Wyoming News Update

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Latest Wyoming news, sports, business and entertainment.

VOLKSWAGEN EMISSIONS-WYOMING

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — The state of Wyoming is asking the public how it should spend about $7.5 million from a multibillion-dollar settlement stemming from a class-action lawsuit against Volkswagen.

The German car company reached a $4.3 billion settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice in March and agreed to pay about $158 million to 10 states after admitting to intentionally engineering devices to circumvent emissions standards for some vehicles.

The Casper Star-Tribune reports https://goo.gl/dzdx7v that to qualify for the funds, Wyoming must demonstrate how the money will be used to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions.

Potential projects include retrofitting school buses and shuttle vans.

Public comment is open until May 24.

WYOMING WOLVES

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Planning for Wyoming's first wolf-hunting season in four years will get going now that a federal court has lifted endangered species protection for wolves in the state.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department said Wednesday it will draft plans for wolf hunting this fall after the court put wolves back under state control Tuesday.

The plans would allow regulated hunting in northwest Wyoming outside Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks and northwest of the Wind River Indian Reservation.

Elsewhere in Wyoming, wolves as of Tuesday may once again be killed on sight at any time.

Wyoming held regulated wolf hunts in 2012 and 2013 before a judge put wolves back under federal control soon before a planned 2014 hunt. Hunters killed 23 wolves in the 2013 hunt.

HILL LAWSUIT

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A state district judge is considering whether to dismiss a defamation lawsuit filed by a former Wyoming schools superintendent against a former U.S. House candidate.

District Judge Thomas Campbell heard arguments Wednesday on a motion by Tim Stubson to dismiss the lawsuit filed against him by Cindy Hill.

Hill contends that Stubson made malicious and false statements about her during his U.S. House campaign last year. Stubson lost in the primary to Liz Cheney, who eventually won the seat.

Stubson's attorney argued that comments made by Stubson about Hill is protected political speech.

Hill's attorney contends that Stubson's comments are false and not protected.

The comments by Stubson concerned the controversy over removing Hill as administrator of the state Education Department while she was state superintendent of public instruction.

WYOMING UNEMPLOYMENT

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — New state statistics show Wyoming's unemployment rate has dropped as the state has lost thousands of jobs over the past year.

The Casper Star-Tribune reported (bit.ly/2qetOuh) Tuesday the unemployment rate was 4.5 percent in March, down a full percentage point from the same month last year.

The numbers from the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services also show the state lost about 6,300 nonfarm jobs during that one-year period.

Most of those cuts came from Campbell, Converse, Natrona and Uinta counties amid the energy downturn.

State economist David Bullard says the county numbers show people are either leaving the state or have stopped looking for jobs.

CASPER POLICE CHIEF

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — Casper Police Chief Jim Wetzel says he hasn't considered resigning despite reports of low morale from within the police department and a city council member's call for him to step down.

Wetzel told the Casper Star-Tribune on Tuesday he believes he still has support from the council and the city manager's office.

A Fraternal Order of Police survey released earlier this month showed officers have complained about Wetzel's leadership. The officers said the city's human resources department had not acted on their complaints about unfair discipline and other issues.

Councilwoman Amanda Huckabay called for Wetzel's resignation Friday.

Wetzel says he needs to improve communication with the department and that he's waiting for the results of an outside assessment of the department, which councilors approved last week.