County residents Larry French and Larry Dodge are continuing their efforts to create an emergency food supply for Park County — so far without financial support from the Park County Commissioners.
French and Dodge appeared before the commissioners during their May 2 meeting to provide an update on a plan they first discussed with them on Jan. 3. The new plan has a higher cost that was questioned by the commissioners.
During the January meeting, French and Dodge suggested the county invest in a storage facility for wheat, corn, beans and oats in preparation for a potential countywide food shortage. The initial plan was to store 1,050 tons of food, or enough for each Park County resident to receive one pound of the commodities each day for 70 days.
French said at the time that he estimated the cost of purchasing the commodities at around $493,000 and the cost of creating the storage facility at around $170,158, bringing the total project cost to $663,158.
However, French said during the May meeting that their plan had pivoted in recent months from commodity storage to the purchase of freeze-dried food that could be stored in shipping containers.
“With the freeze-dried food, all you have to do is add water and heat and you can eat,” French said. “But for beans, you have to soak them overnight, and corn requires some of the same stuff ... So the most efficient way that we’ve come up with so far is this way (the freeze-dried food).”
According to a spreadsheet provided by French and Dodge, they reached out to seven freeze-dried food companies and found that the cost of feeding 10,000 county residents — about a third of the county’s population — for 30 days ranged from between $2.65 million and $6.95 million.
This is a cost that several county commissioners, including chair Dossie Overfield, were not eager to pay at this time.
“I’m just one commissioner, but in my mind, it would take more buy-in from the community to prove they feel there is a need in order for us to use tax dollars to do this,” Overfield said. “They need to indicate to us that they are interested in doing this and having this available ... In my mind, the county doesn’t jump in with tax dollars to start the program if we don’t even know if it’s viable.”
Commissioner Lloyd Thiel agreed, but said he would be more open to providing funding if French and Dodge created a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
French and Dodge continue to argue that a countywide food storage plan would be valuable in case of a massive shortage in the community.
“There are several collapses that could occur,” French said. “An EMP (electromagnetic pulse) could wipe the electrical grid out. We could also have an economic collapse.”
Earlier this year, Jeff Martin — director of the county’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Program — told the commissioners he was not aware of any program similar to the one being proposed by French and Dodge, either in Wyoming or across the nation.
Still, Dodge said this might be a good time for Park County to be ahead of the curve.
“Even though we can’t find another county or state that’s doing this, maybe in the near future they’ll say, ‘Let’s do what Park County is doing,’” Dodge said.
As we meddle in yet another European border dispute… this time with nuclear arms in the wings, I can’t think of a better idea than taking care of our own for a change. Kudos to Messrs. French and Dodge.
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