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DEATH

Lander man dies in irrigation ditch in Riverton

(RIVERTON, Wyo.)  A 33 year old Lander man died in an irrigation ditch along Honor Farm Road in Riverton late last night.

According to Fremont County Undersheriff Ryan Lee, the sheriff’s office was called around 11 last night because a woman the man was visiting said she heard a commotion outside when he left, and couldn’t find him anywhere.

A deputy found his body about a half mile downstream from the residence, submerged and hung up on a pile of debris.

Officials in Riverton were dealing with minor flooding in areas, that in the past, had never had any issues with flooding.  Lee said most of the flooding was due to rapid snow melt.  The emergency alert system was activated around 5 yesterday afternoon because many homes were experiencing flooding and many areas were inaccessible. 

By early this morning, flood waters had reseeded.

The man’s death remains under investigation today. 

TAX

State Legislature approves bill to collect online sales tax


CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Online retailers who sell goods to Wyoming residents will soon be required to collect the state's sales tax on transactions as the Legislature has approved a bill moving the tax burden from residents to businesses.

The bill received wide support in both the Senate and the House of Representatives and now awaits a signature from Gov. Matt Mead. If approved, the law will be effective July 1.

According to the bill, retailers that don't have a presence in the state will collect sales tax from Wyoming customers and remit that money to the state. Businesses with fewer than 200 transactions of $100,000 in sales to Wyoming customers are exempt from the law.

Currently, Wyoming residents are required to pay sales tax on such purchases but few do.

SKIER

Missing skier found alive near Jackson Hole resort

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — A skier missing in Grand Teton National Park since Monday has been found alive.

Lt. Matt Carr of the Teton County Sheriff's Office tells the Jackson Hole News & Guide (bit.ly/2mlRsDm) that the 31-year-old skier from Telluride, Colorado, was rescued about 8 a.m. Wednesday.

The name of the skier and other details, including his condition, were not immediately available.

Jenny Lake District Ranger Scott Guenther says the man left the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort boundaries on Monday with a friend. The other man was able to return to the resort early Tuesday.

The resort didn't open its lifts Tuesday due to the weather.

GUNS

Bill to allow armed school staff goes to Senate floor

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A Senate committee has advanced a bill that would allow K-12 school personnel to carry concealed guns.

It'll be up to each school district whether to allow armed staff.

The Senate Education Committee voted 5-0 Wednesday to send House Bill 194 to the full Senate for debate.

Supporters of the bill say it would deter attacks on schools and provide a means for schools to defend themselves in the event of an attack. They expect the bill would be particularly helpful to districts with rural schools far from local police.

Opponents expressed fears of an accidental discharge in a classroom and questioned whether staff with guns would receive adequate training to handle an active shooter.

The committee endorsed several changes that provide districts with some guidance on training and implementation.

ECLIPSE

Natrona County to offer permits to rent space for eclipse

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — Landowners in unincorporated Natrona County looking to make some quick cash by renting out their property to campers for the solar eclipse this summer will have to get a permit from the county.

The county said Tuesday that it will issue free permits in order to regulate landowners trying to share space with people visiting for the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse.

Natrona County Development Director Jason Gutierrez says the camping permit will help the county ensure sites are meeting health and safety standards.

Central Wyoming is anticipating anywhere from 20,000 to 50,000 visitors during the week before the eclipse as it will cross directly over the state. The entire state is expecting about 350,000 visitors for the eclipse.



Minutes from the Fremont County Commission on 2/21/2017


THE BOARD APPROVED AN AMENDMENT TO THE CERTIFIED RESOLUTION 2017-01 TO REPLACE JAMES A. MASSMAN, FORMER DEPUTY COUNTY TREASURER, WITH JAMES A. ANDERSON, NEW DEPUTY COUNTY TREASURER. 

THE BOARD APPROVED A REVISION TO THE CURRENT FREMONT COUNTY WELLNESS PROGRAM DESCRIPTION. 

THE BOARD APPROVED, UPON APPROVAL BY COUNTY ATTORNEY, A STANDARD AGREEMENT FOR PROFESSIONAL SERVICES WITH DOWL FOR THE MORTIMORE LANE RECONSTRUCTION – PHASE 1 PROJECT.  

THE BOARD APPROVED A RIGHT-OF-WAY GRANT AND A TEMPORARY USE PERMIT WITH THE BLM FOR THE DRY CREEK ROAD PROJECT.


CASPER SHOOTING

Victim of double shooting in Casper dies

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — Authorities say a man who was critically injured in a shooting at a residence in the northern part of Casper has died.

Police had responded to the home on Feb. 16 to find a man and a woman with gunshot wounds after a third person called 911.

Natrona County Coroner Connie Jacobson says 46-year-old Brandon Machado died the next day. The woman, who lived with Machado, remains hospitalized. Her name has not been released.

Police have not yet released the circumstances surrounding the shooting. No arrests have been made. Police have said there is no threat to the community.

RIVERTON FIRE-BODY FOUND

Woman's body found in burning mobile home in Riverton

RIVERTON, Wyo. (AP) — An investigation is underway after firefighters found an elderly woman's body in a burning mobile home in Riverton.

Someone called authorities Monday afternoon after seeing black smoke coming from the building. Cory Higgs, Riverton fire chief, said firefighters doused the flames in about half an hour, but the home was seriously damaged by smoke and heat.

The 71-year-old victim's name has not been released, and an autopsy is planned.

Several agencies are investigating, including the Riverton Police Department, the Fremont County Sheriff's Department and the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation.

CLOUD SEEDING

Cloud seeding suspended in Wind River Range

RIVERTON, Wyo. (AP) — The Wyoming Water Development Office has suspended cloud seeding operations in the Wind River Range because of the high snowpack that has accumulated so far.

The Wind River Range cloud seeding season began on Nov. 30 and was expected to run through March 31.

Seeding will remain suspended until the snowpack drops below the suspension criteria threshold, and any severe winter weather or flood warnings issued by the National Weather Service are terminated.

The Wind River Range cloud seeding program is an operational, non-research program focused on increasing winter snowpack as part of a larger strategy for improving water supplies in the Green, Wind and Bighorn river basins.

SUIT

Suit claims Albany County district failed to stop harassment

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — An Albany County school district and some of its employees have been accused of failing to protect a former elementary school student from sexual harassment.

A lawsuit filed Friday in U.S. District Court accuses Albany County School District No. 1 and three of its employees from failing to address when a female Harmony Elementary School was sexually harassed while riding the school bus to and from school. The lawsuit claims that harassment turned to sexual assault in 2014.

According to the lawsuit, bus drivers reported that a male student was behaving inappropriately toward the victim to several employees but no action followed those reports.

ACSD No. 1 Superintendent Jubal Yennie said Monday he could not comment directly on the wsuit.

NEGLECT

Cheyenne woman charged with neglect of vulnerable adult

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A 47-year-old Cheyenne woman has been accused of neglecting her father by taking his prescription medications.

Dianna L. Estes has been charged with a single count of intentional neglect of a vulnerable adult.

Estes appeared in Laramie County District Court last Friday and pleaded not guilty. A trial has been scheduled for May.

The crime is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or up to a $10,000 fine.

The attorney for Estes told District Judge Thomas Campbell that the father is being cared for at a nursing home in Laramie now.

EDUCATION FUNDING

Higher Wyoming sales tax for K-12 hits wall in committee

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A proposal to raise the state sales tax got a chilly reception in a legislative committee looking at what to do about Wyoming's looming education funding crisis.

The Senate Education Committee on Tuesday kept education spending cuts on the table but removed a half-cent sales tax increase from a plan to address the more than $360 million shortfall.

The increase would have kicked in after funding in a state savings account fell below a certain level. Committee members, including Republican Sen. Affie Ellis of Cheyenne, say legislators in the future should have flexibility to address the problem as they see fit.

Democratic Sen. Chris Rothfuss of Laramie says if anything, Wyoming needs more revenue for education immediately.

The bill now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

YELLOWSTONE BISON-DEATHS

Progress made on reducing Yellowstone bison herd

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — Wildlife managers estimate that more than 570 Yellowstone National Park bison have been killed so far this winter.

The numbers show that bison managers are making progress on their goal to eliminate 1,300 bison from the Yellowstone herd. A 2000 management plan calls for a population of 3,000 bison in the region, but about 5,500 live there now.

A Yellowstone report says 179 bison have been transferred to Native American tribes for slaughter and 359 have been killed by hunters as of last Friday.

A Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks report on the bison hunt compiled last week shows a lower number of confirmed bison kills but says officials believe more the total number of bison hunted and killed is already above 400.


FIRE

House fire in Riverton claims the life of a woman

(RIVERTON, Wyo.)  A house fire in Riverton yesterday afternoon claimed the life of an elderly woman.

The fire was reported just before 3pm yesterday (Monday) afternoon at a trailer house on Primrose lane.

The woman’s dogs were able to make it out of the home, however the elderly female that lives there expired.

The incident is under investigation by the Wyoming Fire Marshalls office and the Riverton Fire district at this time.

WOLD

Casper businessman and former congressman John Wold dies

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — Former congressman John Wold, who built a large energy company in Wyoming, has died. He was 100.

His family says Wold died Sunday night in Casper.

Those who knew him best said he left an indelible impression on Wyoming.

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso called Wold a "legend" who exemplified Wyoming values and the Western spirit.

A geologist by education, Wold started Wold Oil and Gas and ventured into virtually every extractive industry in the state, from coal, oil and gas to soda ash and uranium.

In politics, he worked to advance the Republican Party in Wyoming. He was elected to the Wyoming Legislature in 1956 and was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1969. He served one term in Congress.

U.S. Senator Mike Enzi of Wyoming said he was saddened to hear John had left us. He has been a part of Wyoming history - in many businesses, local, state and national politics, and philanthropy for a long time.

FOSSILS

UW to be the repository for cave fossils found

(LARAMIE, Wyo.)  Nestled just beyond the Big Horn Mountains lies an ancient treasure trove -- one of the largest groups of Ice Age mammal bones found in North America. And the ancient fossils, located in a natural trap cave, will soon be under the curation of the University of Wyoming, which will serve as a federal repository for the fossils.

Julie Meachen, an assistant professor of anatomy at Des Moines University who is leading the new excavation of mammal fossils in the trap cave, asked Mark Clementz, a UW associate professor of geology and geophysics and director of the UW Geological Museum; and Laura Vietti, collections manager for the Geological Museum, about UW serving as a repository for the material. The request was approved by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which manages the site.

“We were asked because we are already a well-established federal repository for material from the region, as well as because part of our mission is to keep as much material from Wyoming in Wyoming as we can,” Clementz says.

Clementz does not yet know the number of specimens UW will receive to house at the museum, but says work is already underway.

DIVERSITY

UW to hire diversity officer to boost minority enrollment

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — The University of Wyoming is looking to hire a chief diversity officer in an effort to increase and retain minority students and faculty.

UW spokesman Chad Baldwin says the university has been developing the diversity officer position for more than a year in an effort to promote diversity on campus.

Last fall, 12.5 percent of UW's students were minorities. Baldwin says that number has been climbing, but it still isn't where the university wants. Similarly, the university is also looking to increase faculty diversity.

The diversity officer's duties will include faculty, staff and student recruitment and retention efforts. The officer will also be involved in race-based campus investigations by the university's Title IX office.

TOO MANY ELK?

Too many elk? Refuge managers brace for count

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — There may be too many elk gathered at the National Elk Refuge in northwest Wyoming.

Potentially twice the desired number are believed to be gathered right now, wolfing down alfalfa pellets.

The presumed overpopulation will be confirmed or debunked Tuesday. That's when managers conduct the official count for the 24,700-acre U.S. Fish and Wildlife property north of Jackson.

Staff biologist Eric Cole estimates that the number right now is about 85 percent above the 5,000-elk goal.

Given trends from recent years, the high refuge numbers were expected.

In winter 2014-15, there were 8,390 elk at the refuge. That was the most in 17 years.

Last winter the number dipped by about 1,100. But nearly 1,400 elk were nearby.

YELLOWSTONE COUGAR STUDY

Yellowstone study tracks cougars post wolf reintroduction

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Researchers in Yellowstone National Park are getting a better understanding of secretive cougars through DNA analysis of scat and hair, along with photographs and specially equipped GPS collars.

Dan Stahler, manager of the Cougar Project said the work builds on a study by biologist Toni Ruth between 1998 and 2005 that documented changes in cougar populations following the reintroduction of wolves.

The latest study shows that a fairly stable population of cougars roams the rugged region between the Lamar Valley and Gardiner known as the Black Canyon of the Yellowstone.

Although elk numbers before wolf reintroduction in 1995 hit about 19,000, they have since plummeted to what has become a new normal of about 4,800. Stahler says that surprisingly, although their main prey source has been depleted, cougar numbers seem to have stayed about the same.



SHERIDAN SLAYING

Man expected to cite mental illness in fatal shooting

SHERIDAN, Wyo. (AP) — A man charged in a fatal shooting at a Sheridan County home is expected to plead not guilty by reason of mental illness.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys reviewed a Sept. 20 forensic evaluation concerning Paul Brookhouse's criminal responsibility based on his mental impairment and deemed it appropriate for him to make the plea.

Brookhouse is charged in the June 12, 2014, death of 62-year-old James Lee Drake, who had two gunshot wounds to the side and one to the head.

Investigators say Brookhouse told officers who arrived at the home that a man inside had been shot and "I'm the one that did it."

A hearing is scheduled for March 2.

BODY CAMERAS

Lawmakers revise bill governing release of police videos

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming lawmakers have revised a bill that governs public release of video from police body and car cameras.

The House Judiciary Committee changed the bill to allow law-enforcement to decide whether to release video of incidents involving lethal force by or against officers.

An earlier version of the bill required a judge's order for any video to be released.

The committee approved the revised bill Tuesday and sent it to the full House. A version has passed the Senate.

The new version doesn't require police to release video of lethal-force incidents. If they decline to release it, a requester could then ask a judge to intervene.

The change was worked out among law enforcement, media and civil liberties groups.

GREYBULL FIRE CHIEF DIES

Greybull fire chief dies at home after helping remove jams

GREYBULL, Wyo. (AP) — A statewide fire group says the longtime chief of the Greybull Fire Department has died.

Worland Fire Chief Chris Kocher of the Wyoming Local State Assistance Team says Chief Paul Murdoch died at home on Thursday after he had spent the day helping to remove ice jams from the Bighorn River.

Kocher says Murdoch, 53, was found unresponsive at his home. He says an autopsy will be done to determine the cause of death.

He says Murdoch was a 35-year veteran of the department and had been police chief since 1998.

Kocher says: "Chief Murdoch will be greatly missed by the fire service and his community."

Murdoch is survived by his wife and two children.

Kocker says funeral services are scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Wednesday at Greybull High School, 600 N. 6th St.

UTILITY PAYMENTS-THEFT

Man charged with stealing utility payments pleads not guilty

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A 27-year-old man charged with stealing dozens of checks from the Cheyenne Board of Public Utilities' payment drop box has pleaded not guilty.

Nicholas Hill pleaded not guilty Friday to three counts of forgery. He denied a fourth forgery charge in the case last month.

Court documents say Hill broke into the drop box in October and stole roughly 60 payments.

Four public utilities customers reported their payment checks being forged and cashed the following month.

Police used surveillance video from a bank where Hill tried to cash one of the checks to identify him.

The bank teller had reported that a man came in to cash a personal check but became agitated and left after his name wasn't found in the bank's database.

YELLOWSTONE COUGAR STUDY

Yellowstone study tracks cougars post wolf reintroduction

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Researchers in Yellowstone National Park are getting a better understanding of secretive cougars through DNA analysis of scat and hair, along with photographs and specially equipped GPS collars.

Dan Stahler, manager of the Cougar Project said the work builds on a study by biologist Toni Ruth between 1998 and 2005 that documented changes in cougar populations following the reintroduction of wolves.

The latest study shows that a fairly stable population of cougars roams the rugged region between the Lamar Valley and Gardiner known as the Black Canyon of the Yellowstone.

Although elk numbers before wolf reintroduction in 1995 hit about 19,000, they have since plummeted to what has become a new normal of about 4,800. Stahler says that surprisingly, although their main prey source has been depleted, cougar numbers seem to have stayed about the same.

DOCTOR-SEX ASSAULT CHARGES

Former Casper doctor accused of sexually assaulting patients

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — Prosecutors have formally charged a former Casper doctor accused of sexually assaulting six female patients.

47-year-old Paul Harnetty was charged Friday with several counts of sexual assault. A judge set bail at $50,000 and allowed Harnetty to travel to Minnesota, where he now lives, and Florida, where he has family.

The six women say Harnetty, who specialized in obstetrics and gynecology, touched them inappropriately during physical examinations. One of the women posted her account on Facebook, saying she wanted to tell others that help was available if they also were assaulted.

Harnetty filed a request for a protection order against the woman in February 2016, denying her allegations and saying the post had subjected him to ridicule and caused him to lose his job.

Casper police began investigating the doctor in October 2015.

SCHOOL-OIL FIELD

Mitigation system going in at school shuttered by gas leak

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — Contractors are set to install a mitigation system at a school in the small town of Midwest that has been closed since May because of a gas leak at a nearby oil well.

Workers are expected to begin installing the system at Midwest School at the end of the month to take air from beneath the school and pump it into the atmosphere. Air monitoring stations also will be installed throughout the building.

FDL Energy, the company that operates the Salt Creek Oil Field surrounding Midwest, is paying for the system.

Since the school closed, about 150 students and their teachers have been bused to other schools in Casper about 40 miles away.

The mitigation system is expected to be in place by mid-April, and the school is expected to reopen in the fall.


SHOOTING

2 hospitalized after shooting in Casper

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — Two people were hospitalized after a shooting at a residence in the northern part of Casper.

Police say a man and a woman, both in their mid-40s, suffered traumatic injuries in the shooting Thursday night.

The police department says it does not believe there is any threat to the community.

POWER

Power outage at WLRC in Lander

(Lander, Wyo.)  Life for residents and workers at the Wyoming Life Resource Center in Lander has been difficult over the past two days due to having no power at the center.

Kim Diete with the Wyoming Department of Health said today (Friday) that some parts of the facility have generator back-ups.  Staff have been moving residents to those area’s while crews work on the problem.

Diete said work is underway to fix the problem, however there is no projected time as to when the problem will be fixed. 

On a related note, the Wyoming Life Resource Center will soon be getting a face lift. Reconstruction efforts are set for approval by Gov. Matt Mead after the Senate passed a funding bill for the Lander facility. 
Construction is expected to begin in 2018.

The reconstruction will allow the center to not only serve mentally disabled patients, but now will also include clients who have transferred out of the state hospital, increased care for those with acquired brain injuries, geriatric psychiatric patients and high needs medical clients, along with clients who are hard to place or are in need of emergency placement.

Reconstruction of the facility calls for demolishing most of the central campus and replaced with three cottages.

The reconstruction will double the beds available to 110.

SERVICE

Calling pets service animals could become a crime under bill

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A Wyoming lawmaker wants to make misrepresenting a pet as a service animal a crime.

