Cheyenne, Wy – A state senator thinks Wyoming needs to do a better job educating inmates. During a discussion on community college funding this week, Appropriations Committee member Irene Devin of Laramie stated that Wyoming's graduation rate through its corrections system is terrible when compared to other states. Central Wyoming President Jo Ann MacFarland admits that a better job could be done, but she says they had to curtail some of their offerings when pell grants were no longer available to inmates.
Laramie, Wy – The wolf recovery coordinator for the U-S Fish and Wildlife Service says the decision to reject Wyoming's wolf management plan was not political. Ed Bangs says there were significant biological concerns, especially regarding the dual predator-trophy status. Bangs says his agency has a basic message for Wyoming: The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is very capable with good people working for it and it needs the ability to manage wolves. But, including the predator status would make that an unworkable situation.
Bozeman, MT – Brucellosis may play some role in the mortality rate of bighorn sheep in and around Yellowstone National Park. A Wyoming Game and Fish Department researcher says brucellosis has been confirmed for the first time in bighorns. Speaking to members of the GReater Yellowstone Interagency Brucellosis Committee, Terry Kreeger said an accidental exposure to brucellosis killed most of the big horn sheep at a research facility in southeastern Wyoming. He also says a wild bighorn in the Jackson area has shown possible signs of exposure to the disease.
Topic: The Federal Government has upset several official in the state of Wyoming about the decision for the wolf plan; Guest: Ed Bangs, Wolf Recovery Coordinator fo the US Fish and Wildlife Service Topic: A state wide program, Barn Again, Barn Here is celebrating a Wyoming Icon; Guest: Marsha Brinton with the Wyoming Council for the Humanities and Mary Humstone, a research scientist for the American Studies at the Unversity of Wyoming
Douglas, Wy – Another attempt is being made to establish a state lottery in Wyoming. For the second year in a row, state Representative David Edwards of Douglas has co-authored a bill to create a state lottery. Edwards says he wants to stop the drain of money to surrounding states by Wyoming residents playing the lottery. Edwards estimates the state could earn up to five (M) million dollars a year from a lottery.
Washington, DC – An appellate court in Washington, D.C. Tuesday refused to suspend a ruling that curtailed snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park. The appeals court is considering several appeals and says the state of Wyoming, and others who had asked for a stay, did not satisified the stringent standards needed for a court to grant it. The appeals themselves now go forward, but could take months to decide. In December, US District Judge Emmet Sullivan ordered the Park Service to drop a plan to allow snowmobiling to continue in Yellowstone and Grand Teton.
Cheyenne, WY – The Director of Workforce Services told the legislature's Joint Appropriations Committee Monday they have formed a committee to better track some of the business training grant money the agency provides. Senators Irene Devin and Rich Cathcart expressed concern there might have been abuses. But agency Director Kathy Emmons says this workgroup will take a closer look at exactly what they are providing. Emmons says it's critical the grant funds have oversight because the program is used as a recruitment tool for new businesses thinking of relocating.
Cheyenne, WY – The U-S Fish and Wildlife SErvice is expected to rule soon whether Wyoming's plan to manage gray wolves is acceptable. U-S Interior Department officials aren't saying expactly when their decision will be announced. Wyoming Chief Deputy Attorney General Mike O'Donnell says the rule could come as early as Thursday. The agency has been reviewing wolf management plans submitted by Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. All three states must have acceptable plans before the gray wolf can be removed from the endangered species list.
Washington, DC – The Justice Department has filed a notice of appeal in a lawsuit over whether snowmobiles should be allowed in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. The notice was filed Monday in the U-S Circuit Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia circuit. The notice preserves the Bush administration's right to lodge an appeal in the case after U-S District Judge Emmet Sullivan reimposed a Clinton-era plan to phase out snowmobiles in the parks.
Billings, MT – The US Fish and Wildlife Service rejected Wyoming's wolf management plan Tuesday. One of three areas the federal government had problems with was Wyoming dual classification plan. That would classify wolves as predators in much of the state and leave the animals open to unregulated killing.
Laramie, WY – The University of Wyoming will have its' budget request heard before the legislature's Joint Appropriations Committee Tuesday. U-W President Phil Dubois says he'll be presenting legislators with a combination of what they requested, keeping in mind what Governor Freudenthal proposed in his budget. Dubois expects the most questions he'll face will be about salaries and athletic facilities and operations.
Laramie, WY – The University of Wyoming's student government President cautioned Trustees Friday about a proposed double-digit fee increase. Jack Edwards says student senators are concerned about "a dramatic fee increase" of 11 percent because of how it affects the cost of an overall college education. Edwards says many students are now non-traditional students who have families, rents and other costs than a college education. U-W President Phil Dubois says the driving force is anticipated salary and health increases increases for employees.
Laramie, Wy – A newly formed organization is planning an anti war rally this weekend in Casper. Chairman Tom Blemming says he founded Wyomingites United Against War in Iraq and the Patriot Act last week. He says the goal is to change leaders in Washington D-C because the current government is focused on war over other priorities. Blemming's group plans a protest this Saturday in Casper. He says it will not be a Democratic party rally, but people with all views will attend, including Republicans.
