened, all 10 doses must be used within six hours. GCPH has yet to waste a dose, according to Beard.

“It takes a village to vaccinate a community, but we’ve been lucky, we have a lot of help,” Beard said, referring to volunteers and law enforcement who help at drive-through clinics.

She said she estimates there are roughly 200 Goshen County residents in the 70 years of age and older category waiting to be vaccinated. New vaccine priority groups were released by the Wyoming Department of Health on Monday, which put residents aged 65 and older in the next round of vaccinations.

Demand has been high so far, Beard said.

“It’s been kind of a daunting mission,” she said. “When it first started, we answered the phone, and you could see four different calls coming through as you were talking with one person.”
Reporting vaccinations to the WDH has been challenging as well. An upcoming contract would possibly permit GCPH to hire extra help to assist in the COVID-19 vaccination process, which is expected to extend through July.

Beard said GCPH will attempt to partner with Banner Health in vaccine distribution as well.

“Since this started, we’ve been working almost every weekend, this whole thing has been completely engulfing,” she said. “Weekends, holidays, we’re there.”

The commissioners praised Beard and GCPH for their work amid COVID-19.

“You’re doing a very good job and we’re proud of the fact you’re working so hard at it,” Ellis said.

Goshen County Engineer Bob Taylor gave the road and bridge report, during which the GCC approved a plat including the Eastern Wyoming College Agricultural Technology Education Center (ATEC).

Goshen County Clerk Cindy Kenyon updated the commission on applications for the Goshen County Charitable Relief Program that will grant funding to charitable nonprofit organizations who have provided public assistance or seen a decline in donations during the pandemic. She said the GCC can review applications, which are due by Feb. 15, at their next regular meeting scheduled for Feb. 16.

Fire Warden Bill Law reported a “quiet” fire season for the county, with no large fires in terms of acreage. Due to COVID-19, Law said he is unsure when the county’s fire departments can convene face-to-face for an annual meeting.

He said training will be a priority for this year, and some county departments have started Red Card renewal classes, pack test and fire shelter certifications.

The GCC held a liquor license hearing and approved all seven renewals.

In closing remarks, Commissioner Justin Burkart said he spoke with Goshen County Road and Bridge Superintendent Val Hankins about erecting signs in Yoder and Platte County, as Google Maps directs cars down Slater Road when Interstate 25 is closed, and with severe weather events, cars are likely to be stuck there. The problem, he said, has persisted for years.

“Every time the interstate is closed, we’ve got people getting stuck out in the Yoder area,” Burkart said. “Emergency management and the planning commission have made numerous attempts to try to get Google to stop redirecting traffic off of I-25, and Homeland Security at the state level is trying to work on it.”

The GCC will convene for their next regular meeting at 9 a.m. on Feb. 16 at the Goshen County Courthouse.

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