The Senate Travel Committee on Tuesday advanced a bill that would criminalize pet owners calling their dogs' service animals in order to bring them places like restaurants, stores or rental properties. The bill already passed the Wyoming House.

Rep. Landon Brown, R-Cheyenne, sponsored the bill. He says misrepresenting pets delegitimizes actual service animals and endangers the people they assist.

Anyone found misrepresenting their pet would be guilty of a misdemeanor and could be fined up to $750.

Julie Gliem of the Cheyenne Landlords Association says there has been a huge uptick in people claiming their pets are service animals. She says they can be all breeds and species.

COMPUTER

New supercomputer aids climate research in top coal state

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A new supercomputer in Wyoming is carrying on modeling the effects of climate change, but scientists worry President Donald Trump could cut funding for such programs.

The $30 million National Center for Atmospheric Research supercomputer named Cheyenne got to work on several science projects a few weeks ago. They include figuring out how to better predict weather months to years in advance.

Wyoming produces close to 40 percent of the nation's coal, and the state's many climate-change skeptics include Gov. Matt Mead. Still, Mead supports the supercomputer for helping to promote Wyoming's small technology industry.

Whether Trump might cut federal funding for such programs remains to be seen. Some 800 U.S. scientists recently signed a letter urging Trump to take climate change seriously.

The White House didn't respond to a request for comment.

SEX WITH INMATE

Drug treatment center employee accused of sex with inmate

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — An employee of a Casper center that provides rehabilitation and substance abuse treatment to inmates has pleaded not guilty to having sex with an inmate on multiple occasions.

The woman pleaded not guilty to sexual assault charges Thursday.

Court documents say a state Department of Corrections investigation found the suspect had sex with the inmate in her home at least three times.

The woman is a resident manager at the Casper Re-Entry Center, which contracts with the department to provide drug treatment to inmates before their release.

Wyoming law prohibits employees of correctional institutions from having sex with inmates.

The center's former director reported the alleged relationship between the employee and inmate in June.

The current director didn't respond to requests for comment Thursday.

WYOMING FLOODING

Bighorn River flood fight concentrates on Greybull

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The danger of flooding on the Bighorn River in northern Wyoming has lessened.

The National Weather Service says ice jams on the Bighorn had thinned considerably Thursday although a flood advisory remains in effect along parts of the river because of the unpredictability of river ice.

About 100 state National Guard personnel and firefighters are helping fill and place sandbags to shore up flood-prone areas along the river at Greybull in Big Horn County.

Rapid snowmelt and ice jams caused the Bighorn River to flood parts of Worland in Washakie County last weekend.

Preliminary damage assessments in Worland by the Red Cross found one home with major flood damage and six with minor damage.

There was no estimated dollar value of the damage.



DEATH

Skier falls 1,400 feet to death in Grand Teton National Park

MOOSE, Wyo. (AP) — A 26-year-old man has died after falling about 1,400 feet while skiing in Grand Teton National Park.

The National Park Service says John "Jack" Fields Jr. of Jackson fell Wednesday morning down a narrow, steep gully on the South Teton Mountain.

Rangers recovered the body about 6 p.m. Wednesday.

The Park Service says Fields was skiing with three others down the mountain they had summited earlier in the day.

On the way down, the other skiers saw Fields fall and slide out of sight.

The other skiers eventually made it down the mountain via a different route.

TAX

Lawmakers support online sales tax bill

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — A bill that would have online companies that sell goods to Wyoming residents to be required to collect Wyoming's sales tax on the transaction has advanced through the Legislature.

The Senate approved the bill Wednesday and it previously passed the state house. The bill now heads back to the house for a concurrence vote.

The tax collection would be expected to generate about $28 million in revenues for state and local government if the bill passes.

Despite support from lawmakers, it's unclear Wyoming would ever collect the tax based on a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a North Dakota Case that bans the collection of internet sales taxes on companies that don't have a presence within the state trying to collect the tax.

FLOOD

Bighorn River flood fight concentrates on Greybull

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The state has concentrated all its efforts to keep the Bighorn River in northern Wyoming from flooding homes and businesses to the town of Greybull in Big Horn County.

Kelly Ruiz of the Wyoming Office of Homeland Security says about 100 state National Guard personnel and firefighters are helping fill and place sandbags along the river at Greybull.

Crews on Wednesday finished shoring up levees and flood-prone areas in the small community of Manderson, about 15 miles south of Greybull.

Rapid snowmelt and ice jams caused the Bighorn River to flood parts of Worland in Washakie County last weekend.

Preliminary damage assessments in Worland by the Red Cross found one home with major flood damage and six with minor damage.

There was no estimated dollar value of the damage.

PARTY

Party switching on Wyoming primary day lives on; bill dies

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The Wyoming voter tradition of changing party affiliation at the polls on primary day lives on.

A legislative committee killed a bill Thursday that would have made it much harder for Democrats to vote in Republican primaries and vice-versa. Voters would have been allowed to switch parties no fewer than 30 days before primary day.

The bill made it through the Wyoming House before dying 3-0 in the Senate corporations committee. Supporters including Wyoming Republican Party Chairman Matt Micheli (MY'-kel-eye) say political parties are private organizations and members only should decide who represents those organizations.

Opponents including Marguerite Herman with the League of Women Voters say existing law encourages people to vote for individuals instead of political parties. She says it's not clear what problem the bill sought to fix.

ENROLLMENT

UW sees slight decline in enrollment for spring semester

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — The University of Wyoming has seen a slight decline in enrollment for the spring semester, though it isn't nearly as sharp as the decline in the fall.

Counts from the 15th day of class — Friday — indicate enrollment is down about 1.6 percent from spring 2016, or about 188 students fewer students. In fall 2016, UW was down by 234 students on the 15th day compared to fall 2015.

Headcounts from the eighth day of classes saw 117 fewer freshmen students between spring 2016 and 2017, a nearly 8 percent drop. There was also a 3 percent drop in seniors.

UW Vice President for Student Affairs Sara Axelson says the university needs to break a trend of stagnant enrollment.

COMMUNITY COLLEGE TUITION

Tuition to go up 5 percent at Wyoming community colleges

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming residents attending the state's seven community colleges will see a slight increase in tuition starting this fall.

Students will be paying $5 more per credit hour.

The tuition hike imposed by the Wyoming Community College Commission brings the total per-credit cost to $94. That's a 5.6 percent increase from the previous tuition rate.

But students at Casper College will be paying even more. College spokesman Chris Lorenzen says the school is assessing $29 of its own fees, which will result in residents paying $123 per credit hour.

Commission Executive Director Jim Rose says the $5 tuition hike will generate roughly $480,000 in additional revenue for the colleges.

The increase comes after the commission instituted a $20 million cut earlier this fiscal year.

GUN BILLS

Wyoming Senate panel advances gun bills

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A Senate committee has endorsed two proposals that would allow people with concealed carry permits to carry weapons on Wyoming college campuses and to state and local government meetings.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 4-1 Wednesday to send House Bills 136 and 137 to the full Senate for additional debate. The bills have already passed the House.

The committee's action followed nearly two hours of public testimony on both proposals.

Supporters say law-abiding citizens who must meet stringent requirements to earn a concealed carry permit shouldn't have their rights infringed upon. They say the measures would improve self-defense in active shooter situations.

Opponents say allowing guns on college campuses and at government meetings would increase the danger of a shooting, whether intentional or accidental, and hinder responding police officers.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA

Wyoming medical marijuana ballot effort fails again

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A group working to legalize medical marijuana in Wyoming has failed a second time to gather enough signatures to put the question on the statewide ballot.

The Wyoming Secretary of State's Office says the Wyoming chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws did not meet Tuesday's deadline to collect the 25,673 signatures needed to get the measure on the 2018 general election ballot.

The same group also failed to gather enough signatures to put the measure on the 2016 ballot.


Here is the Agenda for the Fremont County Commissioners for Feb. 27, 2017


COUNTY COMMISSIONERS’ CHAMBERS

FREMONT COUNTY COURTHOUSE, 450 N 2ND STREET, ROOM 205, LANDER, WY 82520

Travis Becker (Chairman), Larry Allen (Vice-Chairman), Ray Price, Jennifer McCarty and Clarence Thomas
 
TENTATIVE AGENDA
SUBJECT TO CHANGE AT ANY TIME

FEBRUARY 21, 2017

PRELIMINARY:

9:00 A.M.:             

A.            CALL TO ORDER

B.             QUORUM PRESENT
C.             PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
D.            OPENING PRAYER
E.             APPROVAL OF AGENDA
F.             APPROVAL OF MINUTES
G.             ACCEPTANCE OF REGULAR BILLS
H.            ACCEPTANCE OF TITLE 25 BILLS
I.              SIGNATURE FILE
J.              COMMUNICATIONS

REPORTS/APPOINTMENTS:
 9:15 A.M.:             PUBLIC COMMENT
9:30 A.M.:             TRANSPORTATION SUPERINTENDENT DAVE PENDLETON – DEPARTMENT REPORT
10:00 A.M.:            GUARDIAN EMS REGIONAL PROGRAM DIRECTOR MATT STRAUSS – MONTHLY UPDATE
10:20 A.M.         BREAK
10:30 A.M.:           CENTRAL MUSEUM DIRECTOR SCOTT GOETZ – TRAVEL, PERSONNEL. GENERAL UPDATE
11:00 A.M.:            DOUG THOMPSON AND PAULA McCORMICK – BLM: SOUTH PASS VISITOR MANAGEMENT PLAN
12:00 P.M.:           LUNCH
NEW BUSINESS:
COMMISSIONER MEETING REPORTS
COUNTY CLERK REPORTS/QUESTIONS
ELECTED OFFICIALS' CONCERNS
IV.OLD BUSINESS:
.ADJOURNMENT:
PROTOCOL REMINDERS:  Silence cell phones – Address the Chairman – State your name for the record



FLOOD

Lander’s flooding was rapidly melting snow

(LANDER, Wyo.)  Last Friday’s flood in Lander was due mostly to rapidly melting snow in the fields and foothills West of Lander.

According to Nick Hudson, Lander’s Fire Administrator, snow started melting so quickly around 10 pm last Thursday night, that by 1 am water began to flow off of what is commonly referred to as Lander Hill on Squaw Creek.  That water quickly added to snowmelt in fields West of Smith Street that then ran through homes along that street into Baldwin Creek.  The choke point was the culvert running below Baldwin Creek Road behind Shopco.  Hudson said that the culverts were handling as much water as possible, however water began to flow over the top of Baldwin Creek Road down to Main Street, and that lasted about 5 hours.

Hudson said that in all, damages in Lander were the BLM building, Fremont Broadcasting radio stations, and three homes.  He said the ground remained frozen, so there were no issues with public infrastructure.  Approximately 3 truckloads of sand were used and over 6,000 sandbags.

All that water ended up flooding Hudson, where official numbers are not available yet on how many homes and properties were affected, however flooding damage was extensive in Hudson.

Yesterday, the Fremont County Commissioners declared a State of Emergency for Fremont County that will be open ended until the flooding season is over.

IMPACT

Winter storm hurts economy in Wyoming resort region

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — Stormy winter weather downed 17 power poles near a Wyoming resort region, causing residents and visitors to abandoned several hotels and hundreds of homes.

The Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce estimates that 1,500 rentable units were deserted last week, including all eight hotels in Teton Village.

The Teton Village Association says the power outage cost local businesses more than $5 million in lost revenue and inventory, $2.5 million of which came from the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, which closed for five days.

Association director Melissa Turley says the financial laws will have a statewide impact because of government funding shortages. Revenues from coal, oil and gas extraction have continued their decline, so tourism has become a more significant part of the Wyoming economy.

CODY GUNFIGHT SHOW-ARREST

Arrest in live-round shooting at Wyoming gunfight show

CODY, Wyo. (AP) — Police have arrested a man they say wounded three people by firing live rounds instead of blanks during a Wyoming gunfighter show last summer.

The shooting happened at the height of tourist season in Cody, a city named for the wild West showman Buffalo Bill Cody.

Bullets struck one spectator in the legs and another in the chest as he held his 3-year-old daughter. The girl was wounded in the arm during the nightly Cody Gunfighters show July 29.

Police arrested 51-year-old Steve Winsor, of Cody, on Monday. He is charged with five misdemeanor counts of reckless endangerment. He remained jailed Tuesday on $7,500 bond. He had no attorney and couldn't be reached for comment.

A police affidavit says Winsor told investigators live rounds got mixed up with his blanks.

WYOMING FLOODING-THE LATEST

Big Horn County shores up levees and flood prone areas

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A flood warning remains in effect for the Bighorn River between Worland and Greybull.

Kelly Ruiz of the Wyoming Homeland Security Office says concerns for flooding have shifted from Worland in Washakie County to the small towns of Manderson and Greybull in neighboring Big Horn County. But so far, there have been no reports of flooding in the Big Horn County communities.

Ruiz says more than 100 state National Guard members and state firefighters are helping sandbagging efforts to shore up levees and flood prone areas in Manderson and Greybull.

The river jumped its banks in Worland over the weekend because of rapid snowmelt and ice jams, forcing the evacuation of more than 100 homes. Residents were allowed back in their homes on Tuesday as the flood threat moved northward.

WILDLIFE-WINTER WEATHER

Wyoming wildlife struggling amid harsh winter conditions

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming's wild animals are facing more struggles than normal this winter due to heavy snowfall, strong winds and harsh temperatures, particularly in the west region of the state.

Brian Nesvik with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department says fawn survival in the Jackson area will be lower than in recent years. The region had between 150 and 200 percent of normal snowpack before the most recent snowstorm.

Nesvik says elk, deer and pronghorn in the Pinedale area are also having difficulty, as strong winds and deep snow have pushed them outside their traditional winter ranges.

Wildlife managers say it's still too early to determine any impacts on hunting seasons.

They are still evaluating the winter's effects on wildlife.

EDUCATION FUNDING-LAWSUITS

Senate advances bill to stop lawsuits from school districts

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming lawmakers have advanced a budget bill that would prevent school districts from using state-appropriated funds to sue the state.

The Senate passed its budget bill on Friday and included an amendment that would stop districts' ability to take the state to court. Schools would still be able to use savings to fund any lawsuits they might file.

The amendment is notable because Wyoming lawmakers have been slashing education funding in order to deal with a projected $400 million annual shortfall. Lawmakers fear the cuts will lead to lawsuits.

A similar amendment in the House failed Monday.

If the House adopts a budget bitt, a group of lawmakers from the House and Senate will meet later to reconcile the differences between their legislating, including the lawsuit restriction.

SPORTS

Colorado State holds off Wyoming 78-73, wins 4th straight

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — Gian Clavell scored 20 points, Emmanuel Omogbo scored 19 and grabbed 16 rebounds for his 15th double-double this season as Colorado State held off a late surge to defeat Wyoming 78-73 on Tuesday night.

Prentiss Nixon scored seven of his 16 points in the final 34 seconds, burying a 3-pointer and making four straight free throws as Colorado State (18-9, 10-4 Mountain West Conference) won its fourth in a row and broke a string of five straight Wyoming wins in the cross-border rivalry series.

Clavell blocked two shots — one stopping the Cowboys from making it a two-point game in the final seconds.

After trailing by as many as 10 through the second half, Wyoming came within 70-69 with 1:03 remaining, and made it 73-71 on a Justin James bucket. Louis Adams hit two free throws to make it 75-73, but Clavell blocked a James jumper and Omogbo grabbed the board.

James led Wyoming (16-11, 6-8) with 23 points and Alan Herndon added 15 with 12 rebounds.


U.S. Senate pages wanted for summer 2017

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., is encouraging Wyoming high school students to apply to be a Senate page for the summer sessions in Washington, D.C. 

There are a total of 30 page positions in the United States Senate each session and Enzi is fortunate to have the opportunity to sponsor a young adult from Wyoming to serve in one of these positions. The deadline for summer applications is March 1.  

“The page program allows students to have a front row seat during debates in the U.S. Senate,” said Enzi. “The program will provide experiences that participants will carry with them forever.” 

Page duties consist primarily of delivering correspondence and legislative material at the Capitol. Other duties include preparing the Senate chamber for sessions and carrying bills and amendments to the appropriate people on the Senate floor. 

Summer page eligibility is limited to rising high school juniors and seniors this summer who will be 16 or 17 years old on or before the date of the appointment. Applicants must have a minimum grade point average of 3.0. 

Pages live in Webster Hall located near the Capitol and receive a stipend to cover the cost of the residence. Breakfast and dinner are provided each day.  

The first summer session runs from June 12 to June 30, and the second summer session runs from July 10 to July 28. The application and additional information can be found by going to www.enzi.senate.gov. Further questions can be directed to Dianne Kirkbride in Senator Enzi’s Cheyenne office at 307-772-2477 or Dianne_Kirkbride@enzi.senate.gov.  


Fremont County Commission minutes from Feb. 14th, 2017


THE BOARD APPROVED A LETTER OF SUPPORT FOR THE GATEKEEPING DEMONSTRATION GRANT TO BENEFIT PEOPLE SERVED THROUGH THE TITLE 25 PROGRAM.

 

THE BOARD APPROVED A LETTER OF SUPPORT FOR THE DUBOIS FIRE DISTRICT MINERAL ROYALTY GRANT APPLICATION FOR A REGIONAL EMERGENCY RESPONSE TRAINING FACILITY.

 

THE BOARD APPROVED RESOLUTION NO. 2017-04 REGARDING STATE OF EMERGENCY ON BEHALF OF FREMONT COUNTY FLOODING.

 

THE BOARD APPROVED NOTICE OF AWARD TO JERRY BORNHOFT CONSTRUCTION, INC. IN THE AMOUNT OF $1,445,331.50 FOR THE MORTIMORE LANE – PHASE I PROJECT

 

THE BOARD APPROVED RESOLUTION NO. 2017-05 “FY 2016-17 BUDGET AMENDMENT NO. 4” FOR BUDGET TRANSFERS AND CAPITAL ASSETS. 

 

THE BOARD APPROVED A FEDERAL LANDS ACCESS PROGRAM PROJECT MEMORANDUM OF AGREEMENT FOR THE HORSE CREEK ROAD RECONSTRUCTION PROJECT AND THE EAST FORK ROAD – WIGGINS FORK BRIDGE REPLACEMENT PROJECT.

 

KATHLEEN LAIDLAW WAS APPOINTED AS THE FREMONT COUNTY PUBLIC HEALTH NURSING MANAGER. 

 
MEMO TO EMPLOYEES: 

PRESIDENTS DAY HOLIDAY

FEBRUARY 20, 2017


WYOMING FLOODING-THE LATEST

North Wyoming ice jam breaks, flood concern moves downstream

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The ice jam that caused flooding over the weekend at Worland has broken up and the Bighorn River is back within its banks.

Washakie County spokeswoman Kami Neighbors says the ice jam broke up overnight and crews are working to clear large pieces of ice left behind in town.

Neighbors says it's hoped that residents can start returning to their homes by noon Tuesday.

