KKTY NEWS Jul 09 Archive


(Fri 7/31/09) - The Douglas City Council will begin the process of filling several open jobs this Monday morning. Acting mayor Marilyn Werner has called a special meeting of the council for Monday, August 3rd at 9:30am in the Council Chambers at City Hall. Purpose of the meeting will be the appontment of a Mayor for the City of Douglas, as well as beginning the process of filling a councilperson vacancy and the city attorney vacancy. The City Council fired former City Administrator Bobbe Fitzhugh on Monday, July 27th. Mayor Jim Schneider also resigned that night, and former City Attorney Jim Hardee resigned his position Tuesday morning. This Monday morning's special council meeting will be open to the public and will be broadcast live on Communicom Cable channel 61.

(Fri 7/31/09) - Bridge Party! Several hundred area residents joined state officials yesterday on a sunny afternoon to celebrate the completion of the West Yellowstone Bridge across the North Platte River. Free hot dogs, cake and Pepsi, speeches, a ribbon cutting and a parade marked the festivities. Susie Dziardziel of Douglas is Chairman of the State Transportation Commission... she noted that the final result was worth the wait... audio here

WyDot director John Cox, a former member of the Douglas police department, said it's a big chunk of concrete... audio here

Cox took a few moments to look back over the history of several bridges at the site.. audio here

Cox said the original bridge was 15 feet wide. The new bridge features two lanes in each direction, a center lane, sidewalks and boulevard lighting on both sides and custom Jackalope cutouts that pay tribute to the town's official mascot.

(Fri 7/31/09) - The Wyoming State Fair is looking for a few good mutton busters. This year there are three nights of sheep riding action available for participants. Mutton Bustin\rquote will occur on Thursday, August 13 during the PRCA Xtreme Bull-Riding as well as Friday and Saturday during the PRCA Rodeo. Contestants must be 5 to 7 years old and under 65 pounds. There are still spaces available for your child to participate. Contact Debbie at the Wyoming State Fair office to sign up for a spot.

(Thu 7/30/09) - Wyoming investigators say the deaths of three people in a rural Converse County home in March were a double homicide-suicide. Sheriff Clint Becker said Wednesday the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation concluded that 53-year-old Joseph Noel and his wife's son, 28-year-old Chad Heck, were homicide victims. In a written statement, Becker said 51-year-old Teresa Noel committed suicide, but he didn't say who killed her husband and son. Earlier, he said no motive for the killings was determined. Sheriff's deputies found the three people dead after responding\par to a call at their home on March 9.

(Thu 7/30/09) - Douglas will officially celebrate the opening of its new bridge today. The West Yellowstone Bridge over the North Platte River was opened earlier this summer. Work on the project began more than a year ago, replacing a bridge that had stood for more than eight decades before being closed and demolished. Today's completion celebration begins at 12 noon on the west end of the bridge... it will feature a ceremonial ribbon cutting and remarks by WyDot director John Cox and local officials. There'll be a short parade, and refreshments will be provided. The public is invited to attend.

(Thu 7/30/09) - Wyoming has hundreds of wind turbines in place or under construction, but it's not clear what happens to them after they wear out. State Sen. Jim Anderson, a Glenrock Republican, said this week that decommissioning the turbines is a major concern. Anderson serves on a legislative task force looking at decommissioning and other issues. Wyoming currently has no standard for setting aside money to deal with obsolete turbines and related facilities. Most turbines have 20-year warranties and power-purchase agreements, but wind energy developers expect the machines to last longer. About 290 turbines were built in the state in the past year, and about 160 more are under construction.

(Tue 7/28/09) - Another job opening at City Hall. Douglas City Attorney Jim Hardee submitted his resignation this morning. In a short letter to council president and acting mayor Marilyn Werner, Hardee said that he is tendering his resignation from the position of City Attorney effective immediately. This follows last night's firing of City Administrator Bobbe Fitzhugh and the resignation of Mayor Jim Schneider. Councilwoman Marilyn Werner is Council President, and is serving as acting mayor. The council can select a new mayor from their ranks at their next meeting, and will then take applications from those interested in filling the open council seat.

