NEWS BRIEFS for Friday, Sept. 4, 2020

Wyoming ranked 15th for teacher pay

JACKSON (WNE) — A new analysis finds that Wyoming teacher pay is the 15th best in the country.

Market research website ranked each state by average teacher pay compared to the average salary of all jobs. Wyoming came in 15th, with teacher pay 2.7% below the state’s average salary.

That doesn’t necessarily mean Wyoming is the 15th best state for teachers.

“While our rankings factor in pay, there are a lot of other things that can contribute to the happiness and well-being of our nation’s educators,” the website says, “like health and safety procedures, benefits and classroom size.”

New York ranked first with its $85,889 average teacher wage that’s 11.5% above the state’s average salary of $77,058. In contrast, teachers in Virginia made $52,466, 28% below the average salary of $72,833.

In 42 states and the District of Columbia, teachers make less than the average salary. That includes Wyoming, where teachers average $58,618, compared to the state’s average salary of $60,252.


Campbell commissioners submit request for college district

SHERIDAN (WNE) — On Sept. 1, the Wyoming Community College Commission received a formal and complete application from the Campbell County Board of Commissioners to create a new community college district.

The Campbell County application requests the new district encompass all of Campbell County as the taxing district and be called the Gillette Community College District.

According to Wyoming Statute, the application must first be approved by the WCCC, followed by the state Legislature and finally by a majority of Campbell County voters. For the initial approval phase, the WCCC has 90 days to complete a thorough review of the application and formally approve or deny the proposal.

The review process requires the WCCC consider the complete application, gather comprehensive economic, demographic and enrollment data, hold a minimum of two public hearings and carry out an extensive formal survey completed by a third party. Upon completion of these mandated tasks, the WCCC will hold a formal meeting on or around Nov. 20, but at least seven days prior to the end of 90 days, to review all documentation associated with the application and resulting studies to issue a final vote and decision.

Public hearing dates have yet to be identified but will be advertised at least 14 days prior on the commission website and through newspapers of record. As per commission rules, one hearing will be scheduled in Campbell County and one in an additional county.


Laramie council extends open container policy

LARAMIE (WNE) — Laramie City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night in favor of extending downtown’s open container policy from Sept. 7-30.

The resolution was initially adopted in July as a four-week trial run with the goal of bringing more traffic downtown to support local businesses, restaurants and bars amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The policy will still apply Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.

The extension was proposed due in part to a desire to match up with the use of the Hollyhock Commons area, which is located on the corner of Second and Custer Streets.

“When we originally considered this, there was a lot of discussion, and there was some reluctance to move forward,” councilman Paul Weaver said. “For the most part, this has been an outdoor opportunity that hasn’t been problematic. And as a result, I feel comfortable with the extension.”

In a survey distributed by the Laramie Main Street Alliance, the majority of the 230 or so surveyed individuals said they had spent more time and money downtown since the open container policy went into effect. More than 76% of those polled were in favor of extending the ordinance.

Downtown business owners didn’t show as much overall enthusiasm over the potential extension, though. More than half of the 39 business owners polled reported that their business hadn’t seen a change in foot traffic due to the ordinance, and just under 60% reported no change in sales during the open container hours.


Former lodge manager pleads guilty to theft

PINEDALE (WNE) — A former Boulder Lake Lodge manager charged with four theft felonies reached a plea agreement and changed two pleas to “guilty” in 9th District Court on Thursday, Aug. 27. 

Katherine A. Entsminger was arrested in February with her husband Thomas W. Hickman in Maryland and returned to Sublette County. Both were fired from Boulder Lake Lodge in August 2018 and reportedly took away saddles, tack, household goods and other items when they were escorted from the guest ranch, court records show. 

They each faced a felony theft charge and a felony conspiracy to commit theft charge. 

Entsminger was also charged with two more theft felonies for misusing her employers’ funds to buy three horses and to buy personal items on Amazon, records show. 

Entsminger’s plea agreement was reached with Deputy County Attorney Clayton Melinkovich and attorney John LaBuda and filed in District Court on Aug. 17. 

The agreement states that Entsminger will plead guilty to the first felony theft charge, the same to which her husband pleaded “no contest” on Aug. 8. She would also plead guilty to the third felony theft charge. 

The prosecution would recommend two prison terms of three to five years to run at the same time – which would be suspended in favor of three years of supervised probation. The other two felonies would be dismissed. 

Entsminger would have to repay $1,475.85 to Boulder Lake Lodge and the two must pay restitution for four saddles.