fremont county

Rocky Mountains, Wind River Range
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A flood watch is active in the north central part of Wyoming. Recent warm weather combined with a spring snow storm is speeding up the already high levels of runoff in the state’s mountains.  

Streams in the eastern and central part of the state are also beginning to run high: in the Shoshone, Big Horn, Wind, and Powder River Basins.  

In the Wind River Mountains, snow pack is 237-percent higher than usual according to the emergency management agency in Fremont County. 

Pitchengine Communities

With most of the mountains in western Wyoming still covered in deep snow, communities downstream are bracing for the spring runoff. National Weather Service meteorologist Trevor LaVoie said it’s flooded along the Big and Little Wind Rivers every spring for the last six years. He said people living on the Wind River Reservation and in other communities along those rivers should begin preparing for flooding now.

Aaron Schrank

Jane Juve makes her morning rounds through the same building where she served as Riverton’s city attorney two decades ago. Now she’s the Riverton Police Department’s new ‘community relations ombudsman.’

“If you feel like your civil rights have been violated, you’re more than welcome to come to my office in city hall,” Juve says.

Miles Bryan

In a classroom at a Riverton activity center kids are sitting in a “connection circle.” They toss a ball around, and whoever has it has got to say what makes them happiest.

“I’m happiest when I am around my family,” one girl says before bouncing the ball to a boy. “I’m happiest when I’m riding my dirt bike,” he replies.

The idea is that if two kids are happy when they are doing the same thing, they make a connection. It wouldn’t feel out of place at an  alternative high school–it’s actually an alternative to juvenile detention.

Suriel via flickr

The Albany County Library received an emergency infusion of over $100,000 this week.

That money was allocated by the Albany County Commissioners to help the library cover a budget deficit of around $70,000 dollars for this fiscal year.

“We would have had to completely gut the programming and materials. No more programming and materials for the year,” says library manager Joey Dingess. “To be quite honest, we wouldn’t be able to pay our bills the rest of the year.”

Several residents have been asked to evacuate their homes in Wood’s Landing because an access road was flooded by the rising Laramie River.  And residents in the towns of Saratoga and Encampment are on alert for evacuations, as high snow melt floods the North Platte River.  Flooding in Park and Fremont Counties has not led to evacuations, but officials are wary of rainfall this weekend.  

Kathi Metzler is the Emergency Management Coordinator in Fremont County where she’s monitoring the Wind River.

Patrick Goggles has been serving in the Wyoming House of Representatives since 2005. But at the end of the recent budget session, he announced that he won’t be seeking reelection in 2014. Goggles is a democrat from House District 33, which includes a piece of the Wind River Indian Reservation in Fremont County.

The governments of Riverton, Fremont County, the state, and of the two tribes who share the Wind River Indian Reservation are arguing, again, over the reservation’s borders.

Micah Schweizer

Donna Robeson’s great grandmother came to South Pass in 1868.  She was a converted Mormon from Scotland and married English immigrant Richard Sherlock.  They heard there was going to be a big gold strike, so they came to seek their fortunes in mining.  This dream didn’t quite pan out.  Instead, the family started hotel and ranching businesses to earn a living.  Donna tells historian Susan Layman what she remembers from her childhood, at the ranch and with her aunt and uncle in the hotel.

A Christmas Day fire at a natural gas compressor station south of Riverton sent one worker to the hospital.

The East Alkali Butte station belongs to Texas-based Legacy Reserves. The company’s safety coordinator, Randy Williams, says the injured worker was a contractor. He was flown to a hospital in Salt Lake City for treatment.

Fremont County Fire Protection deputy chief Dan Oakley says by the time the department got on scene, the fire had been mostly extinguished. He says the building was still standing, but that the windows and doors had been blown out.

Micah Schweizer

Tom Duncan grew up in Lander.  He comes from a family of Scottish immigrants that settled in Wyoming in the 1880s.  In 1900, Duncan’s grandfather trailed 5000 sheep to Fremont County, where he began a ranch along the western border of the Wind River Indian Reservation.  Duncan tells the family story of their Native American neighbor, Togwotee, for whom Togwotee Pass is named.

Today, the long awaited ground breaking for the 41 million dollar Wind River Job Corps took place.  The project was first conceived in 2005 and thanks to support of Senator Mike Enzi it finally received federal approval.  It’s the first Job Corps for Wyoming which is the only state without such a facility. 

Sandy Barton of the Fremont County Board of Cooperative Education Services or BOCES spearheaded the effort from the start.  She told Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck that it will have a major impact on Fremont County and the state.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is taking public comments on a proposed uranium mine in eastern Fremont County.

