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Wyoming transportation funds remain stable despite downturn

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Officials say the state’s budget cuts will have little impact on the Wyoming Department of Transportation, unlike other state agencies that have faced cutbacks and been forced to end services. The transportation department’s fiscal year 2017 operating budget was approved by the Wyoming Transportation Commission last week. Revenue and expenses for the upcoming fiscal year look similar to the current year’s. The department only relies on the state general fund for about 2 percent of its budget. Several other agencies rely much more heavily on the general fund, which has been impacted by the state’s economic downturn. WYDOT’s chief financial officer, Dennis Byrne, says drivers can expect to see more road improvements this year and that financial impacts to other projects “should be minimal.” … Read entire article »

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Wildfire rehab in Idaho, Oregon includes fall herbicide

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The federal government’s 5-year, $67 million rehabilitation effort following a rangeland wildfire in southwest Idaho and southeast Oregon is entering its second year with another round of herbicide applications combined with plantings of native species. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has started applying Imazapic on federal lands to knock out invasive weeds in Oregon and will begin in Idaho in October. About 100 square miles, roughly half in each state, of aerial spraying is taking place and visitors are asked to stay away from posted areas. The 2015 wildfire scorched about 436 square miles of sagebrush steppe that supports cattle grazing and some 350 species of wildlife, including sage grouse. The rehabilitation is part of a plan to develop new strategies to combat increasingly destructive rangeland wildfires, mainly in … Read entire article »

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Interior Department touts efforts to protect sage grouse

DENVER (AP) — Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is in Colorado to tout efforts to save the greater sage grouse across the West one year after the federal government decided not invoke the Endangered Species Act to protect the rare bird. Jewell traveled to a wildlife refuge outside Denver Wednesday as the Interior Department released a report listing steps taken so far to save the birds. They include studies on the effects of energy development, new satellite-based maps to locate key habitat and efforts to protect those areas from fire and unwanted plants. The report had few details about restrictions on energy development and ranching. Jewell announced last year that conservation agencies would rely on local, state and federal cooperation and other measures instead of imposing potentially stricter rules under the Endangered Species Act. … Read entire article »

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Veterans assistance in Teton, Uinta and Fremont counties

CHEYENNE, Wyo. – A state of Wyoming veterans service officer from the Wyoming Veterans Commission will conduct community outreach services in Wyoming cities throughout October.   Lori Crump is available to meet with veterans and their families to discuss state and federal veterans’ benefits, Department of Veterans Affairs claims, or VA healthcare. Crump can also help veterans and their families apply for benefits, file claims or request healthcare.   Her office is located at 324 E. Washington Ave., in Riverton, and she will also be available at the following locations:   *       Lander: Oct. 17, at Lander City Hall, 240 Lincoln St., from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.   *       Dubois: Oct. 20, at High Country Senior Center, 504 Hays St., from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.   *       Jackson: Oct. 21, at Jackson Workforce Center, 155 West Gill Ave., … Read entire article »

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Convicted serial killer charged in Wyoming cold case

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) An imprisoned serial killer has been charged with murder in connection to the 1977 killing of a 28-year-old woman whose remains were found in southwest Wyoming. Rodney Alcala on Tuesday was charged with first-degree murder in connection to the death of Christine Ruth Thornton. Investigators believe the now 73-year-old Alcala killed Thornton in Sweetwater County based on a photo that appears to show her on remote public land near Granger, near where her remains were found. The photo was found while searching Alcala’s possessions during a previous investigation. Alcala is imprisoned in California’s Corcoran State Prison and is sentenced to death. He has been connected to six murders in two states, though authorities estimate he may have killed up to 130 people across the country. … Read entire article »

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Montana man dies in Wyoming motorcycle crash

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) A 51-year-old Montana man was killed in a motorcycle crash in southeastern Wyoming over the weekend. The Wyoming Highway Patrol says 51-year-old Thomas French was eastbound on U.S. Highway 30 about 12 miles west of Medicine Bow on Sunday evening when he lost control of his motorcycle. French, who was not wearing a helmet, was thrown from the motorcycle and died at the scene. … Read entire article »

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Wyoming woman killed in motorcycle crash near Provo

PROVO, Utah (AP) — A 51-year-old Wyoming woman has been killed in a motorcycle crash with a pickup near Provo. The Utah Highway Patrol says Colleen Robertson of Lyman, Wyoming was headed north through Provo Canyon on U.S. Highway 189 at about 11:20 a.m. Monday when she collided with a Toyota Tundra. The patrol says the Tundra failed to yield when it was making a left turn onto the highway near mile marker 18. Robertson t-boned the truck as it entered her lane. She was flown to Utah Valley Hospital where she later died. Investigators say she was not wearing a helmet. The highway was shut down for about an hour. The crash remains under investigation. … Read entire article »

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Wyoming heads to court seeking to regain control of wolves

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) The future of Wyoming wolf management rides on a federal court hearing set for Friday in Washington, D.C. A federal judge two years ago sided with national environmental groups and rejected Wyoming’s wolf management plan. That 2014 ruling resurrected federal protections for wolves in the state. Wyoming had managed wolves for two years before the court ruling. The state had designated wolves as unprotected predators that could be shot on sight in most areas while classifying wolves around the borders of Yellowstone National Park as trophy game. A federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., is set to hear arguments on Friday from the state and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seeking to override the 2014 decision. Environmental groups are urging the appeals court to retain the federal protections. … Read entire article »

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Man enters mental illness plea in Casper child sex assault

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) A man accused of luring a 5-year-old boy away from a Casper bowling alley and sexually assaulting the child has pleaded not guilty by reason of mental illness in the case. Joshua Winters entered the plea Tuesday to kidnapping and first- and second-degree sexual abuse of a minor. A judge ordered him to undergo a mental evaluation at the Wyoming State Hospital. Authorities say Winters worked as a food vendor at a carnival that was at the Central Wyoming Fair on July 18 when he approached the child and offered him money to pay for games. Court documents say the boy eventually followed Winters outside, where the alleged sexual assault occurred near a river. The documents say Winters denied the kidnapping and told police the boy could’ve “gone the other way … Read entire article »

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UW considers eliminating 16 degree programs to save money

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — Sixteen degree programs at the University of Wyoming are being considered for elimination to help save money. The university announced Tuesday that the UW Office of Academic Affairs has recommended eliminating six low-enrollment bachelor’s degrees, eight master’s degrees and two doctoral degrees. The recommendations also include proposals to consolidate or reconfigure several academic units. Cost savings from the proposed changes haven’t been determined. The recommendations are open for public comment through Nov. 19. The faculty, staff and student senates then will have the opportunity to respond by Jan. 27. Provost Kate Miller will make final recommendations by Feb. 26 to President Laurie Nichols, who will offer recommendations to the Board of Trustees. The 130 students currently in programs and majors recommended for elimination will be allowed to complete their degrees. … Read entire article »

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