casper

Maggie Mullen

Wyoming towns in the path of totality for the solar eclipse are expecting huge crowds, including Casper, and hotel rooms there are almost entirely booked. As a result, a record number of locals are using the home sharing service Airbnb to accommodate visitors and to make some of that eclipse cash.

Casper residents Josh Thompson and Rachel Schuh are getting ready to welcome strangers into their home--they’ve signed up to be hosts on Airbnb.

Maggie Mullen / 1989

The Casper Police Department will host the second and final public panel on sexual assault Wednesday, June 21. The series began after 30 women told the Casper City Council they believed the police neglected or mishandled their cases.

City of Gillette website

Gillette’s city administrator will soon take over the position as city manager in Casper. Carter Napier will replace V.H. McDonald, who announced his retirement in April amidst controversy surrounding his office and the police department. The appointment is subject to city council approval. 

Casper Police Department website

The Casper City Manager's office says Police Chief Jim Wetzel will not be retained. The change in leadership comes in the midst of multiple investigations of the department. 

In April, a third party survey of 84 employees at the Casper Police department revealed a hostile work environment and an ineffective chain of command that prevented officers from proper investigations. The survey also pointed to the city’s administration for ignoring these concerns. Two days after the survey was made public, Casper City Manager V.H. McDonald announced his retirement.

Casper Police Department’s Facebook

UPDATE: Shortly after this story originally aired, Interim City Manager Liz Becher announced that Police Chief Jim Wetzel will no longer serve in that role. According to the press release, “the City of Casper has decided to go in a new direction in the leadership of the Casper Police department.”

Wikipedia Creative Commons

A ballot initiative in Casper is aiming to give residents the ability to choose what form of local government their city operates under. Right now, Casper’s city council hires a city manager to handle employees and daily operations. The council also selects a mayor from within their ranks, but the position has little power. 

If the ballot initiative gets 3,700 signatures, voters could begin a new system where voters would elect the mayor position. The new mayoral role would oversee daily operations in place of a city manager.

City of Casper

Casper City Manager V.H. McDonald has announced he will retire from the position on June 1. 

McDonald’s decision to retire follows the Casper City Council's request on Tuesday for an investigation into leadership at the Casper Police Department and complaints that city management neglected to address problems in that department.  

A press release from the City of Casper says McDonald was hired in November of 2015. 

Maggie Mullen

The Casper Police Department hosted a community panel on sexual assault Thursday night, following the complaints of over 30 women that claim law enforcement mishandled their sexual assault cases.

The panel included representatives from sexual assault related services, including the Self Help Center, the Casper Police Department's Victim Services, the Child Advocacy Project, Wyoming Medical Center, as well as District Attorney Mike Blonigen and Chief of Police Jim Wetzel who discussed how they try to help victims.

Casper Police Department Facebook page

At Casper’s City Council meeting on Tuesday, Mayor Kenyne Humphrey requested an investigation of the Casper Police Department. The request follows the results of a survey taken by law enforcement officers that point to potential issues with the agency’s leadership.

Mayor Kenyne Humphrey said Casper’s local branch of the Fraternal Order of Police brought her the results of a survey taken by current and former members of the Casper Police Department. She said what she saw was alarming.

Maggie Mullen

In the last year, over 30 women have approached the Casper City Council to express their frustration with how the Casper Police Department dealt with their sexual assault cases. The women allege that their cases were either mishandled or neglected by law enforcement.

It’s a quiet afternoon in Casper, shortly before Aimee Kidd will need to leave her house to go pick her children up from school. On her lap, is her 5-month old daughter, Noèmie.

Casper Mountain Trails Center – Casper

Jan 13, 2017
Casper Mountain Trails Center

The Casper Mountain Trails Area offers access to several Nordic ski/hiking trails located on Casper Mountain which are groomed regularly.  This area is multi-use allowing access for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and fat-tire biking.  A few of the trails are lit until 9:30 p.m.  There are warming sheds located along the ski trails for use by recreation enthusiasts.  Natrona County has a calendar of events that occur at the Casper Mountain Nordic Area at http://www.natronacounty-wy.gov/calendar.aspx.

matthewsavery.com

This year marks the 67th season for the Casper-based Wyoming Symphony Orchestra. They’re calling it ‘A Moving Symphonic Season’ because the orchestra has a final concert at Casper College this weekend before returning to a newly renovated auditorium in December. 

Brian Scott Gamroth's facebook

Longtime Casper radio morning announcer, Brian Scott Gamroth, known as Brian Scott on the air, died in a motorcycle accident in Montana on Sunday. Gamroth was known for his support of a number of causes including the arts.

Gamroth served on the boards for the Casper College Theatre Program, the Nicolaysen Art Museum, and the Wyoming Symphony Orchestra.

Wikipedia Creative Commons

The City Council in Casper voted to cut the city’s budget by more than a third on Tuesday.

While the cuts do not include any layoffs, Casper City Council member, Bob Hopkins, says there will be a reduction in capital spending, elimination of 23 vacant positions and early retirement for some city employees.

Hopkins says the primary goal of the cuts is to keep public services, like street maintenance and snow plowing, going during the economic downturn.

wyomingmta.org

A celebrated concert pianist will offer a public performance at Casper College on Friday. He’s the featured artist at this year’s Wyoming Music Teachers Association conference.

The Wyoming Symphony Orchestra has suspended the contract of a world-renowned French horn player in response to allegations of sexual harassment.

