Cheyenne, WY – The federal government is reminding states they need to spend or earmark education money by September 30th or lose it. In Wyoming, officials are sawying they anticipate spending all of the state's share. Department of Education Finance Director Fred Hansen says in the past, there have been a few times when they didn't spend all the funds the federal government earmarked for Wyoming. But he says most school districts are familiar with federal programs and certainly have planned to apply for the federal money.
Laramie, WY – Wyoming State Forester Bill Crapser says recent wet weather doesn't mean predictions about a severe fire season ahead are wrong. Crapser says the recent moisture has been good for farmers, ranchers and homeowners, but it can also be a curse. He says rain can help firefighters get control of blazes. But Crapser says it also promotes the growth of fine fuels and when those fuels dry out, the fire danger increases. He says the rains have done nothing to replenish the moisture in trees following years of drought.
Cheyenne, WY – Slow-moving thunderstorms drenched parts of central and southeastern Wyoming Wednesday. The National Weather Service issued flash flood warnings for several counties including southern parts of Cheyenne, which picked up two inches of rain. Officially, Cheyenne recorded six-tenths of an inch. Rawlins picked up more than a half inch of rain, a record for that date in the city. Riverton received from a quarter to a half inch of rain. Flash Flood Warnings were issued for Fremont, Albany, Laramie and Platte counties through Wednesday evening.
Laramie, WY – The authors of a new report on sage grouse and sagebrush habitat are not optimistic about the bird's future. The U-S Fish and Wildlife Service commissioned the Western Association of Fish and Game Agencies to conduct the study. Idaho Fish and Game Biologist Jack Connelly says both human and natural forces have combined to fragment habitat. He says sage grouse are used to wide open spaces and such things as subdivision development, energy development, grazing and the invasion of cheat grass have impacted the landscape.
Cheyenne, WY – As Wyoming lawmakers search for solutions for what many call a health care crisis, one plan still on the table is subsidizing doctors. The Legislature's appropriations committee is still considering plans to help doctors pay the cost of medical malpractice insurance. Laramie Senator Mike Mass sponsors one of the proposals he says it needed because it is an emergency. Massie's plan would give all doctors in Wyoming up to 35 thousand dollars to cover premiums. Another plan would only help specific doctors.
Laramie, WY – Some doctors and Wyoming lawmakers are discussing a new plan that would solve the health care crisis in the state. Cody Doctor Bo Johnson likes the idea of doctors forming a group called a Risk Retention Pool. He says he and other doctors could then pay for their own insurance and by-pass the high rates private insurers are charging. Johnson says to get the venture going, the doctors group interested in the proposal would need a 25 million dollar loan from the state.
Laramie, Wy – Wyoming Senator Craig Thomas believes security will improve in Iraq following this week's handover of sovereignty. With the interim government in place, Thomas thinks that will segregate what he says is the small percentage of those engaging in terrorism. He also says security should be helped by NATO training Iraqi forces. Thomas hopes American troops will no longer be viewed as occupiers. Thomas believes transferring custody of Saddam Hussein should also deal with the occupation question. Thomas says if we were an occupier, then we wouldn't have turned him over.
Cheyenne, Wy – The legislature will get a chance to debate two bills that cap non-economic damages for medical malpractice and a piece of legislation that sets a million dollar cap on damages. Speaker Fred Parady urged a joint Super commitee to support his bill that actually names a cap amount because he thinks lawmakers should debate the issue. However, Parady is not in love with the committees amendment that set the amount at a million dollars. He had proposed 400-thousand. Several medical providers want 250-thousand dollars, while attorneys don't want a cap on damages.
Cheyenne, WY – Sage grouse numbers across the West have gradually increased in recent years. That's according to a 700 page report released by a group of state wildlife managers. The team also included a representative of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. The study charts a drastic decline in sage grouse across the west from the 1960's to the mid-1980's, a slower decline in the '90's and a gradual increase in recent years.
Cheyenne, WY – Wyoming has among the nation's highest percent of high school graduates, but below the national average for college graduates. The U-S Census Bureau says nationally, 85 percent of those 25 and older graduated from high school while the Wyoming average was 91 percent. That places the state among the top in the nation. In the same age group, the report says 27 percent nationally had at least a bachelor's degree. In Wyoming, that figure was 21 percent, among the lowest in the 50 states.
Yellowstone National Park – Yellowstone National Park officials say they will consider whether a cell-phone tower near Old Faithful could be shortened or camouflaged better. The tower is considered an eyesore by some visitors. An advocacy group known as Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility questions whether the 100-foot tower should be near Old Faithful at all. Yellowstone Superintendent Suzanne Lewis is considering shortening the tower by 20 feet, and finding better ways to conceal it.
