Wyoming News Update

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Latest Wyoming news, sports, business and entertainment.

THERAPIST-SEXUAL ASSAULT

GILLETTE, Wyo. (AP) — A former Wyoming psychologist accused of using his position of authority to have sex with two of his patients has been sentenced to two consecutive three- to five-year terms.

The Gillette News Record reports Joshua Popkin was sentenced Thursday after previously pleading no contest to two counts of second-degree sexual assault. He also must pay restitution and register as a sex offender.

One of Popkin's accusers told investigators he preyed on her, worked his way into her head and used things that he knew about her in order to sleep with her. He worked as a psychologist with Campbell County Health from Nov. 2, 2015, to May 25, 2016.

Under a no-contest plea, a defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges that prosecutors may have enough evidence to convict.

UW BUDGET

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — A recent study says the University of Wyoming Board of Trustees has the capacity to add roughly 800 to 1,700 students in the coming years given current infrastructure and courseloads.

However, it also turned up a few bottlenecks standing between UW and its dreams of expansion.

The bottlenecks are areas where demand outpaces or strains the university's current resources.

The Laramie Boomerang reports that some are the result of a $42 million budget reduction completed by UW during the most recent biennium.

Between fall 2016 and fall 2017, 86 faculty left the university, including 43 through separation incentives.

The UW Board of Trustees is scheduled to discuss the capacity study during its meeting Jan. 18.

WYOMING-AIRBNB

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — The online hospitality company Airbnb reports that it saw a 132 percent increase in Wyoming last year.

About 56,000 guests used the website to find homes to rent in Wyoming during 2017.

The Casper Star-Tribune reports that Wyoming's numbers jumped in August when some 3,900 travelers used Airbnb on the night before the total eclipse.

Airbnb says that Wyoming hosts using the website earned nearly $8.9 million in 2017.

The most popular destination for Airbnb travelers was the Jackson Hole area, with 16,200 visitors staying in Jackson, Wilson and Teton Village last year.

Cody and Powell recorded a combined 11,100 visitors.

Wyoming's major population centers of Cheyenne, Casper and Rock Springs saw far fewer Airbnb travelers. Cheyenne had 3,800 visitors, Casper had 2,900 and Rock Springs 1,300.

CANADA LYNX

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Wildlife officials say Canada lynx no longer need special protections in the United States following measures to preserve populations of the snow-loving wild cats.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Thursday it will begin drafting a rule to revoke the lynx's threatened species status, which has been in place since 2000.

Some scientists and wildlife advocates have warned that climate change could reduce lynx habitat and the availability of its primary food source — snowshoe hares.

But a two-year review by government biologists concludes lynx populations remain resilient and even have increased versus historical levels in parts of Colorado and Maine.

The animals also are found in Montana, Minnesota, Idaho and Washington state.

Canada lynx are bobcat-sized, but with huge paws to help them navigate deep snow.

DANGEROUS DRIVING

RIVERTON, Wyo. (AP) — The Wyoming Department of Transportation is asking motorists to exercise caution and patience around snowplows after plow drivers reported seeing risky driving behaviors this winter.

The Ranger reported Wednesday that the drivers say motorists are passing the transportation department's new tow plow in Fremont County in central Wyoming, passing other trucks and tailgating.

District Maintenance Engineer Lyle Lamb recommends motorists keep a safe distance from operating snowplows while they are spreading sand and anti-icing and de-icing chemicals on the roads.

Passing a snowplow is strongly discouraged.

Plows usually pull over to allow other vehicles to proceed.

Lamb recommends staying behind the plow, and if drivers must pass, he advises they avoid passing the plow from the right and exercise caution as particles stirred up by the plow can obstruct drivers' view.

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