Weekly News Roundup: Friday, July 30

Miss the headlines this week? Learn more about former Sen. Mike Enzi, pandemic struggles for Wyoming women and how to protect local fish.
Local officials say anglers need to handle overheated fish with care, especially in the warmer afternoons. (wwwarjag/Shutterstock)

by | Jul 30, 2021 | News

Former Sen. Mike Enzi Dies in Bike Crash

Former Wyoming Senator Mike Enzi died unexpectedly Monday at the age of 77 due to complications following a serious bike accident. The former shoe salesman, mayor of Gillette and state representative served in Washington, D.C., from 1997 until his retirement at the end of last year. Sen. John Barrasso, who served alongside Enzi for 13 years, mourned him on the Senate floor Tuesday. 

“Mike Enzi was a moral compass for many of us, and he always pointed true north,” Barrasso said. “He was a friend and a mentor to me, [and] to so many senators on both sides of the aisle over 24 years. He knew how to find common ground and bring people together better than any. It was rare for an Enzi bill to receive fewer than 80 votes.” 

A conservative known for his fiscal discipline, Enzi wrote more than 80 bills signed into law by four presidents. Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon also honored Enzi Tuesday by ordering all American and Wyoming flags to be lowered to half-staff. No other vehicles were involved in the bike crash, which occurred Saturday, according to The Casper Star-Tribune.

Wyoming Women Disproportionately Struggled in 2020

A recently released report found that women in Wyoming, particularly single mothers, were severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Wyoming Women’s Foundation used state employment and Census Bureau data to compare how women in the Cowboy State were doing in 2019 with how they did in 2020. Executive director of the foundation Rebekah Smith said last year was a tough one for everyone, but for working women in particular. Women claimed just 31% of unemployment checks in 2019, but 42% in 2020. 

“Just seeing the magnitude of that was a little bit surprising for me,” Smith said. “And really telling that this is extremely important and we really need to make sure that other folks in the state are paying attention and doing what they can to help get women back to work.”

Smith said a number of factors, like women having to take on more responsibility at home, mental health challenges and the increasing costs of childcare contributed to the jump in unemployment. She also said she hopes elected officials across the state pay attention to these trends and prioritize policies that help women maintain employment, such as Medicaid expansion.

“Making sure that women have access to health care—especially those with low incomes have access to health care—can be really helpful in getting people back on their feet to the point where they can function again,” Smith said.

Smith said electeds now have the raw data in hand, not just the anecdotal evidence, to help make lawmaking arguments in favor of progressive policies supporting women.

New Online Look for the Town of Jackson

The Town of Jackson announced the launch of a redesigned and more accessible website Monday. The new site features a full translation in Spanish and better compatibility with screen readers, which are commonly used by individuals who are blind or otherwise visually impaired. Susan Scarlata is community engagement specialist for the town. She said the goal of the redesign is to make online information about town services easily accessible for as many locals as possible, including Latino residents.

“There’s so much jargon in government, and sometimes you pull up a page and it’s hard to even determine in your first language exactly what’s going on, and so we wanted to make it as accessible as possible in all the ways that we could,” Scarlata said.

Scarlata also said the town took into account what people were searching for most during the redesign process. Some of the most visited pages include job opportunities, the link to watch public meetings and the Jackson-Teton County Animal Shelter.

Officials Ask Anglers to Go Easy on Fish

With fishing at Jackson’s Flat Creek set to open Sunday, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department is strongly encouraging anglers not to fish past 2 p.m., when water temperatures are highest. The voluntary restriction is requested for locations like the National Elk Refuge, which have mandatory catch-and-release regulations for trout. Carlin Girard is the water resources specialist and associate director of the Teton Conservation District. He explained why the current combination of low water levels and hot, dry weather is dangerous for fish.

“As temperature increases in water, there’s an absolute relationship to the dissolved oxygen concentration in that water,” Girard said. “So, the warmer it gets, the less oxygen there is present in the water, and so their ability to recover—it’s a lot like us going up to high elevations or something like that. The more stressful it is and the less oxygen there is, the harder it is on those fish.”

Game and Fish is also asking anglers throughout the region to catch and release fish as quickly as possible. Other tips to help improve a fish’s chance of survival include not placing fingers in gills, not squeezing fish and removing hooks gently.

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