Wild, Wild West? Law enforcement officials in east-central Wyoming say they're seeing more crimes committed by newly arrived workers in the area's booming oil fields.The Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation reports serious crimes including aggravated assault and larceny are up 17 percent in the Douglas area since 2009.
Douglas Police Chief Ron Casalenda says emergency calls there are up 9 percent from last year. Drug arrests are up from 37 in 2009 to 64 last year.
And the city's police officers were involved in two vehicle pursuits in September. The city didn't have any police chases for three years. Both pursuits involved energy industry workers.
Compounding the problem, the Douglas Police Department is short two officers. Some city employees are quitting to work in the oil fields.
A Houston oil company is proposing to drill up to 1,500 oil wells along the Campbell-Converse county line in northeast Wyoming.EOG Resources submitted its plans to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to drill in a nearly 120,000-acre area between Wright and Bill.
It seeks to develop 150 wells annually for 10 years and seeks an exemption from seasonal drilling restrictions aimed at protecting a rare type of hawk.
The BLM must complete an environmental study before signing off on the proposal.
BLM is expected to officially announce scoping for the EOG study by early next year. Scoping is the first step in the government's analysis and sets the outline of the study. Environmental studies generally take several years to complete.
Natural gas flaring in Converse County is down considerably this year. That's according to data received by the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.Natural gas comes up as a byproduct when oil wells are drilled, and if collection and transportation infrastructure isn't available, it's often burned off in a process called flaring. Flaring volumes in Converse County reached nearly 1.5 billion cubic feet of gas in 2013. This year, however, flaring has been reduced below 500 million cubic feet. Converse County has experienced an increase in pipelines and other gas-gathering infrastructure in recent years, which has contributed to the decline of flaring.
Landowners living near the wells say they aren't happy with the amount of flaring near their homes, stating that flaring erodes their quality of life and raises health concerns about breathing harmful emissions from drilling rigs and wells. Oil companies say they are working to correct issues associated with flaring and that flared gas represents a source of lost revenue, which also poses an issue. 112614
Everybody's working here... Wyoming's unemployment rate held steady at 4.7 percent in October.While the rate is unchanged from September, it is up slightly from last year's October rate of 4.5 percent.
The Wyoming Department of Workforce Services says the state jobless remains well below the national rate of 5.8 percent.
Converse County, once again, had the lowest unwmployment numbers in the state, at 3.0 percent. Campbell at 3.1 percent, and Sublette and Niobrara both at 3.2 percent.
Teton and Lincoln counties had the highest unemployment rates in October at 5.2 percent.
Home on the Range - For Rent? Good jobs are pretty easy to find in the Douglas area these days, but finding a place to live is a real challenge. Monthly rental costs are up, and rental vacancy rates continue to be very low. The Wyoming Community Development Authority surveys residential rental properties twice a year. The latest averages, from the second quarter of 2014, show mobile home lots renting for just over $200 dollars a month, but those are the only rentals whose prices have stayed steady.
The average cost of an apartment in Converse County has risen from about $550 two years ago, to $871 a month now. Mobile homes are averaging $937 a month.
The cost to rent a single family home has seen the biggest jump. Up until the 4th quarter of 2011, houses rented for an average of $600 to $800 a month. The latest numbers show an average house in Converse County now rents for $1400 dollars a month... if you can find one at all. According to the WCDA's figures, Converse County's overall rental vacancy rate stands at just 1.9 percent.
The director of the Wyoming State Fair at Douglas has been honored by his peers.State Fair director James Goodrich has been named the Rocky Mountain Association of Fairs (RMAF) Fair Manager of the Year at their recent convention in Great Falls, Montana. The RMAF is a group of fairs covering the western United States and Canada.
Jason Fearneyhough is Director of the Wyoming Department of Agriculture, the State department that oversees the state fair
James Goodrich has been the Director of the Wyoming State Fair since 2007 and has made significant contributions to the Wyoming State Fair and grounds. As Director, he spearheaded and managed the 100th Wyoming State Fair celebration in 2013 and has overseen several projects to improve the quality of the Wyoming State Fairgrounds.
The RMAF Fair Manager of the Year award is given to any active Fair Manager who has been involved with their fair for a minimum of five years and has made outstanding contributions to their fair and community.
The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission recommends an increase to the minimum allowable distance between oil and gas drilling rigs and dwellings.
But a landowners' group says the commission's proposal still offers insufficient protection to homeowners.
The commission, which includes Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead, voted Tuesday to propose a new rule that would extend the setback distance between homes and oil and gas wells from the current 350 feet up to 500 feet. The staff of the commission had recommended the 500-foot setback.
The public has an opportunity to comment before the commission votes on the proposal early next year.
The Powder River Basin Resource Council had asked the commission to peg the minimum setback at a quarter-mile, saying drill rigs are noisy and hazardous to health.
A Douglas business is honored by its franchise.
