Commissioners conduct special meeting to resolve shooting range usage dispute
|Use of the Castle Gate Town shooting range was the at the center of a recent county commission meeting. |
Some straight shooting by the Carbon County commissioners put a lid on a dispute about the use of the North Springs Shooting and Recreation facility at a special meeting last Friday.
Commissioners found themselves in the crossfire of accusations volleyed between members of a gun club and the range master.
The growing rift ultimately resulted in the banning of two of the clubmembers from the range, which lead the group to appeal to the board.
The parties took the opportunity to state their cases before the commissioners on April 4.
First up was SueAnn Martell aka Kitty Tetons, secretary of The Balanced Rock Regulators, which is one of two Single Action Shooting Society (SASS) clubs in Carbon County.
"This issue has really come to a head," said Martell.
She indicated that ongoing issues erupted following a phone call between Olsen and Darrin Teply, vice president of the Regulators.
"It started off normal, but then things blew up," she said. "The first call we got from Olsen after was banning the entire club and then a second one just banning myself and Darrin."
Martell reiterated a number of complaints and concerns that were originally voiced in a four-page letter sent to commissioners March 5. The concerns included what the Regulators considered to be the lack of maintenance of several areas of the cowboy town, unfair accusations against the club for breaking equipment on the range and preferential treatment toward the other SASS group that resulted in members being denied equal access to the facility.
According to Martell, the club had also received a letter from Olsen stating his reasons for banning her and Teply.
She said the reasons given were not following procedures, not checking in properly, parking in restricted areas of the range, using props and equipment without permission and having negative and misleading information on the Regulator's Web site.
Martell took each of the items in order and denied their veracity, giving an alternative explanation of each cited situation.
For example, to Olsen's assertion that the club members did not follow procedures, Martell said, "We have been involved with North Springs right from its beginning and if we make mistakes we need to be told about them. All of our officers have been trained in SASS procedures."
Olsen then stepped up to the podium. He agreed that things did come to a head with the phone call Martell mentioned.
"I have been having problems with the member and this group since the beginning," said Olsen.
As for treating the Regluators unfairly, Olsen said he treated both clubs equally.
He said that problems arose when Teply would request opening the gate at 8 a.m. for the club's third Saturday shoot and then the members wouldn't show up until 8:30 a.m. or 8:45 a.m.
Olsen also said Teply had parked on a snowbank and an area reserved for handicap parking. In addition, he said the Regulators had used the other club's equipment that is stored at the range and not restored it properly.
"It looked like they just threw it back after they used it," commented Olsen.
He also shared his findings about the Regulators' Website.
"They put on the wire several things that were completely misleading," said Olsen. "It says the Balance Rock Regulators are from all over. I know that's not true. I have seen their members when they sign in and there is only one guy from Gunnison, the rest of the members are from Price."
Faced with both sides standing firm in their convictions, the commissioners attempted to untangle the myriad of accusations and responses and find a solution.
"I don't have a crystal ball and I haven't been able to ascertain to ascertain the truth," Commissioner Steve Burge.
The commissioner asked why things had gotten to that point and why the Regulators had not discussed their concerns with Olsen earlier.
Burge seemed especially dismayed that the group had gone public with the members' letter.
Commissioner Bill Krompel reminded attendees at the meeting that the range is new and that all budding enterprises go through growing pains. He directed Olsen to compile written instructions and rules for North Springs that could be handed out to all who use it.
"We have had some growing pains but I think we can co-exist and work together," said Krompel.
Commissioner Mike Milovich pulled it all together. From now on, the commissioner said no club can store its equipment on county property.
"If they want their stuff up there, they can get a storage shed," said Milovich.
The commissioner indicated that Martell and Teply would be reinstated and the slate was being wiped clean.
Milovich pointed out that all rules and regulations must be followed, including parking at the facility.
The commissioner clarified for the group that the Regulators should have use of the Castle Gate Town the third Saturday of each month.
If that day had been given to anyone else, it would have to be returned to the Regulators.
And he topped off his comments with a reminder that Carbon County was lucky to have two SASS groups and should capitalize on it.
"Why not have a friendly competition between the two?" suggested Milovich. "If you get the spit, I will personally provide the lamb and we can have a community barbecue."