Wyoming news briefs for May 25

Data profile reveals unique information about Teton County

JACKSON – The Wyoming Economic Analysis Division released last week a Teton County "profile" that combines a slew of data about topics as wide-ranging as housing, employment, health insurance coverage and commuting.

While some of the data is a bit out of date — population numbers are from 2019, for example — it nonetheless provides an interesting numerical overview of Jackson Hole.

Here are some highlights:

Teton County is older than Wyoming as a whole, with a median age of 39.8 compared to 38.4 statewide.

Jackson Hole is less insured than the rest of the state, with an estimated 87.3 percent of the population having health insurance coverage. That's compared to 88.6 percent of Wyomingites.

But Jackson Hole is estimated to have higher rates of private health insurance coverage and lower rates of public coverage than the rest of the state. 78.9 percent of Teton County's insured population is thought to have private insurance, and 20.7 percent of the same population has public insurance. 

In Wyoming, 73.6 percent of the insured population has private insurance versus the 27.7 percent on a public option.

Jackson Hole residents are also estimated to own proportionally fewer homes than people in the rest of the state. Of occupied housing units in Teton County, 60.4 percent are owner-occupied and 39.6 percent are renter-occupied. Of occupied units in the rest of Wyoming, 70.4 percent are owner-occupied. 29.6 percent are rented.


Tribe says big vehicle buy with CARES funds was permissible

RIVERTON – Responding to requests for clarification on its CARES Act expenditures, the Northern Arapaho Tribe said its spending is “in full accordance with federal requirements.” 

Northern Arapaho Business Council co-chairman Lee Spoonhunter was asked to address the $865,000 the tribe spent on vehicles. 

According to an Excel spreadsheet posted to the tribe’s website, its leaders bought 20 vehicles from a local dealer, ranging from $25,000 to more than $62,000 apiece, including Dodge 3500 trucks and Jeep Grand Cherokees. 

Through federal and state Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Stimulus moneys, the tribe received about $37 million. 

The U.S. Treasury dispatched guidance to recipients allowing only expenditures that were necessary, were prompted by COVID-19 damages, were not prescribed by any budget predating March 27, 2020, and were incurred between March 1 and Dec. 31 of 2020. 

Via his communications manager Matthew Benson, Spoonhunter sent a statement to the News that said “The tribe has long maintained a fleet of vehicles for use by tribal employees and officials – including members of the NABC – whose duties include frequent travel during difficult driving conditions. Vehicles purchased with federal dollars for COVID-related uses remain tribal property.” 

Spoonhunter also responded to an inquiry regarding $120,418 of the CARES Act money that went to attorneys. 

Spoonhunter could not be reached for a telephone interview but stated in the e-mail from his spokesman that the legal expenditures were due to “considerable legal review (which) has been required throughout the pandemic,” due to the NABC’s multiple executive orders, which included a months-long stay-at-home order. 


Gillette man reportedly catches on fire

GILLETTE — A man was taken to the Campbell County Memorial Hospital emergency room with burns to his head and neck after reportedly catching fire at his home on Dakota Court on Saturday afternoon.

The fire started when he was smoking a cigarette while wearing an oxygen nasal cannula, said Campbell County Fire Department Battalion Chief Kate Eischeid. The fire burned parts of his face and neck.

The man and someone else quickly put out the fire. How they put out the fire, as well as the identity of the other person and the man’s age, is unknown.

The man walked to the ambulance with assistance before being transported to the hospital, Eischeid said.

Firefighters remained at the scene for about 30 minutes to ensure the fire did not spread and to ventilate the home from smoke. No part of the house caught fire, she said.