By Ernie Over
The Riverton City Council on Tuesday heard that a proposal to locate a state office building in Riverton is still on the table. State Senator Tim Salazar reported that the concept of locating or co-locating some stage agencies here would be studied in the interim before the next legislative session in 2024. He said $2.5 million is in the approved state budget as a placeholder for such a facility, or facilities.
He told the council that decentralizing state government agencies and employees is being looked at seriously. The task force work would determine that whether the proposal is a viable option, and what kind of savings the state would earn with more offices located centrally in the state.
State Representative Ember Oakley of Riverton will chair that task force. She told the council the new state office building in Casper across from Natrona County High School, for example, is the result of the legislature taking a different approach to locating state employees. Oakley said Riverton is already home to some state workers, but there is what she called serious interest in the proposal. She said such a state facility here would be fantastic and a big boost to the local economy.
Oakley said the task force will meet in Riverton on June 9 to further dive into the idea.
Salazar shared there is also support in the Joint Appropriations Committee, of which he is a member, to look at a recreation center for Riverton. He said his proposal would be a one-for-one match of $3.5 million to fund a $7-million center. He explained the project is in the conceptual design phase at this time. The proposed center could replace the city’s current hockey rink, Salazar said; he cautioned it’s not a done deal, but he said he hopes it will come to fruition.
Finally, Salazar said the issue of having local dairy farmers be able to sell their raw milk at local farmers markets has been taken care of. He said an understanding with the state health department had been reached. He said local producers, under the Food Freedom Act, do have the right and freedom across the state to sell their milk. He said he would introduce an amendment to the act to codify that right in the next session.