NEWS BRIEFS for Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019

From Wyoming News Exchange newspapers

WyoLotto transfers record $2.8M to state of Wyoming

CHEYENNE (WNE) — WyoLotto transferred a record-breaking $2.8 million to the State Treasurer's Office last week - the largest quarterly sum since Wyoming's lottery began making transfers in early 2016. 

This was double WyoLotto's last transfer of $1.4 million, bringing total transfers to more than $13.6 million since April 2016. 

The funds will be distributed among various Wyoming communities. 

The transfer includes all money left over after paying winners and retailer fees. Since its launch, WyoLotto has had nearly 3.8 million winners and distributed more than $51 million in player winnings.

"In most lotteries, they designate money for certain things, such as education," WyoLotto CEO Jon Clontz said Tuesday. "Here in Wyoming, they allow some flexibility, as long as it benefits the public good. There's no mandate on where they have to spend it."

A steep reduction in WyoLotto promotion costs and an increase in the number of players account for the gradual fiscal growth, Clontz said. 

"When we first started in 2014, we had to pour a lot of money into research, game development and marketing," Clontz said. "Once we got that rolling, we cut the marketing budget, allowing more money to go back to the state. And more people become familiar with the games when those jackpots are high. A lot of this is driven by that."

Only about 11 percent of Wyoming's adult population - 40,000-50,000 people - pay into the lottery each year. 

This quarter, two players won the $3.3 million Cowboy Draw jackpot, which Clontz said also contributed to the spike. 

"The jackpots drive these sales," he said.

Gillette airport business falls

GILLETTE (WNE) — Gillette-Campbell County Airport experienced a down year in 2018 with its lowest passenger count in four years.

The airport saw 56,089 total passengers last year, which is down 8 percent from 2017’s 60,654 and a 6 percent drop from 2016.

It was the lowest annual total since 2014, when there were about 52,000 passengers.

On the bright side, 4,621 passengers came through the airport in December, which is up 10 percent from December 2017. It was one of only two months in 2018 that showed improvement over its 2017 counterpart.

The biggest reason for the drop is the airport losing one-third of its flights in the summer. For much of 2017, the airport offered three daily round-trip flights to Denver six days a week. At the start of 2018, SkyWest decreased that to four days a week. And in the summer, the four became zero.

Airport Director Jay Lundell thought that for the numbers to drop 8 percent, given the circumstances, is encouraging.

This year is going to be a pivotal year for air service, not just in Gillette but around the state. The Gillette-Campbell County Airport is contracting with a consulting firm to make its ticket prices more competitive with surrounding airports.

And Gillette is set to be part of a proposed statewide capacity purchase agreement, where the state would contract with one airline to provide Gillette and the other participating communities — Sheridan, Riverton, Rock Springs — with daily flights to Denver. If all goes according to plan, the program should get started this fall.

Some Sheridan residents lose NBC television feed

SHERIDAN (WNE) — Some Sheridan residents awoke to changes to a mainstay on their televisions last week.

Instead of regular NBC programming, citizens who use antennas to receive TV channels were greeted Jan. 1 with a blue screen and message informing them of alterations to the NBC service provider. KNBN, an NBC station based out of Rapid City, S.D., had claimed exclusive rights to Sheridan County, negating a signal from KCWY, an NBC station based in Casper.

A voiceover informed viewers of the situation: “KCWY has permanently removed its signal from our full-power transmitter in Sheridan, Wyoming, KSGW-TV channel 13, as a result of KNBN-TV in Rapid City claiming Sheridan as its exclusive territory for its NBC programming and prohibiting KCWY from broadcasting in Sheridan. If you would like to share your comments, KNBN-TV can be reached at 605-355-0024.”

Phone calls, voicemails and a Facebook message left by The Sheridan Press for KNBN were not returned.

Since the change a week ago, KNBN has not broadcast NBC programming in Sheridan County, meaning people without cable or satellite had one fewer channel.

In a note to station employees, KCWY general manager Jim Beck expressed disappointment regarding the decision.

“This move has been forced by KNBN in Rapid City, which is claiming Sheridan as its exclusive territory for KNBN’s NBC programming,” Beck wrote. “As a result, KNBN is prohibiting KCWY from broadcasting its programming in Sheridan — even though KCWY has been serving Sheridan for decades and even though KCWY provides local, Wyoming-based news for Sheridan viewers.”