FAKE DEATH ARREST
Fla. man suspected of faking death found in Wyo.
CODY, Wyo. (AP) - A Florida man suspected of faking his own death has been arrested in Wyoming.
Fifty-year-old David Leon Lashley was arrested Monday in the Clark area near the Montana border by U.S. Marshals and U.S. Coast Guard investigators.
Park County Sheriff Scott A. Steward said Tuesday that Lashley fled Florida in a motor home and was living under the name Wesley Byrd. Sheriff's officials say a warrant for his arrest was issued out of Gainesville, Fla.
Steward says Lashley is wanted by the Coast Guard in connection with the disappearance of a houseboat in which he allegedly attempted to fake his death. He is also wanted for failing to appear in court in March.
The Powell Tribune reports Lashley waived his right Tuesday to fight extradition to Florida.
It wasn't immediately clear if he had a lawyer.
Lockdown lifted at 4 Casper schools
(Information in the following story is from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, http://www.trib.com)
CASPER, Wyo. (AP) - A lockdown at four Casper schools has been lifted.
Three elementary schools and a high school were locked down for several hours Tuesday morning because police said there was a domestic incident involving a gun near 1 of the schools. Casper police later said the incident involved a man who had barricaded himself inside a home.
The Casper Star-Tribune reported that the man was home alone and no injuries were reported.
Wyo. job numbers lag behind pre-recession levels
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Wyoming's unemployment rate has been dropping over the last two years, but the state still hasn't replaced all the jobs it lost during the recession.
David Bullard is a senior economist with the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services.
Bullard says the state remains about 9,000 jobs short of employment levels reached before 2009.
He says the industry that has lagged the most in replacing lost jobs has been construction, particularly workers involved with roads, pipelines and power plants.
The Legislature and Gov. Matt Mead this past winter approved a dime increase in the state fuels tax to pay for more road projects.
Bullard notes that the new jobs being created now indicate a general shift from southwest Wyoming to the central part of the state.
Game and Fish holds meetings on wolf hunt changes
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The Wyoming Game and Fish Department continues to hear from the public on proposed changes for the state's second annual wolf hunting season later this year.
Under the changes, fewer wolves would be killed compared to last year.
Last year, the kill limit for a trophy-game zone outside Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks was 52 wolves. Hunters killed 42 wolves during the hunting season, which began Oct. 1 and ended Dec. 31.
The proposed rules for this year's season set a kill limit of 26 wolves. Upcoming public meetings on the changes will be in Sheridan on Tuesday, Cody today, Jackson on May 28, Green River and Sundance on May 29, and Casper on May 30.
Shooting wolves on sight continues to be allowed outside the trophy-game zone.
Wyo. jobless rate falls to 4.8% in April
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Wyoming's unemployment rate fell slightly in April to 4.8%.
The jobless rate was 4.9% in March.
The Wyoming Department of Workforce Services says the state's unemployment rate remained significantly lower than the national rate of 7.5%.
Teton County's unemployment rate shot up from 5.8% in March to 8.9% in April. Workforce Services says it's normal for Teton County's unemployment rate to increase in April because the ski season has ended and the summer tourist season has not yet begun.
Lincoln County had the second highest jobless rate in the state at 6.8%, followed by Johnson at 6.1% and Fremont at 6%. The lowest unemployment rates were reported in Converse County at 3.5% and Niobrara and Albany at 3.6% each.
Groups petition Wyo. to toughen up oil-gas rules
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - A coalition of groups is asking Wyoming's state oil and gas regulatory agency to adopt tougher rules for oil and gas development.
The groups have petitioned the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to further restrict the practice of flaring, or burning off excess gas from oil wells. The groups also want a wider minimum distance between drilling and homes, schools and businesses.
In addition, the groups seek more penalties for accidents, including spills.
The groups include the Powder River Basin Resource Council, Equality State Policy Center and smaller groups in Cheyenne, Clark, Pinedale and Pavillion.
Shannon Anderson with the resource council said Tuesday that a new state energy policy opens the door to changes. John Robitaille with the Petroleum Association of Wyoming says changes are unnecessary.
