News

Aaron Schrank/WPR

All day Wednesday, volunteers will be canvassing Wyoming’s homeless shelters and streets in an effort to come up with a sort of homeless census.  

The annual effort is what’s called a homeless ‘point-in-time’ count. The results are used by agencies like the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development to determine how much funding and assistance is needed in the state.

Brenda Lyttle with the Department of Family Services is Wyoming’s homeless coordinator. She says last year, Wyoming’s count of homeless residents was about one-thousand.

USPS

The U.S. Postal Service is shutting down nearly 40% of its processing centers around the country this year. A center in Rock Springs is scheduled to be closed, leaving just two of these facilities in Wyoming.

Post Service spokesman for Wyoming, David Rupert says the U.S.P.S. is ceasing overnight local letter delivery as well. But Rupert says most postal customers won’t notice these changes.

The second week of Wyoming's state legislature is wrapping up today. Wyoming Public Radio News Director Bob Beck speaks with Morning Edition Host Caroline Ballard about what we've seen so far this session.

Ohio Governor John Kasich was at the Wyoming’s Capitol Building Thursday as part of a national tour promoting a federal balanced budget amendment.

Kasich spoke to a full house of Wyoming legislators, but he directed his remarks to two 11-year-old boys in the audience as a way to make a point about leaving federal debt for the next generation.

“What would you think if we all went to lunch and we spent 40 dollars and gave you the bill. Would that be very good?,” Kasich asked the boys. “Yeah, we gave you the shaft right? Well that is what we are doing [with the deficit].

A board of former politicians, business leaders, and law enforcement is looking to push for employment protections for LGBT people in Wyoming.

Currently the state has no workplace protections for LGBT people, which means workers can be fired simply for being gay.

Former U.S. Senator Al Simpson is a member of the new board, put together by the advocacy group Compete Wyoming. He says he wants to emphasize this is not about gay marriage. 

WyoLotto

The Wyoming Lottery has unveiled a new in-state game. Cowboy Draw will be the first lottery game exclusively for Wyoming.

Since its launch in August, the lottery had only sold tickets for the two big multi-state games, Powerball and Mega millions. WyoLotto C.E.O. Jon Clontz says Cowboy Draw is just the first of several expansions.

Wallpaperslot.com

2014 was a record year for Grand Teton National Park visitations.

The national park had about 2.8 million recreational visits last year. The previous record holder, 1998 was beaten out by 34 thousand visits. Public Affairs Officer Jackie Skaggs says some of the factors that made the park so popular in 1990’s are surfacing again.

A U.S. District Court granted wild horse advocates the right to intervene in a case involving the management of horses on Wyoming land. The State of Wyoming brought the case against the Bureau of Land Management in order to seek management of the state’s wild horses.

Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has assigned natural disaster status to Big Horn and Park Counties. An early freeze in September last year significantly damaged farms in the area.

Freezing temperatures hit crops early causing bean, corn and sunflower losses. Park County lost over $7,000,000 of crops while Big Horn County saw more than $3,000,000 of damage.

Gregor Goertz is the Wyoming Farm Service Agency’s Executive Director and says some farmers were hit harder than others.

county10.com

After a fire destroyed multiple buildings and businesses in downtown Dubois last Tuesday, town residents set up a fundraising page to help those affected.

The money is being raised through the crowd funding website “Go Fund Me.” The organizers are planning to turn over the money to the local non-profit Needs of Dubois, which helps residents financially in times of crisis.

Ellen Jungck  is the president of “Needs of Dubois.” She says the organization will use the money to help pay for things like food, utility bills, and rent bills for victims of the fire.

County10.com

Three historic buildings and eight businesses were destroyed in an overnight fire in Dubois. Town Clerk Sandy Hurst says the fire started at 8:00 p.m. Tuesday night and was under control around 4:30 a.m. Wednesday morning. 

Firefighters from Dubois and the surrounding area had to battle temperatures around 25 below zero. Hurst says federal officials will help determine what caused the fire.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is asking Fremont County residents to keep their dogs away from deer, moose and other large game. The county has seen an increase in dog and wildlife conflicts in recent weeks, and several deer were found dead.

Rene Schell is the Department’s Lander Information Specialist and says with big game on the move, it’s important not to interfere with their migration. Schell also says cities like Lander have had to ban wildlife feeding, because that’s led to additional problems.  

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

A hire made three years ago by the Albany County Sheriff’s department is now coming under increased scrutiny. Deputy Derek Colling was fired by the Las Vegas Police three years ago for beating an unarmed man.

The victim was videotaping Colling during the incident. He was later awarded 100-thousand dollars in a settlement with the Las Vegas Police. Albany County Sheriff Dave O’Malley says that did not affect his decision to hire Colling.

Caroline Ballard

Protesters filled Simpson Plaza in front of the University of Wyoming last Thursday. They were calling for an end to police brutality and racism, following grand jury decisions to not indict police officers in the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in New York. Protesters and observers had a variety of viewpoints:

The National Park Service has released a report that summarizes public comments on Grand Teton’s Moose-Wilson Corridor management strategies.

The corridor is a heavily traveled, single lane road, in the southern area of the park, from Moose toward Teton Village. The management plan would include road alignment, trailhead location, and access, among other considerations. During a 30-day period, the park received over 25-hundred comments.

Park official Andrew White says many of the comments will affect the next draft of the alternatives. One example, he says, is horses.

Caroline Ballard

 

A protest organized by University of Wyoming Students called for an end to police brutality, following grand jury decisions to not indict police officers in the deaths of Mike Brown and Eric Garner.

