AP News Update

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AP News Update

Latest Wyoming news, sports, business and entertainment

HEALTH OVERHAUL-WYOMING

Wyoming health insurers report surge in activity

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Health insurance signups through the federal exchange have surged in Wyoming ahead of Monday's deadline to join or face penalties.

Up-to-the-minute enrollment figures weren't available. But the two insurers providing coverage in Wyoming through the exchange say they're seeing heavy activity.

Wendy Curran at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wyoming says 30 people signed up in the first hours of business Monday.

John Gardner at WINHealth estimates the company has been adding around 200 enrollees a day in recent days.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that as of March 1, almost 6,850 people had enrolled under the Affordable Care Act in Wyoming.

The number likely grew significantly over the month before Monday's midnight deadline.

WYOMING UNEMPLOYMENT

Wyoming unemployment lowest in over 5 years

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Wyoming's statewide unemployment is at its lowest level in over five years.

The Wyoming Department of Workforce Services reported Monday that the state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell from 4.3 percent to 4.2 percent in February. That's the lowest it's been since the rate hit 3.9 percent in December 2008.

Unemployment in Wyoming remained well below the U.S. rate of 6.7 percent.

Unemployment rates were down in all counties compared to last February. The largest declines were reported in Sheridan, Teton and Sublette counties.

Lincoln, Johnson and Fremont counties had the highest unemployment rates. Sublette and Converse counties were tied for the lowest unemployment rates at 3.4 percent.

GOP CENSURE-MEAD

Platte County GOP censures Gov. Matt Mead

WHEATLAND, Wyo. (AP) - The Platte County Republican Party has censured GOP Gov. Matt Mead for signing the law stripping power from the office of schools Superintendent Cindy Hill and not reversing the law after the Wyoming Supreme Court struck it down.

Delegates to the county party's convention voted 36-1 on Saturday to adopt the resolution, which also criticizes Mead for supporting national Common Core educational standards.

In a written statement, Mead said Monday that Platte County was Hill's "home country" and the delegates at the convention were clearly her supporters.

Mead says the timing of the resolution is odd since it comes shortly after an audit critical of Hill.

He also says the state spends a lot of money on education and officials want to be sure taxpayers are getting their money's worth.

OIL-GAS SUPERVISOR-RESIGNATION

Wyoming oil-gas supervisor resigning

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Wyoming Oil and Gas Supervisor Grant Black is resigning.

The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission made up of Gov. Matt Mead and four other state officials accepted Black's resignation Monday after a nearly two-hour conference call.

The commissioners then named commission petroleum engineer Mark Watson to serve as interim supervisor once Black's resignation takes effect Tuesday.

Why Black is resigning after 11 months on the job isn't clear. Most of the conference call was closed to the public. Black did not return a phone message and a press release from Mead's office offered no explanation.

The oil and gas supervisor and the five commissioners oversee oil and gas development in Wyoming. The commission has been considering several significant changes to Wyoming's oil and gas regulations in recent months.

JACKSON HOLE-SKIER DEATH

Skier dies after fall at Jackson Hole resort

TETON VILLAGE, Wyo. (AP) - A skier is dead after hitting a tree at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.

The resort said the 31-year-old man suffered "significant trauma" while skiing in an area called the Parachutes on Monday. Spokeswoman Anna Cole says the man hit a tree and then fell, landing about 40 feet below the tree.

The death is being investigated by the Teton County sheriff and the resort's ski patrol.

The man's name hasn't been released yet.

Resort president Jerry Blann extended the sympathies of the staff to the man's family and friends.

ENCANA-JONAH FIELD

Encana Corp. selling Jonah field to TPG for $1.8B

PINEDALE, Wyo. (AP) - Encana Corp. has reached a deal to sell Wyoming's Jonah field to a global private investment firm for $1.8 billion.

Encana CEO Doug Suttles said Monday that the deal with an affiliate of TPG Capital would allow it to instead focus on five core growth areas.

Encana said TPG expects to keep employees currently working in the Jonah field, one of the nation's largest natural gas fields, as well as an office near Pinedale. It also plans to open an office in Denver in relation to the deal.

The deal includes a productive area of about 24,000 acres and over 1,500 active wells, as well as more than 100,000 undeveloped acres adjacent to Jonah.

The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2014.

WYOMING SNOWPACK

Wyoming snowpack on the rebound

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) - Snowpack in Wyoming is improving this year with the beginning of spring.

Natural Resources Conservation Service spokesman Lee Hackleman said Monday the state average median snowpack was 138 percent as of March , compared with 83 percent for the same period a year ago.

Hackleman says the Upper Green Drainage Basin is among the best this year for snowpack, while the Madison and Sweetwater basins are among the lowest. He says the state is still doing well after rebounding from last year because 2012 was a good year.

WILD HORSES-ROCK SPRINGS

800 wild horses up for adoption in Rock Springs

ROCK SPRINGS, Wyo. (AP) - The Bureau of Land Management's wild horse holding facility is reopening with about 800 horses available for adoption.

The BLM said Monday the next adoption event will be May 2-3.

Horses will be available on a first come, first served basis for the standard adoption fee of $125. BLM specialists will be on hand to answer questions.

The facility had been closed to allow newly arrived horses to settle into their new surroundings and for cleaning.

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