(Mon 7/27/09) - The City Administrator's fired... the Mayor quits. At the end of tonight's Douglas City Council meeting, Councilman Bob Chiapuzio motioned to take the council into executive session to consider employment matters. The council returned to chambers at 10pm, and this was the motion by Councilman Chiapuzio... audio here

Councilwoman Kathy Russell seconded the motion. Mayor Schneider made the following comments... audio here

Again, Councilman Chipuzio... audio here

The Council took a roll call vote, with councilpersons Chiapuzio, Reynolds and Russell voting to fire, and Mayor Schneider and Councilwoman Werner voting against. Per her contract, Fitzhugh will receive six months severance pay. Following the vote, Mayor Jim Schneider tendered his resignation... audio here

The council will now begin the process of replacing both the City Administrator and the Mayor. City Attorney Jim Hardee told KKTY News tonight that the Council will take applications to fill the Administrator's job... audio here

Filling the Mayor's job will be a little bit different process... audio here

Councilwoman Marilyn Werner is Council President, and will be in charge of the council until a new mayor for the City of Douglas is named.


(Thu 7/23/09) - A judge has set a September sentencing date for a former Wyoming state trooper who pleaded guilty this week to two federal criminal charges. Former trooper Joe Ryle of Douglas pleaded guilty Monday to charges that he violated the civil rights of a Wal-Mart trucker by kidnapping the man in an aborted scheme to murder him. Ryle said in court that he had planned to stage a crash to collect settlement money from the company. But he said he ultimately decided he couldn't go through with it and let the trucker go. U.S. District Judge Clarence Brimmer said Monday that Ryle faces about 19 years in prison, including a mandatory five-year sentence for using a gun in a crime. The judge has set a Sept. 25 sentencing date for Ryle in Cheyenne.


(Thu 7/23/09) - Wyoming's unemployment rate jumped to 5.9 percent in June, nearly a full percentage point higher than May as job growth couldn't keep pace with an increasing labor force. The Wyoming Department of Employment said Wednesday the state added more than 7,200 jobs in June, but that was offset by new jobseekers, including recent graduates and students looking for summer work. The bigger job gains came in retail trade and professional and business services. Natural resources, mining and construction suffered the larger losses. Converse County's unemployment numbers also took a jump in June, rising to 5.2 percent, up from 2.6 percent the year before. Wyoming's May unemployment rate was 5.0 percent. In June 2008, it was only 3.2 percent. To put it perspective, however, we're still in much better shape than most of the rest of the country. The national unemployment rate is 9.5 percent.

(Tue 7/21/09) - Another big windfarm on the way for Converse County. Duke Energy says they're planning to build another wind farm, this time northeast of Glenrock, that would produce enough electricity for as many as 60,000 homes. Duke Energy plans to build the $400 million dollar, 200 megawatt Top of the World Windpower Project on 17,000 acres off Highway 95 east of Rolling Hills. Duke is currently building out the 99 megawatt Campbell Hill project northwest of Glenrock. Between 110 and 133 wind generators will be built on the Top Of The World site. The final number will depend on the type of turbines installed. Duke Energy plans to apply for permits for the project this fall and hold a formal public hearing in December. Construction is expected to begin next summer. The project is expected to become operational in the summer of 2011. Duke will host an open house to discuss the Top Of The World project at the Glenrock Town Hall at 6pm on Tuesday, July 28th.

(Tue 7/21/09) - A former Wyoming state trooper has pleaded guilty to two federal charges that he unlawfully arrested a Wal-Mart trucker in an aborted scheme to murder the man to stage a crash to collect settlement money. Joe Ryle of Douglas entered the guilty pleas Monday afternoon before U.S. District Judge Clarence Brimmer in Cheyenne. The judge says Ryle faces about 19 years when he's sentenced at a later date. Prosecutors say Ryle pulled the trucker over in January near Douglas. Ryle told the judge he released the trucker unharmed when he realized he couldn't go through with the crime. Ryle says he agreed to plead guilty because he committed the acts and wants to face up to them.

