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There’s a whole lotta Mexican goin’ on: Taco 🌮 Johns celebrates 50

in Business/News
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“If you’ve got a tiger by the tail, hang on. I knew this was a tiger and I was ready to go right then,” that’s how Taco Johns co-founder Harold Holmes remembers deciding to embark on an entrepreneurial adventure that started in Cheyenne, Wyoming and grew to hundreds of restaurants over 50 years.

Taco Johns celebrates 50 years in business this week and we’ve got the skinny on how a humble taco stand on Carey Ave. – that was built in a week – turned into a national fast-food chain serving tacos (and potato oles) to fans in 23 states.

Modern Marvel: 90-year-old plane takes to the Wyoming skies

in News/Transportation
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The eyes go the skies when vintage aircraft signal their arrival.

A group of experimental aviators made it to Casper this weekend to spread the joy of flight and show off a 90-year-oold passenger plane from the era of Charles Lindbergh.

Frank Gambino tells us the story of the Ford Tri-Motor airplane, nicknamed the Tin Goose.

Triumph High School grads overcome adversity on the road to a diploma

in Education/News
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At Triumph High School, students overcome challenges outside the classroom in addition to the academic rigors of earning a high school diploma.

Their stories are remarkable and, not long ago, the likelihood of finding them in caps and gowns today was far from certain.

“There are a lot of complicated variables. I call it a constellation of variables that intersect and make schooling sometimes very difficult for our young people,” said Triumph High Principal Mike Helenbolt.

In a pre-graduation ceremony, 2019 graduate Chasely Moon thanked her son, in addition to teachers and advisors, for giving her the motivation to stay in school and earn her degree.

“I probably wouldn’t have put forth the effort to finish if I hadn’t realized how hard it was to make a living without a high school diploma,” Moon said.

Wyoming helium production helps keep world supply afloat

in News
Helium shortage
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By James Chilton, Cowboy State Daily

CHEYENNE – Helium may be the second-lightest element, but it’s weighing heavily on a lot of minds these days as the world struggles with its third global shortage in just 14 years.

It’s gotten bad enough that, when party supply superstore Party City announced earlier this month it plans to shutter 45 of its 870 stores in the U.S., many outlets pointed to helium as the culprit. Party City has since said the closures are unrelated to the helium shortage, but it has acknowledged that some stores have had trouble fulfilling balloon orders due to inconsistent helium supplies, and it hopes to have a new commercial supplier in place by the summer.

It may not be the first thing that springs to mind when thinking of Wyoming, but the Cowboy State plays a key role in keeping the helium supply chain afloat, providing up to 30 percent of the world’s supply.

While most people probably know helium best for its role in the party balloon business, or for the funny way it raises the pitch of your voice, it’s actually one of the most critically important elements on the planet. In fact, helium is one of 35 mineral materials considered essential to U.S. national economic and security interests, as recently defined by the Department of the Interior.

That’s because, aside from making balloons and blimps float, helium has many important uses in the technology sector.

With the lowest boiling point of any element at -452 degrees Fahrenheit, liquid helium is used as a coolant for magnets in MRI machines and for research operations like Europe’s Large Hadron Collider particle accelerator. Because it’s light and nonreactive, it’s also used as a shielding gas in arc welding, and it’s added to air tanks to make it easier for lungs to take in oxygen during deep ocean dives.

“It’s almost too valuable to fill party balloons with,” said Scott Quillinan, the director of research at UW’s School of Energy Resources.

But while it makes up about a quarter of all the matter in the universe, helium is surprisingly hard to come by on Earth. The name is a bit of a giveaway – helium was named for the Greek sun god Helios, since it was first detected not on Earth, but as part of the sun’s spectral light signature, caught during a solar eclipse in 1868.

On Earth, it makes up just 0.0005 percent of the air we breathe, and while other important gases like hydrogen and oxygen can be easily separated from more complex molecules, helium is notoriously stable and doesn’t combine with other elements.

That leaves just one primary source for helium on Earth: deep within the ground. As radioactive elements like uranium and thorium break down, they throw off helium atoms that then become trapped in natural gas formations.

