KKTY NEWS May 09 Archive


(Fri 5/29/09) - The indictment of a former Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper accused of plotting a murder hasn't prompted the local prosecutor to re-examine the officer's past cases. Converse County Attorney Quentin Richardson says he hasn't heard from any defense attorneys concerned about Joe Ryle's work on cases involving their clients. Wyoming Attorney General Bruce Salzburg declined comment when asked whether his office planned to investigate Ryle's earlier work with the patrol. Ryle is accused of arresting a truck driver in January as part of a scheme to murder the trucker and stage a crash in order collect settlement money. The driver was not killed. Ryle has pleaded not guilty to the charges and remains in custody. His trial is set for June 22. Ryle worked for the patrol for 12 years.

(Fri 5/29/09) - Better than last month... worse than last year... April unemployment numbers in Converse County were at 4.4 percent, down from March's 5 percent, but up from 2.3 percent in April of '08. The latest numbers from the Wyoming Department of Employment showed 6886 people drew a paycheck in the county in April... that compares with almost 7200 a year ago. Statewide, the slumping energy sector continues to affect other job sectors like contruction, retail trade and even leisure and hospitality, which are all down. Wyoming saw its largest over-the-year job losses since 1987 last month, but the downturn isn't as bad as the oil bust of the 1980s. Wyoming lost 2,200 jobs in April compared to a year earlier, or a decline of 0.8 percent. In 1987, such over-the-year losses hit 11 percent. While Converse County's unemployment rate stands at 4.4 percent, it's at 4.5 percent statewide, and we're still much better off than the national unemployment rate, which stands at 8.9 percent.

(Fri 5/22/09) - Many Douglas residents have been concerned about trees being cut down when WYDOT does reconstruction work along 4th Street. Cottonwood huggers got double good news this week. First, WYDOT says it'll be at least the year 2021 before they get around to doing the 4th Street expansion. And instead of cutting down trees, WYDOT's going to plant a bunch of new trees. Jim Barnes is WYDOT's resident engineer here in Douglas... audio here

Barnes says the're not putting in the big cottonwoods... audio here

WYDOT's advance tree replacement program is a $250 thousand dollar project that uses some of the national stimulus funds.

(Fri 5/22/09) - Shadetree mechanics on Douglas's east side will soon have someplace closer to buy spark plugs and air filters. At last week's meeting, the Douglas City Council approved a development agreement that will allow construction of a new O'Reilly Auto Parts store at 811 East Richards. Property owner and building developer Steve Oban will build the 6300 square foot metal building on the empty lot where Rushmore Homes used to be. O'Reilly's is not a new business to Douglas... they're currently located on Center Street behind the old depot.

(Fri 5/22/09) - Downtown Glenrock's getting a new look... and an old look. New streetlights are being installed along Birch Street this week. The new, decorative fixtures are black, and are of an early 20th-Century design. It's part of an ongoing beautification project that removed street medians, extended and rebuilt sidewalks, and replaced benches, trees and trash recepticals in Glenrock's downtown area.

(Wed 5/20/09) - Federal authorities charge that a Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper arrested in March had planned to murder a Wal-Mart truck driver and then stage an accident with his patrol car to collect damages from the company. Trooper Franklin Joe Ryle of Douglas pleaded not guilty to three charges in federal court at his arraignment before a federal magistrate in Cheyenne on Tuesday. An indictment returned last week and unsealed Tuesday charges Ryle with violating the rights of the truck driver by kidnapping him. Other charges allege that Ryle was armed during the crime and tried to convince another trooper to help him. The 41-year-old Ryle remains in custody. Ryle's attorney, David Weiss, declined to comment.

(Wed 5/20/09) - Don't hold your breath on that 4th Street reconstruction. WYDOT says that between cuts in funding and rising cost of construction... audio here

That's WYDOT District 2 Engineer Jack Bell at a public meeting yesterday afternoon at Douglas City Hall. Bell said that, instead of starting new projects, WYDOT's main target over the next few years would be to patch and maintain what they've got. WYDOT Public Involvment Specialist Jeff Goetz said that here in Converse County, there are still a couple of projects that will continue after the West Yellowstone Bridge reopens the first part of June... audio here

So when does the five-lane reconstruction project through Douglas resume? audio here

Goetz says the next part of the project to be built would be East Richards from 4th Street to Mesa Drive, and that's been pushed out to the year 2016, followed by Richards from Mesa to the I-25 Exit 135 interchange in 2017. The segment that includes Center Street is projected long-term for 2019, and 4th Street would be the last part of the project to be completed in 2021.

