If you build it, they will come

Re: Weatherby building

Wyoming law prohibits the state from directly subsidizing business enterprise. However, the state can give the taxpayers’ money to local economic development boards to facilitate business. This allows the state to go around the law.

The Sheridan Wyoming Economic and Educational Development Authority has borrowed $12,593,090 from the taxpayers to build a 100,000-square-foot light manufacturing building for the Weatherby company. The local taxpayers have contributed $322,874 to pay for the architectural design for the building.

An additional $75,000 was used to rent three warehouse buildings for the temporary location of the Weatherby company while the new building is under construction.

The taxpayers paid $5,000 to fly the director of the Chamber of Commerce, the city of Sheridan city administrator and a member of ENDOW to California to encourage the Weatherby employees to relocate to Sheridan.

Per agreement with Weatherby, for the first four years of occupancy the rent will be waived. Year five of the lease, Weatherby can start paying rent or buy the building.

SEEDA, in theory, will recapture the $12.5 million from the rental income or sale proceeds of the building. The taxpayers money will return as a 50/50 split between SEEDA and the Wyoming Business Council. Both entities will use the return to further assist chosen businesses.

While Weatherby desires to relocate to Sheridan, at the taxpayers expense, the taxpayer was not allowed to know whom they were subsidizing. This is because, for purpose of nondisclosure per demand of Weatherby, the company was identified as “Project Enterprise” until the deal was done.

The taxpayers were kept in the dark, their pockets picked by the WBC, SEEDA and with the state’s approval.

Vicki Taylor



Dangerous politeness

Re: Traffic rules

I’m grateful to be living in a town where manners and kindness amongst strangers haven’t been forgotten. It makes the day more pleasant and strengthens our community. However, when it comes to yielding for pedestrians when your vehicle has the right of way, politeness can become deadly.

I’ve seen far too many frightening close calls in Sheridan, where people inappropriately yielding to pedestrians has nearly resulted in severe injury or death. These situations will become much more common as the weather improves and more people are on foot. When you stop for pedestrians in the middle of a road and wave for them to cross, or if you stop at an intersection even if the light favors you, this friendly gesture creates uncertainty and confusion.

If there is another lane travelling with you, your vehicle now blocks the view between the pedestrians and any coming vehicles. Even if there is no other lane, vehicles from behind may swerve to drive around you. And many times, vehicles in the oncoming lane may not notice the unusual situation you have created. Your actions have encouraged the pedestrian to cross, whether the road is safe or not. It causes them to relax their attention so that they are less wary of the other lanes.

I understand the desire to be polite, but one must remember the incredible responsibility one has when sitting behind the wheel of a vehicle. Follow the rules of the road. If you have the right of way, take it. Lives depend on your doing what is expected, not what may be considered polite.

Travis Parker



No sense repealing Clean Power Plan

Re: Weather decline of coal

Repealing the Clean Power Plan will not rescue coal. Released in 2015, the Clean Power Plan was intended to reduce the effects of climate change in part by cutting carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. Now, despite the urging of nearly 240 mayors from 47 states, the current administration in Washington is seeking to repeal this plan under the pretext that it will fulfill a campaign promise to bring back coal jobs.

Actually, the promise is delusional. Despite a blip last year, the market for coal is declining. For example, Xcel Energy in Colorado recently discovered the energy from solar and wind is not only clean but also more affordable than coal. Repealing the Clean Power Plan will not bring back coal jobs. Instead, it will allow coal power plants to continue polluting the air.

Fortunately, a reality-based alternative exists for out-of-work coal workers: reclamation of existing coal mines.

The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act requires coal companies to restore land after production has ceased. All too often companies are able to skirt their reclamation obligation through self-bonding, a scheme which absolves mining companies from initially putting up actual bonded funds designated for reclamation. As a result, these companies leave behind closed mines, damaged landscapes, out-of-work populations, financially stressed communities, and taxpayers holding the bill. By requiring coal companies to provide the funds up front for clean-up, regulatory agencies can insure funds are available for reclamation.

And these funds provide jobs. Much of the work required for reclamation includes tasks in which miners are skilled: running heavy equipment, driving trucks, moving earth, etc. Approximately, 180,000 acres or around 300 square miles are currently ready to be reclaimed in Wyoming alone. This translates into about $1 billion of economic activity which can provide years of work for workers and give our coal communities time to find a new path to economic stability.

With an eye on the big picture, we have an opportunity to weather the social, environmental, and economic storms that accompany coal’s decline. But to do this successfully, we must embrace reality rather than grasp at delusional promises.

Marcia Westkott