Ft. Collins, CO – A wildfire in northern Colorado has destroyed a house and a garage, burning 5,600 acres. The fire threatens at least 23 other homes and has forced scores of families to flee. It defied expectations Thursday night by jumping from treetop to treetop. Officials say fires usually lay down at night as winds calm, but that hasn't happened with this fire in Poudre Canyon, northwest of Fort Collins. Gray smoke billowing thousands of feet into the sky grounded air tankers Thursday afternoon. The fire was 15 percent contained last night.
Cheyenne, WY – Wyoming fire officials say this spring's warm, dry weather will likely mean a longer and more intense fire season. The potential for the season still hinges on rainfall amounts in April and May. But snowpacks are melting at a near-record pace and this March was one of the driest on record. State Forester Bill Crapser says the Black Hills and Medicine Bow National Forests have the greatest fire danger at this point.
Powell, Wy – A preliminary investigation blames a fire at a Northwest College dormitory in Powell on an electrical appliance. Fire investigators sifted through the charred building today (Wednesday) and believe the fire was accidental. The type of electrical appliance was not identified. The fire began in a room on the second floor of the two-story dorm yesterday afternoon. Four students were treated for breathing problems but no one was seriously hurt.
Laramie, Wy – After enduring a shortage of flu vaccines this winter, some county health departments are already ordering extra vaccines for next year. But, in the past some departments have been left with excess shots. Doctor Brent Sherard, the State Health Officer, says this is why it is so hard to estimate how many vaccines are necessary. Basically, he says, it is just best guesstimate. The good news is that more people are interested in gettin flu shots and so Sherard says they will work to make sure everyone who needs a vaccine gets one.
Cheyenne, Wyoming – The state is requesting an outside review of the Wyoming State Hospital following the suicide of a female patient. A team of experts from Wyoming and across the country will be compiled over the next few weeks to inspect the Evanston facility. Health Department director Deb Fleming says such investigations aren't unusual and are used to determine if policies need updating.
Cody, WY – United Airlines and officials in Cody disagree over the potential success of Cody to Denver flights this summer. The deal for the service between United and the Cody Yellowstone Air Service Organization includes a revenue guarantee. Under it, the two sides set a revenue target and the community would need to pay United only if that target isn't met. Rick Wilder of the Cody Yellowstone Air Service Organization disagrees with United. He thinks the service will break even or make money. But regardless of success, Wilder says the service is better then what's there now.
Riverton, Wy – Rangers in northwest Wyoming's national forests are preparing for what could be a contentious first season enforcing new food storage rules. The rules took effect this month. They're meant to keep food away from bears in more parts of the Shoshone and Bridger-Teton national forests. Forest officials say they're needed to reduce human and bear conflicts and make more parts of the forests safer for visitors.
Cheyenne, Wyoming – The state Health Department is launching an intensive new campaign to educate more Wyoming residents about methamphetamine. Meth has quickly become the drug of choice in the Cowboy State, with officials saying one in every 200 residents has used the stimulant in the past year. To combat that growing tide, the department is launching a TV, radio and newspaper ad campaign this week. The ads feature the stories of recovering meth addicts. They also include facts about meth use and treatment options.
Cheyenne, Wy – State education officials are mostly pleased with a new risk survey of Wyoming Youth. The 2003 survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control finds that fewer students high school and middle school students are using tobacco then they did in 1995. They also found that the numbers of those having unprotected sex are decreasing. But concerns about alcohol use continue. Wyoming's At-Risk and School Health Program Supervisor Sunny Kaste says they would like to take some of their success with tobacco prevention and shift it into alcohol.
Pinedale, WY – Wyoming coservationists, landowners, hunters, anglers, and members of industry gathered in Pinedale this weekend to voice concerns about oil and gas development in the Upper Green River Valley. Governor Freudenthal spoke before the standing room only audience. He says pressure from the federal government impacts the pace of development, despite local concern. Even divergent members of the crowd were in consensus. Though all agree energy development in Wyoming is necessary, they hope it's done in a way that's responsible and sensitive to the local environment.
Laramie, Wy – A visiting professor at the University of Wyoming projects that gasoline prices in the Cowboy State could hit two dollars and 50 cents a gallon this summer. Economics professor, Walter Werner, says the reason is demand is out pacing supply right now. Last year gas prices were at the same level they are now, but Werner says this is a different situation. He says generally when prices are high it is a spike but he says the cost has not spiked yet because there are so many factors; terrorism and increased demand in China are just two.
