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Lawmakers look to revive federal background check bill

CHEYENNE — After a bill failed in committee that would have required Wyoming to share disqualifying mental health information of potential gun owners with the FBI, lawmakers are looking to revive a similar version during the upcoming legislative session.

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New Blackjewel owner misses first tax payment

CASPER — One of the newest companies to take over coal mines in the Powder River Basin has defaulted on its tax payments.

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Wyoming ranks 21st in chances for student success

GILLETTE — Wyoming improved from 28th in the nation a year ago to 21st now in a new national ranking of chance for student success in state education systems.

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NEWS BRIEFS for Friday, Jan. 24, 2020

News in Brief from across the Cowboy State

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‘Leftover’ school enjoys success

GILLETTE — Bertine Bahige keeps a framed copy of Rawhide Elementary School’s red-shaded failing state report card from 2015-16 on the wall of his principal’s office.

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Cheyenne woman sews kangaroo pouches

CHEYENNE — As bushfires rage across Australia, Eloisa Michelle is hunkered down in her Cheyenne-based hobbit hole, repeating the phrase “time is of the essence” to the tune of her sewing machine’s hum.

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Equity and Access Cafe stimulates conversation at high school

JACKSON — Of the many changes Jackson Hole High School halls have undergone in the past couple of years, one of the most noticeable was unveiled last week.

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NEWS BRIEFS for Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020

News in Brief from across the Cowboy State

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Sleeping Giant to close next season

CODY — As it stands today, Sleeping Giant Ski Area will bring its chairlifts to a halt next season, suspending its winter operations.

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Man convicted of wife’s murder to appeal

POWELL — A jury convicted a Wapiti man of first-degree murder for killing his wife and a judge ordered the 77-year-old to spend the rest of his life in prison. But Dennis K. Klingbeil is hoping that the Wyoming Supreme Court will see his case differently: Klingbeil’s attorneys filed notice last month that he is appealing his sentence.

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Wyoming close to finalizing hemp rules

CASPER — The Wyoming attorney general said her office is close to gaining approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a statewide hemp-growing plan amid mounting pressure from growers around the state, who have expressed concern they would miss out on the 2020 growing season following the USDA’s previous rejection of an earlier plan.

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Two groups plan to sue over Upper Green grazing plan

JACKSON — Two coalitions of environmental advocacy groups say they intend to take the federal government to court over a Bridger-Teton National Forest grazing plan expected to cause up to five-dozen grizzly bear deaths over the next decade.

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NEWS BRIEFS for Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020

News in Brief from across the Cowboy State

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Report: Shakiest coal companies have most mine cleanup left

Wyoming’s shakiest coal operators have the biggest outstanding reclamation obligations, according to a new report — just one indication, the authors say, that declining coal markets could overwhelm the system designed to ensure mining companies clean up their mess.

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DEQ backs off plan to dump more oilfield pollutants into Boysen

The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality has backed off a plan to allow Moneta Divide oilfield operators to increase pollutants they dump into creeks above Boysen Reservoir, and proposed new monitoring of existing salty effluent.

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Laramie begins effort to reduce or ban plastic bag use

LARAMIE — The Laramie City Council largely supported the first step in a likely multi-year long process to reduce and potentially ban retail-use plastic bags.

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Mine operations threatened by shovel dispute

GILLETTE (WNE) — Three months after being called back to work at a pair of shuttered Powder River Basin coal mines, the jobs of hundreds of workers at the Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr mines hang in the balance as Eagle Specialty Materials spars with Komatsu Mining Corp. over a pair of industrial shovels.

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Tutor accused of abusing former student

CASPER — The Natrona County School District says it can’t comment on anything related to the arrest of a Dean Morgan tutor accused of sexually abusing a former student. Police, meanwhile, say there could be more victims, and parents were split on the district’s handling of the incident.

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Wyoming challenges Washington coal port blockage

CHEYENNE — Gov. Mark Gordon announced Tuesday morning that Wyoming has joined Montana in asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a challenge to Washington state’s denial of a proposed coal export terminal permit.

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NEWS BRIEFS for Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020

News in Brief from across the Cowboy State

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Marchers walk, sing in remembrance of Dr. King

CHEYENNE — Rows of shiny patent leather black shoes stood perfectly aligned as the local ROTC high school students marched rhythmically out of the Cheyenne Depot Plaza and onto Capitol Avenue.

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Man rescued from Yellowstone canyon was treasure seeker

POWELL — An Indiana man who illegally rappelled into the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone this month before being pulled out by rescuers says he was searching for hidden treasure.

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Findings of UW scientists could improve mine cleanup

CASPER — New scientific findings could transform the way Wyoming reclaims, or cleans up, its roughly 90,000 acres of land disturbed by surface mining.

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Legislators’ UW budget close to Gordon’s after mark-up

LARAMIE — After spending a week marking-up the state’s budget last week, the Joint Appropriations Committee’s budget for the University of Wyoming looks pretty similar to the one Gov. Mark Gordon recommended in December.

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Teton goat gunning a go despite G&F condemnation

To protect imperiled bighorn sheep, Grand Teton National Park will try to gun down invading mountain goats from the air — despite a Wyoming Game and Fish Commission resolution condemning the plan.

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Impact assistance growth ‘extraordinary,’ officials say

RIVERTON — State revenue forecasters say the growth of Wyoming’s impact assistance program has been “pretty extraordinary” this year.

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Regulators revise Moneta Divide permit

CASPER — After months of public outcry, state regulators revised a permit for a major oil and gas firm operating at Moneta Divide in central Wyoming. Subject to public comment, the permit will maintain existing limits on discharged water at the facility and impose routine water sampling requirements to prevent pollutants from fl owing into the nearby Boysen Reservoir Basin.

