County officials consider security upgrades in aftermath of break-ins

by tammy thornberry

Big Horn County Maintenance Supervisor Fred Werner reported to the county commissioners that the south end library had been burglarized. He said entry was gained through an upper window but after construction is completed on the building it should no longer be a problem.

According to Werner, damage incurred will be less than the $5,000 deductible for an insurance claim. A custom desk had been destroyed apparently by the use of a screwdriver to gain access to the drawers. Along with some cash, wine and chocolates being held for a special event were stolen.

Although there was minimal destruction, Werner and the commissioners discussed the need for increased security in the form of extra lighting, cameras etc. He suggested having an evaluation of all the county buildings that would be funded by the state. It is believed juveniles were responsible for the damage and theft.

In other business:

  • Commissioner John Hyde reported an agreement had been made with the Town of Lovell for lease of the Annex building. Rent in the amount of $2,500 per month will be paid to the county with certain provisions concerning maintenance, cleaning and lawn care. It was agreed either party can terminate the lease with 180 day notice. The commissioners approved the rental agreement.
  • A road shared between Big Horn and Washakie County’s was a topic of discussion. Talk included how much each county should be responsible for and whether “we can do an in kind contribution with labor and materials,” Chairman Jerry Ewen suggested. Currently, Big Horn is paying 70 percent of the upkeep of the road when maintenance is needed. Commissioner John Hyde said he feels the portions should be “60-40 or at least 65-35” referring to either a cash payment or an in kind contribution. Willie Bridges of Prior Mountain Engineering said he will look into the subject further and report back to the commission.
  • Charles Hessenthaler approached the board with a request for an easement across a county road for a ditch to direct waste water to irrigate a field. The property is reportedly in the north/northeast corner of the old Lovell Refinery land. He intends to install a 10-12 inch pipe to transfer the water. The commission was in favor of the project but asked that he work with Rod Wambeke from North Big Horn Road and Bridge and Bridges. Concern was expressed about the county having responsibility for maintenance before granting the easement.
  • Gretchen Gasvoda of the Big Horn County Extension Office presented contract renewals with the University of Wyoming which were signed. Gasvoda said she felt “things went good” concerning this year’s fair. The new building was enjoyed and the livestock sale went well. However, she expressed a need to have prices set for use of the building.
  • Big Horn Basin Counseling Services Director Darwin Irvine appeared before the board to inform them how much funding has been cut from the facility. He said he was not there to ask for money but wanted to make them aware of the situation. Irvine reported his organization can no longer count hours spent treating Medicaid patients to receive reimbursement. As a result, the facility cannot accept out-of-county or out-of-state patients except in emergency situations. A deficit of between $250,000 to $300,000 is anticipated.
  • A contract with an insurance consultant was renewed. The consultant serves as a liason between county employees and Blue Cross/Blue Shield, the county’s health care insurance provider, according to County Clerk Lori Smallwood.