SHERIDAN — Sheridan City Council is scheduled to consider a resolution Monday night that would rename North Park to Malcolm Wallop Park, in honor of the late Wyoming senator.
Kim Love, a Sheridan businessman, and Kendall Hartman, who worked on Wallop’s staff while he was in Congress, presented the proposal to council during a study session last week and explained the renaming would commemorate Wallop for legislation he championed that provided a major boost to community development efforts in Sheridan.
“Some of us feel as though the community of Sheridan owes a deep debt of gratitude to Senator Wallop for a very specific action he took back in the 1970s,” Love said.
In 1977, Congress passed the Surface Mining Control Act, which tightened regulations on coal mining considerably. Recognizing that the act would harm many of his constituents, Wallop — who lived in the Sheridan area and served as one of Wyoming’s senators from 1977 until 1995 — introduced an amendment that required the federal government to compensate property owners who would not be allowed to mine under the new rules.
Whitney Benefits became on of the major beneficiaries of Wallop’s amendment.
The federal government compensated the organization with $65 million. With that funding boost, Whitney’s value skyrocketed from about $7 million to more than $70 million, Love said.
And Whitney poured those resources into the community.
“I would suggest the things that (money) has enabled Whitney to do over the last couple of decades may have had a larger impact on the way Sheridan looks today than anything else,” Love said.
Council has received several letters of support for the renaming proposal that agree with Love’s assertion.
Former Sheridan College President Paul Young described Whitney as “the great benefactor of Sheridan College” in his letter submitted to council.
Since receiving its surge in funding, Young wrote Whitney has directly funded more than $75 million of improvements at Sheridan College and helped the college leverage more than $25 million for further developments.
Whitney Benefits Board President Roy Garber wrote that the money Whitney earned as a direct result of Wallop’s amendment served as the foundation for many of the community enhancements the organization has made throughout Sheridan and helped facilitate the education of “thousands” of local students through the organization’s interest-free student loan program.
Love also highlighted Whitney Commons as one of Whitney’s contributions to the Sheridan community.
“I think Sheridan can be very proud of having what is easily a world-class park two blocks from Main Street that neither the taxpayers, nor the city, has to contribute anything to,” Love said.
Hartman added that North Park would be a fitting location to honor Wallop, who was an avid fisherman and outdoorsman.
“This is something that Malcolm would be doing — he’d be out there fishing if he could,” Hartman said.