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Critics say MLK holiday should be updated

JACKSON — Three decades after the state of Wyoming finally adopted the holiday that commemorates Martin Luther King Jr., some question why the date can’t be dedicated solely to the slain civil rights leader.

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UW professor announces run as Democrat for U.S. Senate seat

CHEYENNE – Merav Ben-David, a University of Wyoming ecology professor for the past 20 years, announced her candidacy Saturday for the U.S. Senate seat that will be up for grabs in the 2020 election.

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Police chief: UW gun ban not enforced in ‘open spaces’

LARAMIE — A regulation banning firearms on the University of Wyoming’s campus, which has become the subject of a high-profile lawsuit, isn’t as restrictive as it might appear at first blush, UW Chief of Police Mike Samp said in court this week.

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NEWS BRIEFS for Friday, Jan. 17, 2020

News in Brief from across the Cowboy State

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Cheney won’t run for U.S. Senate

CASPER — Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney announced Thursday she will not be making a bid for the U.S. Senate, initiating a reelection campaign some predict could one day lead to her becoming Speaker of the House.

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Game and Fish Commission condemns aerial shooting of goats

JACKSON — State wildlife officials are blasting Grand Teton National Park’s decision to lead off its mountain goat eradication efforts with aerial gunning.

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Wind farm proposed south of Laramie

LARAMIE — The views enjoyed while driving along U.S. Highway 287 south of Laramie could include an array of wind turbines if the Rail Tie Wind Project is completed as planned.

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Supreme Court hears arguments in fair board lawsuit

CHEYENNE – For the first time in more than 80 years, Wyoming Supreme Court justices sat in the Historic Supreme Court Chamber in the state Capitol, hearing oral arguments from two high-profile attorneys representing the Laramie County Board of Commissioners and the Laramie County Fair Board.

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Jackson illustrator’s art spotted in space

JACKSON — Diane Kaup Benefiel’s art career has been launched into space.

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Powell man celebrates birthday in middle of trans-Atlantic row

POWELL — In the middle of the Atlantic Ocean last week, Carl Christensen couldn’t believe his crew members were singing happy birthday to him after presenting him with a cake they’d hid in the bottom of their boat for more than a month.

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Riverton resident remembers blizzard of 1949

RIVERTON — There’s no shortage of information about the famous blizzard of 1949, probably the most famous weather event in Wyoming history -- but Don Strube's story stands out.

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NEWS BRIEFS for Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020

News in Brief from across the Cowboy State

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Ramaco receives millions for ‘coal to product’ development

CHEYENNE — Wyoming’s current economic story is centered around the fact that the coal industry is in an inevitable downward spiral. But one Sheridan company is working to change that narrative by converting one of the state’s most abundant resources into other products with exponential market value.

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Powell farm cleared to raise sage grouse

POWELL — A Powell game bird farm has been given a green light to move to the next step in raising greater sage grouse by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, with plans to collect grouse eggs this spring.

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Campbell County trustees to vote on arming teachers

GILLETTE — Campbell County school trustees will consider a proposal on first reading Jan. 28 that would allow armed educators, carrying concealed weapons, in public schools to supplement safety measures already in place.

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Feds reject plan to reduce air ambulance costs

CASPER — Wyoming’s effort to curb air ambulance costs was dealt a blow earlier this month when the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services rejected the plan outright.

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UW gun case sent back to district court

LARAMIE — Albany County circuit court Judge Robert Castor sent the legal case regarding the legality of the University of Wyoming’s gun ban back to his downstairs neighbor in the courthouse, district court Judge Tori Kricken, after a Wednesday hearing.

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NEWS BRIEFS for Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020

Statewide news from across the Cowboy State

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Dominon will work ‘expeditiously’ to protect ducks

After it fired an employee who saved ducks from oilfield ponds near Rock Springs, Dominion Energy said it will strive to “better protect” animals that run perilously afoul of its facilities.

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Renowned GOP enviro figure had outsize impact on Wyoming

William Ruckelshaus was a widely admired, nationally prominent Republican with a reputation for incorruptibility and a penchant for environmental work. He was the first administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, a hero of the Watergate scandal and a staunch advocate for using collaboration to solve the kind of thorny issues so often stymied by partisan fighting.

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‘Cops investigating cops’: Tension builds over officer-involved shootings

Tensions have run high in recent years over officer-involved shootings around Wyoming.

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Two prized Jackson Hole streams identified as polluted

JACKSON — Two cherished streams draining the most central, developed parts of Jackson Hole are now listed as “impaired” by environmental regulators due to fecal bacteria pollution.

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Gordon expresses support for programs in budget

CASPER — As the Legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee begins the process of taking a scalpel the state’s biennial budget this week, Gov. Mark Gordon has thrown his support behind a number of programs he considers to be priorities under his first budget as the state’s chief executive.

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Laramie joins federal water storage case

LARAMIE — City of Laramie Attorney Bob Southard joined Albany County Attorney Peggy Trent in filing an amicus curiae brief that asks for the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider a December decision that jeopardizes the authority of the Pioneer Canal-Lake Hattie Irrigation District, which has 47 water-users, to fill Lake Hattie.

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Cheyenne school to pilot anti-bullying effort

CHEYENNE — McCormick Junior High’s new principal, Justin Conroy, doesn’t want to end up like his predecessor.

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NEWS BRIEFS for Monday, Jan. 14, 2020

News in Brief from across the Cowboy State

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State, local partnership leads to SkyWest service

SHERIDAN — A United Express flight that arrived at Sheridan County Airport Sunday afternoon marked the beginning of SkyWest Airlines’ tenure as the airport’s commercial air service provider, inaugurating a partnership local and state officials believe will accelerate the development of local air service.

