State Briefs

Weatherby breaks ground on Sheridan plant

SHERIDAN (WNE) — Gov. Matt Mead joined Weatherby President Adam Weatherby and a host of local representatives in breaking ground on the construction of Weatherby’s new manufacturing facility in Sheridan’s High-Tech Park last week.

“As I look at today’s groundbreaking, I think of what it means in terms of jobs, diversity and economic development, and I’m just thrilled,” Mead said during ceremonies Friday.

Mead thanked the Sheridan Economic and Education Development Authority, city of Sheridan, Sheridan County and the state Legislature for helping recruit Weatherby to Wyoming. He also thanked the local communities that assisted Sheridan in recruiting Weatherby.

“In Wyoming we can get very parochial — if it’s not our community, we don’t care about it. That was not the case with this project,” Mead said. “We had communities in this part of the state that stepped up and wanted to help, Johnson County certainly being one of them.”

Mead also congratulated Sheridan on demonstrating it was not only a good place to run a business, but it was also a good place to live.

“Sheridan: you sold yourselves,” Mead said.

Weatherby echoed that sentiment.

“I don’t think there is a place on the planet that we would rather be right now than Sheridan, Wyoming,” Weatherby said. “And it’s not just because of good taxes and this and that. If we were to start back over and it was the same as the other states, I think we would be right here in this community. It’s not about finances or money or all those different things; it’s about a place you feel you can call home.”

The 100,000-square-foot Weatherby building is expected to take about a year to complete. The company plans to begin manufacturing at the facility next spring.

Campbell County boy killed in explosion of homemade cannon

GILLETTE (WNE) — A 14-year-old boy died last week after a cannon he was building exploded, Sheriff Scott Matheny said.

Archie Pearce was making the cannon in an abandoned lot on Bitter Creek Road in Recluse and was showing the device to a 12-year-old friend, Kaidyn Sletten, about 6:30 p.m. Thursday when it misfired, Matheny said.

Sletten was evaluated by emergency medical services at the scene, and his parents took him to Campbell County Memorial Hospital for treatment of minor flash burns.

“The intention was to experiment,” Matheny said, adding that the boys didn’t have any malicious intent. “It was just extremely unfortunate.”

Pearce, a Twin Spruce Junior High student, had used a two-inch steel pipe, cloth and gun powder or firework powder to build the cannon, but he packed too much powder into the device, said Lt. Kevin Theis. Because the pipe was packed too tightly, the projectile inside became stuck, causing an explosion that destroyed the pipe.

“They were in over their heads, trying to do something they shouldn’t have been doing,” Matheny said.

Pearce was learning how to make the cannon based on YouTube videos.

“It takes a lot more knowledge and skills that aren’t shown in the video, and it leaves people in danger of doing things like this,” Theis said.

The Sheriff’s Office bomb technicians, which Theis supervises, responded to the scene, found no other dangerous devices and determined that no crime was associated with the incident.

Officers have finished investigating and are working with the Campbell County School District on an additional response to the accident, Matheny said.

Case: Air service bill may be unconstitutional

RIVERTON (WNE) — Wyoming Sen. Cale Case, R- Lander, repeatedly voted against the state’s air service improvement bill during the legislative session that ended last month.

Senate File 40 – now Enrolled Act 40 – allocates $15 million from the Legislative Stabilization Reserve Account, or “rainy day” fund, to pay for implementation of a commercial air service improvement plan in the state.

Based upon the plan recommendations, the Wyoming Department of Transportation may enter into competitive bidding for a statewide commercial air service contract to replace the smaller, individual contracts counties and cities, including Riverton, negotiate annually with commercial airlines.

Case claims the bill is unconstitutional, citing two portions of the Wyoming Constitution: Article 3, Section 36, which prohibits appropriations to any organizations “not under the absolute control of the state,” and Article 16, Section 6, which prohibits loans or donations to corpora- tions.

Case said SF 40 attempts to cicumvent the constitution by filtering the money for commercial air service through a state agency or task force.

But he doesn’t believe that setup makes the legislation any more appropriate.

“There are legal opinions that try to justify that, but it’s never been tested in court,” he said.

“So I have to call it like I see it. I’d love to have better air service, (but) we ought to find a constitutional way to do it.”