Torrington

Goshen County is not used to being a major destination. But thanks to the eclipse, it was. Over 100,000 people visited the county to set up tents and campers as well as visit local festivities.  Reporter Cooper McKim flew over the county, saw downtown Tor
Cooper McKim

Goshen County is not used to being a major destination. But thanks to the eclipse, it was. Over 100,000 people visited the county to set up tents and campers as well as visit local festivities. Reporter Cooper McKim flew over the county, saw downtown Torrington celebrate, and witnessed the eclipse with hundreds of others in Fort Laramie. Here’s what it felt like to be there:

 At Torrington's H & R Block with Sally Cole, Linda Keener, Dawn Pickinpaugh -- in order from left to right
Cooper McKim / Wyoming Public Radio

On a sunny day in downtown Torrington, local businesses are getting ready for the solar eclipse that’s now only days away. The H & R Block is one of them — accountants there are selling original eclipse-themed t-shirts. There’s a table outside, with black and white shirts of all sizes hung up behind it.

“So, what was the inspiration to make these shirts and to sell them here?” I asked. 

“Bills!” Sally Cole replied.

BOB BECK

The Western Sugar Cooperate Plant in Torrington will lay off 86 employees in November when it shuts down the production facilities. There are concerns surrounding the layoffs, including what the shutdown will mean for the city’s economy. Ashley Harpstreith, Executive Director of Goshen County Economic Development Corporation (GCEDC), said the community will face challenges.

Bob Beck

 

When you drive north into Torrington on highway 85 you see an iconic place. Since 1926 the Sugar beet factory, currently owned by Western Sugar Cooperative has been a mainstay of the local economy. Now is the busy season for the plant and you can hear it hum. Torrington is a small agriculture town of 7,000 people and according to Gilbert Servantez,  who is the manager of the Torrington Workforce Services Center, the sugar factory has been a major employer. 

Due to falling gas prices and the end of a Wyoming tax credit, the state’s only ethanol plant is closing its doors. 

The tax credit expired in July, but current gas and corn prices also added to the demise of Goshen County business Wyoming Ethanol.

Goshen County Economic Development Director Ashley Harpstreith said 18 workers will be displaced, but she’s hopeful that this is a temporary shutdown. 

Western Sugar Cooperative

The Western Sugar Cooperative has announced that it will slowly be phasing out its Torrington sugar beet factory, leaving about 70 people in the area out of work.

Jenny Pragnell is with the Goshen County Economic Development Corporation. She says she has lived in Goshen County her whole life and this is probably the biggest layoff she has seen.

Paul via Flickr

A woman working at the Western Sugar Cooperative facility in Torrington was seriously injured after a high fall last week.

This injury comes after another worker died from a fall at Western Sugar’s Lovell facility in January. Wyoming safety inspectors fined the company almost 200 thousand dollars in July for safety violations.

John Ysebaert is with Wyoming Department of Workforce Services, which oversees safety inspectors. He says Western Sugar has recently seen a complete turnover in management.

Stuart and Jen Robertson via Flickr Creative Commons

Wyoming’s prison system boasts the second best recidivism rate in the country. Twenty-five percent of offenders in the state will return to prison for a parole violation or new crime—compared to 40 percent nationally. The Wyoming Department of Corrections credits its education programs—including a mandatory G.E.D course for all inmates without a high school degree— with keeping inmates from landing back behind bars.

Zach Fuhrer dropped out of high school at age 17 and had no intention of ever setting foot in another classroom.

Wikimedia Commons

Inmates at Wyoming’s Medium Security Correctional Institution will need more than classroom instruction to succeed after they’re released—and there are a number of programs inside Torrington that try and prepare prisoners for the world outside the prison’s walls.

Tim Well’s prerelease course at Torrington looks more like a high school classroom than a prison. An inspirational quote is written on the blackboard, along with a checklist--3 cover letters, 2 job applications, and a resume--all to be completed before graduation. Today’s lesson is about money and parenting.

J Stephan Conn via Flickr

Wyoming regulatory officials have cited Denver-based Western Sugar Cooperative for hazards at its Torrington and Lovell facilities.

The department of Workforce Services and Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined the company almost two hundred thousand dollars. The fines were for inadequate safety standards and failure to guard equipment, among other problems.

Several remote communities in the state will be able to receive better internet service in the near future.  Visionary Communications has announced a plan to expand its fiber optic line to connect the towns of Chugwater, Guernsey, Pinedale and Torrington to the rest of the state. 

Welcome Torrington and Southeast Wyoming!

Mar 27, 2014

Wyoming Public Radio improves its signal in Torrington, and surrounding areas.  The signal at 89.9, with call letters KEUW,  includes Guerney and reaches into Nebraska, significantly improving Wyoming Public Radio’s signal in a critical part of Wyoming.  Wyoming Public Radio is part of the Wyoming Public Media State Network, which provides three public radio services in Wyoming as well as an online service at wyomingpublicmedia.org. Wyoming Public Media serves as Wyoming’s NPR affiliate.

89.9 Signal In Torrington Stronger Than Ever

Mar 6, 2014
Shane Toven

Our Engineers Shane Toven, Reid Fletcher and Ben Slater were hard at work replacing our transmitter and antenna to upgrade the 89.9 signal in Torrington. It's now running at 6000 watts, up from 250 watts.

For all our listeners in the Torrington area, 89.9 should be much stronger in the region.

Micah Schweizer

Following World War I, veterans were offered land in Wyoming. Laurie Quade's grandfather was one of the veterans who started a Wyoming homestead. Now living in Cody, Laurie remembers the home her grandfather built in Torrington.

Department of Corrections Director Bob Lampert is asking lawmakers to support some proposed prison reforms.  He told the Joint Judiciary Committee that  Wyoming has one of the most successful correction systems in the nation in terms of its rate of return to prison. 

Goshen Community Theatre – Torrington

Jan 18, 2013
Goshen Community Theatre

Goshen Community Theatre was started in 2002 by a group of people who love live theatre. The Theatre puts on two major shows each season, usually a musical in the Spring and a play in the Fall. In June each year they host a Children's Theatre Workshop for kids age 8 - 15. The workshop runs for about a week ending with a production by the kids. They work on making their own costumes and set pieces as well as learning lines, songs, and choreography. The Goshen Community Theatre is a non-profit organization, and the majority of the people who work on the productions do so as volunteers.

Homesteaders Museum – Torrington

Jan 18, 2013
Homesteaders Museum

The Homesteaders Museum is located one mile north of the Historic Oregon Trail in the old Union Pacific Train Depot, which opened its doors to passengers and freight in 1925. They are one of two Spanish style depots still remaining in the area and are included in the National Register of Historic Places. The museum is home to hundreds upon hundreds of manuscripts, documents, photographs, artifacts and various other Homesteading memorabilia that tell the story of the settlement of Goshen County.

For the last 80 years, Eastern Wyoming College’s satellite campus in Douglas was located in a former elementary school. President Tom Armstrong of Eastern Wyoming College in Torrington says it served proudly, but has worn out. He says the effort to secure funding for a new 30,000 square-foot building was five years in the making. And with voter approval of a temporary one-cent tax to fund construction this November, he says the College will soon be able to serve many more students.