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Two Jackson area institutions have announced that they will merge this fall. The Murie Center and Teton Science Schools are both organizations that aims to educate people about the outdoors to encourage conservation.

Kate Gersh is the Associate Director at The Murie Center. She says since there is so much overlap between the two, a merger just made sense.

WyoLotto

It’s been one year since lottery tickets went on sale in Wyoming. Between all three games of chance, ticket sales brought in $20 million and $5.2 million of that went back to winners. So far, local and state governments have not seen any of the profits.

The Wyoming Lottery Corporation – or Wyolotto – decided to pay off the bank loan it used to start the company before transferring money to the state’s treasury department. Wyolotto’s CEO Jon Clontz says it looks like the company will be able to pay back the loan by May of 2016, and hitting that milestone is on everyone’s mind.

Members of the Joint Judiciary Committee have agreed to ask permission to study the workload of District Judges in Laramie County. The decision comes after preliminary data was presented by the Wyoming Administrative Office of the Courts and district judges testified at a recent committee meeting. They say that they and other judges like them in the state are overworked and that it’s slowing down their ability to hear cases. They say civil cases often take the worst hit – making the wait time for a civil trial a year or longer.

401(K) 2012

The Wyoming Legislature is looking at reforming civil asset forfeiture laws.

Asset forfeiture is when law enforcement takes and keeps property like cash, guns, and cars it believes to be associated with drug crimes. In Wyoming, the law doesn’t require a charge or conviction to seize and hold property, nor does it require the police to actually find drugs. To get the property back, owners have to go to court and prove that it was not tied to a drug crime.

Courtesy Wyoming NORML

Supporters of legalizing medical marijuana in Wyoming can begin collecting signatures in an effort to put the issue on the ballot. 

The Secretary of State’s office gave the go ahead to the Wyoming National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana laws to collect the nearly 26 thousand signatures it needs to get the issue before voters in 2016. If voters approve it, the legislature will be asked to draft legislation to legalize medical marijuana.  Chris Christian of Wyoming NORML said they want the law to say that people can get cannabis from a doctor. 

University of Wyoming

The University of Wyoming Trustees have voted to ask Governor Mead for money to continue UW’s medical education program. 

Trustees voted to request almost a million more dollars for the WWAMI Medical Education and the WYDENT Dental Education programs to address tuition increases. Some additional funding for those programs was also requested. 

Governor Matt Mead released his plan for Sage Grouse conservation in Wyoming earlier this month, but September’s federal deadline to decide on endangered species listing is rapidly approaching. Scientists across the west are now engaged in a discussion of whether or not states are doing enough to adequately protect the bird’s numbers.

An upcoming panel at the University of Wyoming will attempt to address some of those issues.

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Leaders of the Wyoming Women’s Legislative Caucus have chosen Esther Hobart Morris, America’s first female Justice of the Peace and a Wyoming resident, as their pick to be the face on the redesigned $10 bill.

Earlier this summer, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew announced the initiative to feature a woman on the $10 note. He invited the public to contribute their picks via social media with the hashtag #thenew10.

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As the coal industry faces deep uncertainty over its future, coal-hauling Union Pacific railroad is going full steam ahead in investing in rail infrastructure in Wyoming.

Union Pacific is working on a $13.5 million project to update rail infrastructure between Laramie and Hanna. The railroad is repairing road crossings and replacing ties and rails. Union Pacific spokesman Mark Davis says updates like these keep the track in good working condition.

Wyoming Game and Fish

Earlier this month one of Zimbabwe’s best-known animals, a lion named Cecil, was killed by an American hunter, causing outrage to erupt on social media.

Renny MacKay, communications director with Wyoming Game and Fish, says Wyoming’s Stop Poaching program uses social media, the Game and Fish website, and a hotline to report hunting violations. He says sharing images online lets people connect with wildlife and because of that, he says social media is a key tool for reaching the public and spreading the word about hunting violations here in Wyoming.

Sturgis Rally Impacts Cody

Aug 3, 2015
Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

The 75th Sturgis Rally may draw a million bikers to South Dakota the first week of August. Thousands ride through Cody, Wyoming. Why? They like to tour Yellowstone on the way.

Cody city streets are lined with motorcycles. The bikers are spending money in bars, restaurants, hotels, the museum complex and night rodeo. But there are other impacts too.

Phil Farman is the Cody area supervisor of the Wyoming Highway Patrol. He said there’s more traffic, and that leads to accidents.

The Riverton Police Department will soon hire a staff member to investigate claims of race-based discrimination.

The person hired for the position will not be a police officer, but will work closely with police when conducting investigations, says Riverton police chief Mike Broadhead.

“I see this as a position to serve as an educator,” he says. “To help people who have been victims of bias to have an outlet that is healthy and to make them feel like they don’t have to go home frustrated. I want to give them a voice.”

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You’ve seen them on the side of the road… junker cars with orange tags warning they’ll be towed. But who pays for that towing? Or is it just stored until the owner can pick it up? And what if it never gets picked up?

As many as 2,300 vehicles are abandoned around the state every year. And it’s the towing companies and wrecking yards that often end up paying. A bill proposed by a transportation subcommittee would change the rule to allow vehicles valued under $1500 to get crushed, up from $600 now.

Northeast Wyoming is gearing up for an influx of people next week during the 75th anniversary of the Sturgis Motorcycle rally.

The event draws motorcycle enthusiasts from around the country. Hulett town clerk Melissa Bears says it means big business for towns in northeast Wyoming.

“For many of our businesses, what they make this week is what they will try and live on for the entire winter,” she says. “That’s what keeps them open so they can sustain their business for another year.”

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort / Instagram

A low pressure system that moved through Wyoming Monday brought some strange weather, including strong winds statewide and snow in the upper elevations in the Tetons.