Topic: Renny Mackay reports on the medical malpractice issues from Casper
Topic: Jim Morgan speaks with Idaho Fish and Game Biologist Jack Connelly about sage grouse habitats
Topic: The 2nd Wyoming Mentorship Collaborative Academy will focus on getting special education teachers certified and bringing more support to special needs children; Guest: DJ Yocom head of the College of Education Special ED Program and Lori Kimbro, WMCA Project Coordinator
Washington, DC – Three Wyoming counties are now considered drought disaster areas by the federal government. The same declarations could be on the way for a number of other counties in the state. Last week, the US Department of Agriculture declared 19 Nebraska counties as drought disaster areas. Bordering counties were covered by that declaration as well, so Laramie, Goshen, and Niobrara counties are also federal disaster areas. That means farmers and ranchers in that strip of eastern Wyoming are now eligible for low-interest emergency loans from the USDA's Farm Service Agency.
Laramie, Wy – The Wyoming Community College Commission has accepted the resignation of its executive director and will begin what it hopes will be a smooth transition. Commission President Ed Jolovich says Director Richard Gilliland says he was resigning for personal reasons. Jolovich says they will begin a national search, but would like someone familiar with the Wyoming college system. He says there ability to maintain a good working relationship between the College's and the commission will be key.
Laramie, Wyoming – University of Wyoming President Phil Dubois has received another contract extension. U-W Trustees extended his contract another three years, through the summer of 2008. Trustee President Kathy Hunt will negotiate with Dubois his compensation and other details of the contract and present the details to the Trustees at their September meeting. The extension will make Dubois U-W's third longest serving President. He says he looks forward to the next four years and appreciates the board's confidence in his leadership.
Casper, WY – An Ohio-based company is adding about one hundred jobs to its' Casper facility. Influent Incorporated is a telemarketing firm that works only with Fortune 500 companies. When one of those companies wanted to expand its work with Influent, they specifically asked that Casper was chosen as the location. Influent's Casper Manager Julie Gerlock-Foster says the decision speaks well for the community and Casper workforce. Casper Area Economic Development Alliance President Chris Manegold says the decision should help with other business recruitment.
Laramie, Wyoming – Both prison expansion and plans for a new prison facility are moving forward and are on schedule. That's what Corrections Director Bob Lampert told the Joint Judiciary committee. Lampert says construction documents on the various expansion projects will be received in the middle of July, while the schedule for a new prison is starting to progress. They are currently negotiating with a design firm. Lampert says they will ask interested communities to submit information for a site assessment in the fall.
Laramie, Wy – One of the committees screening bills before the state legislature's special session this July is meeting Tuesday. The co chairman of the Joint Appropriations Committee, Senator John Schiffer, says they will consider several different plans including some to subsidize doctors. He says this is needed because the high price of medical malpractice insurance is driving some doctors away and keeping others from coming to Wyoming. He says there are various ideas floating around that could bring the price of insurance down or subsidize doctors.
Laramie, Wy – A Republican running for Congress is not a fan of keeping the Bush tax cuts, especially if the budget is not balanced. Marvin Trip Applequist of Farson is challenging incumbent Barbara Cubin. But Applequist is concerned about the current tax cuts. He says it was irresponsible to support tax cuts without budget cuts.
Jackson, WY – Jackson Hole Airport officials are criticizing a federal helicopter base next to the airport, saying it's too grandiose and gaudy. The heli-base is a joint project between the National Park Service and Bridger-Teton National Forest to coordinate and improve search and rescue and firefighting activities. Airport board members charge the federal government exercised a double standard because the orange-tinted brown stain on the building doesn't blen in with natural surroundings. Park Service rules require that standard.
Jackson, WY – Wyoming Game and Fish Department officials were forced to euthanize another black bear in the Jackson Hole area last week. The agency had received several reports of the bear getting into bird feeders and garbage around Wilson. Game and Fish Bear Management officer Eric Shorma says the animal was a danger because she lost her fear of humans. Shorma says the second bear to be put down this year is disappointing because everything that causes habituation can be avoided.
Laramie, Wy – A new pipeline should have a major impact on Wyoming's natural gas market. Mark Dolger of the Wyoming Natural Gas Pipeline authority says the Cheyenne Plains Pipeline will send more gas to mid-western markets. Dolger says the authority negotiated to make the pipeline is larger then originally planned. This will allow it to carry more gas. Dolger says the pipeline authority is aggressively pursuing other avenues to increase the states production and exporting of natural gas. The group will use its new bonding authority to develop other projects.