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Wyoming News Briefs Thursday, Feb. 27

Jackson to commit to becoming carbon-neutral

JACKSON (WNE) — The Jackson Town Council is planning its initial — and somewhat symbolic — move toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions, with a pledge to become carbon neutral by 2030, if not sooner.

Mayor Pete Muldoon, who in recent months has tried to foster a climate advocacy movement in Jackson, asked town staff to create a resolution committing the community to erasing its carbon footprint in the next decade.

“I think that’s the first step to us acknowledging as a community that this is a real issue and this is something we’ve got to deal with,” Mayor Pete Muldoon said. “I think from that flow a lot of good decisions that we might be able to make down the road.”

The idea is inspired by Park City, Utah, which passed a similar resolution in 2018 and has spent time since positioning itself as a regional leader in climate action.

More specifically, the Park City resolution states that the government agency itself will reach net-zero carbon by 2022, and that the broader community will get all of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

Assistant Public Works Director Johnny Ziem, who will craft Jackson’s resolution, said he may model if after Park City’s, though Muldoon joked that “if you want to make it late 2029, just so we can say we’re a bit ahead of Park City, I’d be OK with that too.”

But the resolution won’t outline concrete steps to become carbon neutral. Those details will come later, likely in a separate climate action plan.


Bill requiring legislative approval for UW construction dies

LARAMIE (WNE) — A bill that would have required approval from the Legislature for the University of Wyoming to expend more than $1.5 million on any construction project has failed.

Tuesday was the deadline for the bill, House Bill 95, to be brought up for a first reading vote, but House Majority Leader Eric Barlow pushed H.B. 95 toward the bottom of the list of bills to be considered. Ultimately, House leaders adjourned the Tuesday session shortly before 11 p.m. without bringing the bill for a vote, despite the fact that it was approved 7-0 by the House Appropriations Committee and was co-sponsored by Speaker of the House Steve Harshman, R-Casper.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Tom Walters, R-Casper, and co-sponsored by six members of the Joint Appropriations Committee, including the committee’s co-chairman, Sen. Eli Bebout, R-Riverton.

H.B. 95 would’ve required legislative approval of every expenditure of more than $1.5 million on “any public building and all works and facilities necessary for the planning, construction and utilization of a state owned public building.”

The bill would’ve explicitly precluded UW from spending more than $1.5 million “for the constructing, maintaining, operating or equipping of any capital construction project, including any acquisition or purchase of facilities related to a capital construction project, unless the expenditure was authorized by the legislature.”


Cheyenne coding company instruction launches apprenticeship

CHEYENNE (WNE) — Apprenticeships help train individuals for skilled careers, and are commonly used by electricians, plumbers and carpenters. But as Wyoming is increasingly focused on diversifying its economy, the staff at Cheyenne's Array School of Technology and Design hope to pave the way for apprenticeships in the world of technology.

Array CEO Eric Trowbridge announced Wednesday that the state's first accelerated technology and design school will launch an apprenticeship program that's the first of its kind in Wyoming. Those with a passion for coding can apply to be an apprentice for Array's partnering companies, and those who are accepted will be paid to learn from Array staff and to work on projects for those companies.

"Hopefully, this will continue to bring Wyoming closer together, with all of us working together on creating a brand new tech economy," Trowbridge said.

The idea of a tech apprenticeship, though never done by a school before in Wyoming, fit into the school's larger goals of broadening the technology industry in the state. Through the Department of Labor's certified training program, Array apprentices will be working with entities like Visit Cheyenne, Flowstate and Salotto for one year on projects ranging from virtual reality to artificial intelligence.

The companies will pay an amount to Array, which will, in turn, pay the apprentices $15 an hour once they start working with their partner company. As the apprentices gain more skill and get deeper into their projects, their pay will ultimately increase to $17.07.


State plans for aerial photography of counties

BUFFALO (WNE) — Dozens of airplanes commissioned by the Wyoming Department of Revenue will take flight this spring to provide assessors with a clearer picture of the counties they serve.

“Wyoming historically has not had very good aerial photography,” said Jim Waller, Johnson County's planner. "It has been kind of hit and miss, and the photography we have on our county map server has not been updated since 2012. That's why the Department of Revenue started looking at the benefits of having better imagery throughout the state of Wyoming.”

The Department of Revenue has contracted with the EagleView’s aerial measurement service to take aerial shots of all areas of the state that are densely populated with buildings, Waller said. For Johnson County, that will mean updated imagery of Buffalo, Kaycee and northern Johnson County up to the Sheridan County border.

There are several benefits of high-quality aerial photography for county assessors, according to assessor Deb Robinson.

“One of our biggest complaints with our map server is the photography,” Robinson said. “High-quality aerial photography allows us to evaluate properties without site visits, which saves man hours, travel time and vehicle expense. It is a massive savings to not just our department, but to other county departments, to consult the photographs when possible. We are fully behind this project, and if we don't get in on it now, it is going to cost us more later.”

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