NEWS BRIEFS for Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020


Book that sparked complaint to remain on school shelves

CHEYENNE (WNE) – One parent’s effort to remove from school libraries a book they said “praises normalization of the LGBTQ community” has officially failed.

“As superintendent, I want to inform the board that I am accepting the committee’s recommendation to retain ‘Drama’ in all school libraries and classrooms with no restrictions,” Laramie County School District 1 Superintendent Boyd Brown told the school board at its regularly scheduled Monday night meeting.

Brown’s statement came four days after a reported 109 people packed into a conference room at Laramie County Community College to offer public comment to the District Reconsideration Committee, which reviews curriculum and library materials.

The reconsideration committee voted 7-0 Thursday to keep the book in all school libraries. According to Brown, a parent could have appealed the committee’s decision to him, but since he officially accepted the recommendation Monday night, the decision is now final.

The committee’s ruling followed a string of emotional testimonies, both for and against retaining “Drama,” a graphic novel by Raina Telgemeier that tells the story of a middle-schooler named Callie’s involvement with the production of “Moon Over Mississippi.”

That conversation started with a comment from Josh Covill, the parent who launched the original complaint in November, in which he wrote that the book “takes away parents’ rights to teach morals and values.”

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Company seeks license change so it can close uranium mine

RAWLINS (WNE) — A mining company is seeking to amend one of its licenses so they can make changes to personnel that would allow them to decommission a mine that hasn’t been used in nearly 40 years. 

The Kennecott Uranium Company recently applied for an amendment of its Source Material License from the land quality division of the Department of Environmental Quality. The license concerns a uranium mine located around 42 miles north of Rawlins that occupies 1,432 acres. Mining and milling operations began in February 1981, ceasing just over two years later in April 1983. The mine has been in a period of standby since then. 

The company’s intent is to return the land for general range land uses, but it will likely be a decade before the project is complete, according to Kristine Galloway, spokeswoman for the DEQ. 

“Right now, they’re looking to make these personnel changes,” she said. “One of them is for security, because right now they’re required to have a guard at the site 24 hours a day. So for years, they’ve been paying someone to live at the site. They want to be able to use different types of security, but they need the amendment to do so.” 

In the legal notice published by Kennecott in the Rawlins Times, it states that the company “requests a revision to modernize and improve the efficiency of security measures at the facility and to update requirements and composition of the safety and environmental review panel.” 

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Riverton chief seeks to retire because of health

RIVERTON (WNE) — A 23-year law enforcement career for Riverton chief of police Eric Murphy may be coming to an end.

The 49-year-old Murphy is applying for medical retirement.

In an interview Jan. 31, Murphy told The Ranger he suffered a stroke on Sept. 15, just six days before an officer-involved shooting in which an RPD officer was stabbed by an intoxicated man in front of Walmart in Riverton, then shot the assailant to death.

The officer's action was pronounced self-defense following an independent investigation by the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation.

"I was going to take a couple weeks off because of the stroke, but I literally took two days off and had to come back in because of (the shooting)" that week, said Murphy.

The chief said the stroke has diminished his short-term memory - a disadvantage particularly noticeable when working in law enforcement.

Murphy does not know yet whether his medical retirement application will be accepted by the proper authorities, but he is filling out his portion of the necessary paperwork in the hope that it will be. The process takes roughly seven weeks, he said.

A medical retirement would permit the chief to retain a portion of his income.

Murphy has been RPD chief for three of his 23 years in law enforcement.

Originally from Montana, he joined the Air Force after high school, then got his first job in law enforcement in Dallas, Texas, in 1997.

He came to work for RPD in 2000.

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EWC to launch interactive online catalog

TORRINGTON (WNE) — The modern age is about immediate gratification.

Finding information – everything from the latest movie times to favorite recipes – with no delay is becoming the norm. One area that’s been lacking, at least locally, has been the ability to apply to college and find out the next steps at the drop of the proverbial hat. 

That’s all about to change as Eastern Wyoming College in Torrington gears up for a new, interactive online catalog and registration system.

The new system is in its final design stages and should be ready for internal beta testing in the next few weeks, said Dr. Heidi Edmunds, vice president of academic services at EWC, and the school’s VP of student services, Roger Humphrey. 

After that, they said, everything from applying to selecting classes to finding out about financial aid and housing should be as easy and seamless as staying in touch with family and friends via text message.

The current catalog – for the next few weeks, anyway – has been posted to the EWC website, ewc.wy.edu, since printing of the physical document was halted. But it was always posted in the portable document format, which students could either view online or print, but nothing more, Edmunds said. 

The new system follows what Edmunds described as “really logical browsing.” Instead of having to search for the information they need, students will soon be able to find it all at the click of a mouse or the flick of a finger on a smartphone screen.

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