Wyoming news briefs for October 4


Gillette College VP named president of new college district

GILLETTE — The Gillette Community College District Board of trustees voted Friday to appoint Janell Oberlander as the interim president of the new district and also approved a preliminary budget for the remainder of this fiscal year.

For now, it is a nominal change. Oberlander, who is the Gillette College vice president, remains employed through the Northern Wyoming Community College District while GCCD works on establishing its required infrastructure as a new district.

“I was not expecting that this morning so I very much appreciate your support and I appreciate your belief in me to work with you as we develop this extraordinary new opportunity, not only for our community but for the state,” Oberlander said Friday’s meeting.

The $1,023,752 preliminary budget approved on Friday covers the new district’s projected expenses through June 2022 and possibly beyond.

“As we know, there are a lot of chicken or the egg issues in this process,” said trustee Alison Ochs Gee. “What I’d like is the board to approve this budget and then we’ll go find the money to support it. We’re not going to spend or commit to any funds until we get that done.”

Trustees have not yet set a mill levy amount and will need to find a source for the money budgeted in its preliminary projections apart from the mill levy.

“We think there will be a delay between the time we start the fiscal year, July 1, and when we actually see the revenue,” Ochs Gee said. “This budget will overlap with the budget we create for the 2022-23 fiscal year.”

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39 active COVID-19 cases reported at WDOC facilities

CHEYENNE — As of Friday, the number of positive COVID-19 cases (confirmed positives) identified in routine surveillance samplings at Wyoming Department of Corrections facilities was 39:  

Ten staff members and 13 inmates at the Wyoming Medium Correctional Institution in Torrington tested positive for COVID-19;

One staff member and two inmates at the Wyoming Honor Farm in Riverton tested positive;

One staff member and one inmate at the Wyoming Honor Conservation Camp in Newcastle tested positive;

One staff members and eight inmates at the Wyoming Women’s Center in Lusk tested positive, and

One staff member and one inmate at the Wyoming State Penitentiary in Rawlins tested positive. Working with the Wyoming Department of Health, all positive inmate cases are medically monitored and managed by the department and its health-care provider, Corizon Health Inc., in accordance with CDC guidelines. 

The Department of Corrections continues to conduct rigorous surveillance testing at all sites, as necessary, and will provide additional information as it becomes available.

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WCCC ranked one of top online community colleges

ROCK SPRINGS — Western Wyoming Community College was ranked in the 30 best online community colleges by Online Schools Report for 2022. 

Online Schools Report ranks colleges based on a “school-wide” and “online program” score.

The school-wide score is comprised of: student satisfaction, based on real reviews from Rate My Professor and StudentsReview; admission rate, from the actual percentage of applicants accepted from the National Center for Education Statistics; and online presence, which is based on the number of online programs offered, as reported by the National Center for Education Statistics. 

The online program score is based on three factors; median debt, meaning the median amount of debt carried by graduates from the program as reported by College Scorecard; department popularity, comprised of the percentage of graduates from that department as reported by the National Center for Education Statistics; and department size, meaning the number of online degrees offered within a department, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. 

“Western continues to provide exceptional programming here on our Rock Springs campus, our ten Outreach sites and, as recognized by this report, through our online instruction. In this time of change in higher education, it is encouraging to see that Western continues to be recognized as providing a truly superior educational experience to all of our students regardless of how they choose to continue their education,” stated Dr. Clifford Wittstruck, Vice President for Student Learning.

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Grand Teton warns of grizzly trapping

JACKSON — Grand Teton National Park is asking visitors to heed warning signs and avoid areas where bear trapping is going on.

From today through the end of October, biologists with the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team will be baiting and trapping bruins as part of the team’s Endangered Species Act obligations to monitor grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Baiting and trapping follows strict protocols, a press release said. Trapped bears will be sedated so wildlife biologists can collect samples and data for scientific study. The bears are then released on-site.

“When bear trapping activities are being conducted, the area around the site will be posted with bright warning signs to inform the public of the activities occurring,” the release said. “For bear and human safety, the public must respect these signs and stay out of posted areas.”

The study team includes representatives from the National Park Service, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service, Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribal Fish and Game Department and the states of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

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