Jordan Giese

News Student Intern

Jordan Giese is a political science major currently working on his bachelor's degree. He has lived in Wyoming all his life but has a focus on both local issues and international stories. He moved to Laramie just last year rediscovering Wyoming and all it has to offer in landspaces, opportunities and people. He has listened to WPR for years and is thrilled to contribute to an important state service and NPR.

When he is not writing for WPR or his classes Jordan enjoys reading history, news from around the world and collecting typewriters. He hopes to remain in the state but also hopes to work for public radio in the future.

USPS

The U.S. Postal Service is shutting down nearly 40% of its processing centers around the country this year. A center in Rock Springs is scheduled to be closed, leaving just two of these facilities in Wyoming.

Post Service spokesman for Wyoming, David Rupert says the U.S.P.S. is ceasing overnight local letter delivery as well. But Rupert says most postal customers won’t notice these changes.

WyoLotto

The Wyoming Lottery has unveiled a new in-state game. Cowboy Draw will be the first lottery game exclusively for Wyoming.

Since its launch in August, the lottery had only sold tickets for the two big multi-state games, Powerball and Mega millions. WyoLotto C.E.O. Jon Clontz says Cowboy Draw is just the first of several expansions.

Wallpaperslot.com

2014 was a record year for Grand Teton National Park visitations.

The national park had about 2.8 million recreational visits last year. The previous record holder, 1998 was beaten out by 34 thousand visits. Public Affairs Officer Jackie Skaggs says some of the factors that made the park so popular in 1990’s are surfacing again.

A bill drafted for the upcoming Wyoming legislative session would attempt to lower penalties for possession of small amounts of Marijuana. Representative Jim Byrd of Cheyenne is sponsoring the bill which would make possession of less than an ounce of Marijuana a civil fine instead of a felony.

House Bill 29 would only fine citizens up to $100 for one ounce of the drug.  A third possession offense could carry jail time and probation, but that punishment would not be mandatory and would be left up to the judge.

Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has assigned natural disaster status to Big Horn and Park Counties. An early freeze in September last year significantly damaged farms in the area.

Freezing temperatures hit crops early causing bean, corn and sunflower losses. Park County lost over $7,000,000 of crops while Big Horn County saw more than $3,000,000 of damage.

Gregor Goertz is the Wyoming Farm Service Agency’s Executive Director and says some farmers were hit harder than others.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is asking Fremont County residents to keep their dogs away from deer, moose and other large game. The county has seen an increase in dog and wildlife conflicts in recent weeks, and several deer were found dead.

Rene Schell is the Department’s Lander Information Specialist and says with big game on the move, it’s important not to interfere with their migration. Schell also says cities like Lander have had to ban wildlife feeding, because that’s led to additional problems.  

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

A hire made three years ago by the Albany County Sheriff’s department is now coming under increased scrutiny. Deputy Derek Colling was fired by the Las Vegas Police three years ago for beating an unarmed man.

The victim was videotaping Colling during the incident. He was later awarded 100-thousand dollars in a settlement with the Las Vegas Police. Albany County Sheriff Dave O’Malley says that did not affect his decision to hire Colling.

Wyoming received a D-minus for its new teacher preparation in a new report by the National Council on Teacher Quality. The state ranked 49th in the nation for its education of teachers to make sure students are prepared for higher education.

Sandi Jacobs is the Council’s Vice President and Director for State Policy and says Wyoming is making some progress, but still lags behind much of the nation.

The Western Governor’s Association, including Wyoming Governor Matt Mead, passed a resolution this weekend saying the energy industry needs to reduce methane leakage. Methane is the main component of natural gas. The resolution says methane leaks are a serious financial and environmental problem.

Jon Goldstein is the Environmental Defense Fund’s Senior Policy Manager. He says leaks should be a concern not only for people worried about the environment, but also companies looking at the bottom line.

Bob Beck / WPM

Governor Matt Mead has proposed a new athletic training center for the University of Wyoming. The facility would cost forty million dollars and would be funded equally by the legislature and private donors.

