AP News Update

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AP News Update

Latest Wyoming news, sports, business and entertainment

WYOMING PLANT EXPLOSION

Residents of Wyoming town allowed to return home

OPAL, Wyo. (AP) - Residents of a small town in southwestern Wyoming are being allowed to return home nearly 22 hours after an explosion at a natural gas processing plant forced their evacuation.

No injuries were reported in the explosion at about 2 p.m. Wednesday in Opal. The town of about 95 people about 100 miles northeast of Salt Lake City was evacuated as a precaution against further explosions and smoke.

Lincoln County spokesman Stephen Malik said that the evacuation order was lifted shortly after 11:30 a.m. Thursday.

Malik says a fire is still burning at the plant but authorities say it and the smoke no longer pose a risk.

There's no immediate word on what caused the explosion.

SCHOOLS SUPERINTENDENT-RESIGNATIONS

At least 5 resign from state education agency

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - At least five people, including Director Richard Crandall, have resigned from the Wyoming Department of Education since Superintendent Cindy Hill was reinstated as the department's top official last Friday.

Dean Fausset, of the Wyoming Department of Administration and Information, said Wednesday that Crandall and senior human resources adviser Karen Kelly resigned Friday.

Their resignations followed a ruling by a district court judge that most of last year's law removing Hill from the agency is unconstitutional.

Fausset said three more people in Crandall's leadership team have resigned.

Hill says several others may resign as well. She noted that resignations are common with a leadership change.

The department employs about 140 people.

GAS DRILLING-FRACK CHEMICALS

Major oil & gas firm to list drilling chemicals

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A major supplier to the oil and gas industry says it will begin disclosing 100 percent of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing fluid, with no exemptions for trade secrets. The move by Baker Hughes of Houston is a major shift; it's unclear if other firms will follow suit.

Environmental and health groups have criticized the industry for not disclosing all of the chemicals used in drilling.

A statement on the Baker Hughes website says company officials believe it is possible to disclose all of the ingredients without compromising proprietary formulas. A spokeswoman couldn't immediately say when the new policy will begin.

Jerry Baker of the Interstate Oil & Gas Compact Commission in Oklahoma City says he doesn't know of any other major supplier that has made a similar pledge.

WYOMING LANDSLIDE

Jackson mapping sliding hillslide

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) - Workers are drilling the first of four holes around a sliding hillside in the resort town of Jackson to help engineers map ground movement and analyze the soil.

Engineers are hoping core samples will help them understand the depth of the slide, water levels and rock locations that are causing the side of a hill to keep moving.

The Jackson Hole News & Guide reports the work could help identify long-term solutions.

The slide began April 4 and the shifting ground has sheared one house in two. Four homes, two apartment buildings and several businesses remain evacuated while road damage has blocked access to about 30 other homes.

EXECUTION OPTIONS

Wyoming Corrections wants execution options

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Wyoming Department of Corrections officials say the state must consider alternatives to lethal injection as a means to execute condemned inmates.

Corrections Department officials are set to urge lawmakers to consider alternative forms of execution at a meeting of the Legislature's Joint Judiciary Committee in Rawlins next month.

Many states have had problems getting execution drugs, and several inmates in other states have asserted that uncertainty about the source of drugs violates their rights.

The Wyoming Legislature earlier this year rejected considering a bill that would have specified the state use firing squads if lethal drugs weren't available.

Wyoming has one inmate on death row. Dale Wayne Eaton is appealing the death sentence he received in 2004 in the rape and murder of 18-year-old Lisa Marie Kimmell of Billings, Mont.

PLANT EXPLOSION-HIGHWAY

UW 30 reopened in Lincoln County

OPAL, Wyo. (AP) - Authorities have reopened a 45-mile stretch of U.S. 30 in Lincoln County.

The highway between Kemmerer and its junction with Interstate 80 had been closed since an explosion and fire Wednesday afternoon at a natural gas processing plant in Opal.

Lincoln County spokesman Stephen Malik says the plant is about a quarter mile off the highway.

The highway was reopened about midmorning Thursday along with a 12-mile stretch of Wyoming 240 that also had been closed by the fire.

Malik says railroad tracks in the area also have been reopened.

However, some 95 residents of the small town remained evacuated Thursday morning because a fire was still burning at the plant.

Malik says a community meeting was scheduled for Thursday afternoon to keep residents up to date on the situation.

HOT SPRINGS PARK

State agrees to continue talks with concessionaire

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The State of Wyoming has agreed to continue working with a longtime pool concessionaire at Hot Springs State Park.

Milward Simpson is director of the Wyoming Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources.

Simpson said Thursday his office has agreed to keep negotiating with the owners of TePee Pools Inc. through October. Simpson earlier had given the company an early May deadline to remove its pool and other property.

Simpson says he's hopeful the state and the company can reach agreement on a master plan for how to develop a first-class facility at the park.

Simpson and Gov. Matt Mead have scheduled a meeting to hear public comments on the future of the park Saturday in Thermopolis.

Attempts to reach a lawyer for the company were not immediately successful Thursday.

SNOW KING SNOWMAKING

Snow King snowmaking moves closer to reality

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) - The Jackson Town Council has signed a lease and contingency development agreement with Snow King Mountain Resort that will advance a snowmaking project for the Town Hill.

The Jackson Hole News & Guide reports the town has agreed to lease the resort a water pipe and two pump stations planned for the mountain that are supposed to increase snowmaking capacity.

The ski area has been losing money for years. The number of skiers using the local hill has plummeted by about half over the past eight years.

FAMOUS GRIZZLY RETURNS

Famed Teton grizzly makes 1st appearance of spring

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) - A grizzly bear famous for raising her cubs near roadside areas in Grand Teton National Park has made her first appearance of the spring.

The Jackson Hole News & Guide reported Thursday the 18-year-old female known as grizzly bear 399 was spotted Monday with two cubs.

She had three cubs when she seen in November 2013. Park spokeswoman Jackie Skaggs ways one of the cubs might have wandered off on its own or might not have survived the winter.

Park biologists have never attached a tag to her, but wildlife photographer Roger Hayden says she's recognizable by some distinctive scars.

Grizzly 399 has been a favorite of photographers and wildlife watchers since 2006 when she began frequenting Oxbow Bend, Willow Flats and the area around Jackson Lake Lodge.

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