Wyoming news briefs for March 10

Posted 3/10/22

News from across Wyoming.

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Wyoming news briefs for March 10


Newcastle woman wins national education award

NEWCASTLE — “I love what I do because it’s literally the most rewarding thing I could ever think of. My students make just as big of a difference in my life as I hope I do in theirs,” said Keeley Anderson, Newcastle Middle School paraprofessional and intervention specialist. “I want them to know that with me they’re safe and that they are important and cared about above anything else.” 

That love for her students and what she is able to do every day is just one of the many reasons Anderson was named the 2022 national “Recognizing Inspiring School Employees” (RISE) recipient in a ceremony on Feb. 23, featuring a presentation from U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, via Zoom, Gov. Mark Gordon and Brian Schroeder, the state’s newly appointed superintendent of public instruction. 

“Education support professionals deserve appreciation today and every day. Especially amid the pandemic, their contributions to school communities have been extraordinary and have helped schools remain open for in-person learning,” Cardona said. “It’s an honor for me to present Keeley with this well-deserved award.” 

As an intervention specialist, according to a press release announcing her award, she works to prioritize students in the school who need additional support to be successful. 

During the pandemic, Anderson took on even more duties as she became the key communicator and liaison for students placed on quarantine. She helped them to manage their work remotely and transition back into the classroom. 


Northwest College names next president 

POWELL — The Northwest College Board of Trustees voted unanimously on Wednesday to retain Lisa Watson as president of the college. 

Watson has been serving as interim president since November 2020 since the previous president, Stefani Hicswa, resigned to pursue a position at the University of Montana-Billings. 

Watson was one of two finalists for the position. 

Watson had previously worked under Hicswa at Miles Community College in Miles City, Montana, and served as interim president there when Hicswa left for NWC. 

Watson was hired at NWC in 2014 as the vice president of administrative services and finance. She holds an MBA with a specialization in international business from the University of Miami and a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Colorado-Boulder. 

She’s currently working toward her doctorate in higher learning administration from the University of Wyoming. 

Watson agreed to serve as acting president for one year while a search was conducted for a permanent president. The search was originally expected to be completed by summer 2021. However, with a number of challenges facing the college — including the uncertainties of the pandemic and budgetary challenges — the board delayed the search and voted to extend Watson’s contract through June 2022. 


Sheridan Police Department establishes safe exchange location 

SHERIDAN — The Sheridan Police Department has established a safe exchange location consisting of two marked parking spots in front of the department headquarters. 

The goal of the space, SPD Capt. Tom Ringley said, is to provide a safe place for people to conduct child custody exchanges or goods bought and sold in private party sales, such as transactions conducted via classified ads or online. 

Ringley said the location’s position in front of the police department, within view of SPD security cameras and Main Street traffic, should ensure parties act appropriately during the transaction.

“We would expect people [who] would meet in the spaces would be cognizant of their location,” Ringley said. 

LouAnn Larsen, visitation coordinator at Compass Center for Families, said SPD’s safe exchange location could be a boon for local family custody exchanges. 

Although some families can organize custody exchanges at home, school or other public locations like a gas station or grocery store, Larsen said other families require additional security and support during the exchange process due to a history of domestic violence, anger issues or other challenges. 

“I think a lot more families are going to use it,” Larsen said. 

Because of the fraught nature of these exchanges, Larsen said she’s been sending families to the police department to conduct custody exchanges for years when Compass is closed or otherwise unable to supervise exchanges. 


Yellowstone’s first grizzly bear of 2022 spotted Monday

CODY — Yellowstone National Park’s first bear of the year is out quite early. 

On Monday, a pilot supporting Yellowstone National Park wildlife research observed the first grizzly bear of 2022. According to a Park news release, the adult bear was seen walking in a meadow in the west-central part of the park.

The first bear sighting of 2021 occurred on March 13.

Male grizzlies typically 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 to encounters with people when feeding on carcasses.

All of Yellowstone National Park is bear country: from the deepest backcountry to the boardwalks around Old Faithful. 

The Park offered the following safety guidelines to outdoor recreationists:

• Prepare for a bear encounter.

• Carry bear spray, know how to use it, and make sure it’s accessible.

• Stay alert.

• Hike or ski in groups of three or more, stay on maintained trails, and make noise. Avoid hiking at dusk, dawn, or at night.

• Do not run if you encounter a bear.

• Stay 100 yards (91 m) away from black and grizzly bears. Approaching bears within 100 yards is prohibited. Use binoculars, a telescope, or telephoto lens to get a closer look.

• Store food, garbage, barbecue grills, and other attractants in hard-sided vehicles or bear-proof food storage boxes.

• Report bear sightings and encounters to a Park ranger immediately.