From Wyoming News Exchange Newspapers 

Wyoming News Briefs


February 27, 2020

Man dies after jumping from car

SHERIDAN (WNE) — A Texas resident led Wyoming Highway Patrol troopers on a pursuit before jumping from a moving vehicle Feb. 21. The pursuit started near Sheridan on Interstate 90.

WHP troopers were notified of a suspected drunk driver near Sheridan. Troopers were able to locate a vehicle matching the description of the alleged drunk driver speeding 97 mph in a 75 mph-posted speed zone.

The WHP trooper turned on his emergency lights and sirens to attempt to stop the vehicle. The driver failed to stop for the trooper and fled east on I-90 at speeds of 85 to 90 mph.

As the trooper was pursuing the vehicle, he could see the driver reaching out of the sunroof with his hands. A short time later, the driver exited through the sunroof and jumped onto the roadway while the vehicle was still moving around 80 miles per hour. The vehicle crashed a short time later into the median cable divider.

The trooper immediately called for an ambulance and attempted to perform CPR on the subject.

Sheridan County Sheriff’s Office aided WHP in life-saving measures and traffic control.

Emergency medical services arrived a short time later and pronounced the driver deceased and the Sheridan County coroner was called. The pursuit lasted around five miles.

The driver has been identified as 43-year-old Marshall R. Acker of Tyler, Texas.

Lawmakers table career and technical education expansion proposal

CHEYENNE (WNE) — A plan that would allow high school and community college students to earn school credit while also getting paid to learn skilled trades will have to wait until next year.

The House Education Committee unanimously voted Monday night to table House Bill 242, which would have created the Wyoming Learning and Labor program, citing too many loose ends in the proposal’s language.

The program, which was projected to cost $500,000, would have created a partnership between employers, school districts and community colleges to create – and fund – a new path for certifications in instrumentation, welding and machining.

“I felt that we had to take a step forward for career and technical education, and that had to involve industry,” the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Mike Greear, R-Worland, told the committee. Last year, the Wyoming Legislature approved extending the state’s Hathaway Scholarship to include funding a vocational education pathway.

It also established the need-based Wyoming Works grant program, which awards up to one year of grant money to community college students looking to get certified in a skilled trade. Wyoming Works, however, does not include a partnership with industry leaders.

Greear said he chose to limit the would-be program’s focus to machining and welding because from what he’s seen as president and CEO of Wyoming Sugar Company “this is an area that needs people.” Greear said he got the idea for the bill after running into difficulty when recruiting workers to staff his company’s machine shop.

Ten Wyoming airports get federal grants

EVANSTON (WNE) — U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao announced last week that the U.S. Department of Transportation will award $7.2 million in airport safety and infrastructure grants to 10 airports in Wyoming. 

This investment in Wyoming’s airports is part of a $520.5 million national investment in America’s airports that was announced recently by Secretary Chao. 

The airports receiving Airport Improvement Program grants in Wyoming include: Evanston-Uinta County Burns Field — $317,429 to fund rebuilding an apron. 

Casper/Natrona County International Airport — two separate grants, one for $253,911 to fund renovating and expanding a snow removal equipment building and another for $850,000 to fund the purchase of snow removal equipment.

Yellowstone Regional Airport — $1,441,029 to fund building an access road, and building/ improving a parking lot. 

Dixon Airport — $183,000 to fund runway repairs. 

Jackson Hole Airport — $2,764,003 to fund repairing an access road. 

Pine Bluffs Municipal Airport— $181,865 to fund construction of a terminal building and building/improving a hanger. 

Powell Municipal Airport — $621,390 to fund building a taxiway. 

Riverton Regional Airport — two separate grants, one for $150,000 to purchase or repair an emergency generator and a second for $200,000 to fund repairing a taxiway. 

Hot Springs County Airport — $169,386 to fund a new airport master plan or study. 

Worland Municipal Airport — $155,867 to fund widening a taxiway.

Exxon owed $387,000 tax refund

PINEDALE (WNE) – Adjustments made to 2017 and 2018 tax reporting means Exxon Mobil is owed $387,276 and change. 

However, the real losers are special districts and county entities that must pay money back that may have been spent two or three years ago.

Commissioners were notified at the Feb. 18 meeting of the large adjustment by Sublette County Treasurer Emily Paravicini. 

Notices of Valuation Change are handed down to county treasurers by the State of Wyoming. In this case Exxon Mobil found an error in its self-reported numbers. 

The refunds must be paid to the company within one year of the county receiving the notice from the state. When the amount exceeds $200,000, the county has an option to contact the company to negotiate a repayment plan. The company can either negotiate or demand the money immediately.

The problem is not new to Sublette County. Past rebates hit the county after many small boards had already spent the money. 

A reserve fund was established by Sublette County to repay a refund within the mandated one year required by law. Those districts still must repay the county and the amounts are deducted from future tax receipts. That buys them time to adjust future budgets.

As those future tax receipts are withheld, the funds go back into the county’s reserve account to repay the advance. 

Colleges win approval to offer four-year degrees

GILLETTE (WNE) — The state’s community college commission has approved Gillette College moving forward in the process of eventually offering four-year degree programs.

The OK last week from the Wyoming Community College Commission also includes Sheridan College and the Northern Wyoming Community College District. It was an essential step in continuing the process to offer management and leadership applied science baccalaureate degrees at both campuses with an emphasis on business and another in industrial technology.

Now the colleges and district will develop the specific curricula for the degrees and ensure services are in place to support a four-year program. Those include services for students and libraries.

That requires a “substantive change” approval from the state Higher Learning Commission, something four other Wyoming community colleges are going through after the 2019 Legislature and governor approved a measure allowing community colleges to offer two four-year degrees.

The Higher Learning process can take six months to a year to complete, estimated Gillette College Vice President Janell Oberlander.

“It just depends on how quickly we can go through it and how thorough they are when they come for a site visit,” she said Wednesday. “It’s just a process that we have to get through. But (we) know that process has been approved and we can move forward. It’s real exciting news.

“It’s great for the district and great for the community. It’s a milestone process, but there are many more ahead.”

Bill would limit sex offender access to school property

CASPER (WNE) — Education officials across Wyoming would have more power to limit sex offenders’ access to school property under a bill moving through the House. 

The measure, House Bill 68, is sponsored by Afton Republican Rep. Evan Simpson. It would require that registered sex offenders who are parents receive written approval from a school administrator before they can attend an extracurricular event or pick up their children from school. 

“It’s kind of a sad situation that we have to go to this extreme to protect our children,” Simpson said earlier this month. “That’s the way we do laws, quite often — we don’t like them, but we have to defend our good citizens.” 

Simpson said he drafted the bill after an administrator from within the Natrona County School District raised concerns. 

There are broad limits on how close sex offenders can be to school grounds. They can’t be on school property if there are children present, they can’t live or loiter within 1000 feet of a school and they can’t be in a school vehicle if there are minors present. 

There are some exceptions for parents who are also sex offenders. Currently, those parents don’t need permission to attend extracurricular events or to pick up or drop off students. 

Simpson said the measure was intended to tighten up those exceptions. 

“[A district] had some guys attending and creating difficulties in the school and when confronted, they say, ‘It’s within my perfect rights,’” he said. “’My kid is participating, therefore I’m able to be in the building.’”


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