Aaron Schrank

Inside a Casper art gallery, a few dozen teachers are seated in a circle, listening to a presentation chock-full of teambuilding buzzwords.

This is a “design camp” for Natrona County’s new academy-based learning center. These educators get together weekly to plot a reinvention of the high school experience for kids in Casper.


“When we open our school, it’s going to be the first time for a whole new way of learning,” says Bryan Aivazian, a coach at one of four career academies that will be housed in the new center, which opens in one year.

Bob Beck

To put it mildly, eliminating smoking from bars has been in tough in Casper. Since 2000 the Casper City Council has twice approved smoking bans, and they were both overturned. Now the issue is up for another vote next month. The public has a chance to decide whether it agrees with a city council effort to allow smoking in bars and some other places. It’s being framed as a battle of business rights versus health.

Wyoming Highway Patrol

State Forester Bill Crapser said that between 15 to 20 structures have been lost in a grass fire that burned some 15 square miles north of Casper. 

Crapser is blaming warm and dry conditions for the fire that he says is unusual for this time of year.  Hundreds of residents had been evacuated. When they return to their homes Red Cross spokeswoman Pat Kondas said they will need more than food and water.

Wyoming Highway Patrol

Hundreds of residents near the Casper suburb of Evansville have been evacuated from their homes due to a grass fire. The blaze started at a landfill Saturday, but high winds have since caused the fire to spread to the surrounding area.

Bob Fawcett is the Fire Marshall for the Natrona County Fire Protection District. He says the department has called up much of its resources, between 80 and 100 people in aerial and ground units, to fight the fire, but the high winds that fanned the flames initially are also making it difficult to fight the fire.

The Wyoming Symphony Orchestra has a new home for the 2015-2016 concert season. The orchestra is performing at Casper College instead of its usual hall at Natrona County High School while the auditorium is under renovation. Music director Matthew Savery says playing at Wheeler Concert Hall offers new acoustic possibilities.

The Wyoming Oil and Gas Fair has announced that this year the event will be moved from Jackson to Casper.

Fair General Manager Dave Hutton says rising costs in Jackson was a major factor in the change of venue. But even with lower costs, Casper has fewer direct flights than Jackson, potentially making it more difficult for people to attend. Hutton says he does think this year’s turnout will be slightly lower in previous years.

Casper College

Casper College has selected Dr. Darren Divine as its new president. The College’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously for Divine out of four finalists.

The school’s current president Walter Nolte will be retiring at the end of June after eleven years in the job. Devine is currently is Vice President for academic affairs at the College of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas.

He says he has a background in agriculture, and that should be a good fit for the college.

Wyoming Highway Patrol Association

A report of a stolen vehicle led the Wyoming Highway Patrol to make a drug bust Tuesday in Casper.

The Highway Patrol says Hertz Rental Company contacted them about a stolen vehicle in the Casper area at nine Tuesday morning.   The Patrol located the vehicle at a Pawn shop in Casper. 

Lieutenant Kleif Guenther with the Highway Patrol says two individuals, Jason Latoskie and Sherry Mehring were arrested and charged with drug possession.

Jordan Giese

The Casper Housing Authority is wrapping up the first year of its Housing First Program. It was designed to give the chronically homeless places to live before tackling other issues like addiction and illness.

The program was started last March with 10 homes and 14 participants. Four of them have dropped out of the program, but nine people now have permanent housing and one has completely graduated from the program, and has moved into housing without assistance from the state.

Well known Casper businessman and philanthropist Mick McMurry died early Tuesday morning at home. He was 69.

Courtesy The Guild Charter School

A group of Casper parents is looking to launch a new charter school for high-achieving kids. They're planning to submit their application to the Natrona County School District on Monday.

The proposed K-8 school is called The Guild Charter School. Backers say the school would offer individualized learning plans for each student and be more academically rigorous.

Wyoming Department of Corrections

Casper’s District Attorney will be allowed again to seek the death penalty in the case of a Wyoming inmate convicted of killing a Montana woman. That’s after District Judge Alan Johnson denied a request from Dale Wayne Eaton’s defense team to let him serve life in prison without parole. 

Eaton was convicted of killing Lisa Marie Kimmell in 2004, but his death sentence was overturned last year after Judge Johnson ruled he did not receive a proper defense. The judge said Eaton’s history as a victim of abuse should have been discussed.

Casper College

Casper College found itself on lock-down again this week when students discovered a plastic tube with nails in the Union. Casper police evacuated the campus but later said it was a false alarm. The item turned out to be an art project. It’s the fourth false alarm to lead to a lock-down on the campus since a professor was shot with an arrow by his son in 2012. Police Captain Steve Freel says the high number of evacuations are part of a new protocol between police and campus security about how to handle such emergencies.

Tyler Peters

If you're in Casper and you’ve too drunk too much to drive home, you now have options. You can call a cab, or you can call Hammered Helper: a car service that will ferry you around town free of charge--although they do take tips. Hammered Helper is the brainchild of Tyler Peters, a 24 year old Casper native. Peters started the service in selling pot. Now clean and sober, Peters dedicates five nights a week to Hammered Helper. Wyoming Public Radio’s Miles Bryan spent a Friday night with him, and has this postcard.

