Commissioners discuss concerns of various funding projects
Residents concerned with new cell-towers
July 27, 2023
CHEYENNE COUNTY -
Cheyenne County Commissioners discussed concerns of various projects funding and heard from residents concerned about the new cell-tower being built in the county at its regularly scheduled July meeting.
Commissioners Darrell Johnson, Randal Miller and Philip Sanders had much to say about some of the funding and spending of various projects in the county and wanted to remind organizations the limited funding is for the entire county. The commissioners also heard from a resident concerned with microwaves concerning the new cell-tower being installed at the eastern edge of the county.
First, commissioners heard from Cheyenne County Chamber President and CEO Toshia Jones regarding the Chamber quarterly report.
In her report, Jones reported the Chamber now has 245 members, which is both up from this time last year, which had 230 members, but she explained the chamber lost a few but made up for it with new members. She also stated the Chamber is accepting enrollment for next years' leadership program which is a ten month program that meets once a month online.
Lastly, Jones told commissioners her office hired a part time employee to help with administrative type work to help keep the Chamber up-to-date.
Commissioners held a public hearing to consider a number of matters relating to various permits.
Hemphill LLC presented an application for a conditional use permit to construct a communication tower on property owned by the Hellums.
Verizon and Hemphill Zoning Agent Rick Adams along with Cheyenne County Planning and Zoning Coordinator Colleen Terman answered questions from the commissioners concerning the build and also heard from a local resident in the area who identified as “Mr. Fleming” who had concerns regarding the microwaves that the new tower could potentially emit near his residence and others.
Adams explained both Verizon and Hemphill would prefer to run fiber lines instead of using microwave dishes, however, did not know what the set up would be after it was completed. Adams also explained how the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) determines safety measures of the cell-towers and that at the county level, these installations can only be approved or denied, no other changes can take place.
Ultimately, after some discussion between Adams, Terman, the commissioners and Mr. Fleming, the commissioners agreed to approve the conditional use permit.
The second application which commissioners considered was one from the Walsh Family, Inc. The family was requesting a subdivision of their property to be rezoned from agriculture to residential estate so that part of the property could be sold.
The third application commissioners also approved was an application from Carmen Egging Draper, a personal representative for the Estate of Lawrence L. Egging requesting essentially the same thing as the Walsh family to be able to sell a portion of the property without loosing the real estate.
After the public hearing, the commissioners went into the Board of Equalization, in which a number of changes occurred and each change was read allowed by Cheyenne County Assessor Jordan Hajek as it related to over or under change of valuations. She also briefly discussed the three-year plan of assessment.
During a presentation from Cheyenne County Tourism Director Kendra Mitchell regarding the review of and consideration of tourism grants. However, two of the commissioners had a lot to say about some of the grants being requested lately.
“Heads in beds,” Miller said to Mitchell as he explained the basis of the Cheyenne County Visitors Committee grants to those in attendance.
Miller and Sanders questioned why commissioners repeatedly see the same organizations when the monies generated from tourism are supposed to go to any organization needing its grants throughout the county.
“Heads in beds – I have always said I'm on board for anything that puts heads in beds – events that help bring people to our county,” Miller explained to Mitchell and those in attendance.
More than getting money to organizations that help bring more tourism to the area via events, festivals or other community-oriented activities, both Miller and Sanders believes the commissioners and the tourism committee need to rethink how they organize grants they offer.
“I'm going to go ahead and say it,” Sanders said. “I think we need to take a better look at what organizations we are giving money to and why.”
Sanders further explained his exasperation comes from personally knowing about some of the projects in his area that are benefiting from the tourism grants and other forms of funding. Sanders believes some of the projects are being allowed to proceed with little to no oversight from the entities in which grant the funding.
After the three commissioners spoke about their concerns with how the current funding operates based on nonprofit status or municipality status, and asked the tourism director to help them develop a better system, they voted to approve the grants as presented.
However, Sanders said due to his personal concerns with at least one of the grants, he would not motion or second the motion to pass the grants; the grants were approved by all three commissioners.
Adams Industries Business Development Director Kim Matthews presented a USDOT INFRA Grant Application and the commissioners briefly discussed.
The commissioners decided to discuss the ARPA funds in greater detail at a future meeting and then heard a brief update from Cheyenne County Highway Superintendent Doug Hart, who essentially told the commissioners the county projects were on track.
The next regularly scheduled county commissioner meeting is August 7, starting at 8 a.m.