(Mon 5/18/09) - The U.S. Department of Justice's case against a Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper has been sealed in federal district court in Cheyenne. The Justice Department in March filed charges against trooper Franklin Joseph Ryle of Douglas. The charges allege that Joe Ryle violated another man's rights in January by kidnapping him at gunpoint and unlawfully arresting him. Specific details of the allegations against Ryle have been sealed since the government filed charges. But starting last week, the entire federal court file of Ryle's case has been closed to the public. A spokesman for the Justice Department in Washington says he doesn't know why the case was sealed. Attempts by the Associated Press to reach Ryle's lawyer for comment on Friday and Monday were unsuccessful.

(Mon 5/18/09) - What roads get built where and when and how... WyDot will offer a look at their plans for the Douglas area this week at two meetings. Representatives with WYDOT's District 2 will meet with the Converse County Commission, during its regular meeting, at 10 a.m., Tuesday, May 19 at the Converse County Courthouse. They will also meet with Douglas, and surrounding community, officials and other interested parties, at 1:30 p.m., the same day, at the Douglas City Hall. The State Transportation Improvement Program presentation outlines the projects that WYDOT will pursue in the upcoming years and this year, will include information on the recent American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (stimulus) funding, and how it's being used in Wyoming. Both meetings on Tuesday are open to the public.

(Fri 5/15/09) - Douglas keeps its new car dealers. Converse County Motors recieved notice yesterday that it was not among the nearly 800 dealerships across the country that would lose their Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep franchises as part of the ailing car company's bankruptcy plans. Chrysler's plan to close a quarter of its U.S. dealerships includes five dealerships in Wyoming. The list in Chrysler's court filing includes Covello Motor Company in Torrington, Kotby Motors in Laramie, Riverton Chrysler Dodge Jeep, Teton Motors in Jackson and Great Western Autoplex in Rock Springs. 13 Colorado dealerships and nine in Nebraska, including one in Scottbluff, were all on yesterdays hit list. Like Converse County Motors, some of the other Wyoming dealerships also sell brands other than Chrysler. Dealers can appeal Chrysler's decision.

Late today, Douglas Motors was informed that they would not be among the General Motors dealers who would lose their franchises in this round of closures, so both of Douglas's new car dealers will continue to serve the community with a wide variety of new cars and trucks.

(Fri 5/15/09) - It's graduation weekend here in Converse County. Douglas High School graduation actitivites begin with Baccalaureate services Saturday night at 6:00pm at the Douglas High School auditorium. Baccalaureate is presented by Douglas area churches. DHS graduation ceremonies for the Class of 2009 are Sunday afternoon at 2:00pm in the Rec Center Gym. About 110 grads are expected to recieve their diplomas Sunday. DHS graduation will also be broadcast live on Communicomm channel 76, and will be available over the Internet with a live webcast on the D.H.S. Web site. Both broadcasts begin at 1:30 PM.

Glenrock High School commencement is Sunday afternoon at 2:00pm at the GHS gym. Around 50 Glenrock students will receive diplomas this weekend.

(Fri 5/15/09) - Douglas Primary students will Cowboy Up today... the spring field day at primary is a Western Rodeo theme. DPS PE teacher Tom Holt says this year's event will focus on Wyoming heritage and rodeo in our state and other western states. Kindergarten, first and second garders will participate today in games and physical activities with a rodeo theme, and they'll learn about rodeo and western heritage through various presenters and/or supporters including Cheyenne Frontier Days bull fighter Jeremy Sparks, Miss Rodeo Wyoming Allie Bass & Stacy Jo Johnson, Ken Mitt's Sheep Dog Trial, WY State Fair, Dennis Sun with WYO Livestock Roundup, and Brook Gerke with WY Ag in the Classroom. the fun begins this morning shortly before 9am at Douglas Primary School.

