New appointee excited about challenge

by nathan oster

The newest member of the Greybull Town Council said he was “surprised” by his appointment but is looking forward to serving the community.

“I think we have the makings of a good council,” said Ross Jorgensen, who ultimately emerged as the council’s unanimous choice to complete the final 21 months of the four-year term that Bob Graham was elected to serve in 2010.

Jorgensen was sworn into office and joined the council on Monday night.

In his letter of interest, Jorgensen noted that he has lived in the community for over 15 years and cited 28 total years of experience “working for and with local, state and federal government agencies.”

Jorgensen served as the town’s public works director for six years (1997-2003).  During his tenure, he not only oversaw daily operations of the department, but also wrote and secured an 85 percent grant from SLIB for an 11-block sewer line replacement project and a 50 percent grant/50 percent loan to do another 11 blocks of sewer line replacement.

Jorgensen is currently employed by the Wyoming Association of Rural Water Systems as a circuit rider.  He has held the position for the past 5 ½ years.  It entails providing training and technical assistance to water and wastewater operations specialists in the areas of system operations and repair, Wyoming DEQ and US EPA reguluatory requirements.

“I assist town and district clerks with loan/grant applications, water and sewer rate analysis and policies and procedures required by state and federal agencies,” he wrote in his letter of interest. “Along with other staff members, I provide board training for town council and district board members in the areas of statutory requirements, construction planning and design review and budgeting.”

In addition to serving as the town’s public works director, Jorgensen also worked as a  project manager in the construction of the Washakie Rural I&SD water system which consisted of the installation of 82 miles of water lines and service connections.  Jorgensen’s letter also states that he “worked closely with the district board and Wyoming Water Development, USDA Rural Development and the Wyoming State Lands and Investments Board, which funded the $17 million project through grants and loans.”

As for his qualifications for the vacancy, Jorgensen noted in his letter that the town has come a long way in upgrading infrastructure, but that much work remains. “I am certain there is quite a bit of cost cutting that can be done in the area of planning work that can be done in house instead of paying $125-plus per hour consulting fees to an engineering firm.

“The more that the council and staff is involved in the planning, the more we fully understand what to expect for the dollars we spend and we get the product we want and not what an engineer thinks we should get.

“I believe that my experience will serve to help in the yearly budgeting process that has revenue fluctuating every year.  Increasing regulatory requirements continue to burden our shrinking budgets.  Out of necessity, we need to keep the reserve funds up to get us through the rough times.”

Ross and his wife Elaine have two grown children, Erik and Erin, both of whom attended and graduated from Greybull High School.