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City council expresses support of out-of-town retreat to discuss future, first time in years

GILLETTE, Wyo. – The Gillette City Council will likely hold its next multi-day retreat outside of Gillette following a need expressed by Mayor Shay Lundvall for the council to consider their future direction without distractions. 

“I think this is important because I think it’s something that- we’re rebuilding here,” Lundvall commented during the council’s meeting on Jan. 10. “I think it’s something that I’ve been wanting to see as we continue to move forward,”

Lundvall said having an out-of-town meeting would allow the council to get away and have a retreat together while moving in some of the goals and strategic planning that have been identified in recent weeks.

The retreat will likely be an overnight venture with members of the council needing to spend significant time away from their families and their daily work lives, according to City Administrator Hyun Kim. 

“Just focus your energies on the strategic plans for the city over the next year,” Kim said, adding that before staff goes the route of signing any contracts with outside venues he would like to see consensus from the council on the matter. 

Councilmember Heidi Gross said that she would support the idea and that she thought it was a good opportunity for the council, both new members and established ones, to get to know each other in a relaxed manner. 

“Plus, we avoid a lot of distractions, I know for me it’s hard to get away from work sometimes and family demands, and so I think that would be good for us to take that opportunity. I would support that,” Gross said.  

Councilmember Tricia Simonson agreed, saying that sometimes when they have their retreats in town it can be difficult to focus on the things that they are trying to accomplish with work and families. 

“I would support that as long as we were a decent distance from home, not traveling too far, of course,” Simonson said. 

Councilmember Jim West said that transparency is a big part of their doings as a city council and said that announcing the retreat publicly was a great example of the council’s willingness to be open with the community. 

“I initially thought we shouldn’t leave town, but talking with staff and other councilmembers I agree with your position on it,” West said. 

An out-of-town retreat hasn’t been done by the council in eight years, according to Councilmember Tim Carsrud, who said the last time the council left town to discuss city business was around 9 years ago.

“I think this is a good decision to give this a go and I like the idea of no distractions,” Carsrud said. He said that Gross made a good point and while some members of the council have worked together in the past, they don’t really know each other all that well. 

Councilmember Billy Montgomery said that he would go with the crowd on the matter, and said his opinion on the matter fell in line with West’s comments. 

“We’ll plan accordingly and we’ll be as transparent and candid with the public as well,” Kim said. “We have a budget amendment coming up that we’ll televise this to the public as well and we’ll make those accommodations. ”

Kim said that the retreat would be scheduled sometime after they select an applicant for the vacant Ward 3 seat and that it would most likely be the first or second week in February. 

“Thank you guys, I appreciate it,” Lundvall said to the council. “We have a high sense of urgency. We have a lot to accomplish in the next two to four years. And so, I’m super excited.”