Lummis announces that she’ll run for Enzi’s US Senate seat

CHEYENNE — Former U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming says she is running for Senate.

The Republican said in a campaign video Thursday that she’ll run for the seat U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi is vacating.

Lummis is running on a pro-President Donald Trump agenda of building a U.S.-Mexico border wall, reforming the nation’s immigration system and confirming conservative judges.

The 64-year-old Lummis was elected to Congress in 2008 and decided not to run again in 2016. She’s also a former state legislator and state treasurer.

Several other candidates are considering runs for the open seat. Other potential contenders for the Republican nomination are U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, Republican donor Foster Friess and businessman Bob Grady.

Livestock owners should watch for virus

CHEYENNE — Wyoming is warning livestock owners in the state to be on the lookout for an animal virus spreading in other states.

The Vesicular Stomatitis Indiana serotype has recently been found in horses in Texas, New Mexico and Colorado.

Wyoming State Veterinarian Jim Logan has implemented a 72-hour health certificate requirement on susceptible livestock.

The requirement is effective immediately and covers animals imported from any county where VSV has been diagnosed in the previous 30 days.

Officials say VSV can affect equine species, cattle, swine, sheep, and goats.

Officials say the virus is spread by flies and midges, as well as direct contact with infected livestock.

The virus can also spread indirectly through contact with contaminated equipment and tack.

Crews will help fight Canadian wildfires

DENVER — Firefighters from Colorado and Wyoming will help battle wildfires burning in Canada.

One hundred firefighters from five crews — three from Colorado and two from Wyoming — left Denver on a Canadian chartered jet on Wednesday bound for Edmonton, Alberta. A spokesman for the Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center, Larry Helmerick, said they are scheduled to fight fires for two weeks before returning to Denver.

The Colorado firefighters include hotshots, the most highly trained and experienced handcrews, from Rocky Mountain National Park and Monument. The Wyoming firefighters are initial attack crews from Casper and the Big Horn Basin.

Last week, Colorado sent one of its two wildfire planes to Fairbanks, Alaska to help respond to fires there

Visitor numbers grow at old prison

LARAMIE — If she had known how many visitors would brave the winter weather to visit the Wyoming Territorial Prison this year, Superintendent Deborah Cease said she would’ve tried their winter hours a long time ago.

“The majority of those individuals were travelers,” she said. “It has made a big difference being open in the winter.”

Not that the prison needed the extra visitors — Cease said the number of visitors has “grown exponentially,” with 49,000 people walking through the state historic site just from April-December.

“We’ve already beat our numbers from last year,” she added. “Of course, you really can’t beat January, February or March because we were closed (last year).”

One thing many don’t realize is most visitors to the historic site are not local. Cease explained the travelers can range from international visitors — including a tour bus full of Russian people who listened to the tour guides via interpreter last week — to families stopping through on their way to other Wyoming cities and landmarks.

Even with the Territorial Prison’s brown informational sign on the side of Interstate 80, Cease said the days of highway travelers stopping on a whim because of a sign are pretty much over. Google and other websites like Google Business reign supreme, and she said the Territorial Prison’s social media presence is strong.

Trip Advisor, a website where people rate and recommend travel destinations, recently gave the historic site an award for being a 5-Star destination for five years straight.

New approach saves millions in fees

CHEYENNE — Earlier this year, the Wyoming Legislature passed several major reforms to increase the amount of money from major state financial pools invested in the stock market, as well as how hands-on the state was with its investment strategy.

Those reforms have already saved Wyoming millions and helped to attract talent that might not have come to the Equality State.

Patrick Fleming, Wyoming’s chief investment officer, said during a June meeting of the Select Committee on Capital Financing and Investments that Wyoming was on track to save about $24 million in fees it would have paid to outside investment managers.

By focusing on bringing more of the state’s investment management in-house, Wyoming is seeing significant savings, while still maintaining its funds performance, Fleming said.

Currently, the state is budgeting about $6 million for the biennium for the internal investment team, which has expanded significantly to handle the extra work.

As those savings materialize, State Treasurer Curt Meier and the Treasurer’s Office would like to see some of that put back into modernizing the investment office. The state’s still operating with an antiquated system that could potentially create mistakes as trades are conducted quickly.