About 100 homes were evacuated last Saturday when the Bighorn River rose to about 5 feet above flood stage because of a rapid snowmelt and a river still choked with ice.

With Worland out of danger, concern now turns to areas downstream where the ice and water is heading. The communities of Greybull and Manderson have been making preparations for possible flooding.

BUFFALO

Grand Teton Park helps bison head south out of snow

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. (AP) — Grand Teton National Park officials will help a group of Jackson Hole bison migrate south out of prohibitively deep snowpack.

The bison have chosen to use the plowed and paved surface of Highway 26-89-191 to head south and park officials are opting to help the group head on their 20-mile journey from around Elk Ranch to Gros Ventre Junction.

Teton Park wildlife biologist Sarah Dewey says there have been two separate groups of bison that have chosen to use the highway to head south. One group was escorted by rangers, plow drivers and other volunteers. The second group traveled when the highway was closed due to winter weather least week.

To help bison get to better winter range, Grand Teton Park road maintenance crews have also plowed Antelope Flats Road.

BODY RECOVERED-ICE

Woman's body recovered from under ice at Flaming Gorge

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Crews have recovered the body of a Utah woman who fell through the ice at Flaming Gorge reservoir.

Officials say 59-year-old Rebecca Weston of Plain City was found Sunday afternoon, a day after the all-terrain vehicle she was riding on broke through the ice near the Utah-Wyoming border.

The sheriff's office in Sweetwater County says Watson had been ice fishing with family at the reservoir. Three other relatives on board the ATV were able to escape, but Watson slipped underneath the water.

Dive teams found her body in about 100 feet of water.

SOLAR ECLIPSE-PREPARATIONS

Wyoming county, town hire total solar eclipse coordinator

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. (AP) — Teton County and the town of Jackson have hired a special events coordinator to organize various activities for August's solar eclipse, which is expected to bring hundreds of thousands of visitors to Wyoming.

Kathryn Brackenridge will get to work on launching a social media campaign, coordinating events and acting as a liaison with police and emergency responders.

Jackson will be a prime viewing spot for the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21.

The county and town's efforts to prepare for the event come after a bill that would've helped deal with the expected onslaught of visitors to view the eclipse died in the state House last week.

Officials estimate about 350,000 people could visit Wyoming just to watch the eclipse.

 

WYOMING WEATHER

Wyoming flooding brings federal assistance

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Army Corps of Engineers workers are in Wyoming to help local officials deal with flooding.

Ice jams and mountain runoff are blamed for causing flooding in several parts of Wyoming.

The Wyoming Office of Homeland Security reports that more than 100 homes were evacuated after the Bighorn River in Worland rose to flood levels.

The river has started receding at Worland.

A rapid snowmelt and ice jams sent the river nearly 5 feet above flood stage over the weekend. The National Weather Service says the river had dropped about 3 feet by this (Monday) morning.

Kelly Ruiz of the state Homeland Security Office says some evacuated homeowners are being allowed to retrieve belongings if the water has receded from their homes.

Ruiz says she doesn't yet have any specifics on homes or businesses damaged.

She says with the situation stabilizing in Worland the concern now is with the Greybull and Manderson areas downstream in neighboring Big Horn County.

About 60 National Guard troops and a dozen firefighters are deployed to the area.

In Hudson, a crew of 12 Department of Corrections/Forestry Division Smoke Busters and many volunteers filled more than 1,100 sandbags over the weekend to add to the existing stock of sandbags to ease the flooding.

Gov. Matt Mead on Friday declared a state of emergency in response to severe weather and flood conditions across Wyoming.

RESORT

Jackson Hole resort reopens after losing power for 5 days

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. (AP) — Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is ready for skiers once again after regaining power.

The resort is scheduled to reopen the lifts, gondolas and Aerial Tram on Monday after shutting down Tuesday due to a power outage. The entire mountain is scheduled to open for skiing at 9 a.m., along with most other Village businesses.

Heavy snow and winds knocked down 17 Lower Valley Energy electric transmission towers Tuesday night. The resort remained closed for five days during a traditionally busy time.

Mountain Resort spokeswoman Anna Cole did not provide an estimate of how many skiers would have been on the mountain during the time the resort was closed, but acknowledged that this is peak season and getting the mountain running again is important.

UNION

Union president gets probation for embezzlement

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A former union leader from Cheyenne has been given a probationary sentence for embezzling nearly $180,000 from the Utility Workers Union of America Local 127.

Chief U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Freudenthal sentenced 63-year-old Harold Giberson to five years on probation, including the first six months in home confinement.

Giberson has repaid about $20,000 and the judge ordered him to pay the remaining $160,000 in restitution.

An investigation found Giberson made personal charges on the union credit card, including alcohol and vacations. He also told the judge he filed false union expense reports.

The local represents workers who staff three PacifiCorp power plants and associated transmission lines in Wyoming.

Giberson pleaded guilty in November to theft of union funds from 2011 to 2015. He was sentenced on Feb. 7.

GUN SALES-GAME AGENCY

Wyoming Game and Fish braces for a drop in gun sales

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming Game and Fish Department officials are anticipating that declining gun sales could hurt the state agency's bottom line.

The federal Pittman-Robertson Act imposes an 11 percent federal excise tax on firearm and ammunition sales. Proceeds from the tax are shared with state wildlife agencies, including Wyoming, across the nation.

In recent years, the funding has accounted for around 20 percent of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department's overall operating budget.

Wyoming Game and Fish commissioner Charles Price saidWyoming's share of revenue under Pittman-Robertson increased during President Barack Obama's administration when gun owners feared increased regulation and bought more guns.

But with gun-friendly Republicans in control in Washington, observers say gun sales are already showing signs of slowing.

HOUSE FIRE-BODY FOUND

Woman's body found after fire at Rock Springs-area house

ROCK SPRINGS, Wyo. (AP) — Authorities say a woman's body was found after a house fire north of Rock Springs.

The Sweetwater County Sheriff's Department says 54-year-old Mary Whitfield was found inside the home Friday.

An autopsy was planned to determine the cause of death. The cause of the fire was under investigation.

The sheriff's department says the fire burned itself out after causing extensive heat and smoke damage.

WYOMING HALL OF FAME

2017 UW Hall of Fame class announced

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — The 2007 Wyoming Cowgirl basketball team that won the WNIT National Championship leads the newest UW Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame class.

Joining the basketball team in the 2017 class are football players Vince Guinta and C.T. Hewgley, All-American basketball player Jim Weir, wrestler Mike Hamel, team physicians Robert Curnow and David Kieffer and the 1991 National Champion Women's Rodeo Team.

The induction ceremony for the Hall of Fame's 25th class will be held on Sept. 8 in Laramie.

A total of 156 individuals and 17 teams have been inducted into the UW Hall of Fame since its inception in 1993.

BIG RIG BLOWN OVER

Semi blows over, crushes patrol car on Wyoming highway

ELK MOUNTAIN, Wyo. (AP) — Dramatic video of a tractor-trailer toppling onto a Wyoming Highway Patrol car shows just how windy it can get on the high plains.

The truck was driving on Interstate 80 in southern Wyoming on Tuesday when it blew over onto the parked patrol car. No one was inside the patrol car, and Patrol Lt. David Wagener says the truck's driver and a passenger were not hurt.

Gusts up to 90 mph were recorded around the time of the crash.

A camera in another patrol car caught the wreck: Wind nudges the trailer, then knocks over the rig, which falls onto the patrol car. The skidding truck barely misses the car filming.

Wagener says troopers at the scene were away from the crash zone, helping other motorists.

He says the highway was closed to lightweight, high-profile vehicles because of the wind, and the driver was cited.

CWC SPORTS

Swartz named head coach for CWC women’s basketball team

(RIVERTON, Wyo)  After serving interim coach for the Central Wyoming College women’s basketball team for the past four months, Ken Swartz has officially been named head coach for the team.

Swatz said he’s excited for the opportunity and he’s proud of his team, adding, they’ve worked hard and have been through a lot of adversity.”

This year has been a struggle for the team, with only eight girls able to play; two have been on the bench due to injuries. Swartz said his goal as head coach is to recruit 10-11 new players for next season and create a competitive team on the floor. To date Swartz has five new recruits for next season and plans to have six more within the next six weeks.



Agenda for Lander City Council February 14, 2017

CITY OF LANDER

AGENDA

February 14, 2017

6:30 p.m.

REGULAR COUNCIL MEETING

CITY COUNCIL CHAMBERS

I. Pledge of Allegiance

II. Call to Order

III. Public Hearing –

1. Water Treatment Plant Refinancing USDA Loan

Introduce

Ask for Comments

2. Transfer of Ownership of Retail Liquor License #10

From the Hitching Rack LLC to WR Holdings LLC 720 E Main St

Introduce

Ask for Comments

3. Request for Rezoning Marshall House LLC

From R-1 to R-2

Introduce

Ask for Comments

Adjourn Public Hearing

IV. Approval of Agenda

V. Oral Comments

(a) Personal Privilege – Mayor and Council

(b) Proclamation – Random Acts of Kindness Week

VI. Consent Agenda- Minutes:

(a) Regular Meeting – January 10, 2017

(b) Work Session Meeting –January 24, 2017

(c) Special Meeting – January 24, 2017

VII. Ordinances

Third Reading

(a) Ordinance 1209 – Amending Section 7-10-1 Tobacco Products – Definitions within the City of Lander

(b) Ordinance 1210 – Creating Section 1-3-1 creating exceptions allowed by resolutions within the City of Lander

VIII. First Reading

(a) 1211 – Rezoning Marshall House LLC

IX.New Business

(a) Approve Retail Liquor License #10 Transfer of Ownership to WR Holdings LLC.

(b) Reappointment of Jennifer Schaff to the Lander Planning Commission and Board of

Adjustment (c) Approve Case #17.01CSP – Replat of Lane Subdivision Tract 3A and Tract 5 (d) Authorize Mayor to Sign the WYDOT Aeronautics Agency Agreement (e) Authorize Mayor to Sign Lease Agreement with Guardian Flight INc. (f) Approve Pay Request # Patrick Const Inc for the High Pressure Water Line $60,733.27 (g) Consent Agenda

(a) Authorize Mayor to Sign WyDOT Aeronautics Grant ALND26B Runway Reconstruction for $96,329.00

(b) Authorize Mayor to Sign WyDOT Aeronautics Grant ALND26C Runway Reconstruction for $280,000.00

(c) Authorize Mayor to Sign WyDOT Aeronautics Grant ALND26D Runway Reconstrction for $2,058,000

(h) Bills and Claims

X. Adjournment



MEETING OF THE  FREMONT COUNTY COMMISSIONERS

COUNTY COMMISSIONERS’ CHAMBERS

FREMONT COUNTY COURTHOUSE, 450 N 2ND STREET, ROOM 205, LANDER, WY 82520

Travis Becker (Chairman), Larry Allen (Vice-Chairman), Ray Price, Jennifer McCarty and Clarence Thomas

 
TENTATIVE AGENDA
SUBJECT TO CHANGE AT ANY TIME 

FEBRUARY 14, 2017 

PRELIMINARY:

9:00 A.M.:             

A.            CALL TO ORDER

 B.             QUORUM PRESENT

C.             PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

D.            OPENING PRAYER

E.             APPROVAL OF AGENDA

F.             APPROVAL OF MINUTES

G.             ACCEPTANCE OF REGULAR BILLS

H.            ACCEPTANCE OF TITLE 25 BILLS

I.              SIGNATURE FILE

J.              COMMUNICATIONS 

REPORTS/APPOINTMENTS:

 9:15 A.M.:             PUBLIC COMMENT

9:30 A.M.:             SHERIFF SKIP HORNECKER – MONTHLY UPDATE

 0:10 A.M.:            CORONER MARK STRATMOEN – MONTHLY UPDATE

10:15 A.M.:            PUBLIC HEARING – BUDGET TRANSFERS AND CAPITAL ASSET AMENDMENTS TO FY 2016-2017 BUDGET

 10:20 A.M.         BREAK

 10:30 A.M.:           UW EXTENSION CHAIRPERSON ALEX MALCOLM – PERSONNEL UPDATE

 10:45 A.M.:           TRANSPORTATION SUPERINTENDENT DAVE PENDLETON –APPLICATION FOR FINAL PAYMENT FROM

                                                LCI TRUCKING AND CONSTRUCTION FOR MULTIPLE BRIDGE REPAIRS PROJECT

 

11:00 A.M.:            JANE LYNN – INTERVIEW FOR VACANCY ON FREMONT COUNTY LIBRARY BOARD

2:00 P.M.:           LUNCH
NEW BUSINESS:

 

COMMISSIONER MEETING REPORTS
COUNTY CLERK REPORTS/QUESTIONS
ELECTED OFFICIALS' CONCERNS

 IV.OLD BUSINESS:

 V.ADJOURNMENT:


Minutes from the Fremont County Commission from February 7, 2017

FREMONT COUNTY COMMISSIONERS’ MEETING

FEBRUARY 7, 2017



THE BOARD APPROVED THE CERTIFICATE OF FINAL COMPLETION FOR MULTIPLE BRIDGE REPAIRS – PROJECT ML-5 FOR CONTRACTOR JERRY BORNHOFT CONSTRUCTION, INC.

 

THE BOARD APPROVED ONE YEAR WARRANTY AGREEMENT FOR MULTIPLE BRIDGE REPAIRS – PROJECT ML-5 FOR CONTRACTOR JERRY BORNHOFT CONSTRUCTION, INC.

 

APPLICATION FOR FREMONT COUNTY FAMILY PLANNING TITLE X COMPETITIVE GRANT WAS APPROVED.  THIS GRANT WOULD BE FOR THE TIME PERIOD OF APRIL 1, 2017 TO MARCH 31, 2020.

 

THE BOARD APPOINTED WILLIAM PEDEN TO THE FREMONT COUNTY WEED AND PEST CONTROL DISTRICT BOARD.

 

FREMONT COUNTY ASSESSOR, TARA BERG REQUEST TO FILL A VACANT FIELD APPRAISER POSITION WAS APPROVED.

 

THE FREMONT COUNTY LIBRARY REQUEST TO FILL TWO VACANT POSITIONS: YOUNG ADULT LEAD LIBRARIAN AND A LIBRARY ASSISTANT 2 IN THE RIVERTON LIBRARY WAS APPROVED BY THE BOARD.

 

THE BOARD APPROVED THE BENEFITS POLICY AND EFFECTIVE FEBRUARY 7, 2017.

 



MEMO TO EMPLOYEES:

 

ELECTED OFFICIALS/DEPARTMENT HEADS MEETING

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2017 AT 1:30 P.M.

 PRESIDENTS DAY HOLIDAY

FEBRUARY 20, 2017




Snow, flooding plague parts of Wyoming

LANDER, Wyo. (AP) — A variety of weather — from snow to flooding — plagued parts of central and western Wyoming this morning (Friday).

In Fremont County, warm temperatures melted some of the snow that had piled up in lower elevations, sending rivers and streams out of their banks.

County emergency management coordinator Kathi Metzler says flooding was reported in Lander and Hudson. Some homes and businesses received water damage although she had no specific numbers yet.

Metzler says she knew of one person who was forced out of his home because of the high water.

Flooding occurred on the West end of Lander around 11 last night, running down Bladwin Creek road beside Shopko to Main Street.  From there, water moved onto city streets on the West end of Lander, but mostly running down Main Street out towards Fort Washakie.  Main Street was closed at Baldwin Creek and Main Street to Milford until around 8 this morning. 

Our radio station is located in the middle of that, and even though sandbagging around our building kept the water out, our transmitter building behind the building is in about 3 feet of water.  We were forced to turn off the transmitter to 1330 am, however the station is still streaming on our radio station website at wyo10.com and can still be heard at 107.7FM.  School District One in Lander cancelled classes today. 

In Hudson minor flooding has been occurring and sand bags are available near the town hall for anybody who needs them.  Hudson and Lander residents are being urged to run water to keep pipes from freezing.

In higher elevations, heavy snow continued to fall in areas that already are well above normal for snowfall this time of year. Some highways in western Wyoming were closed because of avalanche danger.

FATAL

Wyoming dies after fire destroys Cheyenne mobile home

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A Wyoming man has died after a fire destroyed his mobile home in Cheyenne.

The Laramie County Sheriff's Department says 43-year-old Travis Gailey was hospitalized after the fire last Monday.

Gailey lived in the mobile home with his girlfriend and reportedly helped her escape before going back for his dog.

The dog did not survive.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation but could be related to space heaters in the home.

ANIMAL

House committee OKs bill increasing penalty for hurting pets

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A bill that would increase penalties for anyone who injures someone else's animal while it is on the owner's property is advancing through the Wyoming Legislature.

The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday unanimously passed the bill, which would make maliciously injuring or destroying someone else's animal a felony as long as the animal is somewhere it is allowed to be, like the owner's property or a 4-H fair.

Previously, injuring someone else's animal was only a misdemeanor, but Senate File 115 looks to make it so violations of the law could send someone away for up to two years in prison.

It is already a felony if someone intentionally tortures or kills an animal.

WYOMING WEATHER

Weather hampers work to restore power in Teton County

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — Crews are working day and night to restore power that was knocked out to parts of Teton County by a storm earlier this week.

Tuesday's storm brought down 17 steel transmission line poles, cutting power to the Teton Village ski town, Jackson Hole Mountain Ski Resort and surrounding residential areas.

Lower Valley Energy spokesman Brian Tanabe said temporary wooden poles are being installed until new steel poles can be erected this summer.

The work is being hampered by poor weather conditions and avalanches that have closed roads and prevented hardware from Denver from entering the valley.

Tanabe says Teton Village will be without power for four to six more days. The ski resort is closed at least until Monday.

ABORTION

Legislative committee passes 2 abortion bills

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The Senate Agriculture, State and Public Lands and Water Resources Committee has endorsed two abortion related bills.

House Bill 116 would make it a felony to sell tissue from an aborted fetus, and House Bill 182 would require that a physician offer an ultrasound to a patient before an abortion, except in times of a medical emergency.

Each bill passed the committee Thursday evening by a 4-1 vote.

The measures now proceed to the Senate floor for further debate. They have already passed the House.

The committee votes followed testimony from both sides of the abortion issue.

People who supported the legislation said fetuses were unborn children with rights to life, while opponents said the measures represented unnecessary government interference on women's rights.

WYOMING-AVALANCHES

2 northwest Wyoming highways closed by avalanches

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — Avalanches have closed stretches of two highways in northwest Wyoming.

The Wyoming Department of Transportation reports that U.S. 26/89 between Alpine Junction and Hoback Junction and U.S. 189/191 between Bondurant and Hoback Junction are closed because of avalanches.

Crews are working to clear the snow off the roadways.

In addition, Wyoming 22 between Wilson and the Idaho state line is closed because of avalanche control.

Roads in the Jackson Hole region are generally slick with snowfall.

COAL TERMINAL-CHERRY POINT

Coal-export terminal backers pull local permits

BELLINGHAM, Wash. (AP) — Developers behind a proposed coal-export terminal at Cherry Point have formally withdrawn local permit applications but say they're still weighing their options.