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Cheyenne schools eyed for Medicaid test

CHEYENNE – Wyoming could soon join the rest of the country and use Medicaid to cover K-12 special education services, and the new funding model could get a test run in Laramie County School District 1.

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Legislator proposes way to boost funding for small towns

RIVERTON — Small communities in Wyoming could get a larger portion of the state's local government distribution through an amendment State Sen. Eli Bebout, R-Riverton, proposed recently during a Joint Appropriations Committee meeting Cheyenne.

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Oil prices spike with Iranian action, effect likely temporary

CASPER — Crude prices spiked over the weekend after the U.S. assassinated a top Iranian military official Friday in Baghdad, bringing additional volatility to the oil-rich region.

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Settlement reached in crash that hurt trooper

POWELL — A regional food distributor has agreed to a settlement with a former state trooper, who was seriously injured in a 2015 collision with one of the company’s trucks in the Wapiti area.

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Chafee, now Teton County resident, announces presidential bid

JACKSON — A former Democratic presidential candidate, who now resides in Teton Village, has announced he will make a second bid for the White House in 2020.

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Trial begins in sex abuse case involving 12- 13-year-old

LARAMIE — A felony trial against Laramie man Steven Oliver Nelder began this week in Albany County’s district court. The 22-year-old has been charged with one count of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor and three counts of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor for “inflict(ing) sexual intrusion” on two children, aged 12 and 13.

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NEWS BRIEFS for Friday, Jan. 3, 2020

News in Brief from across the Cowboy State

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Elk Refuge to begin feeding cutbacks in spring

JACKSON — With some last-minute changes being made to satisfy the state of Wyoming, the National Elk Refuge is moving forward with a 5-year plan to start whittling down its historic elk-feeding program.

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Meeting attendees differ on livestock stops

PINEDALE – A mixed group of horse people and cattle ranchers visited the Pinedale Library on Dec. 30, curious about a proposed discussion of the county’s enforcement of state brand inspection laws.

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Delegation signs on to call for Roe v. Wade review

CASPER — All three members of Wyoming’s delegation in Washington have signed on to an amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to consider overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court case protecting the right to have an abortion without excessive restriction from the government.

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Group wants to end the death penalty in Wyoming

CHEYENNE — Hoping to put an end to the death penalty, an advocacy group with chapters in 11 other states has set its sights on Wyoming.

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Therapeutic riding center to open in Rock Springs

ROCK SPRINGS — Did you know horses can help people heal?

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Therapy dog changes attitudes at Gillette school

GILLETTE — Ruby, wearing her red vest, lay on her puppy bed in the classroom of her companion and owner.

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Thermopolis store claims largest hot sauce selection in state

THERMOPOLIS — The Discover Thermopolis shop located in downtown Thermopolis now has the largest selection of hot sauces in the state of Wyoming, according to owner Howie Samelson.

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Grand Teton elk hunt not grizzly lure, officials say

JACKSON — Federal wildlife scientists have put to rest the idea that the late-season elk hunt in Grand Teton National Park draws in and concentrates large numbers of grizzly bears.

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Legislator proposes using protected funds for schools

CASPER — A Campbell County lawmaker has introduced a bill that, if passed, would add $43 million in previously untouchable funding to Wyoming’s public education system.

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NEWS BRIEFS for Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020

News in Brief from across the Cowboy State

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Bighorns, bears and bad blood: grazing vs. wildlife on Owl Creek

On Sept. 22, veteran Wyoming Game and Fish Biologist Bart Kroger climbed into a helicopter for an unwanted mission — to shoot eight wild bighorn rams from the air.

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On the road with The Country Skillet

On the frozen plains just across the South Dakota state line, Laramie musician Shawn Hess slowed his Subaru Forester and pulled into the first turnoff he could find.

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2020 could be a big year for Wyoming wind

CASPER — Onshore wind energy capacity in the U.S. has continued to climb, reaching over 100 gigawatts in 2019 — enough energy to power about 32 million homes.

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Powell robotics team heading to national competition

POWELL — Students in the Robotics Club at Powell Middle School are blazing past the competition this year, and one team has been selected to represent the whole state in a global competition.

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Senator grants extension request for salary info

JACKSON — The Wyoming Department of Education has extra time to deal with a large public records request sent at the end of November.

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Department changes transportation payments for students

SHERIDAN — Several Wyoming school districts have begun reimbursing parents who have to transport their children to bus stops for just one round trip daily rather than two after the Wyoming Department of Education removed the portion of its rules dealing with the payments over the summer.

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NEWS BRIEFS for Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019

News in Brief from across the Cowboy State

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Wyoming second for drunk driving fatalities

SHERIDAN — Wyoming is one of the four most dangerous states in the U.S. based on drunken driving prominence, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Some fuming over change in smoking age

GILLETTE — Some Gillette residents say the federal government’s recent move to immediately raise the legal age limit for tobacco products — including e-cigarettes — from 18 years old to 21 is another example of overreach in an area that should be left alone.

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Population increases slightly after three years of decline

CASPER — After three straight years of decline, Wyoming’s population saw a slight increase in its population during the second half of 2018 and first half of 2019, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimate — though those numbers cut off right before dramatic changes occurred in Wyoming’s coal industry. The state’s population still has significant ground to gain to reach a peak population achieved in 2015.

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Salt-licking goats hit by cars

JACKSON — For photographers and wildlife lovers in Star Valley and beyond, the sight of mountain goats coming down off the slopes of Ferry Peak is a seasonal delight.

