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Wyoming News Briefs APRIL 30

Weak market, COVID-19 make for grim Q1 report for Peabody

GILLETTE (WNE) – Peabody Energy’s move to lay off 170 workers from its flagship North Antelope Rochelle mine near Wright was part of a systematic mine-by-mine review of the beleaguered coal producer’s operations.

During a 2020 first-quarter earnings call and reporting an overall net income loss of more than $129 million, Peabody President and CEO Glenn Kellow said the unprecedented challenges his industry is facing requires an unprecedented response.

He also said that being an “essential” industry during the COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t insulate the company from its financial pressures.

Essential or not, “each operation will only continue to operate when it is safe and economic to do so,” Kellow said.

And while he didn’t specifically say Peabody is looking for buyers, Kellow said that intense review of the company’s mines could mean identifying some assets to sell.

At a time when the company has suspended payouts to shareholders and has seen its stock fall nearly 90% over the past year and natural gas prices dropping to a 21-year low, “We must take aggressive and decisive action,” Kellow said. That could include suspending operations that can’t support themselves.

In the Powder River Basin, Peabody produced 23.5 million tons of coal, down from the 25.3 million tons produced in the first quarter of last year.

While the $11.36 per ton realized for its PRB coal was the same as last year, it cost nearly 4% more to produce it.

The company also has suspended any of its projections for the rest of 2020, citing the uncertain market and impacts of the global pandemic.


Sundance Chamber gift card fundraiser reaches $9,300

SUNDANCE (WNE) — To date, the Gift Card Promo brought to this community by the Sundance Chamber of Commerce has raised over $9300. Actually, says Andy Miller of Sundance State Bank, where the totals are being tallied, you could consider the fundraiser to have been twice as successful as that number implies.

Every dollar raised via the promotion is being used to purchase gift cards from local businesses, supporting them at a time when proceeds are much lower than usual.

Those gift cards are then being donated, says Miler, “to people on the front lines and those who may have lost jobs or hours due to COVID-19”. Each dollar raised thus pulls double duty by helping two members of the community.

The idea behind the fundraiser simple: members of the community are able to donate via the Paypal link at Alternatively, funds can be dropped off at the Sundance State Bank drive-through, letting them know it is a Chamber Gift Card Donation.

Gift cards can also be purchased directly from the businesses and dropped off at the bank to be dispersed. All gift cards are then given to our medical and essential personnel in thanks for their hard work during this time, as well as to individuals who are out of work.

“We plan to keep it going,” says Miller.


Teton County to keep gyms, other businesses closed until May 11

JACKSON (WNE) – The Wyoming Department of Health granted Teton County variances to the two modified state health orders, effectively keeping most businesses closed until at least May 11.

The state’s first modified health order allows gyms and child care centers to reopen, with restrictions, and lets restaurants do takeout from inside the building, rather than curbside pickup. The second modified order allows personal service businesses, like salons or tattoo parlors, to reopen with increased social distancing and sanitation.

Yet in Teton County, most of those businesses will not be able to reopen at the same time as their counterparts around the state. However, child care centers and restaurants are unaffected by the variances.

The state’s other health order, limiting gatherings to 10 people, will go into effect in Teton County as of Friday morning. The more restrictive county order that had limited gatherings to just members of a household will expire at midnight Thursday.

All state health orders remain in effect until May 15. Teton County Director of Health Jodie Pond said the county requested May 11 as the end date for its variances because officials believe the pandemic is showing signs of slowing down.

“We felt that given our push for testing this week and next week, and the work we are doing with the Chamber on the guidance, we would be prepared — if numbers still look good on the 11th — to not ask for an extension,” she said.

Once the county variances expire, the state health orders will govern life in Teton County. Pond said following this round of orders, she expects the state and county to issue guidance for restaurants on how they can begin reopening in a limited capacity.


Longmire Days postponed

BUFFALO (WNE) — Johnson County's biggest tourism weekend has been pushed back to August as announced recently by the Longmire Foundation.

According to the foundation, the decision comes as COVID-19 continues to spread throughout Wyoming and the country.

"The safety of event attendees, our local community and the actors who so generously donate their time are first and foremost in our minds, and we feel this additional month will give the event the time that may be necessary for large scale events to be possible, according to the rules set forth by the State of Wyoming," the Longmire Foundation wrote in a statement on the Longmire Days website. "We also feel event attendees may require the extra time to change travel plans and feel safe and secure traveling to Durant (aka Buffalo), Wyoming. We want to see everyone, and we want everyone to be safe."

The event, which was originally scheduled for July 16-19, has been postponed to Aug. 13-16.

In its announcement, the Longmire Foundation acknowledged that the event may still be canceled entirely, depending on the evolving public health situation around the country and the world.

"We cannot guarantee that the event won't be canceled at a future time due to the rapidly changing situation," the foundation wrote.

The annual Longmire Days event, a celebration of Ucross author Craig Johnson's Walt Longmire character and novels, brings approximately 10,000 fans to Buffalo and Johnson County, and they spend about $2 million each year, according to longtime event organizer Jennifer McCormick.

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