Yellowstone National Park, WY – A wolf expert says the wolf population in and around Yellowstone is probably reaching its limit because of the numbers of elk in the area are on the decline. Chris Smith told Montana Outfitters and Guides Association members over the weekend that wolves will spread to new areas, but probably will stick to mountain country. Smith if the Chief of Staff for the Montana Kepartment of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. He worked with wolves in Alaska for 20 years.
Laramie, Wy – Officials in Yellowstone say snowmobilers illegally entered the park and rode across several meadows on the west side, trampling some shrubs and small trees. In a statement Monday, park officials called the weekend incident the worst case of off-road snowmobile travel ever recorded along the West Entrance Road. The matter remains under investigation, and officials are asking that anyone with information contact park law enforcement.
Cheyenne, WY – A bill that would toughen Wyoming's Open Container law is back in the legislature again this year. Under this year's measure, open containers would be banned anywhere in a vehicle that is within easy reach of anyone, driver or passenger. Current law prohibits people from drinking while driving, but does allow passengers to drink. Representative Becket Hinckley says the current law has a major loophole and must be changed. Similar legislation has failed the last two years.
Cheyenne, WY – A co-chairman of Wyoming's Consensus Revenue Estimating Group says there is a lot to be said for having the state put a lot of its' surplus into a savings account. But Steve Sommers says how that is done will be the major policy question facing the legislature. House Republicans say putting a lot of the billion-dollar surplus into the Permanent Mineral TRust Fund is a good idea because it builds up a major interest-bearing account while the state has the money to enhance the fund.
Cheyenne, Wy – As the Joint Appropriations Committee goes through agency budgets, they are spending some time looking at the Governor's proposal to eliminate contract employees and are looking at the issue of pay raises. By eliminating contract employees, the Governor says he can get a better handle on who is working in state government. But, committee members are finding that the move is not necessarily saving them money because the contract employees now qualify for benefits.
Rawlins, WY – Ranchers in southern Wyoming are adjusting to a new danger to their herds following a wolf attack north of Wamsutter. U-S Fish and Wildlife Service biologists say the wolves were likely young males searching for new territory. They don't think an entire pack has relocated. U-S Department of Agriculture officials, however, believe the wolves may be the same seen around the area in recent months. Ranchers are trying to bring in the herd for calving season, but say their cattle are now spooked and don't like to be handled.
Cheyenne, Wy – State Senator Jayne Mockler is asking the Legislature to help pay for emergency brucellosis testing. In a statement released today, Mockler says it's appropriate for the state to at least temporarily help ranchers offset the costs of emergency state regulations. Brucellosis testing could cost Wyoming ranchers up to one million dollars a year.
Powell, WY – The Powell school board has signed a contract with the Wyoming School Facilities Commission giving trustees more than a million dollars for designing a new Powell High School. The contract specifies a building of 115 thousand square feet, including a 550 seat auditorium. A budget of slightly more than $20 million for the entire project has been approved by the commission. The school board approved the contract at a special meeting Tuesday. Superintendent Don Cravens expects the planning process, including public input, to last 12 to 14 months.
Laramie, Wy – Despite getting turned down by the Governor, U-W officials are going to try and get legislators to support a request of nearly three million dollars to enhance marketing and fundraising, along with competitive excellence of U-W athletics. But if they can't get on-going support, President Phil Dubois says they will ask for one time money to try and get fundraising and marketing programs up to speed. Athletic Director Gary Barta admits that saying that they are only asking for such money once--- could be risky.
Laramie, WY – A Laramie-based conservation group says it will oppose plans to allow more than 200 new methane wells in and around the Thunder Basin National Grassland. Eric Molvar of Biodiversity Conservation Alliance says the Big Porcupine Coalbed Methane Project in Campbell and Converse counties will send potentially toxic water into rivers and introduce human activity in pristine habitats. He says the forest service plans to allow millions of gallons of salty wastewater to be dumped into waterways.
Laramie, Wy – University of Wyoming Trustees are pondering a three percent tuition increase for the fall semester. U.W. President Phil Dubois recommended upping the tuition to cover inflationary costs while administrators look into a new tuition philosophy.
Worland, WY – In the first year of testing for chronic wasting disease, the most intriguing cases were the two found south of Worland. These were odd because they were found a good distance away from where the disease had previously been identified. Wyoming Game and Fish Wildlife Veterinarian Terry Kreeger says the cases aren't necessarily significant and it's too soon to draw conclusions. Kreeger says officials have seen cases in other areas where chronic wasting showed up and then disappered and has not re-appeared in those locations.
Laramie, Wy – Friday was the first day of the snowmobile season in Grand Teton National Park. Because of a ruling by a Washington D-C judge only 25 sleds a day can go into the park on the Continental Divide Snowmobile Trail. But, Grand Teton spokesperson, Jackie Skaggs, says the cap shouldn't pose a problem as historically they have not had 25 snowmobilers a day. Another 25 snowmobilers a day can ride on the John D. Rockefeller Memorial Parkway.
Cheyenne, Wy – The Department of Agriculture presented its budget request today (Thursday) to the legislature's Joint Appropriations Committee. But even with the brucellosis and mad cow issues hanging overhead,the department did not increase its request.
Laramie, Wy – Despite several years of trying to run it themselves, a private organization will hand over management of the Wyoming Territorial Park in Laramie to the state. A proposal that includes a state partnership will go to a legislative committee next week. The idea is that it will ensure permanent state financial support. The plan has the state handling employees and most maintenance costs, but the local nonprofit corperation would continue offering community programs.