News

Cooper McKim / Wyoming Public Radio

A Natrona County school that closed last year due to a gas leak is nearly ready to re-open. A new ventilation system has been installed and one round of air sampling tests shows encouraging results.

Staff and students at the Midwest School noticed a gas-like odor at the end of the school year in 2016. It turned out an inactive natural gas well was releasing dangerous contaminants inside the building. 

Snowpack Continues To Rise

May 23, 2017
Emmanuel Boutet

Wyoming’s snowpack has risen to the point where heavy flooding is more and more likely. 

State Hydrologist Lee Hackleman says snowpack has climbed from 115-percent of median to 176-percent.  Hackleman says the weather has him nervous.

"Well if it stays cool and rainy like this long enough, we know that when it warms up it’s gonna warm up fast and implications are that we will have some flooding then. We’d be better off if it was a little warmer now and we’d have a little better start on the melt out."

City of Laramie

The Laramie City Council has voted to restore the environmental health inspector position. Last year, the council voted to eliminate local funding for that role.  

Laramie City Manager Janine Jordan says the plan was to ask the state to fund the position. But councilor Vicki Henry convinced the council to make the inspector position halftime. Prior to the vote, Laramie Mayor Andi Summerville said that a loss of revenue has forced the city to consider dropping programs not required by law. But she noted that many in the community were concerned about the cut.

Flickr Creative Commons

The Wyoming Secretary of State’s office recently certified a proposed ballot initiative to limit the influence of money on politics. But getting an initiative on the Wyoming ballot isn’t easy. 

The proposed initiative, sponsored by Wyoming Promise, would regulate political contributions and spending. But before it can get on the ballot, it requires 15 percent of registered Wyoming voters in two-thirds of the state’s counties to sign a petition. Lander Senator Cale Case said that kind of robust requirement in signatures can make things difficult, but not impossible.

 

The cold, wet spring is delaying crop planting for farmers around Wyoming. Normally, almost 80 percent of sugar beets have been planted by now. But only 56 percent has been planted so far this year. 

Jeremiah Vardiman is an educator for the University of Wyoming’s northwest extension in Powell. He said farmers were finally able to get into the fields to plant most of the barley crop. But the plants aren’t growing very fast because it’s too cold.

Darrah Perez

The Weatherization Assistance Program is currently seeking applications from enrolled Northern Arapaho members who are homeowners living on the reservation. The program helps low income homeowners save on utility bills.

Tribes across the United States have weatherization programs, but here in Wyoming, the Northern Arapaho Tribe is one out of only three tribal communities who receive funds from the Department of Energy.

She's A Runner Girl

Across the country, women outnumber men at the finish lines of running events, and in Laramie, the number of young girls who run is on the rise.

Close to 100 girls will participate in Laramie’s Hapi-ness 5k this year. They are participants in She’s A Runner Girl, a program that physically and mentally prepares girls to complete a 3.1-mile run.

A second grader named Ada said she likes running with all girls. "Because there are no boys to make you sad or anything."

Rocky Mountains, Wind River Range
Provided by Wikipedia

A flood watch is active in the north central part of Wyoming. Recent warm weather combined with a spring snow storm is speeding up the already high levels of runoff in the state’s mountains.  

Streams in the eastern and central part of the state are also beginning to run high: in the Shoshone, Big Horn, Wind, and Powder River Basins.  

In the Wind River Mountains, snow pack is 237-percent higher than usual according to the emergency management agency in Fremont County. 

Irina Zhorov

The potentially record-breaking snow storm hitting southeastern Wyoming is causing major impacts to travel and infrastructure. I-80 is closed between Laramie and Cheyenne, and Eastbound lanes of that interstate are closed between Laramie and Rock Springs. Several smaller highways in southern Wyoming have also closed due to winter conditions.

Wyoming Public Media

While budget reductions have many concerned about the University of Wyoming’s decline, the school’s elementary education program was recently ranked number six in the nation by College Choice.

 

The independent online publication placed UW on its list of the "35 Best Elementary Education Degrees for 2017." Scott Chamberlin, head of the UW Department of Elementary and Early Childhood Education, said the study in part looked at the reputation of the school and affordability.

©The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc./Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York/Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York.

The National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson Hole is 30 years old this month. The museum is celebrating the occasion by curating two new exhibits from its permanent collection, both with a sharp eye towards conservation. 

Since its arrival in 1987, the museum has moved to a new location and grown its permanent collection to include pieces by Picasso, Georgia O’Keefe, and Andy Warhol, and one of the exhibits opening for the anniversary is Warhol’s Endangered Wildlife portfolio. 

Julie Meachen

Over a thousand fossils collected from the bottom of the 82-foot-deep Natural Trap Cave in northern Wyoming will soon be stored at the University of Wyoming. The collection will likely triple the size of the university’s Pleistocene collection.

Julie Meachen is one of the lead scientists on the project and has spent her last two summers excavating the cave. She said 20,000 years ago, a huge diversity of animals fell into the cavern and were trapped. She says that has allowed scientists a unique opportunity to document the many species of that era.

Oil prices have shot up in the U.S. after Russia and Saudi Arabia announced they would continue limiting supply of petroleum to the global market. They’re the two largest oil exporting nations.

Higher oil prices should increase production temporarily in Wyoming. Right now, production in the state is down 14% compared to last year. 

Planned Parenthood

Wyoming’s one and only Planned Parenthood branch in Casper will be closing its doors in July. The health center is among five others in the Rocky Mountain region that will be shutting down this summer. 

The decision to close the clinic was not entirely a financial one. That’s according to Adrienne Mansanares, a leader of Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood which oversees the Casper branch.