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Three charged with murder in August death

RIVERTON — Charged earlier this year with possessing a firearm despite being a felon, Seth Blackburn now could face life in prison for first-degree murder – along with Peter Joseph Blackburn, also known as Homer Blackburn, and Brent Jordan Gould.

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NEWS BRIEFS for Monday, Dec. 30, 2019

News in Brief from across the Cowboy State

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Attorney says Albany County court should decide on UW gun ban

LARAMIE — Albany County circuit court Judge Robert Castor should make a ruling on the legality of the University of Wyoming’s gun ban, Albany County Attorney Peggy Trent said in a Friday court filing.

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Officials travel to Washington to urge Greater Little Mountain preservation

ROCK SPRINGS — Some people are willing to travel great lengths to protect and preserve something they love while encouraging others to come alongside them in the effort.

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Email studied in case of businessman accused of stealing from clients

JACKSON — A new email that surfaced in the massive theft case against Michael Lynch has investigators questioning whether the sender is the defendant himself.

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Supreme Court overturns sex assault conviction

CASPER — The Wyoming Supreme Court on Friday overturned Casper businessman Tony Cercy’s sexual assault conviction. Prosecutors will now need to decide whether to take the case to trial a third time.

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NEWS BRIEFS for Friday, Dec. 27, 2019

News in Brief from across the Cowboy State

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NEWS BRIEFS for Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019

News in Brief from around the Cowboy State

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Teton helicopter tours in limbo after crowd shows opposition

A pilot is uncertain whether he will try to operate helicopter tours from the airport in Grand Teton National Park after a former park superintendent called his plan “incompatible and inappropriate.”

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Students disciplined for wearing white hoods, robes to school

CASPER — Two Riverton High School students were disciplined Wednesday after coming to school in white hoods and white robes, a school district official said.

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Sage grouse order delays work on West’s ranch

CODY — A variance request put forth before the Park County commissioners on behalf of Kanye West has been withdrawn in response to Gov. Mark Gordon’s sage grouse executive order.

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Legislators want more details on UW budget requests

LARAMIE — Discussion of the University of Wyoming’s budget request for the 2012-2022 biennium accounted for most of the Joint Appropriation Committee’s work on Wednesday, with legislators ultimately telling UW officials they want more information about how an increase to the block grant would be spent.

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Cheney votes against impeachment

CHEYENNE — The House of Representatives voted to move forward with the impeachment of President Donald Trump on Wednesday, but Wyoming’s sole delegate in the House, U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, was among the Republican minority that voted against the charges.

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Kanye West to bring footwear business to Cody warehouse

CODY — Kanye West recently announced that he’d moved the headquarters of his shoe and apparel business, Yeezy, to Cody. Now, he and his partners are preparing to open a manufacturing facility on the city’s north side.

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West to build shoe ‘sample lab’ in former Cody Labs building

CODY — City planning and zoning board members will review a site plan on Tuesday for the Adidas Yeezy Cody Sample Lab on Forward Cody’s property at 119 Road 2AB.

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Wind Energy

Lawmakers on the Select Coal/Mineral Bankruptcy committee have advanced a bill to give the Wyoming Attorney General’s office the authority to represent counties in pursuit of state taxes during energy company bankruptcies.

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Politicians or professionals? Sheridan tackles statewide question

SHERIDAN — The atmosphere during the run-up to November’s special election in this northern Wyoming community was about what you’d expect: yard signs, impassioned pleas on social media and even more impassioned debates in local bars.

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Bankruptcy fixes take shape, meet skeptics

A legislative committee formed in response to energy industry bankruptcies has identified weakness in state worker-protection and tax laws and is drafting corrective bills in response.

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Jackson man arrested in large drug trafficking ring

JACKSON — Jackson resident Bryan Jones has been the subject of a federal investigation for five years for running what officials are calling a large drug trafficking organization.

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Campbell Co. schools lose almost $1 million on lunches

GILLETTE — The Campbell County School District is losing nearly $1 million a year through its school lunch program, something that’s not unique in Wyoming.

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Tribal judge defends self against allegations

CASPER — Wind River Reservation leaders came one step closer to potentially removing their top judge on Monday by holding a hearing where she said she was being treated unfairly.

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NEWS BRIEFS for Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019

News in Brief from around the Cowboy State

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Inmate sues over assault conviction

JACKSON — Wyoming inmate Joshua Black is suing Teton County and former Deputy Prosecutor Becket Hinckley for $2 million.

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Officials prepare for climate-caused disasters

CODY — Officials in the region are planning for the local effects of global climate change.

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Community colleges seek $30 million

POWELL — Wyoming’s community colleges are hoping to get $30 million in state funding to support their operations, which was proposed to Gov. Mark Gordon but not included in his budget.

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Former secretary of state arrested for DUI

CHEYENNE – Former Wyoming Secretary of State Ed Murray was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol at 12:39 a.m. Friday at his residence.

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NEWS BRIEFS for Friday, Dec. 13, 2019

News in Brief from across the Cowboy State

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Magistrate says brand inspection traffic stop was unreasonable

PINEDALE – A deputy’s June 27 stop of a Rock Springs man who was then cited for not having brand inspections was an “unreasonable” and “warrantless seizure,” according to the Dec. 10 decision by a Sublette County Circuit Court magistrate.

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Video shows driver paying deputy for ticket, sheriff says practice is allowed

EVANSTON — A video posted to YouTube on Friday that accuses a Wyoming sheriff’s deputy of racism and has been viewed nearly 200,000 times, isn’t what it appears to some viewers, Lincoln County Sheriff Shane Johnson said.

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Officials: Blackjewel still owes workers

CASPER — When the coal operator Blackjewel shuttered the gates of two mines in the Powder River Basin this summer, the insolvent company had already withheld wages and other benefits from its miners, a state office claims.

