Gillette Mayor Louise Carter-King listened carefully to Governor Gordon’s State of the State Address Monday morning, which along with kicking off the 65th Legislative Session, took a recalibrated assessment of the budget. In her mind, she found it an optimistic message for the city, county, and state.
“I was pleased with the address,” she said. “I was really pleased that he mentioned so much about our section of the state.”
For starters, Mayor Carter-King appreciated the Governor’s proposed $25 million investment towards the establishment of the Energy Commercialization Program, which will support research and advance technologies that further zero or net-negative carbon uses for coal and other fossil fuels, and that he stressed the need to act quickly to prevent coal mines from closing.
Campbell County Public Information Coordinator Ivy Castleberry also agreed with the direction the Governor is taking towards the future of energy.
“As far as Campbell County goes, we’re glad to hear that the Governor is still seriously going to pursue how we support our energy industry here in Wyoming,” she said.
Mayor Carter-King also noted that the state needs to take a serious look at economic development, which she said cannot be done without putting money behind it.
“If we are truly going to diversify from the thermal-use coal as it is now, then we have to look into the research, so I think Gov. Gordon is on the same page as most of the industry leaders, and I hope, the legislators from this region,” Mayor Carter-King said. “I would think the whole state has to realize that we have this valuable commodity, and it’s good coal.”
Both Mayor Carter-King and Castleberry believe that finding a long-term solution to the current coal economy will be found in carbon-based research and that both the city and county will be major players in the nation and globally.
“Part of us being able to contribute to the next phase of energy is making Campbell County a premier location for the next phase of testing new carbon technologies and things that have to do with clean coal technologies, whether that’s capturing CO2 from coal-fired power plants or supporting the research for ways to make coal burn more efficiently,” Castleberry added. “We have clean coal and are looking at technologies to enhance and expand that along with additional ways we can use carbon-based products.”
Castleberry believes that in order to be part of the global solution on carbon-based products, the county has to accurately communicate its story to the nation and the globe, which the Carbon Valley Initiative Marketing Project will help spread that message. Last week, the County awarded the two-year $400,000 contract to New Jersey-based Violet PR.
“We certainly see Campbell County as part of the solution in being able to provide reliable energy for the globe,” Castleberry said. “Our marketing strategy is going to help share our vision to researchers and companies who are looking to improve and enhance on carbon-based technologies while building awareness that our extractive industries are supportive and also maintaining a clean environment. We want to make that evident to the rest of the world.”
Both Carter-King and Castleberry reiterated their support of the Governor’s message when it comes to the future of the county and energy development.
Mayor Carter-King also appreciated that the Governor called attention to the trouble with the recent multiple coal mine bankruptcies and hopes that the Legislature will approve the monthly ad valorem tax payments that she feels will be beneficial in stabilizing tax dollar recovery to help Gillette and Campbell County, in addition to the state’s education system.
The mayor noted that she would love to see the state further commit to funding the state’s junior colleges like Gillette College, which she believes is the strongest in the state as far as enrollment and listening to the needs of the community.
“He did mention community colleges, but not in great detail,” she said. “We have to keep that up.”
In terms of Gov. Gordon’s commitment to supporting tourism, Mayor Carter-King agreed that it’s an important source of funding and for the state’s future, and she hopes that the lodging tax bill passes.
We talk about diversification, and there it is,” Mayor Carter-King said. “Tourism is a major part of it.”
She also noted the importance of agriculture.
“Like I said, the speech was optimistic as Gov. Gordon said Wyoming is in a good place, and he realizes that we’re not generating the revenue we used to and is trying to address it,” Mayor Carter-King said. “It was an overall great message.”
The full State of the State Address to the 65th Wyoming Legislature was presented on Feb. 10. at the State Capitol in Cheyenne.