Last May, the Army Corps of Engineers denied the Gateway Pacific Terminal project a key permit, saying it would violate the Lummi tribe's fishing rights.

Pacific International Holdings told Whatcom County in a letter Tuesday that it was "currently considering various alternatives," including challenging the Corps decision or modifying the project to further reduce environmental impacts.

Whatcom County Deputy Executive Tyler Schroeder says the company would have to file a new application to move forward on another project.

The terminal would have handled up to 54 million metric tons of dry bulk commodities, mostly coal. The venture between SSA Marine and Cloud Peak Energy proposed receiving coal by train from Montana and Wyoming for export to Asia.


Lander and Hudson Flood Information (This story has been updated and you will find it in this section above this story)


Flooding has occurred on the west end of Lander.  It began around 11 last night, running down Baldwin Creek road beside Shopko to Main Street.  From there, water is moving onto city streets on the West end of Lander, but mostly running down Main Street out towards Fort Washakie.  Main Street is closed at Baldwin Creek and Main Street to around Fremont Toyota.  Our radio station is located in the middle of that, and even though sandbagging around our building has kept the water out, our transmitter building behind the building is in about 3 feet of water.  We were forced to turn off the transmitter to 1330 am and 107.7FM, however the station is still streaming on our radio station website at www.wyo10.com.  School District One in Lander has cancelled classes today. ACE Hardware in Lander has been open all night to provide services to those who need anything for flood control, and other local business in Lander should be open during normal business hours today as most of Lander isn’t affected by the flood. 


Public Service Announcement for the Town of Hudson:
Please be advised that flooding has occurred. The West side, as well as other areas around the town have flooded. Mitigation efforts are in place and currently the water level is subsiding. The Town asks that you please avoid the West side of town. Also, first street, known as Homec’s lane could potentially be closed, so avoid it if possible. Sand, and sand bags will be available south of the Town Hall for your convenience, starting at 10a. Official announcement from The Town of Hudson.






MISSING

Park County resumes search for missing Wyoming reporter

POWELL, Wyo. (AP) — Park County officials have resumed their search for Powell Tribune reporter Gib Mathers, who was last seen taking photographs near U.S. Highway 14 west of Cody on Jan. 31.

People were being asked to stay out of the area on Thursday so search dogs would not be distracted by other human scent or passing traffic.

Searchers looked for Mathers last Friday and Saturday, but weather conditions and not having any idea where to focus the search led them to suspend their efforts.

Improved weather conditions Thursday allowed the search to resume.

Mathers, who is 61, had taken some time off work last week and was reported missing when he did not show up for work on Feb. 2. Officials said a request last week for information from anyone who may have seen Mathers after Jan. 31 did not turn up any new leads.

POWER OUTAGE

Atlantic City residents in Wyoming dealing with severe weather

(LANDER, Wyo.)  The small communites of South Pass City and Atlantic City on South Pass in Wyoming has been dealing with an unusually harsh winter.

Unofficial snow depths around the community is anywhere from 3 feet to 15 and 20 foot drifts.

The community has been isolated at least three times in as many weeks for days at a time because State highway 28 has had to close because of severe winter weather.  The highway re-opened this morning (Thursday) after being closed since Monday.

Some residents and at least one business in Atlantic City has had so much snow pile up around their buildings that snow melt is seeping under the walls, and minor damage has occurred due to the weight of the snow pressing against roofs and exterior walls.

Rocky Mountain power lost service to the community around 4 this morning, however according to the company they hope to have power restored by this afternoon.

In nearby communities in Red Canyon, residents there have been dealing with gale force winds and ice from snow melt.  Many find it difficult to walk outside, much less being able to drive on the roads.

ABORTION

Abortion bills sent to Senate Agriculture Committee

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Two of three bills currently in the Wyoming Legislature are being sent to the Senate Agriculture Committee for consideration.

The assignment has led Wyoming Democratic Party Executive Director Aimee Van Cleave to question why the bills aren't being considered by the Senate Labor, Health and Social Services Committee. She says the committee assignment seems to equate women to livestock.

The two bills before the agriculture committee would make selling tissue from aborted fetuses a felony crime and would require doctors to offer women an ultrasound before an abortion.

Senate President Eli Bebout, who assigned the bills to the committees, says the labor and health committee is busy and the agriculture group had more time. He says any allegations that women are being equated to cattle are ridiculous.

EDUCATION

Senate passes cuts public education funding

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming school districts would see a 5 percent reduction in their state block grants by the end of the decade under a bill that has passed the Senate.

Senate File 165 now goes to the state House for debate.

Block grant funding given to districts would be cut by 5 percent over the next two school years, beginning in 2018.

Those percentage reductions would only kick in if legislation hadn't been enacted to either recalibrate or change the funding model for K-12 education.

It also would freeze transportation and special education spending.

The bill represents one of the most wide-ranging attempts in the Legislature to address the state's education funding crisis.

It's not immediately clear how much money the bill would save.

DUI

Few arrests over the Super Weekend in Fremont County

(LANDER, Wyo.)   As part of a county-wide, multi-agency seat belt and DWUI enforcement operation “Zero Deaths, Zero DUIs” this past Super Bowl weekend, Fremont County law enforcement arrested four (4) drunk drivers from Feb. 3-5.

 During the three-day operation, area law enforcement made 314 traffic stops, and issued 50 speeding citations, 4 seat belt citations, 3 child restraint citations,71 other citations and 232 warnings. No traffic fatalities were reported over the weekend in Fremont County.

 Pete Abrams with WYDOT Highway Safety said, "There were no traffic fatalities during this county-wide, operation and only 4 drunk driving arrests out of over 300 stops. That’s a small percentage on such a celebrated weekend, and it tells us that people are responding to the messaging and increased traffic enforcement.”

WYOMING WEATHER-THE LATEST

The Latest: Jackson Hole resort closed through weekend

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — Jackson Hole Mountain Resort will be closed through the weekend because of a power outage in the area and because of another winter storm that is expected Wednesday night.

Resort spokeswoman Anna Cole said Wednesday that all events scheduled at the resort this weekend are canceled, including Skijoring and Special Olympics competitions. Power could be out for a week.

A wind storm is suspected of downing 17 utility poles along the Moose-Wilson Road on Tuesday night, causing a major power outage in Teton County.

The resort's heavy equipment and some staff will be helping to clear snow so repair crews can put up temporary wooden poles.

Teton Village is not officially evacuated, but sheriff's Sgt. Matt Carr says it "is turning into a ghost town right now."

CASPER ELECTRONICS RECYCLING

Casper scraps recycling program for electronics

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — Officials in Casper have voted to end the city's electronic waste recycling program.

The City Council on Tuesday turned down a five-year contract with Colorado-based Electronic Recyclers International. Councilors cited costs and the availability of cheap space at the landfill where toxic materials are buried in their decision.

They say the city would spend about $57,000 a year to dump electronics in the landfill, but solid waste division manager Cynthia Langston has estimated the cost to be significantly lower. She says the recycling program's cost was already covered by about $28,000 in annual fees paid by residents for recycling electronics.

Ending the program will also affect other cities, such as Rawlins, that pay Casper to dispose of their residents' waste.

YELLOWSTONE BISON SLAUGHTER

Bison sent to slaughter over Montana tribes' objections

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Yellowstone National Park has started shipping hundreds of wild bison to slaughter for disease control as a quarantine facility that could help spare many of the animals sits empty because of a political dispute.

Park officials say 15 bison originally slated for the quarantine on the Fort Peck Reservation were instead loaded onto trailers Wednesday morning and sent to slaughter. Hundreds more will be shipped in coming days.

Montana officials oppose transferring bison to the quarantine.

Fort Peck's Assiniboine and Sioux tribes built the facility with room for 300 animals in hopes of using it to establish new herds across the U.S with Yellowstone's genetically-pure bison.

Tribal Chairman Floyd Azure says state and federal officials "slapped the Fort Peck tribes in the face" by not using the facility.

CASPER ARSON-SENTENCE

Casper man gets at least 30 years for arson

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — A 55-year-old Casper man who was convicted of setting his estranged wife's mobile home on fire in December 2013 has been sentenced to 30 to 35 years in prison for arson.

Mark Garrison was sentenced Wednesday in Natrona County District Court after telling Judge Daniel Forgey he was not guilty and that he had a written statement from a trial witness saying he lied during his testimony. Forgey said that would be a matter for appeal.

Prosecutors recommended up to 48 years in prison and noted a sentencing assessment found Garrison was a danger to society and those with whom he's in a relationship.

Kathe Garrison testified during the October trial that her estranged husband had threatened to kill her and burn down the house. She was not home at the time of the fire.

SPORTS

McManamen's 30 helps lift Wyoming to wild 4-overtime win     

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — Jason McManamen started out red hot from 3-point range and scored a career-high 30 points, but it was his free throw with 11 seconds remaining that lifted Wyoming to a 102-100 quadruple overtime win over Fresno State on Wednesday night.

The frenzied contest was just the second four-overtime game in Mountain West Conference history and featured a combined 25 3-pointers and 53 free throws.

McManamen found his groove early, making is first seven shots from 3-point range but then he missed his last six tries from deep. But the senior and Wyoming native picked up the slack at the foul line, sinking seven in a row before missing his eighth and final try.

Fresno State's Jahmel Taylor, fouled with two seconds on the clock and trailing 102-99, made the first free throw and deliberately missed the second but Wyoming controlled the rebound as time expired.

Jahmel Taylor scored 18 points for the Bulldogs (14-10, 6-6 Mountain West). Deshon Taylor poured in a career-high 32, making a school-record 17 of 18 free throws, while Fresno's two top scorers Jaron Hopkins and Paul Watson fouled out with 16 and 15 points, respectively.

Hayden Dalton scored 21 points and grabbed 20 rebounds for Wyoming (16-9, 6-6) and Alan Herndon scored 17 before fouling out.


 



COMPANY

Wyoming company hopes to connect entrepreneurs to investors

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A new company founded in Wyoming hopes to connect the state's entrepreneurs with investors.

The company, Breakthrough 307, says it has launched its first investment fund thanks to 21 Wyoming investors whose backgrounds range from ranching to medicine to finance.

Each investor contributes $100,000 to a fund and the total of $2.1 million will be used to invest in startup companies.

Breakthrough 307 hopes to help promising companies get their start and to diversify the Wyoming economy.

Charles Walsh, one of the founders and leaders of Breakthrough 307, says he developed two similar programs several years ago in Ohio and both have been successful.

COAL

Opposition slows permit process for new Wyoming coal mine



CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Opposition from local landowners and a competing company is slowing down permitting for what would be the first major new coal mine in Wyoming in decades.

Lexington, Kentucky-based Ramaco plans to mine up to 8 million tons a year from the Brook Mine north of Sheridan. That's small for a Wyoming coal mine but a bold move considering U.S. coal production slumped to an almost 40-year low last year.

Some local landowners worry the Brook Mine could cause their wells to run dry and that blasting could destabilize their homes. Meanwhile, another company claims rights to mine the area.

Wyoming officials say they're weighing those concerns as they consider a permit for the mine.

Ramaco CEO Randall Atkins says activists are using a delay tactic to stall the project.



WIND

Wind storm downs power lines, Teton Village without power

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — A wind storm is suspected of downing 17 utility poles along the Moose-Wilson Road, causing a major power outage in Teton County.

Lower Valley Energy says the outage began Tuesday night and affects 3,500 to 4,000 customers in Teton Village, the Jackson Hole Airport and three subdivisions.

The company said it began re-routing power Tuesday night, but the outage could extend for several days in some areas.

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort was closed Wednesday. Spokeswoman Anna Cole said the resort's heavy equipment and personnel will be helping to clear snow so repair crews can access power lines.

The power outage led to the cancellation of several flights at Jackson Hole Airport on Tuesday. The airport was operating with a generator on Wednesday.

DOCTOR

Casper doctor, wife to go to trial in fall for drug case

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — A Casper doctor who is accused of selling prescriptions for painkillers is set to go to trial with his wife and accused partner this fall.

Dr. Shakeel Kahn, his wife Lyn Kahn and Paul Beland are scheduled to go to trial on Oct. 2 for charges connected to an alleged drug ring.

The couple is accused of selling prescriptions for large amounts of opioids and anti-anxiety medication to people who did not need the drugs, but filled the prescriptions and sold the drugs on the street.

Last month, a federal grand jury handed down a 21-count indictment that includes charges of operating a continuing criminal enterprise and drug charges.

JACKSON AIRPORT-GROUSE

Grand Teton park seeks fewer airport grouse

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — The National Park Service is supporting an initiative to move sage grouse away from the Jackson Hole Airport runway.

The airport is located outside the town in Grand Teton National Park.

A proposal issued this week calls for improving sage grouse habitat farther away from the airport in hopes that the grouse will abandon habitat near the runway.

Park Management Assistant Gary Pollock said a grouse lek at the end of the runway and grouse using sagebrush surrounding the airport are a safety concern.

The Federal Aviation Administration counted 32 collisions between sage grouse and aircraft from 1990 to 2013. No sage grouse strikes have been reported the last three years.

Park officials are accepting comments on their proposal until March 8.

STORM

Wind River Basin avoids heavy snow

(LANDER, Wyo.)  A strong and moist westerly flow dumped 1 to 2 feet of snow across the western mountains of Wyoming on Monday and Tuesday.  Strong wind gusts occurred across much of the area ahead of a cold front on Monday, with strong winds continuing across western and southern Wyoming on Tuesday. 

Behind the cold front, locally heavy snow bands dumped up to 6 inches of snow in the Cody area, and a mixture of freezing rain and sleet developed over the Wind River Basin.

Figures from the National Weather Service in Riverton show from Monday night into last (Tuesday) night South Pass received around 20 inches of snow with Atlantic City picking up almost 9 inches of snow.  The small community of about 57 people has once again been isolated because of closed highways.  Togwatee Pass picked up around 5 inches of snow and Lander almost 2 inches.

24 inches of snow fell in Lincoln County, 14 inches in Park County, 20 inches in Sublette County and 25 inches in Teton county with Jackson picking up around a foot of new snow.

It was very windy yesterday too with peak wind gusts recorded at 94mph at Muddy Gap, 60mph at Red Canyon and 47mph in Fort Washakie.  The strongest winds blew in Lincoln County at Mt. Coffin with a peak wind gust of 159 mph.



PRISON

Legislature rejects bonds to repair Rawlins prison

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Legislative leaders are proposing to create a savings account to eventually rebuild the state prison at Rawlins rather than spend money to repair it now.

The decision runs against a recommendation by Gov. Matt Mead to use bonds to repair the prison after a task force decided that was the best option. The prison houses about 700 people and is experiencing significant structural damage.

House Bill 262, which passed the House and is in the Senate, would funnel investment earnings into a savings account for a new state prison.

House Speaker Steve Harshman said his bill would build a saving account of $250 million. The Casper Republican says it'll be up to a future Legislature and governor to decide when and how to spend it.

ROOF COLLAPSE-SNOW

Heavy snow collapses roof of 3 buildings in Jackson


JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — Heavy snow in a western Wyoming town has caused a roof to collapse, forcing the evacuation and closure of three businesses.

The roof was shared by a Sears store, gymnastics facility and bowling alley in Jackson. It collapsed under the weight of the snow Monday night.

Fire officials say no one was injured.

The owner of the bowling alley says about 50 people were inside when the roof railed. Employees of Axis Gymnastics and Sports Academy say they were hosting an after-school program and about 30 children were inside when the roof started to buckle.

Engineers are evaluating the damage.

FATAL

Patrol identifies victim of fatal crash

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The Wyoming Highway Patrol has identified the person killed in a crash west of Casper as 16-year-old Aurora Rohrer, of Casper.

The accident occurred about 8:50 a.m. Saturday about 60 miles west of Casper on U.S. 20.

The patrol says Rohrer was a passenger in a SUV driven by another teenage female when the vehicle went out of control on a slick road while attempting to pass another vehicle in a no-passing zone. The SUV collided with an oncoming pickup towing a horse trailer.

The patrol says Rohrer died at Wyoming Medical Center in Casper. No one else was seriously hurt.

The patrol has not released the name of the SUV driver because of her age. 

STUDY

Wyoming lawmakers propose major study of Interstate 80

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Lawmakers are considering an overhaul of Interstate 80 in southern Wyoming, starting with a major study of the highway.

The Wyoming Senate on Monday approved a bill that would require the Wyoming Department of Transportation to conduct a study of I-80 across the state and create a master project plan for the highway.

The study would include information on traffic leads, areas that are prone to closures and crashes, and how self-driving cars could affect the road.

The bill's sponsor Sen. Michael VonFlatern, R-Gillette, says new, improved data on I-80 is important. He also says the study would help Wyoming lay claim to any infrastructure efforts the federal government is planning.

The bill now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.

GUNS

UW athletics department opposed to conceal carry bill

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — University of Wyoming athletics director Tom Burman says he has concerns about a bill in the state Legislature that would allow for the concealed carrying of firearms at university athletic events.

Burman said he doesn't want people to bring weapons into War Memorial Stadium or Arena-Auditorium.

House Bill 136 has passed the state House and is now in the Senate. The legislation specifically permits lawful conceal carry at athletic events. Some colleges in other states that have concealed carry prohibit guns at athletic venues.

Supporters of House Bill 136 said allowing the lawful carrying of firearms on campus would make colleges safer.

UW President Laurie Nichols and the Faculty Senate also oppose concealed carry on campus. A survey found UW students are split nearly evenly.

INFANT DEATH-SENTENCE

Rawlins woman gets 5-15 years in prison for newborn's death

RAWLINS, Wyo. (AP) — A Rawlins woman who pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the death of her newborn son has been sentenced to five to 15 years in prison.

22-year-old Meagan Lubbers was sentenced Monday after previously acknowledging that she used methamphetamine and neglected her son, who died in July at five days old.

The infant had been in the care of Lubbers and suffered breathing problems as a result of her drug use during her pregnancy. The newborn's father told police he found the baby face down on the ground and drove the child to the gas station to get help.

Lubbers, who has four other children under the age of six, apologized in court and said she had failed her baby.

DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME

Senate kills permanent daylight savings time

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A bill that would have ended the annual spring and fall clock changes in Wyoming has seen its time come to an end in the state Senate.

Senators voted 22-8 Monday to kill Senate File 125, which would have placed Wyoming permanently on daylight savings time.

The bill offered by Republican Sen. Michael Von Flatern, of Gillette, passed its first two votes in the Senate but failed on the third try.

Von Flatern says the current changing back and forth from daylight savings time and standard time causes confusion.

But opponents argued that staying on one time would put Wyoming out of sync with states around and cause even more confusion.

CHEYENNE BANK ROBBERY

Cheyenne bank robbed Monday morning

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A man is in custody in connection with a bank robbery in Cheyenne.

Police say the Bank of the West in downtown Cheyenne was robbed by a man at about 9:30 a.m. Monday. The man demanded money and indicated he had a firearm.

The man fled on foot with an undisclosed amount of money.