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Plans to restore Morris statue move forward

CHEYENNE — The statue of Esther Hobart Morris that stood outside the state Capitol for years will soon be restored to its original quality after the Capitol Building Restoration Oversight Group passed a motion to fund it during its final meeting Wednesday afternoon.

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Tribe, state look for ways to improve child protective services

CASPER — Northern Arapaho leaders and state officials are looking for ways to improve a child protective services program that the tribe says needs more money from the state to be more effective.

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State works to prevent mussel invasion

CODY — They are barely an inch long, but the tiny aquatic invasive species could produce mountain-sized headaches.

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Technical team takes over sage grouse plan

BUFFALO — In 2017, Montana wildfires spread into Wyoming. Ultimately, it torched more than 15,000 acres of sagebrush steppe, cutting a thick slice through the North Buffalo Connectivity Area, a corridor of critical Greater Sage-grouse habitat.

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Wing data indicates sage grouse population slide will continue

There’s little prospect for Wyoming’s greater sage grouse population to grow next year and reverse a three-year slide, new data from Wyoming Game and Fish Department suggests.

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NEWS BRIEFS for Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019

News in Brief from across the Cowboy State

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WY Lit founders promote evidence-based reading instruction

CHEYENNE — Kari Roden is a veteran teacher with a master’s degree in reading, so when her 5-year-old daughter struggled with reading, she started looking for answers.

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Sheridan woman named one of Forbes ’30 Under 30’

SHERIDAN — There is a “healthy” number of people focused on renewable energy in the U.S., but few who are dedicated to improving sustainability on the fossil fuel side, Whitney Wickes said. Wickes, Rocking WW Minerals co-founder and recent Sheridan transplant, was named to Forbes 30 under 30 top entrepreneurs for 2020 in the energy sector this month.

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Student inventor says he’s just getting started

GILLETTE — Hunter Chase isn’t one to rest on his laurels.

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NEWS BRIEFS for Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019

News In Brief from around the Cowboy State

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Homeowners try to lease mineral lands beneath home

PINEDALE — After two harrowing rounds of state lease auctions that invited bids for the mineral estates under their home beside the New Fork River, a local couple is applying for the 240-acre lease in the state’s “over the counter” option.

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Yellowstone continues war against lake trout

CODY — Yellowstone National Park is still the king of lake trout slayers in Yellowstone Lake as officials keep up the relentless pressure on the invasive species in attempts to save cutthroat trout.

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Agency says coal workers need more bankruptcy protection

CHEYENNE — According to the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services, coal workers in Wyoming need more protections when it comes to bankruptcy filings in the industry.

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During budget presentation, Gordon says he’s willing to look at lodging tax

CASPER — Gov. Mark Gordon told lawmakers Monday that he would be “willing” to consider a statewide lodging tax if it came across his desk this winter.

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NEWS BRIEFS for Friday, Dec. 6, 2019

News in Brief from across the Cowboy State

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CoreCivic presents ICE facility plans to packed room

EVANSTON — The Portland Rose Room at the Roundhouse was filled to capacity — 260 people, plus others standing in doorways and outside the room — for a special three-hour Uinta County Commission meeting at which CoreCivic, a private prison company that hopes to build and operate an immigration detention center in Evanston, presented its plans.

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Wyoming officials working to improve election security

CASPER — In 2016, the Russian government successfully hacked America’s elections. It hijacked messaging, assisted certain candidates and, in some cases, even managed to breach a state’s voter registration system.

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Witness tells what he saw when man shot by Riverton police officer

RIVERTON — Resistance from the county’s top prosecutor and, possibly, law enforcement entities to the public inquest into the Sept. 21 shooting death of Anderson Antelope by a Riverton Police Department officer stems in part from the vulnerability of eyewitnesses, Fremont County Attorney Patrick LeBrun said Thursday.

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Sixth-grader devotes herself to helping others

GILLETTE — As she explained her desire to spend her year’s allowance on giving food to the needy, sixth-grader Audrey Carlson looked at a poster about the law of cause and effect hanging in the hallway outside her classroom.

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Exhibit featuring UW paleontologist on display at Smithsonian

LARAMIE (WNE) — A photography exhibit and film that premiered at the University of Wyoming more than two years ago are now on display at the Smithsonian.

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Veteran finds answers in memoir

CASPER — Doug Chamberlain did not tell anyone about an order he was forced to carry out in Vietnam until about two years ago, while he was working on his memoir, “Bury Him.”

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NEWS BRIEFS for Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019

News in Brief from around the Cowboy State

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Plan to put Wi-Fi in historic park buildings criticized

JACKSON — When Yellowstone wrapped up its telecommunications plan a decade ago, the park specifically designated historic buildings like the Old Faithful Lodge and Lake Hotel cabins as places that wouldn’t be modernized with Wi-Fi technology.

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Judge criticizes Blackjewel bankruptcy expenses

CASPER — A federal judge has ordered bankrupt coal firm Blackjewel to provide additional details on $73,583 of expenses that company attorneys accumulated over three months while coal miners awaited back pay.

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Handyman shop owner disputes AG claims

CHEYENNE — Despite the defendant’s strong arguments to the contrary, the state’s attorney general said Wednesday she stands by the allegations contained in a 12-page complaint filed last month.

64     0

Lawmakers seek assistance for lost beet crop

LOVELL — Sen. R.J. Kost, R-Powell, Rep. David Northrup, R-Powell, as well as Reps. Lloyd Larsen, R-Lander, and Mike Greear, R-Worland, have signed a letter to Gov. Mark Gordon to request assistance for local farmers after a suspended harvest has left 31 percent on local beets in the ground.

