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Plans for a new Riverton justice center stall again

Jun 9, 2013 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

Commissioners worry that moving forward with the project might endanger an application for a $2.65 million grant.

Fremont County commissioners again have decided against moving forward on the Riverton justice center project.

The delay comes after some commissioners expressed concern Tuesday that a grant application might be in danger if the county appears able to build the new facility on its own.

On May 14, the Fremont County Commission voted 2-2 in allowing architecture firm Reilly Johnson to proceed with the second stage of design. With a tie vote, the motion failed.

The second step, called "design development," would have incurred the cost of $75,000.

At that meeting, commissioners Travis Becker and Larry Allen voted for starting the second phase, Stephanie Kessler and Keja Whiteman voted against it and Doug Thompson was absent.

A major consideration in the planning process is the outcome of a $2.65 million grant from the State Loan and Investment Board for the $5 million project. SLIB will make a decision June 20.

Moves to build a new facility arose after it was found in July that a bullet had penetrated the current courthouse's exterior.

"I don't know if it's worth our time waiting for SLIB, for them to make their decision," Becker said at the Tuesday meeting. "I think it's fruitless at this point. I'd like to see us continuing to move forward in the design."

Becker moved to approve the second step but ended up alone in his support.

Allen had seconded Becker's motion but said he did not support starting phase two.

"I would just like to see what the SLIB board says," he said. "It's only two weeks away."

Thompson agreed he wanted to wait but said the project is necessary.

"I think it's a project we're going to have to do someway," he said. "No matter what they give us, we can do it."

Allen and Thompson said they worried voting to continue work on the project might hurt their grant's chances with the SLIB.

"I don't know if we'd say, 'Yes, we're going to go ahead and do it no matter what.' I don't know if that would be a downside or not," Thompson said.

"If we vote to go ahead and do the second phase, they'll think we're going to go ahead and do it anyway," Allen agreed, referring to the SLIB.

With two new voices opposed to moving forward in addition to the two votes against it in May, Becker decided to withdraw his motion to proceed.