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Friday, May 16, 2003

Accident kills Big Horn senior SHERIDAN — A Big Horn High School senior who was elected prom king last week and was to graduate Sunday died in a car crash.

Patrick Everette Cummings, 18, of Banner, died at the scene of the one-vehicle rollover on U.S. 87 six miles south of Sheridan, according to the Highway Patrol.

The accident happened sometime between midnight and 6 a.m. Wednesday but was not discovered until about 6:30 a.m.

Authorities were then unable to find Cummings. About nine hours later they called Sheridan Area Search and Rescue and Sheridan Fire/Rescue to start a search, according to reports.

Cummings' body was found in a marshy area with thick cattails and was not easily visible, authorities said.

Spilt state board votes to change investments CHEYENNE — Wyoming will be investing $125 million of permanent mineral trust-fund money in the private-equity market despite concern from the state attorney general.

The idea of the deal is to achieve a better balance in the state's investments by putting more money into riskier investments. The State Loan and Investment Board approved the deal Wednesday on a 3-2 vote.

State Auditor Max Maxfield, Treasurer Cynthia Lummis and Public Instruction Superintendent Trent Blankenship voted for the deal. Gov. Dave Freudenthal and Secretary of State Joe Meyer opposed it.

The board went against the advice of Attorney General Pat Crank, who raised questions about the contract with Cheyenne Equity Partners and its principal, John P. Fitzgerald of Denver.

Woman killed in crash involving 90th Wing CHEYENNE — A woman was killed and two members of the 90th Space Wing were injured in an accident in western Nebraska.

The accident happened around 1:30 p.m. Thursday at the intersection of Nebraska 69 and Nebraska 48 in Kimball County, according to F.E. Warren Air Force Base spokesman Sgt. Kurt Arkenberg.

The intersection is three miles west of Launch Facility F-03, one of dozens of missile launch sites overseen by the 90th Space Wing, which is headquartered in Cheyenne.

No additional information was available.

WyoTech names new president LARAMIE — The president of the National Institute of Technology in Long Beach, Calif., has been named president of Wyoming Technical Institute.

Deborah Kirsch replaces Tim Schutz, a former WyoTech president who filled in for Jim Mathis after he resigned in September.

Both WyoTech and the National Institute of Technology are owned by Corinthian Colleges.

Kirsch said it will take time for her to get a feel for WyoTech.

"Changes won't happen overnight. Will they happen six months to a year down the line? Maybe. Growth takes time, but one thing we do know for certain is change will always happen," she said.

WyoTech was founded in 1966. It specializes in automotive- and diesel-technology education.

Gillette man takes over state military CHEYENNE — Maj. Gen. Edward Wright, of Gillette, took the title of adjutant general and assumed command of the Wyoming National Guard Thursday during a ceremony at the state Capitol.

Wright also received a promotion from colonel to the brevet rank of major general. He replaces Maj. Gen. Ed Boenisch, who retired after 34 years of service.

Wright will oversee the Wyoming Military Department, which consists of the Wyoming Army and Air National Guard, the Veteran's Commission in Casper, and the Oregon Trail State Veteran's Cemetery.

Education board hears arguments on charter CHEYENNE — The Wyoming State Board of Education heard arguments on Laramie County School District 2's denial of a charter school application for Albin.

The hearing Wednesday was held to consider an appeal by proponents of the Albin Creative Academic Teaching Strategies School.

Wyoming State Education Board President JoAnn Fulton said board members will consider arguments and discuss the matter further at its June meeting.

Bruce Asay, attorney for the Laramie County School District 2 Board of Trustees, told the board that the school board denied the application because the charter school's sole purpose was to prevent the closure of Albin's Junior-Senior High. That is not allowed under Wyoming law.

But Hank Bailey, attorney for the Albin CATS group, said the idea for a charter school began long before the issue of closing the school came up.

Meantime, the district 2 board voted to authorize its lawyer to prepare evidence to back up the board's decision to close the Albin school.

Thomas co-sponsors bill on land acquisition WASHINGTON — A bill introduced by Sen. Craig Thomas, R-Wyo., would require the federal government to relinquish an equal amount of land when it acquires land in states with substantial federal holdings.

Sens. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, Larry Craig, R-Idaho, and Conrad Burns, R-Mont., also are sponsoring the No-Net-Loss of Private Lands Act.

The bill would apply when the federal government acquires land in states with at least 25 percent federal land. Under the bill, federal land that is released would not necessarily have to belong to the same agency making the acquisition.

The bill has been referred to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Consumer advocate office picks cases CHEYENNE — The new state Office of Consumer Advocate has started reviewing rate cases and issues before the state Public Service Commission on behalf of Wyoming residents.

The Legislature created the consumer advocate office earlier this year. Formerly, state PSC employees worked as consumer advocates. But Gov. Dave Freudenthal and others said that created an awkward situation in which staff sometimes had to oppose their bosses.

The new office is an autonomous division of the PSC and is responsible only to the governor.

The first cases the agency is deciding whether to intervene in involve PacifiCorp, Kinder Morgan, Cheyenne Light, Pinedale Natural Gas and regional transmission organizations.

Bryce Freeman, who heads the new agency, said Wednesday his office is still organizing even as its reviews the cases.