“There are competing hypotheses as to why there is even helium in natural gas anywhere,” said geologist Ranie Lynds, the manager of the Wyoming State Geological Survey’s Energy & Mineral Resources division. “Some people have it as being mantle-driven, coming from a lot deeper in the earth, and because it’s so light it’s able to make its way up to the surface where it’s stored with natural gas.”

“Other people have argued it forms more from uranium and thorium decay in sedimentary rocks, then it’s moved along with water through these systems,” Lynds added.

Regardless of how it got there, there’s still not much to go around – helium comprises less than 0.3 percent of most commercial natural gas deposits. But in a handful of places those concentrations rise to as high as 8 percent, making helium extraction economically viable.

In Wyoming, all the state’s commercially-produced helium comes from the LaBarge field in western Sublette County. Natural gas extracted from LaBarge is piped down to ExxonMobil’s Shute Creek natural gas processing plant in eastern Lincoln County, where the helium is separated out from other gases like methane and carbon dioxide.

“The CO2 is sold for enhanced oil recovery opportunities and the methane is used for natural gas sales,” Quillinan said. “The helium concentration is only about 0.6 percent of the gas that comes out, but there’s not many places in the world where you can find helium, so even at those low percentages, it becomes economic to produce.”

 Quillinan noted that helium has to be cooled to almost absolute zero – the lowest physically-possible temperature – in order to be liquefied for storage and shipment. And even then, helium’s ultra-light nature makes it hard to keep contained. Once it’s gone, it’s gone for good, since even Earth’s gravity isn’t enough to keep it from just floating off into space.

“It can be very difficult to handle,” Quillinan said. “I’m an isotope geochemist, and one problem with even sampling isotopes of helium is you can’t use glass containers, because it’ll just slip through the glass.”

 The hassle is more than worth it, however. At least ExxonMobil seems to think so: figures published in 2014 in the scientific journal “Minerals” show that Wyoming accounted for 43 percent of U.S. helium production and 31 percent of global production from 2000 to 2012.

 “Looking at the numbers for 2012 specifically, Wyoming does top the list, then very close behind it is Kansas, followed by Texas, then Colorado and Oklahoma,” Lynds said. “Right now there’s pretty significant production in Wyoming and I would expect that to continue.”

In January, Wyoming State Geologist Erin Campbell wrote that, along with uranium, helium has some of the best development potential of any mineral material in the state. In addition to the known supplies at LaBarge and elsewhere in southwest Wyoming, Campbell said the WSGS “estimates 14.78 billion cubic feet of marginally economic and subeconomic helium resources exist … in the Greater Green River, Wind River, Powder River, and Bighorn basins and the western Wyoming thrust belt.”

But while those untapped resources may one day help to meet global demand for the gas, industry experts expect the current shortage will likely last through the remainder of this year, unless either demand starts dropping or until other large-scale helium projects in Qatar and Russia come online in 2020 and beyond.

VA to implement Mission Act, cutting wait times, enhancing healthcare programs

in Health care/military
File photo
File photo.
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By Ike Fredregill, Cowboy State Daily

A congressional act going into effect June 6 could make it easier for Wyoming veterans to access the health care providers of their choice. The Mission Act will replace the Choice Act of 2014, which was adopted as the congressional response to extreme wait times experienced by veterans seeking medical care through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“The Choice Act was a three-year law, which was intended solely for the purposes of pulling the VA into a newer era of community care,” said Sam House, a Cheyenne VA Medical Center spokesperson. “Then, President (Donald) Trump extended it for a year. The Mission Act, however, does not have a sunset, so it will be in place until Congress decides to remove it.”

With the Choice Act, veterans could seek primary and mental health care services from a local health care provider rather than from a VA facility if they lived outside a 40-mile radius of a VA medical center or could not schedule an appointment with their primary care provider at the VA within 30 days.

The Mission Act reduces those standards to a wait time of 20 or more days or a drive time of more than 30 minutes.

“They are not using specific matrix to look at drive times, but rather looking at the average drive time and taking into account heavy traffic periods,” House explained. “A guy living in Denver could live 5 miles from the VA, but it might take him 45 minutes to get there.”

For specialized care, the new act reduces the veterans’ wait time to be eligible for services at non-VA facilities from 30 days to 28 and changes the 60-mile radius requirement to a 60-minute radius.

“Congress is focusing on ensuring our vets are getting the best possible care as quickly as they need it,” House said.

Enhancing programs

In addition to easing access requirements, the Mission Act seeks to improve services already in place such as tele-health options, caregiver programs and VA infrastructure.

“The Mission Act streamlines and improves community care,” House said. “It establishes a new urgent care benefit for our veterans, and it expands caregiver eligibility.”

When the Choice Act was implemented, veterans were given the opportunity to seek healthcare providers outside VA facilities, which is referred to as community care, he said.

The VA’s internal software, however, did not communicate with the myriad programs used by health care providers outside its facilities. Simple tasks such as transferring medical records and authorizing payments required mountains of paperwork as well as numerous case-worker hours, House explained. The Mission Act seeks to streamline the process through installing new software, HealthShare Referral Manager (HSRM).

“HSRM is an end-to-end healthcare referral system,” said Josh Benavente, Cheyenne VA Community Care supervisor. “That’s where the VA will build our authorizations for payments and providers can submit medical records.”

The new system goes live in June.

“The biggest problem it’s fixing is previously we were relying on too many outdated programs to get information to and from community providers,” Benavente said. “It allows the VA to communicate with community providers faster and easier.”

Eligibility for the VA’s caregiver program is also slated to expand to include veterans from all eras of service. The expansion is scheduled to roll out during the next two years, starting with veterans who were injured on or before May 7, 1975.

On the tele-health front, the act could facilitate community partnerships in rural areas to increase long-range, video and phone healthcare-conferencing accessibility, House said.  

“What the Mission Act will do is strengthen our ability and reason for going into communities to establish a centralized tele-health port,” he explained. “We have a number of veterans that don’t have internet capability, but they want to stay with the VA and can’t make the trip to the Cheyenne VA every time.”

One such program could soon provide veterans living near Saratoga an opportunity to use equipment at the Saratoga Care Center to access Cheyenne VA tele-health programs, House added.

Bureaucracy

As June 6 rounds the corner, House said the VA is racing to ensure the transition is smooth. 

“It’s been a mad rush for all of the VA to be trained by June 6,” he said. “There are so many pieces and parts to the act.”

Despite more programs and enhanced services, House said the act will not likely lead to an increase of staffing at the Cheyenne VA.

Cowboy State Daily talked to several veterans who were unaware of the changes coming to the VA, but most said they would like the Mission Act to make it easier for veterans living in rural Wyoming to enter the community care program.

“The Choice Program didn’t work too well because of all the bureaucracy,” said John Hursh, a Laramie resident and former captain in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. “So, I’m hoping the Mission Act can fix some of that.”

“And they were proud to do so”: A moving Memorial Day tribute to the fallen

in military/News
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Start your day with gratitude and patriotism.

Watch this moving report from Monday’s Memorial Day service in Cheyenne. The ceremony offered a moving tribute to those who gave all in service to our country and a great reminder to share with our children and grandchildren of the blessing of being born in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

“These people gave their lives,” said Air Force veteran Floyd Watson. “Eighteen, nineteen, twenty-year-old kids gave their lives in sacrifice to this country. And they were proud to do so.”

The event was held at Cheyenne’s Beth El Cemetery and attended by area active duty military, veterans, local families and elected officials including Cheyenne Mayor Marian Orr.

Wyoming’s highest cost schools score lowest on ACT

in Education/News
Wyoming ACT test scores
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By Becky Orr, Cowboy State Daily

Poverty, a widely diverse student population and cultural differences all contribute to the low college preparedness exam scores posted by Fremont County schools, according to educators.

But at the same time, the national ACT exam is just one of a number of indicators of student performance, said the superintendents of Riverton and Arapahoe school districts.

“We don’t spend a lot of time emphasizing the ACT tests,” said Roy Brown, the interim superintendent of Arapahoe schools. “We think it is a predictor of learning, but we really want to make sure our students are receiving, advancing and achieving based on where we received them. We’re really interested in growth.”

State figures show that Fremont County’s eight school districts had the lowest composite ACT scores statewide in 2018 and the highest average per-student public education operating costs. The information came from a statistical report compiled by state economist Wenlin Liu.

Fremont County’s composite ACT score was 17.9, compared with Wyoming’s score of 19.5, and Teton County’s 21.7 score. The highest score possible is 36. ACT is a college admission exam that tests knowledge about English, math, reading and science.

The statistical report also pointed out that in Fremont County, the cost of public education for 2018 averaged about $22,300 per student, while the state average was about $17,700 per student.

Terry Snyder, the superintendent for Riverton schools, said the high per-student costs could be explained by the fact Fremont County is the state’s largest (geographically) and contains eight school districts — six of them in communities with low populations.

Snyder and Brown agreed that their districts will continue to work with students and teachers to improve achievement. But both regard the ACT exam as just one indicator of student performance and will not base improvement goals on it alone.

“It (the ACT) is a college prep test and it relies on a broad case of knowledge and information,” Snyder said. “We don’t use that as an excuse, but it is a reality with a test like ACT.” He puts more weight with the National Assessment for Educational Progress and the state’s WY-TOPP student performance test.

The poverty level of a district can affect ACT results, according to Snyder. Research done by the ACT system concluded that students from wealthier parents scored higher than poor students.

The poverty level in Fremont County in 2017 was 13.7 percent, higher than the state average of 11.3 percent and the national average of 12.3 percent, according to the American Community Survey. Snyder said he’s not surprised by the correlation between poverty level and test scores.

“But once we get the scores, we go to work to improve that,” he said. “Whether the students come from wealth or poverty, we have to work with every kid to maximize their learning.”

ACT research also shows that hispanic, black and Native American students score lower on average than white and Asian students who take the ACT. Fremont County has a significant minority population, Snyder said. The county is home to the Wind River Indian Reservation, where members of the Northern Arapaho and the Eastern Shoshone nations live.

Arapaho High Charter School has a high percentage of non-white students, Brown said.

The charter high school has 23 students in grades 9 through 12 this year. The district gets instructional help from the Wyoming Department of Education, Brown said.

“We are planning to work with them (the department) more intensively” in the next training session.

Michelle Panos, communications director for the state education agency, said the department offers several supports for schools that don’t meet expectations in various areas, whether it’s in Fremont County or any school district in Wyoming.

Resources include providing teacher training workshops and lessons in how to work with materials that are culturally and contextually sensitive, she said in an emailed response to questions.

Panos said an ACT score is not the only indicator school districts use to measure student success. WY-TOPP scores and NAEP scores are examples of others, she said.

“These are only snapshots of student performance,” she said. “Along with these, district level assessments use multiple measures that look at student performance over multiple periods in time.”

Making the curriculum relevant to Native American students is an important goal, according to Brown. Staff members at Arapaho High Charter School teach the Northern Arapaho language and two other districts in the county teach the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone languages.  

“We really believe it helps students become better rounded and primed for opportunities to learn,” Brown said.

“It may not directly affect ACT scores now, but once students are in an environment where they feel safe,” the academic instruction will be better received, he said.

Teaching the language has helped get students more engaged with school.  

“We have students who haven’t always enjoyed coming, but once they are in these activities, they feel validated and many hate to miss school now,” Brown said.

Alfred Redman is a Northern Arapaho Tribal Education director and also is affiliated with Sky People Higher Education, an organization that helps provide scholarships to Native American students who want to attend college.

Redman, 82, taught social studies for 23 years at the Wyoming Indian High in Ethete. He wants to make education relevant to students and continues to stay involved. Redman wants to change the curriculum to better fit the needs of Native American students.He wants to get parents and educators in Fremont County schools to meet so they can identify areas to improve.

“I’m having a hell of a time getting people to come together,” he said. “I’m trying to find out from the people what they think.”

Range Writing: The Push to Build a Predator Disneyland

in Cat Urbigkit/Column/Range Writing/wildlife
Rocky Mountain Wolf Coalition
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By Cat Urbigkit, Range Writing columnist for Cowboy State Daily

If one were to believe the spiel, wolf advocates are benevolent custodians of the public interest, and ranchers suffer from “the myth of the wolf” and “a fear deeply ingrained” that can be cured with education. A few recent examples of this custodial role show that the advocates propose “a wolves for thee, not for me” landscape – one in which decisions are made by unaffected residents of population centers on behalf of uneducated rural serfs (serfs whose work feeds the nation and are most impacted by ever-expanding wolf populations).

For example, soon after the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife issued a letter supporting the Trump administration’s proposal to remove gray wolves in the Lower 48 States from the list of federally protected species, Oregon Governor Kate Brown issued a letter “to clarify and correct” the state position, noting that “the State of Oregon and its agencies do not support the delisting of wolves ….”

Citing the statewide wolf population count of 137 animals, Brown noted that the success of wolf recovery in Oregon “is unquestioned,” but added: “Our collaborative work and its success cannot protect imperiled wildlife beyond our borders in other states. Our commitment to the Oregon way gives me great confidence that wolves are on the path to recovery and do not warrant a listing within Oregon, but their listing under the federal Endangered Species Act affords them some protection across their range.”

Thanks Governor Brown, for trying to mandate wolf protection outside your state’s jurisdiction. I’m sure your neighbors to the south – northern California sheep and cattle producers – appreciate your benevolence.

Colorado’s example is even worse. Failing to gain support from state wildlife officials, national park officials, or residents who stand to be impacted by a proposal to reintroduce wolves to Colorado, wolf advocates – led by Mike Phillips of the Turner Endangered Species Fund – now plan to take the proposal to the ballot box.

Rocky Mountain Wolf email pushing a ballot initiative to reintroduce wolves in Colorado.

Phillips headed the Yellowstone wolf reintroduction program for the National Park Service, and currently serves in the Montana legislature. Phillips’s Rocky Mountain Wolf Project includes a “science advisory team” that will seem familiar to those involved in the wolf reintroduction program to Yellowstone National Park. Joining Phillips is Ed Bangs, Carter Niemeyer, and Rick McIntrye. Of course, none of these men reside within the area of impact, but the serfs are to accept their superior wisdom.

The Colorado ballot initiative will allow the heavily populated Front Range metropolitan areas east of the Continental Divide in the state to vote to require state wildlife officials to reintroduce gray wolves to Colorado – but further requiring “such reintroductions being restricted to the public lands west of the Continental Divide” by the close of 2023.

It’s a classic case of “wolves for thee, but not for me” by the benevolent custodians of the public interest.

This isn’t the first time for Colorado residents: In 2016, Defenders of Wildlife and Earthjustice proposed that Mexican wolves should be released in Colorado, to which Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW) responded that not only was Colorado not within the historic range of the species, “the cost of living with predators are not borne  by most of our citizens. Agricultural producers and sportsmen will bear the brunt of the cost. Conversely, the benefits will largely accrue to those who advocate for introducing wolves.”

That benefit is the pleasure of knowing that wolves are there, to maintain Colorado’s healthy ecosystems. But as CPW notes, “We are unaware of any scientific studies that indicate Colorado needs another large predator in order to restore balance to our natural systems.”

Since the Mexican wolf proposal didn’t fly, and Rocky Mountain National Park rejected the idea of wolf reintroduction there, those proposals have been replaced with the ballot box proposition to release gray wolves into western Colorado. That gray wolves from the north would be placed closer to the Mexican wolf population to the south, perhaps promoting interbreeding between the two and diluting the Mexican wolf genetic pool, isn’t a concern to wolf advocates.

It’s worth taking a look at the “science advisory team” for the Colorado wolf project. In addition to the old guard from the Yellowstone wolf reintroduction, there are numerous others, with their professional affiliations listed. Is this to imply that their agencies support the Colorado wolf project? They don’t.

The Rocky Mountain Wolf Project claims to be a “grassroots organization dependent on small-dollar contributions from concerned individuals like you,” yet notes at the bottom of its webpage that it is a “fiscally sponsored project of the Tides Center, a 501(c)(3) organization and the nation’s largest fiscal sponsor.”  The Capital Research Center describes the sponsorship as “using its nonprofit status as a legal umbrella for left-wing groups that have not or cannot apply for tax-exempt status with the IRS. The Tides Center does not directly fund these infant groups; instead, it operates as a feeder, accepting outside donations and redirecting them towards its numerous ‘projects’ with the goal of developing them into standalone organizations.”

CRC notes that Tides is a left-leaning enterprise: “Using a sophisticated funding model, Tides has grown into the leading platform for laundering away ties between wealthy donors and the radical causes they fund—while generating hundreds of new organizations along the way.”

With smug satisfaction, these wolf promoters can be confident their decisions on behalf of the uneducated pastoral populace are justified, never doubting that the negative impacts of wolves on rural residents will be greatly overshadowed by their benefits.

Presenting a Disneyesque worldview while courteously accusing ranchers of being uneducated hicks is modus operandi, rather than facing the reality that when it comes to wolves, things aren’t as rosy when viewed with open eyes.

Cat Urbigkit is an author and rancher who lives on the range in Sublette County, Wyoming. Her column, Range Writing, appears weekly in Cowboy State Daily.

War is Hell: A Memorial Day remembrance

in military/News
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As we reflect this weekend on the sacrifice of those who have given of themselves in our armed services, our Robert Geha visits with his Uncle Eddie “Goose” Gazel, a World War II veteran, about the battle of Tarawa in the Japanese archipelago.

Thank you to all who have served and serve today. We honor your sacrifice.

Legislator to proceed with effort to ban ‘sanctuary cities.’

in immigration/News
Sanctuary cities
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By James Chilton, Cowboy State Daily

CHEYENNE – A Casper legislator said he intends to continue his efforts to ban sanctuary cities in the state as momentum behind the issue continues to build amid the crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Although no cities in Wyoming identify themselves as sanctuary cities, Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper, said the prohibition he seeks needs to be spelled out as a part of state law.

“I think laws should be followed. I don’t want sanctuary cities here in Wyoming,” Gray said. “The people of Wyoming want us to get ahead of this and ban sanctuary cities; that’s what’s going to help us be successful.”

This month, Florida became the most recent state to pass legislation seeking to ban sanctuary cities – those cities where law enforcement agencies and local governments limit their cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

It’s the latest development in a growing movement among states seeking to go on the record as opposing policies adopted by some cities and counties to shield undocumented immigrants from deportation or family separation by Immigrations and Custom Enforcement. 

The modern notion of sanctuary cities dates back to 1989, when San Francisco passed a “City and County of Refuge” ordinance blocking city employees from using city resources to assist federal enforcement of immigration law except for some legally-mandated situations. With Florida’s action, 12 states have now passed laws seeking to prohibit or discourage local adoption of sanctuary city policies, and the National Conference of State Legislatures counts at least 21 other state legislatures considering similar legislation in the near- to mid-future.

Wyoming has been on that latter list for several years now, with the most recent effort to curb sanctuary cities being spearheaded by Gray. 

“My bill would ban sanctuary cities in state statute and prevent any state funds from going to sanctuary cities,” he said. “I wrote it myself; it’s not based on any model legislation. But I think it’s comparable (to bans passed by other states).”

Gray’s first attempt at introducing a bill to block sanctuary cities during the 2018 budget session failed to get the two-thirds vote needed for introduction. This year, his bill’s latest incarnation, House Bill 151, didn’t face that hurdle and made it out of the House Corporations Committee on a 5-4 vote, only to be defeated in the House by a vote of 22 to 36.

Gray said he was “disturbed” by that vote, stressing that while Wyoming doesn’t presently have any sanctuary city policies in place — Jackson was erroneously listed as one back in 2010 — there’s no good reason to leave that option on the table.

Byron Oedekoven, executive director of the Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police, said his association’s members largely consider the issue a moot point given the lack of any meaningful push for sanctuary city policies in Wyoming. His bigger concern, he said, would be if the Legislature were to try to prohibit local law enforcement from cooperating with the feds.

“If they said ‘let’s do the opposite’ and they create a sanctuary law saying we couldn’t cooperate with the fed, we would be diametrically opposed to that,” Oedekoven said. “By virtue of our position and oath of office, we want to uphold the law; and the law is, if you have a warrant for the guy and he’s supposed to be arrested, we would want to see him arrested.”

Dave Fraser, executive director of the Wyoming Association of Municipalities, said his group took a “monitor” position on Gray’s bill in the previous session – effectively a neutral stance – also citing the lack of any real sanctuary city push among WAM’s membership. That said, Fraser expects the bill, or rather its potential successor, may get some attention at WAM’s annual membership convention next month in Sheridan.

“I’m aware of this as a national issue and I understand that some of our state representatives may want to take positions on that; but for our part, I’m not sure we would object to such legislation if none of our cities intended to go that route,” Fraser said. “If our cities were contemplating it, that would influence how active we would be on taking a position on that.”

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