(Fri 5/15/09) - Glenrock gets green this weekend. As part of the community's 100th Anniversary celebration, the Converse County Conservation District has donated 100 trees, which will be planted at I-25 and Deer Creek Road. The hitch is, volunteers are needed to plant the trees. Glenrock Community Development Director Kathy Patceg says the trees are in five gallon buckets... all the holes have been dug... but they need some help getting the trees into the ground. Volunteers can show up out at Deer Creek Road Saturday morning at 10:00am.

(Tue 5/12/09) - Douglas residents celebrate Arbor Day today. The city will plant a tree at Douglas Middle School this afternoon, planning the ceremony in a place where youth could be involved, and could learn the importance of taking care of trees in our community. In addition to the tree planting, there will be presentations by the State of Wyoming Forestry Division in recognition of Douglas being named a Tree City USA city for the ninth year in a row, and recognizing Powder River Coal and the Converse County Conservation District for supporting Douglas's tree planting efforts for many years. The public is invited to join in the ceremonies this afternoon at 2:00pm at Douglas Middle School.

(Tue 5/12/09) - The City Council spent just shy of an hour last night trying to work out the kinks in the city's rules about what kind of work has to be done by contractors and what can by done by private owners. Liability, public safety and doing the job right were all issues that came up. Councilman Bob Chiapuzio said he brought up the issue a couple of years ago when he first got on the council because current wording was too restrictive... audio here

The current rules bar owners of buildings that they don't occupy... in other words, owners of commercial buildings or residential or commercial rental property... from doing most work themselves or from hiring unlicensed help to do the work. The council last month on first reading proposed to do away with language that required licensed contractors... which drew the attention of several local contractors... Rod York is a contractor, who worked for the city when the original wording was adopted... he quoted the proposed change... audio here

Several other contractors also spoke, not necessarily against changing the ordinance, but against making it too lax and not protecting public safety. Several property owners also spoke up, asking for changes to the current law. Steve Oban owns commercial and residential properties around the city... audio here

After hearing lots of input on both sides of the issue, the council tabled the discussion until next month's meeting, and in the interim will meet with interested contractors, property owners and other local citizens to try an hammer out an acceptable solution.

(Tue 5/12/09) - Union Pacific Railroad has announced plans for more than $27 million in track improvements to its line between Henry, Neb., and 25 miles east of Lusk, Wyo. Crews will remove and install more than 76,000 concrete ties and 29 miles of rail, spread 98,000 tons of rock ballast to ensure a stable roadbed and replaced four switches. The project will be done using Union Pacific's modern track renewal train, the TRT 909, which removes old track and installs rail and concrete ties in one pass, and can install up to 5,000 ties in a twelve-hour day. About 30 cars - each carrying 210 concrete ties - are part of the TRT. The project is scheduled to be completed by the end of June.

(Tue 5/12/09) - Falling uranium prices are prompting the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to ask companies to restate their plans to mine the element. Uranium prices have declined from $150 per pound in 2007 to about $40 per pound now. The NRC says some proposed uranium mining projects in Wyoming no longer are under consideration. Projects being pulled so far are either in south central Wyoming or are out-of-state. They include some "in-situ" projects, in which deposits are dissolved and uranium is pumped to the surface. Also, plans are on hold to revive part of a conventional uranium mill in south-central Wyoming. At one point, more than 20 in-situ operations were being considered across the West. Most of those operations were proposed in Wyoming. So far, no cancellations reported on projects north and east of Douglas across the Powder River Basin and eastern Wyoming.

(Mon 5/11/09) - Some landowners in the northern Laramie Range in Converse and Albany counties are opposing two separate projects involving wind energy. More than 100 people met in Douglas last week to discuss the projects. A Utah company, Wasatch Wind, reportedly is trying to get land together for a wind farm in the area. Separately, Rocky Mountain Power and Utah Power are working together on a proposed 1,100-mile power line from Glenrock to Boise, Idaho. A new landowners group called the Northern Laramie Range Alliance says it specifically opposes the section of power line between Glenrock and Medicine Bow. Alliance members include prominent businessman Diemer True. True says everyone is concerned about the future of the Laramie Range.

(Fri 5/1/09) - In light of the current concern over the real-world flu, the Wyoming Department of Health has cancelled a planned Emergency Response Drill here in Douglas. To ensure that the BBED(Bad Bug Exposure Drill) is not confused in any way with current news related to the "Swine Flu", the exercise planned for Friday May 1st at the State Fair Grounds has been cancelled. Quite a few Douglas residents had been asked to volunteer to help with the drill. Public Health and Emergency Management say thank you to all who planned to volunteer for this event, and they say it may be rescheduled at a later date.