(Mon 7/20/09) - The Best of the Crop is being shown this week at the Converse County Fair. 4H and FFA kids are showing their best efforts at the Wyoming State Fairgrounds. The horse show gets underway at 8 this morning in the show ring, and kids will put their dogs through their paces tonight at 6pm in the Dog Agility trials. Activities continue through the week, with the Buyers Lunch Saturday morning at 11 at the Rotary Booth, and the Livetock Market Sale Saturday afternoon at 1:00pm. Following the Sale Saturday, there'll be a volleyball tournament at 4pm, dachshund races and a calcutta Saturday night at 6pm, carnival games from 6 to 8pm, and comedian Dan McGowan on the Pepsi Stage Saturday night at 8:00pm.

(Fri 7/17/09) - More time for comments on a new powerline corridor. The Bureau of Land Management has announced the delay of its siting process for a proposed Wyoming-Idaho transmission line to try to settle issues raised by landowners along the route. BLM Project Manager Walt George said Thursday the agency is pushing back the completion date for its draft environmental impact statement for the Gateway West Transmission Line Project from this fall to next spring. Idaho Power and Rocky Mountain Power propose to build the 1,150-mile line to carry wind and other power from Wyoming to Idaho and other points off the line. The proposed line would start at Glenrock, and run to Melba, Idaho. George says the existing proposed route has run into opposition here in Converse County, and in Power, Cassia, Ada and Owyhee counties in Idaho.

(Mon 7/13/09) - Douglas area hammered by thunderstorms. Douglas residents will clean up today following heavy thunderstorm activity Sunday afternoon. Storms moved in around 6 or 6:30 Sunday afternoon, bringing winds and hail. The National Weather Service reported dime- to golfball-sized hail, up to an inch and 3/4. No measurements of wind or rain totals, as the National Weather Service's weather measuring instruments at the Douglas Airport were down from 6:30 to 9:30pm during the storm. Downed trees caused power outages in many areas of town, but the lights were back on by 9:30pm in most area. Flash flooding closed Irvine Road five miles south and Chalk Buttes Road past the S-curve. The worst hail damage seemed to be out Chalk Buttes Road, along Bedtick Road and the base of Sheep Mountain. In town, lots of trees and tree branches down, some damage to business signs... the greenhouse at Hardware Hank was completely destroyed. The National Weather Service says we could see thunderstorm activities again this afternoon and evening.

The Converse County Sheriff's Department says that as of this morning (7:30a), Chalk Buttes Road is mostly cleaned up and open. Irvine Road took a little more damage last night, and while the road is open and passable, there may be some places that are rough after washouts last night. Caution is advised on Irvine Road about 5 or 6 miles south of Douglas.

If you have trees or branches down... the City of Douglas says that Public Works will be working their way through the city today to pick up storm debris. If you have branches down that you can safely get to the curb, Public Works crews will pick them up and remove them. If you can haul off debris yourself, there's no charge to dispose of storm debris at the landfill. And if you have trees or branches down that are too big for you to safely handle, you can call Douglas Public Works at 358-9750 for assistance. The City also has phone numbers of several companies than can do tree trimming or tree removal if necessary.

Click HERE for more photos of storm damage

(Fri 7/10/09) - Opponents of a new high-power transmission line over the northern Laramie Range got good news last night. In an interview with KKTY Radio yesterday afternoon, Rocky Mountain Power president Rich Walje told us that they're considering some options that might not include building a set of planned transmission lines down Ft Fetterman Road through Downey Park... audio here

Rocky Mountain Power's orignal plans for the Gateway West were to rebuild a 230kv line that's already in place through the Shirley Basin on the west side of the Laramies. They would have also built a new, 500kv line in that same corridor, and built a new 230 kv line from Glenrock, over Boxelder and down the Fetterman Road. Walje said that they're probably going to pull the new 500kv line out of the project... audio here

Walje said that by pulling the 500, they could build the new 230kv line down the existing west corridor, loop it over on the south end to reach a new wind project there, and not have to build the proposed east corridor at all. At an open forum meeting of the Northern Laramie Range Alliance at Douglas High School last night, Alliance organizer Diemer True said he was surprised by the announcement... audio here

True said that he was pleased that the decision makers were listening... audio here

More than 150 people attended last night's meeting at the high school. True and Ken Lay presented an overview of the Alliance's activities, and the crowd heard comments from Walje, Aaron Clark from the Governor's office, Senator Jim Anderson and Representative Jeb Steward of the state's wind task force, and a short question and answer period was held at the end of the evening.

