UP to the three-person Friends of the Atlas committee and local residents who donated roughly $600,000 for the purchase, repair and upkeep of the building next door to the downtown Atlas Theatre.

The Cheyenne Little Theatre Players have had their eyes on the property at 215 W. Lincolnway for nearly 40 years. The additional space will allow them to build an ADA-compliant elevator to the balcony, ADA-compliant expanded bathrooms, and a code-required staircase and elevator to the Atlas’ upper floors, as well as perform various repairs to the existing theater.

Additional improvements may include adding a catering kitchen; expanding the green room; creating a costume and prop storage area; expanding the lobby/box office/bar on the main floor; and upgrading the lighting and sound systems. There’s even the possibility of adding a black box theater on the second or third floor.

The fact that this amount of money was raised at all is worth celebrating; the fact it was raised amid a global pandemic is amazing. It’s great that people realize how much of a gem the Atlas Theatre is already, and we’re excited to see how it will get even better in the future.

UP to Laramie County School District 1 officials for being proactive by having high school students sign up for “7+1 classes” this fall in the event of a worst-case scenario in which state lawmakers fail to fully fund K-12 education.

If that happens, school officials say they will first put more kids in classes, cut staff by attrition and do everything possible to continue offering as many classes as possible. But a revenue shortfall of 7-13% next year could result in major layoffs, forcing them to move from eight to seven class periods day.

That’s why LCSD1 officials are asking students now which class they’re willing to give up. As LCSD1 Director of Instruction Steve Newton told the school board recently, the 7+1 plan would make it easier to adjust if that became a reality.

We certainly hope it doesn’t come to that, but we appreciate district officials preparing for the worst while continuing to hope for the best.

DOWN to members of the state Senate Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee for voting 4-1 to advance Senate File 17, the latest attempt to remove public notices from newspapers in Wyoming.

If approved by the full Legislature, the bill would remove the requirement for cities, towns and counties to publish meeting minutes and employees’ annual salaries in at least one local newspaper. The municipalities would instead have to keep the information on their official websites. But not all small towns in Wyoming have websites, so they could post these notices on a bulletin board in the county courthouse. Who’s likely to go read them there?

If SF 17 became law, the resulting lack of transparency would far outweigh the minimal amount of budget savings for these municipalities. Because having public notices in newspapers means people have easy access to the information that can help them hold public officials accountable – or even lead them to ask questions that end up saving more than the cost to print the legal notices.

There’s also currently a permanent record of these documents that can’t be changed by public officials trying to hide something. The same can’t be said for web-based records.

Yes, for some small weekly papers in Wyoming, this change could be financially devastating. But the real question is whether public officials are willing to pay a small amount to keep their constituents informed.

DOWN to state lawmakers for trying to insert themselves into the process of issuing public health orders to protect the health of Wyoming residents.

At least four bills have been filed that would regulate when and how the governor and state health officer could impose restrictions like those handed down during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. One would require the Legislature to ratify any public health order that would be active for more than 30 days, while another cuts that to 15 days, and a third reduces it to just 10 days.

Some bills would require elected officials to approve health orders issued at the local level. Another would let any county opt out of statewide mandates if a majority of commissioners voted to do so. And at least one would require the state Senate to approve the appointment of the state health officer.

We support our local businesses and know the pandemic has had severe and sometimes devastating impacts on them. But this is clearly overreach by legislators who have downplayed the seriousness of the novel coronavirus from the beginning, even as one of their own died from it. These bills should be rejected in favor of protecting people’s health, both now and in the future.

WE WANT TO KNOW WHAT YOU THINK: Contact us via email at opinion@wyomingnews.com.

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