FORT LARAMIE - The Fort Laramie Town Council convened for its regular monthly meeting on Wednesday, April 14, at 7 p.m. Mayor Joyce Evans, Clerk Treasurer Kim Craft and Councilmembers Kelly Loveland Laura Curtsinger and Cody Flayler were present with Joe Brown absent.
Evans and the council discussed the town of Fort Laramie’s annual clean-up.
Fort Laramie maintenance employee Dave Bell told the council the weekend is the most appropriate time to do the clean-up.
The council decided to slate the event for May 20-23, with the dumpsters being setup on the 20th and being available from the 21st to the 23rd.
Flayler and Loveland inquired about the costs of the dumpster service.
Craft told Flayler and Loveland the previous year had cost the town around $2,000.
“It’s pretty expensive for the town, but it’s also very much worth it in the amount of clean up that we get,” Evans said. “I suspect we’ll use it just as well this year, provided the weather is decent. I think it is a really important service.”
Evans also told the council the town was seeking someone to run their visitor center as their previous volunteer, Annette unknown last name, had decided to step down as she was not longer physically able to do the job.
Evans said she was trying to seek programs or grants to help pay part or all of a salary for someone to run it. She said they need someone or several people who are willing to spend some time in the visitor center, adding it is very important to the town to get it open for the year’s tourism season.
Those interested in the position should call the town of Fort Laramie at 307-837-2711 or email Clerk Treasurer Kim Craft at [email protected]
Evans told the council she had received a request from Guernsey to consider adding the town of Fort Laramie to the advertising efforts for a community garage sale. The garage sale is scheduled June 11, 12 and 13.
“It is a huge event and Fort Laramie has been skipped in the past,” Curtsinger pointed out.
The council was in favor of the idea and asked that Evans tell the town of Guernsey they are interested in participating in this year’s sales venture.
Evans pointed out the sale is not town sponsored; it is sponsored by the individuals who hold the sales in each community. The money paid by those holding sales is then put towards a map that is generated to advertise the garage sales.
Fort Laramie Fire Chief Pete Howes provided a report for the council on the current standings within the fire department.
Howes said the department had logged meeting hours and training hours during the previous month but had no local fire or ambulance calls.
The previous month’s fire department meeting also saw the election of Pete Howes as fire chief, Ryan Brown as assistant chief, Joe Reisner as treasurer, Kara Hill as secretary, Kelly Loveland as Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) captain, Mike Hill as captain one and Jared Loveland as captain two.
Howes reported the Easter egg hunt had gone well and the Easter breakfast resulted in the service of around 165 plates of food. He also noted the fire department had done better in donations than previously.
Bell told the council the maintenance and public works department had started getting their operations together and ready for springtime. He said they had gotten all the grounds fertilized but were going to have to pick up branches. He said they also got the dump truck fixed.
Craft read two proclamations, one for Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month and one Sexual Assault Awareness Month. After Craft read the proclamations, Evans signed them into effect.
Evans said she had been approached by the Goshen County Library Foundation about the possible installation of a Storywalk in the town of Fort Laramie.
She said the town would be responsible for the installation of the posts and the location of the posts, but the foundation would pay for the materials and the library would maintain the books in the displays.
“I think it’s a fabulous idea,” Evans said. “It’s a good way to get kids involved in literacy and in movement, because they have to walk post to post to post to finish the book. I think it would be a nice asset to our park area.”
Evans told the council she was excited to see a county agency wanting to reach out to do things in other areas of the county.
Curtsinger expressed her approval of the idea. Loveland said she didn’t want to take action on the matter now as she was concerned with the costs of the project, but later decided it would be an acceptable venture after further discussion.
“The splashpad and new playground equipment is starting to get tourism people from our surrounding areas to come here,” Curtsinger said. “The more things we can do that bring people here and actually entertain them for a decent period of time…the longer they’re here the more likely they are going to go get lunch at the FLAG or the bar. This Storywalk is just yet another way of keeping families and interest in our area and help our community not only look family friendly, but also for our businesses to benefit from it.”
Curtsinger also provided an update from her request to the recreation board for a grant. She told the council the town had been awarded $26,687 for the purchase of playground equipment to replace the slide and horse at the park. She said the grant would also cover a full playground set with multiple slides and climbing surfaces, an approved pea gravel fall surface, cement pads for picnic benches and tables and a 20-foot by 24-foot basketball half-court to be installed in South Park.
The last portion of the meeting was reserved for the council to discuss the proposed fiscal year 2021-2022 town budget.
The council worked through the list of budget items and discussed whether to maintain, increase or decrease spending in each area.
One area of discussion was the possible addition of a second officer for the Fort Laramie Police Department.
The council addressed the possibility of hiring a single full-time officer, Evans said the town could not afford a full-time officer with the costs of a salary, insurance coverage, workman’s compensation, uniforms and other expenditures.
The council said they would consider adding a second part-time officer as they would be able to make small additions to the budget to be able to afford the second officer but would have to work out the details as they go through the budget.
Another item for discussion was the fire department. Howes told the council they were in need of some new air packs, bunker gear and other equipment. He explained some of the high costs of the equipment and asked the council to consider increasing the budget so the department could acquire the gear they needed over time.
Evans recommended approaching the rural fire department and requesting aid from them as both the Fort Laramie Fire Department and the rural fire department provide aid for one another on a regular basis.
Howes said the rural department had paid for air packs, a structure truck and other equipment in the past, but didn’t want to harm their relationship with them by requesting more money.
The council also discussed a possible future proposal by the town for a $2.60 increase to town utilities: a $1 per month increase for water, a $1 increase per month for sewer and a $0.60 per month increase for garbage disposal.
The councilmembers noted Fort Laramie had some of the highest utility bills in the area, but also discussed how this was in large part due to the need for services to come from other locations as there isn’t anything local.
The amended budget was approved on the first reading but will be reviewed two more times before it is finalized.
The next meeting of the Fort Laramie Town Council will be Wednesday, May 12, at 7 p.m. in the Fort Laramie Town Hall.