WBR business briefs for January 2021 | Wyomingbusinessreport

Wyoming State Bar offers video mental health counseling as new benefit to lawyers

The Wyoming State Bar has selected eVideo Counselor as an approved member benefit to provide online, face-to-face video counseling with licensed mental health therapists for its members.

Recognizing the unique needs of legal professionals, eVideo Counselor allows lawyers to have counseling sessions in the convenience of their home or office, without the time and hassle of driving to a counselor’s office.

Anonymity is maintained – no one is seen entering a counselor’s office. Sessions are discrete, completely confidential, and provided at a discounted rate for Wyoming State Bar members and their families. Also, many major insurance carriers are accepted.

Brad Rex, CEO of eVideo Counselor, said statistics show attorneys are 3.6 times more likely to suffer from depression than the general public, with a suicide rate double that of the general population. In addition, the American Bar Association estimates 18% of all attorneys suffer from problem drinking, which is twice the national average. COVID-19 has made this worse.

For more information about eVideo Counselor or eHome Counseling, LLC, visit www.eHomeGroup.com.

Wyoming DEQ honored mining industry on National Miners Day

Mining is one of Wyoming’s founding industries, and is historically rooted in the state’s culture and economy.

Sunday, Dec. 6 was National Miner’s Day 2020.

The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality honored Wyoming miners and acknowledged the continued impact of Wyoming’s mining history on DEQ’s work.

Howe receives 2020 WMA Peck Community Achievement Award

Duston Howe, a mechanic/welder at the Wyodak Mine in Gillette, is the recipient of the 2020 Wyoming Mining Association Peck Community Achievement Award.

The WMA presents the Peck Community Achievement Award annually to a Wyoming mine employee who shows “outstanding voluntary community service.” The award also honors its namesake Peck family’s efforts to improve the state and their community, as well as the family’s commitment to the Wyoming mining community.

Howe’s coworkers at Wyodak Mine nominated him for the award. WMA explained that Howe is recognized for “a variety of work and community related reasons, including extra effort at work, maintaining a safe and clean work area, working effectively and positively with coworkers, always striving to improve efficiencies, and volunteering for those extra assignments and projects.”

Howe also commits himself to the Gillette community. He regularly coaches wrestling, and he previously coached girls’ softball and helped with junior football and Little League baseball.

The WMA established the Peck Community Achievement Award in 1983. The association posthumously named Wyoming Sen. Roy Peck as the first recipient.

First Interstate Bank donates $150,000 to Leadership Wyoming, Montana programs

To honor the memory and legacy of Tom Scott, lifelong philanthropist, First Interstate Chairman of the Board, and CEO from 1978-2003, First Interstate Bank and its Foundation recently donated $150,000 to Leadership Wyoming and Leadership Montana ($75,000 each) to help support the organizations’ scholarship endowments.

“Representative of his everlasting legacy of leadership, this gift will help provide opportunities for tomorrow’s leaders to engage in these essential programs,” said Kelly Bruggeman, executive director of the First Interstate BancSystem Foundation. “Tom’s spirit of giving selflessly, fighting fiercely for what he believed in, and, above all, lifting others up to enjoy their greatest potential can be celebrated in this contribution.”

Strong leadership in the face of adversity is critical to the long-term and sustained success of our business economy – a fact Scott took to heart when he helped found Leadership Montana in 2004 and became deeply involved in Leadership Wyoming years later.

“Tom was a walking example of civility and strategic leadership,” said Mandy Fabel, Leadership Wyoming executive director. “As a member of our Leadership Wyoming Board, he knew how to ask the hard questions and keep people at the center of our decisions. Tom’s passion for diversity of thought and civility in action is evidenced in our program structure and impact. We are proud to carry forward his legacy through Leadership Wyoming.”

Through the years, First Interstate has reinforced its support of Leadership Montana and Leadership Wyoming, offering grant monies to the tune of $291,000 and $320,000 respectively. First Interstate is also proud of its strong alumni presence in both programs, with 62 First Interstate employees participating in Leadership Montana and Leadership Wyoming

Surging feed prices will challenge livestock producer recovery in 2021

The U.S. animal protein sector is expected to face a 12% increase in feed costs in 2021, which will mark the highest year-over-year inflation since 2011, according to a new report from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange division.

With corn futures above $4 per bushel and soybean meal futures around $350 per ton, cattle feeders, hog producers and chicken producers will pay higher prices for feed than they have in many years, the report says.

The higher feed costs come at a challenging time, as meat and poultry industry margins have been pressured by weak prices in 2020 due to COVID-19. Average producer margins for cattle, hogs and broilers fell into negative territory this year after the pandemic disrupted food service demand and drove widespread meat plant slowdowns and shutdowns.