And in Sports...


(Sat 5/23/09) - Park County schools take home the trophies from the Wyoming High School State Track & Field Championships. In 3A competition, Powell was the top team in the boys standings and Cody won the girls team competition. Glenrock's girls placed second and the Douglas girls finished 15th... Douglas's boys placed third behind Powell and Cody, and Glenrock's boys placed 7th. There were a handful of medals for both of Converse County's high schools. A pair of local sprinters owned the track... Glenrock's Drew Nielsen won the gold and Douglas's Justin Melton took silver in both the 100 meter dash and the 200 meter dash. Nielsen also took the silver in the 400. Glenrock's Brooke Hughes capped her high school career with a pair of golds, winning the girls 1600 and 3200 meter runs... she also placed third in the 800. Mary Nelson of Glenrock finished 3rd in the 3200. Through the hurdles, Glenrock's Nikki Tresch finished second in both the girls' 100 and 300 meter hurdles. Douglas's Cody Bohlander earned silver in the boys' 300 hurdles. In the relays, Douglas boys won the gold in the 4x100, finished 3rd in the 4x400 and 5th in the 4x800. Glenrock's girls were 3rd in the 4x100, 3rd in the 4x400 and 2nd in the 4x800.

In track events, Douglas's Daniel Hancock earned gold in the long jump, Julian King earned gold in the triple jump and Pierre Etchemendy earned silver in the discus. Glenrock's Shaynna Hoyt placed 3rd in the shot put.

Complete individual and team rankings are available here.

(Mon 5/18/09) - Converse County teams did well at the 3A East Regional Track Meet at Wheatland over the weekend. Glenrock won the girl's side while Douglas won the boys. Glenrock's Brooke Hughes scored big points winning the three distance races, the 800, 1600, and the 3200. She was also on a second place 4 by 800 relay team. Teammate Nikki Tresch won both hurdle events, was part of a winning relay (4X1) and the second place 4 x 4. Douglas freshman Brittany Schommer won the triple jump. For the boys, Glenrock's Drew Nielsen won the 100, the 200, and the 400. Douglas's Justin Melton placed second in the 200, and Daniel Hancock was second in the 400. Douglas runners Josh Graham, Cody Bohlander and Jake Marcus placed 1-2-3 in the 110 hurdles, and Bohlander and Marcus placed 1-2 in the 300 hurdles. Glenrock won the 4x100 relay, with Douglas second... Douglas won the 4x400. Glenrock's Dalton Downs won the pole vault, Douglas's Daniel Hancock earned gold in the long jump... Douglas junior Pierre Etchemendy won the discus toss. State track runs Thurday, Friday and Saturday this week at Harry Geldien Stadium at Casper's Kelly Walsh High School.

(Fri 5/15/09) - Nearly 700 athletes, coaches and partners from all over the Cowboy State are in Cheyenne this weekend for the 2009 Special Olympics Wyoming Summer Games competition. Zoe Robinson is a SPED teacher at Douglas High School... she says 5 Douglas athletes are competing... audio here

Robinson said everyone had fun with opening ceremonies last night... audio here

Summer Games is one of the five main state competition events held each year for Special Olympics athletes, who compete in basketball, aquatics, power lifting, gymnastics and track & field. Events continue through Saturday and end with Closing Ceremonies at Okie Blanchard Stadium at Cheyenne East High School at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 16th . Results will be posted on the web at www.specialolympicswy.org

(Fri 5/15/09) - As the school year winds down, so does high school track. Regional track meets are going on around the state this weekend. Douglas and Glenrock tracksters are at Wheatland today and tomorrow for the 3A East Regionals. Competition begins today at noon at Saturday morning at 9am at Wheatland High School. WHSAA admission to all regional track meets is $4 per day for adults and $2 dollars per day for students. The 3A West Regionals are at Cody. 4A East competes at Riverton, while 4A West is at Evanston. Gillette hosts the 1A-2A regional track meet, while Lander hosts 1A/2A West. State track is next Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Harry Geldien Stadium at Casper's Kelly Walsh High School.