Wyoming news briefs for June 16

New initiative nets Sheridan school district beef cattle for school lunch program

SHERIDAN –  Sheridan County School District 2 officials might have found the right receipt to help the school district’s lunch program provide fresher and healthier choices, with a new “Ranch to School” program that netted 17 beef cattle donated or purchased at a discount.

SCSD2 officials announced the new initiative in April, with the goal of working with local ranchers to help supply some of the 9,000 pounds of ground beef used by the school district each year. Participating ranchers were asked to either donate a cull cow or sell the district cattle for 60 cents per pound or less.

According to district officials, 18 cattle would help provide the 1,000 pounds of beef used each month by SCSD2 in its meal program. At the district’s board of trustee meeting Monday, Cyndi Magee, human resources director, said the district had already received a commitment for 17 animals.

“We’re so happy,” Magee said. “This allows us to give our students healthier meals. It also allows us to educate our students.”

As part of the program, those donating will have their names listed on school banners for one month per cow and be invited to speak to students about the local ranching industry.

The Ranch to School initiative will allow the SCSD2 to supplement or replace ground beef products of potentially lesser quality purchased through food vendors or obtained from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s commodity programs.

It will also help the district’s bottom line somewhat, with the school district set to spend more than $820,000 on its food service program for the current 2020-21 school year and Western Heritage Meat Company giving the district a discounted rate on processing to keep the cost of local beef very competitive.


Jackson’s Vaxi Taxi takes shots to the people

JACKSON - With 80 percent of adults over 18 fully vaccinated in Teton County, vaccinated individuals now make up the majority of the community. Now health officials are launching an innovative vaccination effort to further increase the community protection from COVID-19.

“The whole goal is to try to get to the people, to make it easier for people,” Public Health Response Coordinator Rachael Wheeler said.

The Health Department’s new “Vaxi Taxi,” a repurposed START bus turned mobile vaccine clinic, aims to increase access to COVID-19 vaccines by reaching outlying populations that are unable to get their shots at the Health Department in town.

Nurses check in patients under a tent outside the bus and ask them about any potential COVID-19 symptoms or recent contact with infected individuals. Nurses also patiently describe side effects they might experience after the vaccine, usually a sore arm and mild fever.

Patients then head onto the Vaxi Taxi, where they receive their shots in the seats passengers have generally used for transportation. 

Operating out of the Vaxi Taxi allows the team to hold clinics at more locations around the valley as well as more efficient set ups and easy clean up.

For some members of the community, it can be more challenging to arrange vaccine appointments due to lack of transportation or scheduling conflicts that prevent them from visiting the Health Department clinic while it is open. By offering extra opportunities and sites for vaccinations the Vaxi Taxi addresses those barriers to care.

No appointments are needed for the Vaxi Taxi, so anyone is welcome to show up at any stop on the route.


Fort Bridger woman accused of Tasing child

EVANSTON — A Fort Bridger woman has been charged with two counts of felony child abuse after an incident that came to the attention of law enforcement in mid-May. 

Moria N. Black faces up to 10 years of imprisonment, a $10,000 fine or both for each of the two counts. 

According to an affidavit filed in the case, Black was arrested on May 17 after a child in her care reported Black had discharged a Taser on the child on more than one occasion as a form of punishment. 

Black allegedly used the Taser on the child twice that morning because the child refused to turn a cell phone over to Black. 

The child also reported other instances in which Black had allegedly used the Taser, including an incident when Black allegedly held the child down on a bed while discharging it. 

Court documents indicate that, according to the child, Black previously used a wooden paddle with “42 holes in it” for punishment until the paddle broke and Black purchased a Taser. 

However, Black, according to court documents, found the first Taser insufficient and then purchased a “bigger more powerful” one that was allegedly used on the child on May 17. 

According to the affidavit, upon questioning, Black admitted to using the Taser on the child and stated the child “made me do it because (the child) wouldn’t give me the phone.” 

Black has yet to appear in Third District Court for arraignment on the charges.   


Governor using CARES funds to relaunch Energy Rebound Program

RAWLINS — Governor Mark Gordon has announced that up to $12 million of remaining Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds will be used to fund the Energy Rebound Program, which is designed to get more people working in the energy industry. 

In 2020, the Energy Rebound Program provided badly needed capital for specified oil and gas projects, including drilled but uncompleted ventures, workovers, and reclamation of oil and gas wells through the plugging and abandonment process, according to a press release. 

“The Energy Rebound Program successfully provided opportunities for oil and gas industry employees who lost jobs when drilling ceased last year,” Governor Gordon said. “This program will continue to provide economic benefits to this important industry, its workforce and the entire state of Wyoming.” 

As Wyoming’s economy continues to improve, the oil and gas industry is lagging behind due to external market factors, the press release said. 

Currently there are nine drilling rigs operating in Wyoming, compared to more than 30 in February 2020. 

These funds will once again target projects that bring immediate economic benefits, including Wyoming job growth and revenue, along with the environmental benefits of plugging and reclaiming oil and gas wells that are no longer in use, or near the end of their useful life. 

“As energy demand continues to increase, private-land production states have seen a quicker rebound, one that has yet to reach Wyoming’s federally-owned resources. Given the success of the inaugural Energy Rebound Program – a jobs program at its core – Governor Gordon’s decision to initiate a second round makes perfect sense,” said Pete Obermueller, president of the Petroleum Association of Wyoming.