The Douglas KOA Journey Campground has been awarded the 2015 KOA President’s and Founder’s Awards by Kampgrounds of America Inc. The awards were presented on Friday at KOA’s Annual International Convention in Charleston, South Carolina.
The KOA President’s Awards are presented annually to campgrounds that receive high scores in customer service from their campers, and also receive high scores in KOA’s annual Quality Review.
The KOA Founder’s Award is named in honor of Dave Drum, who founded KOA in Billings, Montana in 1962. It is given to those KOA campgrounds that attained the very top scores in both customer service and the KOA Quality Review. KOA surveys hundreds of thousands of campers each year regarding their KOA camping experience.
Wyoming natural gas companies are reviewing emergency procedures following a recent outage that left more than 1,000 customers without gas in Glenrock.
Companies say they are taking action even though there are no state regulations to follow. Regulators require companies to filed detailed reports after problems are fixed.
Regulators say it's difficult to write rules because circumstances vary widely.
SourceGas officials discovered an outage in Glenrock on Nov. 10 and reported it to the Wyoming Public Service Commission within five hours.
SourceGas says widespread outages are unusual.
Tallgrass Energy is working with SourceGas to find out the reason for the latest outage.
New speed limits in Converse County... WYDOT District 2 has finished installing new speed limit signs at two locations on WYO 59.
First, those traveling through Bill will notice speeds on Highway 59 have been reduced to 50 mph through that community.
Second, near Douglas, speeds on the Douglas bypass have also been reduced to 50 mph from the West Yellowstone intersection to the road closure gate out past the gas plant at milepost 3.66.
WYDOT has also posted a no fuel for 75 miles sign on WYO 59 at 4th Street to remind motorists there is no fuel available until Wright.
The first real cold snap of the fall, and the town of Glenrock has found itself without Natural gas service. SourceGas Vice President of Operations, Jason Weekley, says the pipeline that supplies SourceGas’ natural gas system in Glenrock, WY was interrupted early this morning, resulting in the loss of service to all SourceGas customers in town. He said SourceGas employees from around the region are helping restore service.
To do that, the gas company had to turn-off all meters in town. They finished turing everything off this afternoon, and have begin relighting customers. SourceGas will be working through the night and ask that you be available to let our service personnel into your home.
Converse County Emergency Manager Russ Dalgarn reminds Glenrock residents to take the following precautions during the interruption of services:
1. DO NOT use kerosene or portable propane heat sources inside of your home.
2. Leave a trickle of water running in All faucets in your home to prevent freezing pipes.
3. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO LIGHT YOUR PILOT LIGHTS!! Source Gas employees will do this.
Voters went to the polls and made their choices on Tuesday.
Checking results of local races first, Douglas Mayor Bruce Jones wins another four years, defeating former councilman Bob Chiapuzio 1059 to 434. Incumbent Councilman Leroy Kingery and John Bartling were the top two vote-getters for Douglas City Council. Doug Frank defeats incumbent Sue Dills for Mayor of Glenrock 481 to 311. Two seats open on the Glenrock Town council... Dennis Flynn gets one, and a tie for the second seat... 352 votes each for Tim Feeback and Chase Anfinson, so that one will go to a recount. Jon Maines beats Don Kuhn 96-44 for mayor of Rolling Hills. Brenda Williams and Jacque Stoldt win the two seats on the Rolling Hills Town Council. Leda Price gets one vote and will continue to serve as mayor of Lost Springs... Arthur Stringham gets one vote and will continue to serve as the Lost Springs town council.
Converse County Schol District #1, the Douglas School Board, Kim Hiser, Jim Bolinger and Mark Curtis will all retain their seats... 835 write-ins were tallied for the fourth, open seat on the Douglas School Board... those write-ins wil be tallied on Wednesday.
All of the Converse County offices were decided in the primaries this year.
Two seats were open on the Glenrock hospital district board... Russ Dalgarn wins one seat, and 40 write-ins will be tallied on Wednesday to decide the other.
Both tax issues passed in Converse County... voters were 60 percent in favor of continuing to optional 5th-cent tax that's been in place for years, and voted 70 percent in favor of retaining the lodging tax.
Statewide races, here's how Converse County votes went... incumbent Senator Mike Enzi gets 76 of the vote, Representative Cynthia Lummis gets 74 percent of the vote. Govermor Matt Mead got 61 percent of the Converse County vote, and Democratic challenger Pete Gosar got 19 percent. Repulbican Ed Murray collects 79 percent of the vote for secretary of state... Jillian Balow claims 70 percent of the Converse County vote for superintendant of public instruction, and Mike Ceballos gets 28 percent. In the race for House District 6, incumbent Republican Richard Cannady earns 81 percent... democratic challenger Liz Batton get 17 percent.
4,310 votes were cast in Converse County on Tuesday, that comes out to a 70 percent voter turnout, not a bad number of a non-presidential election year.
Who wants to go to Williston in December?
That's Douglas City Administrator Tony Tolstedt, talking about a field trip to Williston, North Dakota, that's being planned for city officials...
