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Towncrier
Town Crier: Thursday's Highlights

Thursday support meetings

Alcoholics Anonymous: 6:30 a.m., 917 N. Beech; 8:30 a.m., 500 S. Wolcott; 10 a.m., 328 E. A; noon, 500 S. Wolcott; 2 p.m., 917 N. Beech; 5:30 p.m., 328 E. A; 7 p.m., 500 S. Wolcott, closed; 8 p.m., 328 E. A; 8 p.m., 4600 S. Poplar, closed; 8 p.m., 917 N. Beech. Douglas: 7:30 p.m., 628 E. Richards (upstairs in back). Unless otherwise noted, all meetings are open. Casper info: 266-9578; Douglas info: (307) 351-1688.

Al-Anon: 7 p.m., 500 S. Wolcott, Ste. 200. Douglas: 5 p.m., Congregational United Church, 405 N. 6th St.

Narcotics Anonymous: Noon, 500 S. Wolcott, 12-24 Club; 8 p.m., 4700 S. Poplar (church basement). Web site: http://www.urmrna.org.

Model railroaders begin run at trails center

Members of the Central Wyoming Model Railroad Association will move operations from the clubhouse on North Center Street to the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center during the month of December. Operating hours at the trails center are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, and Dec. 14 to 16, 21 to 23 and 27 to 30.

Guests can to view the variety of model railroad trains and try their hand at actual model train operation. As part of the CWMRA annual fundraising raffle, they will headline two HO Scale trainsets, where you will be able to arrange the track on your own board. Also on display for the raffle will be an original watercolor painting by local artist Mandy Lynne Blevins.

Club members from the CWMRA will be on hand to assist and educate train enthusiasts. “This is truly a one of a kind, hands-on operation where you will have the opportunity to touch and operate the trains. We are excited as always to partner with the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center,” said Homer Whitlock, a club member.

Holiday open house at ALC

Casper College Adult Learning Center hosts its annual holiday open house from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., in the Werner Technical Center. Enjoy holiday shopping, basket bidding, door prizes, a 50/50 raffle and much more. Lunch will be served from noon until it’s gone. Proceeds benefit the volunteers and students of the Adult Learning Center.

Open houses at Crest Hill, Lincoln

In an effort to ensure all parents and students are as informed as possible leading up to the Open Enrollment period for the 2018-19 school year, NCSD has announced the schools’ open house schedule. The 2018-19 Open Enrollment window is January 3-17, 2018. Thursday: 4:30 to 6 p.m., Crest Hill Elementary; 6 to 7:30 p.m., Lincoln Elementary.

Please contact individual schools with any questions. The schedule (in English and Spanish) can also be found online here: http://natronaschools.org/open-house-schedule-2018-19-enrollment/.

Pearl Harbor remembrance

The Natrona County High School Jr. ROTC will present a Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day program at 6 p.m., at VFW Post # 9439, located on Bryan Stock Trail. A full spaghetti dinner will be served after the program. All are welcome to never forget. Any questions, call Gary 237-7864.

Art Walk downtown

The final first Thursday Casper Art Walk of the year will run from 5 to 8 p.m. It is the popular Chocolate Walk, with samples of chocolate deliciousness being offered by many downtown merchants.

Pick up an Art Walk map at Sierra West on Center Street, Fashion Crossroads on Second Street or David Street Station, stroll through participating downtown stores, enjoying great specials and chocolate treats along the trail. Maps must be turned in at Cadillac Cowgirl or Rubenesque by Saturday for the chance to win a great prize. The drawing will be held at 4 p.m. Saturday.

At David Street Station, make free s’mores while ingredients last and enjoy the fire pits.

Featured passport locations are The Table, Scarlows Gallery and Frontier Brewing.

Visit CasperArtWalk.com for updated news about the Art Walk.

Also, beginning on Thursday, numerous downtown merchants will take part in “Late ‘Til 8,” staying open until 8 pm. on Thursdays in December.

Four Directions at Scarlow’s

Art by Barbara C. Kuxhausen will feature four approaches, including watercolors, handmade paper collages, terra forms, and pottery at Scarlow Gallery, 122 W. 2nd St. The show will hang from December 7 to February 2, 2018. A reception will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday during the Art Walk. Refreshments will be served.

Exhibit reception at Nic

The Nicolaysen Art Museum is honored to present an exhibition of Native American art from its permanent collection that has been curated by students in the Fall 2017 Museum Studies program at Casper College. “Walking the Artist’s Path: Process in Native American Art,” will run through February 4, 2018, with an opening reception during Casper’s Art Walk from 5 to 8 p.m., on Thursday. Students and faculty from the museum studies program at Casper College will be present at the opening.

This exhibition explores techniques and processes used in creating Native American art work. Rather than an interpretation of design and spirituality, this show emphasizes and discusses how the artworks are constructed and the materials used to create these beautiful handmade objects. Outstanding examples in pottery, weaving, basketry, beadwork, and leatherwork will be on display by traditional and contemporary Native American artists. Works including painting, sculpture, and constructs by contemporary artists demonstrate the wide range of creative paths utilized by Native American artists.

“Walking the Artist’s Path: Process in Native American Art,” will exhibit in the Rosenthal Gallery at The NIC. Museum hours are Tuesday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. The museum is closed on Mondays and holidays. Admission to the museum is free to museum members as well as active military and veterans. Fees for the public are available at thenic.org.

Holiday bazaar opens at Art 321

The annual and very popular Holiday Bazaar opens at Art 321 during the Art Walk. The bazaar is the perfect spot for finding gifts perfect for the “artsy” folks on your shopping list — and for yourself as well.

