Laramie, WY – State Climatologist Jan Curtis says the drought is easing in southern and western Wyoming, but will likely persist in northeastern parts of the state. Curtis says drought conditions have slowly improved across the state since 1992, except for the northeastern corner, where things have gotten worse. He predicts western Wyoming will continue to have dry, warm weather for one to two more years. Curtis expects another two to four years of drought are in store in eastern Wyoming.
Laramie, Wy – Aaron McKinney's public comments about the killing of Matthew Shepard violated a promise not to talk about the case, but court records indicate the pledge was not contained in the official sentencing order. Excerpts of interviews McKinney and Russell Henderson gave to A-B-C reporter Elizabeth Vargas from a prison in Nevada were to air Friday on the network's news program "20/20." The two Laramie men said the 1998 attack on the gay college student was motivated by the prospect of robbery to fuel a methamphetamine binge, not homophobia.
Laramie, Wy – The marketing director for the Frontier Mall says Friday was as busy or slightly busier than last year. Martha Pollock says they specifically tried to get people to come to the mall from far away by putting ads in local papers and she says it seems to have worked, as people came from as far away as Nebraska and Platte County. Pollock says they also create an atmosphere that is festive to bring people in that might shop online, and she says some of the sales Friday are better than shoppers can get on the Internet.
Laramie, Wy – A top Forest Service official says large air tankers will continue to have a role in fighting wildfires for the foreseeable future. But how many will be available for the 2005 fire season remains unclear. Tom Harbour is the agency's incoming director of fire and aviation. He says some of the aircraft cleared to fly for part of the 2004 season will be available next year. Harbour says additional aircraft might be available after "safety-related concerns" are addressed.
Casper, WY – Last month, a pair of Canadian companies acquired a number of uranium-rich Wyoming properties. Prices for uranium have increased from about ten dollars a pound to over 20 dollars. Wyoming Mining Association Director Marion Loomis says demand is also growingt because foreign countries are exporting less uranium. Loomis believes these factors could lead to a resurgence in the state's uranium industry. He expects to see new uranium operations or old ones start up again. But Loomis says it will not be a return to the large mines and large employment of the 1970's and 80's.
Washington, D.C. – Some in Congress are eyeing an Oklahoma law in order to stem the nationwide methamphetamine epidemic. Oklahoma's law regulates pseudo-ephedrine, which is found in most over the counter cold medicines. That ingredient is used to manufacture methamphetamin. Wyoming Senator Craig Thomas is unsure if adopting Oklahoma's law nationwide will solve the state's methamphetamine problem. Thomas says the solution involved schools, churches, law enforcement and communities.
Casper, WY – A decision to leave the Martin's Cove historic site to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is being appealed. The appeal of the Bureau of Land Management decision to lease the site was filed by the Alliance for Historic Wyoming. The group contends the church will not pay enough money for the lease because the appraised value of the land is too low. L-D-S Stake President Lloyd Larsen says he believes the church's position is "easily defensible," and the appraisal was part of the process in working out the lease.
Laramie, Wy – Over Thanksgiving weekend last year the Highway Patrol investigated no fatal accidents and Sergeant Stephen Townsend hopes that happens again this year. He says there will be troopers out keeping a close eye on highways across the state. Specifically they will be looking to prevent speeding and drug and alcohol driving related infractions, which they do normally, but he says they will focus this weekend on vehicles on I-80. Townsend says drivers should be cautious as there will be a high volume of traffic on all roads in Wyoming.