Much of the increase in feed prices is being driven by Chinese demand for grain as it rebuilds its hog herd and overall animal protein supply after African Swine Fever ravaged its herd the last couple of years. The U.S. Department of Agriculture forecasts China’s corn imports to more than triple in the 2020-21 crop year, with much of that increase coming from the U.S.

For most of the last decade, feed costs have generally been a tailwind for U.S. meat and poultry producers and have been lower than the year before for six of the last eight years. In 2021, U.S. hog producers are expected to face the highest level of feed cost inflation at 14%, closely followed by cattle feeders at 13%, and chicken producers at 11%. The impact of feed costs varies by species for several reasons, such as life cycle, feed ration, and components of other feed costs.

2020 corn crop: higher weight, lower moisture, less damage than previous 5 crops

The 2020-21 U.S. corn crop – entering marketing channels now – has a higher average test weight, lower moisture and lower total damage relative to each quality factor’s average of the previous five crops, according to the U.S. Grains Council’s 2020-21 Corn Harvest Quality Report.

While wet weather conditions in April and May contributed to historic delays in planting and crop maturity in 2019, the 2020 crop was planted slightly ahead of the average pace of the previous five crops and experienced generally favorable conditions during the remainder of the growing season, resulting in a corn crop with both high grain quality and yield.

“This year’s ample supply allows the United States to remain the world’s leading corn exporter, accounting for an estimated 36.4% of global corn exports during the marketing year,” said USGC Chairman Jim Raben in a news release.

The report is based on 601 yellow corn samples taken from defined areas within 12 of the top corn-producing and exporting states. Inbound samples were collected from local grain elevators to measure and analyze quality at the point of origin and provide representative information.

CRMC named one of 100 best for general surgery, coronary intervention

Cheyenne Regional Medical Center is one of “America’s 100 Best Hospitals” for General Surgery and Coronary Intervention for 2021, according to research recently released by Healthgrades, an online independent hospital and physician quality and safety ratings organization.

“As part of our mission to inspire great health, we’ve made a commitment to our patients, community, employees and providers that our hospital and health system will make quality care a top priority,” said Tim Thornell, CRMC’s chief executive officer and president.

Patients treated at hospitals receiving “America’s 100 Best Hospitals for General Surgery” award have, on average, a 28.6% lower risk of experiencing a complication or dying while in the hospital than if they were treated in hospitals that did not receive the award, according to Healthgrades.

Healthgrades also reported that patients treated at hospitals receiving “America’s 100 Best Hospitals for Coronary Intervention” award have, on average, a 46.5% lower risk of dying than if they were treated in hospitals that did not receive the award.

DMTI celebrates first anniversary of medical devices business in Laramie

Disruptive MedTech LLC – a provider of custom, innovative, private-branded medical devices –  celebrated its first anniversary of business in mid-December in Laramie.

DMTI came into being after a group of businessmen realized the desire of hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers to work directly with the manufacturers of their implantable devices. A clear gap in the market was seen, and it was believed DMTI could, with the right infrastructure and expertise, fill that gap.

DMTI spent its early days in the IMPACT 307 building, formerly the Wyoming Business and Technology Center, on the University of Wyoming campus.

In that business incubator, DMTI began working with Marrow Access Technologies to bring to market its SmartShot device through DMTI’s contract manufacturing arm. The company also partners in sales with Mahe Medical USA.

With the progression of the COVID-19 virus and closing of surgery centers, DMTI pivoted to provide the highest-quality personal protective equipment to facilities throughout the United States. That work continues, as does the development of new technologies and devices aimed at lowering costs and increasing the quality of medical treatment provided by clients, according to a news release.

Wyoming Transportation Commission awards contracts for highway work

Construction will soon start on a $26.6 million contract to construct a new interchange off Interstate 80 and perform other work near Rock Springs. The Wyoming Transportation Commission awarded Reiman & High Country Construction JV Limited Partnership of Cheyenne the $26.6 million work in Sweetwater County.

For the I-80 work, crews will build the new interchange to improve traffic flow and access to businesses in the city. The Wyoming Department of Transportation is working with the city of Rock Springs on the project, which also includes replacing an overpass that was previously closed, installing a new road and widening a bridge over a creek. The contract completion date is June 30, 2023.

