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Thursday Briefs via WNE

UW hires vice president for diversity, equity, inclusion

LARAMIE (WNE) — For the University of Wyoming’s first-ever vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion, Zebadiah Hall, making sure that everyone in the community belongs and matters is the name of the game.

UW hired Hall for the position last month.

He most recently worked as the director of student disability services at Cornell University and has been involved in the field of diversity, equity and inclusion throughout his career.

In his leadership role at UW, Hall said he plans to examine concrete ways to make people feel safe and included on campus.

“We can get really cute in defining what diversity, equity and inclusion means, and sometimes that’s needed,” Hall said. “But (we) are more interested in ‘What are the systematic and systems changes that we can make?’ ‘What are the cultural changes and shifts that we need to make to navigate this water so people actually belong and matter in the space?’”

The university’s interim Council on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Leadership decided to elevate its preexisting chief diversity officer position to the vice president level during the search for a new candidate, which started in 2021, according to a UW news release.

“I think there’s ways in which people can talk about their visions, their viewpoints, their beliefs, their theories without actually harassing individuals in our community,” Hall said.

Student safety should be the first priority, but universities should also find creative ways to give people platforms to share their views, such as by using panel discussions or think tanks, he said.

No matter what side of a certain belief a person is on, individuals in the community should not be singled out by name when discussing theories, Hall said.

This story was published on Dec. 15, 2022.


After cost dispute, Jackson Hole Airport will no longer provide its own security

JACKSON (WNE) — Starting April 1, the Jackson Hole Airport will no longer provide its own security screening services.

The Transportation Security Administration announced Wednesday that it selected a private company, Aviation Security Management, LLC, to take the contract.

The TSA said it was only willing to pay $33 million over a five-year period for security screening. But the airport asked for the federal government to pay it more, arguing that $33 million was not enough to retain employees in Jackson's tight housing and labor market.

The TSA is currently paying about $10.4 million for a security contract extension that only covers 10 months. Over five years, that would equate to more than $52 million. The Airport did not disclose what it asked for.

“Our efforts to renew the contract have been exhausted and we sincerely hope ASM recognizes the labor force challenges in this area and will be able to support their staff to the best of their ability while providing the same quality of service,” Bob McLaurin, the Jackson Hole Airport Board's president said in a Wednesday press release.

On Friday, Jackson Hole Airport Executive Director Jim Elwood told the News&Guide that employees will likely leave if they're paid less than what they currently make.

Amid Jackson Hole’s tight labor market, the airport has attracted and retained security screeners with a base wage of $25 per hour. Benefits also include employer paid health and dental plans, a $1,000 monthly housing and transportation stipend, a state-run retirement plan, and paid sick and vacation time.

Aviation Security Management, LLC, provides security services at other airports in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, including Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport.

This story was published on Dec. 14, 2022.


Powell man charged with breaching the peace

CODY (WNE) — A Powell man was arrested Dec. 1 for allegedly breaching the peace after standing in a parking lot adjacent to the Powell Law Enforcement Center and screaming obscenities and threatening to kill people.

Joseph Frank Rauchwater, 47, was reported as screaming at the top of his lungs, “No forgiveness, kill em all, their mothers, their fathers, their children,” the affidavit said.

It also said he had been screaming racist epithets and various expletives.

“As soon as I exited the [Powell] Law Enforcement Center, I could hear a male’s voice yelling,” Powell Police Officer Phillip Alquist wrote in an affidavit. “The male I was observing was now in the center of the lot, yelling very loudly that he was going ‘to kill everyone.’”

As Alquist attempted to make contact with Rauchwater, he allegedly sprinted toward Alquist, stopping within 20 feet of the officer after being commanded to stop.

“I could smell the odor of alcoholic beverage emanating from his person,” Alquist wrote in the affidavit. “Throughout our interaction, [Rauchwater] continued to slur and mispronounce words.”

Rauchwater admitted to drinking beer and other liquor.

After pleading not guilty to one count of breach of peace, which is a misdemeanor, Rauchwater was given a $5,000 cash or surety bond on Dec. 2.

As part of his bond conditions, he was ordered not to use, possess or consume alcoholic beverages or be in places where it is sold, according to the bond conditions document.

As of Dec. 14, Rauchwater remained an inmate in the Park County Detention Center, and now faces a jury trial in Park County Circuit Court, which is currently scheduled for April of next year.

This story was published on Dec. 15, 2022.


Jeep hits horse, is hit by SUV

POWELL (WNE) — A driver avoided serious injury after colliding with a stray horse and then being struck by an oncoming vehicle Wednesday morning on U.S. Highway 14A.

The driver of the second vehicle was taken to Powell Valley Hospital to get checked out, but his injuries were also not serious, said Wyoming Highway Patrol Trooper Kaycee Shroyer.

The crashes occurred shortly before 6:15 a.m. between Powell and Garland, near Jim Bridger Trail.

A 65-year-old Powell man was eastbound in his Jeep when he encountered the horse in the middle of the road, Shroyer said.

“The Jeep hit the horse square up,” he said, doing substantial damage to the vehicle and killing the animal.

The Jeep spun around and came to rest near the middle of the road, facing south, where it was struck by a westbound midsize SUV, driven by a 25-year-old Byron resident.

Thankfully, Shroyer said, the impact was on the left rear side of the Jeep and that driver declined medical treatment.

“He was feeling OK,” the trooper said. No citations were issued. “You don’t really expect a horse in the middle of the road,” Shroyer said, “but it’s possible.”

This story was published on Dec. 15, 2022.