Wyoming news briefs for April 16
No definitive timeline yet for rollout of Wyoming's short-time compensation program
CHEYENNE – A program that will let workers who have had their hours cuts gain partial unemployment benefits is in the works at the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services, though a timeline for the program’s rollout has yet to be finalized.
Earlier this year, the Wyoming Legislature established the state’s short-time compensation program through its passage of House Bill 9.
Under the bill, workers who have their hours cut between 10 percent and 60 percent would be eligible to receive supplemental benefits, so long as their employer confirms that the hours reductions will be in lieu of layoffs when applying for the program.
In February, HB 9 passed in the Wyoming Legislature with overwhelming support in both chambers.
Since Gov. Mark Gordon signed it into law, the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services has been working to implement the program, and department officials continue to stand up the new program, which will resemble ones already operating in just over half of the states in the country.
“We don’t have a timeline for the Short Term Compensation program just yet,” DWS Communications Manager Ty Stockton said in an email Thursday. “We are in the process of training staff, building the employer plans, reviewing rules that we may need to put in place and obtaining the software code from another state in our (unemployment insurance) consortium,” he added.
The department will release additional details about the plan, which is sometimes referred to as a “work-share” or “shared-work” program, as it approaches its final form. The proposal has frequently been pitched as a win-win for businesses, which can keep their employees onboard, and the state, which won’t have to provide as many full unemployment benefits as it would otherwise.
EWC set to return to in-person classes this fall
TORRINGTON — The Eastern Wyoming College announced this week that it will conduct in-person classes for the upcoming fall semester.
According to a press release, both the Torrington and Douglas campuses will be in-person this fall, and registration is now open for new and returning students.
“We look forward to having our students and community return to campus and return to in-person learning and activities,” said Mr. Roger Humphrey, vice president for academics /interim vice president for student services.
Even though the plan is to hold classes in-person, officials at EWC will continue to monitor the situation and will make adjustments accordingly.
Wyoming First Lady Gordon’s hunger program launches ‘Grow a Little Extra’
EVANSTON — First Lady Jennie Gordon’s Wyoming Hunger Initiative is partnering with the University of Wyoming Extension to launch a new program under the Food from the Farm + Ranch banner called Grow a Little Extra.
Instead of reinventing the wheel, this collaboration uses existing resources to create a sustainable solution to hunger.
Wyoming Hunger Initiative Regional Directors Dr. Caitlin Youngquist and Lori Dickinson, both from University of Wyoming Extension, spearheaded this effort to encourage gardeners to Grow a Little Extra this year in order to provide produce for their neighbors in need.
The Grow a Little Extra campaign will target three groups in Wyoming: home gardeners who can “grow a little extra” to share with local food pantries, existing community gardens that can dedicate one or two sections to growing food specifically for local food distribution agencies, and churches or community organizations who want to start a new garden to grow food for the community.
Anyone in the state of Wyoming who enjoys gardening is encouraged to grow an extra row or two and donate the produce to their local Cent$ible Nutrition Program, where it will be weighed and distributed to local anti-hunger organizations.
Wyoming Hunger Initiative has distributed seed packets to all twenty-three counties and the Wind River Indian Reservation for anyone interested in picking them up free of charge at their local extension office.
Infrastructure grants are available for organizations who wish to expand an existing community garden or start a new one to grow produce specifically for sharing with families and organizations in need.