SHERIDAN — The last year has provided many ups and downs for business within and affecting Sheridan County. While the decline in the extraction industries continues to affect the bottom lines of many, others have found ways to prosper and Sheridan’s downtown continues to grow.
Here’s a look back at the top business news in Sheridan County for 2016.
TSA returns to Sheridan
While Denver Air Connection began providing the Sheridan area with commercial air service in 2015, Transportation Security Administration screening didn’t return to the Sheridan County Airport until September 2016. Local efforts continue to financially support Denver Air Connection and advocates continue encouraging local and tourist use of the airline, which ranks among the highest in the country in terms of reliability.
Also in the fall, the Critical Air Service Team partnered with Riverton in providing air service. Flights out of Sheridan now stop in Riverton, or vice versa, en route to Denver. Officials hoped the partnership would reduce financial burdens on Sheridan County and increase enplanements.
If Denver Air Connection reaches the goal of 10,000 enplanements in 2016, federal funding for the air service will likely continue.
Arrowhead Lodge under new ownership
Arrowhead Lodge is a wooden hospitality gem in the Bighorn National Forest. New ownership took over in the fall and said guests could expect consistent hours and updates without the lodge losing its trademark qualities.
New owners Charlene and Jared Severson decided to buy the lodge last April after a snowmobiling trip brought them to the Bighorns from North Dakota. They closed on the lodge Sept. 1. The facilities currently have hotel rooms, rustic cabins, RV sites and a full-service restaurant and bar with about six more cabins under repair.
BNSF considers closure of Sheridan stop
As the coal industry continues to get battered, railroad companies are also feeling the pinch.
Officials at BNSF Railway said the company had initiated discussions with local employees and union representatives in Sheridan in March about operational changes that could result in the closing of the Sheridan stop.
“Current volumes on the Bighorn subdivision are down by approximately 50 percent compared to this time last year,” BNSF Railway officials said in an emailed statement. “This significantly reduced demand for coal movements means BNSF is operating fewer trains in the region and must adjust its operations accordingly.”
Since that time, no announcements regarding the closure have been made, but sources indicate changes have been made to staff schedules.
How to die in Yellowstone
“Man dies after falling into hot pool.”
“Woman injured by bison while taking selfie.”
“Canadian travel group charged for walking on Grand Prismatic Spring.”
The headlines pop up often. They’re headlines about people breaking the rules at Yellowstone National Park and facing fatal or legal consequences. These mishaps of tourists at Yellowstone cause most Wyoming residents to frequently shake their heads in disbelief.
One of those Wyoming residents is Andy Robbins. Instead of getting angry about the incompetency of tourists in Yellowstone, he decided to make light of it — with a coloring book. Robbins, an artist from Ranchester, published a coloring book entitled “Yellowstone National Park: A Cautionary Coloring Book.” The book, which Robbins stresses is for adults, depicts violent examples of the ways people can die in the park.
Antelope Butte Mountain Recreation Area pushes toward opening
In February, the Antelope Butte Foundation announced it had the funding needed to complete the purchase of the now-closed ski area in the Bighorn Mountains. In the spring, the foundation acquired the deed for the facility.
In June, the organization received a federal permit to restore the facility. The U.S. Forest Service issued a special use permit on June 6 that allows for restoration of the lodge, chairlifts, ski trails and other facilities of the Antelope Butte Mountain Recreation Area.
After a few years of fundraising efforts, the recreation area has moved full steam ahead with plans to open during the winter of 2017-2018.