Wyoming news briefs for September 13
Sheridan students join national mask protest
SHERIDAN — Dozens of students at both Sheridan High School and Sheridan Junior High School got up out of their chairs Friday and walked out of school, joining the scores of students across the country who protested mask requirements during the National School Walkout.
SHS Senior Christian Meza joined a handful of his friends and fellow high-schoolers in walking out of class at 10 a.m., then standing outside the school’s front entrance before finally going home.
“I just feel like our country is falling apart,” Meza said. “We’re supposed to be free.”
Meza said he not only participated in the National School Walkout to protest the masking requirement approved Aug. 30, just a day before the start of the 2021-22 school year, by the Sheridan County School District 2 Board of Trustees, but also the announcement of stricter national mandates by President Joe Biden.
Talon Kugler, also a member of the school's senior class, said he believes masking requirements stand in opposition to the country’s founding principles.
“America was founded on individual liberties,” Kugler said. “Right now, though, that’s not where we are.”
At same time, Kugler said he has no issue with other students making the decision to wear masks.
Some of the student protestors had the chance to talk with SCSD2 Superintendent Scott Stults, as he walked out of the high school.
Stults told the students he appreciated their efforts to keep the protest respectful and for not disrupting others. However, he said the relatively small number of students who participated in the walkout was also a telling measure of the efforts of other students who look to stay healthy and stay in school.
Crater Fire grows in intensity
CASPER — A fire burning in the Bighorn National Forest grew in intensity Thursday amid unseasonably hot temperatures in Wyoming.
Activity on the Crater Ridge Fire had been slowing of late, with three-quarters of the blaze contained. But on Thursday, it grew 230 acres, dropping containment down to 68 percent, said Sara Evans Kirol, public information officer for the national forest.
Along with high temperatures, the wind picked up in the area.
“The right combination just pushed the fire a little bit,” Kirol said.
The fire grew to 6,730 acres, expanding the perimeter of the blaze, which has been burning about 30 miles northeast of Lovell since mid July. Officials had listed the fire’s likely cause as lightning, but on Friday, it was listed as “undetermined” on a federal wildfire database.
Thursday’s growth did not result in damage to any structures in the area, Kirol said. Nor are any threatened. To date, only two structures — a cabin and a barn — have been destroyed in the fire.
Sixty-one people had been working the wildfire, down from more than 200 earlier this summer when it was burning stronger. Kristol said firefighters asked for more engines and another helicopter in light of latest growth.
“They are putting some more resources in that general location to keep the fire from expanding more,” she said.
Multiple area, road and trail closures remain in effect due to the blaze.
Employment falls at wind energy project
RAWLINS — A project that more than doubled PacifiCorp’s wind energy production is complete, meaning that from a peak workforce of 1,399 employees in August 2020, a few dozen people are now regularly working for the company in Carbon County.
“The construction workforce peaked at 1,399 in August 2020. From August 2019 through the week of November 2020, active construction jobs averaged 879 per week,” PacifiCorp spokeswoman Laine Anderson told the Rawlins Times in an email.
When asked how many employees will remain in the region for maintenance and operations on projects and infrastructure in Carbon County, Anderson said that operationally, Foote Creek I has two to three technicians, Ekola has eight to 10 technicians and TB Flats I & II has 12 to 15 technicians that maintain the site for PacifiCorp.
PacifiCorp reports it also has three supervisors who manage its nine wind projects in the Carbon County area.
In late August, the company announced that several Wyoming wind resource projects that included upgrading the existing wind turbine fleet and building a key segment of the company’s Energy Gateway transmission projects were complete.
“This achievement is cause for celebrating the hard work of dedicated employees and our contractors, who worked cooperatively with state utility regulators, local county and city officials and community residents to get this job done,” said Gary Hoogeveen, president and CEO of Rocky Mountain Power, PacifiCorp’s retail service division in Utah, Wyoming and Idaho. “Everyone involved, inside and outside the company, in working to complete these projects deserves congratulations.”
Missing man may have gone camping, family says
JACKSON — Robert “Bob” Lowery, a visitor from Texas who has been missing in Jackson Hole for over two weeks, had never been to Jackson before and maybe had plans to go camping.
His sister, Leigh Lowery, who is in Jackson with her and Robert’s family, told the Jackson Hole Daily that Bob had recently acquired a sleeping bag and a tent, but had no camping experience. She speculated he may be working somewhere around town.
Bob, 46, is 6 feet tall, has brown hair and blue eyes, often wore a Patagonia vest over a T-shirt, and typically was in touch with his kids, his sister said.
“Bob is a loving dad to his 15-year-old and 12-year-old,” she said. “He’s never out of touch with them. And that’s what’s concerning.”
Lowery was last seen wearing a black baseball hat with the letter P, a blue down vest, a plaid shirt and blue jeans, according to sheriff’s Deputy Chad Sachse.
Before Lowery left Houston, he canceled his mail, sheriff’s Deputy Chad Sachse said.
Attempting to locate Lowery, the sheriff’s office pinged his cellphone: The last ping came in Jackson on Aug. 23, but the phone is no longer working or trackable, Sachse said.
On Thursday, Leigh Lowery passed out flyers in Idaho with Bob’s pictures and a physical description.
Lowery was last seen Aug. 19 on video at Piste Mountain Bistro at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Teton Village, Sachse said. It is believed he took a Lyft to Pearl Street Bagels in Wilson the following day.