Laramie, Wy – Speaker of the House Fred Parady thinks the Governor wants to spend too much General Fund Money on building projects. In fact, Parady thinks the Governor's overall budget is too high and could force the state into tax hikes. While Parady actually supports a lot of the capital construction projects the Governor is proposing, he thinks there are different ways to pay for them. He would like to save more money then the Governor is proposing and Parady suspects that will be part of the debate during the budget session.
Laramie, Wy – Wyoming's flu numbers are growing at an alarming rate. The state has confirmed 343 cases of the flu and the outbreak is all across the state. Health Officer Dr. Brent Sherard says the flu numbers are well above this time last year. He is urging everyone to get a flu shot, noting that the flu can be fatal.
Laramie, WY – The U-S Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating the deaths of four wolves in western Wyoming. One found near Daniel is already considered a human-caused death, while investigators are awaiting lab results on how three other wolves near Cody died. It's been two years since Wyoming has had an illegal killing of a wolf. U-S-F-W-S Law Enforcement Agent in Charge of Wyoming Dominic Domenici says these cases do raise alarms. Domenici says officials do expect a few more human-caused wolf fatalities as the population grows.
Cheyenne, WY – A town meeting is scheduled today in Cheyenne to discuss the potential impact of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Senator Mike Enzi will join Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Trent Blankenship and U-S Department of Education officials at the meeting. Blankenship and the other officials will explain what the federal education reforms mean and take questions from audience members. No Child Left Behind requires all students to be proficient in reading and math within the next 12 years.
Laramie, WY – A Wyoming Highway Patrol official disputes a new study indicating higher interstate speed limits cause more fatalities. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety claims states that increased speed limits to 75 miles per hour on interstates saw 40 percent more deaths. Wyoming Highway Patrol spokesman Sergeant Steve Townsend says he didn't notice a big increase in accidents or behavior after the state's speed limit increased in 1995.
Helena, MT – The scientific review of Wyoming's proposed wolf management plan is complete and those comments have been sent back to the state. Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho all need to have plans approved by the US Fish and Wildlife Service for the wolf to be removed from the endangered species list. Federal Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Ed Bangs, says not surprisingly, the reviewers zeroed in on three big issues in the states' plans. 1) All three states say federal money is needed to pay for management.
Cheyenne, WY – A new report suggests a proposal for regional and small school adjustments may cost an additional 38 million dollars. The adjustments would be in addition to the base cost of 719 million dollars to finance the state's 48 school districts in the 2005-2006 school year. Natrona county is the biggest winner under the new estimates, gaining nearly seven million dollars more in funding. Teton county is among four districts that would lose money.
Casper, Wy – Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal is pushing a 5.1 billion dollar budget that features a 278 million dollar increase in operations. He wants to spend the states billion dollar surplus on a variety of one time needs from new schools, to a prison, to various local government needs. Freudenthal says the state had to put off such projects when times were bad. But he says the buildings are needed and will cost citizens taxes if they are not built now.
Rawlins, WY – The new Department of Corrections director is taking a scientific approach to Wyoming's prison needs. Bob Lampert says he's in the process of developing siting instruments to determine where the department might build new prison beds. Lampert started his new job earlier this month. He meets with the Joint Appropriations Committee in January. At that time, Lampert says he hopes to have the basics of a sound corrections plan in place, with population projections, housing needs and a rough plan of how the state can meet those needs.
Jackson Hole, Wy – A Jackson group will soon be gathering residents views about Jackson. The project called Sustaining Jackson Hole, is to better understand what the town is and where it is heading. Charture Institute Director Jonathan Schechter is teaming up with the Chamber of Commerce and the Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative to find those answers. He says they plan on gathering information from area residents. Schechter says they are looking for a broad cross section of citizens to participate. They want to begin the project at the start of the year.
Laramie, Wyoming – According to various stores across the state, the shopping season got off to a bang today. (Friday) Some 200 people waited for the Walmart in Gillette to open this morning, 300 people rushed the doors at Casper's Target, and Riverton Wal Mart Manager Scott Freeman says they have been selling everything. He thinks it will be a great year. Merchants across the state say it appears the crowds are larger then they have been in recent years.
Casper, Wy – The Bush Administration is frequently accused of siding with Industry, but the Secretary of the Interior says that is not always the case. Gail Norton discussed the issue during a visit to Wyoming and says it is her desire to focus on what the best use of land is. She also does not want such desicions made in Washington, preferring to here what folks think at the local level. She hopes people can work together and not stand far apart and take extreme perspectives.
Washington D.C. – A bill is awaiting the signature of President Bush that would allow the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to lease land in Natrona County known as Martin's Cove. Many Mormon pioneers headed to Utah froze or starved to death at the cove in 1856 after being trapped by a snowstorm. The church views the area as sacred land. The president is expected to sign the bill, which would end a contentious dispute over Martin's Cove. The measure, which is part of a larger spending bill, authorizes a 25-year lease by the church.
Laramie, Wy – The Institute for Energy Research at the University of Wyoming is involved in the development of a process called Carbon Sequestration. The idea is to make Wyoming a player in the energy economy of the Greenhouse age. Institute Director Dag Nummedahl says the overall purpose is to put Carbon Dioxide emissions somewhere besides the atmosphere. Nummedahl adds that they are exploring other storage options as well. A further test of the process will take place at the Teapot Dome oil field near Casper.
Cheyenne, Wy – The Wyoming Supreme Court will hear oral arguments next month in two lawsuits involving school construction funding. The rulings could impact new school construction rules. The lawsuits challenge the use of bonds to pay for new schools in Buffalo and Kaycee and a new auditorium at Worland's middle school. Arguments will be heard December 11th.
Laramie, Wy – The Cowboy football team looks to win five games for the first time this decade. Wyoming hosts UNLV Saturday in the finale for both teams. To win, Wyoming coach Joe Glenn says his defense needs to come up big. Kick off is at Noon.
Fort Collins, Co – Police have arrested a 19-year-old volunteer firefighter for setting fire to a church on U-S Highway 287 in northern Colorado this month. The Larimer County sheriff's office says Austin Gene Mayo was arrested and charged with first-degree arson. Other charges could be pending. He's being held at the Larimer County Detention Center on a half (m) million dollar bond. Mayo is a volunteer firefighter for the Livermore Fire Department. He was also on the Larimer County Sheriff's Office Emergency Services Wildland Firefighter roster.
Laramie, WY – Officials in Laramie say deficits could haunt the city the next five fiscal years, including a 923 thousand dollar shortfall next year. Layoffs, salary caps and hiring freezes are some of the measures the city could be forced to take to control the problem. City Manager Bonnie Ridley Kraft admits the deficit is substantial, but she says it's manageable. The deficits are forecast to fluctuate between 647 thousand dollars in 2008 and 1.4 million dollars in 2007. The larger figure is due to expected equipment expenses.
Cody, WY – After Sunday, travelers who use Cody's Yellowstone Regional Airport will no longer be able to take flights to Denver. Great Lakes Airlines is pulling out of Cody, leaving travelers with only one option: SkyWest service to Salt Lake City. Airport Manager Mike Becker admits it will hurt not to be able to offer flights to Denver. But given the poor quality of service he says Great Lakes has provided, he doesn't think the impact will be too drastic because travelers have been flocking away from Great Lakes for the past year.
Dayton, WY – Local officials in Dayton have begun discussing how to guard against a fire like the one that roared into town last week. One possibility is creating a firebreak between the community and the nearby Bighorn mountains. Mayor Bob Wood says now would be a good time to clear a firebreak with much of the brush and trees burned away. The fire started Wednesday evening about two miles west of Dayton. With help from strong winds, dry vegetation, warm weather and low humidity, the fire spread to the edge of town and burned several outbuildings.
Kaycee, WY – At least one key Republican state legislator agrees with Governor Freudenthal's plan for setting aside a big chunk of the state's budget surplus. On Tuesday, Freudenthal, a Democrat, proposed using $490 million of the $1 billion dollar surplus to pay for prison projects and school construction over the next few years. State Senator John Schiffer, the chair of the Appropriations Committee says they may adjust the amount they set aside but it is a good place to start. He says it's similar to the "coffee cans" created by the legislature during the last energy boom of the 1980's.
Cheyenne, WY – The State Health Department is reporting more than 200 flu cases in Wyoming. State health officer Doctor Brent Sherard says that level is not normally seen until February or March. He and other state health officials are concerned about the early high numbers, saying they have no idea when this year's flu season will peak. In Colorado, four children have died from the flu since last week.
Cheyenne, WY – A new report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says higher speed limits on interstates lead to more accident deaths. But Wyoming Transportation Department spokesman Bruce Burrows says the agency needs to know more about those findings before deciding that faster speeds do in fact lead to more deadly accidents. According to the most recent U-S Department of Transportation records for Wyoming, 2.16 deaths occurred per 100 million vehicle miles driven on the state's roads. The national average is 1.51.
Casper, WY – The husband of U-S Representative Barbara Cubin is recovering from surgery in a Casper hospital. Fritz Cubin is in stable condition following surgery to patch his spinal cord to prevent leakage of spinal fluids. Doctors think Cubin may be able to go home Wednesday. He has been in the Wyoming Medical Center for more than four weeks. Fritz Cubin has suffered from an auto-immune disorder and complications from pneumonia for several years.
Laramie, Wy – Governor Dave Freudenthal is recommending that nearly half of the projected one billion dollar surplus be used to pay for five years of school construction and several prison projects. Freudenthal says these are needs that the state has known about for many years and he wants to get them taken care of. He says the problem is it is a huge chunk of money, but if they take care of those issues now they won't have to raise taxes or go into debt in the future.
Casper, Wy – As President Bush prepares for his reelection bid next year, his potential Democratic opponents have mainly criticized his handling of the economy and the war in Iraq. A close third, however, could be his environmental record. Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry has called President Bush the kind of politician who would cut down a tree and then climb on its stump to give a speech about conservation. Wesley Clark says Bush's policies are mortgaging our children's future. Whoever the Democratic nominee is, these barbs are sure to continue.
Gillette, WY – Sheridan College administrators say they are unsure how the planned departure of President Steve Maier will affect the school's Gillette campus. Gillette Campus Director Jerry Winter hopes Maier's resignation won't jeopardize any plans that are in the works. Maier and the school's Board of Trustees announced Friday that Maier will leave his position June 30. It was apparently a joint decision by Maier and the board. Maier says he does not expect fallout for the Gillette campus.
Laramie, WY – The U-S Senate approved a sweeping Medicare reform bill Tuesday morning. Wyoming A-A-R-P Director Rita Inoway admits the legislation to provide a prescription drug benefit isn't perfect, but it's a good start. Inoway says one problem is the prescription drug programs complexity and the doughnut hole that doesn't provide coverage. She says people in certain income ranges get help to a certain point and then coverage stops and they have to pay for their own medications. Inoway says when the cost gets to a catastrophic level, then they get help again.