Wyoming – In this state there are approximately 57 thousand veterans. The vast majority of them do not use the benefits they are entitled to. Wyoming Public Radio's Renny MacKay reports that yesterday a group gathered in Cheyenne to try and figure out the state can better serve its veterans
Cheyenne, WY – Wyoming Representative Barbara Cubin's proposal to help the state's trona industry was criticized Tuesday by one of her election opponents. Cubin's legislation would greatly reduce federal taxes on trona, which is processed into the soda ash used to make glass and detergents. State Senator Cale Case says the bill makes no sense because there's no proof it would boost production. Case says the market for trona is similar to coal, and a new study shows that changes to coal tax rates only have a negligible impact on production.
Laramie, WY – If term limits are allowed to stay in effect, several legislators will not be allowed to run for re-election. That could open up several seats for Democrats. But the state's Democratic Party Chairman is not so sure. Mike Gireau says the only way they can win is by getting solid candidates on the ballot. He'd like to find candidates that put forth a good message for Wyoming. Gireau adds he's never been a big fan of term limits anyway so we'll have to see how this works out in the courts.
Cheyenne, WY – In Wyoming, the vast majority of veterans do not receive any of the benefits to which they're entitled. About 20 organizations banded together in Cheyenne Monday for the Governor's Veteran's Summit. The concensus of the group is that more needs to be done to provide services to those that have served the country. Wyoming Veterans Commission Director Don Ewing says it will be a challenge. He says many veterans have had good health plans over the years and don't need veteran's benefits.
Cody, WY – Wyoming Game and Fish Department wildlife biologists had to shoot and kill a five year old grizzly bear near Cody recently. Officials say the 400 pound male had broken windows and repeated damaged buildings along the upper fork of the Clarks Fork River. Biologists tried to catch the bear several times, but he always slipped away after they set up bear traps. The grizzly was the first euthanized this year for repeatedly raiding buildings.
Cheyenne, WY – The state is ready to go forward with a lawsuit challenging the federal government's rejection of Wyoming's wolf management plan. Attorney General Pat Crank says the US Fish and Wildlife Service was given a deadline of Monday as their last chance to compromise over wolves. Crank says they've heard nothing back from the agency and should be ready to sue the federal government later in the week.
Laramie, WY – The author of a book on mountain lions says Wyoming communities need to be aware that they can cause the same problems that they did in Colorado. David Baron wrote the book "The Beast in the Garden" about a series of mountain lion attacks in Boulder, Colorado. Baron says besides pets, the mountain lions also attacked and killed people on the edge of town. He warns that those who live near mountain areas need to be extra careful. Baron says people who attack deer to their property for asthetic reasons also attract lions.
Casper, WY – Divorce rates in the country aren't as alarming as they used to be, but are still too high according to a Marriage Specialist who will be speaking in Casper this week. Susan Blumberg is among the keynote speakers at the Wyoming Conference on the Family. She says the often-cited figure of 50% of marriages ending in divorce is no longer the case. But Blumberg says it's only down to around 40-42%. She believes the problem is people don't place their marriage high enough on their list of priorities. Blumberg will be speaking about a marriage education program she helped develop.
Casper, WY – The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is worried vandals may have jeopardized the hunting and fishing access program. The department established the program to make it easier for the public to use private land for hunting and fishing. But the spring, some people taking advantage of access severely damaged private property near Casper. Game and Fish northeastern Wyoming access coordinator Brian Olsen says the Casper incident is a rare event. He says problems can be avoided by posting signs or closing areas that are particularly muddy.
Cody, WY – Cody parents are upset with the school board's decision to cut the Nordic skiing program. Trustees gave tentative approval to the budget cuts earlier this month as part of efforts to save money and make up an 849 thousand dollar budget deficit. Boys swimming and gymnastics also would be cut after the 2004-2005 season. Advocates of Nordic skiing say it's a lifetime sport that offers a lot of health benefits and builds character. 14 students participated in the Cody skiing program this year. Parents will argue their case before the school board Tuesday.
Dubois, WY – Hundreds of people lined the streets of Dubois Saturday to say goodbye to Marine Private First Class Chance Phelps. Phelps was shot and killed west of Baghdad on Good Friday when the convoy he was ptoecting was ambushed. Although he spent his later years in Colorado, the 19 year old Phelps grew up in Dubois. Many of those who attended his funeral had played baseball with him or knew him as a boy who played with their children. Phelps is the 8th person with Wyoming ties to die in the line of duty since 2001.
Riverton, WY – No charges have been filed, but the investigation into the death of a nurse at the Wyoming Honor Farm is focusing on an inmate. That's according to Riverton Police Chief John Snell. Snell says nurse Tammy Watts was beaten and strangled before she was found dead last Thursday. He refused to release any more details other than to say investigators have yet to determine a motive for the killing.
Laramie, WY – A Laramie-based environmental group is pleased the U-S Fish and Wildlife Service will consider whether the sage grouse needs Endangered Species protection. The agency published a "90-Day Finding" which will start a scientific investigation into the animals' status. Biodiversity Conservation Alliance wildlife biologist Erik Molvar says oil and gas drilling has threatened the sage grouse habitat across Wyoming. He says the decision serves as a wake-up call to other federal and state agencies that they haven't done enough to protect habitat.
Calgary, Alberta – An energy company with a major natural gas operation in Wyoming is purchasing another company that does work in the state. Canadian energy giant EnCana is buying Tom Brown Incorporated. The $2.2 billion cash deal will boost EnCana's assets in Wyoming, Colorado, and Texas. Tom Brown is a natural gas producer in the Green River and Wind River Basins. EnCana also works in the Green River Basin, with its Jonah Field operation.
Laramie, Wy – The Environmental Protection Agency just put out a list of counties where ground level ozone does not meet health standards. But, none of these counties are in Wyoming. Environmental Scientist for the E-P-A Tim Russ says the state only has two monitoring sites, one in Yellowstone and the other in the Thunder Basin Grassland. He says right now more monitoring is not needed but there could be needed if energy development continues in the state at a high rate.
Laramie, Wy – A former Park Service employee says the Bush administration is misleading the public on snowmobiles. The Coordinator of the Coalition of Concerned National Park Service employees points out that studies are showing the new four stroke snowmobiles are nearly as noisy as the old two stroke models. Bill Wade adds that internal park service documents show the four stroke machines are loud enough to damage hearing. But Wade thinks the Park Service is trying to keep the information from the public...
Cheyenne, Wy – A State Trooper was involved in a high speed car chase on I-80 East of Cheyenne this week. The officer pulled over a vehicle with California plates and issued a warning for speeding. Then told the driver a K9 drug unit was en-route. Upon hearing this the driver sped off triggering a 14 mile chase.
Rock Springs, WY – House Speaker Fred Parady does not plan to run for a sixth term in the state House. At a luncheon in Rock Springs this week, Parady urged those in attendance to get involved in Wyoming government and he suggested they could do so by running for his seat. Later, he said it's traditional for the House speaker to retire after serving in that position. Asked if he intended to retire or whether he had other plans, Parady would only say that he intends to honor that tradition. Parady, an OCI trona mine manager, was first elected in 1994.
Cheyenne, WY – Increasing traffic has the Wyoming Highway Patrol creating a new patrol division based in Elk Mountain. Troopers that patrol roads in the Elk Mountain, Saratoga, Hanna, and Medicine Bow areas are currently under the Rawlins Division. But WHP Sergeant Steven Townsend there's been more calls for service on Interstate 80 and other roads in the area recently. Townsend says drivers will not notice more patrolling with this new division. He says they aren't adding personnel to the area, just making internal adjustments to make operations run smoother.
Cheyenne, Wy – The U-S Fish and Wildlife Service has rejected a complaint filed over its decision against protecting trumpeter swans in the Yellowstone region. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility filed the complaint last May. The group accused Fish and Wildlife of relying on false information and violating the Data Quality Act. They also said the agency distorted the findings of another study in issuing its decision last January. In a letter, Fish and Wildlife Service Director Steve Williams
Laramie, Wy – Efforts to improve aids prevention in the state are up and down according to an Aids Activist. While legislators voted for more funding this year, Bob Hooker notes that federal funding could be decreased for Wyoming. Even prevention efforts have yielded unclear results. Hooker, who sits on boards dealing with HIV and Aids in the state, says they have tried to be more aggressive by targeting high risk groups. But Hooker adds that statistics show that any impacts have been minimal.
Laramie, Wy – Early predictions for the coming forest fire season show it could be as bad as the summers of 2002 and 2000. Rocky Mountain Area Predictive Services just put out its first forecast of the year. And it says an especially dry month of March dried out the forests sooner than normal. One of the authors of the report is fire meteorologist, Tim Mathewson. He says there are parallels between conditions now and in 2000 and 2002, but he says the snowpack is a little bit better this year and April could bring more moisture.
Riverton, Wy – A female employee was found dead this morning(Thursday) at the state minimum security prison in Riverton. The Wyoming Honor Farm has been locked down while police investigate. Riverton Police Chief John Snell described the death as "unexplained." He refused to elaborate other than to say he was treating the death as a homicide. The name of the employee was not immediately released. Snell says another prison employee reported the death at about 6:45 a-m after finding the body inside a prison building. An autopsy will be done.
Laramie, Wy – A University of Wyoming Economist hopes a forum next week will get people thinking more about the future of Wyoming's revenue. Jason Shogren will moderate the annual Stroock Forum on Wyoming Lands and People next Tuesday in Cheyenne. He has invited a number of people representing interest groups, business and state government to discuss the state revenue picture. But Shogren hopes they will spend some time debating the Permanent Mineral Trust fund. He's one who would like to see the state put more of its wealth into the fund.
Laramie, Wy – A Wyoming native and an army pilot serving in Iraq just found out his deployment was extended. That means that instead of going home to his family in Germany he will serve at least another 120 days in Iraq. That's on top of a one year tour he just finished in Baghdad. Matt Hastings, who grew up in Lander, flies Blackhawk helicopters. His wife Whitney is one of many spouses who are very upset about this news. She says military officials should have known that fighting would pick up one year after the war so they should have brought replacements in sooner.