Protesters chanted slogans like “hands up, don’t shoot”, “no justice no peace” and “I can’t breathe.” Black armbands dotted the arms of attendees and neon and cardboard signs were dispersed throughout the crowd.

Airports in Cheyenne and Riverton are on track to fall short of a Federal target for traffic this year. That means they’ll lose almost a million dollars each in federal funding. Jim Schell is the manager of Cheyenne’s regional airport. He says the level of traffic at the airport this year is the lowest it has been in almost three decades.

“Our passenger numbers are down to about 6,000 enplanements this year. Typically they would average 12,000 to 14,000.”

Diana Denison

Wyoming Public Radio is accepting applications for student interns in the News Department for Spring, 2015.

Interns would assist with newsroom operations. Excellent writing skills and knowledge of Public Radio is essential. Experience with audio editing systems is preferred. Send a resume and cover letter to News Director Bob Beck: btwo@uwyo.edu.

Check out past Wyoming Public Radio internships.

Robert Verzo via Flickr

Governor Matt Mead is proposing adding passing lanes to some of the state’s highways including Highway 59 between Douglas and Gillette. Mead’s budget proposal would use 21 million dollars in state funds for the upgrades.

Jim Willox is the Chairman of the Converse County Commissioners and says the proposed lanes would ease the surge in energy traffic on the 170 mile highway.

Money Blog News via Flickr

Next Monday is the biggest online shopping day of the year, and that makes it ripe for scams and identity theft. Credit card information, bank accounts and other personal information is more accessible to scammers through insecure websites.

Wyoming Senior Assistant Attorney General Melissa Theriault says keeping a close eye on bank accounts can help prevent thefts.

Wyoming Highway Patrol Association

Deaths on Wyoming highways have risen sharply this year. While there were 87 fatalities in 2013, there have been 136 in 2014. 61 percent of the people who died on Wyoming highways this year were not wearing seatbelts.

Sergeant David Wagener with the Wyoming Highway Patrol says that while seatbelts are mandatory in the state, seatbelt laws are only enforceable after a driver has been pulled over for another offense like speeding. He also says people still choose to break that law.

The Wyoming Highway Patrol issues quotas for the number of stops and citations its troopers need to make in a given year.

An internal document obtained by the Wyoming Tribune Eagle newspaper shows troopers in Southeast Wyoming’s District One need to make at least 732 traffic stops and issue at least 55 seat belt violations per year to be considered “competent.”

Those ratings directly affect troopers, as they play a role in determining state worker’s salaries.

Wikimedia Commons

The Wyoming Farm Bureau is looking to the January legislative session as an entry-point to address issues surrounding trespassing, liability, and transportation.

Courtesy of Kate Christman Nagel

Local business and one school were evacuated today after an explosion and fire at a propane distribution station in Jackson.

Safety officials reported an explosion just after 1 p.m. at an AmeriGas facility two miles from downtown Jackson.  A nearby high school, grocery store, and gym were evacuated but students in other area schools were told to stay in place.  Teton County Public Information Officer Charlotte Reynolds said in the afternoon that the fire activity has diminished but asks that the public stay away.

Associated Press

Wyoming’s only death row inmate had his death sentence overturned in Federal Court Thursday. Dale Wayne Eaton was convicted of kidnap, assault and murder Lisa Marie Kimmel of Billings in 1988. 

Federal Judge Alan Johnson overturned Eaton’s death penalty due to lack of proper representation during Eaton’s trial. Eaton will remain in prison, but it is unclear if Wyoming’s attorney general will appeal the ruling.  

Michael Blonigen is the Natrona County District Attorney and the person who originally prosecuted Eaton. He says the victim’s family is distraught over the ruling.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department says that Sage grouse chick production was unusually high this year.

The agency has discovered that grouse hens had more chicks this year than usual, over two per hen.  That’s over double from last year.

Chief Game Warden Brian Nesnik says hunters submit wings of grouse they harvest to the department for analysis.  That’s how they determine what is happening with the bird.

A federal judge has overturned the death penalty for Dale Wayne Eaton, Wyoming's lone death row inmate.

U.S. District Judge Alan B. Johnson of Cheyenne on Thursday stated Wyoming has a choice of either granting a new sentencing proceeding for Eaton within 120 days in Natrona County or keeping him locked up for life without parole.

The 69-year-old Eaton was sentenced to death in 2004 in state court for the 1988 rape and murder of 18-year-old Lisa Marie Kimmell of Billings, Montana.

Large numbers of Elk have been seen migrating near Jackson and across major roadways last weekend. The National Elk Refuge is urging drivers around the Jackson area to be especially careful in the coming week as hundreds of elk make their way across the area.

The refuge says a winter storm that brought colder temperatures and more than a foot of snow likely kicked off the migration. Elk mainly move at dawn and dusk which makes sighting them more difficult. Refuge spokesperson Lori Iverson says migrations, wintery conditions and drivers take a toll on animals in the area.

Former World Chess Champion and Russian political activist Garry Kasparov was in Cheyenne and Laramie last Friday to discuss global politics and American leadership. Kasparov says under President Vladimir Putin, Russia presents the greatest threat to global security.

“It seems that he believes, and his cronies keep repeating it, that Putin is Russia and Russia is Putin, which means his personal failure he may consider as a signal to bring the entire country down with him.”

Jordan Cooper via Flickr

Construction of new affordable housing units in Riverton, Casper, and the Wind River Reservation will begin in next few months: courtesy of 2.8 million dollars in new funding for affordable housing recently allocated by the Wyoming Community Development Authority. The federal funds are distributed to developers as an incentive to build units that rent for less than two thirds of market price in the respective counties. Community Development Authority Director Gayle Brownlee says all kinds of people need housing help.

Pages