Those systems could cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, but would completely modernize the investment portion of the Treasurer’s Office, Meier said.

As the investment team has added more high-level staff, Meier said the ability to offer incentive pay for high-performing investors has drawn significant talent into the state. Meier said the newest member of the team has spent decades in New York as part of high-performing investment firms.

Bridger-Teton wants increase in fees

JACKSON — For the first time in nearly three decades, Bridger-Teton National Forest officials may raise the fees for some campgrounds and rental cabins.

The Bridger-Teton has not increased fees since the early 1990s, according to a news release. Now, following upgrades to 17 campgrounds and cabins, the additional revenue seeks to balance the higher costs of operation and maintenance.

“Our fees have been pretty continuous for a good long while,” said interim forest spokesperson Evan Guzik. “I know in [some] other forests across the country, they’ve already raised their prices.”

The new rates would offset expenses from campground improvements like vault toilets, water system updates and bear-resistant food storage, and cabin improvements like flooring, stoves and heaters.

Some of the increases won’t put much of a dent in anyone’s wallet. For example, several campsites currently listed at $7 could rise to $10 or $12. But rates for a few pricier cabins could more than double, from $30 to $60 or $80.

If approved, the increases would take effect next spring, but for now they are only proposals.

They will be presented sometime in the winter or spring to the Wyoming Recreation Action Team, a committee of federal and state land management agencies, from the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission to the Bureau of Land Management. That meeting, which is not yet scheduled, will be open to the public.

The regional and national offices of the U.S. Forest Service will also perform an “extensive review” of the increases, according to the release.

Man pleads guilty in 2018 stabbing

LARAMIE— A man who stabbed a Laramie man last summer can expect to spend 12-15 years in prison, at least according to the terms of a plea agreement made Tuesday in Albany County District Court.

Jake Gillen pleaded guilty to two felony assault charges. In turn, prosecutors dropped an attempted murder charge against him.

Gillen was arrested as a 22-year-old last June by the Cheyenne Police Department after the stabbing of Terrence Gadlin.

Gadlin called the Laramie Police Department from the Ivinson Memorial Hospital parking lot after being stabbed multiple times. When Gadlin was found, he had multiple lacerations and puncture wounds, including on his chest, neck and head. Responders stabilized him and arranged for transport to a Colorado hospital for treatment of life-threatening injuries. Doctors performed open-heart surgery because of injuries to Gadlin’s left ventricle.

A tip shared with LPD’s Facebook page led police to arrest Gillen at a Motel 6 in Cheyenne.

A source, Gillen’s cousin, told police Gillen came to her Cheyenne residence after the stabbing.

She told police Gillen and Laramie resident Tessa Bean said a “big guy” in Laramie had “attacked” Bean and a fight ensued between Gillen and Gadlin. Gillen told the source he thought he’d killed the “big guy.”

Gillen was charged with second-degree attempted murder.

At the time, 20-year-old Tessa Bean, was also arrested and charged with accessory after the fact. The charge against Bean was later dropped.

Hearing officer rejects former prosecutor’s wage claim

JACKSON — Hearing officer Deborah Baumer dismissed Steve Weichman’s claim for wages after deciding that the Wyoming Department of Workforce Service lacks subject matter jurisdiction.

In the “order granting Teton County’s motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction” filed Friday, Baumer states that, like a court, an administrative agency is required to have subject matter jurisdiction before it can hear a case.

Per Wyoming law, the Department of Workforce Services must take claims for unpaid wages but Baumer said those rules don’t apply to Weichman because he did not quit his job as Teton County prosecutor and was not fired.

“Weichman was an elected official whose term ended pursuant to Wyoming statute and he simply served out his term,” the order states. “He neither quit nor was discharged.”

Weichman filed a claim for wages with the state because he said he worked until Jan. 7 but his payments from Teton County stopped Dec. 31.

Weichman, who served for 29 years in the county attorney’s office, said Teton County owes him $1,643.84.

Weichman argued that his decision not to seek reelection is the same as quitting.

But Baumer said that argument “is simply not persuasive.”

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