The commission also awarded work to companies on four other resurfacing and bridge repair projects totaling $37.7 million at its December meeting:

  • The commission awarded Reiman Corp. of Cheyenne a $6 million contract for concrete slab repair, bridge work and overlay work on about 4 miles of I-80 beginning at the intersection of Curtis and Third streets in Laramie. Crews will make concrete repairs to the surface, make various repairs to about 10 bridges and add a high-performance overlay to the road, with the exception of the bridges, to improve the road surface. The contract completion date is Oct. 31, 2022.
  • McGarvin-Moberly Construction Co. of Worland won a $4.6 million contract for a resurfacing project on eight miles of Interstate 25 between Glendo and Douglas in Converse County. Crews will mill and overlay 3 inches of road and will use the old material on the median by the cable barrier. They will then resurface the road with 4 inches of material.
  • $243,287 to Reiman Corp. for a bent cap replacement bridge contract on WYO 239 at the Salt River Bridge between Freedom and the Idaho state line in Lincoln County by Oct. 31, 2021.
  • $47,355 to S & L Industrial of Cowley for bridge railing modification, guardrail and other work on I-80 between Rawlins and Laramie in Carbon County by June 30, 2021.

Sinclair Wyoming Refining Company makes $25,000 grant to hospital

The Corbett Medical Foundation recently received a $25,000 grant from the Sinclair Wyoming Refining Company in support of the Platte Valley Healthcare Project’s “Help Us Build a Strong Foundation” fundraising campaign.

The check was presented by Annette Penman, grant coordinator for SWRC, to Laura Bucholz, representing the Corbett Foundation, and Irene Archibald and Sonja Collamer of the PVHP.

According to Archibald, PVHP treasurer, they learned of the grant opportunity from Jim Larscheid, a hospital supporter who also serves on the SWRC grant making committee, just a day before the deadline.

Because the PVHP has been developing their equipment needs as part of the Strong Foundation campaign, they were able to quickly complete the application, and because it easily met SWRC guidelines, it was quickly approved.

Help Us Build a Strong Foundation is a $1 million “stretch” fundraising campaign to provide resources for upgrades to equipment and facilities that will enable the North Platte Valley Medical Center to provide a higher level of care. Archibald said the money would be used to help fund the purchase of a mobile X-ray machine which will be initially installed at the Platte Valley Clinic and moved to the North Platte Valley Medical Center when construction is complete.

BLM issues decision for Converse County oil and gas project

On Dec. 23, the Bureau of Land Management issued a decision that could generate billions of dollars for the American public and strengthen domestic energy production and independence.

The Record of Decision for the Converse County Oil and Gas Project allows the development of up to 5,000 new oil and natural gas wells within a 1.5 million-acre project area in Converse County over the life of the project.

This decision modifies the 2007 Casper Field Office Resource Management Plan to allow for year-round drilling while continuing to protect non-eagle raptors in the area and conserve their habitat. The project is expected to generate roughly 8,000 jobs and approximately $18 billion to $28 billion in federal revenues.

While the record of decision approves the preferred alternative analyzed in the Final Environmental Impact Statement, the decision does not authorize any on-the-ground activity. On-the-ground construction and development will require separate site-specific review and approval before it can begin.

The BLM released a final environmental impact statement on July 31, initiating a 30-day protest period and 60-day Governor’s Consistency Review. The final environmental impact statement identified a range of alternatives, including the BLM’s preferred alternative, which we developed following extensive review and consideration of public and cooperating agency input.

The decision and other project documents and maps are available online at https://go.usa.gov/xGwwB.

Rocky Mountain Power has new grants to support Wyoming organizations this winter

As winter settles into communities throughout Wyoming, ending a year that has brought challenges like no other, it’s the arts and humanities programs that continue to provide needed connection and healing.

Local organizations that deliver art, music, theater, learning resources and connection to local history and place have had to pivot during 2020 in ways never imagined. Many have moved to virtual programming to connect with families and students at home, while also working behind the scenes to preserve cherished in-person programs so that they can return in the future.

To support these programs’ ongoing efforts, PacifiCorp Foundation, a nonprofit arm for Rocky Mountain Power, is donating more than $200,000 in new funding across the six states it serves to support the arts and humanities – along with continued needs by organizations on the front lines of the COVID-19 response.

A total of 58 foundation grants were given to nonprofit organizations across Rocky Mountain Power’s service area, ranging between $1,000 and $7,500. In Wyoming, seven additional Community Giving grants totaling $45,000 were provided to help meet additional critical needs tied to the pandemic.

Together, these grants reflect the diversity of the communities Rocky Mountain Power serves, and the diverse needs of these communities during this time. In all, more than $2.3 million has been prioritized in 2020 for organizations across the six states PacifiCorp serves, dedicated to helping communities with the greatest needs. Prioritization will continue through 2021 for grants that support needs around the COVID-19 pandemic. The next grant cycle is now open through March 15; organizations may apply online at https://www.pacificpower.net/community/foundation.html.

