Wyoming news briefs for March 18

Storm prompts emergency declaration

CHEYENNE — Gov. Mark Gordon and the Laramie County Board of Commissioners issued emergency declarations Wednesday for the historic snowstorm that blanketed southeast Wyoming over the weekend.

The actions were a way to secure more resources for the aftermath and financial assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Whether Wyoming’s cities, towns and counties will receive FEMA assistance, however, will depend on the amount of damages across the state. At least $1 million in damages must be identified in Wyoming for President Joe Biden to consider an emergency declaration. If that declaration is issued, Laramie County’s municipalities will be able to apply for reimbursement.

Additionally, the emergency declaration from the governor allows the director of the Wyoming Office of Homeland Security to mobilize state and federal personnel, resources and organizations to address the impacts of the storm.

“The scale and intensity of this storm have caused severe impacts to our transportation infrastructure and agriculture producers,” Gordon said in a news release. “As the scope of the situation unfolds, and with the possibility of flooding as temperatures warm, it’s imperative we make all our resources available to respond to the needs in our communities.”

The governor’s move also allows the adjutant general to deploy the Wyoming National Guard, if needed, in conjunction with Homeland Security. According to a news release from the governor, no Guard members had been activated as of Wednesday.


Sundance man saves young boy during Iditarod

SUNDANCE — When Sundance man Doug Ramsey began volunteering at the world-famous Iditarod seven years ago, he did so because it was an important item on his bucket list. Last week at the Skwentna checkpoint, he ticked off another list-worthy achievement: saving the life of a child.

According to a dispatch from the Alaska Wildlife Troopers, Ramsey’s quick thinking enabled him to rescue a young boy after he fell through the ice.

On March 9, Alaska Wildlife Troopers Knier and Gunderson report that they were at the Iditarod checkpoint on the Skwentna River when they saw an eight-year-old child fall into a patch of open water. He immediately began to be pulled under the water by the current underneath the ice.

The boy’s ten-year-old brother grabbed him and struggled to keep him from being pulled under the ice, at which point Knier and Ramsey saw what was happening and sprinted over.

According to a report from Alaska News Source, Ramsey took hold of the older brother and pulled him, while Knier grabbed the eight-year-old and was able to haul him from the water.

“The Alaska Wildlife Troopers would like to thank Mr. Ramsey for his selfless act of courage, which prevented a tragic loss of life,” states the dispatch.


Sheridan, Gillette colleges to hold in-person graduations

SHERIDAN — After coping with restrictions related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic for over a year, commencement celebrations at Sheridan College are going live.

That was the message of Northern Wyoming Community College District President Walter Tribley to the district’s board of trustees during its regular monthly meeting Tuesday, in Sheridan.

According to a prepared statement released by district officials at Tuesday night’s meeting, students, faculty, friends and family will gather for graduation ceremonies at the Sheridan campus at 1 p.m. May 1 at the Bruce Hoffman Golden Dome.

The college’s nursing and dental hygiene programs will be holding “pinning” ceremonies earlier that day at 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., respectively, in Kinnison Hall at the Whitney Center for the Arts.

Commencement exercises at Gillette College will be held a day earlier at 7 p.m. April 30 in the Pronghorn Center.

“It’s been one long year,” Tribley told board members. “This should be fun coming together for our students.”

To comply with statewide event restrictions on capacity, each student will receive four guest tickets for the commencement exercise. The wearing of masks at the events will still be encouraged but not required.

Until graduation, however, Tribley said the district will continue to follow “strict” and “stringent” pandemic protocols to protect students and staff and to ensure the continuation of classes. He added those protocols can be relaxed for commencement, as graduating students will be moving on and not returning to the local campus.


First sighting of Yellowstone bear reported

CODY — The bears are waking up.

A pilot supporting Yellowstone National Park wildlife studies saw the first grizzly bear of 2021 on Saturday.

From the air, the pilot watched the bear interact with wolves at a carcass in the northern part of the park. This is the first sighting of a grizzly bear this year, although tracks have been seen on several occasions in the last two weeks.

The first bear sighting of 2020 occurred on March 7.

Male grizzlies come out of hibernation in early March. Females with cubs emerge in April and early May. When bears emerge from hibernation, they look for food and often feed on elk and bison that died over the winter. Sometimes, bears will react aggressively while feeding on carcasses.

“When bears first emerge from hibernation, they look for carcasses at lower elevations and spring vegetation in thermal meadows and south-facing slopes or nourishment,” said Kerry Gunther, the park’s bear management biologist.

While firearms are allowed in the park, the discharge of a firearm by visitors is a violation of park regulations. Bear spray has proven effective in deterring bears defending cubs and food sources. It can also reduce the number of bears killed by people in self-defense.