Bill Camp may be retired, but he’s a busy man. The newly minted mayor of Deaver is helping lead three major projects in the community he serves.
Camp, a longtime educator at Rocky Mountain Middle School, was elected to the town council in 2014 and was midway through his third year when mayor Michael Beyer resigned in early August. Beyer, a contractor, wanted to bid on local projects, and as mayor it would be a conflict of
interest to do so, the mayor and council were advised by town attorney Sandra Kitchen.
“During all of the meetings we had on the school demolition (one of the current projects), like selecting the engineer, etc., he recused himself, but we were still advised there was a conflict, so he resigned.”
Councilman Camp was named mayor by fellow council members Steve Gillett, Aspen Beall and Allison Armstrong.
“I had the most time to give to the job, so the council selected me,” Camp said.
Camp’s move to the chair with the gavel opens up a spot on the council, and Camp said the council has already received some letters of interest from prospective council members. Both Camp and whoever the council selects for the fourth councilor would have to run in the 2018 election to retain his or her seat.
Camp has lived in Deaver since 1985 and taught industrial arts and math at the middle school for 25 years before retiring in 2010. He has also served on the North Big Horn Hospital District Board of Trustees for many years, off and on.
Bids for the demolition of the former Deaver-Frannie High School and Rocky Mountain Middle School building were opened in August, and the council voted to accept the low bid from SE Incorporated of Deaver. Camp said there were five bids received on the project, three of them local.
Most of the school building has been vacant since it closed following the 2009-10 school year, though the Town of Deaver has used the old shop building as its town maintenance shop. The town is planning a new shop building across the street from Town Hall.
“If things go as planned, the shop will be the last to go, and hopefully the new maintenance shop will be up,” Camp said. “We’re rushing to put everything together to led that happen.”
The school closed with the consolidation into the new Rocky Mountain Middle/High School in Cowley and title was later turned over to the Town of Deaver. The town entered into a lease agreement in 2012 with Ridgeline Energy Services, which planned to turn the building into a manufacturing plant for devices to treat wastewater at the site of oil or gas wells.
The plant was never constructed, and Ridgeline Energy later filed for bankruptcy, but the town council wisely had required Ridgeline to put up a bond on the building. When the company forfeited the bond, the town got the money – and the building – Camp said.
The town made the difficult decision to demolish the school building.
“We really wanted to keep the gym, but with insurance, upkeep and heating costs, we couldn’t come close to keeping it open,” Camp said.
Camp said the Wyoming School Facilities Committee would have torn the building down immediately following its closure, but after the town and Ridgeline took over, that money was no longer available. He said the $600,000 bond was to be used to remove asbestos and other hazardous materials and demolish the building, and it was hoped that there would be money leftover to build the new maintenance shop, which Ridgeline had promised to do under the original terms of the lease.
“That was really optimistic,” Camp said, noting that complexities of dealing with a public school building and the cost of hazardous material removal and demolition hasn’t left enough money to build the shop.
“We’re investigating ways to fund part of it (planning and construction). We’re in the planning stages of that.”
Craig Sorenson of SE Inc. said the company received a notice of intent to award the contract on Sept. 1 and should receive the official bid award in the next week or two.
“We plan on starting around September 20,” Sorenson said, noting that SE has sub-contracted the project to TNT of Deaver, operated by Todd and Tyler Phillips.
Sorenson said the auditorium portion of the school building is the oldest standing portion of the original school building and was constructed in 1919. Most of the rest of the building was constructed in the mid-1960s after school district patrons approved a bond.
“The gym is still in very, very good shape,” Sorenson said. “It’s a shame to see it torn down. I do think it could have been used for something else.”
He agrees with Camp that the shop building can be demolished last to give the town time to work on a new maintenance shop building, and if the town needs more time, the demolition can be put off for a while.
Sorenson said TNT will likely start with the old middle school portion of the facility first, then work west to the auditorium and music room section, the former administrative offices and the west classroom wing, then tackle the gymnasium and eventually the ag building/town shop building.
“I’m glad we got it,” Sorenson said. “If we run into something that might mean something to the community, we can donate it to the town. Town Hall has all of the Deaver school memorabilia in it. There’s bound to be something tucked away.”
Meanwhile, the project to construct a new water system in Deaver is ready to roll, with contractor DRM Inc. of Gillette in the process of mobilizing and bringing in pipe for the project.
The project involves both the construction of a transmission line and a distribution system. Construction was to begin this summer, but there have been some hiccups, including the need to go back to the Wyoming Water Development Commission for additional funds for the transmission line.
“The original Level I study underestimated the cost of the transmission line by about $450,000, so the town had to go
to a WWDC contingency meeting,” Camp said. “The commission was not happy at all, but we got our funding.”
The new transmission line will bring water from the Shoshone Municipal Pipeline near Deaver Reservoir about 1.6 miles and encircle the town to feed a new distribution system within the town. The distribution system will run up and down the streets and connect to the transmission line at east end.
By David Peck