Cheyenne school district experiences pandemic-driven bus driver shortage
CHEYENNE — Laramie County School District 1 has not been immune from the national bus driver shortage caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The shortage has led to governors across the nation having members of the National Guard drive buses, and even the federal government proposing legislation to ease the guidelines for commercial driver’s license holders.
Although the local school district has not been driven to this point yet, the burden of being short-staffed has taken its toll.
“It’s been pretty stressful the last couple of years with COVID,” LCSD1 Transportation Program Administrator Adam Greenwood said.
Throughout the pandemic, he has struggled with recruiting and retaining bus drivers. Many quit or retired because they were worried about getting sick, due to the responsibility of enforcing health protocols and mass sanitizing, having to move for better economic opportunities or simply due to driver fatigue.
“People are getting burned out, and they’re walking away,” said LCSD1 bus driver Misty White.
But conditions resulting from the shortage and the pandemic are not the only factor. Greenwood said he is also competing with unemployment benefits and higher pay at other jobs.
“We’re competing now with McDonald’s, and there’s a shortage of employees nationwide,” he said. “And especially here in Cheyenne, you can drive down the street and see ‘Help wanted’ signs everywhere.”
LCSD1 temporarily raised compensation Oct. 1 in response. Using emergency funds granted by the federal government, the district was able to raise wages by $2 an hour. That increase will stay in place for the remainder of the current school year, but it will have to be renegotiated as part of the next school year’s contract.
Scammer impersonating Jackson police
JACKSON — A scammer is calling Jacksonites from the same number as the Jackson Police Department, (307) 733-1430, trying to defraud townsfolk.
That scammer, who is impersonating a Jackson police officer, is telling people that they have been issued a subpoena, which they can resolve via a money order, according to a Town of Jackson press release.
“Please be assured that a Jackson Police Officer would not instruct anyone to obtain a money order to resolve any sort of ticket, subpoena or other legally issued document,” stated the press release, which added that the calls began at 8:30 a.m. Friday.
Police encourage people who may have received a phone call from the police department but question the caller’s legitimacy to call the police department.
Additionally, police are advising people not to obtain a money order or to send any money to somebody who may have called from the police department number.
The Jackson Hole News&Guide previously reported on scams in Jackson Hole, but those scams were real estate related, usually amounting to Craigslist listings for rooms that did not exist and fake leases intended to defraud the signatories.
Gillette man identified in fatal crash
GILLETTE — Gillette resident Jesse James McManis, 25, died in a single-car crash in town Tuesday night.
The cause of death was massive internal bleeding from blunt force trauma to the thorax, abdominal cavity, kidney and spleen among other injuries, said Campbell County Coroner Paul Wallem.
Around 11 p.m. Tuesday, officers responded to the report of a car crash in the 5600 block of Swanson Road. They determined that a 2012 BMW, driven by McManis, left the roadway and hit a parked school bus which then collided with a 2002 Pontiac, said Police Lt. Brent Wasson.
Keith Chrans, transportation director for the Campbell County School district, said the school bus, which was in a salvage yard, was decommissioned and is not part of the district's current fleet. The school bus and Pontiac were both unattended.
McManis was found at the scene of the accident and taken by ambulance to the hospital, where he later died.
Officers are still looking for witnesses in the crash and the investigation is ongoing as of Thursday morning, Wasson said.
Body of missing 26-year-old Texas man found in Teton Park
JACKSON — Search teams found the body of missing 26-year-old Jared Hembree in Grand Teton National Park on Sunday, according to a National Park Service news release.
Searchers had been looking for the Texan in the eastern portion of the park since Thursday. His body was found near Uhl Hill. Rangers recovered his remains, and the Park Service and Teton County Sheriff’s Office are conducting an investigation into what occurred.
The search was initiated Oct. 21, after a caller told park law enforcement they were concerned about Hembree’s welfare after an interaction with him outside of the park’s eastern boundary, the press release stated. Hembree’s vehicle was located unattended at Game Warden Point parking area in the eastern part of the park.
The four-day intensive search involved more than 80 people, including park staff, the Teton County Sheriff’s Office, Teton County Search and Rescue, members of Teton County Idaho Search and Rescue, the Civil Air Patrol and the Wyoming Highway Patrol. Teton County Search and Rescue provided a helicopter and a drone. The Civil Air Patrol searched with a fixed-wing airplane. Dog teams and horse teams also participated.
Hembree was the fourth person to go missing in Jackson Hole this year. Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito and Robert Lowery, whose cases are separate, were each reported missing in early September, and both were since found deceased.
Cian McLaughlin, who went missing in June, has not been found.
A fifth person with ties to Jackson Hole, James Daniels Jr., has yet to be located after going missing while reportedly traveling in Arizona.