75     0

Wind farm gets permit for 277 turbines

LARAMIE — Wyoming’s Industrial Siting Council has approved a permit for a 277-turbine wind farm that’s planned for construction on the border of Albany and Carbon counties.

74     0

Several factors contribute to risky roads, officials say

DOUGLAS — Wyoming roads have always been risky with long distances between cities and higher speeds, but signs this year are pointing to them becoming more dangerous than anytime in the last few decades.

78     0

Hunting, reducing animal concentration strategies in CWD plan

JACKSON — Wyoming wildlife managers may intensively hunt down mule deer and hold populations low for long periods of time in areas where chronic wasting disease threatens to become prevalent.

73     0

Lawmakers seek to develop more school trust lands

Facing diminishing fossil-fuel income, lawmakers want Wyoming to take a proactive approach to develop some of the state’s 3.6 million acres of trust lands, and recently backed a bill to jump-start that initiative.

73     0

Taking back ‘Tumbleweeds:’

In an explosion of creativity this fall, Jackson actor and playwright Andrew Munz wrote a one-man play called “Tumbleweed.”

71     0

Vet and canine partner helped each other overcome challenges

DOUGLAS — Retired Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Bessler sits quietly at the kitchen table, large, muscular hands wrapped around a Longmire Red Pony Saloon cup filled with hot coffee. He glances at a chewed-up tennis ball wedged into a recliner and quickly shifts his eyes away from that all-too-painful reminder of his combat brother, a member of the 10th Special Forces Group.

164     0

NEWS BRIEFS for Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019

Statewide news in brief

154     0

Lawmakers advance ‘piecemeal’ electric grid deregulation bill

A legislative committee yesterday backed a bill that would allow the buyers of early retirement coal plants access to the grid, a deregulatory step that could affect electricity consumers statewide.

156     0

Middle school sexual orientation survey rankles parents

JACKSON — When some Jackson Hole Middle School students powered on their tablets one day in October, they found a survey with a pointed, personal question.

151     0

Officials examine allowing reservation police to arrest non-tribal members

RIVERTON — Wind River Police Department agents might not have to wait for a law to let them cite or arrest non-native offenders on the Wind River Indian Reservation

147     0

Allegations made against former bishop in Missouri

CASPER — Kansas City police took a report in August alleging that retired Wyoming Bishop Joseph Hart molested a teenage boy in Missouri in 1974, a spokesman for the department said Wednesday.

88     0

Judge won’t show files to Nichols

LARAMIE — Former University of Wyoming President Laurie Nichols has been admitted as a party to the court case regarding the potential release of university records pertaining to her ouster from UW earlier this year.

78     0

Wyoming Supreme Court hears public defender arguments

CHEYENNE — The Wyoming Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday morning in a case that could decide the future of public defender representation in the state.

81     0

NEWS BRIEFS for Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019

Wyoming News in Brief

87     0

Chasing coal plant longevity, bills open door to deregulation

Lawmakers are considering two bills aimed at propping up coal-fired power plants, but some say they could lead Wyoming down the road to deregulation and a fundamental reordering of the electric utility system.

80     0

Wyoming PSC’s uncomfortable moment in the spotlight

The eye of the Wyoming Legislature these days is fixed upon the Public Service Commission.

84     0

Old plants, new ideas: Who might buy a retired coal power plant?

Where utility giant PacifiCorp sees escalating costs and regulatory liability, Wyoming leaders see an opportunity — albeit temporary — to help ailing coal communities.

78     0

Committee advances bill to block affordable housing tool

CHEYENNE — After canceling local government meetings, more than a dozen Teton County elected officials and staff traveled to Cheyenne to plead Monday with state legislators to not eliminate local control of a key housing program.

99     0

Yellowstone seeks comment on wireless plan

POWELL — A year ago, Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Cam Sholly was just arriving in the park. Shortly after unpacking he quickly began calling for improved connectivity.

85     0

Gordon calls for Clean Water Act reform

CASPER — Gov. Mark Gordon directly called out Washington state’s role in blocking overseas coal exports Tuesday in testimony to U.S. Congress, marking the latest development in the governor’s efforts to expand markets for Wyoming’s producers overseas.

87     0

Committee rejects ‘net metering’ bills

CHEYENNE — Lawmakers narrowly rejected a pair of bills that would have overhauled the state’s net metering system – and critics argued would have effectively killed the solar industry in Wyoming – during a meeting Tuesday in Cheyenne.

0     0

Committee rejects ‘net metering’ bills

CHEYENNE — Lawmakers narrowly rejected a pair of bills that would have overhauled the state’s net metering system – and critics argued would have effectively killed the solar industry in Wyoming – during a meeting Tuesday in Cheyenne.

88     0

Legislator proposes fees on unoccupied homes

JACKSON — A Jackson lawmaker wants to impose a fee on unoccupied second — or third, or fourth — homes, potentially offering a new way to alleviate Jackson Hole’s housing shortage and its long list of secondary consequences.

111     0

NEWS BRIEFS for Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019

State-wide News in Brief

123     0

Democrats, Republicans tackle issue of civility

CHEYENNE — Erin Taylor joked that there were movie stars present in the Little America Hotel and Resort ballroom early Wednesday afternoon during the Governor’s Business Forum.

122     0

Gordon supports Health Department in face of allegations

CASPER — Gov. Mark Gordon said he “firmly supports” the state Health Department’s director amid allegations that a 2015 Medicaid fraud investigation was obstructed by various government officials, a charge that has been denied by those involved.

124     0

Studies highlight hospital health care struggles

SHERIDAN — Recent legislative studies highlighted the delicate balance between health care access and costs Wyoming hospitals struggle to maintain and indicated that Sheridan Memorial Hospital is something of an outlier compared to other hospitals in the state.

95     0

Conservation groups challenge phase-out of feedground

JACKSON — Conservation groups are challenging the pace of the Bridger-Teton National Forest’s planned phase-out of the Alkali Creek Feedground.

85     0

NEWS BRIEFS for Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019

State-wide news in brief

122     0

State eyes downgrade of oilfield creeks’ protection

Environmental regulators are surveying two polluted creeks near the Moneta Divide oil and gas field to assess whether their protective classifications are appropriate or should be modified, possibly reducing water-quality standards.

97     0

Gordon backs EQC as scrutiny of board increases

Gov. Mark Gordon backed the independence of the Environmental Quality Council last week. In a time when the body is increasingly the subject of political scrutiny and recently was the subject of a court ruling that could diminish its power, Gordon said his own stint on the citizen-oversight board formed his view of it.

90     0

Jackson Hole officials hesitant to join climate pledge

JACKSON — Following the climate conference last month that drew representatives from dozens of mountain towns to Park City, Utah, officials there are asking their peer communities to commit to — at least — exploring ways of reducing their carbon footprints.

87     0

Navajo Nation refuses to financially back coal mine purchase

CASPER — One of the newest coal firms to enter the Powder River Basin found itself in hot water again Tuesday, after the Navajo Nation president announced it would not financially back the tribal entity’s recent purchase of three coal mines in Wyoming and Montana.

93     0

Committee votes to advance Medicaid expansion bill

CHEYENNE — State lawmakers on the Joint Revenue Interim Committee voted 8-5 Tuesday to move forward with a bill authorizing Gov. Mark Gordon to expand Medicaid coverage in Wyoming.

83     0

NEWS BRIEFS for Monday, Nov. 11, 2019

Wyoming News in Brief

104     0

Funding woes threaten criminal justice reform

Prison officials and advocates worry a lack of funding will kill hard-fought-for criminal justice reform before it can have an impact.

90     0

Coal production falls to 20-year low

CASPER — After a searing summer for Wyoming’s coal country, new federal production data paints a troubling economic outlook for the Powder River Basin.

104     0

Commissioners want say in wildlife corridors

RIVERTON — Objections by Gov. Mark Gordon and Wyoming Game and Fish officials to a proposed bill granting county commissioners influence in designating wildlife migration corridors has prompted concern on the Fremont County Commission.

91     0

Legislators look to address public safety on reservation

CASPER — Wyoming lawmakers are moving ahead with some legislation meant to help improve Wind River Reservation public safety while considering additional legislation with the same goal.

92     0

UW hosts Women’s Suffrage Symposium

LARAMIE — Celebrating the “Year of Wyoming Women,” the University of Wyoming, together with Wyoming Public Media and the Wyoming Humanities Council, hosted a symposium Thursday and Friday diving into Women’s Suffrage on the Northern Plains.

135     0

Many Wyoming children lack health insurance coverage

CHEYENNE – Wyoming ranks 43rd in the nation for the number of children with health insurance coverage, according to a report recently released by Georgetown University Center for Children and Families.

83     0

Film traces burly, beautiful migration route of Deer 139

Grazing along roadways, pilfering gardens or silhouetted on snowy hillocks, mule deer are such a customary part of the Wyoming landscape that it’s easy to overlook them.

118     0

Forest management combines short-term action and long-term plan

RAWLINS – It’s the season for pile burning — and long-term planning.

109     0

Local governments look toward I-80 monitoring wells

LARAMIE — With the approval of the Albany County Commission, the county’s planning staff plans to discuss, with the city of Laramie and the Wyoming Department of Transportation, options for installing monitoring wells underground along Interstate 80 in Telephone Canyon east of Laramie.

114     0

Legislative committee supports task force to look at mental health services

CHEYENNE – A committee of state lawmakers voted Thursday in support of a bill that would establish a task force to study Wyoming’s mental health services.

105     0

Former state Medicaid watchdog accuses health officials, former attorney general of obstruction

CHEYENNE — The former Medicaid watchdog for Wyoming accused top state health care officials and a former state attorney general of obstructing investigations into health care fraud, telling lawmakers Thursday that he was fired because of his refusal to let the inquiry drop.

97     0

Murder victim’s family fights for justice 32 years later

GILLETTE — Mike Etchemendy wants closure. His nephew, Johnny Etchemendy, wants that, too, but there’s something more. When Johnny looks in the mirror, he wonders if the face of the father he never knew is staring back at him.

89     0

Jackson middle schoolers earn break from the classroom

JACKSON — Alexis Jagelski slipped through a willow patch, her fly-rod gently deflecting branches so she could step onto the cobbled shoreline of the Snake River. Gathered in a circle around a guide were four Jackson Hole Middle School students, there to learn the art of fly-fishing from the Jackson Hole Fly Fishing School.

125     0

NEWS BRIEFS for Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019

Statewide news in brief from Wyoming News Exchange members

90     0

Wildlife officials about halfway through CWD plan

JACKSON — Wyoming wildlife officials are about halfway through the citizen-driven process of rewriting a management plan for chronic wasting disease (CWD).

104     0

Campbell County uses new law to help offset bankruptcy fees

GILLETTE — Campbell County spent more than a million dollars in the last year as it tried to collect unpaid mineral production taxes. Thanks to a new state law, it won’t have to bear the full cost of that.

180     0

Wyoming lawmakers reject proposed alcohol tax increase

CHEYENNE — A bill that would have essentially doubled the state’s excise tax on alcohol in order to provide more funding for substance use treatment programs was rejected by lawmakers during a committee meeting Wednesday.

101     0

Man accused of killing woman in Cheyenne, taking body to Cody

POWELL — Law enforcement officials say evidence indicates that a former local resident murdered a woman in Cheyenne over the weekend, then attempted to hide her body in a remote area south of Cody Saturday afternoon.

96     0

NEWS BRIEFS for Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019

Statewide news in brief from Wyoming News Exchange member papers

90     0

Partial settlement reached in lawsuit over horse treatment claims

JACKSON — Former Wilson outfitter Forest Stearns and five people he sued last year for defamation have reached a settlement in the case. But litigation against at least three other defendants will continue.

91     0

State develops ‘electronic poll books’ for election

GILLETTE — If all goes according to plan, the primary election in August 2020 could look a little different from past elections, not just for voters but also for people working behind the scenes.

105     0

Lack of cooperation stalled Hart investigation, say bishops

CASPER — The two bishops who succeeded retired Wyoming bishop Joseph Hart say investigations into the disgraced cleric, who’s been accused of sexual abuse by at least 16 men, were hamstrung by a lack of cooperation by at least one of Hart’s alleged victims years ago.

95     0

Lawmakers take no action on nuclear fuel storage plan

CHEYENNE — Legislators took no action on a plan to store spent nuclear fuel rods within Wyoming – and heard about a possible alternative use of the rods – during a committee meeting Tuesday in Casper.

102     0

Gun reporting bill fails

CASPER — Wyoming lawmakers on Thursday defeated legislation that would have prevented some people with mental illnesses from buying guns.

135     0

Indigency standards bill fails in Wyoming legislative committee

CHEYENNE – A draft bill that would have proposed indigency standards to qualify for a public defender failed Thursday afternoon in the Legislature’s Joint Judiciary Interim Committee.

137     0

Following pushback, lawmakers back off plan to put counties in charge of migration corridors

POWELL — After a proposal to put county commissioners and others in charge of designating migration corridors drew widespread criticism, a state legislative committee is apparently changing course.

133     0

Sheridan College kicks off Multicultural Center

SHERIDAN — When a student wrote a racially-charged comment on a white board in Braylee Armajo’s dorm in 2017, some people told her to just erase it.

121     0

NEWS BRIEFS for Friday, Nov. 1, 2019

Statewide news in brief from Wyoming News Exchange members

91     0

NEWS BRIEFS for Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019

News in brief from across the Cowboy State from Wyoming News Exchange members

123     0

Bankruptcy, coal experts voice concerns, takeaways

A group of lawyers, academics and coal bankruptcy veterans shared reservations about new coal companies entering the state, at a University of Wyoming School of Law conference Friday, and highlighted signs that the energy industry may have harmed its “social license” in Wyoming.

116     0

Towns grapple with energy transition

Communities in southwest Wyoming got a double dose of bad news this month as oil and gas company Halliburton announced layoffs at its Rock Springs headquarters just as Wyoming utility Rocky Mountain Power finalized a plan to fast-track the retirement of four of its six coal-fired power units.

116     0

Whistleblower prompts DEQ to probe bentonite mines

Wyoming environmental regulators will investigate complaints that a bentonite mining company regularly violated rules and escaped proper oversight, Gov. Mark Gordon’s spokesman confirmed.

117     0

Feds expect 72 grizzlies to die in grazing area by 2028

JACKSON — Federal wildlife officials foresee and have approved growing grizzly bear bloodshed on a sprawling complex of Bridger-Teton National Forest cattle grazing allotments recently permitted for the long haul.

99     0

FTC set to finish review of Peabody-Arch venture in 2020

GILLETTE — The Federal Trade Commission is expected to finish its review of a joint venture between Peabody Energy Corp. and Arch Coal Inc. to merge their Powder River Basin and Colorado coal mining operations in the first half of 2020.

103     0

Committee approves education funding boost

CASPER — Lawmakers voted narrowly Tuesday to approve a recommendation that Wyoming’s public school system be given a $19 million bump and that the recommendation be sent to Gov. Mark Gordon and the broader Legislature.

0     0

Committee approves education funding boost

CASPER — Lawmakers voted narrowly Tuesday to approve a recommendation that Wyoming’s public school system be given a $19 million bump and that the recommendation be sent to Gov. Mark Gordon and the broader Legislature.

0     0

Committee approves education funding boost

CASPER — Lawmakers voted narrowly Tuesday to approve a recommendation that Wyoming’s public school system be given a $19 million bump and that the recommendation be sent to Gov. Mark Gordon and the broader Legislature.

106     0

Projections show tough economic outlook for state

CHEYENNE – An updated forecast for state revenues released Tuesday paints a grim picture of Wyoming’s economic landscape heading into the next decade.

90     0

NEWS BRIEFS for Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019

Wyoming News in Brief from Wyoming News Exchange member papers

117     0

New Air Force secretary visits F.E. Warren base

CHEYENNE — About a week after being confirmed as the 25th U.S. Secretary of the Air Force, Barbara Barrett visited F.E. Warren Air Force Base on Sunday, marking her first official visit to any base since her appointment.

109     0

Number of moose killed in Teton County collisions rises

JACKSON — An annual report that sums up animals hit and killed on Teton County roads and highways finds the number of moose killed in collisions between May 2018 and this past April is the highest one-year toll in nearly a decade.

110     0

Gordon says grizzly delisting depends on election outcome

POWELL — If you want to see the grizzly bear delisted, Gov. Mark Gordon says you should support President Donald Trump’s bid for re-election in 2020.

111     0

Wyoming sets out to document hate

CASPER — On paper, Wyoming appears to be one of the least discriminatory places in the country.

138     0

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