Sundance Times - Continuing the Crook County News Since 1884

Work continues in county offices


April 16, 2020

Even in the midst of an outbreak, business continues as usual for Crook County and its constituent departments and offices. Each was asked to provide a written update to the County Commissioners last week, detailing the projects and ongoing work that are still being undertaken despite the need for social distancing.

Crook County Fire Warden

Fire Warden Doug Leis reported three fires in the last couple of weeks, including one at Sand Creek that was started by a transient, one at Little Mud Creek caused by re-ignition of a slash pile burn and one at Crazy Creek caused by a broken power line. The grasses are currently dry, he said, but will likely improve with the recent moisture and anticipated green-up.


Preston Beckstead reported that work continues on the bridge over the Belle Fourche on Forks Road.

“The contractor has placed steel girders and is working on the deck.  They hope to have a completed structure by the beginning of May,” he said.

The bridge over Arch Creek is meanwhile complete and open to the public with only reclamation work remaining.

Upcoming work includes a bridge rehabilitation job that spans multiple counties on the interstate.

“We are planning to continue road construction work as long as it is safe to do so. WYDOT offices remain open, however with special circumstances due to COVID,” Beckstead said. “Drivers Services is still open on Monday and Thursday, but have a 5 guest limit at a time. As usual, the office can be reached at the number, 307-283-1135 extension 2.”

Public Health

“Public Health has been running full time EOC operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic since March 13. We have been working 10-13 hour days to coordinate response efforts between all of the county partners,” reported Becky Tinsley.

“We meet daily with state emergency response representatives, CCMSD and any other agencies that need guidance or assistance to help in the COVID-19 response.”

Public Health is also offering immunizations, tele-visits for the maternal child population and very limited office hours for reproductive health and testing, according to Tinsley. 

“I have also been writing for our regular grants and working on the county budget, hoping to get everything wrapped up in the midst of all of the COVID work,” she said.

Crook County Extension Office

“The Extension Office is sharing learning opportunities as well as community service opportunities to the public on the Facebook page as well as to members through 4-H Online,” reported Sara Fleenor. Staff have started seeds at home for the hoop house.

“We also have some tire projects we are starting so there will be some activity at the hoop house as the weather warms up,” Fleenor said.

Crook County Attorney

Joe Baron reported that he and his staff are generally working from home, though his office is still staffed to answer phones and conduct daily business.

“The office has continued to provide essential government services in the criminal and juvenile justice fields by telework and video conferencing all court matters,” he said. “Some trials have been continued but are still within their constitutional limits.”

Road & Bridge

“The crew is socially distanced from each other and the public as they are out blading road and hauling gravel,” reported Morgan Ellsbury.

Projects completed include spot gravel on parts of South Arch Creek, South Wind Creek and Bertha Roads, with Moskee and Upper Canyon Springs when the snow melts and the mud dries, and graveling complete near New Haven from Spanglers to Ewing Road.

Crook County Sheriff’s Office

Sheriff Jeff Hodge reported that extradition statuses are being changed on Crook County warrants during the outbreak and new policies have been put in place concerning the dispatch of law enforcement, EMS and fire personnel to COVID-19 positive patients and addresses.

Crook County Treasurer’s Office

The office completed 1983 transactions in March, reported Treasurer Mary Kuhl.

“We have been working through transactions with customers mostly over the phone and mailing them out,” she said. “However, if they need them immediately, we have been processing the transaction after talking to them and delivering the license plate or paperwork to the door.”

The office is also working on the two scheduled tax sale redemptions and clearing up outstanding checks that have not been deposited by taxpayers.

County Maintenance

Larry Schommer reported that he has been working to finish the remodel of the Clerk’s Office and has replaced the carpet in the Assessor’s Office. All contact areas are being disinfected each night.

At Public Health, he has been working on the HVAC system and replacing faucets, while the campsites are ready at the fairgrounds and an underground water leak has been repaired.

Crook County Fair

Carolyn Fowler, Fair Secretary, reported that planning for this year’s fair is still on schedule and options are being investigated for the livestock sale if there is need to cancel it. The fair board will be holding a budget meeting on April 15 in person, following guidelines for social distancing, and none but the board and Fowler are expected to attend.

Crook County Natural Resources District/USDA

“The CCNRD and the USDA Service Center is still working during the pandemic. We are utilizing telework as much as possible, but the office is still being minimally staffed and phones are being answered,” reported Bridget Helms, CCNRD. “There is a locked box outside for any documents.”

The district is in the process of getting permissions from landowners and prepping for monitoring season and anticipates seeking more program funds in the fall. “If funded, we expect to assist with more Best Management Practices projects early next summer,” said Helms

According to Helms, forestry contractors are still active and completing hazardous fuel reduction projects in the Black Buttes area.

Growth & Development

Tim Lyons reported much activity within his department, including 30 deeds received and reviewed in March and two new applications for septic tanks including one approval for construction. Final approval for a new subdivision was presented to the county commissioners last week and a review hearing is scheduled in May for a minor subdivision.


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