Tom Burman is the Director of Athletics at U-W and says the facility would serve athletes from all U-W sports-teams. He also says it could attract business from Olympic-level athletes.

Robert Verzo via Flickr

Governor Matt Mead is proposing adding passing lanes to some of the state’s highways including Highway 59 between Douglas and Gillette. Mead’s budget proposal would use 21 million dollars in state funds for the upgrades.

Jim Willox is the Chairman of the Converse County Commissioners and says the proposed lanes would ease the surge in energy traffic on the 170 mile highway.

Money Blog News via Flickr

Next Monday is the biggest online shopping day of the year, and that makes it ripe for scams and identity theft. Credit card information, bank accounts and other personal information is more accessible to scammers through insecure websites.

Wyoming Senior Assistant Attorney General Melissa Theriault says keeping a close eye on bank accounts can help prevent thefts.

Wyoming Highway Patrol Association

Deaths on Wyoming highways have risen sharply this year. While there were 87 fatalities in 2013, there have been 136 in 2014. 61 percent of the people who died on Wyoming highways this year were not wearing seatbelts.

Sergeant David Wagener with the Wyoming Highway Patrol says that while seatbelts are mandatory in the state, seatbelt laws are only enforceable after a driver has been pulled over for another offense like speeding. He also says people still choose to break that law.

Associated Press

Wyoming’s only death row inmate had his death sentence overturned in Federal Court Thursday. Dale Wayne Eaton was convicted of kidnap, assault and murder Lisa Marie Kimmel of Billings in 1988. 

Federal Judge Alan Johnson overturned Eaton’s death penalty due to lack of proper representation during Eaton’s trial. Eaton will remain in prison, but it is unclear if Wyoming’s attorney general will appeal the ruling.  

Michael Blonigen is the Natrona County District Attorney and the person who originally prosecuted Eaton. He says the victim’s family is distraught over the ruling.

Wyoming Department of Health

Diabetes in Wyoming has spiked in recent years. The Wyoming Department of Health says almost 9% of adults in Wyoming now have the disease, up from 4.5% in 2001.

Joe Grandpre is an epidemiologist with the Department of Health and says while that rate is already high, some areas of the population have been affected even more.

“So we have about 7.9 percent in white non-Hispanics in Wyoming," says Grandpre. "But in our American Indian population it’s 19.5, so almost one on five of our American Indian adults has been told they have diabetes. And with Hispanics it’s 13.7.”

Large numbers of Elk have been seen migrating near Jackson and across major roadways last weekend. The National Elk Refuge is urging drivers around the Jackson area to be especially careful in the coming week as hundreds of elk make their way across the area.

The refuge says a winter storm that brought colder temperatures and more than a foot of snow likely kicked off the migration. Elk mainly move at dawn and dusk which makes sighting them more difficult. Refuge spokesperson Lori Iverson says migrations, wintery conditions and drivers take a toll on animals in the area.

Wyoming now has four major political parties. That’s according to the Secretary of State’s office. The Libertarian and Constitution parties received more than ten percent of the vote in the Secretary of State race during the 2014 midterms, which means they are now considered major parties by the Wyoming Government.

University of Wyoming

The University Of Wyoming Board Of Trustees is considering a variety of proposed tuition raises in order to retain faculty members. On Friday the board is expected to vote on two proposals. The first would increase tuition by five percent for academic year 2016. The second would allow the board to increase tuition by four percent every year for four years.

UW’s Vice President for Administration Bill Mai says the university has lost key members of its faculty in recent years due to financial concerns and has had to move money from other areas to retain current faculty.

A nation-wide telephone scam aimed at power company customers is beginning to target customers in Wyoming. Rocky Mountain Power which services Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado;  says a small number of its customers have been fraudulently charged by people posing as power company representatives.

Company Spokesperson Margaret Oler says the scam has been going on for several years now, but calls have recently moved towards Wyoming and the Pacific Northwest.

A University of Wyoming student is dead after being injured in a fight at a Laramie Halloween party Saturday morning. 21 year old Joseph McGowan from Lander was struck when he attempted to break up a fight between Dalton Williams, a student from Casper, and an unidentified participant.

