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Breaking the Silence Walk

Cousins Tanya O’Dea and Jordan Cobb walk in the Natrana County Suicide Prevention Task Force’s 2017 Breaking the Silence walk.

Suicide is a serious problem in Wyoming — and Casper’s mayor and vice mayor are hoping community members will help raise awareness about the health crisis.

Vice Mayor Charlie Powell encouraged residents to attend the annual ‘Breaking the Silence’ walk this weekend to show support for those affected by suicide.

“The more people there, the better,” he remarked.

The walk is set for 4 p.m. Saturday at Crossroads Park.

“It’s a great walk for a great cause,” said Mayor Ray Pacheco.

Wyoming consistently ranks in the top five states with the highest suicide numbers. Natrona County topped the state rate by three points in 2015, according to a recent report from the Casper-Natrona County Health Department.

The report found that the groups most likely to take their own lives were those between the ages of 20 and 24, 45 and 49 and those 75 and older. It also concluded that Wyoming’s men are significantly more likely to commit suicide than the state’s women.

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Dozens of community groups are hoping to receive a portion of 1-cent sales tax revenue from the city. Nonprofits, including Meals on Wheels and the Science Zone, made their pitches to the City Council last month.

The 41 applicants requested about $14 million total. City Manager Carter Napier has since advised council members to whittle that amount down to about $6 million.

But at Tuesday’s work session, Councilman Jesse Morgan questioned why the city should allot millions to non-city agencies.

“It’s unbelievable,” he remarked.

The city is struggling to meet its some of its own needs and should focus on those responsibilities before providing money to outside groups, he said.

There is no guarantee that Natrona County’s 1-cent sales tax will be renewed by voters this fall. But the optional tax — which sends one penny of every dollar spent in Natrona County to local governments — has passed a public vote in Natrona County every four years since 1974.

Like the nonprofits, city departments are also hoping for a portion of the potential revenue.

The city manager has advised designating 1-cent funding as follows: fire services ($3 million), streets ($18 million), police ($7 million), water and sewer ($12.5 million), parks, playgrounds, trails and outdoor sports ($4.5 million), swimming and rec ($3.6 million), river restoration ($1.5 million), museums and arts ($500,000) and public transportation ($1.4 million).

The Council will be providing city employees with direction on 1-cent requests at a special work session Tuesday.

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Katie King covers the city of Casper.

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Local Government Reporter

Katie King joined the Star-Tribune in 2017 and primarily covers issues related to local government. She previously worked as a crime reporter in the British Virgin Islands. Originally from Virginia, Katie is a graduate of James Madison University.

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