Kemmerer coal mine sale complete

KEMMERER (WNE) — According to Lincoln County Commissioner Kent Connelly, the sale of the Kemmerer coal mine is a “done deal,” and the North American Construction Group Ltd., a Canadian company, is now in charge.

While the mine is still up and running, that’s not to say there haven’t already been changes.

“The contract has been signed; the back taxes paid; and union workers are still there working. Whenever a major corporation is sold, the upper management is always replaced and that is common knowledge. So about 30 people have already left the mine,” Connelly said in a telephone interview. Connelly said the concerns of many retirees and whether their benefits will continue are still ongoing.

Connelly went on to say how the contract with Rocky Mountain Power to buy coal from the Kemmerer mine is secure until 2021. He said 55% of the nation’s power comes from coal and the coal from the Kemmerer mine is of a high quality. When Rocky Mountain Power shut down one unit at its Naughton plant, the county lost $3.4 million in taxes. Seventy percent of Westmoreland’s coal was used at that one unit.

PacifiCorp, which owns Rocky Mountain Power, is in the beginning stages of retiring some of its coal plants in Wyoming. Connelly said that converting the power plants to natural gas is the logical thing to do as alternative power such as wind and solar cannot be built fast enough to cover the needs of the consumers — and it comes at a higher price.


Cheyenne schools to hold  ‘equality summit’

CHEYENNE (WNE) — Laramie County School District 1 has finalized its plan for a youth summit later this month to address issues of discrimination and racism in the school district and wider community.

The Youth Equality Summit, set for Aug. 20, was part of an action plan presented by LCSD1 in the wake of racist and homophobic fliers that were distributed earlier this year by students at McCormick Junior High School. Originally announced for the week of June 22, the district hit pause on the plan to ensure more time for planning and to help promote student involvement.

The summit now will be a one-day event at the Central High School Fieldhouse for 100 students and 25 adult community leaders. The event will be run by the national nonprofit group Challenge Day, which works with schools and communities on dealing with issues of bullying, racism and harassment.

Trainers from that group will work with the students who have signed up to attend to help teach them how to be leaders in their school. That training, and the subsequent actions of those students, is what the district hopes will be the start of a culture change, said Brian Cox, principal at Johnson Junior High School and an organizer for the summit. “The curriculum (of Challenge Day) really aligned and matched up with a good portion of what issues the kids wanted to address (in the summit),” Cox said.


Buffalo man convicted of  poaching four elk

BUFFALO (WNE) — A Buffalo man has accepted a plea agreement from the Johnson County prosecutor’s office on charges of harassing and poaching four elk in the Bighorn Mountains. According to a press release from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, on June 24, Ray Ludwig signed a plea agreement for poaching four cow elk and harassing big game from a vehicle in November 2018. As part of the agreement, he will pay $5,000 in fines and restitution.

On Nov. 27, 2018, Game and Fish Warden Jim Seeman was contacted by two hunters who video recorded a vehicle chasing a group of elk in Hunt Area 35 south of Buffalo. The witnesses told Seeman they also heard multiple shots coming from the vehicle. When told that his vehicle had been witnessed chasing elk, with shots fired from it, Ludwig told Seeman that several of his friends who had Area 35 licenses were in the vehicle with him that day and they had killed three elk.

Seeman eventually determined that Ludwig was the only occupant in the vehicle at the time of the poaching and that he did not possess an elk license for Area 35.

Ludwig was charged with killing four big game animals without a license and harassing big game with a vehicle. In addition to $5,000 in fines and restitution, Ludwig’s hunting privileges are suspended in Wyoming and 46 other Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact states for five years.


Mead on UW president search committee

LARAMIE (WNE) — Sixteen people, including former Gov. Matt Mead and former state Auditor Rita Meyer, will comprise the search committee tasked with finding the University of Wyoming’s next president.

However, the search committee won’t have the chance to actually pick the finalist.

Instead, the committee will merely nominate 12 options for the UW Board of Trustees to choose from.

The trustees have also given themselves the option of selecting candidates not identified by the search committee.

On Wednesday morning, the university announced the membership of the search committee, which will be chaired by John MacPherson, the former UW board of trustees chairman.

Current UW employees and undergraduate students comprise exactly half of the committee’s membership

Trustees Jeff Marsh, Macey Moore and Laura Schmid-Pizzato will also serve on the committee.

The list of 12 candidates to be forwarded to the trustees will have to be approved by the majority of the search committee, as well as two of the three trustees serving on the committee.

Current interim President Neil Theobald has told administration officials he expects to return to his old position of Vice President of Administration and Finance next year.

However, Wednesday’s press release states that Theobald is “not restricted from applying for the long-term position” of president.

The trustees are hoping to have a new president selected by July 2020.


From Wyoming News Exchange newspapers