Canada-based Strathmore Resources proposes to mine uranium using conventional or open-pit methods and to process the uranium into yellowcake on site.

The BLM says surface disturbance with pits, spoils storage, material storage and roads and processing facilities would total about 2,000 acres.

Public comments are due to the BLM's Lander Field Office by Sept. 9.

A group of students from Fremont County School District 6 asked the Joint Education Committee to help crack down on school bus fly-bys in the state.

A fly-by is when a motorist illegally passes a school bus that has stopped to load or unload students, while raising a stop sign and turning on flashing warning lights.

Eleven-year-old Makayla Strahle of Crowhart was one of nine children killed in fly-bys nationally during the 2011 school year.

Fremont County District 6 Superintendent Diana Clapp says she was glad the committee was receptive to the students’ message.

Energy Fuels Inc. plans to acquire Strathmore Minerals Corporation, a move that will establish Energy Fuels as one of the biggest uranium companies in the U.S. The organizations have signed a letter of intent, under which Strathmore shareholders will end up owning about 20% of Energy Fuels shares.

CEO of Strathmore, David Miller, says the companies are a good match for each other. Both organizations have Wyoming projects.   

Teton county residents are the healthiest in Wyoming. That’s according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute’s County Health Rankings. The least-healthy county was Fremont.

Population Health Institute researcher Kate Konkle says, overall, people in Fremont County died at a younger age, had more sick days, and were less mentally healthy than residents of other counties. Konkle says researchers considered several factors that influence the health of a community, including obesity, access to dentists, and graduation rates.

An interim legislative committee is planning to study Wyoming's beer and liquor tax this summer.

Wyoming's 2-cents-per-gallon tax on malt beverages is the lowest in the nation. It has remained unchanged since it was first passed in 1935, about a year after Prohibition was repealed.

The study is among several tax studies assigned to the Joint Interim Revenue Committee this summer and fall.

Wind River Reservation

The tribes on the Wind River Indian Reservation have signed a six-month temporary contract with Fremont County to continue solid waste disposal services there. The previous contract expired earlier this month.

Fremont County residents will have a chance to put their Christmas trees to good use after taking down the ornaments and lights.

Each January, area anglers collect Christmas trees and sink them to the bottom of Ocean Lake to create a better habitat for walleye, crappie and yellow perch living there.

Wyoming Game and Fish Department Fisheries Biologist, Paul Gerrity, says the lake is pretty flat at the bottom.

With casinos operating successfully in Fremont County, anecdotes abound that gambling addiction is becoming a widespread problem. Fremont Counseling Services is reacting accordingly by starting a gambling awareness group to educate people about the signs and symptoms of gambling addiction, and how to engage someone suspected of being a problem gambler.

Director of Fremont Counseling Services Gerry McAdams says they haven’t necessarily seen an increase of clients with the problem, but they’re going ahead with the classes anyway.

The U.S. Department of Labor is finally starting the process of looking for contractors to build the Wind River Job Corps in Riverton. The site, which will provide vocational training for disadvantaged live-in students, has been slow going. Director of the Fremont County Board of Cooperative Education Services, Sandy Barton, says this is great news for the center.   

Slot Machine Word

HOST: There have been rumors that Fremont County is experiencing a rise in gambling addiction amongst its residents. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov reports that whether the rumors are true or not is still unclear, but some services are popping up to address it regardless.

ZHOROV: The Wind River Hotel and Casino in Riverton is full of chirping slot machines, game tables, bright lights, and…gamblers.

There are differing opinions regarding how much good gaming has brought to the county and tribes. But there is also concern about gambling addictions.

Fremont County and Lander Regional Hospital have reached a settlement in a yearlong lawsuit over unpaid bills for mental health examinations for residents who may need to be hospitalized.

The county will pay $457,000 for evaluations from 2009 to Dec. 15. Lander parent company LifePoint Hospitals had sought more than $800,000 in unpaid bills from the county. Both sides disputed how much the county owed for evaluations of patients who faced involuntary hospitalization for mental illness.

The Fremont County Attorney's Office says 35
people have been indicted in connection with an alleged drug
distribution ring in central Wyoming.
     The Casper Star-Tribune (http://bit.ly/rVGjbk ) reported that 22
of the 35 suspects have been arrested as of Friday.
     The indictments came from a grand jury that met from Nov. 28
through the 30th. They involve the distribution of cocaine,
methamphetamine, marijuana and prescription medication.