(Fri 7/10/09) - Well, they're not Hell's Angels and they're not headed for Sturgis, yet... but there will be a large group of bikers in Douglas this weekend. Leo Rodriguez of Wright is the head of the Campbell County Chapter of a group called "Bikers Against Child Abuse"... they'll converge in Douglas tonight... audio here

Rodriguez says they're expecting over 200 bikers to make the ride tomorrow from Douglas to Wright. While the Campbell County chapter is the first in the state, Rodriguez says there's another chapter preparing to form in Casper, and they'd like to have one in Douglas as well. Bikers Against Child Abuse is a national organization... more information is available on their website at BACAUSA.com.

(Fri 7/10/09) - If bikers don't scare you, how about kids with guns? This is a pretty good group, too. The 2009 Wyoming 4H Shooting Sports State Match is in Douglas this weekend, and that means over 500 kids from around the state competing in air rifle, air pistol, .22 rifle, .22 pistol, trap shooting, muzzleloader, archery, and outdoor skills. Competition takes place at south of town at the Converse County Rifle Range and at the Wyoming State Fairgrounds.

(Fri 7/10/09) - Wyoming is waiting for Colorado to decide what type of trains it intends to run on its planned high-speed rail lines before Wyoming can finish a feasibility study about the prospect of extending passenger rail service north to Cheyenne. Republican State Sen. Michael Von Flatern of Gillette is chairman of the Senate Transportation, Highways and Military Affairs Committee. He says Wyoming's study already has determined that it would make sense to extend service from Colorado as far north as Cheyenne, but not farther north into Wyoming. The original proposal had high-speed rail lines extending north through Douglas to Casper. Wyoming's study is scheduled to be finished later this summer.

(Wed 7/8/09) - More roads on the Grassland? Federal land managers have adopted a new travel management plan for the Thunder Basin National Grassland north of Douglas. The plan calls for seeking new public rights of way on more than 400 miles of roads that both lead to the area and cross it. Managers say that would improve public access. Grassland managers announced yesterday that they had selected the plan from the alternatives in their final environmental assessment. The decision is still subject to public appeal. The Thunder Basin National Grassland travel management plan is available at http://www.fs.fed.us/r2/mbr/projects/trans/index.shtml.  

(Tue 7/7/09) - Local law enforcement officers are investigating a reckless endangering incident. Friday afternoon at about 6:30pm, a 911 call came in with a male subject threatening suicide. The man said he had two guns. Douglas Police, Converse County Sheriffs, Wyoming Highway Patrol and Ambulance crews responded to the Pearson Street extension in Douglas and made contact with the man, who was convinced to surrender and was taken into protective custody. The name of the 24 year old man is being withheld pending filing of formal charges of breach of peace, reckless endangerment and interferance with a peace officer.

(Mon 7/6/09) - Officials in Casper say Friday's storm caused at least $4 million in damage and they're asking the state to help pay for repairs. Natrona County commission chairman Rob Henry and Casper mayor Kenye Schlager sent a letter to Gov. Dave Freudenthal on Saturday asking him to use his emergency fund and other sources to help. They said high winds and heavy rain caused about $2 million in damage each to county and city property, including the Hall of Justice, the sheriff's office and Wyoming Medical Center. Parks and streets were also damaged. In addition, more than 125 people have reported damage to homes and businesses. Just over 2 inches of rain fell in downtown Casper. Police say no one was injured.

Here at Douglas, a couple of thunderstorms through the day on Friday left .56 of an inch of rain on Friday. Year-to-date precipitation here stands at 8.41 inches.

