By Joshua Scheer, reporter, County10.com
(Riverton, Wyo.) – Gov. Matt Mead spent a good portion of Friday afternoon in Riverton, culminating in his presence at an invitation-only open house to showcase Community Entry Services’s latest remodel project.
About 50 people attended the open house, including U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis, State Rep. Rita Campbell, State Sen. Cale Case and State Sen. Eli Bebout. CES CEO Shawn Griffin gave the introductions and played a brief video highlighting the group’s work. CES works with individuals with disabilities, providing vocational training, recreational access, residential support and centralized services.
The City of Riverton, represented by Mayor Ron Warpness, was thanked for sponsoring the nearly $200,000 Wyoming Business Council grant that helped to fund the lates round of remodeling.
“We are so pleased to be here,” Mead said. “The timing is great.”
He said just on Wednesday he proclaimed March as Disability Awareness Month. Mead talked a bit about some of the things he’s worked on in that field in recent weeks, including meeting with the Association of Governors to discuss finding more job placements for disabled individuals. He said the group heard testimony from someone from Walgreens who said when the company started hiring disabled people, sick days decreased, fewer on-the-job accidents occurred and overall productivity improved.
As a state, Mead said, “We value all citizens,” adding that we should “focus on what people can do, not what that can’t do.” “By valuing them, we will never be a disabled society,” he added later.
“God bless you for what you’re doing,” Mead said in closing.
Following the his address, the crowd took a tour of the newly remodeled facility. In an interview, CFO Pat Harris said renovations have been done off and on since the organization moved into the building. The latest round, he said, improved CES’s positioning space, created a craft room and expanded Neat Repeat, the second-hand store, by a third. Bathrooms were expanded even further to allow for more mobility including electronic lifts.
Harris said Neat Repeat’s storage moved into CES’s maintenance garage, which also has a new and more appropriate home.
Not all the of the remodel is complete. One end still needs some work with an estimated price tag of $45,000, Harris said. Griffin earlier told the crowd donations are still encouraged.
Other appearances by Mead:
Earlier this afternoon Mead met with members of the Fremont County Commission at the Fremont County Public Library.
County10.com news partner KVOW/KTAK Radio news director Leslie Stratmoen reported that much of the afternoon’s discussion surrounded the BLM Lander Office Resource Management Plan and court facilities. She reports that Rep. Campbell and U.S. Rep. Lummis were also in attendance.
While that was occurring, First Lady Carol Mead read to second-graders in a special story time.
In the meeting with the Governor and County Commissioners, Mead talked about the state’s Resource Management Plan, referred to as the RMP, for the Lander Region in Fremont County that outlines multiple uses for oil and gas development, grazing rights, wildlife preservation and recreation. Public comments on the plan have already been taken, so it’s now in the rebuttal period, but those comments can only be made by those who weighed in on the comment portion. Once the proposal is approved, it’s set in place for the next 20 years.
Commissioner Stephanie Kessler thought the plan was balanced, but State Senator Eli Bebout took exception saying he sees it as a major setback for the county. Commissioner Doug Thompson took issue with the regulatory framework in the document, specifically, the set up for many workers to be on the job for only four months out of the year because, he said, a large group not working causes problems.
Moving on to the court facilities discussion, Commissioners Travis Becker told the governor about the county’s hope to build a new, safer facility, after a bullet-hole was found in the side of the building. Following a detailed account by Becker of the county’s hopes to build a new safe structure, the governor questioned: “Is that really possible?”
Commissioner Keja Whiteman also weighed in saying not only does the county need a safer court facility, but the county needs more space for court rooms, and other county offices like for the county attorney and sheriff’s department. The conversation wrapped with the commissioners saying they’d really like the state’s help with funding for a new facility and said it wouldn’t be setting a precedent because state funds were used to build a new court building for Natrona County.
Commissioner Larry Allen was also there to meet with the governor, as was State Representative Rita Campbell and U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis. Though there were about 15 people in total attending the meeting, the discussion remained among the governor and commissioners.
To listen to the Governor’s opening statements – CLICK HERE