Cheyenne, WY – In the Governor's proposed budget for the next two years, he's recommending the Wyoming Department of Health receive 111 million dollars less than it's request. The total budget request was for $1.2 billion. Department of Health Director Deb Fleming says they're already working on some cost containment plans such as in the area of Medicaid and prescription drugs. But she says her agency will try to do its best to work within the budget.
Laramie, WY – University of Wyoming President Phil Dubois says he's optimistic the legislature will approve most of his budget. Governor Freudenthal is recommending most of what Dubois wants, including emergency repairs to War Memorial Stadium and ten million dollars in other projects. Dubois says the request is a good budget, but he still plans to ask lawmakers for his original request, including more money for salaries and two million dollars in athletics spending Freudenthal did not include.
Green River, WY – The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission has given final approval for a conservation easement protecting winter range for elk, mule deer and bighorn sheep in the Shoshone National Forest. That approval comes over the concerns by Park County Commissioners. The 635 acre easement is located on private land in the lower north fork corridor near Cody. Commissioners voted to buy it for 400 thousand dollars. The easement does not include provisions for public access, however, which concerned some Park County Commissioners.
Laramie, Wy – Snowpack levels in one part of the state are the highest they've been since 1998. But, despite early snow a meteorologist says this will just be a normal winter across Wyoming. John Griffith is the Warning Coordinator Meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Cheyenne. He says the snowpack in the Southeast is the highest it's been in five years, other areas aren't doing as well though. Specifically, Griffith says the Fremont County area and the Northeast have only 75% of normal snowpack.
Cheyenne, WY – Wyoming officials will be trying to get a Montana lawsuit over coal-bed methane development in the Powder River Basin moved to a state federal court this week. Attorney General Pat Crank says environmental groups filed the suit in federal court in Billings, Montana shortly after the Bureau of Land Management released it's environmental impact statement. Crank objects to environmental groups engaging in what he calls "forum shopping" for their action.
Cody, WY – Officials in Park county must come up with another 500 to 700 thousand dollars to build a new jail or start trimming optional items. The project has been bid between 13 and 14 million dollars, but jail planners want to find more money for items like a garage, additional cells and asphalt not included in the original plans. Officials also want to include a communications tower which would ensure reliable communication with the jail. Planners say a possible source of extra funding is interest on the nearly 14 million dollars generated for the project.
Laramie, Wy – The flu season just keeps getting worse in Wyoming. The number of cases reported in Wyoming so far this fall has been rising exponentially. Health officials now say 806 flu cases have been identified statewide -- up from 475 cases last week and 209 the week before that. Just 533 cases were reported all last flu season. By far the most cases have been in Laramie County, where 351 people have come down with the bug.
Cody, WY – Park County Commissioners are reevaluating their chances of getting the McCullough Peaks Wilderness Study Area revoked. Only Congress can create or revoke wilderness study areas. And Commissioner Marie Fontaine says revoking the wilderness study area is a losing proposition right now considering the current makeup of Congress. The McCullough Peaks Wilderness STudy area covers about eight thousand acres southwest of Powell. If ever designated by Congress as an officials wilderness area, it would be subject to tighter regulation. That would mean no morotized vehicles.
Washington, D.C. – The Bush Administration is proposing new rules to help ranchers who graze on Public Lands. Environmentalists are concerned because they say the rules roll back all of the Clinton Era Restrictions on managing rangeland, which will lead to overgrazing. They also fear that the new rules make it harder for public comment to take place. B-L-M Special Assistant Jim Kenna insists that they are not rolling back anything.The new rues also gives the Bureau of Land management two years, instead of one, to make grazing decisions needed to maintain healthy ranges.
Boulder, WY – State Veterinarian Jim Logan says a cattle herd in Sublette county is infected with brucellosis. Wyoming has been a brucellosis-free state for nearly 25 years. Logan says the 400 cow herd in the Boulder area tested positive on Tuesday and has since been quarantined. Infected animals will soon be sent to slaughter. The source of the infection is unknown. STate officials aren't sure how the discovery will affect Wyoming's cattle industry. Colorado has already banned shipments of cattle from the Sublette county region.
Laramie, Wy – The two companies that make the flu shot say they don't have any more stock of the vaccine. The two companies that produce the shot are Chiron and Aventis Pasteur. Together they made about 80 million doses of the vaccine. Aventis spokesman Len Lavenda says that many shots are usually enough, but that the recent flu outbreak has brought a surge in demand. Aventis has shipped all of its supplies and Chiron says the company has sent all of its production to distributors.
Boise, ID – Fire officials say record temperatures and drought drove the destructive wildfires that raged through the west this summer. And even if western states get above-average precipitation this winter, next year's fire danger won't be lessened. National Interagency Fire Center officials Rick Ochoa says it'll take years to reverse the situation of fire danger. This year, a rainy spring delayed the season until late May. But a high-pressure weather system settled over the west, opening a fire season that charred nearly four million acres nationwide.
Cheyenne, WY – Wyoming Attorney General Pat Crank says action is needed on the issue of getting the grizzly bear off the Endangered Species List. Crank says the Game and Fish Department and Department of Agriculture have formed a working group to prepare a petition for de-listing. He says their hope is to have that petition filed in January. Crank says de-listing has been talked about for some time and he notes Wyoming law gives the state jurisdiction over all wild animals within its' borders.