(Mon 7/6/09) - New officers have been named for the Converse County Coalition Against Violence. Dr Jim Morgan was named chairman of the group at their annual meeting on June 29th. Morgan will replace outgoing chair Janet Caster, who has served for more than 20 years as a Coalition volunteer and who served two consecutive terms as chairwoman of the board. David Harris was elected vice-chair. Kathy Mayo and Joyce Lockwood were re-elected to the positions of secretary and treasurer. The coalition is actively recruiting new board members. Anyone interested in serving can pick up an application at the Douglas Coalition office at 126 North 5th Street or at the Glenrock office at 213 West Birch Street.

(Mon 7/6/09) - A major regional power generator is announcing plans for a 51-megawatt wind energy project on Colorado's Eastern Plains. The wind farm will be built by Duke Energy of Charlotte, N.C. Duke says the project will have 34 turbines on 6,000 acres near Burlington, about 150 miles east of Denver. It's expected to be completed by the end of next year. Duke Energy is also building the 66-turbine Campbell Hill Windpower Project here in Converse County northwest of Glenrock.

(Thu 7/2/09) - 5,971 people... that's the official population estimate for Douglas as of July 1st, 2008. The U.S. Census Bureau has released their most recent set of city and town population estimates, and Douglas and Converse County numbers were up again last year. Douglas's 2008 population was up about 300 residents from the year before. Glenrock's population count was up about 50 to 2,423, Rolling Hills had 505 residents, and officially, Lost Springs is still the smallest incorporated town in the state with 1 resident. Converse County's population grew to 13, 267 last year, up from 12,870 in 2007. Wyoming's population also showed strong growth last year, with a population of 532,668, up almost 10 thousand from the year before. Those estimates were all made as of July 1st, 2008, before energy prices and the economy in general tanked late last year. Click here for a link to the Census Bureau's 2008 Wyoming population estimates.



And in Sports...

(Sat 7/25/09) - A good run this morning wasn't enough to get Douglas's Raegen Scott into tonight's short go championship performance at the National High School Finals Rodeo in Farmington, New Mexico. Scott ran a 17.714 through the barrels this morning... added to last Sunday's 17.773, Scott totalled 35-485 second on two runs, and that leaves her setting 28th out of 170 barrel racers. Only the top-20 in the average get to advance to the championship round.

Advancing to the finals tonight... JR Vezain of Cowley sits third in the average on barebacks, and Luke Camino of Clearmont has a two-go average of 8.703 seconds in steer wrestling... Luke sits in third place in the average. Three Wyoming cowgirls are in the top 20 in goat tying... Jordan Thurston of Lance Creek sits 8th, Jori Lorenzi of Laramie is 12th, and Devin Nicholls of Kinnear is 14th. Megan Belus of Buffalo is 5th and Devin Nicholls of Kinnear is 12th in breakaway roping... AJ Fuchs of Teton Villages is 10th in boys cutting... Cinnamon Smith of Gillette is tied for 16th in girls cutting... Shyann Lucas of Jackson comes into the championship round at 14th in pole bending... Tim Malm of Albin sits 11th in tiedown roping... and AJ Fuchs of Teton Village and Matt Schieck of Casper are currently 6th in team roping with a two-go time of 18.731. The National High School Finals Rodeo chamiponship round gets underway tonight at 7pm in Farmington, New Mexico.

(Sat 7/25/09) - It''ll be Rock Springs versus Powell in tonight's Championship Game at the Junior Babe State Baseball Tournament here in Douglas. On Friday, Torrington beat Cody 6-3, it was Jackson over Sheridan 9-5... Powell hammered Rawlins 29-0, and Rock Springs shut out Douglas 10-0. In semi-final games today, Rock Springs shut out Jackson 4-0, and Powell took Torrington 7-3. Rock Springs plays Powell for the Jr Babe State Championship tonight at 7 at Nida Field. The winner advances to the Northwest District Tournament in Centrailia, Washington.

(Thu 7/23/09) - Thursday baseball action, at the Junior Babe Ruth State Baseball Tournament at Nida Field, Douglas survived a late rally by Cody to win 9-6. Douglas is now 1-1 in tournament play, and will meet Rock Springs Friday night at 7 at Nida Field.

