Legislative Forum: Requests Include Support for Air Service, School Programs, Ski Facility

Jay Stender presented the information on Forward Sheridan and commercial air service. (Leslie Stratmoen Photo)

Wyoming legislators were asked to allocate money for air service, support farm to school and pre-kindergarten readiness programs and identify possible funding opportunities for a mountain recreation area, during the morning session of the legislative forum held Tuesday in Sheridan.

FORWARD SHERIDAN/CAST

Jay Stender opened the forum, representing Forward Sheridan and the Critical Air Service Team, known as CAST. For Forward Sheridan, which is an economic development organization, he said diversity is the key issue and promotion of the area. He said Sheridan is a place where people want to live, so that’s not the issue, but business incentives and finding diverse niche manufacturers are, so advertising is also important.

His report prompted an invitation from Senator Dave Kinskey of Sheridan.

Stender went on to say that Sheridan has the only shovel ready site.

He went on to give an update on the commercial air carrier, Denver Air Connection, saying that all 223 flights, but two, in the past 66 days have left on time. So, he said, that’s a vast improvement over the past carrier. Still, he said, the flights, which go out twice a day, are not up to the full capacity of 30 passengers, but the numbers continue to rise. In reference to asking for a possible state subsidy, Representative Rosie Berger of Big Horn suggested conducting a market survey.

LOCAL FOODS

Bonnie Gregory, the former manager of the local farmer’s market, who identified herself as a bee-keeper and former producer of grass-fed beef, stepped up to the podium next. She encouraged the legislators to help implement a farm grown food initiative in the schools because she’s concerned with the students’ diet and said she’s also concerned with food labeling and the PRIME Act.

That was Senator Bruce Burns of Sheridan.

SCHOOL DISTRICT 1

Superintendent Marty Kobza of School District 1 used his time to inform the legislators about a newly implemented program that’s helping pre-kindergarten students prepare for school. He said the free, night classes help the children fine-tune their motor skills and bring the parents into the teaching process.

ANTELOPE BUTTE FOUNDATION

The mountain recreational facility is the Antelope Butte Mountain Recreation Area. Andrew Gast said the foundation is trying to reopen a ski area in the Big Horns that was closed for four decades, and turn it into a year-round, family-oriented recreational facility. He said the facility was closed in 2004 at which time the land reverted back to the owner -- the U.S. Forest Service. Then in 2008, the service offered the land for sale, but with no takers by two years later, in 2010, they began a salvage operation. That’s when the foundation stepped in, he said, and formed a 501c3 to purchase the property for $275,000. Senator Kinskey questioned the asking price because the forest service had already deemed the area a tear-down site.

And though Gast said they’d already tried to acquire a state business council grant, and were turned down, Kinskey encouraged him to try again. Gast said the goal in the moment is making a payment of $110,000 to the forest service, which is due in March, and another payment of the same amount in November. So, they’re looking for all funding ideas, including possible state funds.

At session’s end, the legislators headed over to the Sheridan Senior Center for lunch, before reconvening for the afternoon session.

More photos are posted below.

Bonnie Gregory presented the information on local foods. (Leslie Stratmoen Photo)
District 1 Superintendent Marty Kobza talked about kindergarten readiness program. (Leslie Stratmoen Photo)
Andrew Gast described the Antelope Butte Mountain Recreation Area. (Leslie Stratmoen Photo)