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SCHOOLS SUPERINTENDENT-AUDIT

Audit questions agency management under Cindy Hill

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - An independent audit has found questionable management practices in the Wyoming Education Department when it was under the control of Superintendent Cindy Hill.

The audit required by the federal government reported that state law may have been violated and the state may have to pay back an undetermined amount of federal funds.

It blamed "management override" of internal financial controls and recommended further review by the state attorney general and the U.S. Education Department.

Hill was removed as head of the agency last year by a new state law that created a governor-appointed director to run the department.

The state Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that the law is unconstitutional.

Hill is seeking to return as head of the department as soon as all legal issues are resolved.

BANK ROBBERY SUSPECTS

Couple charged with other Wyoming bank robberies

(Information in the following story is from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, http://www.trib.com)

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) - A couple accused of robbing a Casper bank in January have also been charged in the hold ups of banks in Rock Springs and Laramie.

A federal grand jury indicted 38-year-old James P. Thain and 34-year-old Mindy N. Lawrence last week. The Casper Star-Tribune reports they're accused of robbing a U.S. Bank in Rock Springs on Jan. 21 and a U.S. Bank in Laramie on Jan. 27.

They were previously charged with robbing a Bank of the West in Casper on Jan. 29.

According to an FBI affidavit, Thain got about $3,000 from the Casper bank. He and Rankin were arrested after a chase. A customer at the bank's drive-through window saw the hold up. She followed the couple and told police where they were headed.

INDIAN CASINOS-WYOMING

Indian casinos in Wyoming see rapid growth

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Indian casinos in Wyoming were among the fastest-growing in 2012 even as overall spending by gamblers at Indian casinos fell nationwide that year.

Wyoming's two resident Indian tribes, the Northern Arapaho and the Eastern Shoshone, both operate casinos.

The Casino City's Indian Gaming Industry Report released Wednesday states Indian casinos in Wyoming were second behind only those in Texas in the rate of increase in the number of table games in 2012. The Wyoming casinos increased from 14 table games to 17 in 2012.

The report doesn't give revenue figures for Indian casinos in Wyoming. But it states that casinos in the state experienced 4.3-percent growth in 2012. Nationwide, revenue growth at Indian casinos slowed to 2 percent, to $28.1 billion, down from 3.4 percent in the previous year.

WYOMING RANGE DRILLING

BLM: Companies need repaid if drilling rejected

(Information in the following story is from: Jackson Hole (Wyo.) News And Guide, http://www.jhnewsandguide.com)

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) - A U.S. Bureau of Land Management official says the government would need to repay $2.6 million to oil and gas companies if it doesn't allow drilling in part of the Wyoming Range.

Leases in a 65-square-mile area of the mountain range south of Jackson have been in limbo for years. The BLM approved and sold the leases to petroleum companies in 2005 but the leases still await approval from Bridger-Teton National Forest.

Now, the U.S. Forest Service is preparing to decide next year whether to allow drilling.

Greg Noble with the BLM in Pinedale tells the Jackson Hole News & Guide that if the Forest Service rejects drilling, the lease-holding companies would need to be refunded money they paid that went to the state and federal governments.

ELK HUNTING

Elk harvest up 30 percent in Jackson Hole area

(Information in the following story is from: Jackson Hole (Wyo.) News And Guide, http://www.jhnewsandguide.com)

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) - The number of elk killed in the Jackson Hole area is up over last season.

Data from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department released this week shows hunters killed 1,437 animals from the Jackson Elk Herd last fall, a 30 percent increase. The number of animals killed in the area's other major herd, the Fall Creek Elk Herd, fell about 15 percent.

The department's wildlife coordinator, Doug Brimeyer, told the Jackson Hole Daily that snowfall pushed elk down into drainages where they were more visible to hunters.

Statewide, it was a banner year for elk hunters. For the second year in a row, hunters harvested more than 25,000 elk.