Town hopes to ease river bottleneck

by nathan oster

With memories of March still fresh on their minds, members of the Greybull Town Council on Monday night agreed to take a proactive approach to reduce the likelihood of future ice jams on the Big Horn River.

Councilman Clay Collingwood initiated the discussion, saying there is still a sense of “nervousness” in the community after the ice jams of last spring, when ice chunks caused some extensive flooding on the north end of town and nearly pushed water over the top of the town’s protective levee.

“I believe part of the issue with the ice jam, and why it was so close to reaching the dike, is because of a bottleneck caused by Russian olive and brush overgrowth in a section to the east of town,” said Collingwood.

He described its location as being on the east bank, just below Rimrock Road.

“I feel like we need to take out part of that bottlneck … I feel like that’s why it backed up,” he said.

Administrator/Finance Director Paul Thur estimated that it would cost about $1,000 per acre to eliminate the Russian olive and brush that concerns Collingwood. With a project area of 10 to 15 acres, the total cost would be between $10,000 and $15,000.

Council members voted unanimously to support the idea, reallocating $15,000 from a line item set up for the purchase of a skidsteer and a grader to a new one falling under the header of flood control.


Shell Valley water

Attorney Virgil Kinnaird and John Ed Anderson spoke to the council about the agreement that has been in place between the town and the Shell Valley Water Improvement District since the late 1980s.

That agreement, regulating maintenance and usage of water pulled from two underground wells near Shell, sunsets in 2017. Among other things, the pact requires that 25 percent of the yield from the two wells be made available “in perpetuity” to Shell Valley users.

Kinnaird encouraged town officials to “talk about where you want to go and what you want to do” with respect to the two wells and the expiring agreement. He further urged them to begin informal talks with Shell Valley leadership to craft a workable solution for the long term.


Thompson remembered

Mayor Bob Graham closed the meeting by mentioning the passing of Homer Thompson.

Thompson served one term as the town’s mayor (1999-2000), served two terms on the council and was the town’s building inspector up to the time of his death. His contributions to the community as a whole were every bit as extensive, as he was on the school board, drove an activity bus and was a business owner.

“Homer was a great asset to this community,” said Graham. “He will be sorely missed.”

A full obituary appears on page five.


Other business

In other business:

  • The council set the date and time of the official swearing-in of Mayor-elect Myles Foley and Councilmen Rod Collingwood and Scott Mattis for Friday, Jan. 2 at 5:30 p.m. at Town Hall. All three men won four-year terms in the November general election.
  • Mattis, who was in attendance, agreed to be the town’s voting delegate to the Wyoming Association of Municipalities winter workshop.
  • There was no further discussion regarding job descriptions for members of the police department, as Chief Bill Brenner was absent (he was teaching a self-defense course) and Councilman Clay Collingwood wanted the discussion to be part of a workshop sometime in January after the new council is seated.

Collingwood asked for a broader focus too, saying he wanted all town department heads, including the town administrator/finance director, to write down job descriptions that reflect their current duties. A date for the workshop has yet to be announced.

  • A water tap application for the new U.S. Forest Service building was approved.
  • Council members considered a request for repairs to the old caboose that sits next to the Greybull Public Library. Thanks in large part to the Greybull Lions Club, the caboose is in the process of being rehabilitated, thanks to a fresh coat of red paint. But far more is needed to make it a finished product. The nine proposals presented to the council would complete the task. While very supportive of the project, council members agreed to wait until spring to decide which ones to tackle and they plan to earmark money for the improvements in the next fiscal year’s budget.
  • Administrator Paul Thur reported that Point Architects is still working on a proposed layout for the Herb Asp Community Center. The project entails a number of improvements to the building’s office area.

The contract has been signed and work should begin this month on the Tin Can Alley housing study project, Thur said.

An appraisal of the four lots to the west of the Scott Good residence, just off Greybull River Road, set the value of the land at $6,112 per acre, plus $467 per acre in preparation costs.

The project that extended town infrastructure to the site of the U.S. Forest Service building has been completed. The town has begun the process of making the final payment, as it still has a $43,078 retainage.

  • Councilman Clay Collingwood reported hearing complaints about the town’s snow removal efforts and asked Town Foreman Dalen Davis if the town could do a better job of applying sand on icy streets, particularly in the Greybull Heights. Davis said he would, but cautioned that the sanding approach is only beneficial when temperatures are consistent. When there is a lot of thawing and freezing, it can actually be detrimental, he said.
  • Police Chief Bill Brenner gave council members a heads up in his written report that the line items for vehicle maintenance in the police and animal control budgets have already been overspent due to breakdowns. Thur explained that the overall police and animal control budgets are fine — it’s just the line items for vehicle maintenance. He recommended waiting a few months “to see where they are” before calling for a budget amendment.
  • Sue Taylor of Grow Big Horn County reported on her activities since establishing Greybull office hours. She’s currently working out of the chamber office on Mondays. She’s met with four individuals interested in opening a new business, two existing businesses seeking specific assistance and two organizations looking to expand.

Taylor issued an invitation to Mayor-elect Myles Foley to either join or appoint someone to a seat on the board of Grow Big Horn County. Graham has been serving on the board but will be leaving office at the end of the year. Foley told Taylor he’d visit with her about it.

  • Alfred Anderson and Bob Tranas approached the council concerning the town’s potential takeover of the water association that serves the Scharen subdivision. The board of the subdivision has requested it. Council members asked them months ago to work with an engineer to determine the condition of the system. Anderson said the study had been completed. Nelson Engineering was asked to review its findings. Meanwhile, Anderson and Tranas agreed to step up their efforts gathering input from the full membership concerning the potential takeover.