Liam Niemeyer

News Intern

Liam Niemeyer is a rising junior studying journalism at Ohio University, and is quite far away from his home in Athens, Ohio. With it being only his second time in Wyoming, he is excited to learn more about the state and its culture. An admitted podcast fanatic and audiophile, he also produces and hosts his own radio show back at OU. In his free time, you might find him playing a mean tenor saxophone or sporting a new bow tie. 

 

Liam Niemeyer

Due to Wyoming’s economic downturn, a number of state agencies have been required to cut their budgets to make up for a revenue shortfall that could reach $300 million. Among the cuts is $1 million that the Wyoming Department of Corrections uses for substance abuse treatment. 

At the same time, the Wyoming Department of Health is cutting funding for local substance abuse treatment. Some worry the cuts could harm those in and out of the prison system.

Carbon XPrize Website

Forty-seven teams have entered an international competition that seeks ways to turn carbon emissions into useful products.

The X-Prize competition challenges innovators to turn carbon dioxide into useful, valuable, products like carbon nanotubes and concrete.

“Innovators are often the one’s with the bright ideas. They don’t necessarily know how to go out there and raise millions of dollars to turn it into reality,” said Paul Bunje, the principal scientist in charge of the competition.

National Wildlife Coordinating Group

Two hundred and fifty additional homes are being evacuated because of the spreading Lava Mountain Fire in Fremont County.

The Western Montana Fire Incident Management Team issued new evacuation orders Monday for residents and campers in the Union Pass, Porcupine, Hat Butte and Warm Springs areas. Firefighters have been preparing homes and structures in the area in the event the blaze did spread.

“(Firefighters) have really gone through a lot of effort and done everything possible to prepare for this potential,” said spokeswoman Hailey Graf.

National Interagency Fire Center

Teton County health officials are warning people living in communities near wildfires about lower air quality.

Wildfire smoke has particles in it from burning material that when inhaled can be harmful on the body, especially during exercise. These particles can irritate an individual’s eyes, lungs and throat.

“You know, it’s not a good time when it’s really smoky out to go run to the top of the mountain,” Rachael Wheeler of Teton County Public Health said. “You don’t really want to aggravate your body when the air isn’t clean.”

Sheridan.edu

Gillette College officials are considering offering 4-year bachelor's degrees and master’s degrees programs in the upcoming future.

A task force formed by the Energy Capital Economic Development corporation will hire a consultant to see what funds are needed expand programs and enhanced degrees.

Liam Niemeyer

Teachers from across Wyoming took part in programming and robotics workshops on the University of Wyoming’s campus this month to learn about new ways to teach students.

During the two-week long event called “UW RAMPED,” 30 teachers learned about miniature computers that can be used in the classroom and how to program robots of different sizes. Teachers also got to interact with a human-sized robot named Baxter.

Public Domain

 

The question comes up every election year. Does my vote count? The answer sometimes depends on what race or issue you are voting on. Wyoming is a very Republican state, so if you are not part of the GOP it’s possible that your vote might mean very little, especially in the presidential race.

But even if you are Republican, Wyoming has a mere three electoral votes. Wyoming Public Radio intern Liam Niemeyer met up with Wyoming voters in Laramie recently and asked—does your vote count?

Vertical Harvest

A documentary following the first year of business for an innovative greenhouse in Jackson is one of ten finalists in a nationwide film competition.

The film, called “Hearts of Glass,” details the challenges of the Vertical Harvest greenhouse through its first year of “vertical farming,” a process that grows produce by stacking it on top of each other instead of side by side. Vertical Harvest also hires disabled people in the community to help grow the produce.

Conniemod, Wikipedia Creative Commons

Wyoming Department of Health officials say Wyoming’s relatively high elevation could put people here more at risk for skin cancer.

“The thought process may be something closer to ‘Oh, I’m just going to go for a 30-minute run,’”said Morgan Powell with Wyoming Integrated Cancer Services. “But what they don’t realize is that the sun can damage our skin in as little as 15 minutes at our altitude.”

Hatches Magazine

Streams in the Bighorn Basin are seeing low water levels earlier than usual this summer, which could lead to trout die-offs.

Local anglers near Sheridan and Buffalo first reported unusually low water levels in Little Goose Creek and Clear Creek to Wyoming Game and Fish. Shallow water raises water temperatures, which can fatally stress trout. 

A combination of low rainfall, little snowpack and high spring temperatures are all factors in the low water levels. Game and Fish is projecting the trend could continue in the Bighorn Basin if the summer continues to grow hotter.

Sheridan.edu

Sheridan Community College is considering building a new dorm after seeing demand for on-campus housing rise the past three years.

The college was up 51 applications in April compared to last year in April, and now, all rooms at the college are booked for the fall semester. 20 students are on a wait list to live on-campus. Currently, the college can house 450 students overall.

Director of Housing and Campus Life Larissa Bonnett said a big reason why there’s more people wanting to live on-campus is for the experience.

Liam Niemeyer

Budget cuts at the state level will mean about $18 million less for the Wyoming Department of Corrections. Department officials said with those cuts, they’ll be forced to operate their prisons with fewer people.

Department Director Bob Lampert said 125 vacancies throughout the department will not be filled. 45 of those vacancies are coming directly from employees in the state’s prisons.

