Ranchester TC talks economic development

RANCHESTER — Economic growth was the talk of the Ranchester Town Council Tuesday night.

The Council officially endorsed the Sheridan College bond issue that will be up for vote Aug. 20. The motion to support the $15.85 million bond issue was unanimously approved following a presentation by Northern Wyoming Community College District President Dr. Paul Young and longtime educator and school administrator Sue Belish, who is a resident of Ranchester.

Sheridan College is seeking community support to renovate and expand its tech center in order to quadruple its capacity for diesel, welding and machine tool students, Belish said.

The bond will increase property taxes $2.09 per $100,000 of property value per month. It would be a 16-year bond.

Council members also discussed strategies for moving Ranchester forward as the town anticipates future growth.

“We’ve got this new school coming in, and we’re looking at more people coming in, and maybe a business or two,” Mayor Allan Moore said.

Town engineer Chris Johnson presented plans to develop city-owned land across from the Ranchester Information Center on U.S. Highway 14. Current plans include a mercantile with a parking lot and an open air market to host farmers markets and other town events. Councilor Chris Bernard encouraged those present to build the open air market in such a way that it could be turned into a building if needed in the future.

Ranchester will seek a $1.5 million Wyoming Business Council Community Readiness Grant to fund the new mercantile and market. Town officials are seeking support from at least two businesses interested in utilizing the new space before they submit the grant application.

Community Readiness grants can be submitted in September and March, Johnson said.

He will try to get the grant ready by the next Council meeting for review and input and hold a public hearing Aug. 20.

If there is significant community and business buy-in and the grant proposal is ready, he will submit it for the Sept. 1 deadline. If not, he will wait until March.

The Ranchester Information Center was funded in May 2010 with a Community Development Block Grant as part of the Ranchester Entryway Rehabilitation Plan. This new phase of downtown development will continue the town’s efforts to beautify its entryway and foster local economic growth.

In other business, the Council tabled an agenda item regarding a drive-up window for a new liquor store in town pending receipt of plans from owner Cool Enterprises.

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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