TORRINGTON – While the Goshen County Commission’s five-point plan for repairing Goshen County’s derelict dirt roads is underway, there are still some details that need to be worked out in order for the commission, the Goshen County Road and Bridge Department and the citizen-led road advisory committee to work together in solving the problem.
During the GCC meeting on Sept. 3, several issues came to light with the committee, it’s mission and who the committee should work with within the county government.
Patricia Conway spoke to the commission on behalf of the committee. She told the commission the committee meets once a month and asked if county officials, including interim road boss Val Hankins, would attend. She said county attorney Eric Boyer had been attending the meetings, and that he had helped provide perspective on the issues.
“He gives us guidance and perspective on what we should be doing,” she said.
“We will meet again on Sept. 29 at 6:30 p.m. and we would really appreciate having input from the commissioners and the road and bridge so we can keep up with what is going on, how we can help, and help get us back on track.”
Chairman John Ellis said he would personally attend the next meeting, but the commission wants to keep the advisory committee separate from road and bridge.
“We have decided that we don’t want Val involved beause she has plenty to do without this,” Ellis said. “She does as much as she possibly can, she answers all the questions and we just don’t think its necessary for her to be involved in this.
“I will personally attend some of these meetings. We certainly appreciate what you’re doing and everything, but they know what problem is.”
The citizen advisory group was just one tenant of the five-point plan, in addition to finding a new superintendent, training operators on their equipment, establishing a special use tax dedicated to roads and exploring the possibility of hiring outside contractors to help the county catch up.
What isn’t clear, though, is the purpose of the committee – a stance Conway voiced during the meeting.
“This committee was recommended in June,” Conway said. “It was formed on the recommendation of the commissioners on your five-point plan. We formed the committee. We have our people. What is it you specifically want from this committee? I think there is a lack of communication.”
According to Ellis, the GCC should have discussed the role of the committee more thoroughly to figure out how all the parts of the plan fit together. The idea for a citizen-led committee came from a county commission meeting in June attended by nearly 100 people, who all spoke to the commission about the state of the roads.
“I’m going to be honest,” he said. “That meeting was very contentious. There was a lot of emotion that day. What was brought up, and Cody (Cox, commissioner) can back me up on this, we didn’t bring that up. Eric (Boyer) brought that up and said we should appoint a committee. We were all under a stressful situation and Wally (Wolski, then the chairman) said it sounded like a good idea and we ran with it.
“We should have set down and gave it some thought.”
At that point, Shane Conway expressed his concern that not enough had been done in the time since the meeting.
“I’m going to be perfectly honest with you, it has been two and a half months,” he said. “I don’t see where you guys have really done anything. Do you have anybody hired to run the road and bridge yet? I don’t see where anything is improved. You haven’t got the roads prioritized yet, you haven’t gotten any of that stuff.
“I don’t know why we’re doing this, to be honest with you. It doesn’t help anything. You guys are going to go at the pace you go at and that’s all there is to that.”
Ellis told the assembly that the county is moving as fast as it can. Operators have been working overtime, as well as receiving one-on-one training on their machines from Wyoming Caterpillar. County Engineer Bob Taylor is conducting a lengthy road study to prioritize which roads need attention – it’s just going to take time.
“We can’t go any faster than we’re going,” he said. “We’re doing it as fast as we can possibly do it.”
Boyer told the assembly that communication between all of the involved parties will be crucial for the county’s success.
“We’re all in this together,” Boyer said. “It shocks me, frankly, that we can’t just agree to disagree and set up a plan. We’ve got people that are doing this job for a living every day, Let’s just chat a little bit. Let’s get some questions answered and set some guidelines. Everyone agrees that we need less chiefs and more Indians. We’ve got to get to point where we can do that. If we walk out of this room angry again, it’s going to be worse than it was before.”
After Boyer’s plea. Patricia Conway asked the GCC for clear guidelines for the committee.
“We’ve got a big gap of communications between constituents and government,” she said. “You want us to work with you and be a part of the process, and that’s what we’re asking for. We’re not here to cause issues. We’re trying to solve some issues.”
Ellis said the commission will sit down and formulate some guidelines for the committee, and that he would come discuss them with the committee at its next meeting.
“We will sit down and discuss this amongst ourselves and get some guidelines,” he said. “We should have them by the next meeting.”