Wyoming news briefs for April 9

Cheyenne Frontier Days unveils all-country concert lineup

CHEYENNE — The day after announcing this summer’s event will take place at full capacity and without masks, Cheyenne Frontier Days announced the 2021 Frontier Nights entertainment lineup.

Professional Bull Riders will return this summer with its exclusive Last Cowboy Standing series (July 26-27), complementing the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association day-time rodeo (July 24-Aug. 1) in the arena.

The entertainers added to the previously incomplete 2021 lineup are Garth Brooks with Ned LeDoux; Cody Johnson with Aaron Watson; Maren Morris with TBA; and Kane Brown with Restless Road. Blake Shelton with John King; Eric Church with Ashely McBryde; and Thomas Rhett with Rhett Akins were rescheduled from 2020. Contract Acts Committee chairman Randy Krafft said the committee reached out to artists of other genres, but was unable to find any non-country artists willing to perform this summer.

“A lot of that came down to just availability of the artists,” he said. “The country artists seemed more eager to get on the road. Most hip-hop and rock artists, from what we’re seeing, they’re planning more of a fall tour, so the availability was not there.”

He noted that the committee was “looking to keep that mixture they normally bring,” but it simply didn’t work out.


Goshen County removed from COVID lawsuit

TORRINGTON — Goshen County has been dismissed in a lawsuit against Gov. Mark Gordon’s March 13, 2020, State Health Emergency Health Order, according to county attorney Eric Boyer. 

Nick Beduhn, the plaintiff’s attorney, said the Attorney General’s office was served and accepted service on behalf of the governor, Michael Ceballos and Dr. Alexia Harrist. However, they refused to accept service on behalf of the county health officers. 

Beduhn said while people around the country are making constitutional arguments against the mandates, theirs has a different approach. Beduhn said for him and the individuals he represents, the main issue was the governor stepping outside of what state health orders and statutes allow.

“We’re going all the way back to March 2020 and saying, ‘when he declared that state emergency health order, there was not a pandemic within the state of Wyoming,’” Beduhn said.

What happened with Goshen County, according to Boyer, is “they served us, whether or not the service was appropriate, that’s a separate issue.” 

Boyer said, “I thought about it and talked to our folks. Then I called up the plaintiff’s attorney.”

Boyer said he asked why they were suing the county when the commissioners and public health officers hadn’t recommended a health mandate. 

“There were three counties that were not in favor of mandates and that is Goshen, Niobrara and Weston,” Boyer explained. 

According to Boyer, the plaintiff’s attorney said he had planned to amend his pleadings and agreed to take Goshen County out of his lawsuit.


Wyoming insurance group purchased

CASPER — Wyoming’s largest independent insurance agency is no longer owned by Wyomingites. 

HUB International, an insurance company with more than 470 offices in the United States, acquired Wyoming Financial Insurance in a deal announced Wednesday. 

Bob Moberly, the former CEO of Wyoming Financial Insurance, said the acquisition had been in the works for more than two years. 

Although Wyoming Financial prided itself on its local focus and clientele, Moberly said working under an international company should give insurance clients access to a wider range of resources like analytics data and compliance lawyers. 

“It’s unfortunate that it is owned now by an out-of-state company because I believe at WERCS (parent company Wyoming Employee Resource Capital and Services) everything we stand for is trying to keep money in Wyoming, to build a better economy,” Moberly said. “In this particular instance it made sense for us. “It’s like selling your oldest child, to sell the insurance agency, because it gave us capital, and 100 percent of the capital will be reinvested in Wyoming for this new direction we’re going.” 

That new direction will include an expansion into the rural internet market, Moberly said, with several mergers coming to WERCS in the near future.

According to HUB, Wyoming Financial’s clients shouldn’t see any disruption or outsourcing in their service. All of the agency’s employees kept their jobs and their accounts, and regional president Rene LeVeaux said the company may even do additional hiring in the state if needed.


COVID variants appear in Sweetwater Co.

GREEN RIVER — “It was just a matter of time,” Dr. Jean Stachon, the county’s health officer, said about when variants of the novel coronavirus would appear in Sweetwater County.

Currently, 12 of Wyoming’s 23 counties have variants circulating within their boundaries. Two variants, originally discovered in California, have appeared amongst the COVID-19 infections recorded in Sweetwater County. 

They have been circulating for a while too. 

Dr. Stachon said one of the variants was first detected in a sample from late February, raising the possibility that the variant was in Sweetwater County before that sample was collected. 

Dr. Stachon said the issue came from the tests being conducted by Curative, a private company running COVID-19 tests, only working to detect if the virus was present in the sample, not testing if the virus detected had different genetic markers than the original virus -- something the state health department’s testing includes. 

Dr. Stachon said the variation is not considered of “high consequence,” meaning there isn’t concern that the vaccines available are not effective against the strain. 

So far, she said information collected about the two variations indicate it is about 20-percent more transmissible than the original virus, with data about how lethal it is compared to the original not available. 

Additionally, transmission within the county remains higher than much of the state, with Sweetwater County joining Teton, Fremont and Lincoln Counties in the “moderate-high” transmission level, meaning there are between 101-201 cases per 100,000 population and a 8 to 10-percent test positivity rate.