Wyoming news briefs for November 8

Student struck by vehicle, killed near McCormick Junior High

CHEYENNE — A 13-year-old male student was killed Friday morning when he was struck by a vehicle near McCormick Junior High.

A preliminary investigation shows the incident occurred when the boy attempted to cross Western Hills Boulevard at the crosswalk, according to a news release from the Cheyenne Police Department. While crossing, the student was struck by an oncoming Ford Escape.

Paramedics and police immediately arrived on the scene to provide medical treatment. The victim suffered critical injuries and was transported by ambulance to Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, where he was later pronounced dead.

The driver of the vehicle remained on-scene to assist officers with their investigation.

Laramie County School District 1 Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Jim Fraley said parents were encouraged to come pick up children who were close with the student. Counseling services were provided, and the McCormick Junior High emergency response team was put in place to support students, staff and parents in need.

“We are devastated,” Fraley said. “All of our thoughts are with the family at this time.”

The investigation into the incident is ongoing, according to CPD.


Former Campbell County Health CEO reaches six-figure severance agreement

GILLETTE — Former Campbell County Health CEO Colleen Heeter agreed to a $675,000 severance package in the wake of her removal from the health care system last month.

Heeter became a UCHealth employee when CCH and Colorado-based health system UCHealth officially began its affiliation agreement in September. Although she was technically employed by UCHealth, she continued to run CCH and answer to its hospital board of trustees.

UCHealth effectively billed CCH for Heeter’s contract under the arrangement.

The severance package will work similarly. The severance agreement Heeter reached with UCHealth was paid for by CCH.

“It’s a hard pill for everyone on the board to swallow, it’s a hard pill for our community to swallow,” hospital board Chairman Adrian Gerrits said.

The 18-month severance package paid to Heeter was negotiated with CCH before she became a UCHealth employee. Going forward, Gerrits said a 12-month severance package likely will be worked into future CEO contracts.

Heeter was paid a salary of $450,000 plus contractually stated bonuses.

Trustees have not given a reason for her termination.

Jerry Klein, the former chief operating officer, was promoted to interim CEO after the hospital board trustees voted unanimously to remove Heeter from the organization in a mid-October special meeting. 

Klein will not become a UCHealth employee in the interim and trustees ensured his spot back as chief operating officer once a CEO is hired.

Trustees recently approved a 20-percent raise for Klein, increasing his salary to $362,274.

The search for a new permanent CEO is underway and expected to take six to nine months. UCHealth is leading the search.


State parks waive veterans fees Nov. 11

SHERIDAN — As part of the Wyoming Division of State Parks, Historic Sites and Trails “Parks for Patriots” program honoring military veterans, day use/entrance fees will be waived Nov. 11 for military veterans.  

All veterans with proof of their veteran status can enter any Wyoming state park or historic site free of charge. This applies to day-use fees only.  All other fees, such as overnight camping, must still be paid. 

Veterans eligible for the free entrance are defined as: a person who served in active military, naval or air service and were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. This does not include active-duty military personnel.

For more information, please call Wyoming State Parks at 307-777-6323.


Lease sale revenue falls

CASPER — Wyoming’s third oil and gas lease sale of the year grossed roughly $418,000, bringing the state’s leasing revenue to a final total of $1.3 million for 2021. 

Ranked eighth among crude oil-producing states, Wyoming has the second-highest share of oil production on federal lands. 

The triannual state lease sales are entirely separate from the quarterly federal sales overseen by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). 

The state relies on revenue from both types of leasing to fund a number of programs, including education. The Office of State Lands estimates that just over $400,000 from Wednesday’s sale will be added to the state’s K-12 fund — a significant drop from previous years. 

Amid the Biden administration’s nearly year-long moratorium on federal oil and gas leasing, which is set to end in early 2022, the state has continued to lease non-federal land for oil and gas development. 

It saw the lowest state lease sale revenue in more than a decade during the 2021 fiscal year, according to the October CREG report, with revenue dipping further through the end of the calendar year. 

Oil demand has recovered more rapidly from its 2020 lows than production, which continues to chart a slow return to pre-pandemic levels as oil markets remain volatile. The Nov. 3 sale generated less revenue than the nearly $600,000 earned in July, but more than the $259,000 earned in March. 

Year-over-year, November leasing revenue was down more than $1 million in 2021. In total, revenue from the state’s 2021 lease sales fell 73 percent compared with 2020, 86 percent compared with 2019 and 95 percent compared with 2018.