In classical music, there’s a long list of composers who are also conductors. One of them is Chicagoan Jim Stephenson. What sets Stephenson apart is that the audience will help him compose the music the Wyoming Symphony Orchestra will play at its family concert on November 8th. Stephenson has performed the ‘Compose Yourself’ program hundreds of times since 2002, but this performance will only be the second time with a full symphony orchestra.

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.

Screenshot via YouTube

Dean Kelly, the principal at Natrona County High School in Casper resigned Wednesday. The announcement of his resignation followed the news that several staff members were placed on leave for their participation in an inappropriate skit performed at the school.

The Natrona County School District released a video of the incident in question on Tuesday after a records request from the Casper Star-Tribune newspaper. The video and accompanying transcript were redacted to protect privacy.

The University of Wyoming Family Medicine Residency programs in Casper and Cheyenne have received an important new federal designation that will help both the programs and patients. 

UW Health Sciences Dean Joe Steiner says it will mean enhanced Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements and better recruitment and retention of doctors—and will allow the programs to serve more patients.                

cloudzilla via FLICKR

Two men who appeared in a political advertisement say they were tricked into attacking candidates for Casper City Council.

Cecil Harris and Wilbur Yankey are part of the Bessemer Vigilance Committee, a Casper-area group that dresses in Old West clothing and stages mocks shootouts with 19th century firearms.

Miles Bryan

In late July President Obama signed the Workforce Opportunity and Innovation Act. The bill is designed to get people with disabilities working in commercial businesses, and get them out of service provider owned companies, known as “sheltered workshops.” State officials here in Wyoming are on board with these changes, but some providers say closing sheltered workshops will leave people with disabilities with few options.

Josh Hallett via Flickr Creative Commons

The city of Casper is looking to upgrade its image and raise its profile as a tourist destination. And it’s taking special care to make sure the people of Casper are behind the city’s new brand. 

Last year, the city hired Casper-based firm AdBay to create a re-branding campaign for $80,000. Since then, they’ve been in research mode. Creative Director Shawk Houck says asking Casperites what they think gives their city personality has been key to the process.

The city of Casper will become the national headquarters for a rare total solar eclipse in the summer of 2017. The event is expected to temporarily double the city’s population. That’s because Casper will be in the middle of the path of the moon’s shadow, which will enter the US in Oregon, cut a swath across the width of the country, exiting in South Carolina.

Money Blog News via Flickr

Riverton, Casper, and Lander have all seen a wave of prepaid debit card scams in the last few days.

Green Dot Visa cards are debit cards that can be loaded with cash at a convenience store.

Riverton Police Captain Eric Murphy says citizens have been asked to use Green Dot cards to send money to scammers pretending to be representatives of big cash prizes like Publishers Clearing House, or the IRS.

“One local lady here in town had paid $28,000 worth of Green Dot cards to these people.”

Bob Beck

Many people have ideas for small businesses, but not many of them quit their day jobs to try something unique, especially when it’s something they know little about. But that’s exactly what the Pollock family of Casper did in starting Backwards Distilling Company

“My son’s an absinth drinker and absinth is hard to come by and he and she were talking… why don’t we just make some make some… and then we all looked at each other and we all stopped and went hmmm.”

Dick Sedar grew up in Casper, in a working-class neighborhood called “the Sandbar.” His parents emigrated from Croatia in the early 1920’s to seek work in the coal and oil industries. Dick was one of 16 children and tells the story of his childhood in Casper.

One of Dick’s Sedar’s brothers, Mike, worked in the Douglas Prisoner of War camp during World War II.  Dick remembers his brother’s experience working with the prisoners, and the lasting friendships he made.

credit DJ Lein via Flickr

As military activity in Iraq and Afghanistan has wound down, military armored vehicles have been making their way back home.

Big Horn County and the cities of Cheyenne and Casper have all received heavily armored vehicles designed to protect soldiers from mines and rocket attacks in the Middle East.

“Our new [armored vehicle] can protect us against rifle rounds. Whereas our old [civilian armored vehicle] couldn’t,” says Cheyenne Police Department spokesperson Dan Long.

Women in the United States have been fighting for equal wage rights since the early 1900s.  In 1963 the government passed the Equal Pay Act, which aimed to abolish wage disparity based on sex.  But the act excluded professional careers.  Starting in 1971, Marilynn Deiss juggled work as the Executive Director of the Wyoming Board of Pharmacy and as a single mother.  She tells her daughter, Debra Swedberg, how gender discrimination affected her life.

Bob Beck

Returning from military service back into so called normal society continues to be a challenge for many veterans.  It doesn’t help if they have difficulty getting Veterans Administration Services.  In Wyoming, the two VA hospitals have been criticized for the amount of time veterans need to wait to get care.  Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck reports that social service providers say they are trying to provide adequate services to a growing population of vets.