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STORY — Approximately 20 Story residents gathered at the Story Woman’s Club Thursday night to prioritize goals for development of the unincorporated area. The goals for the area, which are derived from a community assessment completed by the Wyoming Rural Development Council, are to formulate of a trail system, enhance fire protection, and establish a more reliable communication system for both locals and tourists.
Each attendee first completed an individual worksheet ranking importance of possible projects for the area. The crowd was then divided into four groups, where the input was consolidated and shared before a final list of three overriding priorities was established.
The first priority, establishing a trail system through the community, was cited by residents as both a safety concern and a quality of life enhancement. Story’s forrest surroundings and narrow county roads often force foot traffic onto the roadway, which becomes a hazard for drivers. Several attendees expressed angst about having to be constantly on the lookout for pedestrians, but the sentiment wasn’t unanimous.
“I go walking every day,” Patty Hoover, a Story resident and guardian of the Story Community Fund, “and I haven’t been hit yet.”
“You jump out of the way too quick,” replied Zach Brewer, a Story resident. “I’ve had you in my sights.”
Each of the four groups mentioned establishing a walking path as a priority among its members.
The second priority entails enhancing fire protection measures in the area. The community has already secured a grant to enable a fire fuel break to be built around the community, but several residents cited additional protections as a concern. Story is situated near forest land, and each summer, the concern of a wildfire spreading either from the forest to the community or from the community to the forest comes to the forefront of many residents in the area.
The priority of communication was the third most mentioned item taken from the WRDC community assessment. That category was broken down into both internal communication — passing information between and among residents in the area — and external communication, which is information directed toward tourists and visitors.
Along with each priority, the group set a timeline for completion, which ranged from three years to complete the fire break to 60 days to establish a community newsletter.
Rural Development Program Manager Kim Porter said Story started strong going into the assessment.
“For such a little community that’s unincorporated, they’ve got a lot. They have way-finding signs. They’ve got a post office, a grocery store, a gas station.” Porter said. “For such a low population, they have very nice amenities.”
The community assessment identified several possible areas for potential improvement.Over the course of the past month, several community meetings for Story residents enabled Wednesday night’s group to identify the top three most desirable projects.
“They’re going to hate me for this,” she began. “I think the challenge is not being incorporated,” Porter said, pointing out that some issues, like needing road repairs or infrastructure improvements, can not be addressed unless a settlement forms a more municipal organization.
Porter will compile the information gathered into a final report and matrix for the utilization of the citizens of Story.
Along with a finalized report outlining needed community action, Porter said Story organizers will receive a letter explaining monetary equivalents of donated time and services. The community can then use the letter for credit toward requirements for in-kind matching grants from entities like the Wyoming Business Council or government programs.
“They have to choose what they want to do and they have to do the follow up,” she said. “They picked their priorities and they’re going to have to make it happen. We can’t make it happen for them.”