News

An African American woman was injured in what she said was a racially motivated attack in Laramie early Sunday morning. 

The victim is a former Laramie resident who posted on her Facebook page that she and two other African Americans were returning from a night at Laramie’s Jubilee Days when they were approached by a small group who shouted racial slurs at the victim's group and threatened to kill them. 

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.

U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl has dismissed a lawsuit challenging a Wyoming law that criminalizes taking photos or collecting data on private lands without permission.

Judge Skavdahl dismissed the lawsuit, saying there is no constitutional right to trespassing on private lands. Skavdahl had been concerned about a previous provision that banned the public from open land, but lawmakers removed that from the law earlier this year. 

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.

BLM Wyoming

New fire restrictions for public lands in Sheridan, Johnson, and Campbell counties will go into effect Friday. Those counties been dry and hot in recent weeks, and lightning strikes have caused two fires in the area.

The new Bureau of Land Management restrictions will prohibit things like building fires outside of designated fire grates and smoking on public lands. 

Wyoming Highway Patrol

Several thousand gallons of crude oil are believed to have leaked from a tractor-trailer following a crash near Wright in northeast Wyoming Sunday morning. 

According to a press release, the commercial truck was hauling a semi-trailer and pup trailer full of crude oil when it ran off Wyoming State Highway 450 and into a ditch. Truck driver Nathan Gibson then tried to steer the truck back onto the highway, but was unsuccessful, and the truck rolled.

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.

Wikipedia Creative Commons

If trends continue, Wyoming will close its gender wage gap last out of all 50 states – in the year 2159. That’s based on historical wage data from between 1959 and 2013 analyzed by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

Julie Anderson, a research associate at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, said, unlike much of the country where wage growth has been relatively stagnant, men’s salaries in Wyoming have been on the rise.

Wikipedia Creative Commons

The City Council in Casper voted to cut the city’s budget by more than a third on Tuesday.

While the cuts do not include any layoffs, Casper City Council member, Bob Hopkins, says there will be a reduction in capital spending, elimination of 23 vacant positions and early retirement for some city employees.

Hopkins says the primary goal of the cuts is to keep public services, like street maintenance and snow plowing, going during the economic downturn.

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.

The New WOrld Atlas Of Articial Night Sky Brightness

A new global study of light pollution has identified Northwest Wyoming as having some of the darkest skies in the lower 48 states. The New World Atlas of Artificial Sky Brightness was a collaborative project to map the brightest and darkest places on earth.

Dan Duriscoe, the National Park Service scientist who worked on the atlas, said the area including Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks is very dark, and it is likely to stay that way.

Phil, CDC

Cities and towns across Wyoming have begun mosquito prevention efforts. Fogging and spraying are underway to kill adult mosquitos, and larvicide is being applied to areas of standing water like wheat fields and ponds.

Keith Wardlaw, the mosquito crew supervisor for the city of Laramie, said areas that have seen lots of rain and snowmelt, like Southeast and Central Wyoming, may also see more mosquitos this summer.

“We’ve had a very wet spring. There’s certainly a lot of habitat available right now for mosquitos to be produced in,” said Wardlaw.

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.

Flicker Creative Commons, by L.C. Nøttaasen

After Sunday’s mass shooting at the gay nightclub PULSE in Orlando, cities and towns around Wyoming are holding vigils to honor the victims.

Candlelight vigils are set to take place at the United Church of Christ in Casper at 8:30 tonight, in Laramie at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow, and in the Cheyenne Depot Plaza Thursday at 7 p.m.

June is Pride Month, and celebrations had already been planned around the state. Jeran Artery, chairman of Wyoming Equality, said he knows people are scared, but that they should not give in to fear.  

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.

Bob Beck

Flooding is causing problems for some of the state’s farmers and ranchers.

Annie Bryce is the county executive director for the Farm Service Agency in Fremont County. She says May flooding near Lander and Riverton damaged ditches, which can prevent irrigation of farmland. That flooding also destroyed fences, which can lead to the loss of livestock.

"If there are no fences, you know, that cow or calf goes down for a drink and often drowns. I have producers that their fences all went down and they’re still missing over a hundred head," says Bryce.

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.

National Park Service

Yellowstone National Park is closing a popular hillside near the Grand Prismatic Spring this summer. Over the years, unofficial trails have been created on the hill since hikers can look over the spring there.

Jody Lyle, a spokeswoman for the park, says the closure is part of a two-year project.

"This summer we’re going to close that area, begin construction on an official trail that will go to an official overlook, and then restore all of the damage that’s been done on that hillside from people creating social trails on their own," says Lyle.

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park officials are urging tourists to obey park guidelines, after recent incidents of visitors breaking the law garnered widespread attention on social media.

UW Told To Cut $35 Million

May 11, 2016
University of Wyoming

The University of Wyoming will have to make massive budget cuts over the next two years. Governor Matt Mead delivered the bad news to the UW trustees Wednesday afternoon.

“The University of Wyoming as it is the second largest user of general fund dollars we are asking for a bit above eight percent…the number is 35 million dollars.”

The cut is on top of six million that UW received in March. University officials say the cuts will involve both programs and personnel. UW Deans are in the process of recommending reductions.

The Local Crowd

Starting this summer, Laramie will help pioneer a new kind of local online crowdfunding called “The Local Crowd.”  Crowdfunding is when an entity raises small amounts of money from a large number of people.

Trey Sherwood is the Executive Director of the Laramie Main Street Alliance, which will take the lead in the platform’s implementation. She says the difference between “The Local Crowd” and other crowd funding sites like "Indiegogo" or "GoFundMe" is that “The Local Crowd” will feature campaigns for projects that will invest back in their community.

Irina Zhorov

Heavy spring snow has boosted the state’s snowpack levels to almost 100 percent of normal.

Lee Hackleman, Wyoming's Water Supply Specialist, says that means the outlook for the state’s water resources and reservoirs is good, and drought conditions are disappearing from most areas.

"Probably the only part that's left [in drought] is some over on the west side of the state and that is liable to persist for a little while," says Hackleman.

TAMRA WATTS

Pinedale’s Wind River Brewing Company will be opening a new brewing facility and restaurant at the Roundhouse in Evanston. This comes after the company fought for years to build that facility in Pinedale.

Wind River Brewing owners Tamra and Shawn Watts have lived in Pinedale all their lives. The couple wanted to build their new brewery and tasting room there, but Pinedale’s mayor halted the expansion when he stopped the city from changing some zoning rules. So, they’re building it away from their hometown—150 miles South to Evanston.

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