McGowan was airlifted to a Colorado hospital with difficulty breathing where he was later pronounced dead. 20 year old Williams has been charged with second-degree murder and is facing up to 20 years in prison. 

Wyoming continues to rank number one in the nation in taxes for business. That’s from a report released by the Tax Foundation on Tuesday. The state’s lack of corporate and individual income tax has kept in in first place since 2012.

Wyoming Director Tony Gagliardi is with the National Federation of Independent Business’. He says the state deserves only a cautious congratulation since some of Wyoming’s taxes are going up. For instance, fuel taxes have increased and that could hurt farmers and hauling companies.

Wyoming State Parks, Historic Sites & Trails

A bill proposed in the Wyoming House of Representatives would redirect funds received from state park permits into a special revenue account. The purpose of the account would be to move a quarter of the funds back into general maintenance of Wyoming State Parks. This would give the state’s parks more control over how that money is spent. Right now roughly $500,000 goes into the general fund for construction projects.

Domenic Bravo is the State Parks administrator and says choosing maintenance over new construction projects can be a challenging ordeal.

Wyoming Game and Fish

The Wyoming Game and Fish will be reaching out for public input about the future of the state’s Game Bird Farm Program. It will hold public meetings until November 18th and an online survey until the 20th. The program stocks several hunting areas across the state and is now under review to gauge hunter’s willingness to help fund the program.

Wyoming Game and Fish Spokesman Robin Kepple Game and Fish says the results from meetings and survey are crucial to the future of the program.

Newsday.com

Wyoming ranks number one in the nation in gun-related deaths. That’s according to a new report from the Violence Policy Center. While the national average is just over ten deaths per 100,000 people, Wyoming has more than twice that beating out states like Louisiana, Alaska and Mississippi. The report shows that most western nations like the United Kingdom have rates of less than one death 100,000 people.

Jordan Giese

October 24th is the grand opening of the University of Wyoming’s new Gateway Center, which will serve as a "front door" to the university for new students and families. 

The thirty-five million dollar facility will house UW’s admissions office, career services, alumni association and the UW Foundation, which secures private donations for the school. The Foundation’s President Ben Blalock says the building has had significant help from many prominent UW alum and other Wyomingites. Blalock says the private funding was crucial. 

Wyoming Lottery

The Wyoming Lottery says its first month of sales went better than expected. Wyoming Lottery CEO Jon Clontz says the group expected to make about $1.2 million, but brought in about $1.8 million in its first month selling tickets, which began August 24th.

The lottery uses no state money for its operation. Clontz says the group has to pay back a $3 million private loan before any money reaches local governments.

commons.wikimedia.org

A new report out from the Wyoming Department of Administration and Information shows that the state continues to do well economically, but housing costs are rising in several counties. Converse County has had a twenty percent increase in both apartment rent and house payments. Teton continues to be the most expensive county to live in comparatively.

Amy Bittner is a senior economist with the department and says the state overall is doing well.

A National Park Service report about a moose death in Gros Ventre Campground last month is facing some criticism from campers and photographers who were at the scene. The original Park Service report says crowding photographers were the main cause for the Bull Moose charging.

Anna Sullivan is a professional photographer who took several photos and videos of the scene showing that, actually there was no one directly around the moose. Sullivan says her video shows a passing diesel truck was more likely to have spooked the moose.  

Wyoming Game and Fish

Wyoming Game and Fish say antelope were targeted by rifle fire last week on a stretch of county road near Casper. That’s according to a report newly released by the office. Janet Milek, spokeswoman with the Casper regional office says a single witness reported seeing what appeared to be an AK-47 style rifle shooting out of a newer red Nissan X-terra.

Milek says that while assault rifle poachings are not common, but do happen occasionally.

Jordan Giese

The University of Wyoming hosted an event Thursday with Sam Mihara, who was one of the nearly fourteen thousand Japanese-American internees at Heart Mountain Relocation Center during the Second World War. Mihara spent three years in the camp in-between Cody and Powell after being forcefully relocated from San Francisco in 1942. 

Mihara recalled the Wyoming winters as being particularly tough.

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