About three hours later police took into custody a man they believe was involved.


MISSING

Wyoming reporter missing west of Cody

POWELL, Wyo. (AP) — A Wyoming newspaper reporter is missing and feared dead in an area west of Cody.

The Park County Sheriff's Office says Powell Tribune reporter Gib Mathers was last seen on Tuesday taking pictures from his truck along U.S. Highway 14. A mail carrier later saw his empty pickup at a pullout near the Elk Fork Campground.

Sheriff Scott Stewart says officers are looking for any information to help aid their search.

A winter storm dumped at least a foot of snow in the area on Wednesday and Thursday, covering up any trace of Mathers' direction of travel.

Stewart says they've searched areas where Mathers may have gone to take photos or seek shelter.

Stewart says he fears it is no longer a rescue, but a recovery effort.

ECLISPE

Solar eclipse bill dies in state House

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A bill that would have helped deal with the expected onslaught of visitors coming to Wyoming to view the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21 has died in the state House.

House Bill 187 died Friday when it failed to make a deadline for bills to pass an initial vote on the House floor.

The bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Dan Zwonitzer, of Cheyenne, would have appropriated $100,000 in state grants to help local governments handle extra costs associated with the eclipse.

Officials estimate about 350,000 people could visit the state just to watch the eclipse.

STUDENTS

UW law school offers in-state tuition waivers to students

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — The University of Wyoming College of Law is hoping to attract more nonresident students by offering in-state tuition to some out-of-state applicants.

College of Law Dean Klinton Alexander told the UW Board of Trustees that the college uses a loosely-applied policy to offer a small number of high-performing students a tuition discount. He said at a Jan. 19 meeting that the in-state tuition allows the College of law to compete with law schools at nearby institutions.

The Board of Trustees approved a motion to allow for three tuition waivers each year providing a tuition discount for nonresident students through three years of law school.

UW College of Law Director of Admissions Lisa Nunley says the change means out-of-state students will get the discount at least until 2020.

HIGHWAY FATAL

Driver killed in collision west of Casper

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — The Wyoming Highway Patrol says one person was killed in a crash about 60 miles west of Casper on U.S. Highway 20.

Marl Priest, interim supervisor for the highway patrol said the driver was traveling west when his vehicle slid on ice as he tried to pass another vehicle.

An eastbound vehicle struck the car.

The victim's name wasn't released pending notification of family.

HATHAWAY SCHOLARSHIP

Proposed bills would expand Hathaway eligibility in Wyoming

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming lawmakers are considering three bills that could allow more students to get Hathaway scholarships to attend the state's flagship university and state community colleges.

A bill sponsored by Republican House Speaker Steve Harshman of Casper would allow two students in each of Wyoming's neighboring states to apply.

Democratic Rep. Mike Giureau of Jackson is sponsoring a bill to allow non-U.S. citizens or permanent residents to apply for the scholarship — as long as they are Wyoming residents and are pursuing citizenship.

Republican Rep. Bill Henderson of Cheyenne has introduced a bill to extend the time a high school graduate has to apply for a Hathaway scholarship from two years to four years.

EDUCATION TAX HIKE

Tax increase struck from Wyoming education bill

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming lawmakers have removed a proposed 2 percent sales tax increase from a bill intended to fund public schools.

Lawmakers struck the tax increase Friday from House Bill 236, an omnibus education spending bill.

Lawmakers are trying to tackle a $400 million annual shortfall in education spending.

They may dip into the Legislature's rainy day fund, which currently has $1.6 billion, to do so.

INVOLUNTARY MANSLAUGHTER-SENTENCE

Ethete woman sentenced for fatal drunken driving crash

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A 30-year-old Ethete woman has been sentenced to 2 ½ years in prison for the death of a 50-year-old man in a drunken driving crash last summer on the Wind River Indian Reservation.

Rita Mae Willow was sentenced Wednesday for involuntary manslaughter by U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl, who also ordered her to pay just over $2,100 in restitution.

Willow was charged after a July 18 crash near Ethete that killed her passenger, Allison Tyrone Trosper Sr. He suffered a skull fracture when he was thrown from Willow's truck in the rollover crash.

Prosecutors say a test after the crash indicated Willow's blood alcohol level was 0.24 percent — three times the legal limit for driving in Wyoming.

YELLOWSTONE ICE ARCHAEOLOGY

Organic artifacts in Yellowstone being lost to ice melt

SHERIDAN, Wyo. (AP) — An archaeologist says organic artifacts preserved by ice patches in Yellowstone National Park are being lost to research because warmer temperatures are melting the ice.

Staffan Peterson was park archaeologist at Yellowstone for four years. He is now leading the cultural and natural resources program at Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument in Montana.

Peterson says archaeologists seek to collect pollen, pine needles, sticks, dung, bones and other artifacts preserved in the ice patches. They help provide clues of the human past.

But they decay quickly when exposed to the open air.

While he said this isn't just a problem in the world's first national park, he said there's only about a dozen ice patches left in Yellowstone.

WESTERN CAUCUS-CONGRESS

Daines takes over Senate Western Caucus

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Montana Republican Sen. Steve Daines has taken over as chairman of the Senate Western Caucus.

Daines succeeds Wyoming Republican Sen. John Barrasso, who founded and led the caucus for eight years.

During his time as chairman, Barrasso expanded the caucus to include more than half of the Republican conference and provided a forum for the 27 current members to join forces on policy issues.

The caucus has focused on energy, environmental, natural resource and economic issues that directly affect western and rural states.

YELLOWSTONE-CELL SERVICE

Yellowstone looks at cell service upgrade

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — The National Park Service is taking comment on a proposal to expand the capacity of cell towers in developed areas of Yellowstone National Park.

A proposal initiated by Verizon Wireless would improve capacity at Old Faithful and Grant, Canyon and Lake village areas.

Yellowstone Branch Chief of Telecommunications Bret De Young said the park's current communications infrastructure can't handle the smartphones and mobile devices traffic.

De Young says the proposal doesn't expand the cellular coverage area in the park, which is intentionally limited to the frontcountry and around developed areas.

The project proposed would add only a single physical cell tower, which would be located in the Canyon area.

Comments on the plan are due by March 2.



Wyoming Senate votes down bill banning LGBT discrimination

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The Wyoming Senate has voted down a bill that would have banned discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Senate's Committee of the Whole voted 17-13 against the bill, indefinitely postponing it. The bill would have allowed exceptions for religious organizations.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Chris Rothfuss, D-Laramie, says the bill is needed. He says workplace discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people happens in Wyoming.

Other senators argued that they didn't want to see additional classes of people added to the state's anti-discrimination law.

A similar bill in 2015 overwhelmingly passed the Senate, but failed in the House of Representatives.

COAL

Congress acts to overturn Obama era regulation aimed at coal

Washington, D.C.– Congress passed its first resolution that would overturn an Obama Administration regulation that was aimed at limiting coal production. The Senate voted today to send the resolution of disapproval to President Trump’s desk. The measure would end the “stream protection rule” issued by the Department of the Interior last year.  

 

U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., hailed the vote as not only being important for coal communities, but also the first in a series of votes Congress should take to overturn last-minute and overreaching Obama era regulations.

Enzi said “The Department of the Interior’s ‘stream protection rule’ is clearly aimed more at stopping coal production than protecting the environment.”

ATV-SNOWBOARD-FATAL CRASH

Snowboarder pulled by ATV near Rock Springs crashes, dies

ROCK SPRINGS, Wyo. (AP) — A snowboarder who was being towed by an ATV north of Rock Springs crashed and suffered fatal head injuries.

Sweetwater County Sheriff Mike Lowell says 37-year-old Brandon Adamson, of Reliance, crashed Wednesday afternoon and was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

The 49-year-old man driving the ATV told investigators he was towing Adamson with a rope on the snowy streets when Adamson lost control and crashed. The sheriff's office did not say how fast the ATV was traveling or if Adamson was wearing a helmet.

The case has been forwarded to the Sweetwater County Attorney's Office to be reviewed.

INMATE DEATH

65-year-old Torrington inmate dies after lengthy illness

TORRINGTON, Wyo. (AP) — A 65-year-old inmate at a medium correctional facility in Torrington has died after a lengthy illness.

Wyoming Department of Corrections officials say Charles Daniel Shamblen died Thursday, and an autopsy is planned. They did not describe his illness.

A district judge in Fremont County sentenced Shamblen in 2009 to 15 to 20 years in prison for second-degree sexual abuse of a minor.

AP-US-YELLOWSTONE-BISON-SLAUGHTER

APNewsBreak: Deal allows Yellowstone bison slaughter

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Montana and federal officials have reached a deal that allows the mass slaughter of wild bison migrating from Yellowstone National Park, while sparing 25 animals that American Indians want.

The Associated Press obtained details of the agreement Thursday.

The spared animals will be kept at a government research facility to monitor for disease and later relocated to Montana's Fort Peck Reservation.

A dispute over their fate had stalled the park's plans to kill up to 1,300 bison this winter to curb the species' migration into Montana.

Park administrators last year proposed relocating a small group of bison to the reservation as an alternative to slaughter.

When Montana livestock officials objected over disease concerns, park officials said they would kill the animals. Gov. Steve Bullock temporarily halted all slaughters on Jan. 19, lifting that order Thursday.

MONTANA SHOOTING

Attorney: Defendant in double-slaying was taking 'spice'

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A defense attorney says a 19-year-old Wyoming man charged in a double slaying on Montana's Crow Reservation had been taking a drug that can cause psychotic episodes prior to his arrest.

Jesus Deniz Mendoza of Worland faces a March 27 trial after pleading not guilty in the shooting deaths of Jason and Tana Shane near Pryor.

Federal Defender David Merchant said in a court filing that evidence suggests Mendoza ingested "a considerable amount" of the synthetic drug spice before his arrest in the July 2015 killings. He was arrested 2 ½ hours after the killings.

The defense plans to introduce testimony from Penn State University researcher Antolin Llorente saying spice can cause psychotic episodes and delusions.

Mendoza has said he will rely on an insanity defense at trial. Merchant says Mendoza previously was diagnosed with schizophrenia, depression and post-traumatic syndrome.


Two Wind River Reservation residents sentenced to prison


Rita Mae Willow, 30, of Ethete, Wyoming, was sentenced by Federal District Court Judge Scott W. Skavdahl on February 1, 2017, for involuntary manslaughter. Willow was arrested in Fort Washakie, Wyoming. She received 30 months of imprisonment, to be followed by three years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay a $100.00 special assessment and $2,135.00 in restitution. This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Caleb Cole Washakie, 19, of Arapahoe, Wyoming, was sentenced by Federal District Court Judge Scott W. Skavdahl on February 1, 2017, for assault by strangulation. Washakie was arrested in Fort Washakie, Wyoming. He received 20 months of imprisonment, to be followed by three years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay a $100.00 special assessment. This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.


Fremont County Commission agenda for Feb. 7, 2017
COUNTY COMMISSIONERS’ CHAMBERS


FREMONT COUNTY COURTHOUSE, 450 N 2ND STREET, ROOM 205, LANDER, WY 82520

Travis Becker (Chairman), Larry Allen (Vice-Chairman), Ray Price, Jennifer McCarty and Clarence Thomas

 
TENTATIVE AGENDA
SUBJECT TO CHANGE AT ANY TIME

 

FEBRUARY 7, 2017

 

PRELIMINARY:

 

9:00 A.M.:              A.            CALL TO ORDER

                                                                B.             QUORUM PRESENT

C.             PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

D.            OPENING PRAYER

E.             APPROVAL OF AGENDA

F.             APPROVAL OF MINUTES

G.             ACCEPTANCE OF REGULAR BILLS

H.            ACCEPTANCE OF TITLE 25 BILLS

I.              SIGNATURE FILE

J.              COMMUNICATIONS

 

REPORTS/APPOINTMENTS:

 

 9:15 A.M.:             PUBLIC COMMENT

 

9:30 A.M.:             TRANSPORTATION SUPERINTENDENT DAVE PENDLETON – DEPARTMENT UPDATE

 

10:10 A.M.:            WILLIAM PEDEN – WEED AND PEST CONTROL DISTRICT BOARD INTERVIEW

 

10:20 A.M.         BREAK

 

10:30 A.M.:           WIND RIVER RANGER DISTRICT RANGER RICK METZGER AND WASHAKIE DISTRICT RANGER STEVE SCHACHT – SHOSHONE NATIONAL FOREST UPDATES

 

 11:00 A.M.:           VOLUNTEERS OF AMERICA PROGRAM DIRECTOR SHELLEY MBONU – CENTER OF HOPE QUARTERLY REPORT

 

 11:15 A.M.:           INTERIM LIBRARY DIRECTOR JEANNETTE WOODWARD – PERSONNEL UPDATE

 

 11:30 A.M.:           FREMONT COUNSELING SERVICES EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SCOTT HAYES – GATEKEEPER GRANT APPLICATION

 

11:45 A.M.:            INTERIM PUBLIC HEALTH SUPERVISOR KATHY LAIDLAW – GRANT APPLICATION REVIEW

 

12:00 P.M.:           LUNCH

 

 1:30 P.M.:             LeCLAIR IRRIGATION DISTRICT REPRESENTATIVE BOBBY LANE – RESTORATION FRAMEWORK ON THE WIND RIVER

 

 2:00 P.M.:             COUNTY CLERK JULIE FREESE

EXECUTIVE SESSION – PERSONNEL
PERSONNEL UPDATES
BENEFITS HANDBOOK – FINAL APPROVAL PENDING HOLIDAY PAY DISCUSSION
BUDGET PROCESS WORK SESSION

 

NEW BUSINESS:

 

COMMISSIONER MEETING REPORTS
COUNTY CLERK REPORTS/QUESTIONS
ELECTED OFFICIALS' CONCERNS

 

IV.OLD BUSINESS:

 

V.ADJOURNMENT:



PROTOCOL REMINDERS:  Silence cell phones – Address the Chairman – State your name for the record


Gun bills win House approval; go to Senate

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The Wyoming House of Representatives has approved three gun bills and sent them to the Senate.

House Bill 136 would allow people with concealed-carry permits to bring firearms onto college campuses. House Bill 137 repeals gun free zones at governmental meetings. And House Bill 194 allows school boards the option of allowing district employees to carry firearms.

In recent years, the House has endorsed legislation to loosen gun laws. However, the Senate has been much less receptive to some gun legislation.

BUDGET

More state budget cuts proposed for Wyoming

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The draft supplemental budget bill being introduced in the state Legislature proposes to cut about another $30 million from state government operations.

The Joint Appropriations Committee this week approved the draft and lawmakers are tentatively scheduled to begin debate on it next week in Cheyenne.

The $30 million reduction would be in addition to the $245.2 million general fund cuts identified by Gov. Matt Mead and the judicial branch.

The legislative proposal also includes a reduction of 135 full-time positions and 10 part-time positions.

In addition, it would require Mead to identify 75 additional positions to eliminate by the end of the 2017-2018 biennium.

The budget cuts are being brought on by a loss of state revenue from the downturn in Wyoming's energy industry.

HEROIN

Cheyenne man gets 10 years for heroin charges

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — A former Cheyenne resident has been sentenced to 10 years for selling heroin.

Christopher Koegl on Wednesday was sentenced for one count of conspiracy to distribute heroin. A second count of distributing heroin resulting in death was dismissed as part of a plea agreement.

Koegl, a former postal worker, was convicted last year of collecting $31,000 in health care benefits for collecting federal compensation for a knee injury sustained while working.

Investigators found evidence of drug distribution during a 2014 search of Koegl's home. He acknowledged selling the drug in Cheyenne.

Koegl's attorney argued his client was a victim of addiction. He says Koegl was injured while in the injury and became addicted to prescription pain killers and then heroin to cope with the pain.

HUNTING LICENSE FEES

Wyoming fees for hunting, fishing licenses could go up

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming lawmakers are considering legislation that would raise fees for hunting and fishing licenses for the first time in nearly a decade.

Many of the license fees would only go up about one or two dollars.

The proposal is intended to help offset the Wyoming Game and Fish Department's expected loss of nearly $5 million in general funds. The money being cut by the Legislature is used on sage grouse management, wolf management and other wildlife efforts.

If the bill passes, the department's John Kennedy says the state could bring in an additional $4.5 million annually.

Most of Game and Fish's money comes from license fees and federal taxes on hunting and fishing equipment.

The Legislature denied the department's request for a license fee increase in 2013.

CIGARETTE TAX

Cigarette tax wins House approval

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The Wyoming House has reversed itself and passed a bill that would raise the state tax on cigarettes by 30 cents a pack.

House Bill 151 failed on 38-22 vote on Tuesday but was reconsidered and passed on a 31-28 vote Wednesday.

The proposal now goes to the state Senate for debate.

Wyoming now levies a tax of 60 cents per pack. The bill would raise the tax to 90 cents.

Raising the cigarette tax could add nearly $7.9 million a year to state coffers at a time when the state is seeing huge revenue losses from the energy industry downturn.

 
EDUCATION

Constitutional amendment would restrict courts on education



CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A Senate committee has endorsed a constitutional amendment that would prohibit Wyoming courts from dictating how much money the state should spend on its K-12 public education and mandating higher taxes for schools.

The Senate Education Committee voted 3-2 Wednesday to send the proposal to the full Senate for debate.

Republican Sen. Dave Kinskey, of Sheridan, says school funding levels should be determined by the Legislature. He says lawmakers have little room to address the current downturn in state revenue because court rulings restrict what they can do on education spending.

Democratic Sen. Chris Rothfuss, of Laramie, opposed the proposal, saying it's an attempt by legislators to avoid having to address tax increases.

If adopted by the Legislature, the proposal would go on the next statewide general election ballot.

SEXTING

House committee advances bill criminalizing sexting

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — A legislative committee has approved a bill that would make it a crime for teens to exchange nude images of themselves.

The bill was recommended out of the House Minerals Committee by an 8-1 vote on Monday.

The proposal would create new crimes of dissemination or possession of a nude image of a minor by a minor in the first, second and third degrees, respectively. An exception would be made if the minor came into possession of an image inadvertently and tried to destroy the image or notify someone with authority.

The punishment for these crimes would range from a fine to up to six months in a juvenile detention facility.

PATROL CAR STOLEN-SENTENCE

Cheyenne man gets prison for stealing patrol vehicle

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A Wyoming man charged with stealing an unmarked patrol vehicle that was parked in front a Laramie County deputy's home has been sentenced to three to five years in prison.

Senio Nuu was sentenced after pleading guilty to a reduced charge of theft.

The 33-year-old had initially been charged with aggravated burglary because firearms were inside the vehicle, which was stolen in Cheyenne, taken to a McDonald's restaurant and then abandoned.

Defense attorney David Hopkinson says his client just "saw a car and decided to take it" and didn't intend to steal law enforcement equipment.

Nuu's co-defendant, 26-year-old Tevin Taylor, is awaiting sentencing for receiving and/or concealing stolen property.

Taylor says Nuu gave him a shotgun and a tactical vest found in the vehicle.