Fremont restaurants go nonsmoking RIVERTON — Fifty-five percent of Fremont County restaurants now do not allow smoking, and a Pizza Hut is the latest to join the list.

"It's more convenient," said Danielle Brown, assistant manager of the Pizza Hut in Riverton. She said the restaurant staff recently received permission from an area manager to go smoke-free.

Other new businesses in the county have been smoke-free from the start, such as the Liquid Sunshine Juice Bar in Riverton and the Global Cafe in Lander.

Vinich's Club El Toro in Hudson, which has been in business more than 70 years, went smoke-free on Wednesdays in January.

The change was applauded by Theresa Alfertig, manager of the Fremont County Public Health Tobacco Prevention Program. Alfertig said even if businesses can not eliminate smoking completely, doing so partially is a step in the right direction.

The proportion of smoke-free restaurants in the county has risen from 38 percent two years ago. In Riverton, 60 percent of restaurants are no-smoking and in Lander the percentage is 70 percent.

Alfertig said business owners often express apprehension about going smoke-free, because they worry they will lose customers. But she said the truth is most businesses that go no-smoking experience a short decline in customers followed by increased profits.

Group gives Legislature a C for economic efforts CHEYENNE — An economic development group has given the Legislature a C grade for its performance last session.

The report card from the Wyoming Economic Development Association considered lawmakers' votes on 12 economic development bills. Meanwhile, Gov. Dave Freudenthal got a grade of A for the bills he signed.

"What this tells me is that no one is lukewarm on economic development," said Bob Dahl, president of the association. "They are either for it or they are not."

The Youth Policy Analysis Committee of the Converse Area New Development Organization did much of the basic work for the report card as an exercise in getting to know and understand how government works.

The youth group consists of high school-age volunteers.

Sen. Jayne Mockler, D-Cheyenne, said she is a supporter of economic development, including giving tax breaks where warranted.

Yet Mockler, the minority floor leader, received an F, with a numerical score of 50 percent. She voted against House Bill 264, the Business Ready Communities Act, which sets aside about $25 million over three years to pay for local business infrastructure.

Wyoming question featured on TV show CHEYENNE — The syndicated television program "Wheel of Fortune" will feature a puzzle related to Wyoming.

Show publicist Amy Prenner said the Wyoming puzzle will be featured on Monday's program.

"We like to let our viewers know when their state gets mentioned so that they can be sure and tune in, watch, and hopefully feel a little bit of pride," Prenner said.

The Wyoming puzzle is featured as part of "Wheel Goes To The Movies" week.

"Wheel of Fortune" was syndicated in 1983 and has become the highest-rated game show on television with a daily audience of 16 million viewers.

Sheridan, Laramie win math contest POWELL, Wyo. — High school teams from Sheridan and Laramie grabbed championship team trophies in the 2003 Herb Wolsborn Wyoming State Math Contest conducted statewide during April. Results were just released by Northwest College in Powell.

Nearly 1,600 Wyoming high school and junior high students from 57 schools gathered at nine locations across the state the day of the contest to take a battery of five 10-question, 20-minute-long mathematics tests. Nearby out-of-state schools are encouraged to compete for rankings in the annual contest, but don't receive awards.

Eleventh and 12th grade teams competed in Class A, and ninth and 10th grade teams in Class B. Seventh and eighth graders contended individually.

Sheridan took first place in Class A, followed by Casper's Kelly Walsh High School and Rock Springs High School in second and third.

In Class B, Laramie High School claimed the top score, with Casper's Natrona County and Rock Springs filling in the second and third spots, respectively.

The Class A high individual honors went to Kelly Walsh's Jonathan Krauss, who's been the high scorer the last two consecutive years (the first time in Class B). Scott Lair of Rock Springs took the Class B title this year. In the junior high competition, Amber Lebsock of Centennial Junior High School in Casper earned the eighth grade honor and Abe Pierce of Pinedale Middle School was the seventh grade winner.

UW to hold summer music camp The University of Wyoming's 60th Annual Summer Music Camp will be held June 8-14 at the UW Fine Arts Center.

"The UW camp is one of the best and most unique musical experiences in the Rocky Mountain region," says camp director Chris Nicholas, assistant lecturer in the UW Department of Music. "Since its inception in 1943, the UW Summer Music Camp has brought professional musical instruction and fun to thousands of 13-20-year-olds from Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, Utah, Montana, South Dakota, and other states across America."

The camp is for singers, string players, wind and percussion players, pianists and guitarists. Ensemble conductors will be UW Department of Music faculty members Robert Belser (concert bands), Susan Cogdill (choirs), Scott Turpen (jazz bands), and Jim Przygocki (string chamber music), plus Ken Tonaki of suburban Chicago (orchestra). Campers also will have the opportunity to take classes and lessons with several of the UW Department of Music's nationally-recognized teachers.

The University of Wyoming Summer Music Camp is open to students who have completed 6th grade and up through post high school. Tuition is only $160, and housing and meals are available through the UW Residence Halls.

For an application brochure, call the UW Outreach School at 1-800-448-7801 (766-2938 in Laramie) or visit the Web site at: to download an application. Applications will be accepted until June 8. On-site registration is also available on June 8 for a $200 tuition fee. For more information, call Nicholas, at (307) 766-5127, e-mail

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