Wyoming News Update

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Latest Wyoming news, sports, business and entertainment.

WET WYOMING WINTER

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — The National Weather Service says Wyoming's three main winter months — December through February — were the wettest in the state's recorded history.

The Casper Star-Tribune reports that nearly 5.5 inches of precipitation fell on the state this season, breaking the previous record of 4.93 inches set in 1898. The western side of the state received the bulk of the moisture this winter.

About 15 percent of Wyoming remains in a drought. A year ago at this time, about 75 percent of the state had some level of drought alert.

Wyoming's reservoirs are also full, and the snowpack in many mountains is well above average.

Chris Jones, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Riverton, says states like Nevada, Colorado, Idaho, California and Utah also received a lot of moisture.

UW TRUSTEES-PARTY AFFILIATION

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — One of the new members of the University of Wyoming Board of Trustees switched his political party affiliation just three weeks before his appointment last month by Gov. Matt Mead.

However, even if Dr. David Fall had not switched from Republican to independent before his appointment, the board makeup would still comply with state law that sets boundaries on the mix of Republicans and Democrats among its members.

Fall and Republican Kermit Brown were appointed by Mead on Feb. 24 to replace board members Mike Massie, a Democrat, and Dave Palmerlee, a Republican.

Fall, who had registered as a Republican since 1986, switched to independent on Feb. 1.

Fall tells the Laramie Boomerang that he wasn't trying to mislead anybody by changing his party affiliation.

UW BUDGET

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — The University of Wyoming Board of Trustees has approved changes to a program that aims to reduce the number of faculty members in order to save money in the long run.

On Thursday, the trustees approved lifting a cap that had been on the voluntary separation program.

With the change, up to 45 UW faculty members could leave the university at the end of the current academic year. Some positions will be refilled, others will be eliminated.

A previous retirement and separation incentive resulted in the departure of about 50 employees, but fewer than 10 of them were faculty members.

The current program is targeted specifically at faculty.

UW officials expect annual net budget savings of about $4.45 million from the separation program.

CHENEY-HEALTH OVERHAUL

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney says she supports the Republican-sponsored health care bill.

Cheney tells the Wyoming Tribune Eagle that the proposal would give flexibility to states and individuals that would make insurance more affordable for consumers.

The bill would repeal major parts of former President Barack Obama's health law. The House is scheduled to vote on the proposal Thursday.

Cheney says the proposal does exactly what needs to be done in terms of replacing the current health law with a system that "puts people back in charge."

The first-term Republican says she likes the plan to allow states to convert Medicaid payments into block grants. She says the block grant would allow Wyoming the flexibility to distribute funding as it sees fit.

PSYCHIATRIST-AGGRAVATED ASSAULT

POWELL, Wyo. (AP) — A Cody psychiatrist has been charged with driving under the influence for a second time in four months.

The Powell Tribune reports 49-year-old Matthew Hopkins waived a preliminary hearing Wednesday for aggravated assault and misdemeanor DUI.

Prosecutors say Hopkins had passed out and had a can of Dust-Off in his sport utility vehicle when he crashed head-on into a pickup on March 14, injuring the other driver. The chemicals in "canned air" can be inhaled for a euphoric high.

Hopkins, whose specialties include treating people with addictions, has previously had his medical license suspended in New Hampshire and Wyoming due to his own struggles with addiction.

Hopkins posted a $20,000 bond is scheduled to enter pleas next week.

A change-of-plea hearing for the November DUI is set for May.

WYOMING WEATHER

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A storm system is bringing rain and snow to parts of Wyoming.

Up to a foot of snow is possible in the Bighorn and Wind River mountains. Snow was expected in areas as low as around the 6,500 foot elevation.

A winter storm warning was posted Thursday night and Friday along the Interstate 80 corridor between Cheyenne and Laramie, where more than 7 inches of snow and strong winds are expected.

Rain in lower elevations was expected to cause problems where snowmelt has swollen rivers and streams.

Flood warnings were posted for much of Lincoln County in western Wyoming, including Kemmerer, and a flood watch was posted for areas of neighboring Sublette County, including Jackson, Pinedale and Big Piney.