NEWS BRIEFS for Tuesday, Mar. 17, 2020

Wyoming legislators support daylight saving bill

GILLETTE (WNE) – After years of debates in the Legislature, a bill to make daylight saving time permanent is on Gov. Mark Gordon’s desk awaiting his signature.

A year ago, a bill requiring at least four neighboring state legislatures to make the change, died in the Senate on a 15-15 vote. House Bill 44 passed this year's session, which ended a week ago.

The attitude changed in Wyoming because of Utah, he said about legislators passing House Bill 44.

The Utah Legislature recently passed a bill that supports making daylight saving time permanent. But for the measure to take effect in Wyoming and Utah, they would need Montana, Idaho and Colorado to pass the same law. The states would then have to petition the U.S. Secretary of Transportation’s office to officially make the change.

A federal proposal, the Daylight Act, was introduced in March 2019. It would permit states to make any changes they wish pertaining to how they observe daylight saving time, which they are now prohibited from doing without federal permission.

That measure is sitting in the House Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce.

Sen. Michael Von Flatern, R-Gillette, said while he was pleasantly surprised about this year’s outcome, it will need a lot of help before it would be implemented in the state.

Even if all the states agree “we still can’t do it until the feds change the law,” Von Flatern said.




Spring storm snaps some Jackson records

JACKSON (WNE) — Going into the weekend, the Jackson Hole valley floor had been melting out for weeks, and sunny days with above-average temperatures had zapped a once 17-inch-deep March snowpack down to just 6 inches.

A two-day snowstorm that set a few records along the way brought the snow depth in town right back to 17 inches.

“The average snowfall in the month of March in town is only 11 inches, and we got more than that in one day,” Jackson Hole meteorologist Jim Woodmencey said.

Volunteers monitoring the National Weather Service’s Jackson Climate Station located on the National Elk Refuge logged 12 inches of new snow that fell Saturday and another 7 inches Sunday. The snowpack had compressed by Monday, which explains why the total snow depth was measuring 17 inches.

It was an exceptionally wet snowstorm, too, with just over 2 inches of water coming down in town. For perspective, the average in-town precipitation during the entire month of March is just 1.23 inches. The Jackson Climate Station received nearly all of that amount — 1.15 inches of water — during the 24-hour period between Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Woodmencey wrote on his blog that the one-day blast of precipitation is the second most ever recorded in town during the month of March in 24 hours, behind only March 3, 1995, when 1.80 inches of water fell into the station’s gauge.

The behemoth storm system, which coincided with the coronavirus-driven closure of Teton County’s three ski areas, stretched from the Pacific Ocean all the way to the Continental Divide. Resorts in the Lake Tahoe area got over 30 inches of snow — as did Jackson Hole Mountain Resort’s Rendezvous Bowl.




Evanston Regional Hospital named top-100 rural hospital

EVANSTON  (WNE) — Evanston Regional Hospital (ERH) has the honor of being named one of the 2020 Top 100 Rural and Community hospitals in the U.S. by the Chartis Center for Rural Health.

This annual award honoring rural hospital performance is determined by the results of iVantage Health Analytics’ Hospital Strength Index.

“Two years ago we made the top 250, so we’ve worked hard to make improvements,” Evanston Regional Hospital CEO Cheri Willard told the Herald, “and this year we have been rewarded by being in the top 100. I think the excellent caliber of our physicians and the great staff we have has been some of our greatest improvements.”

The index is the industry’s most comprehensive and objective assessment of rural hospital performance, Willard said.

Utilizing 50 independent indicators, the index assesses performance across eight pillars of performance that span market, value and finance-based categories. Hospitals recognized as a top-100 facility had one of the 100 highest overall scores among all rural and community hospitals nationally.

ERH is the only hospital recognized by the Chartis Center for Rural Health in southwest Wyoming. Other Wyoming hospitals recognized include Ivinson Memorial Hospital in Laramie, Sagewest Health Care in Riverton, Sheridan Memorial Hospital in Sheridan, and St. Johns Medical Center in Jackson.