CIGARETTE TAX

Cigarette tax increase fails in state House

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The Wyoming House has defeated a bill that would have raised the state tax on cigarettes by 30 cents a pack.

House Bill 151 failed on 38-22 vote on Tuesday.

Wyoming now levies a tax of 60 cents per pack. The bill would have raised the tax to 90 cents.

Supporters noted that the higher tax could add nearly $7.9 million a year to state coffers at a time when the state is seeing huge revenue losses from the energy industry downturn.

But opponents questioned how much money would be raised from the tax and said the higher tax would hurt the small businesses that sell tobacco products because smokers would buy cigarettes in neighboring states where the tax was lower.

MINIMUM WAGE

State House rejects raising minimum wage

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A proposal to raise the state minimum wage in Wyoming to the federal level of $7.25 per hour has been defeated in the state House.

House Bill 140 failed on a 40-20 vote Tuesday.

Wyoming's current minimum wage is $5.15 an hour for employees not covered by the federal minimum wage. Wyoming's minimum wage is tied for the lowest in the country among the states that have minimum wages.

Most workers in the state are subject to the higher federal minimum wage.

Proponents of raising the wage argued it would be good for Wyoming residents and remove the stigma of the state having the lowest wages in the country.

But opponents say free enterprise should be allowed to work and the higher wage would cause some employers financial stress.

ABORTION BILLS

House panel endorses 3 abortion related bills

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A state House committee has endorsed three abortion related measures.

The House Labor, Health and Social Services Committee heard nearly four hours of testimony Monday before approving each bill on a 6-3 vote.

The bills would add to the definition of a fetus' viability to include the time when it can feel pain, charge medical professionals who give or sell tissue or cells from aborted fetuses with a felony and require women to get an ultrasound or sign a waiver saying they chose not to at least 24 hours before an abortion.

Testimony from pro-abortion rights advocates described the proposals as restricting abortion rights while anti-abortion champions said the measures would align state laws with modern science.

The bills head to the House floor.

ELDERLY EXPLOITATION-CASPER

Casper woman pleads not guilty to theft from elderly man

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — A 58-year-old Casper woman has denied charges that she stole more than $48,000 from an 89-year-old man.

Tamara Kay Voelker pleaded not guilty to one count of theft and one count of exploitation of a vulnerable adult during her arraignment Tuesday in District Court.

Investigators accuse Voelker of befriending the victim and then becoming his caregiver after his wife passed away.

They say she used the victim's money to pay for her rent and utilities and charged items to the victim's credit cards without his knowledge from January 2015 through April 2016.

Voelker remains in custody.

CODY LABS EXPANSION

Company to expand Wyoming pharmaceutical lab

CODY, Wyo. (AP) — Lannett Company, a Philadelphia-based drug manufacturer, says it has committed $50 million toward a five-building laboratory expansion in Wyoming.

Lannett makes and distributes generic prescription medications. It bought Cody Labs, Wyoming's only pharmaceutical company, in 2007.

The expansion is expected to bring 45 jobs to Cody and Park County and help reduce Wyoming's dependency on the mineral and tourism industries.

State Sen. Hank Coe, who sponsored a 2014 bill as an incentive for Lannett to grow Cody Labs, said Monday that he is "gratified" with the planned expansion. Coe said it "sends a strong message that Wyoming is a great place to do business."

Cody Labs says construction is expected to begin this spring and last through fall 2018.
 


POST

Sierra Trading Post lays off 40 amid restructuring

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Sierra Trading Post has laid off 40 employees amid a restructuring of the digital operations of its parent company, TJX Companies Inc.

The Cheyenne-based catalog and online retailer announced the layoffs. It was not clear from a company statement whether all of the job losses were in Cheyenne.

TJX spokeswoman Doreen Thompson says TJX, which also owns Marshalls, T.J. Maxx and HomeGoods, created a digital operations group in the last several months to better support is online business in the U.S.

Most of the digital operations are based in Massachusetts. Some Sierra Trading Post employees in Cheyenne were given the chance to relocate. Other jobs were eliminated through restructuring.

COAL

Wyoming produces record-low levels of coal in 2016

GILLETTE, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming's most productive coal region has dropped below 300 million tons for the first time in nearly 20 years.

Wyoming's Powder River Basin produced 285.2 million tons of coal in 2016. This is the first time since 1998 the nation's most productive coal mining area has produced less than 300 million tons.

In 1998 the Powder River Basin produced 293.4 million tons.

In 2015, the basin produced 363.3 million tons of coal, making the decline of 78.1 million tons between then and 2016. That drop is the largest ever single-year drop in production for the basin.

HOUSE

House panel endorses 3 abortion related bills

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A state House committee has endorsed three abortion related measures.

The House Labor, Health and Social Services Committee heard nearly four hours of testimony Monday before approving each bill on a 6-3 vote.

The bills would add to the definition of a fetus' viability to include the time when it can feel pain, charge medical professionals who give or sell tissue or cells from aborted fetuses with a felony and require women to get an ultrasound or sign a waiver saying they chose not to at least 24 hours before an abortion.

Testimony from pro-abortion rights advocates described the proposals as restricting abortion rights while anti-abortion champions said the measures would align state laws with modern science.

The bills head to the House floor.

BAN

1 Wyoming student caught in travel suspension

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — University of Wyoming President Laurie Nichols says the university knows of one student who has been affected by President Donald Trump's suspension of immigration from seven countries with majority-Muslim populations.

In a message to the campus, Nichols says the student was scheduled to join a UW graduate program but was unable to travel because of the immigration order. She says the university is working to determine if any other UW students, scholars, faculty or staff currently traveling outside of the U.S. may be impacted when they are scheduled to return.

Trump's order suspends immigration for citizens of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days.

In her message, Nichols says UW is committed to internationalization and globalization in education and research.

EDUCATION FUNDING

Hundreds attend hearing on Wyoming $360M K-12 budget crisis

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Several hundred people are listening to state lawmakers discuss a higher sales tax, shorter school year and other possible solutions to Wyoming's education crisis.

Nearly every seat in the auditorium at Cheyenne East High School is filled — rare turnout for the House Education Committee.

Wyoming faces a $360 million K-12 shortfall amid declining state revenue caused by downturns in the coal, oil and natural gas industries.

Proposals in a bill before the Wyoming House include changing how the state calculates enrollment, shortening the school year by five days and freezing special-education funding.

Other ideas include raising the state sales tax from 4 to 4.5 percent. The additional revenue would go to schools.

The bill also proposes establishing a special committee to take a closer look at the problem.

VETERANS CEMETERY

VA buys land for Wyoming's first veterans national cemetery

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming will soon have its first veterans national cemetery.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced Monday that it purchased about five acres near Cheyenne for a VA National Cemetery. The agency paid the city of Cheyenne about $64,000 for the land.

Interim Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs Ronald E. Walters says the Cheyenne cemetery will help reach veterans in rural parts of Wyoming without reasonable access to a national or state veterans cemetery. The new cemetery will serve nearly 22,000 veterans, their spouses and eligible family members.

The cemetery will include burial sites, above-ground columbarium niches, a memorial wall, flagpoles, a memorial walkway, roads and other infrastructure.

The Oregon Trail Veterans Cemetery at Evansville is run by the state. Wyoming's congressional delegation welcomed the announcement.

WYOMING SNOWPACK

Snowpack levels look good for Wyoming so far this winter

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Many Wyoming communities are seeing above-average snowpack levels thanks to a cold and wet winter.

Monitors say snowpack ranges from about 125 percent above normal in southeast Wyoming to 160 percent of normal in the central and southeast portions of the state.

National Weather Service meteorologist Richard Emanuel says recent cold and wet weather near Cheyenne may be the result of La Nina, an occasional but natural cooling of the equatorial Pacific and the counterpart of the El Nino climate pattern.

While winter has been good for southern Wyoming snowpack, Chris Nicholson from the state's climate office says he's hoping above-average snow predictions will materialize in northeast Wyoming, which has recently been the driest part of the state.

GUN BILLS

Guns bills advance in Wyoming House

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Several bills to loosen Wyoming's gun restrictions have won preliminary approval in the state House.

Representatives on Monday advanced bills that would allow people to carry guns on college campuses and in government meetings and allow school districts to decide whether to arm some school staff.

House Bills 136, 137 and 194 face two more votes on the House floor before they can go to the Senate for additional debate.

Supporters of the measures to allow people with concealed carry permits to bring guns on college campuses and in government meetings say it is a fundamental right and would make those places safer.

Proponents of the school gun bill say it would help protect rural schools that face long response times from law enforcement.

MISSING MONTANA GIRL-PLEA

Man pleads guilty to transporting abducting Montana girl

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A registered violent offender has pleaded guilty to a federal charge of transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.

Federal prosecutors say 60-year-old Rodney Lee Zahn entered his plea on U.S. District Court in Missoula on Jan. 17. He faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison when he is sentenced on May 18.

Prosecutors say Zahn befriended a developmentally delayed 16-year-old girl and her family and left Sheridan with the girl early on Aug. 3. They were located the next day in Cheyenne, Wyoming and Zahn was arrested.

Prosecutors say Zahn admitted he had sexual intercourse with the girl twice and that he knew she was 16.

PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY

House panel votes 'no' on presidential primary election

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A bill that would have established a presidential primary election in Wyoming has failed in a state House committee.

The House Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee voted 6-3 Monday against House Bill 201.

One of the chief concerns from committee members and others was how to pay for the election, which could cost an estimated $300,000 to $500,000.

County clerks also voiced concern by finding poll judges for a third election when they already have trouble finding judges for the primary and general elections.

It was suggested that the topic might be good for an interim study.

Wyoming's political parties use the caucus system for presidential races. The system caused much confusion in both the Republican and Democratic presidential races last year from people unfamiliar with the process.

 


ACCIDENT

Two Lander men escape serious injury in weekend accident

(LANDER, Wyo.)  Two area Lander men escaped serious injury over the weekend after they rolled the pickup they were driving on Morimore Lane.

According to Undersheriff Ryan Lee the 21 year old driver and his 19 year old passenger were exceeding the speed limit when there right front tire left the road, caught some snow and dragged the vehicle from the road, rolling one and a quarter times. 

Lee said both had been drinking, however both were well under the legal limit.  The 21 year old driver was cited for speeds to fast for conditions and contributing alchol to his underage passenger.  The passenger was cited for underage consumption of alcohol. 

PEDIGREE® STAGE STOP RACE

Lander resident Jerry Bath takes the lead in dog sled race

(LANDER, Wyo.)  Day 2 of the Pedigree Stage Stop Race saw Jerry Bath of Lander in first with an elapsed time of 4:02:41 for the second day 56-mile course in Alpine. J

Jerry takes the Yellow Bid from Lina Streeper who placed second with 4:06:23. Dave Torgerson was third and Bruce Magnusson was fourth.

From Alpine the race moves to Lander for the next stage.  Today (January 30) — Meet the Teams 4:30 - 6:00 PM in downtown Lander, between second and third streets.  Bring the kids, but leave the dogs at home.  Tomorrow, (Tuesday, January 31) the stage Four Race starts at Louis Lake parking lot on South Pass Hwy 28.  After that, the race moves to Pinedale, then Cora, Big Piney/Marbleton, Kemmerer, then south of Evanston.

OVERDOSE

Bill would allow over-the-counter sale of overdose drug

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A measure introduced in the Wyoming Legislature would allow pharmacies in the state to sell an overdose-reversing drug over the counter without a prescription.

Naloxone blocks or reverses the effects of opioids and can be used to treat an overdose in an emergency.

The Albany County Sheriff's Office and University of Wyoming Police Department began carrying the drug this year.

House Bill 268 was introduced in the state House on Monday.

MINIMUM WAGE

Wyoming minimum wage bill rolled back to federal minimum

CHEYENN E, Wyo. (AP) — A proposal to raise the minimum wage in Wyoming has been ratcheted back to match the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

The amended wage change cleared its first hurdle at the state Legislature on Friday.

The bill would not change much for most Wyoming employees, but would no longer make Wyoming tied for the lowest minimum wage in the country among the states that have minimum wages.

Originally, the measure would have raised Wyoming's minimum wage to $9.50 an hour.

But the increase was not palatable to members of the House Labor, Health and Social Services Committee, which amended the bill.

Wyoming's current minimum wage is $5.15 an hour, which can be paid by employers not covered by the federal minimum wage.

CHILD BURNED-PLEA

Cheyenne man admits scalding daughter, pleads to child abuse

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A Cheyenne man accused of putting his 15-month-old daughter in scalding bath water last year has pleaded guilty.

22-year-old Charles W. Keppel pleaded guilty Friday in Laramie County District Court to physical child abuse. It was a lesser charge than he originally faced, aggravated child abuse.

Prosecutors are expected to recommend five to seven years in prison.

Keppel told the judge that he started a bath for the girl with only hot water and did not check the temperature before putting her in.

The judge asked him if his behavior was reckless, and Keppel said yes. The girl suffered burns on approximately a third of her body. Doctors also found bruises on her face, a fracture in her left foot, and chronic malnutrition.

SCHOOL BUILDING SALE

Casper to draft loan for future veterans services center

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — A veterans' service center is closer to reality with the city of Casper's preliminary approval of a low-interest loan.

Councilmembers directed staff to draft a loan agreement for the Casper Housing Authority to purchase a building that used to be Natrona County School District's Roosevelt High School.

Housing authority director Kim Summerall-Wright said no agreements can be made with Veterans Affairs or other groups without the nearly $433,000 loan needed from the city.

The loan will likely carry 2 percent interest.

Councilman Chris Walsh was concerned about whether the housing authority would be able to secure the $2 million that is needed to renovate the former school.

Summerall-Wright said the agency has a history of leveraging the city's contributions to bring in more money.

GENDER WAGE GAP

Wyoming lawmakers push for wage gap study with opposing aims

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Two Wyoming lawmakers are joining together to push for a study of the state's gender wage gap but they disagree on what it will likely show.

Wyoming ranks low on national surveys of the disparity between what men and women are paid.

Both Democratic state Rep. Cathy Connolly of Laramie and Republican Rep. Marti Halverson of Etna think they're based on bad data. But while Connolly thinks a state study would give more nuanced data on a gap, Halverson thinks it will show it doesn't exist.

Halverson says that could improve Wyoming's image. In a state where tourism is the second largest industry, she told state lawmakers Friday that it can't afford to have people thinking that we're "backwards and still in pioneer times."

EDUCATION BUDGET

House education bill testimony set for Monday night

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming lawmakers will hear testimony on a comprehensive K-12 school funding proposal on Monday night.

The hearing on House Bill 236 will be held at Cheyenne East High School auditorium, across from the temporary Capitol facilities, in order to accommodate an expected large crowd. It's set to start at 6 p.m.

Public comment will be limited to two minutes per person and those wishing to address the committee are strongly encouraged to prepare written statements for their reference when testifying. People can also submit public comment on the Legislature's website through Feb. 6.

Lawmakers and Gov. Matt Mead have cut state spending significantly over the past couple years but per-pupil spending continues to top $17,000 per year. Only Vermont, Alaska and New York spend more, according to Republican Sen. Charlie Scott, of Casper.

CONGRESS-FONTENELLE RESERVOIR

Expansion of Fontenelle Reservoir sought in Congress

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming's congressional delegation has reintroduced legislation to expand the water storage at Fontenelle Reservoir in the southwest part of the state.

Sens. John Barrasso and Mike Enzi and Rep. Liz Cheney say expanding the reservoir's storage is important to maintaining a reliable water supply in the region.

They say the extra water will benefit farmers, ranchers and communities and help boost the local economy.

The Bureau of Reclamation oversees operation of the Fontenelle Reservoir.

The proposed expansion would be accomplished by completing "rip rap" around the reservoir. Rip rap is a foundation or sustaining wall of stones or chunks of concrete connected together around the reservoir to prevent erosion.

POACHING

Cody man pleads guilty to poaching a deer

CODY, Wyo. (AP) — A man has lost his hunting privileges for three years after pleading guilty in the death of a mule deer that was killed out of season.

Leonard Wascher was also fined $1,000.

The deer was shot with a crossbow in November and trailed blood through the city before dying.

SPORTS

Reid scores 16, leads Boise State to an 80-65 win at Wyoming

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — James Reid scored 16 points and Boise State built a 14-point halftime lead and cruised to an 80-65 win at Wyoming Saturday as the Broncos won for the fifth time in six road games.

Paris Austin hit a jumper with 1:37 left in the first half to put Boise State up by 18 points, 42-24, but the Cowboys answered with two free throws each from Louis Adams and Alan Herndon to send the Broncos into intermission up 42-28.

Justinian Jessup hit a 3-pointer with 17:03 left in the game to push the Boise State lead back to 18 points and the Broncos cruised home.

Austin finished with 15 points for the Broncos (13-7, 6-3 Mountain West), who had lost 3 of 4 coming in. Chandler Hutchison added 14 points as the Broncos shot 22 of 28 from the free throw line.

Adams finished with 12 points to lead Wyoming (14-8, 4-5).


 



WAGE

Lawmakers propose raising Wyoming minimum wage to $9.50

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming lawmakers are considering raising the state's minimum hourly wage from $5.15 to $9.50.

The bill introduced last week in the state House of Representative would also increase tipped minimum hourly wages from $2.13 to $5.50.

The proposal would allow employers to pay a training wage of at least $7.50 to employees who have been working for less than six months.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. James Byrd, D-Cheyenne, and has been referred to the House Labor Committee.

TREES

Local project at lake to help fish habitat

(LANDER, Wyo.)  Tomorrow (Saturday, January 28), volunteers will be helping improve fish habitat on Ocean Lake, near Pavillion. The project is a partnership between Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Fremont County Solid Waste Disposal District, and Inberg-Miller Engineering.

The project provides an opportunity to recycle Christmas trees while improving the structure of the lake.

Volunteers and staff will wire the trees together and attach concrete blocks to weigh them down. When the ice melts in the spring, the weighted trees will sink, provide structure for fish and improve the overall lake health. The resulting formation creates the inland equivalent of an artificial reef.

Volunteers should meet at the boat landing on Long Point of Ocean Lake at 9 am, and bring pliers or wire cutters, work gloves and warm clothes. Volunteers are welcome to show up for any portion of the time and, the project should be completed early afternoon.

DOGS

Super Bowl of Dog Mushing Coming to Lander

(LANDER, Wyo.) The Pedigree Stage Stop Race , the largest dog sled race in the lower 48 states, kicks off this weekend.

Downtown Lander will host a “Meet the Mushers” event from 4­­:30–6 p.m when the Lander Stage of the race reaches Lander on Monday (Jan. 30th). Traffic will be closed on the 200 block of Main Street, and dog trucks will line the block. Dogs and mushers will be available to visit, including local hero Jerry Bath. The Lander Bake Ship will also play the 2015 race movie on a loop during this time.

The next morning, Bath and his dogs will line up and put their training to the test in what he calls “the Super Bowl of dog mushing.” He’s finished in the top 10 every year.

EDUCATION

Bang-for-buck debate as Wyoming lawmakers focus on education



CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Are Wyoming students getting the best bang for their buck on education spending?

