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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.

Wikimedia Commons

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.”

wikipedia.org

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.

Same-sex marriage is now constitutionally guaranteed, here in Wyoming and nationwide.

That’s from Friday’s historic ruling by the Supreme Court.

Same-sex marriage has been legal in Wyoming since October, following a ruling by the 10th Circuit court in Denver.

But this high court decision means there is no longer any question of whether it will be permanent.

A legislative task force is looking at how to keep the emails of University of Wyoming students private.

Currently most of UW student’s emails are legally the same as those sent by UW employees and other state workers. Those emails can be released to anyone who wants to take a look at them under Wyoming’s Public Records Act.

The fate of Wyoming’s same-sex couples could be thrown into a legal limbo if the U.S. Supreme Court rules there is no constitutional right to gay marriage.

The Court is expected to issue a long-awaited ruling on gay marriage by early July at the latest, and most legal experts think they will find it is constitutionally guaranteed.

But if the courts find it is not, states like Wyoming that previously did not allow gay marriage may take steps to ban it once again. University of Wyoming law professor Stephen Feldman says legally, it's unknown territory.  

Wyoming State Historical Society

Pioneers, dinosaurs, outlaws: Wyoming’s history includes them all. But the state’s museums are chock full of artifacts that sometimes don’t get the attention they deserve. With the 125 year celebration of statehood coming up, the Wyoming State Historical Society wants to do something about that.

Wyoming State Museum

The Wyoming State Museum is celebrating the state’s 125th anniversary of statehood with a new exhibit, which takes a look at Wyoming’s history through artifacts from each decade.

It starts with the present and works its way back. Each week a new decade is unveiled. Some of the items on display include an original state line divider on the Lincoln Highway, a football commemorating the 1968 Sugar Bowl, and a 1950s flood light from the state’s first television station KFBC.

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The electric car company Tesla will soon break ground on a supercharger station in Sheridan.

Sheridan’s supercharger station will be the third of its kind in Wyoming, joining two located in Cheyenne and Lusk. Wyoming also has 2 destination chargers in Jackson and Sheridan. But unlike Destination Chargers which are affiliated with a hotel or restaurant, superchargers are more like self-contained gas stations for Tesla’s electric cars. But instead of filling the tank you plug the car in to a freestanding station, located in a parking lot.

Miles Bryan

Chuck Fidroeff runs the Good Samaritan mission in the Jackson. He came with me to a spot a few miles outside of town that, for a few days recently, was one of Jackson’s major attractions: the dump.

"It really hurts your heart," Fidroeff said while watching the crushing machines work. "Walgreens should have known better."

The town of Jackson is preparing to host a major new music festival this weekend.

The first-ever Contour Music Festival features over 50 acts playing back to back at venues throughout Jackson Friday, June 12 to Sunday, June 14.

American Heritage Center

The American Heritage Center at the University of Wyoming is looking for submissions to its newest archive: “Out West in the Rockies,” which is chronicling the experiences of lesbian, gay bisexual, and transgendered people in the American West.

Rick Ewig is the Associate Director at the American Heritage Center. He says there are other archival institutions with a focus on LGBT people in other parts of the country.

Jeff Goetz, WYDOT

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead has called in the National Guard and several other government agencies to help with major flooding in Niobrara County. Several homes in Lusk are flooded, area drinking water has potentially been contaminated, water is over several roads, and portions of US 18-20 and US 85 have washed away.

Pat Kondas with the Wyoming Red Cross says they have set up a shelter at the county fairgrounds, but only people who are in dire need, or whose homes are already flooded should make the trip.

The Casper social services organization NOWCAP Casper is struggling to stay open, after Natrona County Commissioners signaled they would not support its bid for a federal contract to house former prisoners.

Flash flooding has damaged homes, businesses and a highway bridge in eastern Wyoming.

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