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Wyoming News Briefs: October 17, 2018

The Star Valley Independent is a member of the Wyoming News Exchange. These stories come courtesy of the WNE.

Wyoming among worst states for uninsured residents

GILLETTE (WNE) — Wyoming ranks 45th out of the 50 states for highest uninsured rates for its residents.

The finding comes in a WalletHub study last week in which the Cowboy State’s uninsured health care rate is among the worst in the nation, according to the results in the poll.

All 50 states have seen the rate of uninsured decrease from 2010 to 2017, according to the poll. Wyoming’s rate overall shrank by 2.67 percent.

Unfortunately, that’s one of the lowest decreases among states, according to the poll. The issue of the number of uninsured residents in Wyoming was raised in a voters’ forum Oct. 8 in Gillette between candidates for governor. The League of Women Voters sponsored that forum.

Wyoming’s rate of 9.5 percent uninsured children ranks 48th out of the 50 states; it’s rate of 13.19 uninsured adults ranks 44th; and the 10.30 percent of uninsured white adults is 49th.

Wyoming is among 17 states in the U.S. who have not expanded Medicaid in the past eight years. On average, the rate of uninsured residents in each of those states is 10.74 percent, the poll found.

Among those states, Wyoming 13th worst at 12.3 percent overall. Texas is the worst at 17.3 percent and also ranks 50th for the worst unnsured rates in the nation, according to WalletHub.

In contrast, every western state surrounding Wyoming has better uninsured rates. Colorado ranks 22nd, Nebraska, 28th; Montana, 30th; South Dakota, 33rd; Utah, 36th; and Idaho, 40th.

The bottom five states after Wyoming are Texas, 50th; Oklahoma, 49th; Alaska, 48th; Georgia, 47th; and Florida, 46th.

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Council candidate stays in race despite business coverage

EVANSTON (WNE) — A candidate for the Evanston City Council has decided to stay in the race despite some negative news coverage last week that outed her adult-oriented business and alter-ego.

Deborah Reno said she was “ambushed” by a news crew for Salt Lake City television station KUTV Friday afternoon while she was working with a client at her massage business. The news crew confronted Reno about her alter-ego Mystee Crockett, who had a now-deleted adult-oriented Twitter account and was featured on other sites selling previously-worn panties and gym shorts.

She said people around town had been made aware of “Crockett” shortly before a candidate meet and greet held Thursday by the Evanston Chamber of Commerce. According to the KUTV report, Reno wasn’t sure on Friday whether she would withdraw from the race in which she faces Mikal Welling. The two are vying for Wendy Schuler’s Ward 1 seat on the council; Schuler is running unopposed for a state senate seat.

Reno said she plans to stay in the race so people have a choice in the Nov. 6 election.

“Leaving the race gives people no options,” she said. “Secondly, I do not think my clothing-selling business detracts from my ability to serve my community. My heart, commitment and passion for Evanston are what drove me to run in the first place, and that hasn’t changed.”

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Bag ban for Jackson grocers could begin in April

JACKSON (WNE) — Plastic bags may disappear from Jackson’s grocery stores as soon as April after the Town Council leaned toward a more aggressive timeline for implementing a ban on single-use bags.

Retailers will be asked to forgo plastic in the next year or so. But because grocers will run out of bags more quickly, the council seems likely to separate them from smaller businesses, because some keep months or years of stock. Phasing those out may take until November 2019.

Despite worries from some that even that might not be long enough for retailers to run down their bag stores, the elected officials mostly agreed the trade-off — ridding Jackson of millions of bags as soon as possible and bringing sustainability to the forefront of the public mind — was worth it.

“I think giving people more than a year allows sufficient time for planning,” Councilor Jim Stanford said. “There’s no greater tool we have for education and raising awareness than action.”

And the longer they wait, said Paul Hansen, conservationist and News&Guide columnist, the more they risk the state Legislature intervening to pre-empt Wyoming communities from banning plastic bags. Idaho has done so already.

Heather Overholser, superintendent of Teton County Integrated Solid Waste and Recycling, said the town produces about 5 million plastic bags each year. She said her department captures about 1 million of them, or 20 percent, far higher than the average of 1 percent in most communities.

The council discussed whether to exempt smaller retailers from the ban, considering they account for just 10 to 20 percent of plastic bag use. But the council decided it would be unfair to ask some businesses to change their behavior and not others.

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UW approves designs for new energy plant

LARAMIE (WNE) — The University of Wyoming Board of Trustees approved designs last week for a new energy plant set to be constructed on the corner of 13th and Bradley streets, northeast of the Anthropology Building.

Earlier this year, the energy plant was planned to be constructed between Lewis Street and the Agriculture Building.

That plan, however, ran counter to previous campus planning that called for green space to remain north of the building.

The change in siting also means the building’s exterior needed to be redesigned to fit the “classical architecture” of that part of campus.

To accommodate the eventual construction of new dormitories, the plant’s capacity is also being upgraded by 20 percent.

In total, the new plant is now expected to cost $28.5 million, $5 million more than the previous estimate.

The building is set to heat and cool water for the Science Initiative building and the Engineering Education and Research Building. It also is planned to meet heating and cooling needs for 18 buildings on the west end of Prexy’s Pasture.

Construction on the plant is slated to begin in 2019 and be operational by the time construction for the Science Initiative Building is scheduled to be completed in April 2021.

Matt Kibbon, UW facilities construction management deputy director, said the campus’s chiller is already at capacity. The Science Initiative Building would exceed that capacity.

The university’s cooling system uses a thermal energy storage tank that cools water at night. That water is then used to cool buildings during the day and is re-chilled at night — a system Kibbon said “works awesome in Laramie” because of significant temperature fluctuations.

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Rocky Mountain Power, Sinclair pay to relocate historic cabin

CHEYENNE (WNE) — Rocky Mountain Power, in partnership with Sinclair Wyoming Refining Company, announced a combined grant of $20,000 to relocate the historic Como Bluff Fossil Cabin to downtown Medicine Bow Monday.

Each company provided $10,000 for the project. 

The cabin, built by Thomas Boylan in 1932, is located five miles east of downtown Medicine Bow and made entirely of fossilized bone. Historic records indicate Boylan used around 5,800 dinosaur bones to construct the cabin that weighs 102,166 pounds.

In August 2018, Friends of the Medicine Bow Museum began raising $42,600 to relocate the cabin next to the Medicine Bow Museum to ensure the preservation and maintenance of the structure. Along with relocating the cabin, the grants will help preserve the cabin and resurrect it as a tourist destination.

Partial development of Rocky Mountain Power’s $3.1 billion Energy Vision 2020 project will take place near the town of Medicine Bow. The project will add three new wind projects in Wyoming that will provide a total 1,150 megawatts of new wind energy capacity.

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