That's one question before Wyoming lawmakers as they begin to address a looming $360 million shortfall in the state's K-12 education budget.

The Senate Education Committee on Friday discussed ideas, including raising class sizes and cutting spending on transportation and school administrators.

Wyoming continues to spend more on education per student than all but a few states. Lawmakers disagree whether Wyoming students are showing good results for spending that tops $17,000 per student per year.

Democratic Sen. Chris Rothfuss, of Laramie, says Wyoming students overall have some of the nation's highest standardized-test scores.

Republican Senate President Eli Bebout, of Riverton, and Sen. Charlie Scott, of Casper, say the scores should be higher for the amount being spent.

VOTE ID

Bill requiring photo ID to vote in Wyoming killed by panel

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A House panel has killed a measure that would have required Wyoming voters to show photo identification at the polls.

The House Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee on Thursday voted 4-3 against House Bill 167.

The proposal drew questions about the effectiveness of voter ID laws, how absentee voters would need to prove identity and disenfranchisement of voters who may not have a government photo identification.

Currently, registered voters do not need to provide identification in order to vote.

The bill was sponsored by Republican Rep. Lars Lone, of Cheyenne, who says showing a photo ID would help eliminate mistakes, such as when he was given the wrong ballot in the last election.

SCAM

Gillette hospital scammed out of employee tax information

GILLETTE, Wyo. (AP) — Social Security numbers and tax documents for 1,400 employees at a Gillette hospital have been released through an email scam.

On Wednesday a 66-year-old employee received an email that was thought to be from a hospital executive asking for W-2 information and Social Security numbers of Campbell County Health workers. The contacted employee provided the requested information.

Hospital officials are working with Gillette police and a cyber security response team to identify the scammer. In the meantime, Campbell County Health is offering identity protection services to affected employees.

POPULATION

Gillette population drops for first time in nearly 20 years

GILLETTE, Wyo. (AP) — Gillette's population has dropped for the first time in nearly 20 years.

Gillette lost an estimated 2,182 residents in 2016, the largest decline the city has seen since 1987. The unofficial city staff population estimate at the end of the year was 30,467.

In 1987, it was reported that 2,192 people left town after a massive drop-off in the oil business.

The city has only had four years of declining population over the past 31 years, including a loss of 175 residents in 1997.

The population count is unofficial. City staff takes into account rental vacancies, school enrollment, real estate markets, housing permits issued and several other factors to reach the figure.

MINE LAYOFFS-FEDERAL FUNDS

Feds offer $2 million grant for Wyoming coal worker training

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — More than 100 coal miners who have been laid off in Wyoming may be eligible to receive federal grant money for retraining.

The U.S. Department of Labor recently approved up to $2 million for retraining Wyoming workers in seven counties.

State Department of Workforce Services spokeswoman Hayley McKee says the federal funds are intended to help around 140 laid off coal workers who have failed to secure new employment or are underemployed.

She says each worker will be eligible for around $6,500 to be used on classes, certifications and training to increase workers' skill sets.

The workforce services department applied for the federal grant last May, months after nearly 500 coal miners in Wyoming lost their jobs in a single day.

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM BILL

Sponsors withdraw House religious freedom measure

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A bill that would have allowed people to sue their employers if their policies about LGBTQ people conflicted with their religious or moral convictions is being withdrawn by its sponsors.

State Republican Reps. Cheri Steinmetz, of Lingle, Sue Wilson, of Cheyenne, and Nathan Winters, of Thermopolis, announced Thursday that they were withdrawing their bill, citing a need for a more thorough discussion about it.

The bill sponsors say they remain committed to safeguarding the free expression of religion.

House Bill 135 drew heavy criticism since it was introduced.

Sabrina King, of the American Civil Liberties Union of Wyoming, said the bill would legalize discrimination against same-sex couples and transgender people.

The gay rights organization Wyoming Equality said it was the most discriminatory of all such proposals in the nation.

DECAPITATED BODY-PLEA

Another guilty plea in 2014 killing

CODY, Wyo. (AP) — A 30-year-old man has pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting second-degree murder in the death of another man whose decapitated body was found in January 2014 in northern Wyoming.

At a hearing Wednesday, former Powell resident Pedro Garcia Jr. entered his plea in an agreement worked out with prosecutors.

The plea deal calls for Garcia to receive a 25- to 40-year prison sentence. District Court Judge Steven Cranfill will decide at a later hearing whether to accept the agreement and negotiated sentence.

Garcia is the second of three defendants charged in the killing of 30-year-old Juan Antonio Guerra-Torres to plead guilty.

The third person, John L. Marquez, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder charges.


GILLETTE-BODIES MUTILATED

Woman enters not guilty plea in mutilation case

GILLETTE, Wyo. (AP) — A 23-year-old woman accused of helping hide the dismembered bodies of two men has pleaded not guilty.

Kylee Collins is scheduled to stand trial in District Court beginning May 22 on a charge of accessory after the fact and two counts of conspiracy to mutilate a dead human body.

Michael Paul Montano has been charged with two counts of second-degree murder and two counts of mutilation of dead human bodies in the deaths of his childhood friends — 38-year-old Jody Fortuna and 23-year-old and Phillip Brewer. The three grew up together in Sweetwater County.

Their dismembered bodies were found Oct. 8 in plastic totes in the back of Montano's truck and at a storage rental unit

Both Montano and Collins remain in jail.

HARDY HORSE

Horse is left behind, survives 6 weeks in Wyoming wilderness

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A horse named Valentine was left behind in the Wyoming wilderness by an excursion company after getting sick and survived for six weeks, a case that has raised debate and prompted a criminal investigation.

The domesticated animal had to find food and survive the harsh winter conditions, on top of avoiding grizzly bears.

While the mare is safely back home, her owner is getting angry phone calls from around the country from those he says don't know the whole story.

Residents in the horse-loving resort region of Jackson Hole are debating whether the company did the right thing in leaving the horse, did all it could to find her or should have put her down to spare her suffering.

The state Board of Livestock is investigating and will forward its review to prosecutors.

FOSSIL FUEL REQUIREMENT

Wyoming proposal would require utilities to use fossil fuels

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Some Wyoming lawmakers are bucking the trend of U.S. states that require more renewable energy. They are pushing forward a plan to fine utilities that use wind or solar power.

Blustery Wyoming ranks among the top states for wind-energy potential. But its coal, oil and natural gas industries reign supreme.

Downturns in fossil-fuels and corresponding state revenue declines threaten to saddle Wyoming with a $360 million shortfall for education alone.

State lawmakers looking for solutions want to give coal mining a boost in the country's top coal-producing state.

Some lawmakers say renewable energy is overly subsidized in other states. Others question whether renewable energy restrictions would be good policy.

University of Wyoming Professor Rob Godby is among those who say the measure could hike electricity bills and discourage business.

BICYCLE TASK FORCE

Wyoming task force works on improving bike, pedestrian paths

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming's Bicycle and Pedestrian Task Force is continuing to examine the health and potential economic benefits of nonmotorized transportation in the state.

The group is holding a phone meeting on Monday to discuss its findings and the public is encouraged to listen in.

The 13-member task force was formed last year to study bicycle and pedestrian pathways and natural surface trails in the state.

The task force is coming up with solutions for how Wyoming can improve in the areas of nonmotorized transportation.

The group is accepting public feedback on its report, which is due to Gov. Matt Mead by Oct. 1.

BOHLING APPEAL

Former Albany County Attorney wins partial conviction appeal

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The Wyoming Supreme Court has overturned the felony convictions of a former Albany County prosecutor.

However, the court on Wednesday upheld Richard Bohling's misdemeanor official misconduct conviction.

Bohling was found guilty by a jury of the charges in 2015.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court said there was insufficient evidence to find Bohling guilty of the four felony convictions on obtaining property by false pretenses.

But the court ruled the Bohling failed to provide a compelling argument to overturn his misconduct conviction.

Bohling was first elected in 2002 and served three consecutive terms as county attorney before deciding not to run for re-election in 2014.

SPORTS

Wyoming weathers UNLV comeback, hangs on to win 66-65

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — Louis Adams and Hayden Dalton scored 15 points apiece and Justin James hit the winner with 1:01 remaining as Wyoming nearly blew an 18-point halftime lead but held on to beat UNLV 66-65 on Wednesday night.

Wyoming (14-7, 4-4 Mountain West) led 41-23 at the half and led 55-45 with 10:22 left. But UNLV progressively chipped away, finally tying it at 59 on a Jovan Mooring 3 with 4:33 to go.

A Tyler Green free throw and Christian Jones' layup gave the Rebels a three-point lead before a Justin James 3-pointer made it 64-all. After an Uche Ofoegbu turnover, James drilled what turned out to be the clincher with 1:01 remaining.

Mooring cut it to one with a free throw, but missed a potential winning 3 with two seconds left.

James finished with 14 points for Wyoming.

Mooring led UNLV (10-11, 3-5) with 15 points. Jones added 14 points and 12 rebounds


ABORTION

Wyoming bill would require ultrasounds before abortion

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — A Wyoming lawmaker is introducing a bill that would require doctors to offer ultrasounds to women seeking abortions.

Rep. Chuck Gray, a Casper Republican, is sponsoring a bill that would require doctors to inform women 24 hours before an abortion that they have "a right to view an active ultrasound" of the fetus and listen to the fetus' heartbeat, if possible.

The measure contains exemptions for cases of medical emergency.

Gray said in an email that ultrasounds are already performed before abortions, but the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation says that is not necessarily true for abortions performed during the first 36 weeks of pregnancy.

The organization Women for Women says neither of the two abortion providers in Wyoming offers abortions after 12 weeks.

ENZI

Enzi: Refreshing to see our government support energy development

(Washington, D.C.)   U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., issued the following statement after President Trump signed executive orders Tuesday aimed at advancing the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.

Enzi said “It is refreshing to see an administration that is committed to energy production and job creation.”  He added that “It’s time the country stop yielding to the whims of unreasonable anti-energy groups and instead do what is right to provide its citizens with reliable and affordable energy. These types of infrastructure projects can provide a great benefit to our country and Enzi said he looks forward to working with President Trump to support American energy production across the country.”

TAX

Senators seek to repeal death tax

(Washington, D.C.) U.S. Senators Mike Enzi and John Barrasso, both R-Wyo., joined Senator John Thune, R-S.D., to re-introduce legislation to permanently repeal the federal estate tax, better known as the death tax.   

Enzi and Barrasso said the bill would permanently abolish the tax on family farms, ranches and small businesses. The senators believe a family’s assets, sometimes built up over generations, should be left in the hands of the family and will be put to better use there in the local community than shipped off to a wasteful Washington.

At its introduction in the Senate, the bill had 24 cosponsors in addition to Enzi and Barrasso. Representative Kristi Noem, R-S.D., introduced the same legislation in the House.

MAYOR

Charges brought against former Mills mayor

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — The former mayor of Mills has been charged with four misdemeanors, including official misconduct and conflict of interest by a public official.

Marrolyce Wilson also is accused of interfering with a peace officer and illegally holding a liquor license.

Wilson is scheduled to appear Feb. 24 in Circuit Court. Wilson could not be reached for comment, and court officials say she does not yet have an attorney.

The development comes in the wake of the town's former treasurer being charged with taking more than $64,000 from the town.

CASPER SMOKING BAN

Casper City Council declines to amend smoking ban

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — The Casper City Council has declined to amend the smoking ban approved by voters two years ago.

Councilman Chris Walsh had asked that the issue be discussed at a work session Tuesday after speaking with bar owners who said they had been hurt by the ban, which applies to all public establishments.

The council voted 5-4 not to amend the ban.

Amendment supporters argued that the ban had a negative economic impact, that it infringed on the property rights of business owners and that it was ineffective from a public health perspective.

The amendment would have either allowed smoking in all public establishments or just in bars.

EDUCATION BUDGET

Bill proposes cuts, spending from savings for education

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The first comprehensive proposals to address Wyoming's school funding crisis have been introduced in both the state House and Senate.

The two measures include freezing spending on special education and transportation costs, dipping heavily into savings, tapping state severance tax collections, increasing class sizes and possibly raising the sales tax.

Lawmakers are faced with an estimated $400 million annual funding shortfall in K-12 schools, caused mainly by a downturn in the state's fossil fuel industry.

On Monday night, the House Education Committee voted to sponsor a broad proposal for representatives to consider, while the Senate has introduced its own legislation.

UNEMPLOYMENT RATE

Wyoming jobless rate down slightly in December

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming's unemployment rate fell slightly to 4.8 percent in December.

The Wyoming Department of Workforce Services says the rate is down from November's 4.9 percent.

From November to December, unemployment rates followed their normal seasonal pattern and increased in nearly every county. As colder weather sets in, employment often falls in construction and other sectors.

The largest jobless rate increases occurred in Johnson, Crook and Sheridan counties. Teton County's unemployment rate fell thanks to the start of the ski season.

Natrona County's 6.6 percent jobless rate was the highest rate in December, followed by Fremont's 6.4 percent, Campbell's 6 percent and Sublette's 5.8 percent. The lowest unemployment rates were in Niobrara and Albany, both at 2.8 percent, and Goshen, at 3 percent.

BEAR RIVER DEVELOPMENT PROJECT

State says development planned for Bear River can be delayed

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah water officials are revising estimates for when the Bear River Development Project will be complete after determining the billion-dollar project no longer needs to be in place by 2040.

Officials attributed the change in timing to technological advances, water conservation efforts and a state population that isn't increasing as fast as initially projected.

The Bear River Development Act calls for the diversion of up to 220,000 acre-feet of water per year from the tri-state river for storage in constructed dams. That water would get piped to serve cities along the Wasatch Front, including the Salt Lake metropolitan area.

Officials say further analysis of conservation efforts will help provide a better understand of the project's timing.

The Bear River runs through Utah, Idaho and Wyoming.

STATE BUDGETS-ENERGY DECLINE

S&P: Downturn in energy production hits budgets in 6 states

A new financial analysis says six of the country's major energy-producing states have slipped into recession.

The report by S&P Global Ratings says a sharp decline in energy production and exploration over the last 18 months has caused revenue to plummet and job growth to stagnate. The states are Alaska, Louisiana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Wyoming.

The budget troubles are not limited to just energy-producing states, although they are among the hardest hit. A recent Associated Press survey found that two-thirds of the states are currently dealing with a budget shortfall or expect to confront one in the coming fiscal year.

Experts say state economic growth has been slower than expected, with revenue in some places failing to meet projections or keep up with rising spending needs.

 
GUNS

Guns on campus: Wyoming lawmakers advance bill

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming lawmakers are moving closer to allowing people to carry guns on college campuses and in government meetings.

The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday looked past objections by the University of Wyoming and advanced a bill that would allow students and others who aren't police to carry guns at UW and the state's community colleges.

State Rep. Bo Biteman of Ranchester says the bill seeks to restore "fundamental and natural rights to self-defense." Biteman is among 13 sponsors of the bill in both the House and Senate.

UW Vice President Chris Boswell questioned whether firearms are a good idea at athletics events. The committee considered but decided against banning firearms at public events on campus.

The committee is set to discuss a separate bill allowing guns in government meetings.

EDUCATION

Bill proposes cuts, spending from savings for education

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The first comprehensive proposals to address Wyoming's school funding crisis have been introduced in both the state House and Senate.

The two measures include freezing spending on special education and transportation costs, dipping heavily into savings, tapping state severance tax collections, increasing class sizes and possibly raising the sales tax.

Lawmakers are faced with an estimated $400 million annual funding shortfall in K-12 schools, caused mainly by a downturn in the state's fossil fuel industry.

On Monday night, the House Education Committee voted to sponsor a broad proposal for representatives to consider, while the Senate has introduced its own legislation.

FLAG

UW investigates after American flag covered with pride flag

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — University of Wyoming police are investigating after someone covered the American flag on campus with a rainbow flag commonly associated with gay pride.

The first day of UW's spring semester, someone zip tied the American flag on campus so it couldn't unravel and put a pride flag in its place.

Director of Institutional Education Chad Baldwin says UW accepts people with differing opinions, but moving the American flag is not a preferred method of protest.

WIND TAX

Wind tax increase proposal rejected by Wyoming legislators

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming lawmakers have shot down a bill that would have quintupled the state's tax on wind production.

The House Revenue Committee voted down the measure Monday in a 7-2 decision.

Republican Rep. Mike Madden is one of the sponsors of the bill that would've raised the wind tax to $5. He says the measure would've created a more level playing field by putting wind industry taxes more in line with the coal, oil and gas industry.

But critics of the legislation said it would hurt renewable energy projects, such as the Power Company of Wyoming's $5 billion Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project. It's been in the works for nearly a decade and is expected to be the largest wind project in the U.S.

ANTELOPE HUNTS

Bill would give extra licenses to women's antelope hunt

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming lawmakers are considering a bill that aims to create parity between men's and women's antelope hunting events.

The state Game and Fish Department provides 80 additional antelope tags for the One Shot Antelope Hunt held each fall in Lander.

However, it doesn't do the same for the new the Wyoming Women's Antelope Hunt held in Ucross.

Senate File 60 would change that.

Sponsored by Republican Jim Anderson, R-Casper, the bill would provide 80 additional tags for the women's hunt.

The Game and Fish Department supports the bill, which has passed the state Senate and is now before the House.

ELK POPULATION

Elk numbers stabilizing in northern Yellowstone

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — State and federal biologists say elk numbers in the northern part of Yellowstone National Park have stabilized after a long-term decline.

More than 5,300 elk were counted earlier this month in Yellowstone's northern range and areas outside the park near Gardiner, Montana. The elk numbers were released Monday as part of the Northern Yellowstone Wildlife Working Group elk survey.

They show a 9 percent increase in the area's elk population from 2016 and mark the third consecutive year the count has surpassed 4,800.

Biologists say it appears elk numbers have rebounded from a significant decline that started in the mid-1990s.

But even with the growth, the Yellowstone area elk population is still far below what it was in 1994, when 19,000 elk were counted.

VOA THEFT

Gillette woman enters not guilty plea in theft case

GILLETTE, Wyo. (AP) — The 30-year-old Gillette woman has pleaded not guilty to stealing from the clients of a faith-based organization that helps convicted felons re-enter society.

Yelizaveta "Lisa" Zolotova is accused of stealing more than $100,000 from Volunteers of America clients over a three-year period. Felony theft carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

Court documents say Zolotova quit June 1 after the VOA's chief financial officer questioned her about discrepancies in the accounts of VOA residents.

Authorities say Zolotova's job was to act essentially as the bank for VOA clients.

Zolotova is accused of taking clients' money and depositing it into her own account or putting the money on a prepaid Visa card in her name.

Women's march draws crowds in Wyoming

LANDER, Wyo. (AP) — About 300 people marched in Lander and hundreds more in Casper and elsewhere around the state to highlight women's issues and discontent with new President Donald Trump.

In Cheyenne, 1,500 participants marched to support women's rights and the rights of all people, singing and cheering along the route that concluded at the Wyoming Supreme Court Building.

