Gillette

Campbell County

Campbell County Commissioners have approved an agreement with the city of Gillette that hopes to bring economic diversification to northeast Wyoming.

Rory Wallett stationed in his office since July 1. This is where he's spent most of his time coordinating with workers around the country
Cooper McKim

More than a week has passed since Blackjewel filed for bankruptcy and sent home 576 workers. They're still waiting to hear if they're laid off or heading back to work soon. Employees are stuck in limbo, but many are not struggling to keep busy.

Blackjewel Belle Ayr sign
Vikki Strande/Facebook

The laid-off employees of bankrupt Blackjewel mining are filing a class-action lawsuit against the company.

Informational session held for former Blackjewel employees
Cooper McKim

Former Blackjewel workers still have health insurance. Twenty to 30 percent of dislocated employees have found new jobs. Not all mine customers have abandoned Blackjewel. That's the good news coming from Brandy Elder, Blackjewel's Human Resources manager, at an information session in Gillette on Monday.

Since 4 p.m. yesterday, Gillette's Wyoming Workforce Center has seen 160 people visit from Blackjewel. This morning, the center opened up early and still had people lined up at the door. The West Virginia coal company Blackjewel LLC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy yesterday and has since closed the doors to its mines due to a lack of cash.

Catherine Wheeler

On a sunny and warm Friday in Northeast Wyoming, Levi Jensen and I drove east on Highway 51 out of Gillette.

Cooper McKim

A $7.5 million competition to develop products out of carbon dioxide is less than a year away from its final stage. The NRG Cosia Carbon XPRIZE competition will take place at the Integrated Test Center outside of Gillette. Five teams are nearing the point where they can set up operations. Wyoming Public Radio's Cooper McKim speaks with Marcius Extavour about how teams are progressing and what's still to come.

A few of the many letters requesting an equity committee on Cloud Peak's court docket
Prime Clerk

More than 300 individuals who own stock in Cloud Peak Energy are looking for a seat at the table in the coal giant’s bankruptcy. Together, the group owns more than 24 percent of Cloud Peak's stock. The shareholders are asking the court to appoint an equity committee to represent their interests.

These ratios for Cloud Peak's mines are not only high, but Cordero Rojo's get's increasingly higher. The higher the ratio, the more dirt is necessary to remove before reaching coal.
SEC Filings

Cloud Peak followed up its Friday bankruptcy filing with insight on what's been going on behind the scenes. Like many assumed, the Gillette-based coal giant did seek out buyers. The company had international investment bank J.P. Morgan lead the search. 

Cordero Rojo Mine Reclamation
Wyoming Mining Association

A struggling Powder River Basin coal company has put off two interest payments again. It will be the fourth extension. One is for debt due in 2021 and the other for 2024. Cloud Peak Energy negotiated with debt holders to put off paying until May 10. Past extensions have lasted a month, two weeks and one week.

Earl Andrew / Wikimedia Commons

The city of Gillette will host the National Curling Arena Championships in April of 2020, the first time a major curling event will take place in Wyoming.

Catherine Wheeler

This week's snowstorm brought several inches of snow and snow drifts between three and six feet high in areas of Wyoming. On Thursday morning, Gillette residents started to dig themselves out, and downtown Gillette's parking was impossible. City crews had to wait until Thursday night in order to address the problem.

J. Stephen Conn via https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

The Gillette teen who is accused of planning to shoot several teachers and students at his is school pleaded not guilty to nine counts of attempted first-degree murder.

Cooper McKim

Hundreds of train cars overflowing with coal extend alongside a road. Trucks haul the same energy resource in a large pit on the other side of the road. The highway is outside of Gillette, Wyoming, commonly called the coal capital of the U.S.

Catherine Wheeler / Wyoming Public Media

A Gillette art and framing shop held a show over the weekend featuring three generations of artists to spotlight the region's art community.

Catherine Wheeler

The kindergarten classrooms at Stocktrail Elementary in Gillette are just like any others. But in one, it sounds a little different than what you might expect.

That's because at Stocktrail two sections are part of a dual-language immersion program (DLI). That means students spend half of their day speaking only Spanish and another half speaking English.

Miles Bryan


Aftab Khan and his family have lived in the Gillette area for over a hundred years, and a few years back the family opened a mosque there. Bret Colvin started a Facebook page called Stop Islam In Gillette and, after the mosque opened, he knocked on the door during services while a large number of people rallied behind him, some of them armed. The event was covered extensively in the local and the international news. Quickly, the online rhetoric between them grew ugly. 