Cheyenne, Wy – Wyoming is expanding a program that helps provide medicine and care to H-I-V and AIDS patients. This Thursday, the Community Health Center of Central Wyoming will offer more care for people dealing with H-I-V and AIDS in Casper as well as a monthly clinic in Cheyenne. Program coordinators plan to expand services to Lander, Riverton, Gillette, Jackson and possibly Rock Springs in the next year. But some state and local leaders still see room for improving how prevention messages get to those who need them most.
Laramie, WY – Attending the University of Wyoming will be a bit more expensive next fall. UW Trustees approved a 3% increase to cover the cost of inflation. Trustees will continue to look at tuition policy, in general, this summer. UW President Phil Dubois says he intends to discuss that broader issue with students and legislators in the fall. He says many institutions have had to increase tuition by as much as 10% recently because of state budget shortfalls.
Cheyenne, Wy – Protection and Advocacy is closely reviewing the suicide of a patient at the state hospital. The group sued and reached agreement with the state over State hospital issues several years ago. But some recent concerns, coupled with the recent suicide, has Protection and Advocacy Director Jeanne Thobro reopening an investigation. She says their biggest concerns surround staffing.
Cheyenne, WY – The federal government is saying "no" to part of Wyoming's request for documents related to the rejection of the state's plan to manage wolves. The state attorney general's office plans to appeal the decision. Wyoming requested the documents from the U-S Fish and Wildlife Service in late January under the Freedom of Information Act. In a letter sent Monday to state deputy attorney general Jennifer Golden, the Fish and Wildlife Service said it needs more time to provide some documents because it is compiling them for a lawsuit in federal court in Oregon over wolves.
Cheyenne, Wy – Wyoming's Consumer Advocate says higher natural gas prices should be here awhile. Bryce Freeman says the purchase price of gas by utilities has been volatile and that has impacted both gas companies and electric utilities that use natural gas. He says the high prices will stay that way until more natural gas is developed and prices stabilize. Meanwhile, Freeman says something needs to be done about electric transmission. He says that some changes need to take place, in order to be able to transfer electricity more easily in the west.
Laramie, Wy – Faster growth than expected is already straining the city of Buffalo's nine-year-old water treatment plant. Projections in 1995 forecast that Buffalo's population would not reach its current population until 2011. The Buffalo Bulletin reports that last June, the city used 75 percent of the water produced by the treatment plant. The plant had to be run at full capacity 24 hours a day to keep up with demand. Measures to keep water flowing to the city include construction of a water tank that will be ready in June 2005.
Laramie, Wy – A group of former lawmakers from across the West are banding together to try and build support for the Democratic Party. Wyoming's former governor Mike Sullivan is part of the effort. He says a major reason he got involved with the group is to try and make the Democrats more aware of the issues that matter in Wyoming and this region. Democrats for the West say they will work with current leaders of the party to build unity across the region. Sullivan says the group does also want to build momentum heading into the coming elections.
Laramie, Wy – University of Wyoming Trustes gave full support behind a plan to turn Prexy's Pasture from a parking area to a greenspace. Trustee President Kathy Hunt says the trustees will not reconsider their plans to turn the area into a walking part of campus. This will include the removal of some trees. But U-W President Phil Dubois says he has put together a group of tree experts to assist with the removal and planting of any trees.
Laramie, Wy – The eighth annual Shepard Symposium for Social Justice is being held Thursday and Friday at the University of Wyoming. This year's main theme will center on the 50th anniversary of the U-S Supreme Court decision in Brown versus Board of Education. The pivotal case called for the desegregation of public schools. The daughters of the plaintiff in the case will speak in the Fine Arts concert hall. It is open to the public.
Douglas, Wy – Cody and Greybull are in line to be the first recipients of money from Governor Freudenthal's centerpiece economic development program. The Wyoming Business Council Board of Directors approved grants for the two Thursday from the Business Ready Community Program. Steve Achter is the Business Council's point-man for this program. While speaking to the Board, Achter said he thinks the state's embarking on something historic. The State Land and Investment Board still needs to sign off on the grants.
Lander, Wy – Three people so far have expressed an interest in filling the vacancy created by the death of state Representative Harry Tipton. Tipton, who served 24 years in the House of Representatives, died March 11th of leukemia. He was 76. Those who have stepped forward are Lander businessman John Birbari; former state Representative Dale Urbigkeit, who is a building contractor from Crowheart; and Joe Malek, a member of the Solid Waste District Board who lives near Fort Washakie.
Laramie, Wy – The U-S Fish and Wildlife Service will reassess whether the Preble's meadow jumping mouse should continue to receive federal protection. Agency and state officials made the announcement Wednesday. The mouse, found only in Colorado and Wyoming, was listed as threatened in 1998. Designation of critical habitat for the rodent has delayed construction of housing projects and restricted farm-and-ranch operations such as haying and weed control.