Eric Ruske is teaches horn at Boston University. He was scheduled to perform as a soloist with the Wyoming Symphony this weekend.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Boston, two former students say Ruske used inappropriate language with them and requested they send pictures to him. The plaintiffs also say Boston University failed to take action to stop Ruske’s harassment.

thewiyos.com

The Wyoming Symphony Orchestra’s Music on the Move series brings The Wiyos to Casper this week. The Brooklyn-based band mixes original songwriting with vaudevillian ragtime blues, hillbilly swing, and old-time country. On Thursday, February 18 they’ll play school concerts and offer a performance workshop open to high school and college students. Their public concert is Friday, February 19 at the Wolcott Galleria.

Aaron Schrank

Inside a Casper art gallery, a few dozen teachers are seated in a circle, listening to a presentation chock-full of teambuilding buzzwords.

This is a “design camp” for Natrona County’s new academy-based learning center. These educators get together weekly to plot a reinvention of the high school experience for kids in Casper.

 

“When we open our school, it’s going to be the first time for a whole new way of learning,” says Bryan Aivazian, a coach at one of four career academies that will be housed in the new center, which opens in one year.

Bob Beck

To put it mildly, eliminating smoking from bars has been in tough in Casper. Since 2000 the Casper City Council has twice approved smoking bans, and they were both overturned. Now the issue is up for another vote next month. The public has a chance to decide whether it agrees with a city council effort to allow smoking in bars and some other places. It’s being framed as a battle of business rights versus health.

Wyoming Highway Patrol

State Forester Bill Crapser said that between 15 to 20 structures have been lost in a grass fire that burned some 15 square miles north of Casper. 

Crapser is blaming warm and dry conditions for the fire that he says is unusual for this time of year.  Hundreds of residents had been evacuated. When they return to their homes Red Cross spokeswoman Pat Kondas said they will need more than food and water.

Wyoming Highway Patrol

Hundreds of residents near the Casper suburb of Evansville have been evacuated from their homes due to a grass fire. The blaze started at a landfill Saturday, but high winds have since caused the fire to spread to the surrounding area.

Bob Fawcett is the Fire Marshall for the Natrona County Fire Protection District. He says the department has called up much of its resources, between 80 and 100 people in aerial and ground units, to fight the fire, but the high winds that fanned the flames initially are also making it difficult to fight the fire.

wyomingsymphony.org

The Wyoming Symphony Orchestra has a new home for the 2015-2016 concert season. The orchestra is performing at Casper College instead of its usual hall at Natrona County High School while the auditorium is under renovation. Music director Matthew Savery says playing at Wheeler Concert Hall offers new acoustic possibilities.

The Wyoming Oil and Gas Fair has announced that this year the event will be moved from Jackson to Casper.

Fair General Manager Dave Hutton says rising costs in Jackson was a major factor in the change of venue. But even with lower costs, Casper has fewer direct flights than Jackson, potentially making it more difficult for people to attend. Hutton says he does think this year’s turnout will be slightly lower in previous years.

Casper College

Casper College has selected Dr. Darren Divine as its new president. The College’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously for Divine out of four finalists.

The school’s current president Walter Nolte will be retiring at the end of June after eleven years in the job. Devine is currently is Vice President for academic affairs at the College of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas.

He says he has a background in agriculture, and that should be a good fit for the college.

Wyoming Highway Patrol Association

A report of a stolen vehicle led the Wyoming Highway Patrol to make a drug bust Tuesday in Casper.

The Highway Patrol says Hertz Rental Company contacted them about a stolen vehicle in the Casper area at nine Tuesday morning.   The Patrol located the vehicle at a Pawn shop in Casper. 

Lieutenant Kleif Guenther with the Highway Patrol says two individuals, Jason Latoskie and Sherry Mehring were arrested and charged with drug possession.

Jordan Giese

The Casper Housing Authority is wrapping up the first year of its Housing First Program. It was designed to give the chronically homeless places to live before tackling other issues like addiction and illness.

The program was started last March with 10 homes and 14 participants. Four of them have dropped out of the program, but nine people now have permanent housing and one has completely graduated from the program, and has moved into housing without assistance from the state.

Well known Casper businessman and philanthropist Mick McMurry died early Tuesday morning at home. He was 69.

Courtesy The Guild Charter School

A group of Casper parents is looking to launch a new charter school for high-achieving kids. They're planning to submit their application to the Natrona County School District on Monday.

The proposed K-8 school is called The Guild Charter School. Backers say the school would offer individualized learning plans for each student and be more academically rigorous.

Wyoming Department of Corrections

Casper’s District Attorney will be allowed again to seek the death penalty in the case of a Wyoming inmate convicted of killing a Montana woman. That’s after District Judge Alan Johnson denied a request from Dale Wayne Eaton’s defense team to let him serve life in prison without parole. 

Eaton was convicted of killing Lisa Marie Kimmell in 2004, but his death sentence was overturned last year after Judge Johnson ruled he did not receive a proper defense. The judge said Eaton’s history as a victim of abuse should have been discussed.

Casper College

Casper College found itself on lock-down again this week when students discovered a plastic tube with nails in the Union. Casper police evacuated the campus but later said it was a false alarm. The item turned out to be an art project. It’s the fourth false alarm to lead to a lock-down on the campus since a professor was shot with an arrow by his son in 2012. Police Captain Steve Freel says the high number of evacuations are part of a new protocol between police and campus security about how to handle such emergencies.

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