SHERIDAN — San Francisco-based land use firm Gruen Gruen and Associates has been selected to lead the way on Sheridan County’s newest affordable housing study.

During their Sept. 7 meeting, Sheridan County commissioners approved a $38,000 contract with the company, which utilizes urban economists, sociologists, market and financial analysts, demographers and statisticians to provide research, analysis, consulting and pre-development services. 

Gruen was one of six companies that submitted proposals for the study. Sheridan County Administrative Director Renee Obermueller said the county interviewed the top three candidates for the position, with Gruen coming out on top.

“What stood out with these folks is they’ve been in the business since the early 70s,” Obermueller said. “This is what they do, and at the end, they are going to find… a piece of vacant land and actually model a development for us including current construction costs. I think the idea is that we need to have something to show to our private industry… and say ‘We can do this, and here’s how we do it.’”

The study, which particularly focuses on housing needs in the municipalities of Sheridan, Dayton and Ranchester, will consider community demographics and current housing inventory to determine what types of housing are especially needed, according to Sheridan Community Development Director Wade Sanner.

The study will be a joint effort between the county, city of Sheridan and the Sheridan Economic and Educational Development Association, with each entity contributing dollars to the project. It will be the first joint housing study since 2006, according to SEEDA Administrator Robert Briggs, and is expected to be completed by the end of the calendar year.

“Fixing the housing needs in Sheridan County is going to be a public/private process, so this will hopefully give us the tools we need to get going on it,” Obermueller said.

In other Sheridan County Commission news:

  • Commissioners approved a $245,083 contract with digitization company ArcaSearch for the digital preservation of roughly two decades of county documents.

The documents being digitized will include deeds, mortgages, notaries, mining claims, certificates of appropriation, marriage records and other miscellaneous documents.

The project will close a major gap in digital records for the county, according to Sheridan County Clerk and Recorder Eda Schunk Thompson. Currently, records from the county’s inception through the 1980s are available on ArcaSearch. Documents from the last 11 years are searchable through another database managed by Tyler Technologies.

This new project will involve converting nearly 435,000 documents from between the years of 1990 and 2010, which means all county documents will be searchable upon the project’s completion.Once the project is completed, the clerk’s office will continue to offer both the ArcaSearch and Tyler Technologies systems for free on public computers in the county’s land vault, Schunk Thompson said. Both systems will also be offered online for a subscription fee for those who wish to research from home or work.

  • The commission approved a $54,500 contract with the Wyoming Department of Family Services for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families grant dollars.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families grants are distributed annually by the Wyoming Department of Family Services to each of the state's 23 counties. The counties then distribute those funds to organizations helping low-income families become self-sufficient. This year, Greater Wyoming Big Brothers and Big Sisters and the Compass Center for Families applied for funding in Sheridan County.

In April, Compass applied for $55,000 in funding, while Big Brothers applied for $15,000. Of the $54,500 granted by the state, Big Brothers will receive their full request of $15,000, while Compass will receive the remaining balance of $39,500, Obermueller said.

Commission chair Nick Siddle said the TANF funds helped fund key services for the community each year. Compass Center for Families provides a variety of services including court-appointed special advocates, mediation and visitation for families. Big Brothers Big Sisters offers school-based and community-based mentoring opportunities for students.

“This is a very worthwhile project… and certainly something that’s good for our community,” Siddle said.

  • The commission approved a resolution designating Dow-Dutch Creek Road as a private road. 

Being designated as a private road means use of the road is reserved for area landowners. Governmental agencies still retain access to the road to perform essential public services.

Maintenance of the private road, which was formerly owned by the county, will now be the responsibility of the landowners along the roadway.

The resolution is the end result of several months of effort by the county to vacate the property.

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