New faces across the city
A number of high-profile leaders left their positions for different jobs or retirement. Jay McGinnis retired from his role as executive director of the YMCA; Dave and Deb Hofmeier left their jobs at the Sheridan County Sheriff’s Office and Sheridan County School District 1; the Antelope Butte Foundation, Downtown Sheridan Association, Sheridan Community Land Trust and Advocacy and Resource Center are among nonprofits with new leaders. Plus, the city lost public works director Nic Bateson, operations supervisor Mathers Heuck and planning and development director Robert Briggs to other jobs. All of this change has included young professionals moving into prominent community roles.
Ramaco plans set back for more work
In February, Ramaco Carbon announced plans for a coal mine, manufacturing facility and research center just north of Sheridan, but the plans have been held up by the state. The application for the mine, proposed by Kentucky-based Ramaco, was denied by the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality director in mid-October after the Environmental Quality Council ruled in September that Ramaco’s plans for the mine didn’t offer enough environmental protections. Ramaco has since appealed the state’s decision in court.
Discrimination at the forefront
Sheridan City Council members faced a barrage of feedback from local community members both in favor and against a proposed anti-discrimination resolution that originally would have added language protecting LGBTQ community members. The city opted to pass a resolution that instead removed the LGBTQ specific language, but recognizes “the right of all citizens in Sheridan to live free of discrimination.” Another local institution, Sheridan College, announced plans to beef up its diversity, outreach and inclusion efforts following incidents of racism on campus. In addition, the Sheridan Police Department notified the FBI of a hate crime that occurred in Sheridan in September.
North Main Interchange opens
The new $46.4 million interstate exit has been in the works for years, but construction started in 2016. The new interchange opened to traffic in August 2017. The completion date for the project has been moved up by nearly one year, with work now set to be done in October 2018.
Two large fires burned approximately 100,000 acres in eastern Sheridan County and southern Montana in August and September. The blazes prompted donations from area residents to help supply firefighters. Nationwide, Montana had one of its worst fire seasons and in December Los Angeles experienced its biggest fire in state history.
Total eclipse of the…sun
While Sheridan didn’t fall into the path of totality, portions of the state within easy driving distance certainly did, making the hype around the event hard to avoid.
Several businesses throughout the county closed in 2017, including JCPenney, Kmart, Kraft’s Fine Jewelry, Boot Barn and others. While the closures have certainly been part of conversations about the local economy, so have possible new businesses — like the manufacturing company being called Project Enterprise and its 70-90 new jobs. If a state grant is approved, Sheridan officials will likely welcome the new business in 2018. In addition, businesses like Sportsman’s Warehouse have made their way to Sheridan, raising locals’ hopes of a boost to the economy.