The Douglas City Council voted 4-1 Monday night to begin planning for the trip. Councilman Tony Reynolds was the lone no vote. Tolstedt said the trip would probably take place in December or perhaps January, depending on schedules and logistics.
What's in the Checkbook... The oil and gas boom has meant a lot more money coming into Converse County's bank accounts... and a lot more going out. County treasurer Joel Schell says they've added a new feature called Open Gov to the county's website...
Schell says Open Gov helps us understand part of how the boom affects us...
The treasurer says that these days, there's more income, and there's more outgo. He said it's good for the public to know how its money is being spent...
A link to Open Gov is posted on the County's website and the Treasurer's website... anyone can access the information at www.conversecounty.org/opengov
Bearcats basketball season openers... Douglas boys and girls both won tonight against Big Piney at the Lander Invite. The Bearcats led 27-20 at the half, but the Punchers put on a strong drive in the third quarter, leaving Douglas in a 10-point hole. The Cats fought back and tied the game at 45. With 7 seconds left, BIg Piney's Jak Tanner missed two at the line... Douglas's Jonah Richards rebounded, ran it up the floor and tossed a three, which flew short... but Scott Shuler was underneath to tip it in at the buzzer for a 47-45 win.
The LadyCats dominated and cruised to a 54-23 win over the Lady Punchers. Ashley Blackburn led al shooters with 17 points... Bailey Brooks added 11.
Douglas faces Mountain View Saturday morning and Lyman Saturday afternoon.
A National volleyball champion will be named in Casper later the week. The National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division I National Volleyball Championships will be held at the Casper Events Center on Thursday, November 20 through Saturday, November 22.
The NJCAA is the national governing body for two-year college athletics in the United States and is the nation's second-largest national intercollegiate sports organization, second only to the NCAA.
The 16 best Junior College volleyball teams in the nation will compete at the Casper Events Center.
All Session Passes for the NJCAA Division I National Volleyball Championship are $20 for Students and Seniors and $35 for Adults. All Session Passes are on sale now at the Casper Events Center Box Office, Charge-By-Phone at (307) 577-3030 or (800) 442-2256 or online at www.CasperEventsCenter.com. Day Passes are also available.
The Wyoming Cowgirls blew up the Century Mark in their season opener Monday night.
Kayla Woodward, Marquelle Dent and Bailee Cotton each recorded double-figures to lead the Wyoming basketball team to a 75-point win, 104-29, over the Western State Mountaineers, on Monday night.
All 12 Cowgirls got in the scoring column led by Woodward. She recorded 17 points while shooting 5-8 from the field in 18 minutes of play. Dent finished with 16 points and Cotton with 12 points and a team-high nine rebounds.
The Cowgirls return to action on Friday when they host the Denver Pioneers. The game is set for 7 p.m. MT in the Arena-Auditorium.
State football championships this weekend... on Friday, Guernsey-Sunrise beat Dubois 80-30 in the six-man game, and Cody shut out Douglas 19-0.
Saturday, Mountain View upset Big Horn 28-19 for the 2A title... Cokeville beats Lusk 26-6 in the 1A championship, and Natrona beats Gillette 30-7 for the 4A title.
LadyCats bring home the big trophy... The Douglas LadyCats defeated Mountain View in four to earn their first state volleyball title since 1998. Coach Angela Rhoades's girls opened the tournament on Thursday win a five-game win over Jackson... took on the defending state champion Powell Lady Panthers in the semis on Friday and claimed a three-game win, 25-16, 25-17, 26-24. In Saturday afternoon's title match, Mountain View took the first game 25-17, but Douglas bounced back and win the next three, 25-20, 25-21, 25-20. Powell beat Jackson in four to take third.
Cheyenne East beat Kelly Walsh in five for the 4A championship. Natrona beat Riverton to take third.
Wright beat Big Horn to take the 2A title, and Cokeville won over Little Snake River in the 1A title match.
The Douglas Bearcats football team will make thier 13th appearance in a state championship game next Friday when they face the Cody Broncs in the 3A title match at War Memorial Stadium in Laramie.
Douglas earned the trip to State with a 27-0 shutout win over the Torrington Trailblazers on Friday. After a scoreless first quarter, Douglas scored on four short yardage plays... runs of 5 and 9 yards by Colter Haman, an 8-yard pass completion from Haize Weber to Justin Leman, and a 2-yard pass completion to Hunter Haman.
Cody, the #1 seed from 3A West, earned their trip to Laramie with a 42-34 win in a see-saw battle with the Riverton Wolverines.
Douglas has played in six of the last eight championship games, winning in 2008, 2009 and 2009. The Cats beat Cody in the 2009 title match. Douglas is 5-7 overall in State Championship appearances.
Douglas plays Cody for the 3A State Championship on Friday, November 14th at 3pm at War Memorial Stadium in Laramie. The game will be broadcast live on 100.1FM, KKTY, and on the internet at kktyonline.com.