Cheyenne, WY – Three consumer groups are opposing an electric rate increase proposed by Pacificorp. The power company wants to raise electric rates in Wyoming by nearly 42 million dollars a year. Pacificorp says it needs the increase because its risks have gone up over the past few years. But the Wyoming Industrial Energy Consumers, The state Consumer Advocates Office and A-A-R-P all argued that Pacificorp was seeking an unreasonably high rate of return. The Wyoming Public Service Commission is scheduled to hold hearings on the increase beginning January 26th.
Cheyenne, Wy – Deputy Attorney General Mike O'Donnell believes school funding is at a point to satisfy the Supreme Court. He says the legislature has taken a variety of steps to address school funding and more will be considered this session concerning small schools and funding for teachers. He thinks the Supreme Court will be satisfied with the states efforts.
Powell, Wy – One of the original members of the Wyoming Business Council has resigned from the panel. Mike Petera of Powell saying state government does not do enough to help high technology businesses grow. Petera owns VoiceViewer Technologies, a company that manufactures handheld wireless communication products. Petera cited his attempt to get state help in providing his handheld wireless communication products to law enforcement agencies for homeland security.
Cheyenne, WY – The number of confirmed influenza cases in Wyoming so far this fall has more than doubled in the past week. Wyoming Department of Health officials say there are 458 confirmed cases of the flu in the state. State Health Officer Dr. Brent Sherard says the flu season has arrived at least two and a half months early this year. He says everyone should consider getting the flu vaccine. By far the most cases have been in Laramie county, where 217 people have come down with the flu.
Cheyenne, Wy – The Governor's proposed budget puts 3 million more into job training. Many business leaders in the state are praising the two million dollar increase. Wyoming Contractors Association Director Charlie Ware says it is important because the state will soon need an increase of construction workers and other specialized employees. Officials also say it will be important to have training money in business recuitment.
Cheyenne, WY – The scientific reviews are in, and it looks like Wyoming's wolf management plan is acceptable. The US Fish and Wildlife Service still holds the final decision on approving the plan, but these so-called peer reviews should help the state's efforts to remove the wolf from the endangered species list. But while the Wyoming plan was acceptable to the reviewers, Wyoming Public Radio's Aaron Alpern reports they were hardly in love with it.
Sheridan, Wy – Bighorn County Commissioners and others are concerned about an expansion of the Medicine Wheel National Historic Landmark. The Big Horn National Forest is looking at expanding the 110 site into a 23 thousand acre Medicine Mountain. Forest Supervisor Bill Bass says they would still manage for multiple use in the area. It just one of the forest alternatives being considered.
Cheyenne, WY – Governor Dave Freudenthal gave the state Environmental Quality Council the green light Tuesday to explore possible changes in state law to address disputes between landowners and those who hold mineral rights to the land. More than 11 million acres in Wyoming have divided ownership, known as split estates. The council wanted to guage Freudenthal's feelings before it examined switching oil and gas permitting regulations from the control of the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to the Environmental Quality Council, which now handles disputes over mining permits.
Aaron Alpern reports on the Wyoming Wolf Management plan and the final decision of the US Fish and Wildlife Service
Chad Pergram reports on the decision of the Energy Bill on Capital Hill
Proposal to change the name of the north-central Wyoming Medicine Wheel National Historic Landmark has caused concern among Big Horn County Commissioners; Guest: Bill Bass, Big Horn National Forest Supervisor
Salt Lake City, UT – A Wyoming child has died from influenza at a Salt Lake City hospital. Utah health officials still don't know whether there were other factors involved with the child's death. An official at Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake City declined to release specific information about the patient. But spokesman Bill Barnes say the child was flown to the hospital before the weekend with flu and other medical complications and died Sunday.
Laramie, Wy – The head of Wyoming's office of Consumer advocate is hopeful that congress can revive the energy bill. Bryce Freeman says it would be good news for consumers and would increase production, which in turn would keep heating costs and other energy prices in check. "We are probably not going to be able to conserve ourselves out of a production problem" says Freeman. He says the last 4 or 5 years has led to increased consumer demands for such things as electricity. Freeman says more development is needed to help address the issue.
Laramie, WY – There were more people working agricultural jobs last month in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana when compared to 2002. The Wyoming Agricultural Statisics Service says the number of those working on farms and ranches was up ten percent. This comes at a time when nationally, there are a decreasing amount of agricultural jobs. Statistician Kim Faircloth says the number of farms and ranches in the state are holding steady. And she says that usually has a direct correlation to the workforce.
Laramie, Wy – Wyoming's Legislature will get a chance to vote on a very controversial subject this February. The joint health committee approved two constitutional amendments this week. One of them could open the door for putting a cap on medical malpractice lawsuits.
Laramie, Wy – The rash of wildlife poaching cases is not slowing down. The most recent saw a deer shot and left to die on the Western Wyoming Community College campus. Six poaching cases in Yellowstone have been reported over the last six months. Wyoming Game and Fish is offering a reward for information of killing three bull mouse south of Mountain View. The Game Warden Rich King sees a link to the growing interest in trophy-class animals over the last decade.