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Star Valley Chamber of Commerce

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will break ground on its first Wyoming temple this April. The new Star Valley Mormon Temple will be built just south of Afton near the Idaho border.

Unlike other church buildings, temples perform special services for members of the Mormon faith, like marriage and baptism ceremonies.

Jerry Hansen is an LDS spokesman for the Afton area. He says the temple is highly anticipated by local members.

outdoorcentral.com

The invasive species Quagga  mussels have been discovered in Deer Creek Reservoir in Utah. That poses a special risk to Wyoming’s Flaming Gorge Reservoir, which is only 200 miles away.

Quagga mussels are an invasive aquatic species which have been spreading across the United States since 1989. They can clog power-plant intakes and starve  local species of food.

Wes Gordon is an Aquatic Invasive Species specialist with the Wyoming’s  Game and Fish Department, and says while Wyoming is currently mussel free, the risk of infestation is growing.

Jose Gonzalez-Latino Outdoors

 

This Thursday, the University of Wyoming Haub School will host a talk by Jose Gonzalez, founder of the national group, “Latinos Outdoors.” Gonzalez says Latinos have a growing passion for conservation issues like climate change and wilderness preservation. But he says, right now, there are still major obstacles to getting Latinos access to the great outdoors.

        

Wyoming Department of Corrections

Casper’s District Attorney will be allowed again to seek the death penalty in the case of a Wyoming inmate convicted of killing a Montana woman. That’s after District Judge Alan Johnson denied a request from Dale Wayne Eaton’s defense team to let him serve life in prison without parole. 

Eaton was convicted of killing Lisa Marie Kimmell in 2004, but his death sentence was overturned last year after Judge Johnson ruled he did not receive a proper defense. The judge said Eaton’s history as a victim of abuse should have been discussed.

Caroline Ballard.

Protesters gathered Tuesday at an event on the University of Wyoming campus to protest former vice president Dick Cheney. Cheney and his wife Lynne were in Laramie for a discussion of her new book about James Madison.

About 15 protesters from the group Wyoming Citizens Against Torture stood outside the entrance of the University's Gateway Center, holding signs saying "Arrest Cheney Now" and "Torture Is A War Crime."

Laramie Resident Bob Strayer helped organize the protest.

Casper College

Casper College found itself on lock-down again this week when students discovered a plastic tube with nails in the Union. Casper police evacuated the campus but later said it was a false alarm. The item turned out to be an art project. It’s the fourth false alarm to lead to a lock-down on the campus since a professor was shot with an arrow by his son in 2012. Police Captain Steve Freel says the high number of evacuations are part of a new protocol between police and campus security about how to handle such emergencies.

114,000 new acres of bark beetle kill has been detected in an aerial survey done by the State Forestry Division for 2014. Most of that is in Bridger-Teton and Shoshone National Forests. 

Les Koch is the division’s Forest Health Specialist and says while warmer weather didn’t help in deterring the Pine, Spruce, and Douglas-Fir beetles, they have already killed many of their suitable host trees. While 2014 did see an increase in acres affected, over the last few years the overall trend has been downward.  

County10.com

Saint Thomas’ Episcopalian Church is holding a special charity event for victims of last year’s fire in Dubois. That fire destroyed or damaged over half a dozen downtown businesses.

“Give Your Heart to Dubois” will be held on February 14th; Valentine’s day and will feature dinner, live music and auctions for art and homemade pies. Dubois resident Cathy Traenor is on Mayor’s committee for the event, and says the charity will help some of those business owners with other expenses.

saferoads.org

Wyoming ranks among the worst states for auto safety laws. That’s according to a new report from the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

Eight other states were rated as red in the report, which means they have less than half of the organization’s recommended laws like mandatory seatbelt enforcement and required helmet use for all motorcyclists.

Bunky Loucks is a Representative from Casper and says he sees no need for state laws to change.

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.

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