State Rallies Around Energy Capital

Gov. Mark Gordon talks with Mayor Louise Carter-King and County Commission Chairman Rusty Bell before a public meeting July 2, 2019.
Gov. Mark Gordon talks with Mayor Louise Carter-King and County Commission Chairman Rusty Bell before a public meeting July 2, 2019.

The Campbell County Commissioner meeting was interrupted today by Gov. Mark Gordon, who came to Gillette today at 1:30 p.m., along with the heads of various agencies to address the immediate needs of those affected by the shutdown of Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr mines.

The Governor was surrounded by his response team, including Wyoming DEQ Director Todd Parfitt, Lynn Budd with Wyoming Homeland Security, Wyoming Workforce Services Director Robin Cooley, and WCDA Executive Director Scott Hoversland.

Gov. Mark Gordon took Chairman Rusty Bell’s seat for today’s public meeting.

“Ladies and gentlemen of Campbell County, you power the nation and we stand behind and beside you,” Gordon addressed the community in a public meeting, adding that he and members of his response team would be available for a short time in the Commissioners Chambers to field additional questions.

Each state official outlined their concerns and the assistance their agency would contribute moving forward.

For the DEQ, explained Director Todd Parfitt, was the bonding for both facilities.

“There’s no question that we have adequate bonding in place for both facilities if we get to a situation – and we’re not there yet – but if we got to a situation to where we had to forfeit on those bonds,” he said.

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Today, crews from a variety of agencies performed inspections at both mines to ensure that there are no immediate risks or health issues associated with the inactivity. Parfitt said they were looking for immediate fire risks, water issues, and verifying all fuel valves were closed, just to name a few.

Several Blackjewel employees were on hand for today’s public meeting with a wide variety of concerns, including when employees could collect their personal belongings still on the mine sites to the validity of the checks they received over the weekend.

One employee asked the team what was to be done to hold Blackjewel owner Jeff Hoops accountable for, what the employee called, embezzlement from employees’ 401K accounts.

Gordon offered that although he didn’t have direct answers today, all the information would be valuable to state officials moving forward in the process.

“We have brought all of our assets here for this community to make sure you have your questions answered and that we can provide the services you need,” Gov. Gordon said.