Cheyenne, WY – The Wyoming livestock industry is taking hits on two different disease-related fronts. First, there's the effect of restrictions placed on Wyoming cattle from the brucellosis case in Sublette county. That was followed by bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or the Mad Cow disease case in Washington state. State Veterinarian Jim Logan says producers nationwide will get less for their cattle because of the mad cow scare. Combined with brucellosis, Logan admits it's kind of a double whammy.
Moose, WY – Operation Noble Eagle has returned to Grand Teton National Park. Noble Eagle is the military radar system that is set up when Vice President Dick Cheney spends time at his home in Jackson Hole. This time, the mobile air radar station is festooned with Christmas lights and a larger-than-life, Nutcracker-type soldier. Although there is no officially confirmed link between the radar station and Vice President, the system seems to coincide with Cheney's stays at his home in Teton Pines subdivision.
Laramie, Wy – A total of 1800 cases of the flu have been reported to the Wyoming Health Department so far this year. State Health Officer Dr. Brent Sherard notes that probably an under-estimation of the cases since many providers don't perform flu tests this late in the season. The good news is Sherard says officials believe the flu season may have peaked in Wyoming. The bad news is he says five people likely died because of the flu in the state.
Cheyenne, Wy – State revenue so far this fiscal year is coming in well ahead of the predicted pace in just about every area. That's according to the latest Consensus Revenue Estimating Group report released Monday. State economists say tax, investment and fee income from July through November totaled over 219 million dollars -- or 25-point-6 percent more than was forecast in October. One reason is healthy minerals prices -- and especially strong prices for natural gas.
Cheyenne, Wy – The state Department of Corrections has chosen architects to provide conceptual drawings and cost estimates for proposed prison expansion projects. G-S-G Architecture of Casper and Reilly Johnson Architecture of Denver were selected to help the state plan for expansion of prisons at Riverton and Lusk. The Legislature in its last session authorized planning for an additional 59 beds at the Wyoming Honor Farm in Riverton and 108 beds at the Wyoming Women's Center in Lusk, plus expanded rehabilitation programs.
Cheyenne, WY – Wyoming House Speaker Fred Parady will have to decide which legislative committee will review a controversial piece of legislation. Lawmakers will be asked to vote on a bill that would change the constitution to allow the capping of non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases. Last year, the House Judiciary Committee killed a similar piece of legislation. Parady admits he's been getting pressure to assign the bill to a committee that's not headed by a trial lawyer.
Pinedale, WY – Some 3,200 negative tests have come back on cattle that may have come into contact with the brucellosis-infected cows in Sublette County. But there were four suspect cases, two each in two different herds. State Veterinarian Jim Logan says those animals registered positive results on two tests, but negative on two, more sensitive tests. The testing being done looks for titer levels, which are a measure of antibodies to the brucellosis disease.
Laramie, WY – Housing costs in Laramie are rising faster than incomes, causing a shortage of affordable housing. That's according to a recent study for Laramie city government. Housing is considered affordable if it costs no more than 30 percent of gross monthly income. The study says 29 percent of households spend more than that. The average cost of a new single-family home in Laramie has risen to 160 thousand dollars. The study says most new housing in Laramie has become too pricey for even buyers with moderate incomes.
Cheyenne, WY – The city of Cheyenne may soon have its second business park. This week, the economic development group Cheyenne LEADS bought a 612 acre piece of land west of town, in hopes of using it to attract new business. Part of that land is the subject of an annexation lawsuit, but LEADS President Randy Bruns says it doesn't matter much what happens in that case. He says the key for them is getting the land rezoned from a mix of residential and agricultural to light industrial. Bruns says he's not totally confident in that happening.
Saratoga, WY – The U-S Forest Service has denied an appeal of a timber sale in the Sierra Madre section of the Medicine Bow National Forest. Although the appeal was denied, the regional forester ordered more analysis of the proposed logging before it's offered to logging contractors. Saratoga forester Terry Delay says that's been done. He says it amounted to a page and a half of documentation involving mainly wildlife issues. The Singer Peak sale involves clearcutting about 180 acres and salvage logging on another 23 acres that are burned.
