Cody, Wy – United Airlines' financial troubles have made it doubtful that an air-service agreement for Yellowstone Regional Airport in Cody will be secured in the near future. State Senator Hank Coe is chairman of the Cody Yellowstone Air Service Organization. He says the airline is too busy with other issues right now, but he will be ready when United does get around to Cody. Coe originally expected an agreement to be finalized in November. Then he thought a deal would be wrapped up by the end of December.
Cheyenne, Wy – Another major winter storm is headed into Wyoming. The National Weather Service says moist southwest flow from the Pacific will stream into the state beginning Wednesday morning, resulting in potentially another round of heavy snowfall for the mountains and valleys of western Wyoming. The weather bureau has issued a winter storm warning for Uinta County for today through New Year's Day. Snow will begin this morning and continue periodically through tomorrow.
Laramie, Wy – A Wyoming Game Warden says this was a bad year for poaching in the state. John Lund says they haven't totaled all the cases to find out if it was the worst in history, but he says there were a lot of incidents that stand out. Lund says one of them took place in Jackson when a man killed 11 elk. This is considered a thrill killing because the man just opened fire on the herd and did it to watch the animals die. Lund says this is one of the most hideous examples of poaching in recent history.
Cheyenne, Wy – The Wyoming Livestock Board is considering new rules for testing cattle for brucellosis. That's after the discovery of brucellosis in 31 cattle in a Sublette County herd earlier this month. The proposed rule is to require all cattle sold into herds with breeding cattle to be tested for brucellosis. The Livestock Board has scheduled an emergency meeting in Casper to discuss the proposal. The meeting will start at 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Parkway Plaza Hotel.
Cody, Wy – Residential gas customers in the Cody area will see their gas rates drop 25 percent next month. The Wyoming Public Service Commission approved the rate reduction for the Energy West gas utility last Tuesday. Tim Good is the company's vice president for natural gas operations. He says lower rates are able to be passed on because the company has been able to secure a cheaper supply of gas.
Cody, WY – Shoshone National Forest officials want to allow logging on 390 acres along the North Fork of the Shoshone River. The also propose prescribed burning on a thousand acres to reduce the threat of wildfire in bettle-killed timber. Bark beetles have killed vast numbers of trees along the river corridor between Cody and Yellowstone National Park. Wapiti District Ranger Dave Myers says it's too late to save the forest from the beetles. But he says forest managers hope to at least reduce the valley's vulnerability to a rapidly spreading fire.
Green River, WY – The U-S Bureau of Land Management has more than doubled the number of gas wells that would be allowed under a proposal for natural gas drilling in southwestern Wyoming. The B-L-M originally proposed allowing up to 1,250 new wells as part of the Jonah Infill drilling project. Based on new information and a revised development proposal from Encana Oil and Gas, the agency has pushed that number up to 3,100 wells. All the alternatives will be analyzed in an environmental study being done by the B-L-M.
Cheyenne, Wy – The state has seized more than one-point-four-million dollars this year in cash and property used in suspected crimes. The sum through late November far surpasses the 190-thousand-dollars collected last year. The deputy director of the Division of Criminal Investigation is Kebin Haller. He says some of the money collected this year stemmed from cases that were begun more than ten years ago. Haller says the largest amount seized so far was 327-thousand dollars.
Cheyenne, WY – Wyoming Community Colleges say state support will keep them from raising tuition like other states. Community College Commission Director Richard Gilliland says colleges in other parts of the country are raising tuition by enormous levels. He says that should not have to happen here. Gilliland says one factor is Wyoming's economy is better than many other states. He says that translates into less state support for community colleges outside Wyoming and so they have to look at tuition and fees to make up the revenue.
Cheyenne, WY – The Wyoming livestock industry is taking hits on two different disease-related fronts. First, there's the effect of restrictions placed on Wyoming cattle from the brucellosis case in Sublette county. That was followed by bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or the Mad Cow disease case in Washington state. State Veterinarian Jim Logan says producers nationwide will get less for their cattle because of the mad cow scare. Combined with brucellosis, Logan admits it's kind of a double whammy.
Moose, WY – Operation Noble Eagle has returned to Grand Teton National Park. Noble Eagle is the military radar system that is set up when Vice President Dick Cheney spends time at his home in Jackson Hole. This time, the mobile air radar station is festooned with Christmas lights and a larger-than-life, Nutcracker-type soldier. Although there is no officially confirmed link between the radar station and Vice President, the system seems to coincide with Cheney's stays at his home in Teton Pines subdivision.
Laramie, Wy – A total of 1800 cases of the flu have been reported to the Wyoming Health Department so far this year. State Health Officer Dr. Brent Sherard notes that probably an under-estimation of the cases since many providers don't perform flu tests this late in the season. The good news is Sherard says officials believe the flu season may have peaked in Wyoming. The bad news is he says five people likely died because of the flu in the state.
Cheyenne, Wy – State revenue so far this fiscal year is coming in well ahead of the predicted pace in just about every area. That's according to the latest Consensus Revenue Estimating Group report released Monday. State economists say tax, investment and fee income from July through November totaled over 219 million dollars -- or 25-point-6 percent more than was forecast in October. One reason is healthy minerals prices -- and especially strong prices for natural gas.
Cheyenne, Wy – The state Department of Corrections has chosen architects to provide conceptual drawings and cost estimates for proposed prison expansion projects. G-S-G Architecture of Casper and Reilly Johnson Architecture of Denver were selected to help the state plan for expansion of prisons at Riverton and Lusk. The Legislature in its last session authorized planning for an additional 59 beds at the Wyoming Honor Farm in Riverton and 108 beds at the Wyoming Women's Center in Lusk, plus expanded rehabilitation programs.
Cheyenne, WY – Wyoming House Speaker Fred Parady will have to decide which legislative committee will review a controversial piece of legislation. Lawmakers will be asked to vote on a bill that would change the constitution to allow the capping of non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases. Last year, the House Judiciary Committee killed a similar piece of legislation. Parady admits he's been getting pressure to assign the bill to a committee that's not headed by a trial lawyer.
Pinedale, WY – Some 3,200 negative tests have come back on cattle that may have come into contact with the brucellosis-infected cows in Sublette County. But there were four suspect cases, two each in two different herds. State Veterinarian Jim Logan says those animals registered positive results on two tests, but negative on two, more sensitive tests. The testing being done looks for titer levels, which are a measure of antibodies to the brucellosis disease.
Laramie, WY – Housing costs in Laramie are rising faster than incomes, causing a shortage of affordable housing. That's according to a recent study for Laramie city government. Housing is considered affordable if it costs no more than 30 percent of gross monthly income. The study says 29 percent of households spend more than that. The average cost of a new single-family home in Laramie has risen to 160 thousand dollars. The study says most new housing in Laramie has become too pricey for even buyers with moderate incomes.
Cheyenne, WY – The city of Cheyenne may soon have its second business park. This week, the economic development group Cheyenne LEADS bought a 612 acre piece of land west of town, in hopes of using it to attract new business. Part of that land is the subject of an annexation lawsuit, but LEADS President Randy Bruns says it doesn't matter much what happens in that case. He says the key for them is getting the land rezoned from a mix of residential and agricultural to light industrial. Bruns says he's not totally confident in that happening.
Saratoga, WY – The U-S Forest Service has denied an appeal of a timber sale in the Sierra Madre section of the Medicine Bow National Forest. Although the appeal was denied, the regional forester ordered more analysis of the proposed logging before it's offered to logging contractors. Saratoga forester Terry Delay says that's been done. He says it amounted to a page and a half of documentation involving mainly wildlife issues. The Singer Peak sale involves clearcutting about 180 acres and salvage logging on another 23 acres that are burned.
Evanston, WY – Wyoming's largest wind farm is scheduled to go into operation by year's end. Construction of the 150 million dollar project in Uinta county northeast of Evanston wrapped up on time and under budget. F-P-L Energy spokesman Steve Stengel says crews have been busy testing the facility in recent days. The Florida-based utility will operate the wind farm. Two years in the works, the wind farm is the third and largest in Wyoming. Its turbines are capable of powering 43 thousand homes.
Cheyenne, WY – Some changes in Wyoming Black Bear seasons and regulations will be the focus of several statewide meetings in January. Game and Fish Assistant Wildlife Division Chief John Emmerich says many of the proposals will keep regulations in place for three years in order to get better information. Emmerich says it's pretty hard to determine the effects of the season on a particular bear populations when the seasons change each year. He says going to a three year season structure will allow officials to gather better data.
Cheyenne, WY – An economic development group has bought 612 acres west of Cheyenne with plans to establish a business park. Cheyenne LEADS President Randy Bruns filed the deed on the Village West property Wednesday. The purchase price was not disclosed. Neighboring landowners have a lawsuit pending against the previous owner of the land. At issue was the 2001 annexation of a 111 acre parcel. Homeowners say the annexation would have brought their land under the city's regulatory control. That lawsuit is pending before the Wyoming Supreme Court.
Bismarck, ND – Natural gas began flowing through a new pipeline across Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota Tuesday. The Williston Basin Interstate Pipeline is run by a subsidiary of Bismarck's M-D-U Resources. Work on the pipeline started in August. One crew worked from the south end near Gillette and the other crew worked from the north, starting near Killdeer, North Dakota. The 253 mile pipeline can carry 80 million cubic feet of natural gas a day. M-D-U spokesman Tim Rasmussen says the pipeline began carrying about a quarter of that capacity.
Green River, WY – A movie theater in Green River will reopen after residents flooded the owner with requests and phone calls to reconsider closing it. The Star Twin will reopen in six to seven weeks depending on when new chairs and equipment arrive. That's according to Encore Cinemas President Randy Pryde. He says when the theater closed, the company sold the chairs and equipment, so it had to order more before reopening. The movie house will reopen as a discount theater.
Cheyenne, WY – The Wyoming Arts Council says it is at the halfway point in an effort to raise 100 thousand dollars in 100 days. The council needs to raise the money to access a 100 thousand dollar legislative matching grant. First Lady Nancy Freudenthal encourages artists and residents to continue with the fundraising push. Freudenthal says it's important to get the rest of the way in order to meet the state match. The Arts Council will use the funds to provide arts grants throughout Wyoming. IF the money is raised, it will double the amount of grant money currently available.
Gillette, Wy – Cattle ranchers are hoping prices remain strong and will offset any possible effects of a brucellosis scare. Ranchers have been enjoying high prices in the U.S. cattle market for the past few months. Strong consumer demand, continued drought on the Plains and a case of mad cow disease in Canada sent cattle prices in the United States to more than 100-dollars per hundred pounds in November. Last year at the same time, prices were around 60-dollars.
Washington, DC – The National Park Service will need to start phasing out snowmobiles from Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. Tuesday, a federal judge refused to suspend his ruling that struck down a Bush Administration plan to allow snowmobiling to continue. Washington DC District Judge Emmet Sullivan reinstated a Clinton Administration plan that will ban the machines starting next winter. Snowmobiling is still allowed this year, but with restrictions that the state of Wyoming says will seriously hurt the local tourism industry.