Cheyenne, WY – The Wyoming Highway Patrol is under new leadership. Colonel Sam Powell was promoted to the position of Administrator yesterday. The 29-year veteran of the Highway Patrol takes for John Cox, who left in January to become director of the state Transportation Department. Powell says he will continue the patrol's focus on highway safety and reducing alcohol-related crashes. Powell is the tenth person to head the agency since its formation in 1933.
Casper, Wy – Wyoming's water outlook is still bleak, despite weekend snowstorms across much of the state. Nearly every river basin is reported to have below-average snowpack, thanks to a mild winter and an ongoing drought. The Natural Resources Conservation Service says that only the Upper Bear River Basin is at its historical average for this time of year. Snowpack in the Belle Fourche River Drainage is 50 percent below normal, while the Shoshone River Basin is 45 percent under the average.
Laramie, Wy – Friends are remembering longtime Laramie resident Dave Nicholas as a great asset to the state and country. The 64 year old Nicholas was working as an ambassador in the Ukraine, when he died on Sunday. Officials in that country are expressing shock and sadness at his death. Nicholas first started working for NATO in the late 80's thanks to the help of longtime friend Dick Cheney, who was the Secretary of Defense. From that time he held a number of jobs as a diplomat.
Cheyenne, WY – Wyoming continues to see a good deal of highway fatalities where seat belts are not in use. During each of the last two weekends, there have been fatal car crashes on Wyoming roads where the victims were ejected from their vehicles. Two teenagers died on March 6th in a crash near Kaycee and an Idaho man died this past Sunday west Casper. None of the three was wearing a seat belt. Sergeant Steven Townsend says the number of fatalities where seat belts aren't in use is a source of frustration for the Wyoming Highway Patrol.
Kiev, Ukraine – A Former state Senator from Laramie has died of an apparent heart attack. Family members say David Nicholas was found dead in his office in Kiev, Ukraine, on Sunday. Nicholas was an employee of the US Defense Department assigned to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. While in the Ukraine, Nicholas helped monitor recent elections. In Wyoming, Nicholas served in the state Senate from 1979 to 1986 and also at the University of Wyoming. David Nicholas was 64 years old.
Laramie, Wy – Most ratings put Wyoming's open records and meetings laws among the worst in the country. But the Director of the Wyoming Press Association believes that will change thanks to legislative action. Jim Angel says Wyoming legislators significantly improved Wyoming's open meetings law by putting in place penalties for violating the act. Angel thinks that is the kind of deterrent that will keep meetings open. He says this law, coupled with the passage of a recent open records law, is making government in the state much more open.
Cheyenne, Wy – The Governors Food Safety council is recommending a ban on facial jewelry for restaurant workers who prepare food. But some restaurant owners say it is a solution without a problem. The council voted 5-3 earlier this year to recommend the ban after hearing testimony that people were finding "tongue rings in their food". But Greg Smith of Altitude Chophouse and Brewery in Laramie finds that baffling, saying that he doubts anything like that would cause a health hazard. He also does not know how such things would get into food.
Washington, DC – The Director of the Bureau of Land Management says they are making positive strides in processing oil and gas drilling permits. Energy producers have been unhappy with the pace of BLM permitting. But BLM Director Kathleen Clarke told a congressional committee last week that they've improved their output by about 67% over the last several years. Clarke says it's a challenge because of the sheer volume of applications they are seeing. She thinks delays in drilling are also the result of the number of leases that are protested.
Cheyenne, WY – According to new census estimates, Wyoming's population has grown by more than 12,000 people since 2000. The Census Bureau says the state's population in 2004 was 506,529. However, the number of children from 5-17 year-old fell by more than 10,000 over the same period. As of the last official Census in 2000, the 5-17 age group made up nearly 26% of Wyoming's population. It now accounts for about 17%.