From the pages of
The Sublette County Journal
Volume 4, Number 20 - 1/13/00
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Commissioners Upset With Skyline Plowing
However, White Pine hasn't signed a contract or received money to do the job.
by Rob Shaul

Dissatisfaction with the current snowplowing job being done on Skyline Drive was a topic of discussion at Monday's county commissioner meeting in Pinedale. Last month, the county, U.S. Forest Service, School District No. 1 and Town of Pinedale decided to contract with White Pine ski area to plow Skyline Drive.

On Monday, the commissioners heard complaints about the plowing thus far from Pat Quealy who lives year-round at Half Moon Lake. Mr. Quealy told the commissioners that the road condition is the poorest it's been in the past few years and that he's concerned with the timeliness and frequency of the plowing.

Commissioner Betty Fear agreed with Mr. Quealy. Ms. Fear skied at White Pine last Saturday and described the road condition on the way up to the ski area as "really treacherous."

Later in the morning, the commissioners asked Pinedale District Ranger Bob Reese about the plowing. Mr. Reese told the commission he has also received "numerous complaints" about the condition of Skyline Drive. He added that he had not yet finalized a plowing contract with White Pine and there was no signed agreement at this time.

Especially treacherous are ice ruts that have formed on the road between the Fremont Lake turnoff and the Half Moon Lake turn off. Mr. Reese told the commissioners, however, that because this snow was already packed down, there was little that could be done this winter.

County Road & Bridge Supervisor Mike McGinnis reminded the commissioners that he opposed having White Pine plow the road. He doubted the ski area's equipment was heavy enough to do the job. "They're going to have a hell of a time doing it especially with the Tinker Toys they're doing it with," said Mr. McGinnis. "I think it's a terrible mistake we're doing it with White Pine. They're going to have a hell of a time keeping it open."

Commissioner Gordon Johnston asked if the plowing of three parking lots that in the past have been part of the agreement have been plowed this year. These parking lots are the one at the Half Moon Lake overlook, Kelly Park, and the snowmobile parking lot above the White Pine turn off. Of the three, just the Half Moon Lake overlook parking lot has been partially plowed.

Though the county helps fund the plowing, the county's contribution toward keeping the road open is a just $500. The county's money is combined with $1,000 from the Forest Service and $500 each from the Pinedale School District and the Town of Pinedale for a total contract amount of $2,500.

White Pine owner Stuart Thompson, contacted Tuesday night, said he and White Pine have been plowing the road from the Fremont Lake turnoff to the ski area. Concerning the snow pack and ruts on Skyline Drive, he said he's done all he can to improve the bad section, noting that until last month, a court injunction prevented him from using this equipment to plow the road. He said White Pine has done this at its own expense, and has not received any money from the Forest Service or county for plowing the road.

Mr. Thompson verified that White Pine hasn't plowed any of the three parking lots that are the subject of Mr. Johnston's concerns. Further, Mr. Thompson said he doesn't intend to plow out these parking lots, especially now that they have been snowed in. He said the entire $2,500 which is combined to fund plowing would not be enough to pay for just the "excavation" of the parking lots. Mr. Thompson said he met with the Forest Service's Bob Reese on Tuesday, but did not sign any agreement.

For his part, Mr. Reese said the Forest Service has contracted with Melvin McGloughlin to plow out the three parking lots. He intends to speak with the commissioners concerning what to do about future maintenance of the parking lots.

Industrial Site Expansion

The county commissioners have sent a letter to the Bureau of Land Management asking to purchase approximately 50 acres of BLM land adjacent to the Industrial Site west of Pinedale. The original Industrial Site was purchased by the county and then sold to private industry. Last year, the commissioners felt there was a need for additional lots near the Industrial Site and directed Road & Bridge Supervisor Mike McGinnis to identify another block of BLM land for possible purchase.

Commissioner Gordon Johnston has expressed several concerns with the condition of the current road to the Industrial Site however, the commission has not actively taken any action to improve the road or investigate its resurfacing.

Also at the Meeting:

- The commissioners appointed Big Piney's Kathy Quintard to a five-year membership on the County Fair Board. Ms. Quintard replaces outgoing Fair Board Chairwoman, Mandy Norris.

- The commission denied a tax abatement request from Mike Irwin. Mr. Irwin owns a 40-acre parcel in Bondurant that was assessed at market value in 1999, though the property is leased for agriculture. Mr. Irwin told the commission he purchased the property in 1998 and this change in assessment had increased his property taxes on the property from $30 to over $600 though there was no change in the use of the property. County Assessor Janet Montgomery told the commissioners the property's agricultural production value was just 4% of Mr. Irwin's purchase price. Further, Mr. Irwin had missed the 30 day assessment protest period early last year. Ultimately, the commission agreed with Ms. Montgomery, and denied Mr. Irwin's request, though the board approved a similar tax abatement request for Pinedale's Billy Pape last fall. Mr. Pape had also missed the 30-day complaint window. The commission told Mr. Irwin he had waited too long to raise the issue. Both Betty Fear and Gordon Johnston expressed concerns about not being consistent.

- The board will recommend that the "Shooting Sports Complex" being proposed by the Sublette County Sporting Clays Association be located near the Industrial Site west of Pinedale. The Association favors a location off of the Fremont Lake Road. However, the commission agreed with the Game & Fish that this location may interfere with mule deer migration routes and will recommend the Industrial Site location. The property currently belongs to the BLM.

- Sheriff Hank Ruland told the commission he plans to recommend to the towns that they consider contracting with the county for 24-hour police coverage. Currently, Pinedale, Big Piney /Marbleton receive 20-hour coverage with a deputy on patrol. From 3 a.m. to 7 a.m., the towns are without a patrolling deputy, though one is available by call. Sheriff Ruland estimates that the additional four hours of coverage will cost the towns approximately $20,000 apiece.

- Finally, Ken Konicek told the commissioners he opposed their decision to lower the speed limits on Granite Lane and Stone Trail south of Pinedale from 35 mph to 20 mph. The commission lowered the speed limit on these two county roads as part of the transportation plan for the Anticline Natural Gas Development. Mr. Konicek told the commissioners 20 mph was unreasonable and wasn't being enforced and promised to return with a petition to have the speed limit raised.

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Copyright © 1999 The Sublette County Journal
All rights reserved. Reproduction by any means must have permission of the Publisher.
The Sublette County Journal, PO Box 3010, Pinedale, WY 82941   Phone 307-367-3713
Publisher/Editor: Rob Shaul