NM sees oil production jump 46%
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Oil production in New Mexico has increased by nearly 50% over the last three years, making it 1 of 5 western states that have helped boost national production over the last three years.
Statistics from the U.S. Energy Information Administration show onshore oil production increased nationally by more than 2 million barrels a day - or nearly two-thirds - between February 2010 and February 2013.
North Dakota and Texas have been the driving forces, but New Mexico along with Oklahoma, Wyoming, Colorado and Utah account for 15% of the growth.
A spokesman for the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, Wally Drangmeister, says southeastern New Mexico's stretch of the Permian Basin has been booming. He says recent advancements in drilling techniques have helped developers pull more oil from their wells.
WIND FARM FRAUD
Last defendant pleads guilty in wind farm fraud
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The last of 5 defendants charged with defrauding investors of more than $4 million by promoting non-existent wind farm projects in Wyoming and South Dakota has pleaded guilty to federal felony charges.
Robert Arthur Reed, of Salt Lake City, pleaded guilty in Casper on Tuesday to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and conspiracy to launder money. Four other co-defendants have entered earlier guilty pleas to various charges.
Prosecutors charged that Reed and the others used aliases as well as the company names of Mountain State Power Group, Mountain State Power and Sovereign Energy Partners. The indictment alleges they hired phone solicitors to make cold calls to investors, urging them to invest in wind farms they claimed were being constructed jointly by private investors and the U.S. government.
WESTERN LANDS-UTAH GOVERNOR
Utah Gov. Herbert rails against US Land management
WASHINGTON (AP) - Utah Gov. Gary Herbert says his state does a better job than federal managers and has a bigger stake than the bureaucrats in protecting the natural resources and rugged beauty that drives Utah's outdoor recreation and tourism industry.
Herbert, the chairman of the Western Governors' Association, was the lone witness to testify in Washington on Tuesday before a congressional subcommittee examining the role of state and federal governments in managing national parks, forests and public rangelands.
The Republican governor says no one understands state challenges and demographics better than the people who reside and govern there. He says federal managers are hamstrung by regulatory and statutory frameworks that keep them from effectively addressing pressing needs, including rapid declines in the health of national forests and rangelands.
Idaho panel backs delisting of grizzly bears
BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Idaho wildlife officials are urging the federal government to remove grizzly bears from the endangered species list.
The Idaho Fish and Game Commission voted in favor of delisting during its meeting last week, saying the state is in a better position to manage the species.
The commission approved a position statement that asserts the grizzly population have increased enough in core areas and warrant delisting.
Commissioners say prolonged protection for grizzly bears in Idaho is counterproductive to building and maintaining support for a healthy population.
Idaho has a couple of areas inhabited by grizzly bears, including eastern Idaho and the Yellowstone population and northern Idaho along the Montana border.
Court denies request to block bison hazing
HELENA, Mont. (AP) - A federal appeals court has denied a conservation group's request to block the use of a helicopter to haze wild bison in southwestern Montana back into Yellowstone National Park.
A three-judge panel from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied the injunction request Monday.
The Alliance for the Wild Rockies filed the request as part of its legal challenge that low-altitude helicopter hazing harasses and displaces federally protected grizzly bears in the area.
The group is appealing U.S. District Judge Charles Lovell's ruling in March against its lawsuit.
Montana Department of Livestock spokesman Steve Merritt said Tuesday the annual bison-hazing operation appears to be wrapping up for the season.
He says state officials moved about 350 bison Monday from the Hebgen Basin west of Yellowstone.
Study: Casper air quality improves since smoke ban
(Information in the following story is from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, http://www.trib.com)
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - A study conducted by anti-smoking groups found that air quality improved in Casper businesses that ceased to allow smoking when a city-wide smoking ban took effect.
Air quality as gauged by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency improved from "very healthy" to "good."
The Casper Star-Tribune reports the study was conducted by SmokeFree Natrona County along with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.
The organizations monitored air quality in October 2010 at four bars and restaurants that allowed smoking. The groups re-sampled the air in the same businesses in March, six months after Casper's smoking ban took effect in September.
Jason Mincer with the cancer network says the findings are significant because even small levels of second-hand smoke can trigger asthma or even heart attacks.
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