Wikimedia Commons

Wyoming Game and Fish officials report the state’s mule deer population is growing because of good moisture during the spring and early summer the past three years. Officials said this moisture helps grow the grasses mule deer need to eat coming out of winter.

Ian Tator of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department said because of good rainfall, the number of fawns born the past two years is more than enough to help the mule deer population grow.

Wikimedia Commons

University of Wyoming researchers found 70 acres of land near Sheridan infested with Ventenata, an invasive grass species that’s been hurting hay production in nearby states.

A single plant of Ventenata was first found near the Sheridan area in 1997. Since then, the grass has spread unchecked. Ventenata is known to be a low-quality biomass grass–it doesn’t add a lot of nutritional content for hay production or livestock foraging. Ventenata can reduce hay production yields by up to 50 percent according to the United States Forest Service.

Wikimedia Commons

University of Wyoming President Laurie Nichols brought together faculty and staff Wednesday to discuss the financial crisis she declared last week at the university.

At the meeting, President Nichols detailed how the university plans to cut about $30 million over the next two years. In her plan, Nichols said the university will raise tuition by 4 percent—and eliminate 70 vacancies throughout campus. Around 50 faculty and staff will also have to voluntarily retire for the university to save enough money.

Sheridan.edu

The City of Gillette is asking its biggest water users to cut back for the first time since 2012.

The city is now in “Condition Yellow,” which means it is asking places like the Campbell County School District and Gillette College to voluntarily cut back its water usage by fifteen percent. The community found itself in this situation because the city went over its water usage limit, 10.2 million gallons, three out of the past five days.

Credit Wikimedia Commons

Wyoming’s federal parks and monuments are expected to have more visitors than usual because of the National Park Service’s centennial and low gas prices. But officials in the small town of Sundance near Devil’s Tower National Monument say extra tourism dollars probably won’t help them with their budget shortfalls.

The number of visitors to Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park are up 26 percent and 15 percent, respectively, for the month of May from last year. Devil’s Tower National Monument has seen a 30 percent jump in April visitors.

Credit Creative Commons

A recent study shows Wyoming parents can expect the fourth highest increase in auto insurance rates nationwide when they add a teen driver, but Wyoming drivers pay little for auto insurance overall.

The study by InsuranceQuotes.com, an online marketplace for purchasing car insurance, found that when a teen starts to drive, a Wyoming family’s auto insurance rate more than doubles, with an increase of 105.8 percent.

Insurance Information Institute spokesman Michael Barry said factors unique to Wyoming contribute to why it’s so expensive to insure teen drivers.

Wikimedia Commons

Officials are gaining control of Wyoming’s largest wildfire this year. A 225-acre is about 90 percent under control as of Wednesday while two out of three smaller fires have been put out near the town of Ten Sleep. Bureau of Land Management officials expect all fires to be extinguished by Wednesday.

Bureau of Land Management Worland Field Office Manager Rance Neighbors said they weren’t expecting significant wildfires this early.

Credit Wikimedia Commons

The University of Wyoming and nine other institutions have formed a coalition to study how fossil fuels can be used more efficiently and with less environmental impact.

The coalition led by Penn State is being funded by the United States Department of Energy, which recently gave a $20 million grant to the group. The funding will help the schools look further into issues such as carbon storage and natural gas infrastructure.

Tom Koerner/USFWS

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has confirmed the first ever case of Chronic Wasting Disease in Star Valley.

Chronic Wasting Disease, or CWD, is a fatal brain disease that affects deer, elk and moose. The disease has mostly been reported in southeastern Wyoming, particularly in Albany and Laramie counties, and cases of CWD are relatively rare west of the continental divide. Two other infected deer were also found near Cody this past April.

Snow King Mountain Resort Website

Jackson's Snow King Mountain Resort plans to upgrade its facilities within the next five years.

The small ski area will build multiple restaurants on Snow King Mountain's summit that will serve over 1,000 people, as well as a modernized cable-car lift able to carry out 1,500 people per hour to the top of the mountain. 

A stargazing observatory is also planned for the summit, which Resort General Manager Ryan Stanley said would hopefully attract people beyond skiers.

Wikimedia Commons

Niobrara, Weston and Crook counties are on high alert for wildfires as Wyoming's first fire restrictions of the year are put in place.

Bureau of Land Management New Castle Field Office Manager Rick Miller said a main reason fire restrictions were issued Tuesday was because it's been very dry in the region.

"Northeast Wyoming has not had the rainfall that other parts of Wyoming have received, nor the spring snowfall, so we're quite a bit drier than other parts of Wyoming right now," Miller said.

Wikimedia Commons

According to the Wyoming Department of Health, the Zika Virus should have little to no presence in Wyoming this summer.

There have been 618 cases of Zika in the United States reported to the Centers for Disease Control over the past year.

The virus is linked to the birth defect microcephaly, a condition where babies are born with smaller-than-average heads and underdeveloped brains.

Liam Niemeyer

As many local governments are finalizing their budgets for the upcoming year, the city of Laramie is expected to feel the financial crunch happening at the state level.

The city is receiving about $2.2 million less from the state. In response to that, along with stagnant sales tax revenue, the city will eliminate 14 positions from various departments. Those positions include an animal control officer and two officers in the Laramie Police Department's Traffic Enforcement Unit.