Wyoming company’s medical product receives high praise by researchers

A Wyoming-based company’s medical product was featured recently in a peer-reviewed, national research journal. 

McGinley Orthopedics is paving the way for patient safety with a medical device designed to improve outcomes, lower cost and save time in common orthopedic surgeries, according to a news release.

Manufactured and assembled in Glenrock and Casper, the IntelliSense Drill Technology – an FDA-cleared handheld robotic technology used in operating rooms around the world – was featured in the journal “Orthopedics” highlighting research performed by surgeons at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Hamot. The manuscript, “Plunging Dangerously: A Quantitative Assessment of Drilling the Clavicle,” shined a spotlight on the benefits to using the IntelliSense Drill Technology in surgeries where plunging past the bone while drilling can be dangerous.  

This patented technology integrates multiple sensors into a standard orthopedic drill to automatically stop the drilling process once bone has been penetrated. It also measures depth of drilling in real time and provides the surgeon with a precise and accurate measurement for screw sizing. 

U.S.-UK organic equivalency keeps trade opportunities open

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Trade Representative negotiate organic trade arrangements to help organic farms and businesses access new markets for their products.

Effective Jan. 1, organic trade between the United States and United Kingdom, which includes Great Britain (England, Scotland, Wales) and Northern Ireland, will take place under a new equivalence arrangement that allows organic products certified to either the USDA or UK organic standards to be labeled and sold as organic in both countries, as long as the products meet the terms of the arrangement.

The biggest change to current import/export practices under the new arrangement is that USDA organic products exported to England, Scotland and Wales must be accompanied by a new paper Great Britain import certificate developed by the UK. Shipments to Northern Ireland will continue to use the European Union’s TRACES certificate system.

Milestones

Tammy Lane has earned her Ph.D. in occupational therapy from Eastern Kentucky University. Lane is the rehab director at Laramie Peak Therapies at the Saratoga Care Center and is expected to assume the same role at the North Platte Valley Medical Center when it is complete. Occupational therapists treat injured, ill or disabled patients through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. They help these patients develop, recover, improve, as well as maintain the skills needed for daily living and working.

Shelby Rosasco, a University of Wyoming faculty member whose research focus includes increasing beef cow productivity and fertility, is the new UW Extension beef specialist. Rosasco began Oct. 30 in the Department of Animal Science in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. She is completing her Ph.D. from New Mexico State University, focusing on the effects of management strategies during pre-breeding development on growth, reproduction and ovarian function in beef heifers. While at UW, she plans to focus her research program on management strategies that can be utilized in beef females to increase productivity and fertility and increase economic efficiency for beef producers.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is congratulating nine employees on their years of service to the state of Wyoming. The following employees celebrated a milestone work anniversary in December:

  • Chip Moller – Superintendent, Boulder Fish Rearing Station – 25 years
  • Zach Turnbull – Large carnivore biologist, Pinedale – 15 years
  • Sean Bibbey – Lands branch chief, Cheyenne – 10 years
  • Jerome Espinoza – IT database administrator, Cheyenne – 10 years
  • Troy Tobiasson – Access Yes coordinator, Sheridan – 10 years
  • Kristen DaVanon – Game warden, Laramie – Five years
  • Justin Dodd – Game warden, Kaycee – Five years
  • Mitch Renteria – Game warden, Riverton – Five years
  • Rob Shipe – Game warden, Medicine Bow – Five years

Olivia Sanchez joined Gov. Mark Gordon’s office as scheduler on Jan. 5. Sanchez comes to the Gordon administration from the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, where she served as Director of Communications, Publications and Program since 2018. She previously worked as Marketing and Sponsorship Coordinator at the Laramie County Fair. A native of Burns, Sanchez earned her Bachelor of Arts in Social Science from the University of Wyoming. She served as Student Senate President at Eastern Wyoming College, where she earned her Associate of Arts degree. She is a past president of the High Plains FFA chapter in Laramie County.

Tammy Angel will serve as Acting Regional Forester for the Rocky Mountain Region, effective Jan. 24, USDA Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen recently announced. In this role, she will lead more than 2,000 employees and share stewardship of 22 million acres of national forests and grasslands in Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota with partners and 48 affiliated tribes. Angel is currently Deputy Regional Forester for the Rocky Mountain Region. Angel started her career with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as an Engineering Stay-in-School student and transitioned to a full-time engineer upon graduation. After 10 years, she joined the National Park Service, where she served as a National Restoration Program Manager, Chief of the National Park Service Environmental Quality Division, Associate Regional Director for Resource Stewardship and Science, and most recently as Superintendent of Big Cypress National Preserve before making the move to the Forest Service in 2018. A native of Arvada, Colorado, Angel earned a bachelor’s degree in Metallurgical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado.