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NEWS BRIEFS for Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020

News in Brief from across the Cowboy State

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Advocates: Barriers to diverse voter turnout persist in the Equality State

Functional access to the polls and experience of the democratic process in Wyoming varies by demographic, some voting-rights advocates say, with the result that certain groups are still underrepresented in the Equality State.

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Wyoming voter turnout lags behind other states’ averages

Early voting for the Nov. 3 general election is already underway in Wyoming, and election officials expect a repeat of the unprecedented early-and absentee-voting turnout that boosted voter numbers in the August primary.

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Liberal Ginsburg backed a Wyo ranch owner who sued the feds

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Sept. 18, was renowned for her dissenting opinions, a lesser-known example of which found the liberal justice siding with a classically western-conservative cause in the case of a controversial Wyoming ranch operation.

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Young Douglas COVID-19 victims being bullied in person, on social media

DOUGLAS — Douglas is a can-do community – evidenced by numerous fundraisers and other charity events run by empathetic, caring volunteers time and time again – as well as those who give and help in innumerable ways to those going through unplanned medical emergencies or other unexpected hardships.

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Jackson residents join thousands of global COVID-19 vaccine trial participants

JACKSON — News about the dozens of COVID-19 vaccine trials can seem removed from the coronavirus outbreak in Teton County, vague science experiments with no bearing on local life.

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A brief relief, but Mullen Fire expanded 82,649 acres

LARAMIE — A recent cold front provided a little relief for firefighters, but not much as the Mullen Fire burning in the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest about 40 west of Laramie and just southwest of Centennial is still active and growing.

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Coal companies’ joint venture dead; Arch considers 'alternatives' for PRB mines

GILLETTE – A U.S. District Court decision to block a joint venture between Peabody Energy Corp. and Arch Resources Inc. could also mean the beginning of the end of Arch as a major Powder River Basin coal producer.

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Active cases drop for first time since Sept. 19, fall by 22

The number of active coronavirus cases in Wyoming fell Tuesday for the first time in more than a week, dropping by 22.

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Report details historic COVID impact to state economy

CASPER — The COVID-19 pandemic delivered historic blows to Wyoming’s economy during this year’s second quarter, according to a new report published on Monday by Wyoming’s Economic Analysis Division. The report shows the sheer scale of the economic fallout induced by the pandemic, which sparred few of the state’s industries.

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Increased grasshopper numbers impact ranchers

SHERIDAN — There are more than 100 species of grasshoppers in the United States, but only about 12 play the role of pest that rangeland and cropland in northern Sheridan County and Montana are currently experiencing.

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Health official blames relaxed attitude for COVID spike

CHEYENNE — Laramie County and most of Wyoming have seen a spike in the number of active COVID-19 cases over the past week, which one health official is partly attributing to a relaxed attitude toward safety precautions.

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Bill could limit CBD, hemp products

CODY — A new bill would hinder Cody resident Jacklyn Bullock’s ability to treat her lifelong pain without painkiller medication.

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NEWS BRIEFS for Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020

News in Brief from across the Cowboy State

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Two grizzlies killed in encounters with bow hunters

POWELL — Two grizzly bear conflicts in Park County have ended in one hunter being injured and two dead bears in the past week.

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NEWS BRIEFS for Monday, Sept. 28, 2020

News in Brief from across the Cowboy State

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A professor prepares his Centennial home for the Mullen Fire

Since Sept. 20, University of Wyoming Natural Resources Department Chairman Jason Shogren has been working to prepare his home just west of Centennial for a wildfire.

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ESM, feds still in talks over unpaid leases

GILLETTE — Almost a year after buying and reopening the Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr coal mines in Campbell County, Eagle Specialty Materials hasn’t secured federal leases for the operations.

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Fire in Medicine Bow grows by more than 32,000 acres

LARAMIE — There were no doubts the critical weather conditions and natural fuels feeding the Mullen Fire burning in the mountains about 40 miles west of Laramie went from bad to worse from Thursday to Friday.

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Experts discuss health impacts of oil, gas drilling

CHEYENNE — A pair of public health experts spoke on the effects of oil and gas drilling development in Wyoming and Colorado during a locally organized panel recently.

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UW football back for fall

CASPER — Wyoming football is officially back.

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NEWS BRIEFS for Friday, Sept. 25, 2020

News in Brief from across the Cowboy State

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State Board of Education considers suspending testing performance accountability this year

CHEYENNE — Wyoming’s 48 school districts might not be held accountable for their students’ performance on state standardized tests this school year.

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Report: State missed out on billions in oil and gas taxes

CASPER — Wyoming taxpayers lost billions of dollars in potential revenue from oil and gas lease sales over the past decade due to outdated royalty and lease terms, according to a new report published Thursday by Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to protecting American taxpayers.

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Gordon: Expect more public health orders to loosen

GILLETTE – Although there's been a recent statewide surge in active COVID-19 cases in Wyoming, residents can expect “significant changes” and loosening of some of the state’s public health orders put in place to help mitigate the pandemic.

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Thursday second day in a row with more than 100 new coronavirus cases

A second day of increases of more than 100 in new confirmed coronavirus cases around Wyoming pushed the state’s number of active cases to new highs Thursday.

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Wyoming virtual school sees large increase in enrollment

SHERIDAN — When Samantha Bublich made the decision to keep her kids at home this school year, she did so with reservations. She believes in public schools, in-person learning and classrooms where students interact with other learners on a regular basis.

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Gillette chorale singers adjust to year without shows

GILLETTE — Sad is a word to describe the mood of Vicki Gilmour and Karen Clarke in July as they sat around Gilmour’s backyard patio table signing cards.

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Cheyenne teenager is Wyoming’s first woman Eagle Scout

CHEYENNE — If you’ve noticed the new fishing line boxes at some of Cheyenne’s popular lakes and parks, you can thank Taylor Merriman-Fish.

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Weston commissioners take next step against state health mandates

NEWCASTLE — At its Sept. 15 meeting, the Weston County Board of County Commissioners took the next step in taking a stand against state COVID-19 health mandates when the commissioners passed a “resolution to refrain from health-related mandates” and expressed their intent to move forward with drafting and requesting a countywide variance to the state health orders.

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NEWS BRIEFS for Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020

News in Brief from Across the Cowboy State

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Medicine Bow fire grows to 14,600 acres

LARAMIE — The Mullen Fire increased in size to 14,653 acres and is now taking aim at the Platte River Wilderness with activity picking up as of Wednesday evening.

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Senators: Advance Trump’s Supreme Court nominee

CASPER — Roughly half a year before the 2016 presidential election, Sen. John Barrasso justified Republicans’ decision to block a vote on then Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland by saying the American people should “consider it as part of deciding who to support in November.”

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NEWS BRIEFS for Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020

News in Brief from across the Cowboy State

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Park sees uptick in visitors for August

CODY — Tourism has taken a rather meandering path in Cody this summer.

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Lawmaker claims ‘ systemic racism ’ after caution on decorum in meeting

RIVERTON — The aftermath of a tense encounter with Fremont County’s top prosecutor was what State Rep. Andi Clifford, D-Ethete, called evidence of race-based thinking within the Wyoming Legislature.

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Masks are “key” to keeping schools open, Laramie County health officials say

CHEYENNE – After at least one teacher and one student at McCormick Junior High School tested positive for COVID-19 last week, the Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department is urging continued use of face masks among all students and staff.

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Bankruptcy settlement could pay coal workers $17.3 million

GILLETTE — Some 1,700 employees of a bankrupt coal mining company would get up to $17.3 million in back pay under a proposed class-action settlement.

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NEWS BRIEFS for Friday, Sept. 18, 2020

News in Brief from across the Cowboy State

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Seidel hopes to resume Cowboy football

CASPER — More than a month after what he described as a “strong, strong consensus” among Mountain West presidents to postpone football and other fall sports indefinitely, University of Wyoming President Ed Seidel said the school is trying to resume competition in those sports sooner rather than later.

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Protestors gather at state Capitol in opposition to mask mandate in schools

CHEYENNE – Roughly 30 Wyomingites gathered on the grounds of the state Capitol at noon Thursday to protest against the requirements for children to wear masks in school.

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Bill giving tribal cops more authority over non-Indians revisited

RIVERTON — Public transparency and control by local officials were obstacles identified in the revival of a defunct 2013 legislation that would give jurisdiction over non-tribal members to Bureau of Indian Affairs police officers.

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Growing sage for grouse; Honor Farm seedling, transplant program expands in its second year

RIVERTON – After a successful debut last year, the Wyoming Honor Farm in Riverton has expanded its sagebrush-growing efforts to enhance habitat for the greater sage grouse.

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Virtual but not alone, Oban pounds out the 26.2 miles for the Boston Marathon

DOUGLAS — When Allie Oban qualified for the Boston Marathon on her first try, it was one of the biggest accomplishments of her life. When the in-person event was postponed, then cancelled, due to the coronavirus pandemic, it threatened to ruin the milestone she worked years to achieve. Instead, friends and family rallied around her, giving her an experience that not even Boston could provide, and all from her adopted hometown of Douglas.

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Gillette Sage Hoppers seek to involve local kids in aviation

GILLETTE — The wind whipped through a recent cool Saturday morning as about 20 people gathered at the Sage Hoppers RC Club’s annual Fly-In at its airfield east of Cam-plex in Gillette.

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NEWS BRIEFS for Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020

News in Brief from across the Cowboy State

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Wyoming's first cryptocurrency bank approved by state board

CHEYENNE – In a crucial step in the state’s efforts to become the national leader in blockchain technology, a cryptocurrency company had its bank charter approved Wednesday by the Wyoming Banking Board.

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Big Horn County School District staff: policy on use of personal devices violates civil rights

GREYBULL — Big Horn County School District No. 3 staff members say a proposed policy that would make any personal electronic devices that they use to conduct school business subject to a search is a violation of their civil rights.

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Sparks fly at tribal relations committee session

RIVERTON — While contemplating tribal and non-tribal law enforcement jurisdiction legislation on Tuesday, State Rep. Andi Clifford, D-Ethete, sparked warnings on decorum when she criticized the county’s top prosecutor for his handling of an officer-involved shooting death last year.

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Wyoming refineries stung by decision; Barrasso rebukes administration after EPA denies relief

CASPER — The Trump administration delivered another blow to Wyoming’s oil refineries when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency denied relief to several small operators struggling to meet biofuel standards this month.

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More than 100 new confirmed coronavirus cases reported Wednesday.

With several counties reporting double-digit increases in lab-confirmed coronavirus case counts, the state’s total of confirmed cases seen since the disease was first detected in Wyoming in March went up by 104 Wednesday, the biggest increase since the pandemic began.

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NEWS BRIEFS for Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020

News in Brief from across the Cowboy State

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‘Decade of the elk’ for hunters as herds top goals by 32%

As elk hunters begin the general rifle season they’ll pursue animals that the Game and Fish Department found to be 32% above its population objective in the bulk of the state’s herds.

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A cautious governor confronts an ‘unprecedented time’

At Gov. Mark Gordon’s January 2018 inauguration ceremony, Sheridan musician David Munsick sang the song “Forever West.”

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A rally for the 'good cops': Group gathers on Town Square for pro-police rally

JACKSON – A black-and-white American flag with a centered blue stripe rose above the gathered crowd Sunday to show support for local police funding. A few dozen people stood on the corner of Town Square, backdropped with “Trump 2020” banners, waving signs to energize passing pedestrians and drivers.

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Wyoming oil rig boom a matter of perspective

DOUGLAS — Wyoming’s rig count skyrocketed by the end of last week, with four operating — a significant turnaround from not so long ago when the rig count hit zero, but still a far cry from the height of the most recent boom last year.

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About 100 Cheyenne junior high school school students told to stay home after staff member tests positive for COVID-19

CHEYENNE – Roughly 100 students from Cheyenne’s McCormick Junior High were told to stay home Tuesday after a staff member at the school tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend.

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NEWS BRIEFS for Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020

News in Brief from across the Cowboy State

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Lawmakers look to overhaul notary laws

CHEYENNE — Wyoming lawmakers took an initial look Friday at replacing the state’s existing notary laws to allow for more signings to be done virtually and by some out-of-state residents.

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Shoshone Forest seeks input on travel plan

CODY — The Shoshone National Forest has released a travel management plan that could close popular snowmobiling areas and transition many roads to trails.

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Tribal leader says reservation COVID patients turned away

CASPER — Emergency room staff at the SageWest hospital in Riverton allegedly turned away potential COVID-19 patients from the Wind River Indian Reservation at the start of the pandemic, Northern Arapaho Business Council Chairman Lee Spoonhunter told state lawmakers Monday, leaving tribal members to figure out their care on their own.

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Survey says women hit hard by COVID

CHEYENNE — The social and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have hit Wyoming women especially hard.

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Spending cuts could cost state more in future

CASPER — Even before COVID-19, most state leaders already understood that Wyoming would be unable to cut itself out of its current budget crisis.

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Man sentenced to jail in wrestling club embezzlement

GILLETTE — A former treasurer of two youth wrestling clubs in Gillette will serve 30 days in jail and pay $50,000 in restitution for money he stole from them.

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Bridger-Teton grows by 240 acres

JACKSON — The Bridger-Teton National Forest just got a little bigger. Two hundred and forty acres bigger, to be exact.

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Wyoming oil, gas companies receive most royalty cuts

CASPER — Oil and gas companies operating on public land in Wyoming reaped the vast majority of royalty and lease relief from the federal government during an aid program spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Sage grouse researchers endure summer heat to gauge nest survival

POWELL — Insensitive to those laboring below, the sun bore down on the shadeless Chapman Bench.

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Forest protection officer ensures safety, compliance during a busy summer

BUFFALO — Already on the morning of Friday, Aug. 22, the road leading to the West Tensleep Trailhead was littered with vehicles, and the dispersed campsites along the road were all occupied.

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NEWS BRIEFS for Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020

News in Brief from across the Cowboy State

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Weston commissioners back away from public health orders

NEWCASTLE — The Weston County commissioners took a stand against COVID-19 health orders by voting 2-1 on Sept. 1 to rescind the chairman’s signatures from state/county health orders presented by Dr. Mike Jording, the county’s health officer.

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Campbell Co. releases community college application after WCCC refuses

SHERIDAN — The Wyoming Community College Commission would not release a copy of the Campbell County application seeking to form a new community college district, saying in an email last week that it would be made public when a contract with an outside surveying group to assemble the feasibility study was set.

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Study says federal land drilling ban would hurt economy

CASPER — A new study published by the Petroleum Association of Wyoming and the American Petroleum Institute found instituting a ban on leasing federal land to oil and gas operators would have grave economic consequences for the entire country, but especially for Wyoming.

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Gordon: Public health orders may be relaxed

GILLETTE — Gov. Mark Gordon is hopeful that the state’s COVID-19 public heath orders will relax some next week.

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UW extends ‘pause’ on plans to resume in-person classes

LARAMIE — The University of Wyoming will continue its campus pause, which was initiated last Wednesday due to positive COVID-19 tests by students, until Sept. 14, the school announced Wednesday in a news release.

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NEWS BRIEFS for Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020 Wyoming News Exchange newspapers

News in Brief from across the Cowboy State

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Volunteers begin Grand Teton National Park goat shoot Monday

Grand Teton National Park has selected 70 teams of volunteer wildlife shooters and is ready to launch a mountain goat culling operation Monday.

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Gov, EPA outline plans to boost carbon capture, delay plant closures

Wyoming is collaborating with the Trump administration to develop strategies to extend the lives of the nation’s aging coal-fired power plants — the primary customers of the state’s coal mining industry.

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Bighorn Forest hunting case appealed again

SHERIDAN — Clayvin Herrera, the Crow tribal member cited with taking big game animals out of season back in 2014, has again appealed his case, postponing the answers to several questions regarding tribal hunting rights in and around the Bighorn National Forest.

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Proposed land swap angers landowners, legislators

GILLETTE — An oil and gas company’s proposal to trade land with the state has angered landowners in southern Campbell County.

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Legislators struggle with school funding

CASPER — Lawmakers alternatively poked and chafed Tuesday at the boundaries of Wyoming’s education system and the court decisions that protect it as they look to solve a yawning revenue deficit and stay on the right side of the state’s Constitution.

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Teton County Latinos see higher COVID rate

JACKSON — One group is taking the brunt of the coronavirus outbreak in Teton County, and it’s not young people.

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Man climbs 36 Wyoming peaks in 45 days

Sarah Meiser and Teresa Gergen completed climbing all 36 peaks in Wyoming above 13,000 feet in 2015.

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Man climbs 36 Wyoming peaks in 45 days

Sarah Meiser and Teresa Gergen completed climbing all 36 peaks in Wyoming above 13,000 feet in 2015.

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Powell woman hunts top predators alone

POWELL — Having identified the tracks of black bear, grizzly and wolf on a trail at the base of a rock slide, Tessa Fowler knew she was in the right place.

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NTEC lays off 80 previously furloughed Antelope mine workers

GILLETTE — When he got the call Thursday, Aaron McAllister was hopeful he’d be going back to work nearly three months after being furloughed from the Antelope coal mine.

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Warden explains novel coronavirus procedures at prison

RAWLINS — A prison is like a small, contained city. In normal times, inmates go to work, do activities, attend church services and have access to mental health and substance abuse programming.

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Budget cuts could throw State Public Defender's office back into constitutional crisis

CHEYENNE — Just a few months removed from a Supreme Court decision forced by heavy caseloads and understaffing for the agency, the Wyoming Public Defender’s office could soon be thrust into another constitutional crisis, thanks to the 10% budget cut announced last week.

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Crowds flock to Wyo public lands during COVID summer

Christian Vivet stood beside his camper at a riverside campground in central Wyoming’s Sinks Canyon State Park, peering through binoculars at the limestone cliffs above — a landscape vastly different from his home state of Florida.

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Mine cleanup program offers glimmer of hope for Wyoming

CASPER — In one of few bright spots for Wyoming’s economy, environmental regulators say cleanup projects at abandoned mine sites have been in full swing across the state, not only producing much-needed jobs, but funneling millions of dollars into local economies.

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Sheridan students repair school devices as part of class

SHERIDAN — Two computer science classes offer Sheridan High School students the chance to receive practical skills and aid the school district they attend.

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Additional Articles

  • Gordon backs Barrasso’s Endangered Species Act amendments

    CHEYENNE – Gov. Mark Gordon testified to a congressional committee in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday in support of legislation amending the Endangered Species Act that its proponents say would give more authority to states in the conservation process.

  • Jackson ski resorts prepare for winter operation during pandemic

    JACKSON — Jackson Hole Mountain Resort has released plans to limit crowding on its slopes to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus while other Teton County resorts are still working out details for their winter operations.

  • Jackson-area parks avoid shutdown-related problems

    After the federal government partially shut down in December, Audra Warburton and other Double H Bar employees packed up brochures for the National Elk Refuge sleigh rides they offer, along with a couple of cash registers, and moved into a corner of the Home Ranch Welcome Center to register tours there.

  • UW official urges harsher penalties for booze sales to minors  

    Laramie should significantly increase the penalties leveled to businesses that sell alcohol to minors, University of Wyoming Vice President for Student Affairs Sean Blackburn suggested Monday.