Moscow Ballet ‘Nutcracker’ returns

The Moscow Ballet Great Russian Nutcracker returns to Casper at 7 p.m. at the Casper Events Center. Tickets start at $28. Single tickets are available at www.nutcracker.com/buy-tickets, www.CasperEventsCenter.com, by phone at 800-442-2256, or by visiting the Casper Events Center Box Office, 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.


Alan Rogers, Star-Tribune  

Dave Johnston Power Plant’s coal pile pictured May 16 in Glenrock.


Energy
Clean Power Plan listening session coming to Gillette

Gillette will have a chance to weigh in on the fate of the Clean Power Plan, the Environmental Protection Agency announced Wednesday.

The Obama-era attempt to cut carbon emissions from the utility sector could have had an outsized impact on Wyoming, potentially cutting coal production by one quarter to one half of what it was before the recent downturn.

The dates for the listening sessions, which will also take place in San Francisco and Kansas City, Missouri, have not been announced.

The EPA was criticized in recent weeks for holding just a single listening session on the proposed repeal of the CPP given the widespread controversy of the plan and its impact to the coal sector and climate change. The meeting took place over two days in West Virginia last month.

Sen. John Barrasso applauded the announcement and thanked EPA administrator Scott Pruitt in a statement released by the EPA Wednesday.

“The Trump administration is listening to the people of Wyoming,” he said.

The Clean Power Plan was passed in 2015 to address concerns about climate change, but was quickly tangled up in the courts. It was the only regulation expected to bring the U.S. close to its handshake commitment to reduce carbon dioxide emissions as part of the Paris Climate Accord.


Energy
Wind tax axed by committee

CHEYENNE — If lawmakers in Wyoming are to consider a wind energy tax increase in 2018, it won’t come from the Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Revenue Committee.

That committee killed a motion on Tuesday to reintroduce a proposal that would increase taxes on wind energy production in the state.

Leading up to that decision, Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander, had moved to reconsider his previously struck down proposal to increase the wind tax by 400 percent, from $1 per megawatt hour to $5.

Wyoming is home to one of the best on-shore wind resource locations in the U.S., and economists estimate revenue potential for investment at around $10 billion in coming years. It could be a game changer for places such as Carbon County, where developers have massive wind farm plans in the works. And while developers and others argue increased taxes on wind energy production could drive away investment, Case said Tuesday he’s not buying it.

Given the placement of power grids in the eastern and western U.S., Case said Wyoming is uniquely situated to yield the best wind energy product for customers in western states. As more transmission infrastructure becomes available, he argued Wyoming would be irresistible to developers. Additionally, Wyoming doesn’t have a corporate income tax, so Case said the state would still have a more appealing tax climate for investors with his proposed increase.

Though the state’s revenue picture has improved in 2017, Wyoming is still struggling through its latest economic downturn tied to the mineral industries. Those industries account for around 70 percent of its revenue, resulting in a repeating boom-and-bust cycle. Because of how the state taxes mineral exports, Wyoming taxpayers receive a disproportionate level of services to their own burden.

Case said the wind production tax would work much in the same way, where the burden would be passed to customers out of state. The committee punted on unpopular sales and property tax proposals Monday, so it stands to reason it could be an appealing argument.

“That’s why we need to put this tax back on the table and have it be considered,” Case said. “This exhausting interim, Mr. Chairman, where we’ve killed proposals or kicked the can down the road and not allowed this to be on table to be debated for the people of Wyoming, it would be a mistake.”

But it just wasn’t enough for the committee’s support, as a vast majority voted against the motion to reconsider. In less than 15 minutes, it was over.

Roxane Perruso, vice president and general counsel for Power Company of Wyoming LLC, said she was pleased with the committee’s vote. Power Company of Wyoming LLC is the developer of the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project. Kara Choquette, communications director for Power Company of Wyoming, cited an estimated $846.5 million in Wyoming property taxes, sales and use taxes and generation taxes over the Choke Cherry and Sierra Madre project’s initial economic life of 20 years.

“That’s an average of $42 million a year,” she said. “The wind project also will bring important new employment opportunities, development of a rail facility in Carbon County, economic diversification for Wyoming and other related benefits.”

With wind projects in motion in the state, Sen. Affie Ellis, R-Cheyenne, said she was concerned about how a tax increase could affect those developments.

“A lot of counties—particularly Carbon County—are relying on the jobs that will flow from those projects moving forward,” she said. “I’m just really concerned how that would affect projects that are in the works.”

Ellis said she doesn’t love looking at windmills in Wyoming’s viewsheds and doesn’t expect the state will move on from its breadbasket mineral commodities. However, with an ever-increasing demand for energy, she said she sees wind as a part of the state’s portfolio.

Case said he wasn’t surprised with how the vote turned out Tuesday. Though he wished the committee’s co-chairmen would have allowed for public comment, Case said he understood why they didn’t want to get bogged down in lengthy discussions about a bill lawmakers previously voted to strike down.

“Was it unexpected? Eh,” Case shrugged. “Sure, I would have loved it to pass, but I’m in this for the really long haul, and you know that.”

For Case, the long haul involves making sure the bill is introduced in the House—all revenue raising measures must come from the House—during the 2018 session. If it fails the two-thirds vote it needs for the Legislature’s consideration, Case said he plans to begin work on a citizen’s initiative that could bring the wind tax to a ballot.

Case said he was still feeling good about his proposal even after the failed vote. He said he feels momentum building as he’s able to educate lawmakers and citizens about his reasoning for the tax.

“People hearing it for the first time are looking at it differently,” he said.


Josh Galemore, Star-Tribune  

Sgt. Larry Baker, a Vietnam veteran from Cody, signs a copy of “They Served With Honor: Vietnam” on July 15 during a reception and book signing event at the Casper/Natrona County International Airport. The event was intended to honor Wyomingites who served in Vietnam.