Tom Koerner/USFWS

In the last legislative session, lawmakers tasked the Wyoming Game and Fish Department with setting up guidelines for how private game bird farms can raise sage grouse. Under the rules, such farms could collect 250 sage grouse eggs to raise and release into the wild. The Sage Grouse Implementation Team appointed by Governor Matt Mead is reviewing those rules over the next couple of weeks. 

The University of Wyoming will now have a representative on the State Board of Education. The Wyoming legislature passed a bill during its last session, granting the University of Wyoming president the power to appoint a nonvoting member to the State Board of Education. The first to serve in this new role is College of Education Dean Ray Reutzel.

The Modern West #23: The Native West, Part 1

May 16, 2017
Aaron Schrank

Part one of two-part series, featuring stories that take us into the heart of the Wind River Reservation.

University of Wyoming

This week 37 University of Wyoming employees will be notified their position is being eliminated as of June 30. The layoffs are part of a $42 million budget reduction in response to state funding cuts.

The university is eliminating 15 positions in Information Technology, 12 in Academic Affairs, five in the Division of Administration, three in Student Affairs, one in the Office of Governmental and Community Affairs, and one at-large.

pixabay.com, CC0 Public Domain

Wildlife in the far western portion of Wyoming did not fare so well this winter. The harsh weather was especially hard on deer.  

Doug Brimeyer with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department said the combination of heavy snow accumulation and extreme temperatures took a toll on deer and antelope in the western outreaches of the state. Those conditions ultimately kept animals from accessing good forage, and as a result, Brimeyer said, wildlife quickly used up their fat reserves.

Chris Drury

In late 2010, English sculptor Chris Drury visited the University of Wyoming's campus. The school had commissioned artwork from him, though he still hadn’t decided what to make. As he spoke with locals around Laramie, Drury learned how trees in the Rockies were dying due to warmer winters due to climate change. He wanted to draw a connection between the trees' downfall and the state’s contribution to global warming through the coal, oil and gas industries.

Fatal Home Explosion In Colorado Reignites Setback Debate

May 12, 2017
YouTube channel Cataclysmic

On the afternoon of April 17th, 10-year-old Gillian Chapman and her little sister Kailey were on their front porch. Gillian had on her roller blades; Kailey had her scooter. They had just gotten permission to go visit their friend Jaelynn, across the street and two doors down.

Then, Jaelynn’s house exploded.

“The house just split open,” Gillian said. “You could see the upstairs.”

Jaelynn Martinez was not in her home at the time, but her father Mark and uncle Joey Irwin were in the basement and were killed in the blast. Her mother, Erin Martinez was injured.

Bob Beck

Earlier this month, those involved with arts organizations in the state were able to exhale after a proposal to zero out funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, Humanities, and similar organizations this year was averted. The proposal was part of President Trump’s budget.

At the University of Wyoming Art Museum, Susan Moldenhauer sits at a desk of neatly stacked brochures and contracts as she prepares for another year of exhibits. She is the Director and Chief Curator at the facility. 

Wyoming Humanities Facebook

  

President Trump's first budget proposal called for totally zeroing out federal funding for the arts and humanities, which could disproportionately hurt rural states like Wyoming.   

Last year some of that money went to a mobile museum that toured the state teaching students and adults alike about the state's heritage. Wyoming Senator John Barrasso admits that he doesn't like that the president is calling to end the program. 

United Way Worldwide

This weekend the University of Wyoming awards degrees to thousands of undergraduate and graduate students.  Two degrees are special, though. They are honorary doctorates, and at this year’s commencement, one of the recipients of an honorary doctorate is philanthropist Paula Green Johnson.

After growing up in Laramie and graduating from UW, Green Johnson made her mark by promoting women’s equality and by fundraising for charitable organizations. She told Wyoming Public Radio’s Caroline Ballard that the honor was a complete surprise.

Melodie Edwards

Wyoming may be in the middle of an energy bust, but there’s one industry that’s quietly booming: the shed antler business. More and more people are discovering how lucrative picking up deer and elk antlers can be. But that’s led to more out of season poaching of antlers and even serious accidents. Hundreds of people lined up for the season’s opening day May 1 and Wyoming Public Radio’s Melodie Edwards was there.

John Wilhelm

On the eve of graduation weekend, President Laurie Nichols announced to the Board of Trustees that 37 University of Wyoming staff members would lose their jobs to meet budget cuts.

All across campus, staff were working to get the class of 2017 graduated and onto their next venture. But there were questions in the air about how the state’s only public university is holding up.

Earthworks

The U.S. Senate decided not to overturn the Obama era methane rule, which seeks to limit the venting and flaring of methane by oil and gas drillers on federal land. 

In a tight vote, three Republicans sided with Democrats in rejecting the rollback of the methane regulation.

Supporters of the rule said it keeps the air clean in states like Wyoming with widespread gas development on public lands. Opponents said the rule is redundant with state and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations already in place.

The University of Wyoming Board of Trustees oversaw reductions in both staff and degree programs during its May meeting.

President Laurie Nichols announced to the Board of Trustees on Thursday that 37 university staff will lose their jobs heading into fiscal year 2018. Specific departments facing staff reductions have not been publicly announced, but Nichols told the trustees that notifications will go out next week.

Will Dinneen

May is Historic Preservation Month, and the City of Cheyenne kicked it off by loading three 19th century homes onto trailers and moving them to a new neighborhood.

The 5th Annual WYOmericana Caravan

May 11, 2017
Anna Rader

The WYOmericana Caravan pulled into Wyoming Public Radio on May 11th to kick off their fifth summer of touring across Wyoming, Colorado, Montana, and Utah. 

Pages