Marchers carried colorful signs with messages that included "health care is a right," ''women's rights equal human rights," and "keep your laws and hands off my body."

The march in Lander was one of hundreds that happened Saturday in cities and towns across the country.

A local organizer said the Cheyenne march was not anti-Trump although his election galvanized the movement.



Wyoming congresswoman Cheney says Trump is wrong on NATO

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming congresswoman Liz Cheney says President Donald Trump's views on NATO are wrong and she hopes he changes them.

In an interview with the Casper Star-Tribune published Sunday (http://bit.ly/2k4xD30 ), Cheney called NATO "probably the most effective military alliance in history" and pledged to defend it.

Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, is a Republican who was elected to her first term in November.

Throughout his campaign and in recent interviews, Trump challenged the viability of NATO. He has called it obsolete.

Cheney says she does agree with Trump that some NATO members need to raise their defense spending.

She was critical of former President Barack Obama's foreign policy, saying Obama had ceded influence in the Middle East to Iran, leading to instability and worsening Syria's civil war.



Wyoming Senate president kills public lands bill

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — It appears a proposed constitutional amendment providing for state management of public lands won't be coming out of the Wyoming Legislature this session.

Senate President Eli Bebout says he will effectively kill the idea by not assigning the proposal to a committee for review. Instead, legislative leaders say they will work with President Donald Trump's administration on managing the federal lands in Wyoming.

Bebout said the intent of the proposed amendment has been misconstrued.

The proposal specified how the state would have managed the lands. For instance, the lands would have to be operated for multiple use.

Supporters of the constitutional amendment contend the state can better manage the public land, but sportsmen and conservation groups mobilized against it, saying it was a bad idea.



No 2016 Wyoming miners deaths, low rates across the country

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — No miners died in Wyoming in 2016 and the country also recorded record-low fatality rates.

The U.S. Department of Labor reported that 26 miners died on the job in 2016 compared with 29 the previous year. Those are the only two years mining deaths have been below 30.

No coal miners have died in Wyoming in two years. Four died on the job between 2013 and 2014.

Since 2014, coal employment figures had dropped across the country as coal faced competition with other cheap fuels. More than 500 miners lost their jobs in Wyoming in 2016.



Energy companies respond to spiking ozone levels

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — For the first time in about six years, state regulators this week have invoked special conditions that require energy companies to reduce pollution from oil and gas fields in southwest Wyoming.

The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality issued so-called ozone action days in the Upper Green River Basin for Friday and Saturday. Ground-level ozone is the primary ingredient for smog.

On action days, oil and gas producers take steps such as reducing truck idling and limiting refueling.

Chris Merrill, of the Wyoming Outdoor Council, says the action day is a reminder that ozone levels can still be a threat in Wyoming, and more work needs to be done to control it.



Increasing enrollment likely a goal in UW strategic plan

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — University of Wyoming President Laurie Nichols says a strategic planning initiative that began about four months ago is moving along as scheduled.

One of Nichols' first orders of business when she arrived on campus in 2016 was developing a strategic plan to guide the university through the next five years.

Nichols addressed the UW Board of Trustees this past week about the plan's progress.

She says the fall semester was a time for holding listening sessions across the campus and state, drawing hundreds of people looking to tell UW's leaders where they think the strategic plan should go.

Nichols says UW's disappointing enrollment numbers in recent years was of high concern to many who attended listening sessions.



Winter closures seek to protect wildlife

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — Forest managers in western Wyoming are reporting some skiers and snowboarders are illegally making tracks in winter range closed to protect wildlife.

The winter habitat closures are designed to protect wildlife.

Animals use those areas to conserve energy and survive a long, harsh winter of the Rockies.

Heavy snowfall has pushed animals to the valley floor, which is why there have been so many wildlife encounters in tow

Marisa Wilson, of the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, said when humans disturb wildlife in the winter, it can force them to expend precious energy, which can lead to a long, slow death.



UW vice president to serve on prestigious advisory council

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — The University of Wyoming's vice president for research and economic development has been appointed to the Advisory Council for the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

Bill Gern's four-year term starts this month.

The council's roles are to peer review research and research training grant applications assigned to the National Institute of General Medical Sciences; offer advice and recommendations on policy, program development, implementation and evaluation; and advise on other matters of significance to the institute.

The institute is primarily funded by the National Institutes of Health and supports fundamental research that leads to increased understanding of biological processes and advances in disease diagnosis, treatment and prevention.



Frontier Prison gets $500,000 grant for renovation

RAWLINS, Wyo. (AP) — A group that oversees Wyoming's historic old prison in Rawlins has been awarded a $500,000 grant to help renovate a 1922 building where guards lived.

The Wyoming Frontier Prison announced the grant Friday.

The group previously received a $500,000 federal grant for the project.

The renovated guards quarters will be the home of the Carbon County Visitors Council. It will also have a conference room and restrooms.

The prison gets an estimated 14,500 visitors annually. It was in use from 1901 until 1981, when it was replaced by a new prison in Rawlins.


 


Wyoming politicians, leaders attend Trump inauguration

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Gov. Matt Mead is among those from Wyoming who planned to attend Donald Trump's presidential inauguration.

Mead joined Wyoming's congressional delegation and at least two dozen other Wyoming Republicans for the inaugural events.

Mead spokesman David Bush says events like the inauguration are good opportunities for the governor to meet members of the incoming administration, discuss Wyoming's priorities and show love of country.

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney said that she would be at the inauguration and criticized the dozens of House Democrats who have said they are boycotting Trump's inauguration.

She said she had sat on the platform behind the podium at President Barack Obama's inauguration in 2009, even though she didn't vote for him or agree with his policies.

 

Wanted Mississippi man arrested in Wyoming

SHERIDAN, Wyo. (AP) — A 27-year-old man wanted in a Mississippi killing last year has been arrested in Wyoming.

Jeremy Douglas Mcelvin, of Summit, Mississippi, was arrested Wednesday at a residence on a warrant out of Pike County, Mississippi.

Mississippi authorities contacted the Sheridan police after receiving an anonymous tip that Mcelvin was in the northern Wyoming city.

It wasn't immediately known whether Mcelvin had an attorney.

Detective Lt. Tom Ringley says Mcelvin was being held in the Sheridan County Jail.

Mcelvin was wanted in the death of a 29-year-old McComb man whose body was found in the Bogue (BOH-guh) Chitto River.

Authorities say Cort Gatlin, of McComb, was shot three times in the head.

Two others were arrested last year.

 

Study finds Wyoming values supplying schools with internet

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — A nonprofit organization aimed at improving internet activity for schools has found that Wyoming is a leader in supplying internet to its campuses.

A study by EducationSuperHighway found that 79 percent of Wyoming school districts report sufficient Wi-Fi, more than the national average.

In a news release Gov. Matt Mead said Wyoming places a high value on education and understands the value of internet connectivity for students in rural regions.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow says broadband internet allows state leaders to focus on supporting teachers and encouraging them to take advantage of the opportunities the internet provides.

 

Canadians plead guilty to violations at parks across US West

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Three Canadians have been banned from federal lands for five years after pleading guilty to walking on a sensitive hot spring in Yellowstone National Park and other crimes at parks across the Western U.S.

Charles Gamble, Alexey Lyakh and Justis Price Brown pleaded guilty during a Thursday hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Carman at the Yellowstone Justice Center.

The men were from the group High on Life SundayFundayz.

An investigation last spring into the group's travels revealed violations of park rules at Yellowstone, Zion, Death Valley and Mesa Verde national parks and Utah's Corona Arch and Bonneville Salt Flats.

Gamble's attorney, Alex Rate, says his client and friends have been threatened and shamed on social media for what amounted to making bad decisions on a road trip.

 

Gillette man gets life in prison for 2-year-old boy's death

GILLETTE, Wyo. (AP) — A Gillette man convicted of killing his girlfriend's 2-year-old son has been sentenced to life in prison without parole.

36-year-old Donald Foltz Jr. was sentenced Thursday for the Dec. 30, 2014, death of Braxton Bailey. Foltz was convicted in November of first-degree murder.

Forensic experts testified the boy died of trauma to his abdomen area. Foltz's attorney argued there was no way to prove what caused the trauma.

About a week before his death, Braxton was taken to the hospital after complaining of pain in one of his legs. Charging documents say the doctor raised the possibility of child abuse.

Foltz has a previous child abuse conviction involving a 2-year-old child in Greeley, Colorado.

 

Former Wright school secretary accused of taking money

GILLETTE, Wyo. (AP) — The former secretary at an elementary school in Wright has been accused of taking an estimated $11,000 from various school accounts.

Shannon L. Thompson was bound over for trial Wednesday after Circuit Judge Wendy M. Bartlett found probable cause to suspect her of felony theft.

The money was noticed missing from the school and the student council after the school did an audit of its accounts.

Thompson resigned from the Cottonwood Elementary School in May 2015. Authorities said she was responsible for depositing money from school vending machines and student council funds raised from various fundraisers.

Thompson's attorney, John Miner of Casper, disputed the case against her, arguing that prosecutors had not proven probable cause to determine if Thompson should stand trial.

 

Wyoming lineman and linebacker play in all-star games

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — Offensive lineman Chase Roullier and linebacker Lucas Wacha will represent Wyoming in college all-star games this Saturday.

Roullier will play in the East-West Shrine Game at St. Petersburg, Florida, while Wacha will be in California to play in the NFL Players Association Collegiate Bowl.

Roullier was selected First Team All-Mountain West Conference and was named to both the 2016 Outland Trophy Watch List and the 2016 Rotary Lombardi Award Watch List.

He played in 48 career games at Wyoming, starting 42 of those games.

Wacha was named Honorable Mention All-Mountain West Conference as a senior. He concluded his Wyoming career with 344 career tackles to rank No. 7 in school history.

He recorded a personal best 108 total tackles his senior season.



Sixth-grade teacher pleads not guilty to child porn charges


CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A Cheyenne sixth-grade teacher has pleaded not guilty to child porn charges in federal court.

34-year-old Matt Bell pleaded not guilty to charges of knowingly attempting to transport child pornography and knowingly attempting to access with intent to view child pornography.

Bell was employed at Henderson Elementary School in Cheyenne. He was placed on paid leave in the fall after school officials learned of the investigation into his conduct.

Court documents say detectives searched Bell's home in October and recovered 87 images of suspected child pornography on his computer.


Capitol renovation lawsuit dismissed by Cheyenne judge

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A state judge has dismissed a lawsuit contesting a $300 million project to renovate the Wyoming Capitol in Cheyenne.

In dismissing the lawsuit filed by former state Rep. Gerald Gay, of Casper, and Evanston resident Karl Allred, Laramie County District Judge Catherine Rogers sided with attorneys for the state who contended the two men lacked standing to sue over the matter because they personally haven't been harmed.

The two men argued that Gov. Matt Mead and legislative leaders violated the state constitution by issuing contracts without competitive bids.

Their attorney says they will appeal Rogers' decision.

Separately, another lawsuit involving the restoration project is still pending in the state court. State Treasurer Mark Gordon contends he was improperly bypassed in letting Capitol contracts.

 

Lander hosts multiple school for wrestling tournament

(LANDER, Wyo.)  23 wrestling teams from various schools across Wyoming will converge on Lander Friday and Saturday for a wrestling tournament.

Starting Friday around 2pm, teams and families will be in the area until around 8pm Saturday night when the tournament ends.

 

Wyoming lawmakers to consider bill on palliative care

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming lawmakers will consider a measure meant to improve the quality of palliative care.

Palliative care is most often used when someone is dying. The medical approach includes pain management specialists, counselors and spiritual advisers.

Jason Mincer of the American Cancer Society says palliative care can also be used to help people with a serious but not necessarily life-threatening disease. The society's Cancer Action Network supports the Wyoming bill, which is sponsored by Casper Republican Sen. Charlie Scott.

Scott says the bill would create an advisory council to look at palliative care deficiencies in Wyoming and educate the public, doctors and other medical providers about the care.

The council would also help the state health department evaluate the quality of such care.

 

Critical federal approvals for massive Wyoming wind project

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The biggest onshore wind development in the works in the U.S. has received two critical federal approvals.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management on Wednesday approved the 500-turbine first phase of the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre wind project in southern Wyoming.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved permits allowing some eagles to be killed during the wind farm's construction and initial operation. The turbines' spinning blades could kill up to 14 golden eagles and two bald eagles a year before project owner Power Company of Wyoming could face penalties.

Company officials expect the first turbines to go up next year.

Once complete, the wind farm will have as many as 1,000 turbines and generate up to 3,000 megawatts, or enough electricity for nearly 1 million homes.

 

Electric vehicle charging stations planned for Utah

OGDEN, Utah (AP) — State leaders have announced plans to add electric vehicle charging stations along 1,500 miles of highway running through Utah, Wyoming and Idaho.

The leaders joined Utah's Rocky Mountain Power on Wednesday in announcing that the utility received a $4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy for the electric transportation initiative.

The money will go toward building charging stations every 100 miles along Interstates 15, 90, 70 and 84. Executive Director of the Utah Governor's Office of Energy Development Laura Nelson says the state will also contribute $10 million to the project.

James Campbell with Rocky Mountain Power says the utility is also working on an incentive program that would allow businesses to operate and own the charging stations.

Construction is expected to begin this summer.


Another record year for Grand Teton National Park visits

MOOSE, Wyo. (AP) — Grand Teton National Park saw a record number of visitors for the third year in a row.

The National Park Service says Grand Teton welcomed about 4.8 million visitors in 2016, which is a 3.8 percent increase from the previous record of 4.6 million visits in 2015.

The most significant increases came in the months of May, June, and November when total visitation increased 20, 11, and 10 percent, respectively.

The record visitation is part of a longer term upward trend which has seen Grand Teton visitation increase 23 percent over the past four years. The record is also part of a nationwide trend which has brought record numbers to parks across the country.

 

School CPR bill delayed by Senate panel

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A Senate committee has delayed acting on a proposed bill that would require Wyoming students to receive basic instruction in CPR in order to graduate.

The Senate Education Committee on Wednesday heard testimony that overwhelmingly supported Senate File 82.

However, there were concerns about how the measure was written and whether a new law was the proper way to address the issue.

Committee chairman Republican Sen. Hank Coe, of Cody, says the panel will take up the bill again on Friday to give sponsors time to rework it.

Under the current proposal, school districts would be required to provide instruction in cardiopulmonary resuscitation basics to students. No student could graduate without the instruction.

Proponents say the bill doesn't require CPR certification, which requires much more detailed training.


Wyoming graduation rates rise to nearly 80 percent - CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — On-time graduation rates in Wyoming have once again risen, reaching the highest level since 2010. The state Department of Education announced that the 2014-15 class had a graduation rate of 79.41. State Superintendent Jillian Balow said that the figure marks the fourth straight annual increase for Wyoming schools. Across Wyoming, 82.7 percent of female students graduated, while 77.3 percent of male students graduated. The difference is similar to the disparity in 2014-15. In 2010, Wyoming reached a graduation rate of 80.42 but later declined.


Death of a Dubois man credited to illegal use of illegal drug - (LANDER, Wyo.) The death of a 27 year old Dubois man is being blamed on his illegal use of heroin. According to a news release from Fremont County Coroner Mark Stratmoen, toxicology has confirmed that on December 19th, 2016, a 27 year old male from Dubois, WY died of an overdose of Heroin and Fentanyl. This is the first ever recorded death in Fremont County that was directly caused by Heroin. A dramatic rise in Heroin deaths has been seen the last few years in other parts of the United States, and has made its presence known in eastern Wyoming for some time. The personal, social, and medical impact of this drug has been devastating in some communities. Fentanyl is a highly toxic pharmaceutical opiate that is often used as an additive to Heroin to increase the effects, resulting in a product that has a very narrow window between effective and lethal.



Bill to change inoperative liquor license rules advances
 - CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A bill that could free multiple retail liquor licenses across the state has advanced out of a legislative committee. Senate File 14, which would require liquor license owners to be operational year-round to keep their licenses, advanced from the Senate Corporations Committee on Tuesday. The bill is aimed at freeing up inoperative, or parked, retail liquor licenses across the state, allowing new business owners to take advantage of the license. Currently, licenses can remain inoperative for up to three years, but the three-year window can be renewed by using the license for three months and taking in $2,500 worth of sales.



Senators intro bipartisan bill to delist gray wolf 
- (Washington, D.C.) U.S. Wyoming Senators John Barrasso and Mike Enzi were among other senators who introduced bipartisan legislation today that would delist the gray wolf in Wyoming, Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota from the Endangered Species Act of 1973. The bill restores the wolf to the status determined to be appropriate by Department of Interior wildlife experts. The bill would also allow wolf management plans that are based on federal and state wildlife expertise to move forward without any legal ambiguity. Sen. Barrasso said “Wyoming has honored its commitment and put together a solid plan to protect the state’s wolf population,”. He added that “Even the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agrees that wolves in Wyoming should be taken off the endangered species list.


Wyo. National Guard personnel supporting Presidential Inauguration - (CHEYENNE, Wyo.) The Wyoming National Guard has 15 soldiers and airmen supporting the 58th Presidential Inauguration this week in Washington, D.C. Two photojournalists from the Wyoming Army National Guard’s Joint Force Headquarters will lead public affairs teams covering the various activities and events supported by National Guard forces. The Wyoming Air National Guard’s 153rd Security Forces Squadron has 13 people in the nation’s capital assisting with security efforts. Maj. Gen. Luke Reiner, Wyoming’s adjutant general said “Having Wyoming National Guard personnel supporting one of the most important events in our nation is a great honor.”



Judge lets federal flaring rules take effect during lawsuit
 - CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — New rules against burning off excess natural gas from oil and gas wells on public land are taking effect after a federal judge refused to block them pending the outcome of a lawsuit. U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl in Casper ruled Monday he can’t immediately conclude the Interior Department oversteps its authority with the rules requiring gas to be captured rather than flared. The rules seek to reduce air pollution and gas waste. They took effect Tuesday but Skavdahl points out certain provisions aren’t effective for another year. Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota and two petroleum-industry groups wanted the rules blocked immediately, saying in a lawsuit they exceed Interior’s proper authority. Environmentalists praised the decision while the Western Energy Alliance says it’s confident the states and industry will prevail in court.








































Public Service Announcement for the Town of Hudson:
Please be advised that flooding has occurred. The West side, as well as other areas around the town have flooded. Mitigation efforts are in place and currently the water level is subsiding. The Town asks that you please avoid the West side of town. Also, first street, known as Homec’s lane could potentially be closed, so avoid it if possible. Sand, and sand bags will be available south of the Town Hall for your convenience, starting at 10a. The Town of Hudson
Public Service Announcement for the Town of Hudson:
Please be advised that flooding has occurred. The West side, as well as other areas around the town have flooded. Mitigation efforts are in place and currently the water level is subsiding. The Town asks that you please avoid the West side of town. Also, first street, known as Homec’s lane could potentially be closed, so avoid it if possible. Sand, and sand bags will be available south of the Town Hall for your convenience, starting at 10a. The Town of Hudson