Wyoming news briefs for April 15


Sheridan County school district applies for COVID-19 stipend to thank faculty, staff

SHERIDAN — The Sheridan County School District 3 Board of Trustees is looking to thank its staff for the extra work they took on while following COVID-19 measures.

Trustees discussed Wednesday an application they had put in for a COVID stipend through the state. The one-time stipend would give 10-month employees $2,000, year-round employees $2,500, the new hire for the district $500, bus drivers $1,000 and coaches $100.

The stipend will cost $73,930.

“I know our staff has worked hard. We did temperatures before school and at lunch for a year and a half,” SCSD3 Superintendent Boyd Brown said. “We had a lot of extra stuff our staff members had to do. All our maintenance folks with the rounds that they had to do to make sure we’re sterilizing everything and our bus drivers making sure that when we had our kids wear masks, they were wearing masks.”

“So it’s an opportunity to tell them thank you for the work they did,” he added.


Gillette Police Department following lead in search for missing woman

GILLETTE  The Gillette Police Department has a lead in the investigation of the disappearance of 32-year-old Irene Gakwa, who was reported missing on March 20 and was last heard from on March 4.

One tip indicated Gakwa may have been taken to a rural area, mine site or oil and gas location between Feb. 24 and March 20 in a passenger car or crossover SUV, according to a police press release.

Detectives also are following a number of other leads and continue to ask for the public’s help in finding Gakwa.

The city asks that if anyone has any information about suspicious activity in areas like these, or any other information related to Gakwa’s disappearance, no matter how insignificant they believe it may be, to call the Gillette Police Department at 307-682-5155.

Police detectives have interviewed Gakwa’s friends and associates and have executed about two dozen search warrants in efforts to find her, according to the press release. Digital evidence, including location data, is also being analyzed and has provided positive leads,.

The department has confirmed that Gakwa lived with a man in Gillette up until her disappearance. The man is considered a person of interest, and he has not made himself available to detectives looking to resolve questions that exist in the investigation.

Information obtained through investigation suggests Gakwa went missing under suspicious circumstances. She was last seen Feb. 24 in a video call with her parents.


Old West Days parade at risk of cancellation

JACKSON — Jackson’s Old West Days Parade, the longest-running horse-drawn parade in the West, by some accounts, may not return from its pandemic hiatus.

The Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce is considering calling off the parade, while keeping certain other Memorial Day events, because of declining participation, Chamber CEO and President Anna Olson said.

“We are actively working on a way for this to work,” she said.

Members of the ranching and agriculture community should reach out to the chamber if they want to participate this year, she said.

Town special events coordinator Carl Pelletier said Wednesday that he still hadn’t received a permit application for the annual event.

The parade has over the years brought a robust crowd of spectators, at least before the pandemic, and has showcased varied community partners such as the Jackson Hole Lions, Kiwanis, Elks Lodge and Shrine clubs, as well as Teton County Fair and Rodeo Royalty, the Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum, the Bar T-5 Chuckwagon, and the Spring Creek and Heart Six ranches.

Originally envisioned as a celebration of Western heritage during a light offseason, the parade may have been made impractical by modern circumstances.

“Now the ranch is full, they can’t drop everything to be in a parade,” Olson said.

The number of participants was on the decline even before COVID-19 canceled the parade in 2020 and 2021, Olson said. In 2019, there were just 22 entrants, and half of those participants were non-horse drawn, which potentially jeopardized the parade’s core identity, she said.

While Olson said it would be “brilliant” for the event to continue, at the end of the day “a parade needs participants.”