RANCHESTER — The Ranchester Town Council heard a proposal Tuesday from Shanna White, who is moving to Ranchester from Colstrip, Montana, and hopes to rent the large space in the mercantile to use as retail space for her current online burlap home decor business.
White’s proposal includes a request for the town to finish staining and sealing the floor and to add plumbing and electrical in the utility room for a washer/dryer. She would also like for the town to install an additional wall and windows, and add a large central opening with two barn doors, faux stone along the interior doors and additional lighting, which she is willing to provide.
Mayor Peter Clark said the proposal is currently being negotiated.
Councilor Samantha Nixon voiced concerns about recapturing the town’s investment in the space.
When the mercantile was gifted to the town by the state, the purpose of the grant was to use the building for economic development, bringing profits made through renting the spaces back to the town to finance other town projects.
Engineer Chris Johnson responded that in order to recapture expenditures on the building, the town has to get businesses into the building and help foster their success. Once the expenses have been covered, the remaining profits will go toward economic development.
Johnson said he explained to White that the town is willing to provide additions to the space in return for five years of her using the space.
He said he plans to spell out every detail in the lease agreement and will bring it back to the council for review before it is finalized.
In other business, Clark reported that Ranchester has collected $180 in fees for the month of January that were charged for extra garbage that is left outside the garbage totes. He said he hopes to use this fee to balance the sanitation budget rather than requiring a general increase on all garbage fees for the town.
Clark and Clerk and Treasurer Barbara Brackeen-Kepley have completed a survey of all properties to update the town’s garbage and sanitation checklists. Clark said there were people who had more totes than were on the checklists as well as people who signed up for totes that were not on the checklist.
In other business, Johnson reported that the re-building of the filter material in the water treatment plant is on track. The manifolds have been designed and approved by the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality. Once one manifold is in place, he can fill up one tank with filter material and get it running smoothly, then work on the second tank. The project is 40 percent complete.
In addition, the Ranchester Town Council:
• heard a report from Clark that the town has a list of stale checks that have been issued and not cashed. He would like to develop a policy regarding what to do with them. They will go back to the state as unclaimed money. Three of those checks were issued to the Tongue River Fire District. Councilor Jeffrey Barron said he will see to them.
• heard a report from Clark that the Tongue River Valley Joint Powers Board is moving forward with Western Water Consultants and Engineering to pursue a U. S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development facilities loan to fund the natural gas project for 40 years at 3.375 percent. With a USDA loan, the TRVJPB can return to the State Loan and Investment Board, using the loan as leverage to apply for a $1 million grant. The board is conducting a public hearing regarding the loan at 7 p.m. on Feb. 23 at the Dayton Town Hall.
• heard a report from Fire Chief Donnie Dobrenz and Barron that the Ranchester Volunteer Fire Department had 144 calls last year, which equated to 890 man-hours. About 90 of those calls involved medical and motor vehicle accidents rather than fire.
• heard a report from Clark that the town came out ahead financially in 2016 on Connor Battlefield State Park, which normally loses money.
• heard a report from Clark that Tongue River High School is presenting an original musical about the Tongue River tie flume March 7-9.
• approved bills.