Evanston, WY – Wyoming's largest wind farm is scheduled to go into operation by year's end. Construction of the 150 million dollar project in Uinta county northeast of Evanston wrapped up on time and under budget. F-P-L Energy spokesman Steve Stengel says crews have been busy testing the facility in recent days. The Florida-based utility will operate the wind farm. Two years in the works, the wind farm is the third and largest in Wyoming. Its turbines are capable of powering 43 thousand homes.
Cheyenne, WY – Some changes in Wyoming Black Bear seasons and regulations will be the focus of several statewide meetings in January. Game and Fish Assistant Wildlife Division Chief John Emmerich says many of the proposals will keep regulations in place for three years in order to get better information. Emmerich says it's pretty hard to determine the effects of the season on a particular bear populations when the seasons change each year. He says going to a three year season structure will allow officials to gather better data.
Cheyenne, WY – An economic development group has bought 612 acres west of Cheyenne with plans to establish a business park. Cheyenne LEADS President Randy Bruns filed the deed on the Village West property Wednesday. The purchase price was not disclosed. Neighboring landowners have a lawsuit pending against the previous owner of the land. At issue was the 2001 annexation of a 111 acre parcel. Homeowners say the annexation would have brought their land under the city's regulatory control. That lawsuit is pending before the Wyoming Supreme Court.
Bismarck, ND – Natural gas began flowing through a new pipeline across Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota Tuesday. The Williston Basin Interstate Pipeline is run by a subsidiary of Bismarck's M-D-U Resources. Work on the pipeline started in August. One crew worked from the south end near Gillette and the other crew worked from the north, starting near Killdeer, North Dakota. The 253 mile pipeline can carry 80 million cubic feet of natural gas a day. M-D-U spokesman Tim Rasmussen says the pipeline began carrying about a quarter of that capacity.
Green River, WY – A movie theater in Green River will reopen after residents flooded the owner with requests and phone calls to reconsider closing it. The Star Twin will reopen in six to seven weeks depending on when new chairs and equipment arrive. That's according to Encore Cinemas President Randy Pryde. He says when the theater closed, the company sold the chairs and equipment, so it had to order more before reopening. The movie house will reopen as a discount theater.
Cheyenne, WY – The Wyoming Arts Council says it is at the halfway point in an effort to raise 100 thousand dollars in 100 days. The council needs to raise the money to access a 100 thousand dollar legislative matching grant. First Lady Nancy Freudenthal encourages artists and residents to continue with the fundraising push. Freudenthal says it's important to get the rest of the way in order to meet the state match. The Arts Council will use the funds to provide arts grants throughout Wyoming. IF the money is raised, it will double the amount of grant money currently available.
Gillette, Wy – Cattle ranchers are hoping prices remain strong and will offset any possible effects of a brucellosis scare. Ranchers have been enjoying high prices in the U.S. cattle market for the past few months. Strong consumer demand, continued drought on the Plains and a case of mad cow disease in Canada sent cattle prices in the United States to more than 100-dollars per hundred pounds in November. Last year at the same time, prices were around 60-dollars.
Washington, DC – The National Park Service will need to start phasing out snowmobiles from Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. Tuesday, a federal judge refused to suspend his ruling that struck down a Bush Administration plan to allow snowmobiling to continue. Washington DC District Judge Emmet Sullivan reinstated a Clinton Administration plan that will ban the machines starting next winter. Snowmobiling is still allowed this year, but with restrictions that the state of Wyoming says will seriously hurt the local tourism industry.
Cody, WY – With less snowmobile traffic expected in Yellowstone National Park, the Shoshone National Forest is preparing to deal with an influx of people looking for other snowmobile destinations. Forest Spokesman Gordon Warren says the court ruling reinstating a ban on the machines from Yellowstone and Grand Teton National parks should result in more people coming to the Shoshone and other national forests in the state to snowmobile this winter. And even more next year, if the Yellowstone ban is upheld.
