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Ranchester decides to handle resident complaints through town staff

RANCHESTER — After discussions with the Sheridan County Sheriff’s Office, Ranchester Town Council decided at its meeting Tuesday not to contract for additional law enforcement services above what sheriff deputies already provide.

The recommendation to not contract for additional services came from the sheriff’s office, Town Clerk Teri Laya said. It was based on the fact that the sheriff can only enforce state statutes, many of which are less strict than Ranchester’s ordinances.

For example, state statutes only provide penalties for vicious dogs if the dog bites someone, Laya said. Ranchester’s dog ordinance includes penalties if a dog growls or rushes an individual.

For now, Ranchester will return to how it previously operated before it received its own law enforcement officer.

Ranchester Town Hall will take all complaints, but town staff will only act on signed complaints, Laya said.

The first step will be to send a warning letter to the offending party to try to solve the problem. If there is no response, further action will include the possibility of the offending party being called into court by the town’s attorney.

In the meantime, the sheriff’s office will continue to enforce state statutes in town, as well as offer protection in criminal cases.

The Sheriff’s office will examine Ranchester’s ordinances and recommend ways to make them more consistent with each other.

“The problem was enforcing various, non-coinciding ordinances,” Laya said.

The council also approved a preliminary plat for the Stoneridge Subdivision, which is Phase 1 in development of the 37-acre Spirit Ridge subdivision that was annexed into town limits Jan. 21.

The preliminary plat was recommended for approval by the Ranchester Planning Commission. It will include 23 residential lots on land north of the proposed site for the new elementary school, Laya said.

The meeting included discussion on various elements that will need to be worked out before the final plat is approved including easements, street construction, sidewalk requirements, sewer and water design capacity and coordination with the new elementary school, Laya said.

In other business, Sheridan County Justice Office Administrator Neal Madson gave an annual report on the juvenile justice center. He noted that the juvenile justice board is looking for a representative from Ranchester to sit on the board after the resignation of former police officer Erin Carbert.

About

Hannah Wiest is the government and outdoors reporter for The Sheridan Press. She has lived in Colorado and Montana but loves her sunny home state of Wyoming best. She joined The Press staff in February 2013.

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