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Prep work begins to remove river sandbar


August 17, 2017

WORLAND — The Washakie County Commissioners and Worland City Council each approved a memorandum of understanding Tuesday at their respective meetings to split costs for excavation of the Big Horn River sandbar north of the U.S. Highway 20 bridge.

Discussions on removing the sandbar began after the second major flood by ice jams in three years hit Washakie County and Worland in February.

County Planner David Anderson said he has developed specifications to be able to let bids. He said the bid specifications call for removal of 18,700 cubic yards of sediment. “It’s gained some height from when Kimball [Croft, former Washakie County Emergency Management director] did his initial figures,” Anderson said.

He said estimates are that the sandbar is four to five-feet above the water and with this project they want to take out at least two feet under the water.

The sediment will be hauled past Crown, Cork and Seal with a 40- to 50-foot side dump path.

Anderson said they plan to seek a base bid for excavation only with the city and county handling the hauling and disposal of the sediment. He said he will seek and alternate bid for the hauling, in case the city and county are unable to handle the disposal.

He said they will need to use some private land to pile the sediment, potentially Cloud Peak Investments, Benson Trust and Wade Jeffries land. Washakie County Attorney John Worrall said an agreement with the land owners needs to be signed by the city, county and landowners agreeing to stockpile the sediment.

Worrall and Anderson will work on getting legal descriptions and written agreements.

Washakie County Emergency Management and Homeland Security Director Jeff Schweighart noted that he has also requested from the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality an increase in turbidity (measure of relative clarity) in the water while the project is underway.

He said he has requested resources from the Army Corp of Engineers for a survey for underwater jetties or underwater wall to help the river clean itself it out which would help prevent sediment from building up again.

He said he has been told Army Corps of Engineers-Omaha is waiting on budget approval.

Schweighart said he has also requested from the Natural Resources Conservation Service. $10,000 to assist with the excavation and hauling expenses.

In other business the commissioners Tuesday:

—Heard a report from Building and Maintenance Supervisor Tom Schmeltzer. The commissioners approved the low bid from O’Donnell Maintenance for $2,800 for fencing around the search and rescue area at the fairgrounds.

He said they were removing the sprinkler system piping on Tuesday in order to mow and trim edges at the fairgrounds for the brewfest and Pepsi Wyoming State BBQ Championship and Bluegrass Festival Thursday through Saturday.

He said he will be onsite throughout the weekend, noting that many people prefer to use the restrooms in the exhibit hall rather than the port-a-potties and that requires a check about every two hours.

He said the county will also need to look at replacing the door at the handicap ramp at the courthouse.

Commissioner Fred Frandson expressed to Schmeltzer that he did a great job during the fair. “The fair board was very pleased. Curve balls were thrown but you hit a homerun. It looks really good out there. The grounds look good. It was an awesome job. Thank you.”

Terry Wolf added, “It’s a work in progress but the work you’ve done over the last few years … I’ve heard numerous comments about the building repairs you’ve made.” He added that it takes time but with a short-handed crew and limited funds Schmeltzer’s doing a good job at the fairgrounds.”

Commissioner Aaron Anderson added, “It is a work in progress out there. We looked and in the last three to four years we’ve spent about $260,000 updating facilities. We have invested quite a bit into the facilities out there. We have a lot of places we have to make investments. Certainly, we have to make priorities.

—Heard a report that the specifications for the Ten Sleep Library expansion are being finalized. It was also announced that they are looking for a new director for the afterschool program.

—Heard a report from Road and Bridge Supervisor Randy Chenoweth gave updates on work on Road 77.

—Washakie Development Association Executive Director LeAnn Baker introduced new Wyoming Business Council Northwest Regional Director Amy Quick.

Baker took the opportunity to state that she was optimistic for the future of Washakie County with construction and remodels happening including the old A&W to Stogie Joe’s, O’Reilly Auto Parts, and two banks looking to remodel. She said the Comfort Inn has made some improvements, and the $24.1 million hospital construction.

Commissioner Aaron Anderson noted the hospital’s grand opening is slated for Oct. 10 and invited to Quick to attend. “[The project] has been a big deal for Washakie County. Banner Health is starting to see some gains in use of the new facility,” he said.


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