Legal paper selected

By: 
Alexis Barker, NLJ News Editor

Each new year brings a list of required tasks for government entities across at the local, state and national level. Many of those tasks are routine, but the designation of the official county newspaper by the Board of Weston County Commissioners has been  a bit more challenging than other annual considerations. 

Because there are two newspapers in Weston County, the decision may not be as easy as it is in other Wyoming counties, but the commissioners decided for the eighth year in a row to choose the Weston County Gazette as the legal newspaper for county business after considering bids from both the Gazette and the News Letter Journal at their meeting on Jan. 3.

The vote was split 3-2, with those who favored the Gazette (which is located in Upton) indicating a desire to go with the lowest bid, while those who advocated for use of the News Letter Journal (which is located in Newcastle) argued that the commission should consider the overall value of larger newspaper’s product and reach.

The bid from the Weston County Gazette, with a distribution of 639 per week, presented a bid of $234 for a sample set of minutes provided by the county. The News Letter Journal has an average distribution of 1,712 issues per week (based on 2022 figures) and submitted a bid of $840 for the same set of minutes.

Per Wyoming Statute 18-3-519, newspapers must have a distribution of at least 500 to be considered a legal newspaper, and the paper must also publish 52 weeks a year. In their bids, both newspapers claimed to meet these qualifications and any other required by statute.

Commissioner Don Taylor suggested that the board should consider alternating between papers each year, and reminded his fellow commissioners that there is no requirement to go with the lowest bid in state statute. 

“I have felt this way since the first time. I respect both papers. I absolutely do,” Taylor said noting that he would have no issue with the county putting the legal notices in both county papers if it helped the public be more informed about county government

“The only winners in that game are going to be the constituents. I have said it before, and that is where I stand now,” he added. Taylor said that his desire to put the legal notices in both papers comes down to transparency and guaranteeing that the public has access to the information.

Commissioner Nathan Todd said that he was concerned over the discrepancy in cost between the two bids, but Commissioner Garrett Borton stated that the board must consider the level of service provided for the price that is being charged.

In an effort to move the conversation forward, Todd told the rest of the board that the task in front of them was the selection of an official newspaper. He suggested the board should make that determination for the lowest bidder and that discussions should be continued with the News Letter Journal to  secure other forms of advertisement in an effort to increase transparency. 

The board indicated a desire to hold those discussions but the decision to select the Weston County Gazette as the official county newspaper carried on just a 3-2 vote. Chairman Ed Wagoner was joined by Commissioners Vera Huber and Todd in voting to award the contract to the Upton-based newspaper, while Commissioners Borton and Taylor voted against the motion.

 

News Letter Journal

News Letter Journal
14 W. Main St.
P.O. Box 40
Newcastle, WY 82701
Ph: (307) 746-2777
Fax: (307) 746-2660

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