The year in review

By Grace Moore
January
As the year began, Moorcroft received a bill for processing the municipal elections at three times the anticipated cost because, according to Crook County Clerk Linda Fritz, the town “went through council people so fast, they ended up having two different races instead of one; it cost them more.”
The 2017 ice fishing season opened strong due to the stable freezing temperatures on Keyhole Reservoir. The Moorcroft Volunteer Fire Department assisted Pine Haven Fire Fighters and ambulance crew in responding to a house fire just outside of Pine Haven town limits.
Wyoming faced the loss of a third of its annual education funding, with Governor Matt Mead wanting to kickstart a conversation in communities across the state to address the question of what to do about it.
February
After significant snow fall, Public Works Director Cory Allison was juggling the time his crew spends keeping Moorcroft’s streets clear in February. It had become too much to handle, he said, necessitating a little help from outside the department.
Wrestling coach Charlie Williams won the title of Coach of the Year again, while a brand new annual event was born in Keyhole State Park when 115 people gather to enjoy ice fishing as a community.
Moorcroft Mayor Steve Sproul reported his appointments for the unrecognized standing committees as he again insisted that citizens of his choosing be assigned to the financial committee. The council upheld its decision to release The Water Guy from its contract to sample the town’s water; instead, the job was brought in-house.
The Moorcroft Senior Center purchased its own building on South Big Horn, while a group of parents voiced their concern about the looped drive on the north side of the MK-8 building, which is designed for buses but has been used for parent pick up and drop off since the school opened.
The fence for the newly turfed baseball field at Westview Park was installed due primarily to the efforts of rec board volunteers. Pine Haven’s second water pump began to fail and a workshop and special meeting were called to discuss seeking an emergency grant to replace it.
March
The Wolves Wrestling Team took state for the fifth year in a row, breaking their own record with every wrestler making it to the second day, as well as six finalists, three champions and a final score that eclipsed the competition.
The Crook County School District and Moorcroft continued to go back and forth regarding the MOU the town requested signed for the high school’s use of the MTC gymnasium for practice during the basketball season for the second consecutive year.
The Moorcroft council discussed whether to change or enforce the town’s ordinance regulating RV parks within town limits. In Pine Haven’s continued search for a secondary egress from town in case of fire or other potential threats, Councilwoman Karla Brandenburg and a few others began working on the idea of building a bridge over Keyhole Reservoir near Mule Creek Point.
April
Twenty one athletes signed up for golf, an unprecedented number for Moorcroft High School according to Head Coach Chris Ingersoll. The Pine Haven council was surprised to find out that all of the asset deeds over which the town has assumed ownership for the last 30 years were actually still in the name of the Pine Haven Improvement and Service District.
Strong concern was expressed over the apparent continued violations of the junk ordinance in Moorcroft and the potential cost to surrounding property owners. With the improvement of the baseball field and the walk path at Westview Park, under the authority of the governing body, the Public Works Department scheduled the grading and graveling of a parking area.
Extra surveillance at the landfill was suggested to the Moorcroft Council because of, among other factors, an increasing number of people dropping their garbage at the gate after landfill hours.
May
Forty five students graduate from MHS with commendation from Crook County Superintendent Mark Broderson.
After working on it for a year, Moorcroft Chief of Police and Emergency Management Coordinator Doug Lundborg, with the assistance of the fire department, ambulance service and area businesses, completed the mandatory Emergency Management Operations Plan for the town.
With all the recent improvements to Westview Park, including new artificial turf, fencing and parking for the lower baseball field, issues of safety still needed immediate attention, according to Mayor Pro-Tem Paul Smoot.
Four Wolves represented Moorcroft at State Track in Casper and came home with a handful of accolades, including two first place wins, three all state honors and one all-conference honor.
June
Over 200 people attended a fishing derby hosted by Froggie’s Bait and Tackle in Pine Haven. A hostage situation near Pine Haven was resolved when the female victim escaped and the male perpetrator took his own life.
Moorcroft Councilmen Owen Mathews and Dick Claar meet with department heads to refine the proposed budget for the coming 2017/18 fiscal year. Pine Haven Mayor Larry Suchor and council members Brandenburg and John Henle conducted a public meeting regarding the Sanitary Sewer Project to bring residents along White Tail Drive and Aspen Lane into the town sewer system.
Work at Westview Park was almost finished for the year with the installation of handrails around the concession building and an electronic score board. Sproul advised his council that he wanted to see the play set removed from Robinson Park for liability reasons.
