Moorcroft Mayor Upset About Getting Pushed Out of Business Council Grant

The mayor of Moorcroft is upset that a Wyoming grant program became so narrowed that his community no longer qualifies. He said the grant became a "pet project" and now only benefits the town of Sundance.

Leo Wolfson

May 14, 20248 min read

The Old Stoney building in Sundance will likely be the only in the state to qualify for the Wyoming Business Council grant program.
The Old Stoney building in Sundance will likely be the only in the state to qualify for the Wyoming Business Council grant program. (Courtesy Photo)

Wyoming’s smaller towns have limited resources and only so many ways of paying for projects.

That’s why Moorcroft Mayor Ben Glenn was disappointed when the eligibility requirements for a Wyoming Business Council Community Facility Rehabilitation (CFR) grant became so narrow that it pushed out his small community in northeast Wyoming from being able to participate in it.

“We really thought we were a slam dunk for this and we really thought it would’ve helped our community,” Glenn said.

How It Works

The CFR program has $2.8 million for cities and towns to complete the preservation of former school facilities as community centers. 

Senate President Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower, said the origin of the CFR program and money was only ever intended as a way to help the Old Stoney building in the town of Sundance, a Crook County icon that’s on the National Register of Historic Places.

Glenn said Moorcroft started making plans to participate in the CFR program in the summer of 2023 in order to replace a leaky roof on the Moorcroft Town Center, a local recreation and community center that was previously the town’s original elementary school built in 1912.

He said fixing the leak will help make the facility a more viable space for the community. It is already used by a few local organizations, as a fitness center and for sporting events. The city hall is also planning to move into the building in the near future.

“That’s why we were pretty excited about that grant,” Glenn said. “Everybody I talked to in Cheyenne said that’s a home run for you guys, you guys are perfect, you guys are great candidates for this project.”

Without prior warning, last fall, Glenn was notified by the Business Council that the CFR program was being paused to allow reconsideration for the program by the Legislature.

When he was updated again, Glenn learned that the Legislature had added further restrictions to the program during the 2024 session this spring.

The new requirements state that a facility must be on the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places or be a National Historic Landmark in a city or town with a population of less than 1,500 people. 

There are only three other Wyoming facilities on these lists aside from Old Stoney that could qualify for the CFP. However, to participate, an entity must also have received funding or technical assistance from the Business Council for the preservation of its facility prior to March 2024. 

In short, the program was narrowed to cater to only one desired participant.

“It’s almost comical how much of a pet project it turned into,” Glenn said.

Wasn’t Intended For You

Old Stoney is a 1923-built building that originally housed Crook County High School. Today, it houses the Crook County Museum.

Driskill said historic features like this hold a particularly important role in small communities like Sundance, but can be expensive to run. He finds it important that Wyoming retain its world class features for generations to come.

“For me, to help really make a difference in my local community, I’m more than happy to try and direct that money back into my community,” Driskill said. 

Getting money for Old Stoney is an issue Driskill said he’s been dealing with for around 12 years with the Business Council, based on an agreement that the facility would receive more than $4 million in grants.

Driskill said the final tranche of money will finish the third floor of the building, which will house an auditorium and stage with original ornate-tin ceiling tiles, a kitchen and a party/meeting room. The facility has already received $2.4 million from the Business Council that was disbursed in 2017.

When Sundance came back to the Business Council to get its final portion of the money after 2017, Driskill said they were told the program had changed and they were no longer guaranteed the money. He said he told members of the Council that it had violated the Code of the West.

“That made me pretty angry,” he said. “You made a promise, you need to fulfill it.”

Driskill’s daughter, Andrea Wood, is the secretary of the Crook County Museum board that oversees the facility. 

Josh Dorrell, chief executive officer of the Business Council, said his organization has changed significantly over the past decade in the type of projects it funds. Previously, the Business Council gave much more money to standalone projects. Now, its focus is on helping spur investment and economic growth in local communities.

“The projects that we do today, we have a lot more return on investment focus,” he said. “We have a lot more business perspective on what those should do for a community.”

Dorrell said the fact that a number of communities like Moorcroft started signing up to participate in CFP also came as a surprise.

“This is not a program we were pushing for or trying to do," Dorrell said, stating that it just "appeared."

Pet Projects 

Driskill helped include the CFP program in the 2023 supplemental budget passed by the Legislature. Rep. Clark Stith, R-Rock Springs, agreed with Driskill that this money and program was only ever intended to help Old Stoney.

“I did not put the money in the budget to reopen the program,” Driskill said. “They closed the program down and they weren’t doing it anymore.”

It’s not uncommon for legislators to try and push through money and bills that could help facilities in their local communities, but they’re not supposed to craft legislation purely for the sole benefit of a specific community or location. 

This dynamic came on display during the 2024 session when the Sweetwater County delegation fought vigorously for $50 million in state money for a new high school in Rock Springs.

Similar efforts have been made in recent years to bring charter schools to specific towns in western Wyoming and an air tower to the Casper International Airport.

The CFP situation is more unique however when considering that Driskill also represents Moorcroft in his district. 

Dorrell said he then received communications from members of the Legislature to pump the brakes on the program, which he paused last fall. Glenn said he wouldn’t have had an issue with these changes if they didn’t occur “in the 11th hour.” He said the money had already been allotted and budgeted for his community. 

Despite efforts by Rep. J.T. Larson, R-Rock Springs, this spring to broaden the program through an amendment he made to the budget that passed through the House, by the time the budget reached the second Joint Conference Committee’s final version of the budget, it had been removed.

Larson said his amendment would have helped Rock Springs develop a facility that could be used for larger conventions and outside events that would draw more people to his city.

In its place were the more restrictive guidelines to participate in the program, an effort Driskill said Rep. Lloyd Larsen, R-Lander, was helping to push through.

“It just really fixed a wrong is all it did,” Driskill said. “When someone makes a promise and it’s supposed to be that way, that’s the way it needs to happen.”

Back To Square One

Now, Moorcroft is back to square one with its town center. Glenn said the town has been making incremental repairs to the leaking roof, but is at their wits’ end with the problem.

“You can only fix the tube in a tire so many times before you’ve got to buy a new tube,” he said.

He’s also frustrated because he said the town was only planning to ask for $450,000 through the grant, still leaving a significant chunk of money for other projects around the state. 

Glenn said Driskill has never communicated with anyone from the Town of Moorcroft about this issue despite being called.

Driskill said he only received one call about it from a representative of Moorcroft, which he believes is not enough. 

“If Moorcroft wants to do it, they need to work with Rep. Neiman (R-Hulett) and myself and make it clear what they want,” he said. “I’m not positive they know what they really want.”

Driskill and Dorrell also stressed that state grant money is never guaranteed to help fulfill a community’s needs.

“Projects that maybe in the past that were funded or partially funded wouldn’t be funded today,” Dorrell said.

The Business Council board is expected to rule on the CFP grant disbursements in September. To date, no application has been submitted yet for Old Stoney. The deadline is June 15.

Leo Wolfson can be reached at

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Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter