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Gillette, Sheridan Colleges Will Save $2.8 Million By Scrapping Athletic Programs

in Education/News
5056

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The elimination of most athletic programs at colleges in Sheridan and Gillette will save those colleges $2.8 million, according to officials.

Officials with the Northern Wyoming Community College District, which encompasses both Sheridan College and Gillette College, said in a news release the cuts were part of a needed $3.96 million reduction in spending.

All eight of Wyoming’s community colleges are looking at spending cuts as they prepare their budgets for the coming year. However, one college, Casper College, specifically rejected the idea of cutting athletic programs.

Northern Wyoming Community College District trustees declared a financial emergency on June 18 due to the impacts from the coronavirus pandemic as well as imminent cuts to ongoing funding from the state.

The colleges have discontinued their men’s and women’s basketball, soccer and volleyball programs to save $2.8 million. The rodeo teams from both schools will continue, although with significantly reduced budgets.

“This decision was far from easy and definitely not something we wanted to take away from our student-athletes. However, we simply cannot maintain a vision that includes full-time coaches, full-ride athletic scholarships coming from our general fund, and expensive recruitment and travel,” said Walter Tribley, the district’s president.

Tribley said in the release that the long-term goal is to eventually bring back additional athletic opportunities at the Division III level of the National Junior College Athletics Association. The teams for both colleges had been competing in Division I of the NJCAA.

In addition to athletics, cuts were made to the district’s administration, two academic programs and the campus police departments.

The programs, culinary arts and hospitality management, will be discontinued and the district won’t fill several open administrative and staff positions and will implement reorganizations that will equal the savings of seven full-time positions. These cuts to the programs and administration total $500,000.

Sixteen positions were also eliminated.

The campus police departments will transition to a more “traditional format,” resulting in a $260,000 cut. Travel will be limited to essential trips only, which will result in $400,000 in savings.

“The changes we will be making as a district that yield the greatest ongoing savings were selected not because they were failing in any way,” Tribley said. “They were selected because the annual cost of the programs versus the annual revenue generated by those programs make them unsustainable during this time of financial crisis.”

All scholarships will be honored and students enrolled in discontinued academic programs will have the chance to complete their degree requirements. All athletes will be released from their commitments to the community college district.

“Our number one priority is our students. While these decisions will impact some students directly, it is the best way forward for our District to minimize negative impacts to the majority of our students,” said Tribley. “We look forward to continuing to provide an affordable, transferable high-quality education for all.”

Casper College officials, contacted by Cowboy State Daily, said they had no plans to take such action.

“Casper College remains committed to continuing our strong tradition of collegiate sports and is looking forward to bringing back our student athletes in volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball and rodeo,” Chris Lorenzen, the college’s director of public relations, said in a statement. “In addition, we are very excited to kick off our inaugural season of men’s and women’s soccer.”

Lorenzen said the college continually monitors the cost of its athletic programs to make sure they can continue uninterrupted.

“Finally, we are aware of the financial costs of athletic programs and continually monitor expenses to ensure the financial benefits of enrolling student athletes as well as the student life and student experience benefits of our athletic programs remain sustainable,” his statement said.

Phone calls to the Northern Wyoming Community College Commission were not immediately returned.

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Residential Use Of Herbicide Reason For Laramie Brown Trout Deaths

in Agriculture/News
5058

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The use of herbicide on home lawns and gardens was the likely culprit in a number of brown trout deaths in Laramie’s Spring Creek in late May, according to the state Game and Fish Department.

According to a news release, Laramie residents contacted the regional office of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department on May 26 after finding several dead brown trout in Spring Creek.

Fisheries biologist Steve Gale conducted an evaluation of Spring Creek from 15th Street downstream to Eighth Street and observed numerous dead trout within that section. Multiple size classes of brown trout were affected, but no other species of fish was found dead.

Brown trout are the most abundant fish species in Spring Creek.

Gale’s tests of the creek’s water quality revealed no problems, so he sent more than 20 of the dead fish to the department’s laboratory for examination.

“Our meter measures the quality at the time of testing, so whatever had happened had already gone through the system,” he said.
  
Brandon Taro, coordinator for the department’s Fish Health Program, said an examination of the fish indicated that herbicides were responsible for the deaths.

“All the fish had enlarged livers, which is consistent with the effects of herbicides on fish,” he said.

Laramie regional fisheries Supervisor Bobby Compton told Cowboy State Daily that a heavy rain in late May caused runoff tainted with herbicide to enter the creek.

Gale said algae were dead from where a storm drain empties into the creek below the 15th Street Bridge downstream to the Ninth Street Bridge. The algae above the storm drain were still green and apparently unaffected.

Compton noted that while this type of poisoning isn’t common, it does happen every two to five years when the city experiences a heavy rain. While he doesn’t expect any long-term effects from the deaths, he did point out that the incident could be prevented.  

The department’s news release included recommendations for how Laramie residents can safely use herbicides to avoid such poisonings in the future.

“Proper application, storage and disposal would definitely eliminate this type of situation,” Compton said.

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Senator Uses Wyoming As Example Why DC Shouldn’t Be A State; Predictably Gets Annihilated On Social Media

in News/politics
5053

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The House of Representatives will vote Friday on a bill that aims to make the District of Columbia the 51st state in the nation.

Arguing against the bill on Thursday was U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas. 

In his argument, Cotton compared the District of Columbia to Wyoming likely because a frequent criticism of those who desire Washington, D.C. to become a state is that the district has a higher population than the cowboy state.

“Yes, Wyoming is smaller than Washington, D.C. by population,” Cotton said.  “But it has three times as many workers in mining, logging, and construction and 10 times as many workers in manufacturing.”

“In other words, Wyoming is a well-rounded working class state. A new state of Washington, D.C. would not be,” he said.

“What vital interests would the new state of Washington, DC represent?  Lobbying? Bureaucracy?” he asked himself.

“By far the largest group of workers in the city are bureaucrats and other white collar professionals,” he said. This state would be nothing more than an appendage of the federal government.”

The aftermath?  Predictable. 

Just as he was roundly criticized by the mainstream media for an opinion piece he authored in the New York Times advocating the federal government push back on rioters in the country, he was slammed for this opinion as well.

“Why should should people’s political rights depend on their participation in the resource-extraction economy? Is it because people who work in those fields are … well, hold that thought,” wrote New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait.

Mark Joseph Stern of Slate magazine tweeted, “Tom Cotton is racist.”

Max Berger, who describes himself as a political organizer for social democracy went there too.  

“Wyoming: 578,759 residents; 91.6% of them are white.  D.C.: 705,749 residents; 45.5% of them are Black. Tom Cotton thinks Wyoming should be a state, but D.C. should not. I wonder why!,” he tweeted.

The likelihood of Washington, D.C. becoming a state — at least for now — is small. Senator Mitch McConnell has vowed that the bill never see the light of day on the senate side and President Trump has said he would veto any such bill.

As for public support, only 29% of the country supports it according to a recent Gallup poll.

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Gillette College Cuts All Athletic Programs

in News
5046

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Gillette College has cut the funding for all of its athletic programs, according to a social media post.

In a Facebook post made by the college’s men’s basketball program, Gillette College announced the decision to cut funding for all athletics.

“We’d like to thank the community for all of their support over the last 11 years,” the post said. “Shout out to @CoachShawnNeary for leading this program to a record of 268-90 (.750). One last time… #GoHorns

The women’s basketball team posted a similar message to their Twitter account.

“After finishing #21 in the Nation with a 28-5 record, Gillette College has decided to cut Women’s Basketball. Thank you to all the fans and for all the support,” the tweet said.

Programs offered through Gillette College’s Athletics Departments include men’s and women’s basketball, soccer and rodeo.

Gillette was still recruiting student athletes as recently as a week ago, when the women’s basketball team touted adding Californian Mia Ross to the team.

Gillette College is a part of the Northern Wyoming Community College District, which also includes Sheridan College.

The Gillette News Record reports that Sheridan College has also cut funding for its athletic programs, but no official word had come from any of its teams. Sheridan College has all of the same teams as Gillette, in addition to volleyball.

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Uinta County Public Health Speaks Out On COVID Surge

in Coronavirus/News
5043

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Having the highest number of active coronavirus cases in the state is discouraging for Uinta County health officials, but they said they are hopeful the county’s outbreak is tapering off.

In a Facebook post, the Uinta County Public Health Department is seeing promising signs despite having 86 active cases.

“While that is still a little discouraging, we are relieved to report that we have only had 1 new case reported for the last 2 days,” the post said. “Hopefully that is an indication that things are slowing down a little, but we also recognize that that may in part be due to less testing over the weekend.”

Currently, Uinta County has 128 lab-confirmed cases of the coronavirus as of Thursday, as well as 34 probable cases.

The department’s post said that as of Tuesday, the county has had six hospitalizations, with four currently admitted. Some of the patients admitted have been residents, but others are from outside the state.

“One of the concerns with spiking high and fast is the pressure it puts on healthcare capacity,” the post said. “While we haven’t exceeded our capacity, the county is feeling the pressure and strain from a lot of cases in a short time.”

The post also described Uinta County as a cautionary tale for Wyoming and neighboring states.

“Much of what we (and others) are all learning from our experience is that the virus can spread quickly and relatively easily, the situation can change rapidly, our actions can affect others, precautionary measures work, and no one is insulated. Hopefully, we can also show how well a community comes together and brings it under control,” the post said.

The county has seen a spike in coronavirus cases over the last month, some of which stemmed from a “celebratory” gathering involving young people in Evanston.

Uinta County Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Adams was unavailable for comment when contacted by Cowboy State Daily.

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Wyoming Records Highest One-Day Total of New Coronavirus Cases

in Coronavirus/News
5044

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

New coronavirus cases in nine counties on Thursday resulted in the largest single-day increase in confirmed cases seen since the illness was first detected in Wyoming.

The Wyoming Health Department, in its daily coronavirus update, said 36 new confirmed cases were recorded Thursday, the highest increase in cases seen since the first case was diagnosed in Wyoming in mid-March.

The increase came one day after Dr. Alexia Harrist, the state’s public health officer, warned the state’s residents stay vigilant in taking steps to prevent the spread of the illness through measure such as wearing face masks and social distancing. The warning came as the state marked its 1,000th case of coronavirus.

“This virus has shown us simple actions and choices that might not seem like a big deal at the time can harm others and quickly change the disease picture within a community,” she said in a prepared statement. “That’s why we need people to be mindful of what they can do to slow the spread of the virus.”

The department said Sweetwater County had the highest number of new cases Thursday at nine. Other counties with new cases were Campbell, Fremont, Laramie, Natrona, Park, Sheridan, Teton and Uinta.

Since mid-March, Fremont County has reported 307 confirmed cases; Laramie County has had  143; Uinta County has had 128; Natrona County has had 92; Teton County has had 85; Sweetwater has had 66; Campbell County has had 42; Washakie has had 34; Albany has had 29; Park has had 20; Sheridan has had 16; Converse and Johnson have had 15; Carbon has had 13; Lincoln has had 11; Big Horn and Hot Springs have had nine; Converse has had seven; Goshen has had four; Sublette has had three; Platte has had two, and Niobrara and Weston have had one.

However, the number of recoveries also increased on Thursday to total 996, a gain of 30 from Wednesday.

Of the recoveries, 781 were seen among confirmed cases and 215 were seen among probable cases.

A probable case is defined as one where the patient is showing symptoms of coronavirus and has been in contact with someone with a confirmed case of the illness, but has not been tested. The number of probable cases seen since mid-March stood at 274 on Thursday.

The figures indicate the state has 312 active coronavirus cases, 253 patients with confirmed cases and 59 patients with probable cases.

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Two Casper Attorneys Censured By Wyoming Supreme Court

in News
5042

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Two Casper attorneys have been censured by the Wyoming Supreme Court this month, one for driving while under the influence of alcohol and the other for “lack of diligence.”

The Supreme Court on Wednesday confirmed the recommendation of the Wyoming State Bar’s Board of Professional Responsibility to censure Todd Hambrick and John Hoard. A censure is a formal, public reprimand.

Todd H. Hambrick has been practicing law in Casper since 1993. He was arrested on the evening of June 22, 2019 in Grand Teton National Park and was cited for DUI.

Hambrick’s blood alcohol content was .193, more than twice the legal limit.

After pleading guilty to the charge, Hambrick was sentenced on Aug. 21, 2019, to one year of unsupervised probation and was ordered to not commit any other crimes, use or possess alcohol or enter an establishment whose primary sales are alcohol and continue treatment with an addiction therapist. He was ordered to pay a fine of $1,500 and $40 in court costs.

On the late afternoon of Sept. 16, 2019, Hambrick was again arrested for drunk driving after he was seen driving the wrong way down a busy Casper street. His BAC was .18, more than twice the legal limit.

Following his second arrest, Hambrick agreed to submit to multiple daily alcohol breath checks, but in December, it was reported that his compliance had been “spotty,” the Board of Professional Responsibility said in its report.

In February, Hambrick was sentenced to six months in jail (with all but 15 days suspended) for his DUI and paid $505 in court costs and and a payment to the victim’s compensation fund.

The Supreme Court censured Hambrick due to his pattern of misconduct, multiple offenses and illegal conduct.

John C. Hoard has been licensed to practice since 1982 and maintains an active firm in Casper. In 2017, he was hired by “S.E.” for the purpose of filing a chapter 7 bankruptcy, for which Hoard was paid.

The filing was delayed due to S.E.’s illness, but in late April 2018, the client instructed Hoard to proceed with the bankruptcy filing. Hoard didn’t timely comply with S.E.’s request, according to the Board of Professional Responsibility’s report.

In March 2019, frustrated at Hoard’s lack of diligence, S.E. fired her lawyer. When she hired a new attorney, she discovered she was longer eligible for a Chapter 7 proceeding and would have to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition instead.

The chapter 13 plan required S.E. to make more than $44,000 in payments to creditors, which wouldn’t have been required had Hoard filed a Chapter 7 petition. She became ineligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in January 2019.

Hoard admitted to negligence and lack of diligence. The Supreme Court censured him due to his substantial experience and the client’s vulnerability.

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Wyoming Supreme Court Upholds Restitution For Totaled Pickup Truck

in News
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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A man ordered to pay restitution for wrecking a pickup truck has to pay that restitution even though an insurance company paid for the damages, Wyoming’s Supreme Court has ruled.

The court, in a unanimous ruling Thursday, said a state district court was correct in ordering Cory Hudson to pay restitution to the owner of a pickup truck he stole and destroyed.

Justices rejected Hudson’s argument that since an insurance company paid the pickup truck’s owner for the damages, there was no “victim” to receive restitution.

“Under Mr. Hudson’s view, he would owe no one restitution for destroying the $16,998 pickup truck — an absurd result,” said the court’s ruling, written by Justice Kate Fox.

According to the ruling, Hudson stole the pickup and trailer and “embarked on a spree” which led to his arrest on charges of destroying property, theft, possession of meth and possession of marijuana.

Hudson entered a plea agreement under which he pleaded guilty to one count of theft, was ordered to pay restitution for the damaged property and was sentenced to 18 months to 54 months in prison.

In his appeal, Hudson argued he should not have to pay restitution of $16,998 for the pickup truck because the owner’s insurance company already compensated him for his loss.

Justices disagreed.

“His argument that (the pickup truck’s owner) cannot be a victim now that his insurance company has made him whole is … unavailing,” the opinion said.

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South Dakota Gov to Leftists: Don’t Even Try to Mess With Mt. Rushmore

in News
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South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has received a lot of national exposure this year for refusing to close her state down due to the coronavirus pandemic and now she’s in the news for speaking up about the riots which have occurred across the U.S.

Speaking on FOX News on Wednesday about the destruction and toppling of statues across the country, Noem said any attempt to desecrate Mt. Rushmore will be met with a strong push-back.

“This is no longer about equality,” Noem told “Fox & Friends” on Wednesday. “This is a radical rewriting of our history and in South Dakota we won’t stand for it.”

The issue came to a head when she tweeted “Not on my watch” in response to conservative commentator Ben Shapiro’s statement that Mt. Rushmore could be the next target of attack from radical leftists.

“This is a national monument. The more we focus on the flaws of these men who are on our mountain, the less likely we are to recognize the virtues and the lessons we can learn from their lives,” the governor said.

“This really is the message I have for those who love Mt Rushmore and as a country what it represents to us,” she said.

“We will do all we can to make sure this message is loud and clear,” she said. “We will make sure that Mt. Rushmore stays as majestic as it is today.”

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133 Year Old Wyoming Bible Mystery Solved

in News
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A Gillette woman who had been trying for two years to track down the family of a 133-year-old Bible has finally succeeded.

Through the help of newspaper in Nebraska, the great-granddaughter of the man who originally owned the 13-pound ornate Bible was located and will soon have it for her own.

Brenda Elliott found the Bible at a garage sale more than two years ago and paid $5 for it. According to the Lincoln Journal Star, the Bible was dated 1887 and the name Carl August Sandberg was engraved in it.

Elliot told the newspaper that buying old Bibles and distributing them to people who needed them was a hobby of hers but this Bible was different, she said, as it was filled with old photos and newspaper clippings.

“I said, ‘I can’t own this. It doesn’t belong to me.’ There’s got to be somebody that this would mean something to,” Elliott she said.

“This belongs to a great-great-grandchild somewhere. It would have some sentimental value,” she said.

The newspaper did a story on Elliott’s search for the owner and someone from the small town of Waverly, Nebraska, knew the Sandbergs and reached out to Rhonda Sandberg who had moved from Nebraska to Southern California in the 1950s.

Ms. Sandberg, who had a career in show business and appeared in the movie ‘Scarface’ and on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, talked to Elliott on the phone Monday and reportedly is looking forward to receiving the Bible.

“I am so tickled. I just feel so good; it needs to go to that home,” Elliott told the newspaper.

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