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SHERIDAN — Sheridan County Commissioners expressed support for extending natural gas service to Dayton, Ranchester and areas in between at their meeting Tuesday.
The commissioners voted to approve the county grants administrator to produce a written review of a grant application to be submitted by the Tongue River Valley Joint Powers Board to the State Loan and Investments Board. The application is a request for a 50/50 SLIB grant and loan to be used to build a natural gas pipeline from Sheridan, along Keystone Road (County Road 98) and into both towns.
The joint powers board consists of representatives from Sheridan County School District 1 and Dayton and Ranchester town councils who are working to reduce heating costs for residents who currently must use either propane or electric heat.
“I paid $600 for propane in January and $700 in February. I can afford it, but a lot of my friends and family and neighbors out there can’t afford that cost on propane,” joint powers board president Peter Clark said. “It’s a heat or eat situation out there now.”
Several town officials from Dayton and Ranchester were at the meeting to see if the county would offer its support, and Commissioner Tom Ringley used the opportunity to address rumors that the commissioners weren’t in support of the project.
“Whenever a project like this is in the works, communication is a big factor. There’s lots of different perspectives out there about what’s happening. Someone had heard someone say that the commissioners did not support it,” Ringley said. “I don’t know why they believe that, but I just wanted to distill that perception that the county commissioners do not support it. We definitely do.”
Sheridan County will not be involved financially but will offer moral support and staff expertise when possible, Ringley said.
Converting to natural gas could save each household in the Tongue River Valley approximately $1,000 in the first year, Clark said, adding that people and businesses are leaving the area — or not coming in — due in great part to the high cost for heating.
County Commissioners also approved a Memorandum of Understanding with the Wyoming Department of Health, Public Health Division, for public health nursing services in Sheridan County.
County Administrative Director Renee Obermueller said the memorandum includes a new Statement of Work section but does not change anything about how the county’s public health service will operate.
The Statement of Work section outlines that Sheridan County will continue to have a mixed program with state and county nurses and staff. The state has offered three options for public health departments: state controlled, county controlled or a mixture of both, Obermueller said.