Wyoming news briefs for October 15


Mask mandate extended for Laramie schools

LARAMIE — The Albany County School District Board of Trustees voted 6-1 Wednesday night to extend the universal mask requirement in district facilities through Nov. 12. 

Trustee Jason Tangeman voted against the mandate while trustees Nate Martin and Mark Bittner were absent. 

While the original motion called for extending the mandate through Dec. 17, Trustee Kim Sorenson proposed amending the date, which was approved unanimously. 

“I’m wondering if we can’t achieve things by rolling back and discussing this in November,” he said. 

Regarding the district’s COVID-19 mitigation strategies, the main concern of the board was the number of students required to quarantine after being identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. 

According to guidelines for K-12 schools issued by the Wyoming Department of Health, a person in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19 should self-monitor for symptoms if both parties were wearing masks. If one or both people weren’t wearing a mask, the close contact is required to quarantine for up to 14 days after the exposure. 

Trustee Jamin Johnson said he’s been hearing from parents that the burdensome quarantine orders are being issued unevenly between buildings in the district. 

“We seem to be on the side of caution too far to one extreme,” he said. “We’re removing kids from a learning environment when they’ve already experienced tremendous learning loss.” 

He described the mood among parents as dismay, frustration and exhaustion at the sheer number of quarantines being issued. 

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Commercial flights to resume in Cheyenne after six months

CHEYENNE — The Cheyenne Regional Airport Board announced Thursday that commercial airline flights to and from the Capital City are set to resume on Nov. 1.

The airport will service two United Express flights a day to and from Denver International Airport, and have more than 100 seats available on each trip. It was made possible by the completion of phase two of runway construction, which will continue over the next year.

“We are committed to having the runway open and safe at that point in time,” said CRA General Manager Nathan Barton.

Delays due to the pandemic and supply chain issues have been a major setback for the airport in recent months.

Tim Barth, director of aviation at Cheyenne Regional Airport, said this is because the construction of the runway has not been immune from nationwide inventory shortages. Throughout the year, the airport struggled to find concrete suppliers, and the eventual transportation of materials was impacted by a lack of truck drivers.

He said what was meant to be a three-month project quickly turned into six and a half.

But as phase two of the project is completed and commercial air service returns, the future of the airport is still at risk.

The Federal Aviation Administration has allocated approximately $60 million for the construction of the airport runway in Cheyenne, but it will be administered in doses over the next five years. With not enough funding up front to complete the project, the airport is in jeopardy for shutting down twice more and delaying its grand reopening.

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Sheridan County sheriff to step down

SHERIDAN — In a statement released Wednesday, Sheridan County Sheriff Allen Thompson announced he will not seek reelection in 2022. Thompson endorsed his current undersheriff, Levi Dominguez’s, campaign for the position in the 2022 election.  

Thompson joined the Sheridan County Sheriff’s Office in 2005, after a seven-year career at the Sheridan Police Department. In 2017, Thompson was named interim sheriff after the retirement of Sheriff Dave Hofmeier. He was reelected in 2018. By the end of his term in 2022, Thompson will have worked for Sheridan law enforcement agencies for just less than 25 years. 

“I have no plans to leave this wonderful community,” Thompson said in the statement, “and I hope to continue to serve the great citizenry in other ways.”

In the statement, Thompson enthusiastically endorsed current undersheriff and patrol lieutenant Dominguez’s campaign for sheriff in 2022. 

After growing up in the Tongue River Valley, Dominguez started his career in public safety as a volunteer with Dayton Fire-Rescue, eventually moving to Sheridan Fire-Rescue and transitioning to a law enforcement role at the Sheridan County Sheriff’s Office. This year marks Dominguez’s 18th year in public safety in Sheridan County. 

Dominguez is also an active member of the Sheridan community. In 2012, he was elected as a Sheridan city councilor, and, during his term, he particularly enjoyed serving on the council’s juvenile justice board. He is also a husband, father to two school-age boys and baseball coach. 

Should he be elected sheriff in 2022, Dominguez said he largely plans to continue Thompson’s policies.

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Bridger Valley veterans are Wyoming inductees into memorial program

LYMAN — Two Bridger Valley residents are the Wyoming veterans who will be inducted into the ‘In Memory’ Program for 2020.

Both men took the oath, both men served in Vietnam and both returned home. Later to suffer illnesses brought on by their service in Vietnam and being exposed to Agent Orange. These two Mountain View men, graduates of Mountain View High School, returned home to live out their lives where they had grown up and build a life after the military. 

They are Louis Allen Hamblin, who served in the U.S. Army, and Leland jay Stoddard, who also served in the U.S. Army. Hamblin was 73 when he died and Stoddard was 70.

Allen served in the US Army in Vietnam. He was assigned to intelligence and went to Texas to learn Vietnamese. While in Vietnam he worked covertly to interrogate and identify the enemy. He received several commendations for his expertise.

Stoddard played football, basketball and participated in track for the Mountain View Buffalos while in high school. He served in the Brazil Sao Paulo Mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, before joining the Army and going to Vietnam.

Nearly 600 veterans nationally were inducted in the “In Memory” program for 2020. The program honors Vietnam veterans who returned home and their lives were cut short as a result of their service after they returned home.

Both Mountain View men died the fall of 2019, but the ceremony was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic.

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