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With city's gun range operating, gun panel eliminated

May 3, 2012 - By Emily Etheredge, Staff Writer

The Riverton City Council's discussion of eliminating the gun club committee went out with a bang on Tuesday.

City Administrator Steven Weaver said the committee made up of council members was formed about a year ago and wasn't set up to be a permanent committee.

"The issues that were previously a problem with the Riverton gun club are now resolved, and everything is up and running. The committee is just council members so I feel it would be beneficial to just eliminate it," Weaver said.

By council vote, the committee was dissolved.

Bruce Berg gave an update on the Riverton Rifle Range while also saying he would like to voice his opinion against disbanding the gun club committee due to issues that are always arising.

"Our most recent issue is us losing over half the site, which would seriously restrict any expansion we would want to do and as far as issues being resolved I'm not seeing it," Berg said.

Berg did boast about the community support on April 21 when the Riverton Rifle Range hosted an open house that attracted over 150 people through the gates.

Berg said there were 115 shooters with comments that people want to see more.

"We had people telling us they would like to have a longer range, when people could shoot rifles, if we were going to have trap and skeet. Everyone was very supportive, and it was a wonderful family affair where the weather was perfect and we didn't have any wind" Berg said.

Mayor Ron Warpness said he had only heard positive reports from people in the community and thought it would be appropriate to appoint a liaison with the gun club instead of continuing on with a committee made up of council members.

"I can assure you that any public entity in this town has issues that they continue to struggle with, " Warpness said.

Councilwoman Mary Ellen Christensen was against the idea to dissolve the committee and agreed with Berg that the committee should continue.

"I think now it is more important to have the committee than ever before for any major issues coming up and I think it is a good committee to have," Christensen said.

Councilman Lars Baker said the committee was originally started with the sole intent of cutting a deal with the solid waste district and it was impossible for the Riverton Shooting Club to make the deal with the solid waste district whereas the city could have.

"We were also looking at a piece of state land and the Riverton Shooting Club wouldn't have been able to make a deal with the state of Wyoming but the city could have. I guess from my standpoint those issues are certainly gone," Baker said.

Warpness said he personally didn't see where the committee was necessary but would leave the decision up to the council.

Christensen said being a member of the gun club committee with the last meeting she attended the discussion covered expansion and that was the next phase as far as she understood.

"I feel like the committee does need to be in swing and there has been no other discussion about disbanding it. Somehow I feel there were some meetings that happened that I wasn't aware of and the whole thing seems very convoluted when I think it should be clear," Christensen said.

Warpness said he didn't feel like the council needed to have quite so much involvement but reiterated it was the will of the council.

Baker informed Warpness that since he originally created the committee as an ad hoc- formed for a specific purpose with no permanent intent- he could disband it.

Christensen said she didn't see anywhere in the minutes where it was an ad hoc committee.

Baker reiterated that his recollection was the committee formed so that a few council members could spend a lot of time working with people that the Riverton Gun Club couldn't work with.

"This is no longer the case so it doesn't seem like having a committee is all that important and I don't see where there is a great deal of benefit," Baker said

Councilman Todd Smith suggested the Chief of Police Mike Broadhead serve as the liaison.

Warpness invited council members to vote on whether or not the committee should still be around with everyone voting for the committee to be done away with except for Christensen, who was in favor of keeping the committee.

As a result of the vote, the gun club committee made up of council members was dissolved.