By 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday evening hundreds had shuffled into the Natrona County Commissioner meeting, spilling out into the hallways.

This was the fullest the courtroom has been since Peter Nicolaysen became a commissioner, he said, and he thanked the public for their interest in county matters.

The hot topic of the night was the potential gravel pit to be placed at the public recreation school section by Coates Road and Squaw Creek in Casper.

Speakers included the president of 71 Construction in Casper, Steve Loftin.

"I am an enthusiastic proponent of gravel pits in my professional life" he said.

He brought up gravel pits in the Casper-area that have not caused problems in Natrona County and added that they will, "hopefully", be good neighbors.

Next up was Colby Frontiero who brought up "Cowboy Ethics," including being tough, but fair, and knowing where to draw the line.

"The main one that I think is applicable here is 'Know where to draw the line' and I there are lots of user groups here and lots of residents out on Coates Road and when you signed on to be the Cowboy commission there's another one of the cowboy ethics which is to ride for the brand.

"And so I think at this point you're in a position that can be really hard. Which is to decide which brand you're going to ride for."

Frontiero added that the choice is between the user groups represented at the meeting or industry -- which he acknowledged is good, and that many Wyomingites are industry people.

Esther Anderson followed, she has lived on Coates Road for 50 years.

"We have a very close relationship with all of our neighbors here. We specifically chose this location for its wide open spaces, beautiful views, lack of water, sounds, and light pollution, and its peaceful location.

"I think the gravel pit will cause us grievous harm financially and destroy our health and peace."

Anderson continued that her husband has worked in construction all her life.

"If we get this pit, he will not be able to breathe," citing incurable lung diseases that they will potentially be exposed to if a pit is to run 24 hours a day.

"If our very lives do not concern you," said Esther, "than our property values should."

She also cited studies suggesting possible dangers to habitat for foxes, coyotes, antelope, hawks, and other species.

Another resident, Shawn Garret, that resides near Squaw creek is a retired nurse. She expressed concerns about mesothelioma and other health affects that could happen as a result of the gravel pits, adding that the city could be on the hook when and if out-of-state lawyers go after the City of Casper and Natrona County in lawsuits.

"I don't want to lose what Wyoming is made of or what Casper has been. People will sue when the first person dies and the first horse dies. And that's when all the outside attorneys are going to come because mesothelioma, it's the same thing, they've already got the case reports ready to go and they'll come and take all of our money."

Another certified nurse that spoke against the pit saying that silica in the air could cause restrictive and incurable lung disease for inhabitants of the area.

Rancher Jason Knopp lives on Coates Road and says it would rip right through the center of his family ranch, which they have significant water rights on to feed their cattle through the winter.

He is worried that a potential mine would wreck storage water they depend on in the fall and early winter.

"He [Kyle True] would significantly change the flow of the water coming from the mountain to the residences.

"With that, once that flow is changed it can never come back. Doesn't matter how much he can throw at this or how much reclamation he thinks he can do."

Others referenced the quality of life angle that plays a role in this argument against the gravel pit.

In closing, commissioner Dallas Laird commented that the Trues are people of Natrona County, and they must be treated fairly, but wondered out loud if a gravel pit would be allowed at the base of the Tetons; "Sometimes, money has to take a second seat."

Commisioner Steven Freel applauded the resistance's ability to organize fast.

"We'll do the work on our half, you continue to do the work you're doing on your side."

Vice Chair Jim Milne urged the crowd to talk to local legislature and let them know how important local control is pertaining to the matter, and said "It's not important to them down in Cheyenne."

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