News

For the first time, Wyoming now has two cities with a population of 60-thousand or more as Casper has gone over the 60-thousand mark. Economist Wenlin Liu says Natrona County is the fastest growing county in the state.

“It grew over eight percent from 2010 to 2014. It was mainly driven by oil exploration in the Powder River Basin. You know Casper has a service center for lots of these training activities, so that’s why they attracted so many workers.”

Jackson’s bottleneck traffic may be getting some relief in the form of the Community Streets Plan.

The plan was created by Colorado firm Charlier Associates, and it aims to make walking, biking, and taking public transport more feasible for Jackson’s residents and visitors, which would hopefully make them less likely to use cars to get around. It looks to do this by installing more sidewalks, better bike lanes, and easier access to bus stops.

A Montana company called Health Management Services will step in and take over operations of a nursing home in Saratoga that was slated to shut down. 

The Deseret Health group had planned to close the nursing home in Saratoga and another one in Rock Springs that was sold last week. Both facilities will remain open after the Wyoming Department of Health stepped in and brokered the deals for both facilities. 

Western Sugar Cooperative

The Western Sugar Cooperative has announced that it will slowly be phasing out its Torrington sugar beet factory, leaving about 70 people in the area out of work.

Jenny Pragnell is with the Goshen County Economic Development Corporation. She says she has lived in Goshen County her whole life and this is probably the biggest layoff she has seen.

University of Wyoming

The University of Wyoming Board of Trustees voted Thursday keep the search for the next UW President open.  

The trustees voted to release the names of the finalists and also voted to bring them to campus and possibly other places in the state sometime before March. The goal is to have them meet members of the campus community and the public. 

Aaron Schrank

 

Laramie made history last night when the city council passed Wyoming’s first broad ordinance banning discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.

 

The ordinance, which passed by a vote of 7-2,  covers public or private employment, housing, and public accommodations like bars or restaurants. The town of Jackson also has an LGBT anti discrimination ordinance on the books, but it only covers public employees.

 

The Lander-Based media company Pitch Engine will take its community news website platform to at least three new Wyoming cities in the next few months.

 

Cody, Gillette, and Jackson will all get new Pitch Engine backed news sites based on County10.com, which has operated in Fremont County for the last few years.

 

Pitch Engine’s sites publish a stream of press releases, police reports, community, and local ads.

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

Wyoming’s Department of Workforce Services has unveiled a new program intended to bring former residents back to the state to live and work. Called Wyoming Grown, it allows family members or friends of someone living out of state to refer them the Department of Workforce Services, who will attempt to recruit them back to Wyoming to fill a job. 

Wikimedia Commons

Union Pacific Rail Road has announced its investing $51.5 million into Wyoming’s railroad infrastructure. $48 million of that is being spent directly on railroad tracks, with the rest going into signal systems and bridges.

The money is part of a regular investment into the company’s railways, with $430 million being spent in Wyoming between 2010 and 2014. Mark Davis is the Union Pacific spokesman and says that money directly affects safety nationwide.

Seattle Municipal Archives / Wikipedia Creative Commons

Students at the University of Wyoming will hold a demonstration May 8th  protesting Laramie’s lack of a glass recycling program. The students who organized the demonstration are part of a class called ‘Youth in Revolt’ that has been studying youth protest movements this semester. They will be gathering signatures for a petition asking the city to start recycling glass again.  

Laramie lost its glass recycling two years ago, when ARK regional services cut the program citing high costs. The University of Wyoming closed its  own glass recycling program shortly after.

USDA

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is putting up 235 million dollars in grants for innovative conservation projects around the country.

The grants will support efforts like improving water and soil quality, wildlife habitat, and farmland. The grant was part of last year’s Farm Bill.

Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resources Trust director Bob Budd says the grants will tackle big issues.

Prudential Spirit of Community Awards / spirit.prudential.com

Wyoming’s top two youth volunteers were recognized in the nation’s capital this week. Laura Harris of Green River and Trinity Rich of Douglas are the Prudential Spirit of Community Award winners. Among other things, Rich helps the elderly and neighbors with chores and tasks, and Harris helps raise money to grant the wishes of sick children.

Volunteers in grades 5 through 12 were encouraged to apply, and Wyoming had one of the youngest winners in the country. Trinity Rich is just 11 years old and is in fifth grade at Douglas Upper Elementary School.

Wyoming Public Media

The final piece of the puzzle for a long-awaited Wind River Job Corps program has been found.  Management and Training Corporation of Utah has been chosen by the U.S. Department of Labor to operate the Wind River Job Corps Center.  

Job Corps trains students who come from families below the federal poverty level. Sandy Barton of the Fremont County Board for Cooperative Education Services has been working on the project for ten years and says the selection means that Wyoming’s first Job Corps will finally open.

Last week, WyoTech in Laramie laid off more than 40 employees. WyoTech and its parent company, Zenith, declined to comment on the layoffs, but cited falling enrollment in a press release Wednesday. They said there would be about a 30% reduction of staff at the Laramie campus.

Dan Furphy is the President and CEO of the Albany County Chamber of Commerce. He says he’s seen enrollment ebb and flow before, but never such a large layoff.

Mike Higgins / http://bicyclecorps.blogspot.com/

The Train Depot in Laramie will host a talk on the only African-American bicycle corps of the U.S. Army on Saturday, May 2.