Cheyenne, Wy – Twenty conservation organizations submitted a petition to the U-S Fish and Wildlife Service to list the greater sage grouse as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. The groups say the species has suffered declines of 45 percent to 80 percent over the past 20 years due to habitat loss. The Fish and Wildlife Service has received numerous petitions in recent years to protect sage grouse under federal laws but has declined to do so.
Cheyenne, WY – Another state is placing import restrictions on Wyoming cattle, following the discovery of brucellosis near Pinedale. Nebraska is now the third state to impose restrictions, joining Colorado and California. Wyoming still has its brucellosis-free status. 3,400 head from herds near the infected cows have all tested negative. If the state were to lose its status, that would subject the state to automatic restrictions for exporting cattle anywhere in the nation.
Cheyenne, Wy – Public health nurses are hopeful about the Governors 22 million dollar pay raise plan. Jo Ann Blevins of the State Health Department says the plan puts nurses on park with similar employees from across the country. Health officials say such disparities are contributing to the nationwide nursing shortage.
Casper, Wy – Two Wyoming legislators say they are pleased with the progress of the state's school funding model, but say that lawmakers also must watch spending. Senators Jim Anderson and Kathryn Sessions both have worked in public schools. Anderson says it cannot be an open ended process, but he thinks changes they have made will improve education. Sessions is hopeful that they are close to wrapping up the funding reform they have been working on for the past few years.
Denver, Co – Researchers are looking to wolves to help control the spread of chronic wasting disease, which some biologists say could invade Yellowstone National Park in coming years. Researchers says wolves could kill off sick animals through their ability to spot vulnerable prey.
Laramie, WY – Airports in Laramie, Riverton, and Rock Springs will not need 10,000 passengers to receive a million dollar grant for airport improvements. That's because in the FAA Reauthorization Bill the President signed this month, the passenger requirement for getting the money was waived. Riverton's airport is expected to meet that requirement, but Laramie and Rock Springs would have come up short. Laramie Airport Manager Jack Skinner says the waiver is a relief because they can now make a critical upgrade to a runway used for bad weather landings.
Wyoming – Topic: Wyoming Children's Action Alliance has release the latest Wyoming kid count fact book which is a county by county statewide study of the well being of Wyoming's children; Guest: Shelly Stewart. Assistant Executive Director of the Wyoming Children's Action Alliance
Topic: The Joint Education Committee of the Wyoming legislature will debate a bill that will add 21 million dollars to Wyoming school districts for regional cost adjustments; Guest: Jeff Wasserburger, Joint Education Committee Co-Chair Representative
Cheyenne, WY – There is a lot of good and bad when it comes to kids in the state. That's the assessment in the most recent Wyoming Kids Count Factbook. Shelli Stewart of the Wyoming Children's Action Alliance says the increased need for public assistance is a concern, but she says the fact that some of those applications are going for children's insurance, or Kid Care, is a plus. Stewart says the state has also seen a decline in teen pregancies, although it's only a slight decline and not as big as decreasing being reported nationally.
Cheyenne, WY – California is the second state to impose restrictions on Wyoming cattle following the discovery of brucellosis in Sublette County. Colorado immediately restricted imports of cattle from a wide area of western Wyoming. Governor Freudenthal's press secretary says the California requirement will be imposed throughout Wyoming and will require all cattle 18 months and older to show a negative brucellosis test within 30 days of entry into California. Exceptions are livestock from a certified brucellosis-free herd and cattle moving directly to slaughter.
Riverton, Wy – Wyoming Public Television officials are disappointed that Governor Freudenthal has slashed their requested budget increase from eight-point-one-(M)-million dollars to 30-thousand-dollars. Dan Schiedel is general manager of Wyoming Public T-V. He told two Fremont County lawmakers this week that the higher amount is needed to complete statewide conversion from an analog signal to a digital one. And he points out that the Legislature has already invested three-(M)-million dollars in the upgrade.