At the American Legion North District Tournament at Casper, Powell jumped out to an early lead and ran past Douglas 12-2. The nine inning game was called after 7 due to the 12-run rule. The Cats drop into the consolation bracket, and will get a day off tomorrow... Jackson dropped out before the tournament began, leaving a hole on the other side of our bracket... Gillette got a bye today and will play Powell tomorrow... Douglas takes the day off Friday, and will return to action Saturday at 12:30 at Mike Lansing Field in Casper.

(Wed 7/22/09) - Opening round of the 13-15 year old Junior Babe Ruth State Baseball Tournament today, a couple of blowouts and a couple of nailbiters... Sheridan beats Rawlins 21-1 and Jackson hammers Powell 11-2. Rock Springs edged Cody 4-3 this afternoon, and Douglas fell to Torrington 8-7. Tomorrow, Rawlins meets Jackson at 10:00am, Douglas plays Cody at 1, Torrington plays Rock Springs at 4, and Sheridan plays Powell to wrap up the day at 7. Tournament play continues through Saturday.

(Tue 7/21/09) - Hot bats in Douglas this week... the top eight teams from around the state visit the Jackalope City as the 13-15 year old Junior Babe Ruth State Baseball Tournament begins tomorrow. Two-time defending state champ Douglas will host Rawlins, Sheridan, Jackson, Powell, Rock Springs, Cody and Torrington. Rawlins and Sheridan open tournament play Wednesday morning at 10:00am at Nida Field. Douglas plays their first game tomorrow night when they meet Torrington at 7pm. Tournament play continues through Saturday.

(Mon 7/20/09) - A Douglas cowgirl is in the thick of the competition as the 61st Annual National High School Finals Rodeo gets underway in Farmington, New Mexico . Wyoming state champ Raegen Scott made her first run through the barrels in last night's performance, turning in a time of 17.773, good enough for 8th place in the round. Scott will make her second run in the final performance of the second go Saturday morning.

Also last night, JR Vezain of Cowley set the mark to beat in barebacks with a score of 71. Luke Camino of Clearmont turned in a 3.824, good for 2nd in steer wrestling. Trey Barlow of GIllette scores a 201 to place 6th in girls cutting, Devin Nicholls of Kinnear sits 6th in pole bending, and Dalton Hall of Rozet is 6th in tie-down roping.

Rodeos start at 9am and 7pm everyday. The top 20 on 2 runs total, comes back for the championship short go Saturday evening. Wyoming is 1 of about 40 states represented in Farmington, New Mexico for the High School NFR. This year's event features a total of 1,375 contestants from the United States, Canada, and Australia.

(Mon 7/20/09) - Douglas's 13-15 year old Babe Ruth Baseball Team went 3-1 at the District 2 Division Tournament at Gillette this weekend. Douglas opened the tournament with an 11-8 win over Buffalo Thursday morning, then beat Casper 12-4 Thursday afternoon. Douglas beat Gillette 7-3 Friday morning and lost 10-7 to Sheridan Friday at noon. By Saturday afternoon, Douglas, Sheridan and Gillette were all 3-1, and Douglas came up on the short end of the tiebreaker, leaving Sheridan and Gillette to play in the championship game Saturday night. Sheridan won the District Championship 7-4 in 8 innings over Gillette. Douglas will still play in the state tournament however, as they're the host team when the tournament gets underway this Wednesday here in Douglas.

(Fri 7/10/09) - It's a busy baseball weekend in Douglas this weekend as the Cats host the annual Bolln Memorial Tournament at Nida Field. Teams from Wheatland, Newcastle, Torrington and Riverton will be in town. Play begins this afternoon as Douglas hosts Torrington at 4pm... Wheatland plays Newcastle at 6:30 tonight. Saturday, Douglas opens play against Nerwcastle at 10:30am... then it's Torrington vs Riverton, Wheatland vs Riverton and Newcastle vs Torrington. Sunday, Douglas plays Wheatland at 10:30am, Newcastle plays Riverton, Wheatland plays Torrington, and Douglas wraps up the Tournament against Riverton Sunday night at 6:00pm. All games will be played at Nida Field at the Douglas Rec Center.