The group was formed in Missoula, Montana in the 1890s. Wyoming elementary school teacher Mike Higgins has researched the group for years. He says the corps was the idea of an officer named James Moss, who was looking to make a name for himself. Moss latched onto the idea that bikes could be used in combat.

Cheyenne is severely lacking in affordable housing – and minorities and people with disabilities are feeling the squeeze the most. That’s according to a study released this week by the Cheyenne Community Development Office.

Federal housing authorities require a study like this every five years for cities to be eligible for hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants.

Several Albany County schools were closed Tuesday due to an early morning power outage. The University of Wyoming Lab School, Slade Elementary, the Laramie Montessori School, and Laramie High School all canceled because of the lack of power. ACT testing at Laramie High School that was planned for today has been postponed to a later date.

More than seven thousand customers in Laramie lost power. David Eskelsen is a Rocky Mountain Power spokesperson, and says the cause of the outage wasn’t weather related.

University of Wyoming

  

The University Of Wyoming Board Of Trustees has formed a committee that will figure out how to conduct the search for the next UW president.  

The decision comes less than two weeks after current President Dick McGinity announced he will be resigning in June of 2016. The board was criticized for holding a closed search when it hired Bob Sternberg who resigned after just a few months on the job.  Laramie Trustee Mike Massie will serve on the committee. He says they want input on how a search should be conducted, and what kind of candidates the board should target.

Yellowstone National Park/Creative Commons

Researchers with the University of Utah have discovered a large magma reservoir underneath the Yellowstone National Park caldera. In a report released Thursday, they say the new area lies 12 miles underground, below a shallower well-known magma chamber.

Researcher Robert Smith is a co-author of the study and says his team used a geologic CT scan to discover the reservoir that’s filled with a mass of hot porous rock, rather than the typical magma. He says the new finding solves a puzzle of the Yellowstone volcano system.

The Wyoming Beef Council—the industry advocacy group for ranchers—says it has cut its budget and will rethink its marketing efforts.

Wyoming cattle numbers have been decreasing since 2001 because of drought, aging beef producers, shrinking grazing lands, and other factors. The Council’s smaller budget means that an administrative assistant position will be cut, and the council will only have one employee.

Wikimedia Commons

Yellowstone National Park is partnering with area businesses to throw an Earth Day celebration on Saturday.

April 22nd was the forty-fifth anniversary of Earth Day. Yellowstone Environmental Coordinating Committee representative Rebecca Owens says the park will celebrate with community cleanups, children’s activities, and environmental education. She says this year there will be local vendors too.

Science and environment writer Emma Marris will give a seminar tonight on the University of Wyoming campus.

Emma Marris is the author of Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World. In the book she says, through climate change and other factors, humans have impacted every spot on the globe, so we may need to rethink what wilderness and nature mean.  

She says her latest project is thinking about whether wolves can still be considered wild.

The Wyoming Public Radio News Department was awarded three Regional Edward R. Murrow awards today. WPR competes in region three in the small market category. 

News Director Bob Beck said that everyone is excited about the news. "These are highly sought after awards and are difficult to win. I am extremely proud of our news team for their commitment to excellence. To win three awards in one year is amazing." 

NORML

Wyoming marijuana advocates filed a petition to put an initiative to legalize medical marijuana on the 2016 ballot.

The Wyoming chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws filed the paperwork with the secretary of state’s office on Monday.

The group will have to collect more than 25,000 signatures by February 8th to get the initiative on the ballot. To become law, the initiative would have to be approved by a majority of Wyoming voters.

Wikimedia Commons

Judges and attorneys are concerned about how to prosecute possession of edible marijuana products in Wyoming. Under current law, the entire edible, like a cookie or a lollipop is weighed and those in possession of more than three ounces of any marijuana-infused product can be charged with a felony

The Legislature’s Joint Judiciary Committee is tackling the issue over several meetings after hearing concerns during the last legislative session. Senator Leland Christensen chairs that committee and says the Wyoming Controlled Substances Act is too vague on edibles.

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.

The Wyoming Department of Education is asking Wyoming teachers, parents and science professionals to serve on a Science Standards Review Committee. A survey will be open until April 22 for citizens to express interest.

The committee will form science standards for Wyoming students, a process that was restarted by the State Board of Education after lawmakers voted this session to allow the Next Generation Science Standards to be considered.

I-80 is closed in both directions between Walcott Junction and Laramie after a second pileup in five days. One death and over twenty injuries are confirmed.

The crash happened around 8am Monday morning about 18 miles west of Laramie, when two semis reportedly collided, causing one to jackknife across both westbound lanes.

University of Wyoming

  

A University of Wyoming Faculty Senate Survey says the school has pressing systemic problems with leadership and hiring practices.

Edward Janak is the chair of the UW faculty Senate. He says more faculty need to step up to voice concerns and faculty input into university decisions need to be taken more seriously by administrators.

He also says the upcoming presidential search is a key concern.

The Northern Arapahoe Tribe and Wind River Casino have donated ten thousand dollars for the Center of Hope in Riverton.

The Center of Hope offers observation, a detox program, and up to 3 months of transitional living to people with substance abuse problems. Clients experience things like morning meditations, group therapy, and skills for coping with loss.

Center of Hope representative Shelley Mbonu says the money donated by the tribe and casino will go toward things like transporting people to treatment programs or getting assessments.

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