Council talks multi-million-dollar grants, new housing

By Rana Jones, Gazette Reporter
Posted 4/2/24

The city of Kemmerer has been trying to hire someone for an accounting/payroll clerk position with potential to go into deputy clerk level with no …

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Council talks multi-million-dollar grants, new housing


The city of Kemmerer has been trying to hire someone for an accounting/payroll clerk position with potential to go into deputy clerk level with no success. Kemmerer City Administrator Brian Muir said at last week’s city council meeting, “This is a position that is important to the efficiency and effectiveness of our administrative staff.”

Unable to hire someone for that position, the city is now reevaluating, leaning toward allowing the Joint Powers Board to take over the contract, which includes responsibility for filling the position. The issue will be further discussed at a later meeting.

In new business during the March 25 meeting, the city discussed a grant it has been awarded in the amount of $23,100 from Wyoming Outdoor Recreation for the town’s fishing pond rehabilitation. The council authorized the mayor to sign the grant agreement.

The park’s budget will match 10% of the grant and money will go toward reroofing the pavilion at the fishing pond, new rail fencing, more picnic tables and trash receptacles. The Kemmerer pond project will commence in the summer of 2025.    

Also in new business, the council discussed Project West Impact funding, on which Muir said, they have worked carefully with the county applying for funding.

He met with Lincoln County Commissioner Kent Connelly and Chief of Staff Stephen Allen to ensure they applied for appropriate funding.

The county applied for $8.4 million and the city is proposing to apply for more than $1 million of those funds.

Muir said the city needs to decide if they want to apply for that amount and would then need to proceed to a public hearing and approval. The council authorized the mayor to sign for the impact funding grant. 

Kemmerer qualifies for impact assistance funds, as the soda ash mine project is located near Granger. Construction is expected to begin in January 2025 and is estimated to take two years to complete. 

Shifting gears, the council discussed Lincoln County working with Canyon Road Holdings to borrow funds from the State of Wyoming to build temporary and permanent affordable housing and commercial services for working class people for the TerraPower nuclear facility coming to Kemmerer.

The recommended action was for Mayor Bill Thek to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Lincoln County and Kemmerer/Diamondville Water and Wastewater Joint Powers Board regarding funding opportunities for the developers. The council approved the authorization of the mayor to sign the MOU.

Stephen Allen spoke before the council and said the county has passed a resolution to apply for state funds in the amount of more than $17 million, and there will be funds from that amount available to Kemmerer.

“This was an idea on how we can help bring permanency of homes,” Allen said, “and we are a first in the state to do it. We are excited to work with the city and the joint powers board.”

Allen explained the way to break the boom/bust cycle that Kemmerer and other energy-producing towns experience is to create permanent housing.

“When we talked to the governor’s office about what is going on in Kemmerer, they were extremely excited and supportive,” he said.

Acknowledging there will be hard decisions to make, he said housing will need to be addressed.

“Nine major companies between Granger and Kemmerer are expected to come in, in the next five to seven years,” he said.

Of the 10,000 or so t workers, there are expected to be around 5,000 of those staying as permanent workers among those nine companies, Allen said. He said permanent residences and resources, such as transportation, need to be available.

Other housing developments in the works were introduced before the council by landowner Rick Moore, who plans to build fourplexes for lease.

“They are a townhome look,” he said.

Moore said they will lease a little above contractor rates and said they have utilities on the property. He plans to work with the joint powers board about tapping into sewer and water.

He also has property in Diamondville he plans to develop and is proposing single car garages for those.

Members from the council expressed that the development would benefit the community and help fulfill the town’s need for housing.

Moore plans to get on the city council agenda about moving forward with the development and is trying to determine a start date.

He said he appreciates how the city of Kemmerer and town of Diamondville were handling working with him.