Wyoming News Update

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CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — A Wyoming lawmaker is sponsoring legislation to create a new state compensation program for ranchers who lose livestock to wolves. The bill sponsored by Republican Rep. John Winter, of Thermopolis, would create a fund with $90,000 to reimburse ranchers over a two-year period. Currently only livestock killed within wolf-hunting zones in western Wyoming qualify for compensation. Under Winter's bill, ranchers who lose livestock to wolves outside wolf-hunting areas also would qualify. Other reimbursement programs have been discontinued since the U.S. government removed Wyoming's wolves from federal protection in 2018. The bill would need a two-thirds vote to be introduced during this winter's legislative session dedicated primarily to the budget.


JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming Department of Transportation officials plan to close a highway so they can deliberately trigger avalanches on a mountain pass. Avalanches closed Wyoming Highway 22 over Teton Pass on Thursday. One slide trapped a delivery truck but nobody was hurt. The department plans to close the pass again at 3 a.m. Tuesday. The route is heavily traveled by tourists and Idaho residents who work in Jackson Hole. The pass is also a popular place to ski but no overnight parking will be allowed. The department uses a variety of methods to release avalanches and prevent dangerous disruptions. Workers fire artillery or blast compressed gas from tubes installed on mountainsides.


CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The Wyoming Democratic Party has announced changes to its April caucuses to allow greater participation from those who don't attend the gatherings. Up until now, people who voted in the Democratic caucuses by mail had to request a ballot and could vote for only one candidate. If their candidate did not receive 15% of the vote, they had no option to cast a second-round ballot like people attending caucuses could. Under the new plan, mail-in ballots will allow people to rank up to five candidates. If their first-choice candidate doesn't draw 15% of the vote, their vote moves to their second candidate.


CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — Attorneys for bankrupt coal company Blackjewel LLC and its creditors are asking a judge to let them examine the finances of former CEO Jeff Hoops, alleging that he took millions of dollars for personal gain. In documents filed Friday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, lawyers for West Virginia-based Blackjewel said the company was “woefully insolvent" by the time it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The Casper Star-Tribune reports that the filing accuses Hoops of transferring “tens of millions of dollars” of the company's money for the benefit of him and his family. Hoops declined to comment.


LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — The University of Wyoming has requested $12 million from the state to fund more than half of a renovation and expansion project for its College of Law. Laramie Boomerang reported Friday that the law school project did not make it into the university's formal request vetted by the State Construction Department and Republican Gov. Mark Gordon’s office last year before going to the Legislature in December. Officials say the project is designed to add about 19,000 square feet and upgrade existing space in order to fit multiple clinics into the building. University officials say they would approve funding for the rest of the project if the state approves the request.


BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Yellowstone County Sheriff's Office says a small airplane crashed north of Billings, and Sheriff Mike Linder says there were “no signs of life” in the wreckage. The Cessna 182 crashed at about 6 p.m. Saturday. The wreckage was found Sunday morning between Billings and Roundup. Linder told The Billings Gazette it appears the airplane hit a wire on an antenna tower and tumbled down the side of a mountain. He said his office was still trying to determine how many people were on board, though the FAA says there were four occupants. A Cessna 182 typically has four seats.


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