Wyoming news briefs for March 11

Gillette starts search for new administrator

GILLETTE — The city of Gillette will soon be advertising for the permanent city administrator position.

The city issued a brief press release Feb. 26 stating that former city administrator Pat Davidson was no longer a city employee and that Utilities Director Michael Cole would take over his job on an interim basis.

The City Council continues to remain mum on whether Davidson had been fired or resigned.

On Tuesday, Cole told the City Council that the city will do an in-house search for Davidson’s replacement. 

The position would pay between $135,000-$175,000 plus benefits. Davidson made $166,400 in July 2020. 

Among the duties include: serving as adviser to the City Council and mayor, developing fiscal and organizational plans and make recommendations on the city’s annual budget and capital improvements, working with outside organizations and people regarding interests and concerns, and developing policy initiatives for the council to consider.

Cole said he hopes to start advertising for the position by Friday.

Davidson was the city attorney for Gillette prior to his appointment as city administrator in 2017, when he replaced Carter Napier, who left to take the same position with the city of Casper.


Sheriff warns of ice danger at Buffalo Bill Reservoir

POWELL — A pair of side-by-side vehicles broke through the ice at the Buffalo Bill Reservoir on Sunday, March 7. 

No one was hurt in the incident, the Park County Sheriff’s Office said, and the owners of the two vehicles were able to retrieve them without any assistance. 

However, the sheriff’s office highlighted the incident as a reminder to take precautions when recreating on ice. 

Sheriff Scott Steward recommended that people not travel onto the ice at this time, due to the warm weather and rapidly deteriorating conditions. 

“Proper ice recreation safety can mean the difference between life and death,” the office said in a Facebook post. 

The sheriff’s office noted that the thickness of the ice “is very inconsistent this time of year.”

Stress fractures, air pockets, overly fatigued ice and other factors can cause otherwise strong ice to give way, said the post. “Moreover, ice is always and continually changing.” 

“As the weather continues to warm up the ice will become more dangerous. Certain areas may seem safe but may be very close to areas that are less stable,” the post read. 

The sheriff’s office advises people to always wear a personal flotation device when out on the ice, as a person can lose muscle control in cold waters and drown in two to 15 minutes. Further, Steward said to carry a pair of “ice awls” or “ice picks,” preferably on a loop hung around the person’s neck. 


Yellowstone Airport expects busy summer

CODY — Yellowstone Regional Airport plans to be busier this summer.

YRA Board Member Bucky Hall said both Delta and United Airlines they intend to return to 2019 levels of service this summer. 

United will be returning to two flights a day to Denver soon, it will add a third flight in June and a fourth in July. He said the airline is proposing doing a direct flight again to Chicago, and a maximum revenue guarantee rate will be determined soon for this service.

Operations manager Bruce Ransom said he has been told there will be many 70-passenger jets servicing YRA this summer. Although Delta is still only allowing 50-percent capacity in its planes, Ransom said the airline has committed to servicing two jets around the same time if customers support it with ticket purchases.

YRA typically runs around a $340,000 deficit annually, but this shortfall will be offset by government funding for at least the next few years.

The airport has about 3.5 years left to spend toward its $18 million CARES Act funding granted last spring. During a board meeting held Tuesday, it was announced that although this money is continuing to be pledged, it has still not been guaranteed and YRA could receive as little as $11 million.

So far, the airport has spent about $1.2 million of CARES Act money.


Wyoming Sugar beets set sugar content record

WORLAND — Wyoming Sugar growers set a sugar content record with the 2020 harvest. 

The harvest had 19.6-percent sugar content in the majority of the beets, according to Wyoming Sugar CEO and President Mike Greear. 

Greear said the factory in Worland was also able to produce over 1 million bags of sugar and was wrapping up the 2020-21 campaign on Friday. 

“We have a heck of a crop from our growers and we have strong contracting for next year,” Greear said. 

The company has contracted for 12,000 acres of sugar beets for the 2021 harvest. 

Greear said the final week of production was “not what I wanted,” but overall it was a great year and there is a bright future ahead for Wyoming Sugar and its growers.”