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Wyoming News Briefs March 12

UW asks for self-quarantines after travel

LARAMIE (WNE) — In an email sent to University of Wyoming employees and students Wednesday evening, UW Acting President Neil Theobald asked members of the campus community to self-quarantine for 14 days after traveling to any areas where a “state of emergency” has been declared.

As of Wednesday evening, that already includes almost half the country, including Colorado, Utah, Illinois, Arizona, New York, California, Washington, Florida, Oregon, Maryland, North Carolina, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Ohio and Kentucky.

Theobald’s request comes amid the spread of novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, more commonly known as COVID-19.

UW had about 3,000 students from states where a state of emergency has been declared in Fall 2018, the most recent semester for which UW has “state of origin” data available on its website.

Despite Theobald’s request for self-quarantines, he said “overall UW operations” are not currently planned to change and spring semester is still planned to continue as scheduled after next week’s spring break.

“Any changes to the current status that might occur during spring break will be communicated before the resumption of classes March 23,” Theobald said. “Faculty, staff and students are encouraged to re-evaluate spring break plans so as to avoid potential exposure to the virus or to limit the likelihood of exposing older people, and those of any age who have compromised immune systems.”

Beginning last week, UW asked faculty to make plans for the possibility of all classes going online.


Students petition for resignation of school board trustee

GILLETTE (WNE) — Nearly 250 students in Campbell County have signed a petition asking for the resignation of school board trustee Linda Bricker.

Several community members spoke to the board and a packed room at a Campbell County School District board meeting Tuesday night, some in support of Bricker and others asking her to resign.

At the end of February, Bricker shared a Facebook post that featured a photograph of former Democratic presidential nominee candidate Pete Buttigieg kissing his husband at a campaign event. The caption said Buttigeig’s behavior was inappropriate for children to see.

The board listened to comments from nine people Tuesday night on the issue, and board chairwoman Anne Ochs was the only board member to respond.

Alexis Hedrick, a teacher at Thunder Basin High School and adviser for the school’s Gay Straight Alliance, said Bricker’s post hurt many students and sends the wrong message.

“When someone in an elected position is targeting them, it hurts them, and I see the hurt they have,” Hedrick said. “There were a lot of students that wanted to speak out but they were afraid to.”

Bricker did not say anything during the public comment period, which lasted nearly half an hour. Last week, she posted an apology on her Facebook page, saying she “mindlessly hit ‘share’ not even thinking of the firestorm it would create.”


First grizzly emerges in Yellowstone

CODY (WNE) — The grizzlies are waking up.

Yellowstone National Park confirmed the first grizzly sighting of the year in the park on Saturday, March 7.

The bear was observed from the air by biologists during a radio telemetry flight near Grand Prismatic Spring. Last year’s sighting was March 8.

Boars are generally the first grizzlies to be seen out of hibernation. Male grizzlies come out of hibernation in early March. Females with cubs emerge in April and early May.

When bears emerge from hibernation, they look for food and often feed on elk and bison that had died over the winter. The park cautioned that bears will sometimes react aggressively while feeding on carcasses.

The spring, along with the fall, is generally a time when grizzlies will be seen farther east as they search for food. Last April there were multiple sightings of grizzlies closer to populated areas and the Heart Mountain Trail was briefly closed – in what has become a near yearly occurrence – due to increased bear activity.

“Now that bears are emerging from winter dens, visitors should be excited for the chance to view and photograph them, but they should also treat bears with respect and caution,” said Kerry Gunther, the park’s bear management biologist.

Park officials said bear spray has proven effective in deterring bears defending cubs and food sources.


CFD liquor license bill wins final legislative approval

CHEYENNE (WNE) — A bill trying to remedy a conflict in negotiations between the city and Cheyenne Frontier Days on who should pay for extra law enforcement at the famous rodeo won final approval from the House of Representatives on Wednesday afternoon.

The disagreement between the two entities, which has been highlighted in the Legislature over the past few weeks, centers on whether the city’s issuance of a liquor license should be tied to public safety issues.

Last year, after historically not charging the rodeo for law enforcement, the city asked CFD officials to help with the costs of the police needed to reach an officer-to-attendant threshold that meets industry standards.

For the 2019 rodeo, the city and CFD agreed to split the $100,000 cost to reduce that ratio, but the two entities have clashed over what that deal should be moving forward. During initial negotiations, Cheyenne Police Chief Brian Kozak threatened to not issue a liquor license to CFD if rodeo officials weren’t willing to help with payments for the additional officers.

Through Senate File 134, which will head to the governor’s desk after a concurrence vote, CFD would be guaranteed a malt beverage permit through state statute, rather than depending on the chief’s approval.

After two committee meetings that produced over an hour of testimony, the final vote in the House generated no debate, with representatives approving the measure by a 34-25 vote.