NEWS BRIEFS for Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019

From Wyoming News Exchange newspapers

Man killed in crash near Bill identified

GILLETTE (WNE) — Wyoming Highway Patrol has identified the driver who died in a crash on Highway 59 last week as Coron Todd, a North Dakota resident.

Todd’s semitrailer broke down near Bill at about 6:30 a.m. Jan. 10, according to a Highway Patrol press release. As he exited the truck, he didn’t see a Ford pickup that had entered the southbound lane to pass his broken-down vehicle.

The pickup collided with Todd, who died at the scene.

After the crash, Highway 59 was closed for several hours between Edwards Road, which is about 8 miles south of Wright, and Highway 94 in Douglas.

Cheyenne mayor vows protection for LGBTQ employees

CHEYENNE (WNE) — Mayor Marian Orr announced full discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer city employees Tuesday in a part of her State of the City address aimed squarely at the Wyoming Legislature.

Orr promised to lobby this year for legislation prohibiting employers from making employment decisions based on the sexual orientation or gender identity of an employee or applicant. 

And on Tuesday, she began enforcing the same rules for city workers.  

"When we talk about wanting a workforce in our community in which wages are paid that are fair and that jobs can be carried out free of harassment and discrimination, I believe the city should lead by example," Orr said. 

"The City of Cheyenne is inclusive and non-discriminatory in its hiring practices, and I urge our state legislators to pass statewide nondiscrimination employment legislation."

City employees have been protected from discrimination and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation since at least 2015, according to a copy of the city's personnel rules and regulations from that year. Discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability or "any other status protected by law or regulation" is also prohibited. 

But Rep. Sara Burlingame, D-Cheyenne, said the mayor's addition of gender identity to the rules was a welcome change. 

"Transgender Cheyenne citizens pay their taxes, they make Wyoming their home and I think they really are excited that the mayor has acknowledged that, like every other Wyoming resident, they deserve fairness," she said. 

Carbon County gets Wyoming’s first mobile STEM lab

RAWLINS (WNE) — Carbon County has set a precedent. With an assortment of school district officials, various industry representatives and local business owners packed into the Carbon County Boys & Girls Club gym on Monday afternoon, the Wyoming Afterschool Alliance unveiled a mobile STEM lab which holds a vast plethora of K-12 learning amenities. 

Called “Think, Make, Create,” inside a 6’x 12’ trailer, shelves chock-full with things like batteries, wires, Legos – any materials related to progression of science, technology, engineering and mathematics learning for students – line the walls of this approximately $7,200 mobile feature. 

According to WYAA Director Linda Barton, the county was selected to receive this lab – which can literally be used in anywhere from remote areas to gymnasium floors – due to its notably strong relations between the school district, higher education and various industries. 

It’s no surprise AT&T Mountain Region provided the seed money for the project, while Sinclair Oil Company also became involved after seeing “the opportunity to share valuable skills with the youth in the community,” according to WYAA a press release. 

Sinclair spokesperson Joan Evans told the crowd that the lab provides another available resource to students and that the local oil company, which also bears programs such as Pre-K readiness, literacy, graduation completion and career tech training, plans to further bolster an already sterling status in community relations. 

The mobile STEM lab, according to Barton, was first designed in Nebraska, which currently has about 20 throughout the Cornhusker State. Based on the success of the lab in Rawlins, Barton said the plan is for other Wyoming cities – like Casper, Cheyenne and Laramie – to also receive future trailers. 

“If I can have one in every county, I’d be happy,” said Barton.

Wyoming gas prices fall

GILLETTE (WNE) — Gasoline prices in Wyoming have fallen 7.3 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $2.45 a gallon Sunday.

That compares to a national average that has increased 0.5 cents per gallon versus last week to $2.24, according to GasBuddy, which surveyed 494 stations in Wyoming.

That's still higher than some of Wyoming's neighboring states. In Fort Collins, Colorado, prices were $2.10 per gallon Sunday, down 7.2 cents per gallon from last week. In Billings, Montana, prices were at $2.25 a gallon, down 3.6 cents a gallon from last week's $2.29.

Prices were slightly higher in Ogden, Utah, which stood at $2.47, down 4.8 cents  from last week.

Overall, Wyoming's prices put the state at 13th most expensive in the nation, according to GasBuddy.

Wyoming's price was $2.40 on the same date last year.

"With oil prices back over $50 per barrel, it looks like gas prices in more areas may soon bottom out and start to tick higher," said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. "While it doesn't seem that prices will rise very far, it looks more and more like the lowest price of the year may now be behind us."