AP News Update

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AP News Update

Latest Wyoming news, sports, business and entertainment

LITTLE BIGHORN SURVIVORS-PAINTINGS

Native American works appraised at $3.8M for sale

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) - A large collection of paintings, photos and sketches that includes images of survivors of the Battle of the Little Bighorn is for sale.

The Wrangler Gallery in Great Falls, Mont., is seeking a buyer for the 122-piece David Humphreys Miller collection. Gallery owner Brad Hamlett tells the Great Falls Tribune the collection recently was appraised at about $3.8 million.

Hamlett says the collection belongs in a museum, but officials with the Montana Museum of Art and Culture at the University of Montana and with the Montana Historical Society say they don't have the money to acquire it.

The collection includes more than 50 sketches of survivors from the Battle of the Little Big Horn and photos from various Western movies that Miller worked on.

Great Falls is celebrating its annual Western Art Week.

MEAD CAMPAIGN MANAGER

Mead hires Gale Geringer to manage campaign

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Gov. Matt Mead has hired Gale Geringer to manage his re-election campaign.

Geringer has been involved in Republican politics since the 1980s. She has managed campaigns for Rep. Barbara Cubin and Sens. Mike Enzi and Craig Thomas, and she was Thomas' chief of staff in Washington, D.C.

The Casper Star-Tribune reports Geringer's husband is a cousin of former Gov. Jim Geringer.

Geringer says the campaign is in the process of hiring additional staff members.

Two candidates say they are challenging Mead in the Republican primary. They are Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill and doctor and rancher Taylor Haynes.

SISTERS KILLED-CRASH

2 young sisters killed in Fremont County crash

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) - Two young sisters from Lander are dead after their mother lost control of her sport utility vehicle on a snowy road in Fremont County.

Six-year-old Olivia Lewis and 3-year-old Emma Lewis were flown to a Salt Lake City hospital after Tuesday's crash but didn't survive.

Wyoming Highway Patrol investigators believe mother Rebecca Lewis was driving too fast for conditions. She lost control while driving on Highway 789 between Hudson and Lander, spinning into oncoming traffic. A pickup truck then broadsided their Suburban.

The Casper Star-Tribune reports that the father of the girls, Sean Lewis, is a professor at Wyoming Catholic College.

WCC president Kevin Roberts says the school is deeply saddened by the tragedy and that many friends and family have been touched by the girls, who leave behind another sister.

SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION

Lawmakers face loss of school building money

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The Wyoming Legislature approved nearly $231 million in K-12 school construction money for the next fiscal year.

But the building bonanza may be coming to an end because the state's main funding source for school building projects is expected to dry up.

Since 1998, the state has tapped the hundreds of millions of dollars in coal lease bonus money to fund billions of dollars of school construction. But the federal government's move to toughen federal carbon pollution standards and other regulations on coal is sapping future investment in coal mining.

This summer, lawmakers will be looking at how best to address school construction and maintenance in the long term.

However, state School Facilities Commission member Pete Jorgensen says lawmakers should also consider consolidating schools where it makes sense.

REFUGE ELK

Refuge elk population keeps strong through winter

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) - A National Elk Refuge biologist says the number of elk deaths on the refuge appears to be unusually low as springtime draws near.

Refuge biologist Eric Cole says 30 elk have been found dead this winter for a mortality rate less than one-third the long-term average.

He says more elk are likely to die and more dead elk will likely be discovered. Still, Cole expects elk mortality this winter to be below average.

Cole says wolves have killed five elk so far this winter. Other elk have died from disease, although Cole says he hasn't seen any major disease outbreaks on the refuge this winter.

The Jackson Hole News & Guide reports biologists counted 8,300 elk on the refuge this winter, up 30 percent from last winter.

COUGAR SURVIVAL

Research: Low cougar survival rate in Jackson Hole

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) - New research shows that only 7 percent of mountain lions in the Jackson Hole area are surviving into adulthood.

Teton Cougar Project leader Mark Elbroch says there's a correlation between young cougars dying and the area's growing wolf population.

Elbroch presented the project's findings Monday in Jackson. He says only 34 percent of cougar kittens make it to 6 months old. Twenty percent survive to 18 months old.

Elbroch says survival rates for young mountain lions have gradually declined over the Cougar Project's 13 years of research.

The Jackson Hole News & Guide reports wolves have killed at least five lion cubs mothered by Cougar Project research animals in recent years.

He says the den sites chosen by mother cougars can make a big difference in their kittens' survival.

NAVY DESERTER

Man accused of deserting Navy arrested in Sheridan

SHERIDAN, Wyo. (AP) - Sheridan police have arrested a 29-year-old man wanted on a federal warrant for allegedly deserting the Navy.

The Sheridan Press reports Keyarius Storey was taken into custody Monday after police received a tip that a warrant was out for his arrest. Police Sgt. Travis Koltiska says the warrant was issued Feb. 11, 2013, by the U.S. Navy Absentee Collection Center.

Because the Sheridan jail is not contracted to house federal prisoners, Storey was taken to a jail in Buffalo.

The Stockbridge, Ga., man enlisted in the Navy in September 2009 and was assigned to the USS Carl Vinson.

STORAGE UNIT FIRE

Investigators: Leaking propane caused deadly fire

WRIGHT, Wyo. (AP) - Investigators say a propane leak in a heater apparently caused a fire that killed a Wright man in a storage unit.

The fire happened around 1 a.m. Friday. Campbell County firefighters say they put out the blaze quickly but not before the flames spread to another storage unit.

Investigators say 34-year-old Jeremy C. Hicks apparently was painting a car inside the storage unit. The Gillette News-Record reports autopsy results on Hicks are pending.

ALBANY COUNTY-TEACHERS

Albany County has lowest pay in biggest districts

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) - Teachers in Albany County are the lowest paid among the six largest school districts in Wyoming.

The Laramie Boomerang reported Wednesday that Albany County teachers were paid an average of $51,560 during the 2012-13 school year, about $5,000 below the statewide average teacher salary. It's also about $9,000 below the average pay in Laramie County, which ranked first in pay among the top six school districts. Teachers there earned an average of $60,636.

The other five largest districts are Sheridan, Campbell, Natrona and Sweetwater counties.

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