Gusts nearing 70 miles per hour were recorded in the Jackson area, and windy conditions fueled wildfires in Natrona and Sweetwater Counties.

Dave Lipson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Riverton, says this kind of weather is more typical of September or October.

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The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is monitoring Sage Grouse for signs of West Nile Virus. The disease, carried by mosquitos, has a high mortality rate for the bird.

Tom Christiansen, the Department’s Sage Grouse Program Director, says keeping tabs on what kills Sage Grouse is always important, but it’s crucial as the September Deadline approaches for federal officials to decide whether to list Sage Grouse as endangered.

Sheridan may soon see air service return to its airport.

The northern Wyoming town has been without commercial air service since March, when Great Lakes Airlines pulled out of the area.

Great Lakes cited low business and a pilot shortage as reasons for leaving Sheridan.

Courtesy of the Episcopal Diocese of Wyoming

Wyoming’s Episcopal Bishop John Smylie wants the state to have a conversation about gun violence following shootings that killed three men and seriously injured another this week.

Smylie says the shooting of two people at a detox center in Riverton and the shooting of two people at a Cheyenne business shows him that gun violence issues across the country have come to Wyoming.  

The town of Jackson is weighing whether to extend legal protections against discrimination in employment and housing to LGBT people.

Jackson already has an LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance that covers public employees, but this policy change would extend that coverage to all Jackson residents. Mayor Sara Flitner says the proposal is modeled after the anti-discrimination measure Laramie recently passed.

health.wyo.gov

Wyoming residents are being asked to discuss ways cancer can be better detected and treated at a meeting today in Casper. 

Julie Tarbuck oversees Wyoming’s Comprehensive Cancer Control Program. Tarbuck says they are developing the next State Cancer Control plan and they want to develop new ways to address everything from diagnosis to quality of life.

She says overcoming the challenges faced by those in rural parts of the state remains an issue. For instance, Tarbuck says the lack of health care providers makes detection difficult.         

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, is opening Disaster Recovery Centers in Niobrara and Johnson Counties this week. The president declared those counties disaster areas after significant flooding destroyed and damaged homes and business there last month.

The Disaster Recovery Centers are places where people can meet face to face with disaster recovery officials to learn about what assistance is available to them and how it can be used.

FEMA Spokesman Brian Hvinden says that they will provide help until everyone is taken care of.

Wyoming NORML

Those wanting medical marijuana legalized in the state will soon be able to collect signatures. The Wyoming Secretary of State’s office has certified the application for ballot initiative concerning the Peggy A. Kelly Cannabis Act of 2016. 

For it to actually get on the ballot the group Wyoming NORML must collect 25,673 signatures. Executive Director Chris Christian says while it’s a first step…it’s a big one.

Wyoming became the 44th state on July 10th, 1890. This year marks its 125th anniversary of statehood, and Wyomingites couldn’t let that go by without a little party. Milward Simpson is the Director of the Wyoming Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources. He joins Wyoming Public Radio's Caroline Ballard to talk about the celebrations that will mark the 125th anniversary of Wyoming statehood, and to reflect on the state's legacy.

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Smoke is in the air in Northern and Eastern parts of the state. But that haze isn’t from Wyoming, it’s coming from wildfires burning in Alaska and Canada.

Ralph Estell with the National Weather Service in Riverton says Canada’s fire season has started off very differently from Wyoming’s.

"We’ve had a pretty wet end of spring beginning of summer time period. It’s been pretty dry up there and their fire season has kind of exploded because of that," says Estell.

So far, 13,000 residents in Saskatchewan have been evacuated because of the fires.

Wyoming Business Coalition On Health

An upcoming conference in Casper aims to address the high cost of health care for employers. “Victim to Victor – Taking Control of Your Healthcare Spending” is sponsored by the Wyoming Business Coalition on Health, and intends to educate businesses on how they can more efficiently manage health care costs.

Anne Ladd is the CEO of the coalition. She says the conference will elaborate on tools employees can use to make the most of their health care plans. It will also clarify for employers what drives health care costs.

The U.S. Census Bureau says Wyoming’s minority population has increased since 2010, but Wyoming is still among the whitest states in the country ranking 41st in minority population. 

Economist Wenlin Liu says Wyoming’s total population increased 3.6 percent, but it was driven by a growth in the number of Hispanics and other minorities coming to the state in an effort to find jobs.

“From 2010 to 2014 the minority population increased 17 percent compared to the white population that only increased 1.4 percent.”

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After weeks of hot and dry weather, Yellowstone National Park’s fire managers raised the fire danger rating to “high”. The warning comes as the park heads into its busiest season and one of the biggest holiday weekends of the year.

Traci Weaver with Yellowstone National Park says that means visitors to the park this July 4th weekend need to be extra-careful when dealing with fire. She says campfires should be completely put out and cool to the touch, and fireworks are not allowed anywhere in the park. That includes things you might not think of as fireworks.

University of Wyoming

Incoming freshman students at the University of Wyoming will soon have more access to top professors in their first semester. It’s part of the revamped University Studies Program, a core curriculum for all UW undergraduates.

Program coordinator Meg Flanigan Skinner says it aims to go beyond basic coursework.

Soon, when Wyoming state employees take a state vehicle out on the road, a GPS monitoring system will be along for the ride.

The Wyoming Department of Administration and Information recently announced it’s spending about a quarter of a million dollars installing hardware that can track a vehicle's speed, location, and condition in every vehicle in the state motor pool.

The U.S. Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal nationwide Friday.

That decision means lawmakers in states like Wyoming would have a much harder time challenging the practice.

Same-sex marriage became legal in Wyoming back in October, when the 10th Circuit Court ruled it had no other choice.

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