But until now, they’ve never met in person.

Integrated Test Center Facebook Page

The Integrated Test Center is open for business. The Gillette-based facility is aimed at research and testing new uses for carbon dioxide, say, as a building material, common fuel, or green concrete. Many hope the center will find new, profitable uses for coal — Governor Matt Mead is one of them. In a brief conversation, the Governor discussed his expectations for the project and the risks that come with it.

Mark Christensen speaking in front of the House Subcommittee on Natural Resources
House Committee on Natural Resources

Congress is considering a bill called the POWER Counties Act that would re-direct funds back to mineral-producing counties. The reclamation fund within the Mineral Leasing Act typically supports water projects, like dams, but now has an excess of money thanks to increased mineral leasing. 

Wyoming Integrated Test Center
Tri-State Generation and Transmission

The Integrated Test Center (ITC) in Gillette will host five finalists for the NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE competition later this year. The 10 teams were selected this week, down from 27 in the semi-final round. The remaining five teams will be located in Alberta studying natural gas instead of coal. 

DEQ's Land Quality Division Advisory Board meeting in Gillette while webcasting in Cheyenne and Jackson members
Cooper McKim / Wyoming Public Radio

Rules that would have placed limits on self-bonding will be sent back to the Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) Land Quality Division following a meeting of its advisory board Wednesday. Self-bonding is a way for mining companies to guarantee clean-up costs without putting money down.

Gov. Matt Mead speaking to a pro-coal rally at Gillette College prior to the official EPA listening session
Cooper McKim / Wyoming Public Radio

Hundreds of people from across the mountain west gathered Tuesday at Gillette College to discuss the proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan, or CPP. That’s a 2015 Obama-era rule that would force states to limit greenhouse gas emissions at power plants. Many see it as the former president’s key piece of legislation to combat climate change. In October of 2017, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took the first step towards a repeal.  

Anna Rader

As part of our series, “I Respectfully Disagree,” Wyoming Public Radio’s Melodie Edwards journeyed into the heart of Wyoming’s coal country to the city of Gillette up in the northeast corner. Recently, it’s become an intensely divided community. In the last election, Wyoming went in greater percentage to Donald Trump than any other state, but Campbell County was one of the counties that supported Trump more than any other in Wyoming.

Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead licensed under CC BY 3.0: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us/

The Las Vegas Strip Shooting this week is being described as the worst mass shooting in modern history. Gillette resident Clint Burton was at the Route 91 Harvest Festival taking photos for his website Backstage Music Magazine when he was injured in the shooting.

His son, twenty-year-old Bayelee Burton was also at the concert. Wyoming Public Radio’s Caroline Ballard spoke with Bayelee after he and his family returned to Wyoming.

Madelyn Beck/Inside Energy

 

It’s a mixture you wouldn’t usually think of: black suits, pop country music, Japanese officials and the slight smell of manure. All these things came together at the CAM-PLEX event center in Gillette, Wyo., on Sept. 21 for a discussion about coal.

Madelyn Beck/Inside Energy

 

The Gillette Workforce Center had a front row seat for the town’s coal woes.

The office has cream-colored walls, decorated with motivational posters and pictures of coal mines. Vermona Petersen is the manager of the center, which helps people find a new job.

“At the height of the layoffs last year, we were seeing between 250 and 300 people a day,” she said. 

Wyoming coal mines laid off more than 450 workers last March amid financial troubles exacerbated by low natural gas prices and debt.

City of Gillette website

Gillette’s city administrator will soon take over the position as city manager in Casper. Carter Napier will replace V.H. McDonald, who announced his retirement in April amidst controversy surrounding his office and the police department. The appointment is subject to city council approval. 

Stephanie Joyce

The $2 million funding for coal workers comes from a U.S. Department of Labor grant meant to aid dislocated workers. Eligible workers can put the money towards training programs in other fields. 

Stephanie Joyce

 

The House Revenue Committee killed a bill Friday that would have lowered the coal industry’s severance tax from seven to six percent.

The Coal industry has struggled over the last couple of years and Gillette Representative Tim Hallinan said he hoped that the decrease would spur industry and prevent further bankruptcies, but he said it’s unknown whether or not it would create jobs. For Laramie Representative Dan Furphy that was a deal breaker.

Michael Polito Source: Wikimedia Commons

  

The community of Gillette has seen tension recently with plans for a Quran burning and protests over Gillette’s first mosque. Writer and Pulitzer Prize winner Kathryn Schulz heard this and wondered how a Muslim community came to be in coal mining Wyoming.

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