Wyoming News Update

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IRRIGATION EMERGENCY

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — Water has been restored to Wyoming and Nebraska farmers after an irrigation tunnel collapse cut off water flow last month.

The Casper Star-Tribune reports that the Goshen Irrigation District turned water on Wednesday after new repairs to the southeast Wyoming tunnel were completed Monday.

Officials say water is expected to take four days to get to the system's end in Gering, Nebraska.

The irrigation tunnel collapsed July 17, leaving more than 150 square miles (388 square kilometers) of dry croplands in the two states.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced last week that federal crop insurance will cover some of the losses.

The collapse cost the two states about $89 million.

Officials are looking into options for a permanent fix, including installing a fiberglass tube or rerouting the irrigation system.

TEST SCORE INCREASE

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming school officials say the average annual test score has improved across the state.

The Casper Star-Tribune reported Wednesday that the Wyoming Department of Education released results for the state's new assessment system WY-TOPP built for testing third-graders through 10th-graders on English, math and science.

The department says each of the eight grades is tested on English and math, and three of them are also tested on science.

School officials say scores increased from last year by 2.6% on English, 2% on math and less than 1% on science.

Officials say this is the second year the test has been in place after replacing the former state assessment PAWS.

Officials say students maintained an average 19.5 out of 36 score on the ACT, a college readiness exam for 11th-graders.

INMATE DEATH

TORRINGTON, Wyo. (AP) — The Wyoming Department of Corrections says a 72-year-old inmate serving a life sentence for second-degree murder has died from a lengthy illness.

The agency says Alan J. Suliber died Tuesday at the Banner Health Community Hospital in Torrington.

KGAB-AM reports that Suliber was an inmate at the Wyoming Medium Correctional Institution in Torrington where he was serving a life sentence for the murder of his 7-year-old stepson.

He was sentenced in September 1992 by Sweetwater County District Judge Jere A. Ryckman.

SKI LODGE FIRE

PINEDALE, Wyo. (AP) — Investigators have determined a fire at a ski lodge in western Wyoming was caused by a propane leak.

The Rock Springs Rocket-Miner reported Monday that investigators have ruled the July 12 blaze at the White Pine Ski Lodge in Pinedale as accidental.

Authorities say the propane leak was linked to one of the lodge's furnaces.

The blaze was initially reported to authorities as a wildlife at the ski resort.

When emergency responders arrived, they found the lodge on fire and no wildfire.

Officials from multiple local and state agencies assisted with the investigation.

TRIBE-LAW FIRM LAWSUIT

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — The former law firm for the Northern Arapaho Tribe says the Wyoming tribe and its current lawyers have filed a "vindictive" lawsuit despite knowing the allegations in it were false.

The Casper Star-Tribune reports that Lander-based Baldwin, Crocker & Rudd and managing partner, Kelly Rudd, filed a response Monday to the tribe's lawsuit against the firm.

The tribe's lawsuit accuses the firm of failing to return tribal trust money and other issues during its more than 30 years working for the tribe.

The Lander firm says it returned all trust fund money and denied the other accusations.

The tribe fired the former law firm in June and hired an Atlanta-based firm.

A spokesman for the tribe says the tribe stands behind its lawsuit but otherwise declined to address specifics.

COAL MINE EXPANSION

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Montana environmental officials are proposing approval of a major expansion of the state's largest coal mine after it was recently sold through a bankruptcy auction.

Jen Lane with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality said the 72 million ton (65 million metric ton) expansion of the Spring Creek Mine near Decker will occur within the mine's existing permit boundary.

The expansion would extend the life of the mine by four years, to approximately 2031.

Spring Creek in 2017 ranked as the 10th largest coal mine in the United States, producing almost 13 million tons (12 million metric tons) of coal.

A bankruptcy judge on last week approved the sale of Spring Creek and two Wyoming mines owned by bankrupt Cloud Peak Energy to the Navajo Transitional Energy Company.

Company representatives said the sale will help keep the mines open.

SheridanWyoming.com

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