SHERIDAN COUNTY — As you prepare to plunge into 2019, remember the key events and trends that shaped 2018.
The manufacturing sector of Sheridan made promises of growth, with EMIT Technologies taking over the former Kmart building to expand its services as well as Kennon and Vacutech also planning expansions.
This year’s Sheridan WYO Rodeo set records in both attendance, with 23,529 total attendees, and prize money, with a $314,776 purse.
On Dec. 17, Sheridan College industrial technology grad Tucker Goss and future grad Trevor Clark announced they were reopening Sheridan Iron Works with the help of building owner Derek Gilbert. The young men anticipate hosting an open house by February 2019.
Scooting in just in time for the 2018 review, Antelope Butte Mountain Recreation reopened in the winter season for the first time in 15 years. The Antelope Butte Foundation is still raising funds to continue with renovations and to keep the recreation area open throughout the winter. The organization anticipates staying open during the week through Jan. 6 and will, weather permitting, remain open Friday through Sunday until March 2019.
THE SECRET IS OUT
The biggest news in the business sector centered around Weatherby, a firearm manufacturing company, relocating its headquarters from Paso Robles, California, to Sheridan. Weatherby Chief Executive Officer Adam Weatherby announced the move alongside Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead at the SHOT Show in Las Vegas on Jan. 23. Sheridan citizens packed into Black Tooth Brewing Company to watch the announcement via Facebook Live.
BUSINESS IS BOOMING
Several businesses in Sheridan County moved, opened, added on and announced their new home in Sheridan County. JCPenney officially closed its doors. Cottonwood Kitchen Shop, rebranded itself to Cottonwood Kitchen + Home and integrated a teaching kitchen into the space formerly occupied by the department store.
Verdello also opened its doors to offer a variety of international flavors and a kitchen for classes, completing an addition to include an olive bar and array of international meats and cheeses.
Jumping in on the experiential business sector was Red Bison Studio, owned and operated by Stephen Mullins, who before opening a storefront had only online and limited store presence.
Denver Air Connection announced its partnership with United Airlines to provide continuous baggage check and easier online booking, making it available through third-party websites. The changes will be reflected within the first quarter of the new year, according to Critical Air Service Team representative Shawn Parker.
MANY RACES DECIDED IN THE PRIMARIES
Sheridan County saw record turnouts for the primary elections, casting a total of 8,882 ballots compared to 6,808 in 2016 and 5,916 in 2014.
Most of the local candidates running for open elected positions in the midterm elections were on the same side of the ticket. Four races were all but decided in the primary elections Aug. 22 — county coroner, clerk of district court, county treasurer and county attorney. Folks seeking those seats ran unopposed in the general election.
After a contentious season between city council members and Mayor Roger Miller, the governing body will see a turnover of three positions. Patrick Henderson was re-elected into his current position on the council, and Richard Bridger and Thayer Shafer will keep their positions until December 2021. They will be joined by new councilors Clint Beaver, Aaron Linden and Jacob Martin.
Several local school districts implemented Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate (ALICE) safety training, which deviates from the traditional response of barricading rooms off and hiding in a corner and instead trains teachers, students and administration to counter the threat and evacuate.
As a result, students participated as one of more than 800 demonstrations worldwide for the March for Our Lives demonstration down Sheridan’s Main Street to oppose gun violence in schools. Similarly, students at Sheridan Junior High School and Sheridan High School participated in the National School Walkout April 20 — again protesting gun violence in schools — on the anniversary of the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado.
SCSD2 and SCSD3 received school safety trainings, and SCSD1 Tongue River High School students prodded Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyoming, in an impromptu stop to the school in June but did not receive answers on initiatives targeting school violence, bullying and drug use.
State legislators weighed in, recently presenting a bill for the 2019 session that will require the Wyoming Department of Education to create school safety and security guidelines and distribute them to all school districts in the state.
DISMAL DAY FOR SHERIDAN COUNTY
In the course of 24 hours around Jan. 11, Sheridan County recorded a threat against a local school, a murder and a guilty conviction of a man for four counts of sexual assault.
Christopher Labuy will face a weeklong trial, now scheduled to begin Jan. 28, for allegedly killing Eric Kaylor in an apartment building on North Main Street.
That same day, police received information about a threat targeting Sheridan High School. Extra law enforcement officials were present that day at the school.
William Mayhew was found guilty of four counts of third-degree sexual assault on the same day, after three days of victim testimony in court.