Wyoming News Update

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Here is the latest Wyoming news from The Associated Press

Gov. Matt Mead recommends state lawmakers address education

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Gov. Matt Mead is recommending that Wyoming lawmakers generally hold the line on state spending when they convene in general session in January.

However, Mead warns the state urgently needs to develop a long-term strategy for funding its school system given the recent decline in energy revenues.

Wyoming operates on a two-year budget cycle. Lawmakers last spring adopted a $3.1 billion general fund budget to fund operations for the biennium that began this July. Falling energy revenues already prompted Mead to cut that budget by over $250 million.

Mead's now recommending that lawmakers approve new supplemental spending of just over $8 million.

Mead's also proposing that they approve contingency spending of over $140 million from the state's so-called rainy day fund in case it's necessary for state programs.

Report: Open door led to fatal Dubois plane crash

RIVERTON, Wyo. (AP) — A preliminary investigation has determined that the Dubois man who died in a fiery plane crash lost control of the aircraft when he tried to close the door shortly after take-off.

The Daily Ranger reports that 44-year-old Bruce Stamper Jr. died at the scene of the Nov. 5 crash. His single-engine plane, which he assembled from a kit, went down shortly after taking off from the Dubois airport.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators say the right-side door of the plane wasn't equipped with the safety latch mechanism provided by the airframe kit manufacturer.

A witness told the board the door opened immediately after the plane left the airport.

Stamper reportedly tried to reach for the cabin door when the plane spun and crashed.

Results from Stamper's autopsy are pending.

Yellowstone superintendent prepares for even more crowds

CODY, Wyo. (AP) — The superintendent of Yellowstone National Park says he expects visitor numbers to continue to grow but that he's gotten better at managing the crowds.

The Cody Enterprise reports that the park is coming off two straight years of record attendance and Superintendent Dan Wenk does not believe it has peaked yet.

Yellowstone saw 4,097,711 visitors in 2015 and had topped that number by October this year, when it reached 4,221,782. Wenk says the 2016 numbers might have been even higher if it wasn't for early snow and a busy fire season that closed the South Gate for a time in August.

Yellowstone opened in 1872 and is the country's oldest national park. Wenk says it was overcrowded by fans in summer 2015, but that staff has learned from that experience.

Yellowstone park looks at large bison cull to trim herds

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Yellowstone National Park biologists say more than 900 wild bison would need to be killed or removed this winter to begin reducing the size of herds that spill into neighboring Montana.

The park has an estimated 5,500 bison, the highest number since at least 2000.

Park officials meet Thursday with state, tribal and U.S. Agriculture Department representatives to discuss options for managing the animals.

Biologists say 900 would need to be removed just to stabilize population growth.

Many Yellowstone bison carry brucellosis, a disease that can cause livestock to abort their young. Neighboring communities also have raised concerns about property damage and public safety from migrating bison.

Recent efforts to gradually reduce bison numbers have been largely unsuccessful and drawn criticism from wildlife advocates who want them to roam freely.

Wyoming Supreme Court: OK to charge to see public records

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The Wyoming Supreme Court says public agencies may charge fees to allow inspection of certain electronic records.

The court issued a 3-2 split decision Wednesday denying an appeal from the Wyoming Tribune Eagle newspaper.

The newspaper had sued Laramie County School District No. 1 after the district in 2014 refused to turn over copies of email communications from school board members unless the newspaper paid to compile them on a disc.

The court's majority opinion holds that state law allows public records custodians to charge reasonable fees if complying with an inspection request requires them to copy an electronic record.

Justices Michael Davis and Kate Fox filed a dissenting opinion, saying they believe state law prohibits charging fees for inspection of electronic records.

Damaged bridge over troubled water: Who will pay for fix?

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — A battle is shaping up over who will pay more than $200,000 for repairing a bridge in the Jackson area that was rammed by a tractor-trailer.

Last year, a truck owned by Jackson landscaping company Growin' Green ran out of fuel and coasted off a highway. The driver steered the truck onto the one-lane bridge south of Jackson.

The truck was too big for the bridge and caused major damage.

The Jackson Hole News & Guide reports Teton County repaired Swinging Bridge. Now, the county has filed a complaint in court to get the company and its truck driver to pay for the repairs.

Company owner Benjamin Bartlett says he's willing to pay restitution but having to pay the full amount could sink his business.