The mayor also defied the ordinance regarding standing committees, saying that the individuals he appointed to the finance committee in January would remain. Sproul was also found guilty of a misdemeanor charge of unlawful bodily contact after a scuffle with a councilman that allegedly led to the mayor pushing the councilman into a doorframe. Shortly after the day-long trial, Sproul unsuccessfully appealed the verdict on the basis that at least one jury member had fallen asleep.
July
A blaze at the Moorcroft landfill raised suspicions that it had been ignited deliberately, a theory later corroborated by state investigators. Mathews reported reluctance from the other entities meeting as the Crook County Solid Waste Joint Powers Board to move forward in creating a district.
An ongoing issue regarding the timely signing of checks again reared its head as Moorcroft councilmen claimed that mayor refuses to sign approved checks sometimes for more than a week after a council meeting. Mayor Pro-Tem Paul Smoot was added to the signature card to better facilitate timely payments.
August
Hitler Rock, a high jumping point on the cliff over the waters of Keyhole Reservoir, succumbed to torrential rain and fell into the lake, while rain brought a tree branch down that tore into the MTC roof membrane and caused water damage to the library. The sign that had graced the front of the Wyoming Motel for many decades was taken down to become a display at the Frontier Auto Museum in Gillette.
WYDOT District Engineer Scott Taylor confirmed that a new crosswalk for the school campus is on the agenda for the 2018 budget. In an effort to keep the landfill open longer for residents of Moorcroft, the governing body made the decision to close the dump to outside garbage.
After a suspicious fire forced the fire department to keep watch all night in 60-mile-an-hour winds, vandalism and suspected missing fuel, the council agreed to pay $1755 for two cameras for the landfill.
September
Pine Haven celebrated its 30th anniversary with an event coinciding with the Labor Day festivities.
Royal Neighbors of America President Pat Hines and member Mary Hancock present a check for $2025 to the Pine Haven Beautification Alliance at the Etched in Time Park.
After an afternoon of “decades”-themed dress up, at the school, volunteers from the Moorcroft Fire Department grilled burgers for Homecoming guests.
Richard Reed, who works at the landfill, reported a break-in at the onsite scale house. Moorcroft began a much needed project to replace the crumbling belly pans around town.
In their continuing efforts to clean up municipal ordinances and policies, members of the Moorcroft Governing body and staff revisited the ongoing issue of delinquent accounts. Leland Korb shared his concerns with the council when Pine Haven’s newsletter informed citizens that a carwash is coming to town that he resides below possible runoff from the proposed business.
October
A number of residents in Moorcroft were found to not be paying for their garbage though they have a water account, a practice against town ordinance. The Moorcroft Governing Body approves writing a letter to the Crook County Commissioners asking them to add a three mil levy to the 2019 ballot for the purpose of creating a district for solid waste.
Paving of Pendleton, Lakeview and a portion of Vista Grande began in Pine Haven as a solution to the hard surfacing process that had become dangerous to traffic. The DEQ asks permission from Moorcroft’s council to use the town lagoon to dispose of the few hundred gallons a day of well samples they are testing as part of their investigation of the dry and acidic wells around Carlile.
Rosalie Brimmer was among 25 Wyomingites to be recognized as a Centennial Ranch Owner in 2017.
November
A special meeting was called for Moorcroft’s council to deal with an issue involving the Bountiful Homes subdivision, created by developer Steve Noakes. The council later accepted responsibility for the fire hydrants that were not installed by developer Steve Noakes within the infrastructure of his subdivision Bountiful Homes.
Pine Haven residents were encouraged to attend the regular council meeting to be involved with the options facing the governing body regarding Pine Haven’s solid waste. The council decided it will not, at this time, support the push to put the question of introducing a mil levy to fund a county-wide solid waste district on the 2019 ballot.
Veterans, their families and other guests attended a Veterans Day concert at the K-8 school where the youths sing with energy. A council meeting in Moorcroft was infiltrated by a teen team of super-heroes calling themselves The Secret Squirrel Brigade and seeking a safe place at the MTC for the town’s youth to hang out.
December
Sproul again appealed the jury’s guilty verdict on a misdemeanor charge of “unlawful bodily contact: rude, insolent or angry touches without bodily injury” after Judge Matthew Castano imposed a sentence of 30 days in jail with 28 suspended, six months of probation including an anger management evaluation and a $250 fine.
Members of Moorcroft’s council met with HDR Engineering to discuss the latest update on the mandatory upgrade of the town’s lagoon. A question arose about the legality of Moorcroft using public monies to buy turkeys and hams to distribute among the town’s employees during the holiday season in place of an end of year bonus.