RANCHESTER — Shanna White, owner of This Joyful Home in Ranchester’s Main Street Mercantile, addressed Ranchester Town Council about the future of the building in a council meeting Tuesday.
The mercantile was funded entirely by grant money from the Wyoming Business Council Business Ready Community grant and loan program to encourage more business and entrepreneurship in the town of Ranchester.
From its remodel until now, the building has housed White’s business and Michelle Maneval’s satellite site for The Sports Stop, the Steamboat Trading Post.
In January 2014, the State Loan and Investment Board approved a $977,500 Wyoming Business Council grant for the project, a 2015 article from The Sheridan Press reported. The Ranchester Town Council awarded the construction bid to Ace Builders for a little over $1 million at its meeting Feb. 17, 2015.
Dale Buckingham Architects, LLC’s Ben Reeves served as lead on the mercantile’s design.
A 2014 article said on the initial building of the mercantile that Ranchester must provide a 15 percent match for the WBC grant, bringing the total project cost to approximately $1.15 million. Funds received from the building were required to be used in future economic endeavors.
Two spaces currently sit vacant, and White wondered if it was because of word of the building potentially being sold to a private entity.
White shared that on three separate occasions in two years occupying the building, White had people come in and say they were buying the building. White’s two-year lease will be up for renewal in August of this year. Initially, White said, former Councilor Dennis Dunn preferred the business to agree on a two-year contract, rather than White’s desired lease of five years. Current Councilor Jeffrey Barron defended Dunn’s suggestion and noted that if they had agreed upon a longer lease, suggestions on lease changes or alterations from White would not have been possible.
Mayor Peter Clark assured White that the sale of the building would be far longer than a simple, private sale to a private business or buyer.
“I’ve had several people or individuals look at the building to buy it,” Clark said. “…That’s kind of what precipitated a lot of this, inquiring as both rentals and purchases.”
Barron assured White, saying that she was right to come to a meeting to discuss the matter with council.
“I don’t think you need to worry about the (Catholic) church buying the property next month,” Barron said. “There’s quite a process to go through both on their end and on our to even start that ball rolling. I will calm your fears on that note.”
The emptiness of the building currently is not necessarily because of rumors circulating about the sale of the building or a lack of interest, but Clark said it is about finding the appropriate tenants to fill the space.
White said she hopes to be back in front of council asking for more space to expand the business soon.
In other business:
• Council approved the town to begin constructing bathrooms for parks throughout the town. Town employees will begin with plans for a bathroom in the park behind town hall and start or finish a second, time and weather pending, this summer.
• Clark and the council have a resolution for a Tongue River Pathway between Ranchester and Dayton. Both towns have to come to agreements on divvying up responsibilities of constructing and maintaining the pathway.