Teen drinking, vaping down countywide

By Amanda Manchester, Herald Reporter
Posted 6/5/24

EVANSTON — During the May 21 Uinta County Commission meeting, it was revealed that this year’s Uinta County Commissioner Scholarship received only three applicants, all of whom are from …

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Teen drinking, vaping down countywide


EVANSTON — During the May 21 Uinta County Commission meeting, it was revealed that this year’s Uinta County Commissioner Scholarship received only three applicants, all of whom are from Lyman High School. Three annual scholarships, which are worth $500 to attend any Wyoming institute of higher learning, are typically granted to a high school graduate from each of the county’s high schools: Evanston High School, Lyman High School and Mountain View High School. A renewal scholarship is also available through the commission.

Chair Mark Anderson suggested they award the scholarships to the Lyman graduates. Commissioners Brent Hatch and Eric South agreed that the scholarships should go to the qualifying applicants, regardless that they’re all from the same school.

The agreement between the Uinta County Library and engineering firm Forsgren Associates for construction upgrades needed revisiting and ratifying. The project was previously affirmed after the library received over $600,000 in grant funds. The commissioners approved the ratification.

Uinta County Prevention Specialist Kendra Safford requested the acceptance of a $313,451 biennium Community Protection Grant for the upcoming 2025 and 2026 cycle, with no required county match. Safford thoroughly explained that both of her task forces, the Uinta County Suicide Prevention Task Force and the Uinta County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition, have “seen significant progress and positive effects of the work we do,” she said. 

“Uinta County youth are drinking less according to the PNA (prevention needs assessment) survey. Since 2018, more youth report never having drank, and there’s a 16% decrease in use between the ages of 17 to 21,” Safford said.

She said the county’s 12.7% binge drinking numbers were substantially lower than the state’s average of 15.9%. 

Vaping usage is also on the decline, currently 17% lower than the last survey conducted by the school district two years ago.

A joint campaign between Safford and Rep. Jon Conrad (R-Lyman), which is directed specifically toward suicide prevention among middle-aged men and miners to “decrease the stigma of seeking help, and utilizing resources,” has been recognized and embraced statewide, Safford said. 

Safford and Conrad have also been invited to present their efforts to the governor and state legislators in Cheyenne in October. Safford concluded her request to the commissioners by stating that renewal of the grant cycle application will “enhance community health and safety.”

Hatch inquired about the state’s current nationwide suicide ranking. Safford replied that while Wyoming previously ranked first in national suicides, it has recently dropped to third.

“The call centers are helping a lot; they are working,” she said.

The commissioners thanked Safford for her thorough presentation and preparedness before approving her grant request.

“I appreciate our representatives standing up for the lives of Uinta County citizens,” Hatch said.

Evanston Car Show organizer and host Jon Pentz requested use of the new parking lot between the courthouse and the library for the event scheduled on July 27 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. in downtown Evanston. Pentz explained that recreational vehicle dealer Basecamp would use the space to display inventory.

“We’re trying to promote Evanston,” Pentz said. “We want to encourage businesses to come and show what we have to offer, and it helps us fill up Main Street.”

Pentz highlighted $5,000 in grant funding recently received from the lodging board which was applied to “way more advertising than we’ve ever had before” through XO Marketing.  “They’re top notch,” he said, adding that he feels optimistic about this year’s turnout.

Pentz said that, in addition to personally asking the library about the parking lot, he’s also cooperating with the Evanston Chamber of Commerce, which is hosting this year’s Brewfest and is scheduled for the same day as the car show, in the same vicinity with overlapping times.

“The events complement each other,” Hatch said.

Anderson recused himself from voting, citing a conflict of interest due to his connection to Basecamp. Hatch and South approved the request.

The meeting’s final order of business was Uinta County Public Health Nurse Manager ReaAnna Peltier presenting changes to and approval of two separate grants. The first grant was for $10,000 for County Health Officer Dr. Mike Adams, pending contract review by Uinta County Attorney Loretta Howieson Kallas.

The Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) grant of $89,000, which Peltier explained is $5,000 less than previous years, is for funding the salary and training of Michael Whisenant, the emergency response coordinator. Peltier explained that the county must match 10% of the grant funds “in kind.”  The measure passed.